Chew Magna

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Great Britain

Chew Magna
Population: approx. 1200
Ordnance Survey
OS grid reference: ST577631
District: Bath and North East Somerset
Region: South West England
Constituent country: England
Sovereign state: United Kingdom
Ceremonial county: Somerset
Historic county: Somerset
Police force: Avon and Somerset
Fire and rescue: Avon
Ambulance: South Western
Post office and telephone
Post town: BRISTOL
Postal district: BS40
Dialling code: 01275
UK Parliament: Wansdyke to be North East Somerset from next general election.
European Parliament: South West England

Chew Magna ( grid reference ST575631) is a village within the Chew Valley in North East Somerset, England. To the south of the town is Chew Valley Lake. The village is on the B3130, about 10 miles from Bristol, 15 miles from Bath, 13 miles from the city of Wells, and 6 miles from Bristol International Airport.

It is just on the northern edge of the Mendip Hills (a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), and was designated a conservation area in 1978 . There are many listed buildings reflecting the history of the village. The River Chew flows through the village. Just outside the village is Chew Magna Reservoir this small Bristol Water supply reservoir intercepts the Winford Brook.

It has around 1,200 residents. There are two primary schools and a secondary school, several shops and small businesses, three churches, three pubs serving the area. There is also a football pitch and children's play area. The village frequently wins regional categories in the Calor Village of the Year competition, and is currently moving towards zero waste status, having been described as "probably the greenest parish in Britain".


Chew Magna is the largest village in the district, and can trace its importance back to Saxon times. It was a thriving woollen centre in the Middle Ages. The manor of Chew was held by the Bishop of Bath and Wells, from 1062 to 1548, and for that reason the village was called Chew Episcopi or Bishop's Chew. The Bishops built a palace near the church of St. Andrews, which was visited by Henry III in 1250. Chew Court is a surviving part of the palace. More recently, since about 1600, the name has been Chew Magna because this has been the most important of the several villages along the banks of the River Chew.

Around 1700 the Lord of the Manor was Sir William Jones the Attourney General of England and in the 1820s it was the seat of Lord Lyttelton. Until about 1880 the village had toll roads and a toll house to collect the fees.

During the 19th and 20th centuries the importance of the wool trade in the village declined and it became largely a dormitory area for the cities of Bristol and Bath, although it has continued to be the commercial centre of the valley. The building of Chew Valley Lake in the 1950s has brought further opportunities for leisure and tourism.

Government and politics

Chew Magna has its own Parish council which has some responsibility for local issues, and is part of the Chew Valley North Ward which is represented by one councillor on the Bath and North East Somerset Unitary Authority which has wider responsibilities for services such as education, refuse, tourism, etc. The village is a part of the Wansdyke constituency which elects one MP to the Westminster Parliament and part of the South West England constituency which elects 7 members to the European Parliament.


According to the 2001 Census the Chew Valley North Ward (which includes Chew Magna and Chew Stoke), had 2,307 residents, living in 911 households, with an average age of 42.3 years. Of these 77% of residents describing their health as 'good', 21% of 16–74 year olds had no qualifications; and the area had an unemployment rate of 1.3% of all economically active people aged 16–74. In the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004, it was ranked at 26,243 out of 32,482 wards in England, where 1 was the most deprived LSOA and 32,482 the least deprived.


Chew Magna Primary School gained an award for the use of ICT in Practice in 2005 for using the fantasy role-playing computer game Myst to support literacy and communication.

Chew Valley School is the main secondary school (11-18 years) for the valley. It is situated between Chew Magna and Chew Stoke. The latest (2005) Ofsted Inspection Report describes this specialist Performing Arts College as a mixed comprehensive school with 1158 pupils on roll. The school is popular and oversubscribed with 196 students in the sixth form. The school has been successful in gaining a number of national and regional awards.

Famous residents

  • Richard Brock (Natural history film producer)
  • Dr Phil Hammond (GP and comedian)
  • John Sanger (1816 – 1889) ( circus proprietor)

Go Zero project

Chew Magna is also the home of the "Go Zero" project which promotes education for sustainability at all levels in society, and it will seek to conserve and make improvements to the environment in the UK and overseas. The four groups within Go Zero are; Transport and Energy (which includes Dragonflyer Mobility, a plan to develop a range of integrated services that offer communities in the West of England cost-effective, flexible and environmentally sustainable transport), People and Consumption ( farmers markets, local food, skill swaps), Converging World (which supports campaigns and initiatives for social justice and development and is currently pursuing Fair Trade status for Chew Magna) and Waste and Recycling. It is based at Tunbridge Mill, an old watermill almost certainly on the site of one of the mills mentioned in the Domesday Survey.

