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Yeovil
red brick building with small car park in front.
Yeovil County Court
Yeovil shown within Somerset
Population 45,000 (2011)
OS grid reference ST552164
District
Shire county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town YEOVIL
Postcode district BA20, BA21, BA22
Dialling code 01935
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament
  • Yeovil
List of places
UK
England
SomersetCoordinates: 50°56′43″N 2°38′13″W / 50.9452°N 2.6370°W / 50.9452; -2.6370

Yeovil (/ˈjvɪl/ YOH-vil) is a town and civil parish in south Somerset, England with a population of 45,000. The town lies within the local district of South Somerset and the Yeovil parliamentary constituency, situated at the southern boundary of Somerset, 130 miles (210 km) from London, 40 miles (64 km) south of Bristol and 30 miles (48 km) from Taunton.

It has palaeolithic remains, was on an old Roman road and was left in the will of King Alfred the Great to his youngest son Aethelweard. In the Domesday Book it is recorded as the town of Givele or Ivle, and later became a centre for the glove-making industry. During the Middle Ages the population of the town suffered from the Black Death and several serious fires.

In the 20th century it developed into a centre of the aircraft and defence industries, which made it a target for bombing in the Second World War, with one of the largest employers being Westland Aircraft. Additionally, the Fleet Air Arm has a station RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron), the primary base of the Royal Navy's Westland Wildcat and Westland EH101 helicopters, several miles north of the town and is a major local employer (Ministry of Defence). Several other manufacturing and retail companies also have bases in the town. Plans have been proposed for various regeneration projects in the town.

Yeovil Country Park, which includes Ninesprings, is one of several open spaces in the town. There are a range of educational, cultural and sporting facilities. Religious sites include the 14th-century Church of St John the Baptist. It is on the A30 and A37 roads and has two railway stations on two separate railway lines. Yeovil Pen Mill is on the Bristol to Weymouth line served by First Great Western train operating company services, whilst Yeovil Junction is on the London Waterloo to Exeter line served by South West Trains. There is also a small railway museum.

History

Archaeological surveys have indicated signs of activity from the palaeolithic period, with burial and occupation sites located principally to the south of the modern town, particularly in Hendford where a Bronze Age golden torc (twisted collar) was found. Yeovil is on the main Roman road from Dorchester to the Fosse Way at Ilchester. The route of the old road is aligned with the A37 from Dorchester, Hendford Hill, Rustywell, across the Westland site, to Larkhill Road and Vagg Lane, rejoining the A37 at the Halfway House pub on the Ilchester Road. The Westland site has evidence of a small Roman town. There were several Roman villas (estates) in the area, including finds at East Coker, West Coker and Lufton.

Yeovil was first mentioned in a Saxon charter dated 880 as Gifle. The name derives from the Celtic river-name gifl "forked river", an earlier name of the River Yeo. The town was recorded in the Domesday Book as Givele, a thriving market community. The parish of Yeovil was part of the Stone Hundred. After the Norman Conquest the manor, later known as Hendford, was granted to the Count of Eu and his tenant Hugh Maltravers, whose descendants became Earls of Arundel and held the lordship until 1561. In 1205 it was granted a charter by King John. By the 14th century, the town had gained the right to elect a portreeve. The Black Death exacted a heavy toll, killing approximately half the population. In 1499 a major fire broke out in the town, destroying many of the wooden, thatched roofed buildings. Yeovil suffered further serious fires, in 1620 and again in 1643. After the dissolution of the monasteries the lord of the manor was the family of John Horsey of Clifton Maybank from 1538 to 1610 and then by the Phelips family until 1846 when it passed to the Harbins of Newton Surmaville. Babylon Hill across the River Yeo to the south east of the town was the site of a minor skirmish, the Battle of Babylon Hill, during the English Civil War, which resulted in the Earl of Bedford's Roundheads forcing back Sir Ralph Hopton's Cavaliers to Sherborne.

