The village of Brent Knoll takes its name from the hill which it surrounds. Until the turn of the century it was better known as South Brent but had its name changed when the railway arrived. The Knoll itself rises up over 450 feet above the flat marshland surrounding it and is now in the care of the National Trust. The upper reaches of the Knoll were fortified and occupied as a hill fort during the Iron Age.
Known by the Romans as: "The Mount of Frogs," the Knoll is an outcrop of the nearby Mendip Hills. 137 meters high, (449 feet) it affords splendid views of the Polden Hills to the south, Glastonbury Tor to the east, the Mendip Hills and Cheddar Gorge to the north east, the Bristol Channel and Wales to the west and the Quantock Hills to the south west. The word "Brent" may mean a beacon, a slope, lofty, steep, smooth, unwrinkled, or a round hillock. The Knoll dates from the Jurassic times of 300 million years ago when dinosaurs, primitive mammals and strange birds roamed the area. A warm, shallow sea washed around its slopes thus giving its other name of "Frog Island."
Anglo-Saxons coming up the Bristol Channel may have made good use of the Knoll as a look-out post. They were followed by the Vikings, known for their ferocity, so much so that the monks would offer up the earnest prayer: "From the fury of the Norsemen, O Lord, deliver us!"
Nestling on the lower western slopes of the Knoll stand the large residences of the Manor House and Ball Copse Hall which enjoy splendid views over the flat land towards Burnham on Sea. Their dominating presence adds to the ambience of the village.
Other features of the village are the Reservoir halfway up the Knoll. Several footpaths lead towards neighbouring East Brent and afford wonderful views of Uphill and the southern environs of Weston Super Mare. Walkers are strongly requested to keep to the clearly sign posted footpaths. Foxes, rabbits and badgers can be found in this area which has a range of wild flowers and insects. On the flat land to the west you may spot a hare. Apart from the usual garden birds, buzzards may be seen circling overhead and woodpeckers may be heard.
The church, dedicated to St Michael, has a Norman doorway but the present nave was built in AD 1290.The pulpit dates from the 17th century. One of the more interesting features of the interior are the finely carved bench ends illustrating the story of Reynard the Fox. The remaining benches show various devices and grotesques.
For more information on Brent Knoll village visit www.brentknollvillage.info