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Somerton
Somerton
/ˈsʌmərtən/ is a town and civil parish in the English county of Somerset. It gave its name to the county and was briefly, around the start of the 14th century, the county town, and around 900 AD was possibly the capital of Wessex. It has held a weekly market since the Middle Ages, and the main square with its market cross is today an attractive location for visitors. Situated on the River Cary, approximately 8.8 miles (14.2 km) north-west of Yeovil, Somerton has its own town council serving a population of 4,697 as of 2011.[1] Residents are often referred to locally as Somertonians.[2] The civil parish includes the hamlets of Etsome, Hurcot, Catsgore, and Catcombe. The history of Somerton
Somerton
dates back to the Anglo-Saxon era, when it was an important political and commercial centre. After the Norman conquest of England
England
the importance of the town declined, despite being the county town of Somerset
Somerset
in the late thirteenth century and early fourteenth century. Having lost county town status, Somerton
Somerton
then became a market town in the Middle Ages, whose economy was supported by transport systems using the River Parrett, and later rail transport via the Great Western Railway, and by light industries including glove making and gypsum mining. In the centre of Somerton
Somerton
the wide market square, with its octagonal roofed market cross, is surrounded by old houses, while close by is the 13th century Church of St Michael and All Angels. Somerton
Somerton
also had links with Muchelney Abbey
Muchelney Abbey
in the Middle Ages. The BBC drama The Monocled Mutineer was filmed in Somerton
Somerton
from 1985 to 1986.[3]

Contents

1 History 2 Governance 3 Geography 4 Demography 5 Economy 6 Landmarks 7 Somerton
Somerton
Court 8 Transport 9 Religious sites 10 Education 11 Twin towns 12 References 13 External links 14 Further reading

History[edit] Further information: History of Somerset The earliest reference to the town is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which records that in 733 the King of Wessex, Æthelheard lost control of Somerton
Somerton
to Æthelbald, King of Mercia.[4] Somerton
Somerton
was the site of the 949 meeting of the witan, a form of Anglo-Saxon parliament.[5] The town returned to West Saxon royal control in the ninth century,[6] and it was listed in the Domesday Book
Domesday Book
of 1086 as "Sumertone". The name may come from Old English
Old English
for "sea-lake enclosure", "summer town" or "summer farmstead".[4][7] The Somerton
Somerton
name was extended to the people in the area it controlled, and this area became known as Somerset, although Somerton
Somerton
soon ceased to be the most important settlement and never grew into a large town.[8] The parish was the largest in the Hundred of Somerton.[9][10] It was, briefly, the county town of Somerset
Somerset
from the late thirteenth century into the early fourteenth century.[11] A building referred to as " Somerset
Somerset
castle" is believed to have been built around 1280 as a county gaol,[12] with a visitor in 1579 describing the remaining portion as "an old tower embattled about castle-like".[13] It was owned by Sir Ralph Cromwell between 1423 and 1433.[14] Details are vague and visible remains have vanished,[15] so its status as a castle and its very existence is in doubt, with one writer, D.J.C. King, feeling that people were confusing it with Somerton
Somerton
Castle
Castle
in Lincolnshire.[12] The Abbots of Muchelney Abbey
Muchelney Abbey
held the Rectorship of the parish church of Somerton
Somerton
during the Middle Ages. They built a tithe barn, to house the tithes of crops and produce paid by the parish to the town's Rector.[16] The Abbey was dissolved in 1539 during the English Reformation, and the tithes and the tithe barn passed into the ownership of Bristol
Bristol
Cathedral. In the 20th century the barn was converted into private housing.[16][17]