Yeovil railways
Map of railways around Yeovil

During the 1800s Yeovil was a centre of the glove making industry and the population expanded rapidly. In the mid-19th century it became connected to the rest of Britain by a complex set of railway lines which resulted from competition between the 7 ft 0+14 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge lines of the Great Western Railway (GWR) and the 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge lines of the London and South Western Railway (LSWR). In 1853 the Great Western Railway line was opened between Taunton and Yeovil.

The first railway in the town was a branch line from the Bristol and Exeter Railway near Taunton to a terminus at Hendford on the western side of the town, which opened on 1 October 1853. As an associated company of the GWR, this was a broad gauge line. The GWR itself opened Yeovil Pen Mill railway station on the east side of the town as part of its route from London on 1 September 1856 (this was extended to Weymouth on 1 January 1857), and the original line from Taunton was connected to this. The LSWR route from London reached Hendford on 1 June 1860 but a month later the town was by-passed by the extension of the LSWR to Exeter. A new station at Yeovil Junction was provided south of the town from where passengers could catch a connecting service to Hendford. On 1 June 1861 passenger trains were withdrawn from Hendford and transferred to a new, more central, Yeovil Town railway station.

In 1854, the town gained borough status and had its first mayor. In the early 20th century Yeovil had around 11,000 inhabitants and was dominated by the defence industry, making it a target of German raids during World War II. The worst of the bombing was in 1940 and continued until 1942. During that time 107 high explosive bombs fell on the town. 49 people died, 68 houses were totally destroyed and 2,377 damaged.

Industrial businesses developed in the area around the Hendford railway goods station to such a degree that a small Hendford Halt was opened on 2 May 1932 for passengers travelling to and from this district, but the growth of road transport and a desire to rationalise the rail network led to half of the railway stations in Yeovil being closed in 1964. First to go was Hendford Halt which was closed on 15 June along with the line to Taunton, then Yeovil Town closed on 2 October . Long-distance trains from Pen Mill had been withdrawn on 11 September 1961 leaving only Yeovil Junction with a service to London, but the service between there and Pen Mill, the two remaining stations, was also withdrawn from 5 May 1968.

Yeovilrec
Preston Park.

In April 2006 Yeovil became the first town in Britain to institute a somewhat controversial system of biometric fingerprint scanning in nightclubs. Individuals wishing to gain access to one of the town's nightclubs were asked in the first instance to submit their personal details for inclusion in a central system. This included a photograph and index fingerprint. Thereafter, each entry to one of the participating premises required a fingerprint scan. The scheme is no longer in operation. According to Nigel J Marston, Licensing Manager of South Somerset District Council, the scheme was short lived as, "The company that originally supplied went through various changes of ownership and the project became unsupported. This allied to several of the venues closing down lead to the death of the scheme." In February 2007, Yeovil Town Council became the first English council to ban the children's craze Heelys in the centre of the town and High Street. Skateboards, roller skates and roller blades are also illegal in the area. Councillors have stated this is due to "numerous complaints about the activities of youngsters".

In late July 2007, South Somerset District Council plans were made public by the Western Gazette to build a £21 m 'Yeovil Sports Zone' on Yeovil Recreation Ground, which has been a popular open green space used by the local community for over seventy years. Residents fought to protect the Rec, leading to rejection of the proposals in 2009, and further consultations in 2010.

The free, informal recreational space of Mudford Rec, as it is known colloquially, was frequented by England Cricket great Ian Botham during his childhood stay in Yeovil. Another regeneration project was to have included the demolition of Foundry House, a former glove factory, however a local campaign led to this becoming a listed building and it will now be converted into a restaurant and offices and new shop and houses will be built on the surrounding site.

Geography

Yeovil is situated at the southern boundary of Somerset, close to the border with Dorset, 130 miles (209 km) from London, 40 miles (64 km) south of Bristol and 30 miles (48 km) from Taunton. It lies in the centre of the Yeovil Scarplands, a major natural region of England. The suburbs include: Summerlands, Hollands, Houndstone, Preston Plucknett, Penn Mill, New Town, Hendford, Old Town, Forest Hill, Abbey Manor, Great Lyde. Outlying villages include East Coker, West Coker, Hardington, Evershot, Halstock, Stoford, Barwick, Sutton Bingham, Mudford and Yetminster. Other nearby villages include Bradford Abbas, Thornford Corscombe, Montacute (where one will find Montacute House), and Pendomer. The village of Brympton, now almost a suburb of Yeovil, contains the medieval manor of Brympton d'Evercy. Tintinhull is also a village close to Yeovil featuring the National Trust owned Tintinhull House and Gardens.

