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National Trust King John’s Hunting Lodge

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Early Tudor wool-merchant�s house.

King John’s Hunting Lodge is a wool-merchant’s house of around 1500 in Axbridge, Somerset, England.

The building comprised comprised shops on the ground floor, living areas and workshops on the first floor, and storage and sleeping areas on the second floor. In 1340 a building with shops occupied the same site; it belonged to John Oldeway and was called “the stockhouse’. This house is the finest of a number of wood-framed houses in the High Street and The Square, unusual in a town where stone buildings, generally rendered with plaster or mortar, were common. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the building housed a succession of shops and underwent various changes which contributed to its physical decline. It was saved from probable destruction thanks to a Miss Ripley, who bought it and bequeathed it to the National Trust, who in turn undertook the works necessary to make it fit for visitors. In overhauling the structure of the premises in 1971, the National Trust’ restored its medieval character by recreating on the ground floor the appearance of arcaded stalls opening onto the street, and the sixteenth-century decoration of the upstairs windows.

The property is run by the National Trust as a local history museum by Axbridge and District Museum Trust, in co-operation with Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Museums Service and Axbridge Archaeological and Local History Society. It is a grade II* listed building.

The museum aims to illustrate the history, geology and community of Axbridge and the surrounding area (the area of the old Axbridge Rural District, which included many neighbouring villages such as Cheddar, Wedmore, Mark and Winscombe). There is a core of long-term and permanent exhibits, reviewed regularly for possible changes, updates, and revised displays and information, and there is a programme of temporary exhibitions to reflect many aspects of local life and heritage.

The origin of the name is unclear as it was not built until long after the reign of King John, who died in 1216. Its present name first appeared in a 1915 publication, “The Heart of Mendip” by Francis Knight, when it was being run as a saddler’s shop. The royal part of the name may have come from the fact that a carved king’s head was found nearby, but whether this represented John or another king is not known. The head is now attached to one corner of the exterior.

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