Disused radio station built by the Marconi Company
Marconi Company
around 1925

Glove making was a major industry in the town in the early nineteenth century, along with the production of rope and twine.[18] The Somerton Brewery, owned by a local landowner named Thomas Templeman, was first recorded under the Tithe
Tithe
Apportionment Act of 1841.[19] The brewery became a large producer in Somerset
Somerset
until its final closure around 1935.[20] Before the National Insurance
National Insurance
and the Health Service was introduced, Somerton
Somerton
Men's Club acted as a local provident society within the area.[21] Gypsum
Gypsum
was extracted by hand at the Hurcott open-cast mine from the Victorian era
Victorian era
up until it closed down in 1953.[22] In 1906, a railway station opened on the Castle
Castle
Cary Cut-Off which was built by the Great Western Railway. Whilst the line still remains in use, the station was closed in 1962.[23] When the Marconi Company built the radio stations known as the Imperial Wireless Chain for the Post Office during 1925–26, they also established their own transmitting station at Dorchester with a receiving station 30 miles (48 km) away at Somerton.[24] Somerton
Somerton
was hit by four Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
bombs on the morning of 29 September 1942 during the Second World War. The bombs were aimed at the Cow and Gate milk factory and it was largely destroyed. Ten nearby houses were badly damaged. Nine people were killed and thirty seven injured.[25] A memorial at the dairy site commemorates those killed.[26] The factory later became a district council depot, and was recently bought by the town council for possible use as the site of a new town hall. Governance[edit] The town council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept (local rate) to cover the council's operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny. The town council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic.[27] The town council's role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning. Conservation matters (including trees and listed buildings) and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council.[28] In October 2009, eleven of the local councillors resigned en masse,[29] citing excessive criticism from local residents and in particular criticism from a hostile local weblog.[30] In February 2012 the External Auditor appointed by the Audit Commission published a critical Report in the Public Interest regarding the activities of Somerton
Somerton
Town Council in the fiscal year 2008 to 2009.[31] The town falls within the non-metropolitan district of South Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Langport
Langport
Rural District.[32] The district council is responsible for planning permission and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism.[33] Somerset
Somerset
County Council is responsible for major services such as the Local Education Authority, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.[34] Somerton
Somerton
is in the electoral ward of Wessex[35] and whilst it is by far the most populous area, the ward stretches north to Compton Dundon. The total population of the ward taken from the 2011 census was 5,402.[36] Somerton
Somerton
elects one Member of Parliament (MP) for Somerton
Somerton
and Frome county constituency, represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and is part of the South West England
England
constituency of the European Parliament
European Parliament
which elects six MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation. Geography[edit] Somerton
Somerton
is situated on a plateau, above and to the south of the deep valley of the River Cary. The river flows west and then north through the Somerton
Somerton
Moor and then into King's Sedgemoor Drain
King's Sedgemoor Drain
on the Somerset Levels eventually joining the River Parrett
River Parrett
near Bridgwater.[37] The town is 116 miles (187 km) from London, 28 miles (45 km) south from Bristol
Bristol
and 9 miles (14 km) north-west from Yeovil, just off the Dorset border. Somerton's hamlets include Etsome, Hurcot, Lower Somerton, Littleton and Midney.[38] Great Breach Wood is a biological Site of Special
Special
Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is situated just 1.4 miles (2.3 km) north-east from Somerton, near the hamlet of Littleton.[39] Somerton's climate is typical of the climate of south-west England which is usually cool winters with warmer summers and precipitation all year round, with more rain experienced in winter.[40]

Settlements and geographic features near Somerton

Somerset
Somerset
Levels Glastonbury Mendip
Mendip
Hills

Bridgwater

Somerton

Mendip
Mendip
Hills

Langport Martock, South Petherton Yeovil

Demography[edit] The Somerton
Somerton
parish had a population of 4,706 as of 2002.[1] In the 1801 census the population of the town was 1,145 and the first half of the 19th century saw strong growth (reflecting that seen elsewhere in England
England
during this period), with the population rising to 2,140 in 1851. It however then began to drop, starting with a significant drop to 1,917 by the 1861 census. The population steadily fell until 1921, before steadily rising thereafter. It was not until 1961 that the population of Somerton
Somerton
had risen above its former population of 1851. The population has since continued to steadily increase.[41] Economy[edit] A weekly market has been held in Somerton
Somerton
for much of its history. The cloth industry dominated the town's market from the 17th century until the 20th century, when agriculture took over as the leading industry.[42] Some light industries and services, such as garage repair, physiotherapy, water treatment, and builders and decorators, are located in the business park on Bancombe Road.[43][44] Landmarks[edit]

