The Abbot's Fish House, Meare

The Abbot's Fish House, Meare

The Abbot's Fish House in Meare, Somerset, England was built in the 14th century and has been designated as a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument.  It is the only surviving monastic fishery building in England.

It was once the abode of the chief fisherman of Glastonbury Abbey and was used for salting and preparing fish.  The building stood on the South-West bank of Meare Pool, which had a circumference of 5 miles; Meare Poll though was drained in the late C18.  It is thought that the fish house was erected in the time of Abbot Adam of Sodbury (1322-1335), who was also responsible for nearby Manor Farmhouse.  The importance of this industry is illustrated by a series of acrimonious disputes between Glastonbury and the Dean and Chapter of Wells Cathedral.  The Abbey required fish on Fridays, fast days and during Lent. As many as 5000 eels were landed in a typical year.

There were also three fishponds which would have allowed fish to have been bred or stored.

The Bishop's Fish House.       photo by Humphrey Bolton

For those interested in the building’s construction and internal layout:

much weathered coursed and squared rubble, restored stone-tiled roof, restored eaves cornice, coped verges with finials, freestone dressings.  Rectangular on plan, 4 rooms to ground floor, 2 rooms to first floor, though floor now removed; irregular fenestration; East end with a traceried 2-light pointed-arch window; 2-light chamfered stone-mullioned windows; single-light openings in chamfered surrounds; all openings with later iron grilles.  Two-centred arch doorway in a chamfered stone surround to South; similar opening on first floor, formerly reached by a flight of stone steps, now missing; 2 further narrow door openings to West, one on each floor; again iron grilles. Interior with fireplace on each floor; 4 door opening in dressed stone surrounds.

Abbots Fish viewed from the north.    photo by notfromutrecht