Somerset’s Historic Attractions

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South Somerset, though not as dramatic as the Quantocks or Mendips, still manages to offer plenty of surprises. These include Cadbury Castle, thought to be the site of the legendary Camelot, and Windwhistle Hill, just outside Chard which affords inspiring views of the English and Bristol Channels. The region is peppered with countless remote country towns and small villages – the only major industrial town is Yeovil.

The marshy lowlands to the north were once the haunting grounds of the ‘Seo-mere-saetan’, the sea-lake dwellers from whom the county derived its name. The region’s Saxon heritage is also prevalent in towns like Muchelney and Athelney that use ‘ey’: a corrupted version of the Saxon word for island, ‘ea’.

Other historical attractions can be found in places like Ilchester, which is home to one of the oldest maces in Europe. And near the village of Montacute stands Montacute House, a well-preserved building that dates back to Elizabethan times. The Knights Templar is commemorated at Temple Combe and near Cricket St Thomas and Crewkerne, visitors can find links to Horation Nelson. South Somerset’s fascinating heritage is also prevalent in a selection of villages and hamlets.

Cadbury
The pretty villages of North and South Cadbury feature the huge earthwork, Cadbury Castle. It is situated on a hill west of South Cadbury. The castle, thought to be the site of King Arthur’s Camelot, is perhaps the finest prehistoric camp in Somerset, and one of the finest in the UK.

Chard
Somerset’s highest town at around 400 ft above sea level. Outstanding views can bhe had from the nearby Snowdon and Windwhistle Hills. Chard’s 16th century courthouse buildings is the town’s main attractions. Also of note is the Church of St Mary with its 17th century monument to local doctor William Brewer. Two streams flow alongside the High Street, one north, towards the Bristol Channel and the other south to the English Channel.

Compton Pauncefoot
A picturesque village situated in a narrow valley that once belonged to a Norman knight named Pauncefoot. Opposite the quaint village church is the Old Rectory, a pleasant Georgian house. Also noteworthy is the Gothic, Compton Castle that dates back to the 19th century and 17th century in places.

Crcwkerne
A market town situated on the slopes of the Black Down Hills with a history of sail-making. Historical attractions include the 15th century Church of St Bartholomew with its huge west window and the Jacobean building on Abbey Road, which housed the ancient grammar school, of which Nelson’s flag captain, Captain Hardy, was a pupil.

Cricket St Thomas
Cricket St Thomas is one of the finest estates in the West Country. The Georgian mansion once belonged to the Bridport family who had connections with the great seafarer Lord Nelson, who was a frequent visitor. The large grounds include a popular wildlife park as well as the parish church of St Thomas.

Hinton St George
A village with a warren of narrow lanes, a row of impressive stone houses and a medieval cross with a carving of St John the Baptist. The local features a number of ‘scratch’ dials which are early forms of sun dials.

Ilchester
This town dates back to Roman times and was of importance during medieval times. Reminders of its illustrious past are still in evidence around its village green including a collection of Georgian houses. The town hall is also Georgian and houses a 13th century mace, one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. To the north is situated an impressive Tudor manor house with a 14th century chapel and Elizabethan garden.

Ilminster
A major market town that sits at the foot of the Black Down Hills. Many of the houses that overlook the market square date back to the 18th century. The nearby Beacon Hill, which can be reached via an old road from North Street, affords impressive views of the surrounding countryside. The Tudor manor house, Barrington Court, can be found a few miles north east of the town. It dates back to the early 16th century and features striking spiral chimneys.

Milborne Port
Once a significant mill town, Milborne Port features a collection of historical visitor attractions including a medieval cross, a Norman doorway which forms part of theold guildhall and Saxon Norman Church. Traces of a prehistoric camp are also evident just outside town.

Montacute
The town’s name derives from the Latin ‘Mons acutus’ which translates as ‘pointed hill’, a reference to the nearby St Michael’s Hill, upon which sits St Michael’s Tower a 16th century folly. Montacute House is a major attraction and is one of the most impressive stately homes in Somerset. Built in the late 16th century it houses a large collection of china, portraits and furniture and has a beautiful Jacobean garden

Tintinhull
The major attraction here is Tintinhull House, built from Ham Hill stone and featuring an attractive formal garden. Built in the 18th century, it was given a new west front about 100 years later. The gardens have been lovingly managed since 1900.

Wincanron
A small bustling village peppered with old stone houses. It is located on a hill which overlooks the Blackmoor Vale and provides a good base for exploring the surrounding countryside.


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