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River beds...

River beds...

Ah, the River Brue. When I sat down to consider names for my 5 bedrooms I really felt that they should reflect the splendour of Somerset in some way.  In the end, I decided to select names from the multitude of beautiful rivers which criss-cross the county. After much deliberation, I plumped for Brue, Chew, Mells, Yeo and Sheppey. The last choice was an easy one as the Sheppey meanders through Croscombe. It used to turn two mill wheels in this village.

On its 30 plus mile journey from its source at King’s Wood Warren in Brewham to the sea south of Weston-super-Mare, the River Brue passes beneath historic bridges, alongside a scheduled ancient monument (Abbott’s Fish House – the only surviving monastic fishery building in England) and past a medieval church or two. The Brue has powered mills and enabled people and produce to be transported.

The River Brue meanders in a roughly south westerly direction and has been a vital life source for settlers for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. (The images are from somersetrivers.org)

River Brue

Pic: Somersetrivers.org

However, the Brue hasn’t always followed the route that it does today. It is said that in the 13th century one of the Abbott’s of Glastonbury was responsible for changing the River Brue’s course. With expertise in drainage, land reclamation and the benefits of using waterways for transportation purposes, the Abbott set about changing the River Brue’s path so that it flowed more directly towards the sea. (The Abbott’s wine supply was also transported by boat, so perhaps this ulterior motive proved decisive! Rumours also abound that this was a cunning way of avoiding paying taxes to Wells Cathedral for using this particular stretch of water. We will probably never know.)

record breaking rainfall into the River Brue

More recently, a dam was built above Bruton to protect residents from the river. In 1917 the town suffered appalling flooding as over 24 centimetres of rain fell in 24 hours. At the time, this level of rainfall was the largest ever recorded in Britain over a 24 hour period. A parish clerk noted that the River Brue rose by 6 metres resulting in several local bridges being severely damaged.

Thankfully, events like this are a rare occurrence. For the vast majority of the time the River Brue is far from a raging torrent. There are many stretches that are simply beautiful. The sight and sound of the river can calm and soothe. Effects we could probably all do a little more with in our everyday lives.

“Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.”
Emma Smith

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