In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Banwell like this:
BANWELL, a village, a parish, and a subdistrict, in the district of Axbridge, Somerset. The village stands under Banwell Hill, at the NW extremity of the Mendip range, 3 miles SE of the Bristol and Exeter railway, and 4 NNW of Axbridge. It has a station on the railway, a post office‡ under Weston-super-Mare, and two inns; and was formerly a seat of petty sessions. A fair is held at it on 18 January, or on the following Monday. A monastery was founded here by some early Saxon king; had for one of its abbots. ...
Asserins or Asser, the biographer of King Alfred; was destroyed by the Danes, and afterwards restored; but seems to have given place to an Episcopal palace; and ceased to be monastic long before the dissolution of monasteries A mineral well in the vicinity expands into a lakelet, drives two mills, and sends off a rivulet to the Bristol Channel near Woodspring priory. The parish contains also the hamlets of Knightcot, East and West Rolston, towerhead, West wick and Waywick, Woolfordshill, and Yarborough. Acres, 4,829. Real property, £15,880. Pop., 1,853. Houses, 362. The property is much subdivided. Ban well-hill belongs chiefly to Captain Law, grandson of the late Bishop of Bath and Wells; and has an obelisk, erected by that prelate. The manor has belonged, since the time of Edward the Confessor, to the Bishops of Bath and Wells. A palace was built on it by Bishop Beckington, but went into neglect, and now is represented only by a large farmhouse and offices, called Banwell Court, and by a cottage ornée. Two remark able caverns, discovered in 1824, and now so famous as to draw many visitors, occur on the skirts of Banwell Hill; the one, called the Stalactite cavern, presenting many beautiful specimens of translucent stalactites; the other, called the Bone cavern, found to have contained many bones of bears, buffalos, deer, wolves, foxes, and other animals, mingled with diluvium. Bowles depicts a geological crisis, at which he fancies the bones to have been deposited, in his poem of "Banwell Hill or Days Departed." The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bath and Wells. Value, £702.* Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Bristol. The church is later English; and has a richly-carved screen, a finely sculptured stone pulpit, a circular font, and three brasses. There are a-Wesleyan chapel, and charities £17.-The subdistrict comprises eight parishes. Acres, 19,906. Pop., 12,649. Houses, 2,043.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Banwell has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of North Somerset. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Banwell and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Banwell in North Somerset | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 24th October 2014
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