A walk around Lynch Farm, Worle

<b>WANHS members at Lynch Farm</b>
WANHS members at Lynch Farm

Quarry top with Chris a.jpg

On the 25th June we joined forces with the Friends of Weston Museum to explore Lynch Farm, a public open space in Worle. Our guide was the well-known local historian, Chris Richards.

Lynch Farm is a little know park that lies at the eastern end of Worle Hill, slopes down towards the floodplain of the River Banwell and affords a fine view to Castle Batch and beyond.

We assembled outside St. Martin's Parish Church and Chris quickly led through ancient footpaths now urbanised to Sherwood Crescent. Here we paused and Chris explained that we were standing at the summit of a well marked northeast ridge.

According to the early maps we were located in a one acre field known as the Lynch. The word has several interpretations, all of which involve some aspect of sloping land. Here Chris suggested a knife edge ridge with a Coombe on either side. He referred to the curious book by R.B. Chapman "The Warden of the Road" (pub. Glovers, 1935), much of which he classified as *fanciful tosh, but in one interesting passage it refers to an almost impregnable fortress on this slope which was 100 yards by 70 yards, pretty much the dimensions of the one acre field.

Although there is no other reference to this supposed fortress the area did yield some interesting finds when the bungalows were built in 1969. These included Romano-British pottery, medieval rubbish pit and some Saxon-Norman pottery. Worle was after all mentioned in Domesday and this site appears to provide evidence of that early period.

From here we made our way via the Nut Tree Inn, resisting all temptation along the Ebdon Road and past the original Lynch Farm approach the ope'n space &om below. We first inspected the narrow strip of ridged land currently being surveyed by WESMART, which is believed to show remnants of the arable strips formed by cultivation.

Then, at enormous personal risk, we made ow way up the slippery slope to the top of the quarry. There is now no evidence of a quarry yet the old maps show one, and we had to take in the fact that we were standing on top of massive pile of infill. This had been created when the disused quarry was used as a spoil heap during the development of Worle in the post-war period. It seems that the quarry had closed in the 1880's, but in its abandoned state had remained a haunt for children and sometimes poultry keepers until it disappeared within living memory.

From here we slid our way back down via a different route to the old - hollow way, now largely overgrown over the massive bank, which remains to be explained, and safely returned to the green, green grass of lynch Farm Open Space.

Chris took us then to the wooded slop at the foot of the Open Space where there was still evidence of past quarrying activity. Here the underlying bedrock of carboniferous limestone was exposed and small quarry pits were to be seen. In 1969 the entrance to a cave or mine was discovered. It was quite possible that it had one been mined as a source of galena (lead ore) or calamine (zinc ore). As we made ow way over the turf to the top entrance of lynch Farm we noticed elongated lines of shallow pits in the surface. Chris suspected that these could be where miners had been following a seam of ore close to the surface of the rock.

Shortly before reaching the Kewstoke Road we stopped to consider a curious earthwork which lies across the path up to tie road. WESMART has also surveyed this as early maps show a curious arrangement of boundaries here, and the suspicion is that they are related in some way to this feature. Chris suggested that it may once have enclosed a pond. There is a reference in the 1802 Enclosure award of Worle Hill to a spring of water that was to be protected, and that there should be "no quarrying within 20 yards of that spring".

The spring is now lost but this could well be the remains of a pond that was fed from it The old village quarry lies directly opposite the exit from the park, lending feasibility to the suggestion. By continuing a short distance along the Kewstoke Road we came to the entrance to the main quarry, now also disused.

Worle quarry a.jpg

Chris pointed out the offices to the right of the entrance which had been built in the late 1950's. These marked the spot where a cave had been excavated between 1957 and 1961. Unfortunately the excavation was never properly written up, though notes of the finds remain. These include Pleistocene rodents, Mesolithic flint barbs, and Iron Age and Romano-British pottery.

At this point we dispersed but not without expressing our thanks to Chris who had demonstrated once again that there are surprises and questions to be answered at every turn.

Peter Johnson