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Taunton
Taunton
/ˈtɔːntən/ is a large regional town in Somerset, England. The town currently peaks at a population of 69,570 as of 2018.[2] The town itself has over 1,000 years of religious and military history, including a monastery dating back to the 10th century and Taunton Castle, which has origins in the Anglo Saxon period and was later the site of a priory. The Normans
Normans
then built a stone structured castle, which belonged to the Bishops of Winchester. The current heavily reconstructed buildings are the inner ward, which now houses the Museum of Somerset
Somerset
and the Somerset
Somerset
Military Museum. The town is undergoing a regeneration project with redevelopment of the town centre. It has various transport links which support its central role in economy and commerce. These have included the Grand Western Canal which reached Taunton
Taunton
in 1839 and arrival of the railway in 1842. Taunton
Taunton
is the site of Musgrove Park Hospital
Musgrove Park Hospital
and Somerset
Somerset
County Cricket Club's County Ground and is home to 40 Commando, Royal Marines. Central Taunton
Taunton
is part of the annual West Country
West Country
Carnival circuit. It hosts the Taunton
Taunton
flower show, which has been held in Vivary Park
Vivary Park
since 1866. The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Hydrographic Office is located on Admiralty Way.[3]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Regeneration

2 Governance

2.1 Borough Council 2.2 County Council 2.3 United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Parliament 2.4 European Parliament

3 Geography

3.1 Geology 3.2 Nature reserves 3.3 Climate

4 Demography 5 Economy 6 Crime 7 Landmarks

7.1 Shopping 7.2 Public parks

8 Transport

8.1 Rail 8.2 Road

8.2.1 2011 M5 motorway
M5 motorway
crash

8.3 Buses and coaches 8.4 Air 8.5 Trams 8.6 Canal

9 Education 10 Health Services 11 Religious sites 12 Culture

12.1 Popular culture references

13 Sport 14 Notable residents 15 Twinning 16 References 17 External links

History[edit]

The War Memorial and town centre, Taunton

The town name derives from "Town on the River Tone" — or Tone Town.[4][5] Cambria Farm
Cambria Farm
which is now the site of a Park and ride close to Junction 25 of the M5 motorway
M5 motorway
was the site of a Bronze and Iron Age
Iron Age
settlement and Roman farm.[6] There was a Romano-British village near the suburb of Holway,[7] and Taunton
Taunton
was a place of considerable importance in Saxon times.[8] The Saxon town was a burh with its own mint.[5] King Ine of Wessex
Ine of Wessex
threw up an earthen castle here about 700, but it was destroyed by his queen Æthelburg of Wessex in 722, to prevent its seizure by rebels.[5]

Taunton
Taunton
Cross c. 1770

A monastery was founded before 904.[9] The bishops of Winchester owned the manor, and obtained the first charter for their "men of Taunton" from King Edward in 904, freeing them from all royal and county tribute. At some time before the Domesday
Domesday
Survey Taunton
Taunton
had become a borough with very considerable privileges, and a population of around 1,500[8] and 64 burgesses,[5] governed by a portreeve appointed by the bishops. Somerton
Somerton
took over from Ilchester
Ilchester
as the county town in the late thirteenth century,[10] but it declined in importance and the status of county town transferred to Taunton
Taunton
about 1366.[11] Between 1209 and 1311 the manor of Taunton, which was owned by the Bishop of Winchester, increased two and a half times.[12] The parishes of Staplegrove, Wilton and Taunton
Taunton
itself were part of the Taunton
Taunton
Deane Hundred.[13] In 1451 during the Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses
Taunton
Taunton
was the scene of a skirmish between Thomas de Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon, and Baron Bonville.[5] Queen Margaret and her troops passed through in 1471 to defeat at the Battle of Tewkesbury.[5] In the Second Cornish Uprising of 1497 most of the Cornish gentry supported Perkin Warbeck's cause and on 17 September a Cornish army some 6,000 strong entered Exeter before advancing on Taunton.[5][14] Henry VII sent his chief general, Giles, Lord Daubeney, to attack the Cornish and when Warbeck heard that the King's scouts were at Glastonbury
Glastonbury
he panicked and deserted his army. Henry VII reached Taunton
Taunton
on 4 October 1497 where he received the surrender of the remaining Cornish army. The ringleaders were executed and others fined a total of £13,000.[15] Taunton Castle
Taunton Castle
changed hands several times during the Civil War of 1642–45 but only along with the town.[16] During the Siege of Taunton
Taunton
it was defended by Robert Blake, from July 1644 to July 1645, with the town suffering destruction of many of the medieval and Tudor buildings.[5] After the war, in 1662, the keep was demolished and only the base remains.[17] On 20 June 1685 the Duke of Monmouth crowned himself king of England
England
at Taunton
Taunton
during the Monmouth Rebellion
Monmouth Rebellion
and in the autumn of that year Judge Jeffreys
Judge Jeffreys
lived in the town during the Bloody Assizes
Bloody Assizes
that followed the Battle of Sedgemoor.[18]

