Village history

Merriott has a long and interesting history. There was undoubtedly settlement in the area in Roman times. The Fosse Way, then an important line of communication, lies about a mile to the north over Eggwood Hill just beyond Lopen. The lane Snap Ant shows its location.  Several large Roman villas have been excavated along the line of the Way – notably one at Lopen itself- and it is thought that the fertile soil in the area favoured successful cultivation - hence the settlement.

The name Merriott is derived from “Maergeat, meaning boundary gate. The boundary was the River Parrett along which Saxon invaders were halted in 658AD. The present triangle of roads – Broadway, Lower Street and Church Street – enclosed about 30 acres of land communally cultivated before the Norman conquest of 1066AD. Domesday Book records the village as having 4 mills and land to support 10 cattle.

Housing in the village illustrates its development. Pre 1750 buildings are mostly found along Church Street and Lower Street. There are many farms with large dwellings, some 17th century but mostly of 18th and 19th century construction with a yard and barns behind

Later workers’ cottages in terraces were built as local industries, particularly Tail Mill, developed in size. There were at least three ale-houses in the village recorded in 1594 and seven in the 19th century.

It is possible that there was a Christian church in Merriott in Saxon times but there certainly was by the 11th Century. The present Church of All Saints dates from the 13th Century. It has subsequently been much altered but parts of the tower are probably original. 

Following its tradition of cultivation, it is believed that Merriott housed nurseries for plants for monasteries in medieval times and market gardening has long been an important activity in Merriott. World famous Scotts “Royal” Nurseries enjoyed a heyday in the 20th Century. Sadly it has recently closed. As well as mixed farming, flax production flourished in the 19th century and Merriott was a centre for the manufacture of canvas, linen and webbing.

The above is but a brief synopsis of the village’s history.  
 
The publication MERRIOTT - A HISTORICAL SNAPSHOT ed Keith Mullins and Sheila Bowman (pub.2009) gives a fuller account of the historical data available with many interesting illustrations. It costs £5 and can be purchased at Osborne's Broadway, Broadway, Merriott.

You can also find out much more through visiting the village history site: http://www.merriottlocalhistorygroup.co.uk