Due to the plan of its roads and streets academics have described it as a "typical English village". Shapwick originally belonged to Glastonbury Abbey, forming part of its Pouholt (Polden) estate in 729. The manor house (which was previously known as Down House) dates to around 1475; originally it was moated but the moat was filled in during the rebuilding in the first quarter of the 17th century. After the Dissolution of the monasteries the manor passed to Thomas Walton and then to the Rolle family. Sir Henry Rolle remodelled Shapwick House in 1630.