A road map of Taunton
Taunton
from 1948

The town did not obtain a charter of incorporation until 1627,[8] which was renewed in 1677. The charter lapsed in 1792 owing to vacancies for the members of the corporate body, and Taunton
Taunton
was not reincorporated until 1877. The medieval fairs and markets of Taunton (it still holds a weekly market today), were celebrated for the sale of woollen cloth called "Tauntons" made in the town. On the decline of the woollen industry in the west of England, silk-weaving was introduced at the end of the 18th century.[19] In 1839 the Grand Western Canal
Grand Western Canal
reached Taunton
Taunton
aiding trade to the south,[20] which was further enhanced by the arrival of the railway in 1842.[5] A permanent military presence was established in the town with the completion of Jellalabad Barracks in 1881.[21] In World War II the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal
Bridgwater and Taunton Canal
formed part of the Taunton
Taunton
Stop Line, designed to prevent the advance of a German invasion. Pillboxes can still be seen along its length.[22] Regeneration[edit] Taunton
Taunton
was named as a 'Strategically Important Town or City' in the government's Regional Spatial Strategy, allowing Somerset
Somerset
County Council to receive funding for large-scale regeneration projects.[23] In 2006, the council revealed plans which it called "Project Taunton". This would see the regeneration of the areas of Firepool, Tangier, the Retail town centre, the cultural quarter, and the River Tone,[24] aiming to sustain Taunton
Taunton
as a central hub for business in the South West.

The new bridge under construction in the Tangier district. Taken in February 2011

The Firepool area on the northern edge of Taunton
Taunton
town centre, adjacent to the main line railway station, currently includes a high proportion of vacant or undeveloped land. The Council is promoting a sustainable, high quality, employment-led mixed-use development. The Firepool project is set to attract 3,000 new jobs and 500 new homes.[25] In Tangier, a brownfield area between Somerset
Somerset
College of Arts and Technology and the bus station, the project proposes to build small offices and more riverside housing.[26] The "Cultural Quarter" is the area along the river between Firepool and Tangier.[27] The proposals have plans to extend riverside retail, an aim to attract more smaller, boutique businesses, such as those already found in the Riverside shopping centre.[28] Plans for the town centre include greater pedestrianisation and an increase in size and number of retail units.[29] Several sites along the River Tone
River Tone
are set to undergo renovation. Firepool Weir lock — long silted up — will be dredged during 2011[30] to allow boats to pass from the navigable section of the Tone through Taunton
Taunton
to the Bridgwater
Bridgwater
and Taunton
Taunton
Canal. Goodland Gardens has received a makeover and a new cafe, The Shed, has opened. Projects to develop Somerset
Somerset
Square (the paved area next to the Brewhouse Theatre) and Longrun Meadow (country park near to SCAT) have already been delivered.[30] The government sees Taunton's traffic congestion problems as a serious obstacle to its continuing economic growth.[23] An important part of its growth strategy for the town is new road infrastructure consisting of a new £7.5 million link road to ease traffic in the town centre (Taunton's 'Third Way') which was completed in 2011[31] and a Northern Inner Distributor Road linking Staplegrove Road, the railway station andh Priory
Priory
Avenue at a planned cost of £21 million opened in 2017.[32] Governance[edit] Taunton
Taunton
includes an area named Holway which was once a village in its own right. Holway was originally one of the Five Hundreds of Taunton Dean, the Infaring division or district of the three districts that made up Taunton
Taunton
Dean.[33] The parish of Staplegrove is situated in the northern suburbs of Taunton. The parish, largely built by Monsell Youell Construction Ltd in the 1970s, has a population of 1,889.[34] Borough Council[edit] Taunton
Taunton
is the main settlement and administrative centre of the local government district of Taunton
Taunton
Deane. The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of the municipal borough of Taunton, Wellington urban district, Taunton
Taunton
Rural District, and Wellington Rural District. Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
was granted borough status in 1975, perpetuating the mayoralty of Taunton.[35] The district was given the name of an alternate form of the Taunton hundred. Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
Borough Council consists of 55 councillors, of whom 20 are elected for wards in the town of Taunton. The wards are: Blackbrook & Holway; Eastgate; Fairwater; Halcon; Lyngford; Manor & Wilton and Pyrland & Rowbarton. Eastgate ward returns two councillors, with the remaining wards each returning three.[36] County Council[edit]

County Hall, The Crescent

Somerset
Somerset
County Council is based at County Hall in Taunton, and consists of 58 councillors. The town of Taunton
Taunton
is included in six electoral divisions, each returning a single county councillor: Taunton
Taunton
East; Taunton
Taunton
Fairwater; Taunton
Taunton
North; Taunton
Taunton
South; Taunton West and Taunton
Taunton
and Trull
Trull
(which also includes rural areas). Five councillors are members of the Liberal Democrats, and one is a Conservative.[37] United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Parliament[edit] Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
is a county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. It is based on the town of Taunton
Taunton
but extends to include Wellington, many small villages and parts of Exmoor. The current MP is Rebecca Pow, a member of the Conservative Party.[38] European Parliament[edit] Residents of Taunton
Taunton
also form part of the electorate for the South West England
England
constituency for elections to the European Parliament.[39] Geography[edit] Taunton
Taunton
lies on the River Tone
River Tone
between the Quantock, Blackdown and Brendon hills in an area known as the Vale of Taunton. It is surrounded by many other large towns and cities which can be seen on this directional compass:

Destinations from Taunton

Watchet, Minehead Bridgwater, Weston-super-Mare, Cardiff Glastonbury, Wells, Bath, Bristol

Wiveliscombe, Dulverton, Barnstaple

Taunton

Langport, Somerton, Yeovil

Wellington, Tiverton, Exeter, Plymouth Honiton Ilminster, Chard, Crewkerne, Weymouth

