MEM23579 - Winsford (Place)


The village is believed to have Saxon origins. Its extent has been estimated using historic maps. Much of the village was owned by the Acland Estate until the 1920s.

Please read the .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Winsford became established, most probably in Saxon times, at the junction of the River Exe and the smaller River Winn. The steep wooded valleys, especially to the east of the village are typical lowland features of Exmoor, whilst the more open pattern of field banks with characteristic rows of trees giving way to the open moorland of Winsford Hill encloses the village to the north and west. The village has developed as a loose knit settlement along converging lanes, giving it a spacious quality. The origin of the village name is self-evident and the ford across the River Winn remains a focal point of the village, and is much in use. Early mentions of the village are as Winesford in the Domesday Book, and Wynesford in the 1251 Assize Rolls. Winsford occupies a quite central location within the National Park and its history is closely linked with that of Exmoor as a whole. The substantial Parish Church with its tall late 15th Century tower indicates that Winsford has been an important community since at least medieval times and a number of cottages probably have equally early origins. The Parish Church font has some fine Norman carving, the chancel is 13th Century and there is a remnant of 14th Century stained glass in the east window. The village formerly had a large sheep fair, and much was once part of the huge Acland estate which reached its zenith under successive Sir Thomas Dyke Aclands who brought about much rebuilding throughout most of the 19th Century especially at their other estates at Broadclyst near Exeter and Holnicote near Minehead, both now owned by the National Trust. The part of the estate at Winsford had already been sold off in the 1920s. Several routes converging on the village, especially that leading south towards Tarr Steps, are of considerable antiquity. Likewise, a number of cottages bear evidence of early origins, with external stone stacks, some in the front lateral position, which typifies the local vernacular style. As the Local Plan notes: “The essential character of the historic core has remained largely unaltered for over 200 years. This includes groups of stone and rendered thatched and slate cottages, as well as a number of attractive bridges.” The main character of the village derives in part from an irregular sequence of cottages, sometimes facing each other across the street, or set at angles to the highway. These varying alignments along narrow curving lanes provide much of the inherent historic character. A long established vernacular style with relatively little ornament or fine architectural detail, but built on a modest yet well proportioned scale, contributes much to the special character of Winsford. This is further enhanced by its location on a spur of the otherwise, steep-sided valley setting of the River Exe. Elsewhere are several significant houses within their own landscape setting, although somewhat separate from the village in terms of location or architectural style. The original scattered communities of village cottages and surrounding farms shown on the tithe maps are typical of a long established village settlement pattern on the edge of moorland, and the parish church occasionally glimpsed in the landscape, gives the impression of a community of some importance. Some buildings reveal evidence of a previous use, for example the village school, two former chapels, police house, a shop at Karslake House, and the former Pitcott Corn Mill. Apart from the earlier chapel, all ceased their originally intended use during the mid to latter part of the 20th Century. The 19th Century saw the introduction of many of the surviving frontage additions and embellishments such as ironwork, windows and doors, and added porches. As previously mentioned there are examples of the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 20th Century. [1] The historic core of Winsford has been mapped using historic maps available to the HER. [2-4] The Acland Estate owned most of the houses in Winsford and about two thirds of the farms. The estate was sold in December 1926, when there were under 100 houses in the Parish and the population was over 500. 65 houses have been built since this time but the population is much decreased. In c.1920-30, the village had a Post Office, general store, blacksmith, tailor, shoe repairer and bakery. In addition, J Steer and Sons (general builders) employed 20 or more skilled workers (wheelright, carpenters, joiners, masons, sawyers, carters and general labourers). The firm quarried local stone for building and hauled bricks, slates and so on. They also made coffins and w headed by the local undertaker. There was also a horse hiring business. Two separate doctors practices in Dulverton served the village and gradually weekly village surgeries were established, in the shops or postmaster's house, or private houses. This eventually moved to the Village Hall due to numbers. In 2004 a weekly doctor visited the Community Computer Centre, which had an examination room. In the 1920s Winsford had its own water supply piped to houses from a ring of little reservoirs and tanks situated in the fields surrounding the village. The supply was controlled by a village committee, separate from but possibly appointed by the Parish Council. Later in the 1930s the supply was taken over by Dulverton Rural District Council and eventually by a water authority. Outlying houses and farms relied on spring water. Mains drainage was non existant, with most cottages only having one tap. Houses situated next to the river had drainpipes leading direct into the water. A sewerage system was finally installed in the village in 1968. Winsford has been on mains water supply since the construction of Wimbleball Reservoir, although some houses now have boreholes. One or two houses had engines to produce their own electricity but the rest of Winsford (including the Church and Chapel) relied on lamps and candles. Mains electricity was available in the village from the 1950s. [5] A history of the settlement, primarily focussed on the Church and vicarage. [6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Report: Fisher, J.. 2005. Winsford: Village Character Appraisal. 4-5, 6, 11-12.
  • <2> Map: 1839. Winsford Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1854-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey. County Series; 2nd Edition (1st Revision) 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <5> Leaflet: Various. 2004. A Winsford Anthology. 10-12, 18, 20.
  • <6> Article in serial: Dicker, W.. 1900. Notes on the History of Winsford. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 46. pp 188-195.



Grid reference Centred SS 9057 3490 (435m by 671m) Historic mapping
Map sheet SS93SW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Local Plan - Historic Core

Record last edited

Apr 19 2022 8:49AM


Your feedback is welcome. If you can provide any new information about this record, please contact us.