HISTORY OF THE COUNTING HOUSE

BUILT AROUND 1750?

For many years this was the Headquarters of the Dodington Copper Mines.

The Counting House, Dodington, Nether Stowey, Bridgwater, Somerset TA5 1LE

01278-732621 or 733100



COPPER MINING

In 1784, copper mining started in the Parish of Dodington. The industry lasted as an ongoing concern until 1820. Attempts were made in 1825 to revive the industry.

Older workings are thought to date back to the 1720s.

"Copper ore probably the richest in England, found at Dodington in Quantock Hills"

(Dr John Woodward 1728)

Mining was common in the South West of England. From 1714 till 1854, iron, barytes, shale (for oil), copper, tin, coal, lead, manganese and even gold were all mined at one time or another. Copper mining at East Quantoxhead was known to have been active in 1714. There are known to have been mines in Nether Stowey in 1725.

The Dodington copper mines were run by Cornishmen, experienced and well-known miners of tin in their own county. Many were Methodists.

These mines were financed by the Marquis of Buckingham and Thomas Fox and his relatives, a respected family from Wellington.

In time the English Copper Company and the Mines Royal were getting involved with leases derived from the Marquis of Buckingham.

The Buckingham mines closed in 1801 and fifteen years elapsed before things were got going again in 1817. This ill-fated revival lasted until 1822. The 1825 revival never got under way.

In an attempt to reopen the mines between 1805 and 1808, a prime mover was Tom Poole (see below), who enthusiastically approached many potential investors, including Josiah Wedgwood and Humphry Davy - but without success. Poole again was the major promoter in 1817.

Across the road from the Counting House can still be found The Glebe or Sump Shaft Engine House and an equipment storage building dating from these days. The grounds of The Counting House still carry the feature of a former sand quarry, worked for copper mining purposes.

 

COLERIDGE AND WORDSWORTH

Coleridge spent three years living in Nether Stowey in the late 1700s, writing The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner while there. He was hosted by wealthy tanner Tom Poole.

During these summers, Dorothy and William Wordsworth spent time in Alfoxton, Holford. They spent much time in the company of Coleridge, and documented the fact that at the end of an evening, they would walk Coleridge back as far as "the miners' house", there parting to let Coleridge continue on down the hill to Nether Stowey, while they returned to Holford.

 

JOHN WALFORD

The notorious case of John Walford is well documented. Walford was an intelligent but uneducated charcoal burner, who killed his wife in a fit of despair after 17 days of marriage. This was in 1789.

The judge who condemned him to death (later to become Attorney General) wept at his plight. 3000 people turned up to see this popular and well-liked man hang, and stood in silent homage for 20 minutes after his death.

Tom Poole related the story to Coleridge and Wordsworth, and at their request wrote it down in some detail. Poole had known Walford in his youth, personally.

Michael Barry, a resident of The Counting House, wrote a play about this crime of passion called "Dead Woman's Ditch" and toured it in 2002 with his theatre company, The Wessex Actors Company. He is convinced the murder occurred on The Counting House's land, only yards from the house.

 

Navigation:

 

Bookings enquiries for The Counting House B&B:

Please quote "Internet" when booking