infobox UK place
country = England
population = 500cite web |url=http://www.sparkford.f9.co.uk/sford.html |title=Sparkford |accessdate=2007-10-25 |format= |work=Sparkford village web site ]
region= South West England
constituency_westminster=Somerton and Frome
postcode_district = BA22
Sparkford is a village and
civil parishin the South Somersetdistrict of Somerset, England. The parish includes the village of Weston Bampfylde.
It is situated near the junction of the A303 from
Londonto Exeterand the A359 from Frometo Yeovil. In 1996 a bypass was built to take the main traffic on the A303 around the north of the village. The population is about 500, mostly living along the old A303 and Church Road, which runs down to the former water mill and the church.
The village is listed in the
Domesday Bookfor Somerset as Spercheforde. It was held in 1086 by Fulwin from Walter de Douai having been held by Alwakin before the Norman Conquest. It paid tax for 5 hides and 1 virgate of land. There was land for 5 ploughs, with 2 1/2 ploughs in nlordship. There were 6 slaves, 9 villagers and 7 smallholders with 4 ploughs. There was a mill which paid 7 1/2 shillings, meadow of 100 acres, and woodland which was 1 furlong in length and width. There were 18 cattle, 19 pigs and 72 sheep. Its value before the conquest was £4 but now 100 shillings.Fact|date=October 2007
In about 1335 the manor was held by Nicholas de Hanyton, while by 1370 it was held by John Lovel of Titchmarsh. The next known owner is Sir Thomas Essex who held the manor in about 1554. Richard Newman acquired Sparkford manor in 1610 and this family held it until 1792. It then passed to the Bennett family of
North Cadbury. [cite web|url=http://austega.com/familyhistory/names/hbennett.htm|title=Reverend Henry Bennett|publisher=Kerry's Family History Site|accessdate=2008-08-15]
In the National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland of 1868 [cite web |url=http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/SOM/Sparkford/index.html |title=Sparkford |accessdate=2007-10-25 |format= |work=GENUKI ] it was described :-
"Sparkford, a parish in the hundred of Catash, county Somerset, 6 miles from Ilchester its post town and 5 1/4 SW of Castle Carey. It is a station on the Great Western railway. The village is of small extent and chiefly agricultural. The soil is a sandy loam, with a subsoil of blue clay and marl. The living is a recory in the diocese of
Bath and Wells, value £266. The church, dedicated to St Mary Magdalen, has a tower containing three bells; it was rebuilt, with the exception of the tower, in 1824. The register dates from 1729. There are day and Sunday schools for both sexes. Sparkford Hall is the principal residence. The Rev H Bennett is lord of the manor. Roman and British antiquities have been found here."
The village appears formerly to have been situated south of the church, rather than to the north of it as at present. There are still signs of earthworks in the field that used to be called Lickhill. Some archaeological investigations have recently been carried out but the results are not yet known.
The present main roads have been important for many years. In 1656 the parish asked for assistance to repair the bridge over the river Cam Fact|date=October 2007:-
"there is a bridge uppon a very great road from the West towards London fallen of late in soe great decay that it is in continuall danger to crush and fall together, under the heavy waggons that weekly pass to and fro over it, and that the new building of the said bridge is likely to be a matter of very great charge. The parishioners of Sparkford, who are mostly of a poor and low condition, request that the bridge may be repaired or newly built at a common charge."
The bridge was widened in 1815. [cite web | title=Sparkford Bridge | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=445883 | accessdate=2007-10-25] The road to
Ilchesterwas taken over by the Ichester Turnpike Trust in 1626 and the road to Wincantonin 1817 by the Wincanton Trust.Fact|date=October 2007 The toll house for the turnpike to Wincanton still exists but is now a private house (The Octagon). [cite web | title=The Octagon | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=447193 | accessdate=2007-10-25] The Sparkford Inn, dating from the 15th century, [cite web | title=Sparkford Inn | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=445889 | accessdate=2007-10-25] was an important coaching house and continues to be a popular hostelry. It used to be a meeting place for the local hunt but this is now combined with the Blackmore Valeone.
