TURNPIKE! The Turnpike Keeper's Cottage at Snowdon Hill, Chard

TURNPIKE! The Turnpike Keeper's Cottage at Snowdon Hill, Chard

Nestled on the A30 at Snowdon Hill in Chard, Somerset, lies a charming Gothic Revival structure that once served a pivotal role in rural transportation. Built in 1839 for the Chard Turnpike Trust, this picturesque turnpike keeper's cottage stands as a beautiful relic of England's rural past.

The Turnpike System

The turnpike system was established in England during the 17th century to improve the condition of the country's roads. Private trusts were set up to collect tolls from travelers in return for maintaining the roads, and toll houses were constructed at strategic points to facilitate the collection process.

TURNPIKE! The Turnpike Keeper's Cottage at Snowdon Hill, Chard

Toll Keepers and Their Role The toll keepers, sometimes referred to as 'pikemen,' were entrusted with collecting tolls from those passing through their gates. Despite their modest social standing, they managed substantial amounts of money daily, contributing to the local economy and the upkeep of the roads.

Architecture and Design of the Cottage

  • Style: Gothic Revival, characterized by its arched windows and pointed doorways.
  • Materials: Local stone and thatch roofing, typical of rural Somerset architecture.
  • Features: The distinctive octagonal shape and ornate detailing make it unique.

In the historical photograph from the late 19th century, the toll keeper can be seen standing by the doorway, ready to collect tolls from passing travelers. A horse-drawn carriage is parked nearby, illustrating how vital these toll houses were in facilitating road travel.


Present Day Remarkably, the turnpike keeper's cottage still stands today, much as it did over a century ago. The modern photograph shows how the surrounding roads have widened, but the cottage itself remains a testament to the past.


A Timeless Relic

  • Preservation: The cottage is a listed building, ensuring its preservation for future generations.
  • Cultural Significance: It serves as a reminder of the once extensive network of turnpike roads and toll houses that facilitated travel and commerce.

The turnpike keeper's cottage at Snowdon Hill is not just an architectural curiosity but a window into England's transportation history. It tells the story of how toll roads transformed rural travel and how individuals like the toll keepers, despite their humble status, played a crucial role in this transformation. A picturesque remnant of the 19th century, it stands resiliently as a tribute to the past amidst the evolving landscape.