Geology[edit] In the Taunton
Taunton
area Permian
Permian
(295–250 million years ago) red sandstones and breccia outcrop, while rocks of Triassic
Triassic
age (248–204 million years ago) underlie much of Somerset
Somerset
and form the solid geology to the Somerset
Somerset
Moors and Levels.[40] Nature reserves[edit] There are several local nature reserves in and around Taunton, which are protected under a statutory designation in Section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. South Taunton Streams is an urban wetland,[41] and in the northern suburbs is the Children's Wood riverside reserve which provides a movement corridor for animals including otters along the banks of the River Tone. Birds occurring at the site include: kingfisher, dipper, grey wagtail, mute swan, grey heron and reed warbler. It is also home to butterflies such as the small and large skipper, marbled white, small heath and small copper, and to dragonflies and damselflies.[42] Weirfield Riverside is a linear nature reserve along the bank of the River Tone
River Tone
providing alder and willow woodland, bramble, scrub and rough grassland. The wetter areas which are sometimes flooded include hemlock water dropwort, and yellow flag.[43] Silk Mills Park and Ride includes landscaping and ponds in three areas next to the River Tone created when the park and ride was created. The woodland and grassland supports aquatic and marginal vegetation.[44] There are a variety of birds, bats, reptiles and invertebrates.[45] Frieze Hill Community Orchard
Orchard
has been converted from allotments to rough grassland and an orchard. The Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill
Yarlington Mill
varieties of apples are among those grown.[46] Climate[edit] Along with the rest of South West England, Taunton
Taunton
has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country.[47] The annual mean temperature is approximately 10 °C (50.0 °F). Seasonal temperature variation is less extreme than most of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
because of the adjacent sea temperatures. The summer months of July and August are the warmest with mean daily maxima of approximately 21 °C (69.8 °F). In winter mean minimum temperatures of 1 °C (33.8 °F) or 2 °C (35.6 °F) are common.[47] In the summer the Azores
Azores
high pressure affects the south-west of England, however convective cloud sometimes forms inland, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. Annual sunshine rates are slightly less than the regional average of 1,600 hours.[47] In December 1998 there were 20 days without sun recorded at Yeovilton. Most of the rainfall in the south-west is caused by Atlantic depressions or by convection. Most of the rainfall in autumn and winter is caused by the Atlantic depressions, which is when they are most active. In summer, a large proportion of the rainfall is caused by sun heating the ground leading to convection and to showers and thunderstorms. Average rainfall is around 700 mm (28 in). About 8–15 days of snowfall is typical. November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, and June to August have the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.[47] Demography[edit]

Population profile[48]

UK Census 2001 Taunton
Taunton
Deane South West England England

Total population 102,299 4,928,434 49,138,831

Foreign born 4.1% 9.4% 9.2%

White 98.4% 97.7% 91%

Asian 0.4% 0.7% 4.6%

Black 0.2% 0.4% 2.3%

Christian 75.9% 74.0% 72%

Muslim 0.3% 0.5% 3.1%

Hindu 0.1% 0.2% 1.1%

No religion 15.7% 16.8% 15%

Over 75 years old 9.5% 9.3% 7.5%

Unemployed 2.4% 2.6% 3.3%

The town of Taunton
Taunton
(which for population estimates includes the unparished area – or former municipal borough – plus the neighbouring parishes of Bishop's Hull, Comeytrowe, Norton Fitzwarren, Staplegrove, Trull
Trull
and West Monkton) had an estimated population of 61,400 in 2001.[49] It is the largest town in the shire county of Somerset. Taunton
Taunton
forms part of the larger borough of Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
which also includes the town of Wellington and surrounding villages. Taunton Deane had an estimated population of 109,883 in 2010.[50] The figures below are for the Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
area.

Population since 1801 – Source: A Vision of Britain through Time & Inform Somerset

Year 1801 1851 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2010

Population Taunton
Taunton
Deane[50][51] 33,139 51,844 53,759 55,666 56,161 56,661 62,745 69,492 75,320 81,639 84,795 95,791 102,304 109,883

In 2011, the Taunton
Taunton
built up area subdivision had a population of 60,479[52] compared with 110,187 for the surrounding borough of Taunton
Taunton
Deane.[53][54] 91.6% of Taunton's residents were White British in 2011[55] compared with 93.4% for Taunton
Taunton
Deane.[56] Taunton's ethnic composition is similar to that of the whole of South West England
England
which was 91.8% White British in the same year. It's also average compared with other major towns in the same region including Poole
Poole
and Plymouth. Economy[edit]

The annual Taunton
Taunton
Carnival takes a route through the shopping district in the centre of the town.

Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
had a low unemployment rate of 4.1% compared with the national average of 5.0% in 2005.[57] Taunton
Taunton
is home to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Hydrographic Office (UKHO) which is an organisation within the Ministry of Defence responsible for providing navigational and other hydrographic information for national, civil and defence requirements. The UKHO is located on Admiralty Way and has a workforce of approximately 1100 staff.[58] At the start of the Second World War chart printing moved to Taunton
Taunton
but the main office did not move until 1968.[59] Taunton
Taunton
is also home to one of the head offices of Debenhams, Western Provident Association, Viridor
Viridor
and CANDAC. Moreover, the town is home to local offices for Defra, the Charity Commission for England
England
and Wales,[60] and General Electric. The first ever store of the multinational clothing retailer New Look opened in Taunton
Taunton
in 1969.[61] Taunton
Taunton
is also famous for the production of cider.[62] Crime[edit] Between April 2015 and April 2016, Avon and Somerset
Somerset
Police statistics showed a rise of more than 50% in violent crime. The same statistics also showed that approximately half of crimes committed did not result in a charge, with 37,332 incidents in Taunton
Taunton
over two years and 55,249 hours spent by officers at crime scenes.[63] Taunton
Taunton
has been noted for its growing drug abuse problems, with Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
Borough Council noting the prevalence of narcotics such as Krokodil in the community.[64] Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
has the highest number of rough sleepers in Somerset, nearly double the number of West Somerset, the second highest district.[65] Drug abuse has been noted as one of the leading causes of homelessness in Taunton
Taunton
and has made national news in recent years.[66] In 2017, a major police dawn raid operation arrested 27 drug dealers across Somerset, mainly based in the Priorswood and Halcon areas of Taunton. A significant number of weapons and class A drugs were seized in the operation, with Chief Inspector Lisa Simpson commenting, "People shouldn’t have to live in places where dealers freely sell drugs on the streets, in parks or in areas where children play which is what was happening in Bridgwater, Glastonbury
Glastonbury
and Taunton."[67] In February 2018, the murder of Heather Jordan in the Priorswood area of Taunton
Taunton
caused debate among local residents concerning the urban decay and rising crime in the town, questioning the success of the regeneration projects of Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
Borough Council as violent crime and drug abuse incidents continue to rise.[68] Landmarks[edit]

Gray's Almshouses

Gray's Almshouses
Almshouses
on East Street were founded by Robert Gray in 1615 for poor single women.[69] The red brick buildings bear the arms of Robert Gray, dated 1635, and another arms of the Merchant Tailors. A small room is used as chapel and has original benches and a painted ceiling. It has been designated by English Heritage
English Heritage
as a grade I listed building.[70] St Margaret's Almshouses
St Margaret's Almshouses
was founded as a leper colony in the 12th century. Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Abbey acquired the patronage of the hospital in the late 13th century and rebuilt it as almshouses in the early 16th century. From 1612 to 1938 the building continued to be used as almshouses, cared for by a local parish. In the late 1930s it was converted into a hall of offices for the Rural Community Council and accommodation for the Somerset
Somerset
Guild of Craftsmen. It later fell into disrepair until the Somerset
Somerset
Buildings Preservation Trust with Falcon Rural Housing purchased and restored it for use as four dwellings of social housing. It is a grade II* listed building.[71] The grounds of Taunton
Taunton
Castle[72] include the Somerset
Somerset
County Museum and The Castle Hotel, which incorporates the Castle Bow archway. Together with the municipal buildings they form a three-sided group of buildings just beyond the Castle Bow archway from Fore Street. The centre of the square is used as a car park, and a plain brick edifice of Mecca Bingo hall makes up the west side of it. The frontage of the Tudor Tavern (now a branch of Caffè Nero) in Fore Street dates from 1578 but the rest of the building is thought to date from the fourteenth century.[73]

Tudor Buildings, Fore Street

The area by the river north of the centre is surrounded by Morrisons supermarket, retirement housing and the Brewhouse Theatre. Towards the centre, is the Zinc Nightclub, Bridge Street and Goodlands Gardens. Currently a regeneration programme is being executed, north of Bridge Street, which will include redeveloping the County Cricket Ground. The cricket ground has hosted large open-air music concerts for Elton John in 2006 and 2012, and for Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart
in 2014. Shopping[edit] Hankridge Farm is a retail park close to the M5 motorway, with large stores including PC World, Currys, Mothercare, Halfords, B&Q, The Range and Taunton's second Sainsbury's
Sainsbury's
store. In addition, there is a 'Venue' on the park, with restaurants, the Odeon cinema and Hollywood Bowl bowling. Now known as Riverside Retail Park. Taunton
Taunton
has three other retail parks. Belvedere Retail Park is situated close to the town centre and consists of retailers such as Bathstore, Laura Ashley and Johnsons Cleaners. St Johns Retail Park is just off Toneway, going towards the motorway and consists of two units. It is occupied by DFS and more recently joined by Go Outdoors, where two vacant units were amalgamated into one for their opening in April 2014. Taunton's second largest retail park is Priory
Priory
Fields Retail Park, located on Priory
Priory
Avenue. It consists of five units plus an anchor store, Wickes
Wickes
Extra. It was redeveloped in 2003 to modernise the rather worn out appearance of the retail park and also to increase retail floorspace. The Old Market was a farmers market and took place on the Parade in front of Market House but this eventually moved to the Firepool area, although cattle trading on the site ceased in 2008.[74] A large indoor shopping centre to the east of the Parade was built on a site which had, at one time been a pig market. Although its official name is now Orchard, and before that the Old Market Centre, locals still refer to it as "The Pig Market" as one operated on the site from 1614 to 1882.[75] County Walk is a small indoor shopping arcade in the town centre with an anchor supermarket, Sainsbury's, plus several other large national retailers such as Subway, Costa Coffee, Maplin and The Entertainer. Public parks[edit]

