A Brief History of Uffculme

 

The village of Uffculme is laid out in the form of a Saxon settlement with central square and parish church to the side on a sloping site.  The name probably derives from 'Offa' a Saxon leader who had a farm on the River Culm.  It first occurs in written form as 'Offaculm' in the reign of King Ethelwulf of Wessex (839-855) who gave the land to the Abbey of Glastonbury which held Uffculme to the Norman Conquest.  In the Domesday Book it is listed as having 45 villani (peasant farmers) which probably equates to a population of 300.  The Abbey tried unsuccessfully to recover their Manor from the Norman ursurpers in the anarchial reign of Stephen (1135-1154).  In 1266, John Cogan, then Lord of Uffculme Manor, obtained a Market Charter for Uffculme.  From the 16th Century, Uffculme was a 'Peculiar' of the Diocese of Salisbury.

There is still an unusual wooden structure in the Market Place, known as the Shambles (bench) marking the site of the ancient market which lasted for cattle sales until the First World War.  Possibly the original bench was used for trading of serges for which Uffculme was famous in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries as part of the cottage woollen industry.

The making of woollens was developed on a factory scale by the Fox Brothers at Coldharbour Mill which lasted from 1790-1981.  Almost all of the historic buildings and waterways have survived and are incorporated into the Coldharbour Mill Trust's working wool museum, which is now an important tourist attraction.

Uffculme's reliance on woolmaking belongs to the past but it is a centre for many local services including the large secondary school serving ten parishes.  There is also a remarkable variety of leisure organisations and some manufacturing industry.  Since the Second World War, Uffcume, which was once grouped around the Square and Coldharbour Mill, has grown with local authority and private developments, increasing the population by 50%.  In the outer parish in rural settlements such as Ashill, many redundant farm buildings have been developed as residences.  Agriculture is still important outside the main village.

St. Mary's Parish Church has developed from medieval times to the present and contains a fine rood screen.  There are also Anglican Chapels at Bradfield and Ashill and the non-conformists have places of worship at Coldharbour (United Reformed Church, founded 1720), at Chapel Hill (Baptist, founded 1728) and at Spiceland (Society of Friends, founded 1682).

Bradfield House is famous for its late medieval Great Hall, the home of the Walronds for over 700 years.  Bridwell House, once the home of the Clarke family lies near the parish boundary.