Sport and Recreation

Chew Magna has a King George's Field in memorial to King George V. Gymnasium facilities, squash courts, badminton etc., and outdoor all-weather pitches are available at the Chew Valley Leisure Centre between Chew Magna and Chew Stoke. There are a range of clubs and societies for young and old, including scout groups, gardening society, and the Women's institute. There is a cricket pitch and teams in Chew Magna

Points of Interest


St Andrew's Church, Chew Magna
St Andrew's Church, Chew Magna

St Andrew's Church dates from the 12th century with a large 15th-century pinnacled sandstone tower, a Norman font and a rood screen that is the full width of the church. In the church are several memorials to the Stracheys of Sutton Court together with a wooden effigy of a Knight cross-legged and leaning on one elbow, in 15th century armour, thought to be of Sir John de Hauteville or a descendant, and possibly transferred from a church at Norton Hautville before it was demolished . Another effigy in the north chapel is of Sir John Loe and his lady. The armoured figure is 7 feet 4 inches long and his feet rest on a lion, while those of his lady rest on a dog. The church was restored in 1860 and has a register commencing in 1562. The tower is about one hundred feet tall and was probably built about 1440 . There has been a clock on the tower since the early 1700s. There is a peal of eight bells in the tower. Tenor 28cwt in C. The original five bells were re-cast by the celebrated Thomas Bilbie of Chew Stoke in 1735 to make a peal of six, and in 1898 four of these were re-cast and two were repaired by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank of London to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Two additional bells, the gift of Brigadier Ommanney, were added in 1928 to complete the octave, which does still contain two of the Bilbie bells. The present clock, installed in 1903, plays a verse of a hymn every four hours, at 8 am, noon, 4 and 8 pm, with a different hymn tune for every day of the week. It is a Grade I listed building. The churchyard contains several monuments which are Grade II listed buildings in their own right; Churchyard cross, Edgell monument, Fowler monument and a group of three unidentified monuments. Within the church are wooden plaques commemorating the nineteen people from the village who died in World War I and seven from World War II, and a bronze plaque to an individual soldier who died in 1917.

Church House/Old School Room

The Old School Room, Chew Magna
The Old School Room, Chew Magna

The local school from the mid or early 15th century was in the upstairs room of Church house (now called the Old School Room), with the village Poorhouse below. This has been a venue for social activity in the village and in 1971 underwent major renovation. It is a Grade II* listed building.

Chew Court

Chew Court, which was originally a bishop's palace, next to the church which was largely rebuilt in 1656, from which a little survives as the Chew Court of today, which includes an Elizabethan doorway with Doric pilasters. Chew Court is a Grade II* listed building.

Manor House

The Manor House has Tudor origins, including a fireplace dated 1656, with a Gothic exterior from 1874, largely redesigned by John Norton. Amongst the brought-in pieces in the house are two South German Reliefs "The Martyrdom's of St Catherine and St Sebastian", from an altar of the early 16th century. There are also a series of panels in the Floris style, probably Flemish and with a repeating date 1562. From 1680 to 1844 was the home to prominent Quaker families including the Vickris, the Summers and the Harfords. William Penn preached here in 1687. The house has 4.9 acre gardens laid out in the 19th Century. The Manor House is a Grade II* listed building and now forms part of the Sacred Heart Convent School . Two of the stables attached to the Manor House are Grade II listed.

The Beeches

The Beeches in the High Street is a Grade II* listed building, which was built in 1762 for Ephraim Chancellor, although the side wings were added later.

Tun Bridge

Just south of the town is a medieval Tun Bridge with three pointed arches including double arch rings, spanning 60 feet over the river, approached along one of the high pavements that are a feature of the village centre. The bridge is thought to date from the late 15th Century and is a Grade II listed building,and a Scheduled Ancient Monument (Avon No. 159). The raised pavement and steps are themselves also listed Grade II.

Other Grade II listed buildings

Main Street and shops Chew Magna
Main Street and shops Chew Magna
street showing site of old toll house
street showing site of old toll house
  • Lodge about 80 metres south west of The Rookery at Images of England
  • Rookstone House at Images of England
  • The Rookery and attached walls at Images of England
  • Elm Farmhouse at Images of England
  • Dumper's Farmhouse at Images of England
  • Harford House at Images of England
  • Stable about 30 metres west of Harford House at Images of England
  • Acacia House at Images of England
  • Barle House at Images of England
  • Holly House at Images of England
  • Igbetti House, formerly called Myrtle House, at Images of England
  • Portugal House at Images of England
  • The Sycamores at Images of England
  • Walls, railings, gates and piers attached to front of The Beeches at Images of England
  • Knole Hill Farmhouse at Images of England
  • Pitt's Farmhouse at Images of England
  • Church House at Images of England
  • Gate piers and wall about 5 metres east of Church House at Images of England
  • Baptist Chapel at Images of England
  • Fisher Lodge and Archways House at Images of England
  • Tunbridge House at Images of England
  • Highfield House House at Images of England
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