The Wiveliscombe area is a very active community, with groups providing a wealth of activities and information. However you choose to occupy your time, there are likely to be many other people with similar interests.
Home to many small and medium size businesses, the Wiveliscombe area is a great place to live and work. A thriving selection of retail shops centred around Wiveliscombe are complemented by all of the services that you need. Why go further when you can take care of all those important things right here on your doorstep. The ultimate in personal service!
Wiveliscombe and its surrounding area a treasure for visitors. No matter how long you wish to stay, there are many types of accommodation to fit all budgets and tastes.
Consider excursions to the north Somerset and Devon coasts, the Somerset Levels or the South Coast. Or enjoy breath-taking scenery of The Quantock and Blackdown Hills, Exmoor National Park, or the gentle rolling countryside of the our own Brendon Hills.
Ask the people of Wiveliscombe to describe their town and the two words 'friendly' and 'thriving' will crop up time and again. Known affectionately as Wivey, this historic market town of 2,600 people is set in wonderful surroundings on the edge of Exmoor, in the Brendon Hills. The area is known as the 10 parishes, with Wiveliscombe - surrounded by Ashbrittle, Bathealton, Brompton Ralph, Chipstable, Clatworthy, Fitzhead, Huish Champflower, Milverton and Stawley - forming the hub. There are more than 300 businesses operating within a five-mile radius and this hardworking community also has its own radio station, newspaper and community transport service (Wivey Link Community Transport) - just some of the many good reasons for you to consider a move to Wivey.
Situated on the B3227 Taunton to Barnstaple road (formerly the A361), four miles from the Devon/Somerset border and 10 miles from Taunton, Wiveliscombe is in an ideal location. Although the Beeching cuts put paid to the railway station, there is a bus service (www.wiveliscombe.com/transport), and Wivey Link is a community transport service for residents of the local area and villages. Co-ordinated from the Community Office, Wivey Link operates three vehicles all driven by local volunteers.
Unique shopping experience
There are several reasons residents in the surrounding rural parishes choose to shop in Wiveliscombe - not least for Thornes Butchers, which has been voted one of the top 100 shops in the world in a retail industry list. The Court House is a striking three-storey independent shop that attracts visitors from further afield. Described by some as a mini Liberty, the store is brimming with fabrics, furniture, Persian rugs and gifts, and the coffee shop glitters with sparkling chandeliers and lamps. Specialist traders also include West Country Guns, antiques shops, a traditional hardware store and the Carousel Pig - a true temptation for the girls with its gorgeous jewellery, accessories and clothing.
Eating and drinking
On days when you don't feel like cooking, you can head for the fish and chip shop, local pubs and inns, cafés, Chinese takeaway or the new Indian restaurant. The town has three pubs, although it once boasted as many as 28! The Brewery Plaque Trail marks some of the sites of these pubs and inns with glass, mosaic, carved slate and sculpted pieces. Famous names Cotleigh Brewery and Exmoor Ales still keep the town on the brewing map.
This is a town of enthusiasts and many are supporters of the successful local radio station. Set up by residents in 2005, 10 Radio broadcasts shows on 105.3FM throughout the week. (Terry Wogan has given the venture 10 out of 10!) The award-winning film society is now in its eighth season and the Twinning Association has enjoyed links with Le Lion d'Angers for the past 25 years. The town's long list of thriving organisations includes historical, gardening, horticultural and civic societies, the Scouts, WI and Young Farmers.
When something needs doing the people of Wiveliscombe leap into action. Thanks to hard work and enthusiasm 16 bungalows for the elderly and a new children's centre have been opened. The community office (01984 624777) is open six mornings a week, acting as a focal information point, and for 12 years residents have produced their own free paper;The Wiveliscombe Messenger is delivered by the Scouts. In the community centre volunteers run a weekly day centre for the elderly and housebound.
Education and learning
The book Wiveliscombe - A History (available in the town's library and community office) features a chapter on schools with some delightful old black-and-white shots of pupils from days gone by. The original 1876 primary school building has been extensively modernised and refurbished, and caters for children between the ages of 4 and 11. The last two Ofsted reports described the school as excellent. From the ages of 11 to 16, children attend Kingsmead Community School in the town. It is a Beacon School (and, as such, identified as amongst the best performing in the country) and a designated language and humanities college.
Wiveliscombe is proud of its rich history, and its impressive architectural heritage includes the large early-19th-century church of St Andrew, Regency houses and old cottages. The Market Place has medieval origins and until the Dissolution of the Monasteries a Palace of the Bishop of Bath and Wells existed on the area now known as the Palace Gardens. Visitors marvel over the distinctive timber-and-brick Court House with its elaborately carved wooden figures. It was built by the Hancock family in 1886, whose brewery has been a local landmark since 1897.
Arts and culture
Artists love this part of the world and the impressive range of talent to be found here is celebrated in the biannual 10 Parishes Festival - the next one is due to take place in 2011. There are public art projects around the town, such as the wooden sculptures which make up the marker posts at the Taunton Road entrance. Fascinating gates at the entrance to Jubilee Gardens feature a display of hands. In 2004 plaster casts were taken from local people aged between five and 90 and these were then cast in metal.
Sport and leisure
They are an active lot in Wivey, with rugby, football and cricket clubs, a sports hall at Kingsmead, an open-air swimming pool, tennis courts and a large children's play area, which opened last year. There is a busy walking club and you can explore for yourself with a copy of Wiveliscombe Circular Walks. The book (available from the library) features 11 walks including the 23-mile Wivey Way.
Where could I live?
The variety of property available in the town and surrounding parishes includes farms, small holdings, period town houses, cottages and modern homes, according to local estate agent Bruce Keay. "Whether you're buying a first home, an apartment or house, a family house with safe access to schools or a quiet rural retreat to relax in, Wiveliscombe will have it," says Bruce. "Prices range from £100,000 (or less if you take shared ownership) to more than a million pounds, but one thing's guaranteed, when you buy a house here you'll end up staying for good in this peaceful corner of west Somerset."