The Butter Cross which was rebuilt in 1673

The main square, Market Place, with its market cross is today an attractive location for visitors.[45] Market crosses have stood in the square since before 1390; the present Butter Cross, a roofed market cross, was rebuilt in 1673, and is Somerton's most noted feature.[46] The structure was the property of the Earls of Ilchester
Ilchester
who sold it to the town in 1916.[47] It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.[48] Next to the Butter Cross stands the "Market Hall", previously known as the "Town Hall", although the building has never fulfilled either of these functions.[4][49] Bordering the square are the church, and the Lady Smith Memorial Hall, also known as the "Parish Rooms", which was built in 1902,[50] and the 17th century Market House, now a restaurant.[51] The Red Lion was opened by the Earl of Ilchester
Earl of Ilchester
in 1768 as a model coaching inn. It closed in 1995; after a period of neglect it has been redeveloped as town houses.[52][53] From the early 1980s onwards projects aiming to improve Somerton
Somerton
for film industry purposes have been undertaken.[54] The market square was heavily revamped, creating a central parking area with easy access to the local amenities.[55] The BBC drama The Monocled Mutineer was filmed in Somerton
Somerton
from 1985 to 1986.[3] Somerton
Somerton
Court[edit] Somerton
Somerton
Court, originally known as " Somerton
Somerton
Erleigh". The house has had various owners including Edward IV's brother, the Duke of Clarence, and Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland, who sold the estate in 1530.[56] It passed through a number of hands until 1597 when it was purchased by James Fisher, whose son later rebuilt it in 1641.[57] The court remained in the Fisher family's possession until 1808 when it was sold. Its new owner renamed the house "Somerton Court", and replaced the gabled dormers with Gothic battlements and turrets.[58] The house was later enlarged by the Hall-Stephenson family.[59] During World War II
World War II
it was occupied by Royal Navy WRENS. In the 1970s it was purchased by a local businessman Stuart Pattemore. In 1987 Somerton
Somerton
Court and the estate of 55 acres and 4 cottages including The Dower House was purchased by Roger Byron-Collins when it subject to extensive upgrading and extensions. It was resold in 2005. The Dower House was built in the early 19th century.[60] Somerton Court is now used for Wedding Receptions. The house now stands in 55 acres grounds.[61] Transport[edit] The town's former, and only, railway station was on the Castle
Castle
Cary Cut-Off, once part of the Great Western Railway.[62] Although the line still remains in use the station closed to passengers in 1962,[23] and goods in 1964.[63] The nearest station is now at Castle
Castle
Cary. On the outskirts of the town stands the impressive Somerton
Somerton
Viaduct. Despite Somerton
Somerton
being situated in a rural area, the closest main road from Somerton
Somerton
is the A303 road
A303 road
that runs near the town and stretches all the way into northern Hampshire
Hampshire
and finally ends at Basingstoke.[64] The minor B3165 road
B3165 road
runs through the town although the road is less commonly used and does not join to the A303 for another 4 miles (6 km).[65] Two B roads, the B3153 and B3165, run through Somerton; the B3165, mentioned earlier, starts in the town and runs southwards to the A372 Langport
Langport
road.[65] The A372 itself runs south-east to the junction of the A303 and A37 roads at Podimore services.[64] Religious sites[edit]

St Michael's and All Angels church has origins which date from the 13th century.

The Anglican Church, St Michael's and All Angels, has origins which date from the 13th century, with a major reshaping in the mid 15th century, and further restoration in 1889. It is built of local lias stone cut and squared, with Hamstone
Hamstone
dressing. It has been designated by English Heritage
English Heritage
as a grade I listed building.[66] It is notable for a carved roof, with lions and a small cider barrel purportedly carved by the monks of Muchelney
Muchelney
Abbey.[66] Sir John Betjeman was also inspired by an inscription on the candelabra. The church is quite plain on the outside but inside is one of the finest wooden carved roofs in the county. It is shallow pitched with massive, richly decorated tie beams and short king posts. The whole area of the roof is divided into square carved panels set in the framework of the structural timbers which are decorated with carved bosses where they intersect.[67] There are 640 panels each carved with the same quatrefoil design.[66] In the triangular spaces above each beam are dragon-like beasts.[68] It is said there are bullet holes in the timbers, caused by soldiers who camped in the church in 1646 before the Battle of Langport.[67] The 17th century pulpit and altar table are Jacobean woodwork.[67] There are five other churches in the town, including Catholic and Methodist groups.[69]