Ninesprings Country Park is in the south east near Penn Hill. It is linked to by a cycleway following the route of the old railway to Riverside Walk, Wyndham Hill and Summerhouse Hill forming the 40-hectare (99-acre) Yeovil Country Park.

Climate

Along with the rest of South West England, Yeovil has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country. The annual mean temperature is approximately 10 °C (50.0 °F) and shows a seasonal and a diurnal variation, but due to the modifying effect of the sea the range is less than in most other parts of the UK. January is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between 1 °C (33.8 °F) and 2 °C (35.6 °F). July and August are the warmest months in the region with mean daily maxima around 22 °C (71.60 °F).

The south-west of England has a favoured location with respect to the Azores high pressure when it extends its influence north-eastwards towards the UK, particularly in summer. Convective cloud often forms inland however, especially near hills, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. The average annual sunshine totals around 1,700 hours.

Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection. The Atlantic depressions are more vigorous in autumn and winter and most of the rain which falls in those seasons in the south-west is from this source. Average rainfall is about 725 millimetres (28.5 in). November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, with June to August having the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.


Climate data for Yeovilton 20m amsl (1981-2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
(46.9)
8.5
(47.3)
10.9
(51.6)
13.4
(56.1)
16.8
(62.2)
19.7
(67.5)
21.8
(71.2)
21.6
(70.9)
19.0
(66.2)
15.0
(59)
11.3
(52.3)
8.6
(47.5)
14.58
(58.24)
Average low °C (°F) 1.7
(35.1)
1.4
(34.5)
3.0
(37.4)
4.0
(39.2)
7.2
(45)
10.0
(50)
12.1
(53.8)
12.0
(53.6)
9.9
(49.8)
7.3
(45.1)
4.0
(39.2)
1.8
(35.2)
6.2
(43.16)
Rainfall mm (inches) 67.6
(2.661)
48.5
(1.909)
49.6
(1.953)
50.2
(1.976)
48.5
(1.909)
50.3
(1.98)
53.3
(2.098)
55.0
(2.165)
54.9
(2.161)
78.3
(3.083)
74.2
(2.921)
78.1
(3.075)
708.5
(27.894)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 12.2 9.3 10.4 10.1 9 8.3 8.2 8.9 9.4 12.2 12.1 12.1 122.2
Sunshine hours 55 75.6 113 166.1 193.5 195.5 202.3 192.7 143.9 104.9 70.6 50.9 1,564
Source: Met Office

Demography

The Yeovil urban area had a population of 41,871 at the 2001 census, although in 2011 the civil parish was home to 30,378. The parish is made up of Yeovil Central Ward which has a population of 7230, Yeovil East 7300, Yeovil South 7802, and Yeovil West 7280. The urban area also includes Yeovil Without which has a population of 7260 and Brympton with 5268.

Population since 1801 – Source: A Vision of Britain through Time
Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population South Somerset 70,769 93,075 85,080 84,280 85,001 85,729 92,313 99,407 106,462 114,020 129,310 143,395 150,974

Landmarks

Jack The Treacle Eater 3
Jack the Treacle Eater, one of the Barwick follies

One of the symbols of Yeovil is "Jack the Treacle Eater", a folly consisting of a small archway topped by a turret with a statue on top. This is actually located in the village of Barwick, just to the south of the town. The hamstone Abbey Farm House was built around 1420 by John Stourton II, known as Jenkyn, and the associated Abbey Barn dates from the same period.

