Congresbury is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, which in 2011 had a population of 3,497. It lies on the A370 between Junction 21 of the M5 and Bristol Airport, 13 miles (21 km) south of Bristol city centre, and 7 miles (11 km) east of Weston-super-Mare. The Congresbury Yeo river flows through the village. The parish includes the hamlet of Brinsea.
St Andrew's Church, Congresbury
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The nearest railway station is Yatton, with trains provided by First Great Western, although Congresbury once had its own railway station on the Cheddar Valley Line from Yatton to Wells. It was also the starting point for the Wrington Vale Light Railway which went to nearby Wrington and then on to Blagdon.
The remains of an Iron Age hill fort at Cadbury Hill have been discovered, as well as a Roman villa, temple and hoard of coins. Christian burial grounds have also been discovered on Cadbury Hill.
The archaeologist Mick Aston identified an Anglo-Saxon sculpture of St Congar which is believed to have come from St Andrew's Church, and which is now in the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. The parish was part of the Winterstoke Hundred.
The village cross dates from the 15th century and is a Grade II* listed building and Scheduled monument. A 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) high 15th century cross on an octagonal plinth. The head of the cross was replaced in the early 19th century.
Urchinwood Manor is a Grade II* listed building, part of which was built around 1620 with additions being made in the 17th century. The house and surrounding estate has been bought and sold many times over the centuries with the estate now being used as an equestrian centre.
The village had a school founded in the 1870s that was split into separate infant and junior schools in the early 1970s. In September 2009, the two schools were re-joined as one primary school.
The parish council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council’s operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The parish council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic. The parish council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, such as the village hall or community centre, playing fields and playgrounds, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also of interest to the council.
The parish falls within the unitary authority of North Somerset which was created in 1996, as established by the Local Government Act 1992. It provides a single tier of local government with responsibility for almost all local government functions within its area including local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection, recycling, cemeteries, crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism. It is also responsible for education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, Trading Standards, waste disposal and strategic planning, although fire, police and ambulance services are provided jointly with other authorities through Avon Fire and Rescue Service, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and South Western Ambulance Service.
North Somerset's area covers part of the ceremonial county of Somerset but it is administered independently of the non-metropolitan county. Its administrative headquarters is in the town hall in Weston-super-Mare. Between 1 April 1974 and 1 April 1996, it was the Woodspring district of the county of Avon. Before 1974 that the parish was part of the Axbridge Rural District.
An electoral ward exists in Congresbury. The area and population are the same as shown above.
The parish is represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom as part of the Weston-super-Mare county constituency. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. It is also part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
Congresbury is a large village and has several public houses. There is a wide variety of shops, many of them owned by individuals offering specialist products. In 2013, in the village precinct on Brinsea Road there is a Costcutter general store, baker and sandwich shop, butcher, post office, fish and chip shop, farmers' general store and, nearby, two small car dealerships. Near the village cross in the High Street there is a carpet shop, window shop, hairdresser/beauty shop and one of the public houses. Opposite these is Broad Street, an unusually wide street suggesting it was a planned arrangement for the weekly market and annual fair. On Broad Street there is now (September 2013) an outdoors leisure wear shop, pharmacy, two Indian cuisine restaurants/takeaway, arts shop, barbers, hairdressers/beauty shop, charity shop and estate agent. On the other side of the A370 there is a piano shop, hairdresser, and several local businesses. Heading west out of the village towards Weston-super-Mare there is a convenience store, two large car dealerships, a Greek cuisine restaurant and a petrol station. Heading north out the village towards Bristol there is another petrol station and a Tesco Express built in 2011.
The local council responsible for education is North Somerset Council. Congresbury has a pre-school and St Andrews Primary School. Secondary education is not available in the village and so many of Congresbury's children commute daily to the nearby village of Churchill to attend Churchill Academy and Sixth Form.
Sport and recreationEdit
Congresbury has a King George's Field in memorial to King George V. Sporting facilities for the football club, tennis club, and cricket club (formed in 1844), are provided by the umbrella organisation, the Congresbury Recreation Club. The Recreation Club is also home to several skittles teams and darts teams. The village also offers fishing in purpose built lakes and the River Yeo itself.
The hamlet of Brinsea is home to the Mendip Spring Country Club and Golf Course.
In the beginning of the 21st century, Congresbury opened a Millennium Green situated next to the River Yeo and a Millennium Bridge spanning the river to join north and south Congresbury. As well as being a quiet sanctuary, the Millennium Green has also played host to a village music festival. Near to the Millennium Green there is a basketball court.
There is an annual village fete held at the primary school.
Congresbury lies next to the Strawberry Line, an old railway line now converted to a pathway for walkers and cyclists to enjoy the countryside with views over the North Somerset Levels and reserves on the Congresbury Moors, which is maintained by the local conservation group, YACWAG.
Since late 2011, plans have been publicised for a skatepark to be built in the village. Potential sites have been identified including the King George IV playing fields, Glebelands and the Millennium Green. By December 2012 campaigners had raised £15,000 of the estimate £100,000 cost, and in 2013 a further donation of £5,000 was made from a police fund.
In 2013 Congresbury became the site for The North Somerset Butterfly House, a tropical butterfly house with a remit to work with the local community and authorities to benefit local conservation initiatives, conservation based education and the local economy.
Congresbury also has a medical practice, library and War Memorial Hall constructed in 1920.
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