Education[edit] Somerton
Somerton
Infants School and Monteclefe CEVA Junior school merged in September 2014 to form King Ina Academy, with Somerton
Somerton
Roundabout Preschool also amalgating with the school, with the ultimate aim of having one building for the whole academy. Currently the institution is still based on two sites, however applications have been submitted to the Department of Education to be granted permission to build a new, one-building free school for King Ina Academy on one of three possible sites, all of which are situated in the western outskirts of the town.[70] Twin towns[edit]

Licciana Nardi, Tuscany, Italy Sillé-le-Guillaume, Pays-de-la-Loire, France

References[edit]

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Somerset
Intelligence. Retrieved 4 January 2014.  ^ http://muckandbrass.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/transparency-and-accountability.html ^ a b Stewart, Ian; Carruthers, Susan Lisa (1996). War, Culture, and the Media. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-8386-3702-7.  ^ a b c Bush, Robin (1994). Somerset: The complete guide. Wimbourne: Dovecote Press. pp. 184–185. ISBN 1-874336-27-X.  ^ " Somerset
Somerset
Historic Environment Service". www1.somerset.gov.uk. 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011.  ^ Richardson, Miranda (2003). "An archaeological assessment of Somerton" (PDF). English Heritage
English Heritage
Extensive Urban Survey. Somerset County Council. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 26 July 2011.  ^ Robinson, Stephen (1992). Somerset
Somerset
Place Names. Wimbourne: The Dovecote Press. pp. 122–123. ISBN 1-874336-03-2.  ^ " Somerton
Somerton
history". Somerton
Somerton
Website. Retrieved 3 August 2011.  ^ A. P. Baggs; R. J. E. Bush; Margaret Tomlinson (1974). R. W. Dunning, ed. " Somerton
Somerton
hundred". A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 19 October 2011.  ^ "Local History". Somerton. Retrieved 19 October 2011.  ^ Lambert, Tim. "A Brief History of Somerton". A World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18 August 2009.  ^ a b " Somerton
Somerton
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Somerset
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Somerset
books. p. 79. ISBN 0-86183-278-7.  ^ Ralph Alan Griffiths (1981). The reign of King Henry VI: the exercise of royal authority, 1422–1461. University of California Press. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-520-04372-5. Retrieved 2 October 2011.  ^ " Somerton
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Castle
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Somerset
Historic Environment Record. Somerset
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Somerton
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Somerton
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Somerton
Website. Retrieved 31 July 2011.  ^ "Somerton's Men Club". Somerton
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Web Museum. Retrieved 24 September 2007.  ^ a b "A History of Somerton". Local Histories. Tim Lambert. Retrieved 5 August 2011.  ^ "Dorchester Radio Station". South Dorset Radio Society. Retrieved 26 July 2011.  ^ Hawkins, Mac (1996) Somerset
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Somerton
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Somerton
Environmental monitoring". Somerset
Somerset
County Council. Retrieved 9 August 2011.  ^ "Councillors resign en masse after criticism by blogger". The Guardian. London. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2009.  ^ "Blog sparks mass council walkout". BBC News. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2009.  ^ " Somerton
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RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 January 2014.  ^ "South Somerset
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District Council – About us". southsomerset.gov.uk. 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2011.  ^ " Somerset
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County Council: Council Structure". somerset.gov.uk. 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2011.  ^ Ordnance Survey Election maps ^ " Wessex
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Somerset
levels and moors water level management and nature conservation strategy". Wetland Management. Thomas Telford, Ltd. pp. 88–105. ISBN 0-7277-1994-7.  ^ " Somerton
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Civil Parish Settlements". Somerton
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Extensive Urban Survey. Somerset
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County Council. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2014.  ^ " Somerton
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Court". National Heritage List for England. English Heritage. Retrieved 18 October 2014.  ^ A. P. Baggs; R. J. E. Bush; Margaret Tomlinson (1974). R. W. Dunning, ed. "Parishes: Somerton". A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 18 October 2014.  ^ "The Dower House and Attached Gateway (Blocked), North East of Somerton
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Website. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2011.  ^ "Parishes: Somerton". 'A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3' (1974), pp. 129–153. British History Online. Retrieved 4 October 2011.  ^ a b The National Archives file MT39/246 : "CLASSIFICATION: Renumbering of classified routes" ^ a b " B3165 road
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Web Museum. Retrieved 24 September 2007.  ^ A. P. Baggs; R. J. E. Bush; Margaret Tomlinson (1974). R. W. Dunning, ed. "Parishes: Somerton". A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 9 November 2011.  ^ "Churches together in Somerset
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Victoria History of the County of Somerset: Vol 3: Somerton, R.W. Dunning (1974)

External links[edit]

Somerset
Somerset
portal

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somerton.

