Meet Langport

View of LangportLangport is a small town in Somerset, England.  At one point, the town was called “Langeberga” which translates from Anglo-Saxon as ‘Long Port’.  This suggests that for hundreds of years the settlement has been a trading centre, using the mouth of the River Parrett as an entrance to Britain for European trade.

If you walk through Langport today, you’ll see a mixture of ages of building from the 15th Century church, to the Tudor House built in 1776 (restored by the Somerset Buildings Trust in 1991), to Victorian shops and houses, right up to 21st century eco-houses built at Great Bow Wharf. 

The archaeological remains of Langport underground combined with documentary record show a varied and full past.  Old Welsh sources include a battle of ‘Llongborth’, which translates as ‘Ship-Port’; there are several Roman villa remains nearby; and the Battle of Langport saw a Civil War battlefield

In the medieval period, Langport became a centre of specialised industry for wool and cloth-making.  This brought prosperity to the town, enough to raise money to partially demolish and rebuild All Saints church bigger and grander, with high quality stained glass windows, and lots of ornamental Hunky Punks.

New Saints detailMore recently, in the 19th Century there were two prominent families that had strong links with Langport and All Saints church, and went on to change Britain and the world in economics and politics.  Firstly Walter Bagehot, who’s grave in the churchyard is cared for by the Town Council and the Bagehot Memorial Fund, and who’s window illuminates the West end of the building under the tower.  Walter Bagehot was born in Langport in 1826, he had a career as a writer and economist, publishing books and articles about economics, the monarchy, politics and ethics.  Versions of his books on economics and politics are still used to teach the subjects today.  Bagehot was the Editor of internationally recognised newspaper, The Economist, from 1861 to 1877, and he brought the newspaper to the attention of America.  It’s rumoured that President Woodrow Wilson had a portrait of Walter Bagehot in his study, and even visited Bagehot’s grave at All Saints church, taking a leaf of the ivy that grew on it back as a memento.

The other leading light in Langport’s 19th century history is George Stuckey, a business partner of Bagehots’ in their early careers.  The Stuckey family have a strong link to All Saints church, with windows and graves to represent multiple generations: a window on the North side of the nave shows that Vincent Stuckey, son of George was a church warden for the building.  George Stuckey founded Stuckey’s Bank in Langport, and expanding to open a branch in Bristol. After a series of takeovers and buy outs, the Stuckey’s branches became subsumed into National Westminster, which is now known as NatWest.  The current NatWest bank in Langport is in the same building as the original Stuckeys branch!

Leading institutions in 21st century Langport are the Langport Town Council, SAW (Somerset Art Works), SPAEDA, ViSTA, CHYPPS, South Somerset District Council, Transition Town, the Langport and District History Society, the Bagehot Memorial Fund, the Benefice of Langport Area Team Ministry, The Langport and Huish Youth Club, The Scouts, The Guides, The Cricket Club, The Libary,The Local Infomation centre, The Football Team, The Angel,  The Langport Business Group, and there are bound to be more working under the surface!

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