Chelwood is a small village and civil parish in Somerset, England within the Chew Valley in the Bath and North East Somerset council area, about 8 miles from Bristol and Bath. The parish has a population of 148. It is situated on the A368 between Bath and Weston-super-Mare very close to the A37. The Parish is within the north east Somerset Constituency of Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Clutton and Farmborough ward of Bath and North East Somerset Council where Cllr Sam Ross is the ward councillor.
Chelwood was a settled community when the agents of William of Normandy made their survey in 1085. This was later entered into document form to be known as the Domesday Book. It was held by two lords and then known as East Celworde and West Cellwert. It is reasonable to assume that the timber built church existed then.
The church is dedicated to St Leonard, who was born in 559. The son of an officer of Prince Clovis, he entered a monastery as a young man near Orleans in France and later founded his own in the forest of Pauvain. For certain miracles performed for the queen he was granted permission by Clovis to release all the prisoners he visited and is therefore regarded as the patron saint of prisoners.
The foundations of the church and certain features are probably Norman but the main structure is 14th Century, the tower being rebuilt in 1722. Although the architecture is chiefly plain there are a number of nice features. The Norman font was made from a block of Dundry limestone around 1125 and the ironwork can still be seen which locked the cover, lest witches stole the holy water. The detailing on the corbels on the ends of the south arcade is 14th Century-vines leaves over a female head to the east, fig leaves to the west. The south windows contain many fragments of 16th Century Flemish glass.
Whilst Bristol traded extensively with the Low Countries it is curious how such glass reached such a remote a spot. It is likely that the former tower was in better style, for there are few villages in Somerset which do not have a superb tower. : It seems there was great rivalry between villages as to the height and decoration of church towers. Spires are rare- but ten in the county.
In Somerset we have an incomparable heritage and St Leonard’s Church with its roots deep in history, is a fundamental part of this.Chelwood is one of eight 'Thankful' villages in Somerset - a title given to communities whose men did not lose their lives to the 1914-18 war. Four Chelwood men went to the conflict and all four returned.For more information about The Thankful Villages please visit the Hellfire Corner website
The next scheduled meeting of Chelwood Parish Council will be on Thursday 4th April 2024 at Chelwood Village Hall starting at 7.30pm.
There will be an extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council on Wednesday 28th February 2024, 7.30pm at Chelwood Village Hall. The main item to be considered will be a planning application for the Old Collery at Frys Bottom where recreational use of the area by trial bikes is proposed.
The Annual Parish Meeting will be on 14th March 2024, 7.30pm at Chelwood Village Hall. The meeting is chaired by the Parish Council chairman, Julie Glynn, but is an open meeting for parishioners to raise matters and express concerns to the parish council and to put forward ideas for discussion at the meeting. This year we are hoping to have the local policeman at the meeting to answer questions and there will also be light refreshments. The meeting agenda can be viewed here: Agenda for Annual Parish Meeting 14th March 2024.pdf