Hendford Manor in the centre of the town was built around 1720 and has since been converted into offices. It is a Grade II* listed building. Newton Surmaville is a small park and house which is also known as Newton House. It was built between 1608 and 1612, for Robert Harbin, a Yeovil merchant. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building.

Yeovil has two theatres; The Octagon, and The Swan, a ten-screen cinema and 18-lane ten-pin bowling alley. Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust provides local health services. The Yeovil Railway Centre is a small railway museum at Yeovil Junction. It was created in 1993 in response to British Rail's decision to remove the turntable from Yeovil Junction. Approximately 0.25 miles (400 m) of track along the Clifton Maybank spur is used for demonstration trains.

Transport

Yeovil Junction SWC YJ07EHL
A South West Coaches shuttle service to the town centre calls at Yeovil Junction

The town has two railway stations on two separate railway lines. Yeovil Pen Mill is on the Bristol to Weymouth line served by Great Western Railway train operating company services, whilst Yeovil Junction is on the London Waterloo to Exeter line served by South West Trains. Both stations are situated some distance from the centre of Yeovil, with Pen Mill station being just under 1 mile (1.6 km) to the east and Junction station being just over 1.75 miles (2.82 km) to the south. Bus services link the town centre with Yeovil Junction operated by South West Coaches except on Sundays and bank holidays when a service is operated by First Avon and Somerset. The latter company also operate a service to Pen Mill,

Yeovil has bus services provided by First Somerset & Avon, First Hampshire & Dorset, Nippy Bus, NORDCAT (Door to Dorset), South West Coaches, Stagecoach South West and Damory Coaches along with coach services from National Express, Berry's Coaches and South West Tours. There are around 62 separate bus routes serving Yeovil as at March 2009, of which four run Wednesday-Saturday nights only, and six of which run on Sundays. Many of the listed services serve Yeovil College. All bus routes except First Somerset & Avon local routes towards the Western side of the town serve Yeovil Bus Station.

Religious sites

Yeovilstjohns
St John's Church.

The Anglican Church of St John The Baptist dates from the late 14th century. The tower is 92 feet (28 m) high, in four-stages with set back offset corner buttresses. It is capped by openwork balustrading matching the parapets which are from the 19th century. There are two-light late-14th-century windows on all sides at bell-ringing and bell-chamber levels, the latter having fine pierced stonework grilles. There is a stair turret to the north-west corner, with a Weather vane termination. The tower contains two bells dating from 1728 and made by Thomas Bilbie of the Bilbie family in Chew Stoke. The "Great Bell" was recast from 4,502 pounds (2,042 kg; 321.6 st) to 4,992 lb (2,264 kg; 356.6 st). It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.

Yeovil also has a Roman Catholic church (Holy Ghost Church), three Methodist Churches – Preston Road, St Marks (Chelston Avenue) & Vicarage Street (Town Centre), Baptist church in South Street, Salvation Army, Elim Pentecostal Church, Yeovil Community Church (Evangelical, based at "The GateWay"), Yeovil Family Church (New Frontiers), and several other Anglican churches.

In popular culture

Yeovil is the location for the fictional School of Lifemanship in a series of novels by Stephen Potter: Gamesmanship (1947), Lifemanship (1950), One-Upmanship (1952), Supermanship (1958), Anti-Woo (1965) and The Complete Golf Gamesmanship (1968). The books were adapted for the 1960 film School for Scoundrels, starring Alastair Sim, Terry-Thomas, Ian Carmichael and Irene Handl. Later they were adapted by Barry Took into a BBC TV comedy series called One-Upmanship (1974–78), starring Richard Briers and Peter Jones. Yeovil is also one of the three principal locations in John Cowper Powys's 1929 novel, Wolf Solent.

Yeovil is known in Thomas Hardy's Wessex as "Ivell".

Local band The Chesterfields released a single called "Last train to Yeovil" and the pop band Bubblegum Splash also released a song called "18:10 to Yeovil Junction". The folk band Show of Hands wrote a song entitled "Yeovil Town" about the violence and crime they experienced after playing a small gig in Yeovil.

Yeovil is mentioned by John Finnemore (writer) in his song Red Trousers.

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