When the railway was built through Sparkford in 1877, there was a rearrangement of the roads, but the lines of the old ones can still be seen. The track was part of the
Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway(later Great Western Railway) and ran from Thingley Junction in Wiltshireto Weymouth. There was a station, which served a wide district, and later a siding for milk trains for the Milk Factory, but both are now gone. However, the track is still in use.
Sparkford Vale Cooperative Dairy Society had a factory by the railway from 1918 until 1938. Water for its use was taken from the river Cam. This factory was taken over by the Haynes Publishing company (renowned for its car manuals) in the 1960s and has since greatly expanded.
The village school was erected in 1849 and enlarged in 1892. It was for 80 children with an average attendance of 61, with a master and mistress. It is now closed and has become the village hall. [cite web | title=Sparkford Hall | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=447189 | accessdate=2007-10-25] The village's primary age children now generally go to the school in
Just to the north of Sparkford is
Hazlegrove Preparatory School, which is a private preparatory school for King's School, Bruton.
The Church of St Mary Magdalene is still as described in 1868, but the parish is now combined with
Weston Bampfieldand Sutton Montis. The building dates from the 14th centurywith the navebuilt in 1824 by Thomas Ellis of local grey liasstone cut and squared, with Hamstonedressings. The first known incumbent of the church was in 1297 and the Monumental Inscriptions date back to Johes Clyke, who died in 1513.It has been designated by English Heritageas a grade II* listed building. [cite web | title=Church of St Mary Magdalene | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=445885 | accessdate=2007-10-25]
The former rectory, which was used by the Navy in
World War IIand then used as an egg packing station, is now used for private housing. The former glebe land was also sold off for housing.
Sparkford has a picturesque cricket field by the old A303 with a successful local team. There is a playing field for children off Church Road, run by a trust. Another trust looks after Sparkford Hill copse to the west of the village.
Sparkford Wood, to the north of the village, is privately owned and is a site of special scientific interest. [cite web |url=http://www.english-nature.org.uk/citation/citation_photo/1000468.pdf |title=Sparkford Wood SSSI |accessdate=2007-10-25 |format=PDF |work=English Nature ] It is generally opened to the public for charity at bluebell time.
The Haynes motor museum has over 340 cars and bikes and is continually growing. It is often used as a start/finish point for car and motorcycle rallies.
Sparkford is still a centre for milk distribution. There is a well known sawmill which makes sheds and many other things. There is a camping site near the inn that is a convenient stop between London and Cornwall as well as being a place from which to explore local attractions such as
South Cadburycastle (Camelot?), and the Fleet Air Arm Museumfor example.
At one time Sparkford had three garages, but one has since been demolished after the bypass was built. Wakes Garage was the centre for a bus company for many years, [cite web |url=http://www.countrybus.co.uk/wakes.htm |title=Wakes services |accessdate=2007-10-25 |format= |work=Country Bus ] but the site has now been redeveloped as a filling station and McDonalds. What was the well known "Frying Pan" cafe was redeveloped as a filling station and Happy Eater.
Sparkford was formerly the site of a weekly cattle market, which was held behind the inn. Associated with this there were several activities opposite the inn, including a bank. However the market and businesses have now gone, except that a storage company is now behind the houses which have been built on the site of the businesses.
The Cubs and Scouts meet locally while there is also a thriving Young Farmers Club.
* [http://www.sparkford.f9.co.uk Village web site]
* [http://www.hunting-directory.co.uk/directory/sparkfordvale.htm Sparkford Vale Rabbit Dogs]
* [http://www.pcuk.org/output/branches/30/index Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt Homepage]
* [http://www.acny.co.uk/10929 St Mary Magdalene, Sparkford]
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