Summit of Cothelstone Hill
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
Cothelstone is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated in the Quantock Hills six miles north of Taunton in the Somerset West and Taunton district. The parish, which includes the hamlet of Toulton, has a population of 111.
The view from Cothelstone with a telescope on a fine day is said to include 14 counties and 150 churches.
There are several bowl barrows on Cothelstone Hill.
The manor of Cothelstone was given to the Stawell family after the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The parish of Cothelstone was part of the Taunton Deane Hundred.
During the English Civil War, Sir John Stawell of Cothelstone had raised a small force at his own expense to defend the King. When Taunton fell to parliamentary troops and was held by Robert Blake he attacked Stawell at Bishops Lydeard and imprisoned him. After the restoration, Charles II conferred the title of Baron Stawell on Sir John's son, Ralph.
The parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council.
The village falls within the non-metropolitan district of Somerset West and Taunton, which was established on 1 April 2019. It was previously in the district of Taunton Deane, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, and part of Taunton Rural District before that. The district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.
Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.
It is also part of the Taunton Deane county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and was part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament prior to Britain leaving the European Union in January 2020, which elected seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
Cothelstone Manor was built in the mid 16th century, largely demolished by the parliamentary troops in 1646 and rebuilt by E.J. Esdaile in 1855–56. The 16th-century gatehouse and gazebo and 17th-century Banqueting Hall have survived.
The nearby St Agnes' Well is a Grade II* Well house dating from the Medieval period and restored in the nineteenth century. It is constructed of coursed red sandstone masonry with corbel roof. Its water is accessed via an arched doorway behind which is a large volume of clear shallow water. The water is also piped off for farm use. It has a varied folklore, noted as being a healing well, a wishing well of considerable power, an aid to fertility, and virgins used divinations to 'discover' their future husbands on the eve of St Agnes's feast day. It is currently undergoing further restoration.
The red sandstone Church of St Thomas of Canterbury dates from the 12th century and was largely restored in 1864. It includes memorials to the Stawell family including: Sir Matthew de Stawell, died 1379, and his wife Eleanor, and John Stawell, died 1603. The church has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building.