Norton St Philip is a pretty and historic village in Somerset, just a short bus or car journey from Bath. In the seventeenth century the village was the site of a battle during the Monmouth Rebellion. Nowadays it is a pleasant place to wander, and to enjoy a meal in one of the village’s two historic pubs.
In the Middle Ages Norton St Philip was the site of a wool fair and a destination for cloth merchants. Wool was an important industry in this area, and local trades included weaving and spinning. The village made its greatest mark in the history books in 1685, during the uprising led by the Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate son of King Charles II. After landing at Lyme Regis, Monmouth gathered West Country support for his claim to the throne, fighting several battles with the forces of King James before his eventual defeat at the Battle of Sedgemoor. A skirmish here at Norton St Philip between the two armies was the last victory for Monmouth’s rebels. The photos below show a 2005 re-enactment by the Sealed Knot which commemorated the 320th anniversary of the uprising.
The George at Norton St Philip
The most well-known landmark in Norton St Philip is the George Inn on the High Street. One of the oldest inns in the country, the George has existed for 700 years. The Duke of Monmouth used the inn as his headquarters in the village after his rebels retreated from Bath in June 1685. The character-filled interior contains many original features, including fifteenth-century wall-paintings rediscovered a few years ago. Various films have shot scenes here, including The Remains of the Day and a TV adaptation of Defoe’s Moll Flanders. The pub has a pleasant beer-garden overlooking the village green, and also offers accommodation and meals.
The village’s other inn, just over the road, is also historic and appealing. The Fleur de Lys is another ancient building which became an inn during the sixteenth century. Like the George, it serves meals.
It’s worth spending half an hour exploring the village’s few streets. There are interesting old cottages and terraces dating back to various eras, some pleasantly secretive and imposing gateways and a Tudor dovecote. The village church, which forms part of a very attractive view from the garden of the George, contains some interesting early tombs. Between the High Street and church lies Church Mead, a large green used for village fairs and cricket. The green, and a small children’s playground, can be reached down the winding alley next to the George.
Norton St Philip is six miles south of Bath. It can be reached by taking the Bath – Frome bus service, number 267, which runs hourly on weekdays and Saturdays, less often on Sundays. Drivers can follow the B3110 from Bath to Norton St Philip.
Accommodation in Norton St Philip
If you want to spend a night or two in the countryside outside Bath, there are a few options in Norton St Philip. The George Inn offers plenty of historic atmosphere. The Plaine is a picturesque guesthouse and it is even possible to stay in a castle nearby: Bath Lodge Castle.