PARISH HISTORY

A brief history of the Parish of Creech St Michael.

THE HISTORY OF CREECH ST MICHAEL

Creech St. Michael is both a village and a parish in Somerset, England, situated three miles east of Taunton within the Somerset West and Taunton district council. 

The Parish is growing with an estimated population of 2,924 (Source:  Somerset Intelligence 2019 mid-year estimate)  an increase of approximately 20% in 10 years.  With the addition of more than 1,000 new homes scheduled to be built between 2023 and 2030, on the outskirts of the Parish, the population  will continue to increase.

The Parish encompasses the villages and communities of Creech St Michael, Creech Heathfield, Ham, Langaller, Adsborough and Coombe. The A38 runs through the Parish connecting the larger towns of Taunton and Bridgwater and the M5 motorway borders the Parish.

Early settlement in the parish was scattered: six settlements were evidently early, of which Creech village, Charlton, and Langaller were to some extent nucleated. Creech village, where the parish church stood by 1102, comprised in the later 18th century a group of houses west and south of the church along Bull Street, following the line of the river, and others north of the church along a lane which led to the fields. Further cottages lay along the road running west to Husk or Hurst Green. In the 20th century new houses have been built along the village streets. 

The name Creech St Michael derives from a creech, or creek, on the River Tone, which creates an island in the river to the south of the village, and the parish church of St. Michael, which dates from the 12th century.

East of Creech St Michael, Ham, recorded in 1303, lies along the eastern end of White Street on the south bank of the Tone; it is partly in North Curry parish. Charlton, north-east of Creech St Michael, and Langaller, north-west, were both mentioned in 1327, but the name Charlton suggests a pre-Conquest community of either free peasants or villeins.

There are four settlements on the higher ground in the north. Walford was recorded as Wealaford in 682 and Adsborough as Tetesberge in the 11th century. Coombe and Burlinch are small settlements in the valley north of Walford. Foxhole, a small scattered hamlet between Creech St Michael and Charlton, now divided by the Bridgwater and Taunton canal, may have been a squatter settlement on the edge of ancient woodland.

INDUSTRY & LEISURE

The Bridgwater & Taunton Canal provides a picturesque route through the village for pleasure boats, and the tow path is open to pedestrians and cyclists. There are also dramatic remains of the Chard Canal, including the (filled) junction with the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal, a raised embankment leading south from the village, a ruined aqueduct that would have carried the canal over the River Tone, and the abutments of a second aqueduct across a local road.

The Bristol and Exeter Railway line was opened through the village in 1842 and the junction of the Chard Branch Line was located here in 1860, but Creech St Michael railway station was not opened until 13 August 1928. The station was actually north of the junction so was only used by trains to Yeovil and Bristol. It closed on 5 October 1964 but the line is still open, forming a part of the London to Penzance main line. The branch is closed but remains of it are visible. including the skeleton of a Five Arch Bridge across the River Tone, and an embankment curving south, parallel to the abandoned canal.

A paper mill, opened west of Creech st Michael village in 1875, produced writing, cartridge, and fine printing paper.¬† In 1881 it employed 140 men and women as rag cutters, grass sorters, washers, labourers, firemen and engine drivers, machine boys, a blacksmith, and beaters. New machinery was installed in 1948 to produce a wider variety of papers including by the later 20th century ‘bulky’ papers for books and lighter paper for stationery and advertising literature. The mill, owned by the British Printing and Communications Corporation and employing 62 people, closed in 1982. The building was later acquired by Taunton Deane borough council to house small industries.

In the Second World War, a line of fortifications was built through the village, as part of the Taunton Stop Line. The line was meant to contain any German invasion of the south west peninsula. Several pillboxes remain along the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal, one at the old junction with the Chard canal, and one on the embankment of the Chard railway.

The Parish is set in a rural location, with arable faming being the predominant industry.  However there are a number of small and medium sized businesses present within the Parish, including a significant and growing business park at Walford Cross.

Some of the information contained within this item was drawn from the Creech St Micheal Wikipedia webpage, found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creech_St_Michael.

Other information was drawn from British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/som/vol6/pp16-21