MSO9039 - Brendon Hill Village (Monument)


Brendon Hill was built in the mid-19th Century to house workers for the Brendon Hills Iron Ore Company, particularly the miners at Raleigh's Cross mine. Some of the buildings are extant, others are visible as earthworks.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

The settlement of Brendon Hill owes its existence to 19th century mining in particular Raleigh's Cross mine, for when this opened in 1852 there were no houses nearby and the miners lodged in local farms or nearby villages. By 1854 accommodation was needed and the Brendon Hills Iron Ore Company leased Sea View House for staff use and the outbuildings for the workers. By 1863 there were four cottages at the mine itself, two terraces of six cottages known as Church Cottages and Beulah Cottages, five dwellings near the incline known as Turf Huts, the wooden huts in the goods yard of the incline to house the labourers working on the Gupworthy extension and three larger two-storey houses at Sminhays known as Somerset Terrace. All were of stone with slate roofs except for Church Cottages which were thatched. In 1865 15 more cottages were built known as Sea View Terrace and the Turf Huts were replaced by Brick Cottages. In total there were 60 cottages for 250 miners. To complete the village there was an Anglican corrugated iron church, a Bible Christian chapel also used as a school, shop, temperance house, reading room and a bank. [1-3] Examination of aerial photographs revealed that the buildings of Brendon Hill village were in various states of preservation. Sea View House (ST 0250 3445), Beulah Chapel (ST 0276 3429), Temperance House (ST 0230 3438) and the Brampton House Stores (ST 0212 3415) were still extant. Beulah Cottages (ST 0264 3438), the cottages of Raleigh's Cross mine (ST 0249 3424), Sea View Terrace (ST 0236 3400), Brick Row (ST 0240 3442) which replaced Turf Huts and cottages (ST 0207 3418) near the limekilns were visible as earthworks. Church Cottages (ST 0238 3459) and the cottages (ST 0231 3438) near Temperance House were masked by trees and there was no trace on aerial photographs of the Anglican corrugated iron church at ST 0233 3447. [6-10] About 55 dwellings were constructed by the mine company including a Temperance Hotel at circa ST 02303438 and Sea View House, the Mine Captain's accomodation. [12] A Welsh mining engineer set up the Ebbw Vale Mining Company, with headquarters in Esplanade House, Watchet. In 1852 they began work at the Raleighs Cross mine, with a railway built in 1856 to carry the iron ore down to Watchet, to be shipped to South Wales for smelting. Several hundred miners came from other parts (largely Cornwall) and dozens of cottages for built for the family men. A large number of the Cornish were Methodists, either Wesleyans or Bible Christians, and for a short time services were held in a room at Beverton Farm [ST 0270 3360, outside National Park]. Then the local Bible Christians got together and bought a plot of land for £5 from the Company and built the chapel, which opened for worship on 31st May 1861 (MEM15269). In 1860 and Anglican 'tin church' (that is, corrugated iron) was built near the top of the incline in the charge of Rev JB Vernon, curate of Luxborough. This also accommodated a school and Sunday school. A 'Good Templars Mountain Hope' Lodge was built on site in 1860. A reading room known as "The Miners' Literary Institute" was established in November 1865 at the Raleighs Cross mine, but most of the village organisations were concerned with temperance, with organisations formed such as the 'Brendon Hill & Gupworthy Temperance Society', the 'Brendon Hill Teetotal Fife and Drum Band' and a 'Brendon Hill Choir'. In 1878-9 the mines were closed down and the mining families moved away. The five remaining members struggled on until 1889, when the chapel closed. Sunday School work continued, however, although it is not clear where. In 1907 the railway reopened for mineral and passenger traffic and mining resumed. The Reverend TC Jacob (the circuit minister) called a meeting of local representatives to the chapel, who supported his proposal to restore the chapel and the contract for £139 was won by Messrs Sully and Son of Stogumber. The chapel reopened in 1910 and stayed open, despite the mines closing once more. [15] The nearest licenced establishments were at Raleigh's Cross (outside the National Park boundary) and at Heath Poult Cross. The Raleigh's Cross Hotel throve with trade from the mining colony. [16] The remains of Brendon Hill village survive as standing buildings, ruins or earthworks. Sea View House, originally built for the mine staff, is now used as a private residence. The original outbuildings which housed mineworkers and a small chapel have been substantially rebuilt and are used for agricultural purposes. Beulah Chapel still serves the mining community on the Brendons. The earthwork remains of Church Cottages - originally 6 cottages - lie at ST 0237 3442. Across the road are the less obvious but still discernible earthwork remains of Sea View Terrace and Brick Row, centred at ST 0239 3439, originally 15 cottages built in 1865. The foundations of 6 cottages - Beulah Cottages built in 1863 - are visible at ST 0263 3434. A focal point for the community was the former temperance hotel which became a general store in about 1870. The shop supplied just about everything and finally closed after all mining operations had ceased in 190 or 1914. The building is now a private house (ST 0230 3434). [17,18] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [19] The settlement is mentioned in a publication on the industrial archaeology of Somerset. [20]

Sources/Archives (20)

  • <1> Monograph: Sellick, R.. 1970. The West Somerset Mineral Railway and the Story of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines. David and Charles Limited. Second. 31, 55-61.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. County Series; 2nd Edition (1st Revision) 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1904, Somerset 58(3).
  • <3> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. I Burrow, SCPD.
  • <4> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. ST0134.
  • <5> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1981. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 4861.
  • <6> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF CPE/UK/1944 3143-3144 (23 January 1947).
  • <7> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR ST0234/8 (15421/22) (15 May 1996).
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR ST0234/11 (15448/03) (15 May 1996).
  • <9> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR ST0234/13 (15448/08) (15 May 1996).
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR ST0234/14 (15448/06) (15 May 1996).
  • <11> Report: Croft, R.A.. 1992. The West Somerset Mineral Railway Research Design. P.4.
  • <12> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1993. West Somerset Mineral Railway Research Design Summary Report. P.15.
  • <13> Report: Coate, S.. The Brendon Hills Iron Industry. P.16-18.
  • <14> Aerial photograph: 1994. DAP VU 8-9, 04.03.93; WD9-11,16-22.
  • <15> Leaflet: Glyn Court, A.W.. Unknown. The Bible Christians 1815-1907: A worldwide family. N/A.
  • <16> Monograph: Binding, H., Pearce, B. and Pugsley, S.. 2001. Exmoor Century: A century of change through fascinating historic and contemporary photographs of Exmoor. Exmoor Books. 132.
  • <17> Report: Jones, M.H.. 1995. Notes on some of the Brendon Hills Iron Mines and the West Somerset Mineral Railway.
  • <18> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1999.
  • <19> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1114687, Updated 31 May 2022.
  • <20> Monograph: Daniel, P. (Ed.). 2019. A guide to the industrial archaeology of Somerset. Association for Industrial Archaeology. 2nd Edition. p 66, W5.1.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11523
  • Local Heritage List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: ST 03 SW35
  • National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1114687
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33917



Grid reference Centred ST 024 344 (391m by 325m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ST03SW

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Related Articles (2)

Record last edited

Oct 10 2022 1:01PM


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