Tuesday, August 7, 2007

King John's Hunting Lodge

The medieval house commonly known as “King John’s Hunting Lodge” sits on the corner of the High Street and The Square in Axbridge, Somerset, England. Other than in name, there is no connection to King John since it was built fully 300 years after his death. The building dates to approximately 1500 and looks as though it should be protected by a stout wall instead of sitting precariously on a relatively busy thoroughfare. On the corner of the building, located on the first storey, is an effigy of a king’s head, complete with crown. The effigy dates to the 16th or 17th century, and was thought to have been used as a sign for an inn or tavern before it was placed on the lodge building.

The elevation and layout of the King John’s Hunting Lodge looks remarkably like the guild halls of the 14th and 15th centuries in medieval England. The guilds sprang up to promote camaraderie in a particular group of people such as stonemasons, carpenters and silversmiths. They also trained young men in a particular craft who had to attain a certain level of achievement before being admitted to the guild. Guild members sold their wares on the ground level, had workshops on the first level and sleeping accommodation on the second storey, all of which is similar to the Thaxted Guild Hall in Essex. (See Extraordinary Places…Close to London, page 72).

King John’s Hunting Lodge is now owned by the National Trust and is an excellent museum to visit. The museum is closed from October to March each year. Contact museum staff for more details at: 01934 732012. There are some great pubs and dining facilities nearby for lunch or dinner.