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River Chew: Wikis


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River Chew
River Chew between Stanton Drew and Pensford
Country  England
County Somerset
District Chew Valley
 - left Strode Brook, Winford Brook
Source Chewton Mendip
 - location Mendip Hills, Somerset, England
 - elevation 305 m (1,001 ft)
 - coordinates 51°16′34″N 2°34′42″W / 51.27611°N 2.57833°W / 51.27611; -2.57833
Mouth River Avon, Bristol
 - location Keynsham, Somerset, England
 - elevation 10 m (33 ft)
 - coordinates 51°25′29″N 2°30′26″W / 51.42472°N 2.50722°W / 51.42472; -2.50722
Length 27 km (17 mi)
Basin 145 km2 (56 sq mi)
Discharge for Keynsham
 - average 1.18 m3/s (42 cu ft/s)
 - max 20 m3/s (706 cu ft/s)
 - min 0.5 m3/s (18 cu ft/s)
Topographical map of the Chew Valley

The River Chew is a small river in England. It merges with the River Avon after 17 miles (27 km) forming the Chew Valley.

The spring from which the Chew rises is just upstream from Chewton Mendip. The river flows North West from Chewton Mendip through Litton, Chew Valley Lake, Chew Stoke, Chew Magna and Stanton Drew. The river passes under the A37 at Pensford almost making the old church and pub garden into an island. The river then flows through the villages of Publow, Woollard, Compton Dando and Chewton Keynsham before joining the River Avon at Keynsham. For much of the Chew's route the Two Rivers Way footpath is alongside, the same route for part of its length is also part of the Monarch's Way long distance footpath. In total the Chew flows for some 17 miles (27 km) through the North Somerset countryside.


The name 'Chew'

The name 'Chew' has Celtic origins, but its exact meaning isn't certain, however there have been several explanations, including "winding water",[1] the EW being a variant of the French EAU meaning water. The word CHEWER is a western dialect for a narrow passage and CHARE is Old English for turning. Many believe that the name CHEW began in Normandy as CHEUX, and came to England with the Norman Conquest during the 11th century.[2]

However, some people agree with Ekwall’s interpretation that it is derived from the Welsh "cyw" meaning "the young of an animal, or chicken", so that "afon Cyw" would have been "the river of the chickens".[3]

Other possible explanations suggest it comes from the Old English word cēo ‘fish gill’, used in the transferred sense of a ravine, in a similar way to Old Norse gil, or possibly a derogatory nickname from Middle English chowe ‘chough’, Old English cēo, a bird closely related to the crow and the jackdaw, notorious for its chattering and thieving.[4] According to Robinson it is named after the Viking war god Tiw.[5]

Roman use

"Pigs" (ingots) of lead from the Charterhouse Roman Town on the Mendips were brought to the river to be transported to Sea Mills on the Avon for transshipment overseas.[6]

Floods of 1968

The river suffered a major flood in 1968 with serious damage to towns and villages along its route, including sweeping away the bridge at Pensford.[7]

On 10-11 July a storm brought heavy rainfall to the Valley, with 175 millimetres (7 in) falling in 18 hours on Chew Stoke, double the areas average rainfall for the whole of July.[8]


Fishing rights for the Millground and Chewton sections of the river are owned by Keynsham Angling Club. The Mill Ground stretch of the River Chew consists of the six left-bank fields (looking downstream) from Chewton Place at Chewton Keynsham to the Albert Mill, Keynsham. The water is home to a good stock of sizeable Chub, Roach, European perch and Rudd, along with good numbers of Gudgeon, Dace and Trout. In the Chewton section waters are much more 'wild' than the Mill Ground, with overhanging trees and fast-flowing runs, leading to deeper eddies and pools. Not all swims are fishable and some will need hacking out before angling, but this is a classic roving river. Trout, Grayling and Chub lurk in the shady, meandering stream, along with a good showing of Dace, Roach and Eel.

Any Flood alerts for this river are available from the Environment Agency River Chew from Chewstoke to Keynsham page


  1. ^ "History of the River Chew". River Chew Web Site. Retrieved 2006-07-03.  
  2. ^ "Normandy, France - Ancestor's Stories". Retrieved 2006-07-03.  
  3. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1928). English River-Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869119-X.  
  4. ^ "What we know about the Chew Family". Retrieved 2006-07-03.  
  5. ^ Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset Place Names. Wimbourne: The Dovecote Press Ltd. ISBN 1874336032.  
  6. ^ Havinden, Michael. The Somerset Landscape. The making of the English landscape. London: Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 71. ISBN 0340201169.  
  7. ^ "The great flood of 1968". Memories of Bristol. Retrieved 2006-01-04.  
  8. ^ Richley, Rob (June 2008). The Chew Valley floods of 1968. Exeter: Environment Agency.  

External links

For further information, visit the dedicated River Chew website at




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