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Bradshaw’s Guide

Bridgewater

A port and borough in Somersetshire, on the Great Western Railway, 29 miles from Bristol, a bay, and the mouth of the Parret. Common red bricks of an excellent quality, and the white scouring “Bath Brick” as it is called, though peculiar to Bridge water, is only made here by two or three firms. They are manufactured from the slime deposited on the banks of the Parret, where untouched by the salt water (which spoils it), and burnt at the top of the kiln, above the red bricks.

It returns two members, and has a population of 11,320. About 8,500 tons of shipping belong to the. port; small vessels of 200 tons come up to the quay. Admiral Blake was born here in 1599, the son of a merchant He sat for his native town in parliament. “He was the first man (says Clarendon) who brought ships to contemn castles on shore, which.….. were discovered by him to make a noise only; and.….. who infused that proportion of courage into the seamen, by making them see what mighty things they could do if they were resolved.” There was a fortress on Castle Hill, built after the Conquest, by Walter de Douai, from whom, or from the bridge which he began, the town takes its name, Bridge-Walter.

At this spot the Duke of Monmouth was proclaimed, before his defeat at Sedgemoor, 1685. It is a level marshy tract, four miles south east, intersected by the Gary, but much altered since that event. Many of the wretched prisoners were brought here to be butchered by Jefferies and his satellite, Kirke.

The large Gothic parish church has a good porch, and a fine spire, 174 feet high, with the “Descent from the Cross,” after Guido. Other buildings are the Town Hall, with a great cistern over it, for supplying the town with water, a Market House, surmounted by a dome, &c., but none very remarkable. In the neighbourhood are Brymore House, seat of Hon. P. Bouverie, where Pyne, “King Pyne,” of the Long Parliament, lived. Enmore Castle, Earl Egmont, Halsewell, Colonel Tyivte; gallery of Vandykes, &c. All these are to the west of the town, in view of the Quantock Hills; and the road maybe followed to Watchet, Dunster, Minehead, and other rocky parts of the coast. At Nether Stowey, Coleridge lived, in 1796 – 8, after his marriage, in company with his friend Charles Lloyd, the poet; and here he wrote his “Ancient Mariner,” and the tragedy of “Remorse.” Wordsworth at the same time was his neighbour, at Alfoxton or Allioxden, where he composed his “Lyrical Ballads,” the subject of many interminable discussions with the friends, as they walked over the hills together.

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