Place:Frome, Somerset, England

Alt namesFroome Selwoodsource: former placename
Frome Selwoodsource: former placename
Frome-Selwoodsource: Family History Library Catalog
TypeTown, Urban district
Coordinates51.23°N 2.322°W
Located inSomerset, England
See alsoFrome Hundred, Somerset, Englandhundred in which it was located
Mendip, Somerset, Englanddistrict in which Frome located since 1974
source: Family History Library Catalog

Frome is a medium-sized town in Somerset, England, near the Mendip Hills. In the 2011 census, the population was given as 26,203. From AD 950 to 1650, it was larger than Bath, 13 mi (21 km) to the north. The town originally grew due to the weaving industry, and weavers' cottages can still be found, contrasting with Georgian terraces. The town has grown substantially in recent years but still retains its centre, most of which falls within a conservation area. It is unevenly built on high ground above the River Frome, which is here crossed by a stone bridge of five arches. It was formerly called Frome Selwood or Froome Selwood, after the neighbouring forest of Selwood; and the country surround is still richly wooded and picturesque. Selwood became a separate civil parish after 1894.

Frome is the largest town within the Somerset non-metropolitan district of Mendip, although Mendip's administrative centre is Shepton Mallet. From 1889 to 1974 the town and parish was administered by Frome Urban District.


Historic Descriptions

1822 - Somersetshire delineated by Christopher & John Greenwood

A large populous market-town, in the hundred to which it gives name. It derives its appellation from the river Frome, which passes through the lower part of the town, under a bridge of five arches, and pursues, its course through Beckington to Road, and then forms the boundary of the county to Freshford, where it joins the river Avon. This town was formerly called Frome-Selwood, from its vicinity to Selwood-Forest.

It lies in latitude 51° 13′ 49″ 9. N. and longitude 2° 18′ 41″6. W. 12 miles from Bath, 24 from Bristol, 15 from Wells, and 1O7 from London ; and contains 2307 inhabited houses, and 2526 families, 106 of-whom arc employed in agriculture, 1576 in trade, manufacture, or handicraft, and 844 not comprised in either class. It is irregularly built, and consists of a great number of streets, very narrow, and indifferently paved, but most of them being on a declivity renders the town tolerably clean. A new opening has lately been made through the town, forming a very handsome street, with well-built houses on each side. The chief manufacture is that of woollen cloth; it has likewise an extensive trade in card making for the woolcombers, and on the river. are several mills for fulling, &c. The town was formerly governed by a bailiff, but is now under the direction of constables chosen at the courts-leet of the Marquis of Bath, and Bad of Cork and Orrery. Here is a free-school, founded by Edward the Fourth; a good charity-school, an alms-house for widows, and several meeting-houses for various denominations of dissenters. The church is extremely neat and spacious, being 152 feet long, and 54 feet wide, consisting of a nave, chancel, north and south aisles, four chapels, a vestry-room, and two porches, with a quadrangular tower supporting a handsome spire; the tower contains a clock, chimes, and eight bells.

The living is a vicarage, in the deanery of Frome; Rev. C. Phillott, incumbent; instituted 1813. Within that part of Frome called the Woodlands, to the north of Bramble Forest, stands another church, called the new church, which was built by Thomas Lord Viscount Weymouth, in the year 1712, and endowed with £6O per annum out of an estate at Pennard, in this county, in compliance with the last will and testament of his deceased brother, the Hon. Henry Frederick Thynne. His lordship also augmenting the stipend with £30 per annum, and £500, the greater part of which has since been applied to the purchase of an estate, called Codrington, within the parish of Frome, the net proceeds of which are also settled upon the minister of this church. The church is a handsome building, 68 feet long and 34 feet wide, with a square tower at the west end, surmounted by an octangular spire 70 feet high. Frome has two weekly markets, viz. Wednesday and Saturday (the former is the principal one for cattle and corn); also four fairs annually, February 24, July 22, September 14, and November 25. Population, 1801, 8748 — 1811, 9493 — 1821, 12,411.

1929 - Somerset by George Woosung Wade & Joseph Henry Wade

FROME, a thriving market town of some 11,000 inhabitants, on the E. side of the county, with a station on the G.W.R. line to Weymouth. Though its surroundings are pretty, the town itself is an ill-arranged collection of steep and narrow streets, one of which—Cheap Street—deserves notice for its quaintness. The spaciousness of the market-place redeems the narrowness of the streets. With the exception of a little faint-hearted sympathy shown to Monmouth, Frome has never helped to make history. Nowadays it does a brisk trade in woollen cloth, and possesses some large printing-works, breweries, and art-metal works. The visitor would do well to make his way at once to the church, which is practically the only thing in Frome worth seeing. It is a building of much greater dignity within than the exterior suggests, and has been restored on a very elaborate scale by a former incumbent, the Rev. W.J. Bennett (1852-66), a figure of note in the early Ritualistic controversies. The tower, crowned with a spire, is somewhat eccentricly placed at the E. end of the S. aisle. The interior is remarkable for its heterogeneous mixture of styles and its multitude of side chapels, of which St Nicholas's, the Lady Chapel, and St John Baptist's are on the N., and St Andrew's on the S. A Saxon church was built on the site by St Aldhelm, and possibly a couple of carved stones built into the interior of the tower may have belonged to it. This was succeeded in the 12th cent. by a Norm. church, of which a doorway remains, leading from St Nicholas's Chapel to the Lady Chapel, and perhaps a piscina opposite the latter; in the 13th cent. the chancel arch, the lower part of the tower, and the eastern half of the arcade were erected The rest of the arcade was added in the 15th cent. The abrupt change in the mouldings is very noticeable. The Lady Chapel, originally Norm. (see above), was rebuilt at this time, as well as St John's Chapel (now the organ-chamber). The chapel of St Nicholas (the baptistery) dates from the 16th cent.; the old glass in it bears the rebus of Cable, the founder of it (K and a bell). St Andrew's Chapel is said to have been founded in 1412 (though it looks like Dec. work). Interesting features are (1) piscinas above the rood and in the S. aisle, (2) a memento mori in the Lady Chapel (said to be a Leversedge of Vallis), (3) brass (1506) on tower wall. The rood-screen, the statues at the W., the medallions above the arcade, and the Calvary Steps outside the building are all modern. In the churchyard, beneath the E. window, is the tomb of Bishop Ken, who, after his "uncanonical deposition," lived in retirement at Longleat, and, dying in 1711, was buried at his own request "just at sunrising in the nearest parish church within his own diocese."

Research Tips

Online Transactions

Frome, St John the Baptist

A list of sources for Frome references from the Family History Catalog can be found under the Category "Frome, Somerset, England" below.

Other Resources

Picture Gallery

Rook Lane Chapel
Rook Lane Chapel
The Blue House
The Blue House
Gentle Street
Gentle Street
Sheppards Barton
Sheppards Barton