A Tour through England and Wales


Daniel Defoe


The following description was copied  by persons unknown from the above titled work, and was found in a file under “Huntspill from 1600” which is part of the Nash files at Burnham-on-Sea Somerset reference library.

Its authenticity has not been able to be verified due to the scarcity of the works by this author, it is however known that Defoe visited Somerset in 1720



1724 – 1726 

From Bridgwater, there is a road to Bristol, which they all call the Lower Way; the Upper Way, and which is the more frequented road, being over the Mendip Hills. This Lower Way is not always passable, being subject to floods and dangerous inundations, I mean, dangerous to travel through, especially for strangers. All this part of the country, viz.: between Bridgwater, and the sea, on northward upon the coast, lies low and is wholly employed in breeding and feeding of cattle, as are also the moors or marsh grounds, which extend themselves up the rivers Parret and Ivil  [now called The Brue] into the heart of the country; of which in its place.........


This low part of the country, between Bridgwater and Bristol, suffered exceedingly in that terrible inundation of the sea, which was occasioned by the violence of the wind in the great storm, anno. 1703 [1603??] and the country people have set up marks upon their houses and trees with this note upon them, “Thus high the waters came in the great storm” or “Thus far the great tide flowed up in the last violent tempest” - or the like.

{The church at Kingston Seymour has such a mark}


And in one place they showed us where a ship was, but the force of the water and the rage of the tempest, drawn up upon the shore, several hundred yards from the ordinary high water mark, and was left in that surprising condition upon dry land.


All this country is all a grazing, rich, feeding soil, so a great number of large oxen are fed here, which are sent up to London; so that now we come into the reach of my former observation, viz.; That every county furnishes something for the supply of London, and no county in England furnishes more effectual provisions, nor, in proportion, a greater value than this. These supplies are in three articles.


1.       Fat oxen (as above) as large and good, as any in England.

2.     Large Cheddar Cheese, the greatest and best of the kind in England.

3.     Colts bred in great numbers in the moors, and sold into the northern counties, where the "Horse Copers" as they are called in Staffordshire and Leicestershire, buy them again, and sell them to London for carthorses and coach horses, the breed being very large.