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The church at Chedzoy
 
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Chedzoy church
A Battlefield Drive

11 miles. Starting from and returning to Bridgwater, to explore the wider landscape of Sedgemoor. However the core of the battlefield cannot be traversed by car and so one must also take the walk from Westonzoyland.

BRIDGEWATER

The best starting point for a driving tour of the battlefield is Bridgwater, which was the rebel headquarters on the 5th July. From St Mary’s church Monmouth himself is said to have surveyed the landscape of Sedgemoor, supposedly with a telescope now in Bridgwater museum. While in the town you might like to take a Civil War diversion for this was an important royalist garrison stormed by the New Model army in 1645 and home to Robert Blake a parliamentarian commander during the Civil War and admiral of the Navy during the Commonwealth. From Bridgwater take the A39 towards the motorway. The modern road follows closely the course of what was in 1685 the post road to London running out across moorland along the old causeway.

Turn right immediately after the motorway towards Chedzoy village. Watch carefully for the point at which the land rises very slightly before you enter the village – you have just reached the ‘zoy’ or island (derived from the old English ‘eg’) which gave Chedzoy its name.

CHEDZOY

This is a pleasant village with a few old houses and walls of stone although most of the buildings were build in brick in the 19th or 20th century. The street is narrow and winding but there are several parking places in front of the church.

To get an overview of the Sedgemoor landscape and a real feel for the scale and direction of the rebel approach you can’t beat a climb to the top of the church tower at Chedzoy. But this is something to be taken lightly, for there are a large number of narrow and uneven steps in a tiny spiral staircase. It is also a visit that needs to be planned in advance for, although the church itself is normally open during daylight hours, one must gain permission and obtain the key to the tower door if one wishes to make the ascent.

From the top of the tower on a clear day one can see Bridgewater 4km away to the south west, the old town marked out clearly by the slender spire of St. Mary’s church. To the north of Chedzoy and about 1.5km away is the hamlet of Bradney and the adjacent Peasey Farm. It was here, having left the causeway for the narrow lanes, the rebels marched eastward. Leaving their ammunition and powder wagon near the farm they struck out across the open moor between the Chedzoy island and the Polden Hills, which are clearly visible 2km to the north. Monmouth followed close to the present line of the Kings Sedgemoor Drain, between Chedzoy and Pendon Hill, which is visible as a low hill just 1km to the north east. Here they were still a great distance from Westonzoyland and the royal army camp. From our vantage point the church tower of Westonzoyland is clearly visible in the distance, 3km away to the south east!

The tradition that the marks on the buttress outside the south transept were created by rebels sharpening their weapons, repeated by Clark, 1996, is clearly wrong, not least because we know they never entered Chedzoy village.

WESTONZOYLAND

If you lack the time or the inclination to walk in the footsteps of the rebel army all the way from Chedzoy you can drive south from that village to Westonzoyland. As you leave the village note the way the road winds its way across the ancient arable land past the isolated farms. After it turns south once more notice when it drops down a few feet off the island and onto the almost perfectly flat land of the former moor. At the main road (A372) turn left to Westonzoyland. As you enter the village, now expanded well beyond the confines of the 17th century settlement, the ground rises onto the main island which has given its name to both Westonzoyland and Middlezoy. It is somewhere here, guarding the direct route from Bridgwater, that Feversham had place the royal artillery on the night of the 5th July. Continue to the middle of Westonzoyland where it is possible to park on the main road close to the church. From here it is best to follow the walking tour of the battlefield.

 

   
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