The history of Axbridge stretches back to prehistoric times with evidence of people living in the caves of the Mendip Hills. Later the Romans settled and mined in the area. However, it is with the medieval period that Axbridge is most closely associated. The town was recorded as a borough as early as the 10th century when it operated its own mint with coins showing the town’s symbol – the lamb and flag.
Axbridge was recorded in the Domesday Book as a borough under the royal manor of Cheddar and later in the early 13th century it was granted charters to hold markets and fairs.
By the 14th century Axbridge was established as a cloth trading town, however the town’s prominence declined along with the cloth trade in the 17th century.
In the 19th century the railway connected Axbridge to London and The Midlands and the export of strawberries become a major source of income for villages in the Cheddar Valley. Closed in the 1960s the former railway line is now a footpath and cyclepath linking Axbridge to Cheddar and the main railway line at Yatton.
The layout of the town has changed little over the centuries. The conservation area contains a high concentration of attractive listed buildings and the Square still has the feel of a marketplace today. There are shops and places to eat and drink dotted around and, if you are lucky, your visit to Axbridge will coincide with the monthly farmers’ market, which is held on the first Saturday of each month.
One of the most eye-catching buildings on the Square is the timber-framed house known as King John’s Hunting Lodge which houses the local museum where three floors of exhibits and many original architectural features illustrate the history of the building and the town.
Axbridge remains a small town today and has a number of bars and restaurants. It is an ideal location for exploring the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Coast and the Gorge and Caves at Cheddar.