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Direction stone at the junction of Foxwell Lane and the A30

A Grade II Listed Building in East Chinnock, Somerset

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Latitude: 50.9079 / 50°54'28"N

Longitude: -2.7442 / 2°44'39"W

OS Eastings: 347770

OS Northings: 112310

OS Grid: ST477123

Mapcode National: GBR MJ.R2L5

Mapcode Global: FRA 564P.W61

Plus Code: 9C2VW754+58

Entry Name: Direction stone at the junction of Foxwell Lane and the A30

Listing Date: 23 September 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1466298

Location: West and Middle Chinnock, South Somerset, Somerset, TA18

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: East Chinnock

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


Mid-C18 direction stone south of Middle Chinnock at the junction of Foxwell Lane and the A30.


Mid-C18 direction stone south of Middle Chinnock at the junction of Foxwell Lane and the A30.

MATERIALS: Ham Hill stone.

DESCRIPTION: a direction marker dating from around 1745 with a pointing hand cut into the stone surface. The stone is approximately 80cm high, tapering from 35cm by 33cm at its base to 24cm by 22cm at the top. The hands indicate the direction to named principal destinations; the distances are not included. On the south face a cuffed hand points west, below this are the remains of letters which may spell C (REWKE / RNE ROAD). Above the pointing hand are other letters including Y (EO) VI (L) / R (OAD). On the east face the letters are illegible. At the very top of this face there are the remains of an Ordnance Survey Bench Mark.


Finding the way has always been a fundamental part of long distance travel. While local people would know which way to turn at a cross roads or junction, a stranger would not. The matter was addressed by central Government in 1697 in an Act of Parliament; this authorised local Justices of the Peace to instruct highway surveyors to put up a direction stone or post ‘for the better convenience of travelling in such Parts of the Kingdome which are remote from Towns and where several Highways meet.’ Further Acts followed and it was normal for parish highway surveyors to erect wooden fingerposts at crossroads when instructed to do so. Wooden fingerposts had a limited life, so a few parishes chose the more enduring, but more expensive, stone direction posts.

The John Ogilby strip maps, dating to around 1675, include a sheet which covers Andover to Crewkerne. This map shows the route between Yeovil and Crewkerne as generally being along the present A30, via West Coker. However, the map here has several major inaccuracies, and before 1728 it was recorded that the main street through West Coker was not suitable for wheeled traffic. The original Crewkerne to Yeovil Turnpike, constructed in 1753, avoided West Coker by turning north at East Chinnock to run via Odcombe, where it turned south to re-join the A30 line at Cuthedge. It is likely therefore that the pre-turnpike route, on which this stone is located, also turned north at East Chinnock and passed up the hill to Odcombe, to join the route from Smoky Hole Lane to Yeovil.

This direction stone is marked on the 1887 Ordnance Survey (1:2500), marked at the junction of what was then named Foxhole Lane. The benchmark is also labelled.

Much of the lettering on the east face is illegible but it may have informed travellers that the lane led to West Chinnock and Middle Chinnock. There are also traces of two vertical lines on the east face, possibly the result of a Turnpike Gate being installed here; the 1st Series Ordnance Survey has the initials TG at this point.

Reasons for Listing

The mid-C18 direction stone to the south of Middle Chinnock village at the junction of Foxwell Lane and the A30 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* as a representation of signposting on rural routes before the General Turnpike Act of 1773;
* for the etymological interest of the early spelling of Yeovil
* as one of a range/collection of the same type and date in this part of Somerset.

Architectural interest:

* for the added artistic touch of cuffed, pointing hands.

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