The Fisher blacksmith's at Rughill, Cocklake, Wedmore

 

  

This page reports on a visit to the blacksmith's forge/smithy at Rughill, part of the hamlet of Cocklake on the outskirts of Wedmore, where my Fisher ancestors had lived and worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  

At the end of my visit to Wedmore, when the hotel manager directed us back to the motorway, he inserted as a throwaway remark the name Rughill. I pricked up my ears immediately, as Rughill on the outskirts of Wedmore was where Joseph Fisher and his son, Octavius had worked, also as a blacksmith. The story went that he used to take my grandmother, Maud, out with him when he went about his work in the surrounding farms. Rughill turned out to be a road in the hamlet of Cocklake, a couple of miles from Wedmore. I hadn't been able to find it the previous day because it was off my street-map.

Once at Rughill, the house named the Smithy was easy to find. I decided to ring the bell on the offchance of someone being there, to ask if there was anything left that might be relevant to my search. The owner couldn't have been nicer. She invited us in and showed us round. We were first shown the forge which was a few metres down the hill from the house. There was of course nothing left of Octavius's tools of the trade, but the wide door clearly illustrated how it must have been as a forge in his time.

The old blacksmiths forge at Rughill, Wedmore with me, Pat Cryer, at the door   The old blacksmiths forge at Rughill, Wedmore with me, Pat Cryer, at the door

We were invited into the garden and round to a corridor at the side of the house to see the bread oven which was built out from behind the fire in the living room. That was quite emotional for me, as I could imagine Joseph, Harriet, Amelia and Maud visiting Octavius and eating fresh bread from it, all those many years ago.

The door to the back garden of the Rughill forge  The baker's oven set into the wall of the Rughill forge, also showing the present owner

Inside the house, in the living room we admired the thickness of the "cob" walls and I had the joy of looking out of the window over the garden, just as Octavius, Joseph, Harriet, Amelia and Maud must have done all those years ago.

Me, Pat Cryer, musing out of the window of the Rughill forge as my ancestors would have done

Post script: The owners have since emailed to say that the house did not exist on a map of 1795 but does appear on one for 1805. They were told that the plot of land is long and thin because it was claimed under squatters rights when anyone could grab land along an existing ‘highway’ to the depth of a certain number of yards, but they didn’t know how true the story was. (Apparently a similarly shaped plot is higher up the hill.) Assuming the story is true, it would be interesting to know if it was a Fisher who grabbed the land. My direct line of Fishers was in the Borough in Wedmore at the earliest date I have (1841). More information ought to be available somewhere in the rating records - but that is for the future.

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