Dunster Village Guide
...the jewel of Somerset with a magnificent castle, quaint old buildings, many of historical interest and lovely old world streets to wander and browse the array of fine shops, restaurants and tea rooms.
Dominated by its castle which sits high on the ‘rocky hill’, Dunster must surely be one of the most attractive villages in England, with an abundance of historical buildings and delightful shops and places to stop and browse or catch a bite to eat and some refreshments.
Settled since around 700AD, Dunster was mentioned in the Domesday book as Torre, which is thought to mean ‘the rocky hill’. At this time it was listed as being held by William de Moyon and the place at which he had his castle. During the English Civil war the castle was held first by the Royalists and then by the Parliamentarians who, rather than pull it down as was their instruction, continued to use it as a highly fortified garrison.
The castle, which includes a 13thcentury gatehouse, passed to the Luttrell family late in the 14thcentury and was owned by them right up until it was taken on by the National Trust in 1976.
Dunster is beautifully situated on the edge of the Exmoor National Park, giving the visitor a variety of interests and activities, and is only a couple of miles from the lively seaside town of Minehead. Dunster Castle is the highlight of any visit to the area however there are over 200 listed buildings in the village which has enabled it to keep its charm and ambience of times past. The Priory church of St George dates from as early as the 13thcentury although only a few remnants of this time remain. Much of it was rebuilt and then restored in the 15thand 19thcenturies. Examples of other buildings of interest are the Nunnery, Working Water Mill, Dovecote, Priory Barn, the Gallox bridge and the Yarn market which harks back to the days when the wool trade was of great importance in the village.
There are many delightful restaurants and tea rooms in which to rest and soak up the atmosphere before continuing on a journey of discovery around the village and surrounding area.
Things to see and do
Walking and cycling – being on the edge of the Exmoor National Park there are plenty of tracks and routes to follow for all levels of fitness and abilities.
Horse Riding – Local stables are found at:
Knowle Riding Centre, Timberscombe, Minehead, TA24 6TZ 01643 841342
Open all year - All abilities welcome
Periton Park Riding Stables, Middlecombe, Minehead, TA24 8SW 01643 705970
Open all year - All abilities & ages catered for
West Somerset Railway - the longest preserved steam railway in Britain which was saved from extinction in the Beeching cuts of 1971. It now runs services to and from Bishops Lydeard over a 20 mile track and is a must for all visitors to take a trip and stop off at some of the 10 lovingly restored and presented stations along the route.
For more details please contact The Railway Station, Minehead, Somerset TA24 5BG 01643 704996
Dunster Doll museum – started by Mrs Mollie Hardwick in her Dunster cottage in 1957 the collection was passed to the memorial hall committee on her death so that it could be kept in the village. The collection is around 1300 and up to 700 of these are on display during the year. A wonderful collection of old and interesting dolls. Open daily from Easter to September/October
Dunster Show – held in the middle of August the show is a fun filled day for all the family. On show will be the best of Somersets livestock with classes for horses, cattle and sheep. Don’t miss out on the bands, crafts, demonstrations and trade stands all of which provide fun and information for everyone.
Dunster by candlelight – held on the first Friday and Saturday in December each year, Dunster returns to the days of old by using only candlelight to light the streets. Throughout the evenings there are a variety of street entertainers from hand bell ringers, morris dancers, carol singers and a brass band among others to keep everyone entertained. The procession moves through the village to light all the lanterns whilst the shops remain open for Christmas trading. A wonderful experience taking you back in time to a period where only the flickering light of candles disturbed the night sky.
Local places of interest
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015