Victoria memorial water fountain, Vivary Park

There are a number of public parks around Taunton
Taunton
including Vivary Park, Goodlands Park and Victoria Park. The most notable is Vivary Park, located on land that was formerly a medieval fish farm, or vivarium, for Taunton
Taunton
Priory
Priory
and Taunton
Taunton
Castle.[76] Fronted by a pair of cast iron gates made by the Saracen Foundry
Saracen Foundry
of Glasgow,[77] it contains the Sherford Stream, a tributary of the River Tone, which flows through the 7.5 hectares (19 acres) park,[78] which is located near the centre of the town. It contains two main wide open spaces, as well as a war memorial dating from 1922, a miniature golf course, tennis courts, two children's playgrounds, a model railway track which was added in 1979, and an 18-hole, 4620-yards, par-63 golf course.[79] The park includes trees, rose beds and herbaceous borders, with around 56,000 spring and summer bedding plants being used each year.[78] The rose garden includes the Royal National Rose Society
Royal National Rose Society
Provincial Trial Ground.[76] Taunton Flower Show
Taunton Flower Show
has been held annually in the park since the 19th century. It has been described as "The Chelsea of the West",[80] and attracts around 24,000 visitors over its two days.[81] Goodlands Gardens, located in the centre of the town, is behind the Debenhams
Debenhams
department store and The Castle Hotel. Transport[edit] Rail[edit] Taunton railway station
Taunton railway station
is on the Bristol
Bristol
to Exeter
Exeter
line, the Reading to Taunton
Taunton
line, and the Cross-Country Route. It is served and operated by Great Western Railway and served by CrossCountry, with services to Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street,[82] Cardiff Central, Bristol
Bristol
Temple Meads,[83] London
London
Paddington, Exeter
Exeter
St Davids, Plymouth
Plymouth
and Penzance, as well as the rest of the West Country.[84] There are generally one fast and one slow trains each hour to both Bristol
Bristol
Temple Meads and Exeter
Exeter
St Davids and one train to London
London
Paddington. The former railway route to Minehead
Minehead
is now a heritage railway known as the West Somerset
Somerset
Railway although services only operate between Bishops Lydeard
Bishops Lydeard
and Minehead. The Buses of Somerset's route 28 provide a link between the railway stations at Taunton
Taunton
and Bishops Lydeard.[85] In 2009, Project Taunton,[86] the authority responsible for Taunton's major regeneration project, revealed proposals for Taunton
Taunton
metro rail, as part of their transport sustainability plan. Road[edit] Taunton
Taunton
also has good road links, having the M5 motorway
M5 motorway
junctions 25 (Taunton) and 26 (Wellington) close to the town, as well as other major roads such as the A38 and A358. The Taunton
Taunton
bypass section of M5, from J25-26, opened in April 1974, relieving the town of heavy holiday traffic on the A38. Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
services are located between junctions 25 and 26 on the M5. However, with the flourishing local economy, traffic is a problem with Somerset
Somerset
County Council giving a prediction of a significant increase based on 2001 levels.[87] Two major new road have been undertaken since 2010. The 'Third Way' linking Bridge Street and castle Street opened in 2011[88] but the Northern Inner Distributor Road (NIDR) between Staplegrove Road and Priory
Priory
Avenue, due to open March 2015, finally opened in July 2017.[89][90] 2011 M5 motorway
M5 motorway
crash[edit] Main article: 2011 M5 motorway
M5 motorway
crash On the evening of 4 November 2011, 34 vehicles were involved in an accident close to junction 25 of the M5 motorway
M5 motorway
northbound, on the north eastern edge of the town at West Monkton.[91] Seven people were confirmed as dead, with a further 51 injured.[92] Buses and coaches[edit]

Taunton
Taunton
Bus Station

Many local bus services are provided by The Buses of Somerset. In addition to town services, these run to destinations such as Minehead, Bridgwater
Bridgwater
and Weston-Super-Mare.[93] Other services are provided by Stagecoach South West[94] and Hatch Green Coaches.[95] Services were also operated by Webberbus, but these services ended when the company closed on 12 May 2016.[96] Taunton
Taunton
Bus station is run by The Buses of Somerset
Somerset
and is served by National Express coaches. A cross-town park and ride service is operated by The Buses of Somerset
Somerset
linking the Taunton
Taunton
gateway (near the M5 Motorway) and Silk Mills on the north-west side of the town.[97] Air[edit] The nearest airports are Exeter
Exeter
International Airport and Bristol Airport; both are within 40 mi (64 km) of Taunton.[98][99] Trams[edit]

A single deck car in Fore Street

The Taunton Tramway
Taunton Tramway
was opened on 21 August 1901. Six double deck cars operated on the 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge line between the railway station and East Reach where the depot was situated. In 1905 the service was withdrawn for two months while the track was improved; the cars were replaced at the same time by six single deck cars and the old double deckers were sold to Leamington Spa. A short extension beyond the station to Rowbarton was opened in 1909, making the line 1.66 miles (2.7 km) long. The price of its electricity was due to increase in 1928 which the company refused to pay so it offered to sell out but this was not accepted. The electricity was cut off on 28 May 1921 and so the system closed.[100][101] Canal[edit] The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal
Bridgwater and Taunton Canal
is a navigable waterway which links Taunton
Taunton
with Bridgwater, which first opened in 1827 and having been closed to navigation in 1907 it re-opened following restoration in 1994.

