Visit Taunton and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Taunton, Somerset. The county capital, it is a prosperous town, situated in the centre of one of Britain's most fertile plains. Its exceptional feature is the beautiful tower of its Church of St Mary Magdalene: 163 ft high and slender, of red sandstone from the Quantocks, with yellow Ham-stone windows and pinnacles which in the evening sun might be of gold. Built in the late 15th century, it was deemed unsafe in 1858 and taken down, but was rebuilt to look precisely as before. It is perfectly framed by the town's best street, which is all Georgian, mainly deep-red brick and white porticoed, laid out by the local M.P., Sir Benjamin Hammet in 1788. Though Taunton has no more buildings in this class, it has much else of interest.
Tradition holds that King Ine, an early king of the West Saxons, gave the site a castle and thus its first importance in c. 710. The castle was rebuilt by the Normans. King Stephen, anxious to win its support against his cousin Matilda, gave the town its first charter, and the privileges written into this opened the way to prosperity. In 1219 the town had the first cloth-fulling mill in the West Country; and for the next 550 or so years it was a major wool centre (wool money built its great church tower). It was, however, with its merchant population, far from politically or religiously conformist. In 1497 it proclaimed Perkin Warbeck King. In the Civil War it was for Parliament.Royalist forces occupied it, while its castle, commanded by Blake, withstood a siege. In 1685 many of its people backed Monmouth and suffered ghastly vengeance after his defeat at Sedgemoor.
The decline of the wool industry brought it comparatively little pain, for it was already a considerable agricultural marketing and servicing centre and a principal road (and soon rail) junction.
The castle, at various times altered, added to and made domestic, houses the exceptionally well-presented County Museum. Part of this is in the great hall where, in 1685, Judge Jeffreys held one of his bloodiest assizes. It includes finds from one of the lake-villages that once existed near Glastonbury, and a superb Roman floor mosaic (c. 350) discovered in 1938 at Low Ham near Langport. The tower of St James's Church pales by comparison with that of St Mary's, to which it is similar in style, but would be outstanding anywhere else. It is actually the older of the two but was likewise rebuilt in the 19th century. The red-brick pub in the middle of the main traffic junction was the Market House (1770). The Tudor House restaurant across the road from it is basically c. 1578. It was, during the Monmouth rebellion, a home of the M.P., Sir William Portman; he entertained Judge Jeffreys to dinner there.
The Municipal Offices, on the corner of High Street and Corporation Street, include the old 16th-century Grammar School buildings. The High Street, wide and pleasant and off the main traffic routes, is mainly Georgian and leads to the gates of Vivary Park. Parallel with it to the West, the Crescent is Georgian in contrast to the new glass-and-steel County Offices opposite.
The thatched building amid lawns, ahead as you enter the town from the East, was built as a leper hospital, is mainly Tudor, now used as offices. Further in along East Street are Gray's Alms-houses (1635), and there are more 17th-century almshouses in the street South of St Mary Magdalene's — an attractive area generally. John Wesley is said to have supervised the building of the Octagon in Middle Street in 1776.
Nearby towns: Bridgwater, Ilminster, Langport, Minehead, Watchet, Wellington
Nearby villages: Aisholt, Angersleigh, Appledore, Ash Priors, Bishops Lydeard, Bradford on Tone, Combe Florey, Corfe, Cothelstone, Creech St. Michael, Culmstock, Curland, Curry Mallet, Donyatt, Dulverton, Durleigh, Durston, Enmore, Fitzhead, Goathurst, Hatch Beauchamp, Hawkaller, Heathfield, Hemyock, Huntworth, Lowton, Milverton, North Curry, North Newton, North Petherton, Norton Fitzwarren, Nynehead, Oake, Otterford, Pitminster, Rockwell Green, Sampford Arundel, Shoreditch, Staple Fitzpaine, Thorn Falcon, Thurloxton, Trull, West Bagborough, West Buckland, West Hatch, West Monkton, Whitney
Have you decided to visit Taunton or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Taunton bed and breakfast (a Taunton B&B or Taunton b and b)
- a Taunton guesthouse
- a Taunton hotel (or motel)
- a Taunton self-catering establishment, or
- other Taunton accommodation