Somerton
Somerton
Town Council

Further reading[edit]

Somerton
Somerton
Extensive Urban Study (English Heritage/ Somerset
Somerset
County Council)

v t e

Towns, villages and hamlets in the South Somerset
Somerset
district of Somerset, England

Abbas and Templecombe Alford Aller Ansford Ash Ashill Babcary Barrington Barton St David Barwick Beercrocombe Blackford Bratton Seymour Brewham Broadway Bruton Brympton Buckland St Mary Castle
Castle
Cary Chaffcombe Chard Charlton Horethorne Charlton Mackrell Charlton Musgrove Chillington Chilthorne Domer Chilton Cantelo Chiselborough Closworth Combe St Nicholas Compton Dundon Corton Denham Crewkerne Cricket St Thomas Cucklington Cudworth Curry Mallet Curry Rivel Dinnington Donyatt Dowlish Wake Drayton East Chinnock East Coker Fivehead Hambridge Hardington Mandeville Haselbury Plucknett Henstridge High Ham Hinton St George Holton Horsington Horton Huish Episcopi Ilchester Ilminster Ilton Isle Abbots Isle Brewers Keinton Mandeville Kingsbury Episcopi Kingsdon Kingstone Kingweston Knowle St Giles Langport Limington Long Load Long Sutton Lopen Lovington Maperton Marston Magna Martock Merriott Milborne Port Middle Chinnock Misterton Montacute Muchelney Mudford North Barrow North Cadbury North Cheriton North Perrott Norton-sub-Hamdon Odcombe Penselwood Pitcombe Pitney Puckington Queen Camel Rimpton Seavington St Mary Seavington St Michael Shepton Beauchamp Shepton Montague Somerton South Barrow South Cadbury South Petherton Sparkford Stocklinch Stoke-sub-Hamdon Stoke Trister Tatworth Tintinhull Wambrook Wayford West Camel West Chinnock West Coker West Crewkerne Whitelackington Whitestaunton Wincanton Winsham Yarlington Yeovil Yeovil
Yeovil
Without Yeovilton

v t e

Ceremonial county of Somerset

Somerset
Somerset
Portal

Unitary authorities

Bath and North East Somerset North Somerset

Boroughs or districts

Mendip Sedgemoor South Somerset Taunton
Taunton
Deane West Somerset

Major settlements

Axbridge Bath Bridgwater Bruton Burnham-on-Sea Castle
Castle
Cary Chard Clevedon Crewkerne Dulverton Frome Glastonbury Highbridge Ilminster Keynsham Langport Midsomer Norton Minehead Nailsea North Petherton Portishead Radstock Shepton Mallet Somerton Taunton Watchet Wellington Wells Weston-super-Mare Wincanton Wiveliscombe Yeovil See also: List of civil parishes in Somerset

Rivers

Alham Aller Avill Avon Axe ( Bristol
Bristol
Channel) Axe (Lyme Bay) Badgworthy Water Banwell Barle Brue Cam Brook Cary Chew East Lyn Exe Fivehead Frome Haddeo Hoar Oak Water Holford Horner Huntspill Isle Land Yeo Mells Midford Brook Oare Water Parret Severn Estuary Sheppey Somer Sowy Tone Washford Wellow Brook West Lyn Whitelake Yeo (Congresbury) Yeo (South Somerset)

Topics

Country houses County Council Culture of Somerset Economy of Somerset Flag Geography of Somerset Geology of Somerset Grade I listed buildings Grade II* listed buildings High Sheriff of Somerset History of Somerset Local nature reserves Lord Lieutenant of Somerset Museums National nature reserves Parliamentary constituencies Places Population of major settlements Scheduled monuments Schools SSSIs Transport in Somerset Geographic areas: Blackdown Hills Brendon Hills Chew Valley Exmoor Mendip
Mendip
Hills Polden Hills Quantock Hills Somerset
Somerset
Levels South West Coast Path West S

.