Education[edit]

King's College

State secondary schools in Taunton
Taunton
include The Castle School, Heathfield Community School, Bishop Fox's School
Bishop Fox's School
and The Taunton Academy. Further Education is provided by Richard Huish College, The Taunton
Taunton
Academy (which is sponsored by Richard Huish College) and the Bridgwater
Bridgwater
and Taunton
Taunton
College. Heathfield Community School
Heathfield Community School
has a post-16 Further Education college specialising in performing arts and technical theatre called The SPACE (The Somerset
Somerset
Performing Arts Centre for Education). Heathfield Community School
Heathfield Community School
is also a Teaching School and the base of Taunton
Taunton
Teaching Alliance.[102] The Taunton campus of the Bridgwater
Bridgwater
and Taunton
Taunton
College is a partner college of Plymouth
Plymouth
University. There are three coeducational independent schools in Taunton: Queen's College, King's College and Taunton
Taunton
School. In March 2009, it was announced that Jim Knight, Minister of State for Schools and Families, had approved plans that would mean the closure of both Ladymead Community School
Ladymead Community School
and the nearby St Augustine of Canterbury RC/CoE School both in the Priorswood area of Taunton.[103] The schools closed in August 2010, and were replaced in September 2010 by The Taunton
Taunton
Academy.[104] Provision for young people with special educational needs in Taunton is provided by two Special
Special
Schools and one Complex Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). Sky College caters for boys aged 10 – 18 who have social, emotional and mental health difficulties. Selworthy School has pupils on roll between the ages of 4 and 19 who have complex and multiple learning difficulties,[105] whilst the Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
Partnership College is a complex PRU for children in Key Stages 2, 3 and 4 as well as a Medical Tuition Service, Outreach & Advisory service and an Area Access Team.[106] Health Services[edit] Taunton
Taunton
is within Somerset
Somerset
Primary Care Trust and is home to Musgrove Park Hospital, within Taunton
Taunton
and Somerset
Somerset
Foundation NHS Trust. This is one of two district hospitals within Somerset
Somerset
alongside Yeovil District Hospital. A Nuffield Hospital is also situated within the town, run privately by Nuffield Health. The town is also home to several doctor's surgeries as well as a family planning clinic, occupational health centre and chiropractic clinic.[107][108] Religious sites[edit]

Parish church of St. Mary Magdalene

Church of St John the Evangelist

The parish church of St. Mary Magdalene, built of sandstone more in the South Somerset
Somerset
style, preserves an attractive painted interior, but its most notable aspect is its 15th- and 16th-century tower (rebuilt in the mid-19th century), which is one of the best examples in the country and a 163 feet (50 m) tall landmark.[109][110] It was described by Simon Jenkins, an acknowledged authority on English churches, as "the finest in England. It makes its peace with the sky not just with a coronet but with the entire crown jewels cast in red-brown stone."[111] The tower itself has 12 bells and 3 bells "hung dead" for the clock mechanism.[112] The parish church of St. James is also located near the centre of Taunton
Taunton
quite close to St. Mary Magdalene. The oldest parts of St. James Church are early 14th-century, and there are fragments of 15th-century glass in the west end. Like St. Mary's it also has a sandstone tower but built to a much less impressive design. The tower was also, like St. Mary's, rebuilt in the 19th century – in this case thought to be due to building defects in the original tower.[113] The church backs onto the County Ground and forms a familiar backdrop to the popular cricket ground. St George's is the town's Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
church and dates from the mid-19th century. It was the second Catholic church to be built in Taunton
Taunton
after the Reformation, replacing the much smaller St George's Chapel. The main church building is designated by English Heritage
English Heritage
as a Grade II* listed building, while the rectory is Grade II listed. The Mary Street Unitarian Chapel, which dates from 1721,[114] is located on Mary Street in Taunton. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, while living Nether Stowey
Nether Stowey
16 miles (26 km) away, came to the chapel to preach on several occasions. Dr. Malachi Blake, who founded the Taunton
Taunton
and Somerset
Somerset
Hospital in East Reach, Taunton, was also a preacher at the chapel, attending in 1809 in celebration of the fiftieth year of George the Third's reign. The Chapel still has the original interior including Flemish oak pillars in the Corinthian style. The pews and pulpit are also in oak, and there is an early 18th-century candelabra. In the latter part of the 17th century, Taunton
Taunton
had two dissenting places of worship: "Paul's Meeting" and the Baptist Meeting.[115] Paul's Meeting was built at the top of Paul Street soon after 1672 on part of a bowling green behind the Three Cups Inn, now The County Hotel, and rapidly became one of the largest congregations in the county. After Mayor
Mayor
Timewell sacked both Paul's Meeting and the Baptist Meeting in 1683,[116] the dissenters were driven to worship in private houses on the outskirts of Taunton, where their assemblies were regularly raided by the Justices. Paul's Meeting survived attempts to turn it into a workhouse and, with the coming of William III and Mary II, followed by the Toleration Act 1688, was reopened. Hugh Willoughby, 15th Baron Willoughby of Parham, was educated in early life at Taunton
Taunton
Dissenters' Academy.[117] The Baptist Meeting became the Baptist New Meeting was registered in 1691 and rebuilt in 1721 as Mary Street Chapel.[118] Culture[edit] The theatre in Taunton
Taunton
town centre is the Brewhouse Theatre. This closed in February 2013 due to financial difficulties but was reopened in April 2014 by the Taunton
Taunton
Theatre Association (TTA) who were granted the lease from Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
Borough Council who had bought the 61-year lease of the site and its contents from administrator.[119][120] Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre[121] is a professional theatre based at Heathfield Community School
Heathfield Community School
hosting touring theatre, dance and comedy, as well as productions by South West schools and colleges. Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre also runs numerous community classes. The Creative Innovation Centre CIC has an arts and culture venue in the town centre.[122] Several concerts are held each year Taunton's largest church, St Mary Magdalene. In recent years The Sixteen, The Tallis Scholars
Tallis Scholars
and Gabrieli Consort have all performed to full capacity audiences.[123][124] Taunton
Taunton
is also home to several choirs and orchestras who perform in the town's churches and independent schools' chapels. Many local musical and drama groups are members of the Taunton
Taunton
Association of Performing Arts (TAPA) which produces a diary and anti-clash calendar of performances in and around the town.[125] Three radio stations, BBC Somerset,[126] Tone FM[127] and Apple FM,[128] broadcast from Taunton. Popular culture references[edit] Taunton
Taunton
is mentioned in The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro,[129] Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
by John le Carré,[130] and Evelyn Waugh's Scoop, and was given the fictitious name of "Toneborough" by Thomas Hardy.[131] Taunton
Taunton
also features in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish
by Douglas Adams, part of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
series of books.[132] Comedian Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
mentions the town in his stand-up DVD Part Troll, claiming to have taken part in a teleportation experiment sponsored by Taunton
Taunton
Cider.[133] Sport[edit]

