Milverton, Somerset

Woodbarton Ash House history

The Woodbarton estate was built on the site of the Old Sand Street Farm, last operated by the Tucker family, who delivered milk to the village using a horse and cart.

In the middle of the farm stood, what is known as the the Ash House. Its shape is reminiscent of a dovecott, but with no holes for the birds to use.

Nearby is a house still called The Bakery today. Bake houses would need to remove the ash to somewhere safe to prevent fires. It may have also been used to cure meat as hooks were found in the roof beams.

Ash provided an important ingredient. Potash was required for soap making and there was a soap boiler in the village in the 17 to18 Century. There is, of course, a house named Soap House in Sand Street.

In 1708 a devastating fire in Sand Street destroyed as many as thirteen houses which were probably thatched and so perished quickly. So, maybe the Ash House was built to avoid another fire.

It was not listed, so it was lucky that the developers of Woodbarton were persuaded to re-site it. The stones were numbered and noted so after being demolished, it was carefully re-built as accurately as they could on the opposite side from where it had originally stood.

Maggie Dinning