PAULTON HISTORY SOCIETY
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The name Paulton is thought to derive from the Old English 'peall' meaning raised place or hill and 'tun' a homestead or settlement. Thus Paulton means a village on a hill
The well watered fertile soil has attracted settlers since the Bronze Age, evidenced by the round barrow at Wallenge, the Roman remains of a villa to the north and a stone coffin and burial urn found near Hallatrow Road which together with the Saxon font in Holy Trinity Church all suggest that there has been a settlement here for over 4000 years.
By the 15th century the village is rich enough to build a church, the tower with one corner is higher than the other three which is typical of medieval churches in Somerset; this church has been rebuilt at least twice, the last time being in 1753 when the tower was refaced with Doulting stone. No history of Paulton would be complete without mention of the staunch non-conformist movement in the village. The Baptists first met in the Pithay in 1691, and moved to their present site in 1724, whilst the Methodists encouraged by numerous visits from John Wesley had their first Methodist meeting house in the High Street in 1771, and as their supporters increased a new church was built on its present site in 1826.
Initially the village prosperity was primarily agricultural, but was helped by the numerous shallow coal seams which could be mined by open cast methods; in addition to domestic use the coal was used to burn lime which could be widely traded. By the mid 18th century the advent of steam power enabled rapid expansion of the collieries with the population doubling to over 2,000 between 1801 and 1850; related industries such as the iron foundry and boot manufacturers, brewing and candle making, also flourished. Most of the Paulton mines had ceased working before 1900, apart from Old Mills and Springfield which finally closed in 1966. Many of the former miners were able to find employment at Purnell’s Print Works which expanded rapidly after the Second World War. Sadly in the last ten years Paulton has lost Ashman’s boot factory, the Print works and ink factory, all of whom had employed a large number of villagers.