Sutton Bingham sounds like a rather refined character from a Jane Austen novel. In fact, it’s the site of a reservoir in South Somerset, just beyond the village of East Coker. According to ancestory.com ‘Sut’ is from the Old English word for South and ‘ton’ means enclosure or settlement. ‘Bing’ means hollow and ‘ham’ homestead. There you go.
First, let’s start with a little bit of history. The reservoir was created in 1955 to supply water to the Yeovil area. It cost £1,000,000 to build and involved flooding the valley. The remains of Sutton Mill, dating from 1699, are under the water and pottery from the 11th and 12th centuries have been found in the reservoir.
The pretty All Saints Church is close by with medieval wall paintings, I’m sure I’ve been there before but I didn’t spot it on my last visit. Also nearby is Sutton Bingham Manor and the railway line passes through, it once had it’s own station here.
As you turn into the car park, there’s a small children’s play area which my children love. The whole site has been beautifully maintained by Wessex Water and I have to say it all looks a lot smarter here than when I was a kid. The one thing you need to be aware of as a parent is that the play area is right next to the car park so not ideal from a road safety perspective. There are toilets on site although I’m not sure if they have baby change facilities.
The purpose of our visit was for a picnic and a walk but there are many activities that take place here including trout fishing, kayaking, sailing and bird watching; egrets and great crested grebes can be found here and the sailing club is very popular. It is very spacious for walking and you can go close to the water although there is strictly no swimming being a reservoir. From the car park we just meandered around to the right to see this beautiful site.
You feel a long way from civilisation here, but if you fancied a pub lunch it’s a short drive to the Helyar Arms in East Coker or you could drive across into Dorset, through Halstock and beyond to Corscombe there is a lovely pub in Corscombe right on the road I seem to remember. Enjoy your trip to Sutton Bingham, there is something for everyone here and all ages will enjoy a wander round.