Posted By The Bower Inn

Fossils, smugglers, poets and spies..

The Quantocks has a chequered history making it the perfect place for an intriguing weekend break this autumn and winter (2016).

Here you can find fossils, hear about smugglers, poets and spies and visit the places where they frequented while making your own happy and interesting memories to take home.

In Georgian times, local free-traders landed contraband on Kilve beach along the shore and used a ruined chapel to store their brandy.

In the Napoleonic Wars it was common for some officers to drink brandy with the captain while illegal goods were being unloaded. The King's Men eventually raided the smugglers' hideout and the brandy kegs were burnt and the building nearly destroyed.

On Kilve beach it is also fairly easy to find ammonite among the pebbles. The locals called them 'St Keyna's serpents' thinking they were snakes turned to stone by the saint.

The Romantic Poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge loved The Quantocks. William and his sister Dorothy lived at Alfoxden (now Alfoxton) Park, near Kilve, to be near Coleridge whom they had befriended.

Coleridge lived with his wife and baby son at nearby Nether Stowey but he spent as much time as possible with the Wordsworths, striding about on the hills and saying they were: "Three people, but one soul."

But their tranquility was soon to be shattered when they were accused of being spies - spy fever was rife during the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

The local doctor became convinced that they were spies and wrote to the Home Secretary to tell him about the strangers, with a wild appearance, wandering the hills day and night and in all weathers, spouting odd ideas, two with strange accents.

A secret agent was sent from London who reported they were harmless cranks, but locals were not convinced and the Wordsworths' lease on their house was not renewed.

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