Minerals have been a source of income in the area for two millennia, the region’s geology being rich in lead, silver, zinc and ochre.

The Romans took mining to an industrial scale. In more recent times many waste heaps were re-worked and localised “bell-pit” mining undertaken by individuals from the Harptrees. Harptree Combe, a natural steeply sloping narrow valley, offered ideal opportunities for early pioneers to work mineral seams. Ochre was the principal target – the narrow fissures following the veins are still visible today. By the mid 19th century East Harptree was one of the two biggest producers of ochre in the region.

Brick-making kilns operated on the slopes above the village but these had been abandoned by 1880, probably due to the local availability of good building stone.

The finest industrial structure to remain in the Harptrees area is the chimney on Smitham Hill, a listed building built in 1867 by the East Harptree Lead Works Company Ltd. The business lasted only a few years, but at its peak produced 1,000 tons of lead per year.

The River Chew supported four water mills that served the Harptrees for hundreds of years. These were located at the four road/river crossings, which were probably close to the sites of the four mills recorded in the Domesday Book. As well as grinding corn, at various times they supported other local industries such as cloth manufacture. Milling continued in the area until the last was dismantled in the 1950s.

Our Heritage and History

Funding Updates


Recent grants: National Lottery Heritage Fund award £294,900. Also Foulerton Trust, Bath and Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers, Burges Salmon, The Hobson Charity, Somerset Churches Trust, Allchurches Trust, St. Andrew’s Conservation Trust, Church Care, The Beatrice Laing Trust. If the government extend the LPOW VAT Grant Scheme again in March 2022 that is worth c£90k to the project. Zero VAT rating of the Inclusive Access Works would realise another £15k


  • National Lottery Heritage Fund(294900)
  • School House Trust (£73k)
  • Pledges so far (£84k)
  • Donations so far (£41k)
  • Allchurches Trust(£12800)
  • The Hobson Charity (£10k)
  • Churchcare (£8600)
  • St. Andrew’s Conservation Trust (£2k)
  • The Beatrice Laing Trust(£5k)
  • Somerset Churches Trust (£2k)
  • LPOW VAT Grant Scheme (£90k)
  • Zero Rating of Inclusive Access works (£15k)
  • The Sharpe Trust (£400)
  • Foulerton Trust (£5000)
  • Francis Coales(£1000)
  • Bath and Wells Diocesan Association of Change Ringers(£6400)
  • Burges Salmon Charitable Trust (£150)
  • Other (£64200)










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