Von Pit farm (or Vaunt Pit Farm as it was originally called) was built in about 1750 at the time of the ‘enclosures acts’. Von Pit Farm’s name was later changed to ‘Swallet Farm’ in 1987, was built in the shelter of the large Swallet hole and close to fresh water that rises from a spring. The other farm close by that was built at the same time is Fernhill Farm, which lies about 2miles to the West. The only other habitation on this part of Mendip at that time would have been the Miners who lived at Shipham and small lead mining communities around Charterhouse. The top of Mendip was a remote, lonely and lawless place.
The part of the Mendip plateau on which Swallet Farm sits has a very long and rich cultural history. The Priddy circles that lie very close the end of the drive are believed to date from Neolithic times, and pre date the building of Stonehenge. Their exact function or purpose is unknown but it’s thought to be ceremonial rather than defensive judging by their construction. The Romans discovered large deposits of easily accessible lead ore at the adjacent area around Charterhouse and Priddy Mineries.
The romans built roads across the Mendip area, linking up with the Fosse Way over towards Radstock. This is why many of the current roads are so straight and end in cross roads.
As Wells began to prosper and grow in size the need to have better road links grew. The main road to Bristol went up from Wells and came out on the top at the Hunter Lodge Pub. The road then crossed the Priddy Mineries to the Miners Arms, and from the due north to the Castle of comfort pub. The old coach road then went past Swallet heading for West Harptree, going past the Wells Way pub and down the steep hill and across what is now Chew Valley lake via the old (now flooded) village of Morton. The road then went up over Dundry Hill via the Carpenters arms pub and down the steep descent into Bristol.
The newer, graded coaching road was built in the nineteenth century and takes a much more gentle route via Green Ore and the plough Boy Inn, to Chewton Mendip, and on to Ston Easton and Farrington Gurney.
The Castle of Comfort pub, is so named, because it is said that the courts used to sit there, and judgement was passed on criminals and sheep thieves. If found guilty of a crime that carried the death penalty, the criminals were said to be hanged the next day at Gibbet Brow, as small rise in the road a short distance from Swallet Farm. The last night of comfort for these unfortunate people was spent in the Castle pub.
Since the end of mineral extraction in the area – the last mines closing in about 1958 at the Mineries near Priddy, the whole area has been for agriculture, sheep and cattle farming, but above all an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). It is now enjoyed by people seeking to enjoy the natural environment, and to soak up some of the cultural and historical beauty of the area.