Minehead, Somersetshire

The Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Somerset etc (1810) by George Alexander Cooke:

A seaport and borough-town, situated on the Bristol Channel, twenty five miles west from Bridgewater and sixty-five from Bath. The town is divided into the Upper Town, the Lower Town and the Quay Town; which last division is by the water' edge, under the brow of the point or headland, which is about seven hundred feet high, and finely cultivated on the land's side to the very top; but next the sea it is a steep rugged cliff, inter-mixed with shrubs and bushes; the rocks hanging to a prodigious height above the tops of the houses . To the west of the point, the shore is elevated to an immense height.The town was incorporated by Queen Elizabeth and endowed with considerable privileges .It was formerly governed by a port-reeve, but at present by two constables, annually chosen at the court-leet of the lord of the manor. About the beginning of the last century upwards of forty vessels traded from hence to Ireland; many others to America; and four thousand barrels of herrings were at that time shipped here annually for the Mediterranean. At present, however, this trade is nearly lost; the herrings have left the coast, and there are at present not more than a dozen vessels belonging to the port.But though Minehead may have long since deplored the loss of its extensive trade , some appearance of cheerfulness and animation has been given it, till within these few years ,by the company which resorted thither in the summer season for the purpose of bathing. What could have occasioned the desertion of those who sought health or pleasure on its shore, it is not easy to account for ; since it seems to unite all the advantages, without the usual concomitant inconveniences of a bathing place. The shore is hard and fine; the machines commodious; the lodgings reasonable; provisions cheap and plenty; and its access to be rendered easy by an excellent turnpike road which runs to Bristol. To other inducements maybe added the salubrity of its climate, which , like that of Cythera, is so soft and serene that the myrtle-tree will live in the neighbourhood uninjured through all the roughness of an English winter. The admirer of nature also may indulge his pursuits here in various ways: the beautiful hills and precipitous cliffs offer to the botanist a variety of rare and curious plants; the shore spreads before the chronologist a rich profusion of buccina , trochi , nerites , tellini and other shells; and the geologist will find sufficient phonomena to employ all his sagacity and exercise his whole talent for hypothosis. Amongst them is the following curious appearance, about a mile form the Lower Town on the beach leading to Dunster, at the recess of the tide, a spot is denuded in which are discovered many roots of prodigiously large trees, peeing out of the sand, to the height of about a foot or more. Externally these masses are unintelligible, but when crumbled between the finger(for they are soft and friable) the genuine colour and original texture of the wood are plainly to be seen. The wonder however remains to be told, that when the fragments are broke parallel to the grain of the wood, imbedded in the very heart are found shells, foreign to the coast of Somersetshire, in a semi-fossil state, and oak leaves either perfect or decayed.

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 Chapter 18 
"Ay, ay, Miss Louisa Musgrove, that is the name. I wish young ladies had not such a number of fine Christian names. I should never be out if they were all Sophys, or something of that sort. Well, this Miss Louisa, we all thought, you know, was to marry Frederick. He was courting her week after week. The only wonder was, what they could be waiting for, till the business at Lyme came; then, indeed, it was clear enough that they must wait till her brain was set to right. But even then there was something odd in their way of going on. Instead of staying at Lyme, he went off to Plymouth, and then he went off to see Edward. When we came back from Minehead he was gone down to Edward's, and there he has been ever since. We have seen nothing of him since November. Even Sophy could not understand it. But now, the matter has taken the strangest turn of all; for this young lady, this same Miss Musgrove, instead of being to marry Frederick, is to marry James Benwick. You know James Benwick?"

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