Somerset
Somerset
playing Yorkshire at the County Ground

Taunton
Taunton
Rugby Football Club is an English rugby union club that is based in Taunton. They currently play in National League 2 South, having achieved back-to-back promotions in 2009 and 2010. The County Ground was originally home to Taunton
Taunton
Cricket Club, which was formed in 1829 and played at the County Ground until 1977 before moving to Moorfields, Taunton
Taunton
in conjunction with Taunton
Taunton
Vale Hockey Club, after which the County Ground has been solely used by Somerset County Cricket Club.[134] Somerset
Somerset
CCC was formed in 1875, but the club did not achieve first class status until 1891.[135] The County Ground has a capacity of 8,500[136] and the ends are called the River End and the Old Pavilion End.[137] It is the current home of the England
England
women's cricket team. The Somerset
Somerset
Cricket Museum is situated by the County Ground. Taunton
Taunton
Cricket Club have since 2002 been located at the new Taunton Vale Sports Club Ground, in Staplegrove, which features two cricket fields. The Taunton
Taunton
Vale ground is also a regular home venue for Somerset's Second XI. Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
Cricket Club have a ground adjacent to Vivary Park, while Taunton
Taunton
St Andrews Cricket Club are located at the nearby Wyvern Sports and Social Club. All three clubs play in the West of England
England
Premier League or one of its feeder leagues. Taunton Town F.C.
Taunton Town F.C.
are a football club, who play at Wordsworth Drive in the town.[138] They were formed in 1947 by a few local businessmen as Taunton
Taunton
F.C., changing to the current name in 1968, and played their first friendly fixture in 1948. For most of their history, Taunton were members of the Western League. They spent a six-season spell in the Southern League from 1977, and after a further period in the Western League, returned to the Southern League in 2002, after winning the FA Vase
FA Vase
in 2001.[139] After the latest re-organisation of the English football league system, the club are currently members of the Southern League Division One South & West. Somerset
Somerset
Vikings are a Rugby League
Rugby League
Club who were formed at the beginning of 2003 as part of the Rugby Football League's plans to develop the game further beyond the traditional areas in the north of England. Initially the side was made up of a mixture of Royal Marines based in Taunton
Taunton
and Exeter
Exeter
together with a number of local rugby union players keen to try the 13-man code. The Vikings play at Hyde Park which is the home of the Taunton
Taunton
R.F.C., a rugby union club, which was formed in 1875.[140] The Taunton Tigers
Taunton Tigers
is a semi-professional basketball team competing in the English Basketball
Basketball
League Men's Division 1. The team play all their home games at Wellsprings Leisure Centre, which has a capacity of 500 seats.[141]

The Grandstand at the racecourse

Taunton Racecourse
Taunton Racecourse
is close to the Blackdown Hills
Blackdown Hills
and about 2 miles (3 km) from the centre of Taunton. Although racing had been held in the area previously, the first race at the present site was held on 21 September 1927. The stands are called the Orchard
Orchard
Stand and the Paddock Stand which provide catering facilities and are used for meetings and conferences on days when racing is not taking place.[142] Volleyball
Volleyball
Taunton
Taunton
are a local volleyball club that have played for a number of years, more recently in the Exeter
Exeter
& District League. They train and play their home games at Wellsprings Leisure Centre.[143] There is an oval motor racing circuit at Smeatharpe which is close to the Somerset/Devon border, it is frequently referred to as the Taunton Banger racing circuit although it is around 11 miles (18 km) from central Taunton.[144] Local skateboarders raised £183,000 for a replacement skatepark at Hamilton Gault Park which opened in May 2010. Taunton
Taunton
Freeriders is a community mountain bike project in partnership with the Forestry Commission
Forestry Commission
who are developing a series of northshore and downhill (DH) style mountain bike trails just outside the town. Run by volunteers from the local close-knit riding community and funded solely by kind donations, they are also involved with the redevelopment of the "Norton Dirt Jumps". Notable residents[edit] The following people were born or have lived in Taunton:

