Norton St. Philip is a small attractive village, only six miles from the City of Bath. From about 1230 until the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539, it belonged to the Carthusian monks at Hinton Charterhouse in the neighbouring parish. The oldest part of Norton St. Philip is in the valley near the church. To increase trade, the monks created a new settlement at the top of the hill. At the northern end of this development, near the George Inn, the road widens into a triangular market place, known as The Plain. The monks had obtained the rights to hold clothing fairs in the village, the first being granted in 1255. It was said to have the most noted cloth fair in the west of England.
The superb George Inn has hardly changed since Elizabeth I reigned. In 1595, the name, ‘The George’, first appears in a document. It has been an inn for over 600 years and is one of the oldest in England, if not the oldest continually licensed inn in the country. It has a wonderful timber-framed front, with three lower ranges of buildings to the rear, grouped around a courtyard. It now offers high quality accommodation in a carefully restored building. Guests can stay in rooms where Samuel Pepys, his wife and servants in 1668, “dined very well 10 shillings” and the Duke of Monmouth, in 1685, spent the night and used The George as his headquarters. The Duke led a rebel Protestant army in an unsuccessful attempt to depose James II, England’s last Roman Catholic king. He was defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor in July 1685 and was executed at Tower Hill, London. The George Inn has, quite understandably, been used as a setting for many feature films and T.V. productions, including, ‘The Remains of the Day’, ‘Tom Jones’, ‘Persuasion’ and ‘Moll Flanders’.
A pathway leads from the Inn, down the field to St. Philip and St. James Church. It dates from the 13th century, but the present building was donated by a local wealthy merchant, Jeffrey Flower. He died in 1664. The church has an unusual tower, with arched windows and elaborate niches.
Where in England is Norton St. Philip, Somerset
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