Hemyock is a parish situated on the River Culm, in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The village of Hemyock is the largest within the Blackdown Hills and has a long history, with prehistoric remains discovered that date back to 100BC. In the middle ages, the village thrived on producing iron using local iron ore and furnaces (bloomeries). Historic buildings include a church that dates back to the Norman times, a medieval castle, an Elizabethan Chapel at Culm Davy and a pub that dates back to at least 1740. A stunning ornate Victorian water pump takes pride of place in the centre of the village.
The parish is surrounded by picturesque scenery offering an array of tranquil countryside landscape with valleys, springs and woodland.
- Ancestors of the Cadbury family come from Hemyock; James Cadbury (born 1664) was Churchwarden of Hemyock. His Great-Great-Grandson is the John Cadbury who founded Cadburys Chocolate in Birmingham.
- Claims of Hemyock’s role during the Dark Ages include the legend of a battle at Simonsburrow between the native Celtic Britons and King Ine’s Anglo-Saxon army. King Ine of Wessex had taken control of the land in the Blackdown Hills; his loss in this battle put an end (albeit temporarily) to the King’s expansion to the west.
- The artist Robert Polhill Bevan worked in the Blackdown Hills from 1912-1925 as a guest of landowner and amateur artist Harold Harrison. Until the end of his life, Bevan continued to paint in the Bolham valley of Hemyock parish and nearby Luppitt. Many of the images that he produced in the area are now in national museums.
- Hemyock is the birthplace of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs; the first Young Culm Farmers Club in England began there in 1921, and it continues to prosper as the Culm Valley Young Farmers Club.
- The reputedly controversial Chief Justice of England, Sir John Popham, was once owner of Hemyock Castle. Sir John Popham died on 10th June 1607, by being thrown from his horse into Popham’s Pit; a deep steep-sided boggy dell on the Blackdown Hills. He is named on his wife’s grave stone in nearby Wellington Church. However, according to legend, his body does not lie there: Every New Year’s Eve his ghost is supposed to emerge from Popham’s Pit and take one cock’s step nearer to the grave. Until he has reached it, his soul will not rest in peace.
What’s On in Hemyock?
- Altitude Festival takes places on the first weekend in June each year. The intimate festival features music from around the UK and great local food and drink.
- Hemyock Castle and St Mary’s Church Heritage Open Day
- Regency House Gardens and the private grounds of Pikes Cottage in Madford – open for visitors on certain weekends as part of the National Garden Scheme
- Annual Hemyock and Culmstock Horse Show & Gymkana
Things to Do and Places to See:
- Visit the remains of Hemyock’s 14C Castle, normally only opened to the public during special open days on Bank Holiday Mondays (2 to 5 pm) between Easter and September
- The Norman parish church of St Mary’s
- Quarts Moor National Reserve, is a National Trust property, great for walks.
- Visit the nearby Wellington Monument and enjoy the woodland walks and stunning views across the the area. The monument is a 175-foot-high triangular obelisk commemorating the Duke of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo. Please note: the monument is currently undergoing repairs and is surrounded by scaffolding. However, you can still enjoy the walks and views.
- There are a variety of walks to enjoy in and around Hemyock, taking in the beauty of the Blackdown Hills. Visit our Walking and Cycling page for more information about routes.
Places to Eat:
- The Catherine Wheel
- The Half Moon Inn at Clayhidon
Image courtesy of Martin Bodman / Hemyock: bluebell walk /
Towns and Villages
- Towns and Villages