Place:Penselwood, Somerset, England

Alt namesPenzlewoodsource: BHA, Authority file (2003-)
TypeAncient parish, Civil parish
Coordinates51.082°N 2.351°W
Located inSomerset, England
See alsoNorton Ferris Hundred, Somerset, Englandhundred in which it was located
Wincanton Rural, Somerset, Englandrural district 1894-1974
South Somerset District, Somerset, Englandnon-metropolitan district covering the area since 1974
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Penselwood (#24 on map) is a civil parish and a village in Somerset, England. It is located 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Wincanton (#37), 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Bruton (#7), 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Mere in Wiltshire, and 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of Gillingham in Dorset. The southeast of the parish borders the parish of Zeals and the Stourhead estate in Wiltshire, and Bourton in Dorset. In 1991 the parish occupied 523 hectares (1,292 acres). It had a population of 273 in the UK census of 2011.

The medieval form of the name was "Penn in Selwood", where pen (Brittonic for "head") probably referred to a hill and Selwood was the Selwood Forest which once surrounded the area.

The Church of St Michael and All Angels was built in the 15th century. It is a Grade II* listed building.

From the early fifteenth century until 1609 and the death of Nicholas Wadham (1531-1609), co-founder of Wadham College, Oxford with his wife Dorothy Wadham, the Manor of Penselwood formed part of the estates of the Wadham family.

Just outside the village is the site of the medieval motte and bailey castle known as Ballands Castle.

Image:Wincanton Rural 1900 small.png


Penselwood was originally a parish in the Norton Ferris Hundred, one of the hundreds or early subdivisions of the county of Somerset. From 1894 until 1974 it was part of the Wincanton Rural District.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, all urban and rural districts across England were abolished and counties were reorganized into metropolitan and non-metropolitan districts. Penselwood joined the non-metropolitan South Somerset District.

Research Tips

  • GENUKI page on Penselwood.
  • An article on Penselwood from the Victoria History of the Counties of EnglandHistory of the County of Somerset, produced by The Institute of Historical Research.
  • The Somerset Heritage Centre (incorporating what was formerly the Somerset Record Office and the Somerset Local Studies Library) can be found at its new location at Langford Mead in Taunton. It has an online search facility leading to pages of interest, including maps from the First and Second Ordnance Survey (select "Maps and Postcards" from the list at the left, then enter the parish in the search box).
    The Heritage Centre has an email address:
  • Three maps on the A Vision of Britain through Time website illustrate the changes in political boundaries over the period 1830-1945. All have expanding scales and on the second and third this facility is sufficient that individual parishes can be inspected.
  • Somerset Hundreds as drawn in 1832. This map was prepared before The Great Reform Act of that year. Note the polling places and representation of the various parts of the county.
  • Somerset in 1900, an Ordnance Survey map showing rural districts, the boundaries of the larger towns, the smaller civil parishes of the time, and some hamlets and villages in each parish
  • Somerset in 1943, an Ordnance Survey map showing the rural districts after the changes to their structure in the 1930s