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A bit about Montacute

(Image of Montacute from the south, copyright R. Bosson 2021).

Montacute is a small village in South Somerset, notable for the golden-coloured hamstone construction of many of its houses, including the National Trust-owned Montacute House

Below: Photograph of Yeovil Road, Montacute, showing the Tower on St Michael's Hill dominating the village (Photo copyright R. Bosson 2023).

Colour photo taken looking westwards along Yeovil road from just after Montacute Garage. The left side of the road is lined with sand-coloured hamstone houses and also parked cars. Ahead (where the road bears round to the right) there are more houses and also two on the right side. Looming over the scene is St Michael’s Hill topped by the tall hamstone tower. The sky is blue and there are no leaves on the deciduous trees on the hill, giving the impression of a bright and crisp winter’s day. The photo is signed ‘Becky B’ in the bottom right corner.

In 2009, a study found that Montacute residents had the longest life expectancy in England. The total population in 2021 was just 865 inhabitants, not far off the 827 inhabitants recorded in 1800, and less than a ten-fold increase since 1377 when the village had a 'taxable population' (over age 14) of 87

Graph with with year (starting at 1377 then jumping to 1801 with 10-yearly increments to 2021) along the x-axis. Population (range 0 to 1200) is along the y-axis. 3 sets of data are plotted: Montacute population, Somerset population x1000, and South Somerset population x1000. Montacute population (blue markers) is around 850 in 1800, peaking at around 1150 in 1840, dropping to around 700 in 1911, and now around 850. Somerset population (brown markers) is plotted from approx. 450,000 in 1901 to approx. 900,000 in 2011. South Somerset population (grey markers) rises from around 160,000 in 2001 to approx. 190,000 in 2011.

The deep history of the village is fascinating as there is continuity of family surnames in the village from the present day back to the early 1800's as seen in censuses, and even back to the 17th century as recorded in the estate documents of the Phelips family of Montacute House. And there may be records going even further back than that; if anyone has early sources of surnames in the village I would love to hear about them!

In 1995 Montacute Borough had a makeover for its appearance in Ang Lee's film of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin. Some of the locals were lucky enough to be cast as extras and, last time I looked, there were some photos of the set on display in The Phelips Arms. The photo below shows Ang Lee's vision of how the Borough might have looked in the late 1700s:

Colour photo of Montacute Borough viewed looking south with the Phelips on the left and the Milk House ahead. The picture has been screen-shotted from Ang Lee's 1995 film 'Sense and Sensibility'. There are pens containing sheep in the Borough and a man is leading a cow along the road while someone else leads 2 goats. There are stalls along the left-hand side of the road. People are browsing the stalls and standing in the Borough; dress is late 18th century.

In 2015 the BBC drama Wolf Hall used Montacute House as Henry VIII's Greenwich Palace, with the Royal Tent and jousting in the grounds of the house. 

And I understand a Jacobean 4-poster bed in Montacute House may have had a supporting role for Johnny Depp in the 2004 movie 'The Libertine'.

Next you might like to read my notes on the origins of Montacute and its name, or check out Montacute snippets for my notes on a different topic. If you scroll to the bottom of the homepage you will find the gallery containing some pictures of the village.