The village of Marshfield is a small medieval town about 9 miles north-east of Bath in Southern Gloucestershire,
England. It lies very close to the border of two other counties; Somerset to the south and Wiltshire to the East.
The village stands on a ridge which formerly made up the boundry between Wessex and Mercia in Anglo-Saxon times.
Marshfield looks out onto two distinct aspects. To the north is the long stretch of flat-looking fields bordered
by dry-stone walls. To the south, the view is quite different, with wooded valleys and hedge-lined fields.
The Fosse Way, a Roman road which runs diagonally through the Cotswolds, is not far away and there is evidence
of Roman settlement closeby where Roman pottery has been found.
The Manor at Marshfield, classed in the Domesday Book as under Crown lands, was given by William the conqueror
to the Bishopric of Wells. In 1106 it passed to Bath Abbey and in 1170 to Keynsham Abbey, the church belonging to Tewkesbury
Abbey. The abbot of Keynsham who obtained the grant of a market eight centuries ago.
Marshfield's bailiff and sergeant-at-mace was largely concerned with the supervision of the market. The mace
originates from Charles I's time and is still used on special occasions. It is made of brass and has a crowned poppy-head
with the embossed arms of Charles, and four panels bearing the national emblems of rose, thistle, harp, and fleur-de-lys. In
the centre is the royal arms and the initials "C.R.".
Most medieval Cotswold towns derived their economy from wool alone, however Marshfield's economy was supplemented
by the malting industry. While sheep and corn were historically the main industries of Marshfield, the
malting industry took hold from the Georgian period. At one time there were as many as 80 malthouses, with vast stocks
being sent to the Bath and Bristol breweries. The process involves converting the grain into fermentable material
that can then be sold for brewing beer and ale. The barley is soaked, allowed to begin to germinate and then killed
by heating -- all in special buildings called 'malthouses'. The last malthouse in Marshfield ceased operation at
the beginning of the 20th century.
Marshfield also became important in the post-medieval period as the first stage on the Bristol-London stagecoach
route -- hence the large number of pubs/inns that the town once supported. The main road through Marshfield was turnpiked
in the 18th century, and there were two toll houses in the town, of which only one (in the west) survives.
In the coaching days Marshfield was the first stage from Bristol on the main road to London. An old stone set in
the house stated "103 miles from Hyde Park Corner". It was necessarily removed during the second World War and now a modern
plaque annouces the same message.