Colin Addison (born 1940) – former professional footballer and manager; born in Taunton[145] Jenny Agutter (born 1952) – actress; born in Taunton[146] Joseph Alleine (1634–1668) – English Puritan Nonconformist pastor and author[147] William Larkins Bernard (1843–1922) – architect; born in Taunton[148] Andrew Bicknell (born 1956) – actor; born in Taunton[149] Pattie Boyd
Pattie Boyd
(born 1944)  – actress and model; former wife of both George Harrison
George Harrison
and Eric Clapton[150] Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler
(born 1990)  – England
England
and Lancashire cricketer, known for his big hitting of the ball; born in Taunton[151] Deborah Criddle MBE (born 1966) – para-equestrian who won three gold medals at the 2004 Summer Paralympics
2004 Summer Paralympics
in Athens
Athens
and three medals at the 2012 Summer Paralympics
2012 Summer Paralympics
in London; born in Taunton; currently lives in Trull, a village on its outskirts[152] John Crockford – publisher[153] William Crotch – noted composer and Principal of the Royal Academy of Music.[154] Buried at Bishops Hull Church, Taunton.[155] Stephen Daldry – three-time Academy Award nominated and Tony Award-winning theatre and film director and producer[156] Charles George Gordon – British general, known as Gordon of Khartoum; educated at Fullands School, now a retirement complex off Shoreditch Road; lodged in a house next to the Temple Methodist Church[157] Antony Hewish – astronomer and Nobel Prize for Physics winner[158] Rebecca Huxtable  – British radio personality and producer, currently co-producing The Scott Mills Show
The Scott Mills Show
on BBC Radio 1; born in Taunton[159] Alexander William Kinglake
Alexander William Kinglake
(1809–1891) – barrister, travel writer and historian; born at Wilton House near Taunton[160] Scott Laird – English footballer currently playing for Scunthorpe United[161] Lee Martin (born 1987)  – footballer who currently plays for Millwall F.C.; born in Taunton[162] Deborah Meaden (born 1959) – business mogul, philanthropist, star of TV series Dragons Den; born in Taunton[163] William Ellis Metford (1824–1899) – engineer, best known for the Metford rifling in the .303 Lee-Metford service rifle of the late nineteenth century; born in Taunton[164] Ciara Michel – member of Team GB
Team GB
Olympic volleyball squad, the first GB volleyball team to play in the Olympic games[165] Frank Montague Moore
Frank Montague Moore
(1877–1967) – painter; first director of the Honolulu Museum of Art; born in Taunton[166] Alfred B. Mullett
Alfred B. Mullett
(1834–1890)  – architect to Abraham Lincoln; born in Taunton[167] Justin Pipe  – professional darts player[168] James Purefoy
James Purefoy
(born 1964) – actor, one of the stars of the joint HBO-BBC series Rome; born in Taunton[169] Gary Rhodes – celebrity chef; head chef at The Castle Hotel in Taunton, 1986–1990[170] Viv Richards – former West Indies cricketer; born in Antigua; resident in Taunton
Taunton
while playing for Somerset, 1974–1986[171] Andy Robinson (born 1964) – former England
England
rugby union international and head coach; now head coach of Scotland; born in Taunton[172] Miranda Shearer (born 1982) – author; born in Taunton, but resident of Spaxton, later Over Stowey
Over Stowey
and Taunton[173] Hugh Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard
Hugh Trenchard, 1st Viscount Trenchard
(1873–1956) – military officer involved in establishment of Royal Air Force; born in Taunton[174] Marcus Trescothick – England
England
cricketer, recipient of the Taunton Deane
Taunton Deane
Citizenship Award in 2005[175] Sir Charles Trevelyan, 1st Baronet
Sir Charles Trevelyan, 1st Baronet
(1807–1886) – Governor of Madras; born in Taunton[176] Phil Vickery – celebrity chef[177] Frederick Porter Wensley
Frederick Porter Wensley
(1865–1949) – chief constable of Scotland Yard
Scotland Yard
CID; born in Taunton[178] David Henry Wilson – English writer, known for his children's stories such as the Jeremy James series[179] Jeremy Wright
Jeremy Wright
 – born in Taunton
Taunton
and attended Taunton
Taunton
School; Attorney General for England
England
and Wales; Conservative Member of Parliament[180]

Twinning[edit] Taunton
Taunton
is twinned with Lisieux
Lisieux
in France,[181] Königslutter
Königslutter
in Germany,[182] and Taunton, Massachusetts
Taunton, Massachusetts
in the US. References[edit]

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Towns, villages and hamlets in the Taunton Deane
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Ashbrittle Ash Priors Bathealton Bickenhall Bishop's Hull Bishops Lydeard Bradford on Tone Burrowbridge Cheddon Fitzpaine Chipstable Churchstanton Combe Florey Comeytrowe Corfe Cotford St Luke Cothelstone Creech St Michael Curland Durston Fitzhead Halse Hatch Beauchamp Kingston St Mary Langford Budville Lydeard St Lawrence Milverton North Curry Norton Fitzwarren Nynehead Oake Orchard
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Major settlements

Axbridge Bath Bridgwater Bruton Burnham-on-Sea 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

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