In the early days of the 19th century records show a range of skills and occupations in the community – most were employed in agriculture, and there were 3 basket makers, a baker, a grocer, a beer retailer, a maltster, 3 wheelwrights, a shoe maker, a blacksmith, a gunsmith, a poultry dealer, a bricklayer, a shop keeper, a market gardener and a post office and two inns.

The church was built in the fourteen hundreds but for some reason was never completed: the tower ends at 60 feet without a parapet or battlements. It was restored in 1866 using seats from the Royal Chapel at the Savoy in London. The church still has its original fifteenth century font.The original school was built in 1861 at a cost of £600. It catered for 54 children. The new school was built in 1975, the original building is now a private house.

The River Tone passes the village and from 1638 to 1929 was navigable as far as Ham Mills where sea coal was unloaded from barges at Coal Harbour. Navigation had declined from 1827 when the Bridgwater and Taunton canal was opened. Fifteen years later the Chard Canal was opened – one of the last main line canals to be built in the country. The original estimate for building the canal was £57,000; the final cost was £140,000. it was used principally to distribute coal. The Bristol and Exeter railway purchased the canal in 1853 for £5,945 and closed it to avoid competition.

The canal remains can be seen along each walk including a three arch aqueduct across the River Tone. Between Ham road and Thornwater farm, the line of the old Chard to Taunton Canal can still be seen as you cross the third field of the walk.


Public footpaths - on foot only, Sometimes waymarked in yellow.
Bridleways - on foot, horseback and pedal cycle. Sometimes waymarked in blue.
Byways (usually old roads), most Roads used as Public Paths and, or course, public roads - all traffic.
Use maps, signs and waymarks. Ordnance Survey Pathfinder and Landranger maps show most public rights of way.


Take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair if practicable.
Take a dog (on a lead or under close control).
Take a short route round an illegal obstruction or remove it sufficiently to get past


Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work.
Guard against all risk of fire.
Fasten all gates.
Keep your dogs under close control.
Keep to public paths across farmland.
Use gates and stiles to cross fences/hedges and walls.
Leave livestock, crops and machinery alone.
Take your litter home.
Help to keep all water clean.
Protect wildlife, plants and trees.
Take special care on country roads.
Make no unnecessary noise.


Paths across fields can be ploughed; they must normally be reinstated within two weeks.
Obstructions, dangerous animals, harassment and misleading signs on rights of way are illegal and you should report them to the Council.
The Rights of way Officer can be contacted on Taunton 356504.
Original leaflet Produced by Taunton Deane Borough Council LEISURE AND RECREATION RUISHTON AND THORNFALCON PARISH COUNCIL – 1993