Ilminster Town Guide
...a flourishing community town with lots of history
Situated just off the A303 main route to the south west the town lies close to the Somerset Levels and has history and scenery to keep the visitor entertained.
The earliest mention of the town was way back in 725 and then later in 995 in a charter granted to the Abbey of Muchelney by King Ethelred. By the time of the Domesday book the town was known as Ileminstre or the church on the river Isle. This is due to the Church of St Mary being referred to as the Minster which sits in the town which is on the River Isle.
At this time it was a flourishing community which had been granted weekly markets and an annual fair. Annual fairs showed the towns importance in the area as it brought people in from all around.
Even though the town suffered great fires in 1491 and again in 1661, by 1670 it is noted as being the fourth largest in Somerset.
In 1685 the Duke of Monmouth camped here with some of his troops during his fateful attempt to overthrow the catholic King James II called the Monmouth Rebellion.
Ilminster sits on the River Isle and close to the A303, one of the main routes from the London area down to the south west and is therefore ideally placed for a trip away or a stopover on a longer journey.
There are a selection of shops from which to browse and buy including a traditional Edwardian style clothing and soft furnishings shop. There are notable buildings in the town such as the 16th century grammar school and the meeting house which is now used as an art gallery.
The 15th century church of St Mary is a grade I listed hamstone building that was refurbished in 1825 with the chancel being done in 1883. It houses early tombs of the Wadham family dating from 1452 and the 1600’s and has a two storey tower above the nave including a 3 bay stair turret in the north west corner and two bells dating from 1732 and 1790.
Things to see and do
Theatre– The Warehouse Theatre, Brewery Lane, Ilminster, TA19 9AD 01460 52712/57049
This intimate 150-seat theatre in a converted warehouse run by the Ilminster Entertainments Society who produce four plays and a pantomime/Christmas show every year; inviting visiting professional performers (dramatic, dance, music) and is the venue for various regional drama competition finals.
Herne Hill– On the outskirts of Ilminster is a wooded hillside which is a delightful place to visit. Late May sees a sea of bluebells before the guelder rose takes over in June. Herne Hill is home to a range of woodland creatures including badgers and their traces of their nocturnal activities are often visible.
Fishing– Chard Reservoir, Chaffcombe Lane, Chard, Somerset. A 40 acre disused reservoir lined with trees with a car park nearby.
Contact Chard Angling Centre or telephone 01460 63771 Tickets must be obtained prior to going to the water as they cannot be purchased at the reservoir.
Local places of interest
Barrington Court– Barrington Court Garden, Barrington, Ilminster, Somerset
This National Trust Property is situated on the edge of the village of Barrington. A Tudor Manor House with a garden, inspired by Gertrude Jekyll, which is a delight to visit as too is the working kitchen garden.
Perrys Cider Mills– Award winning ciders to try and buy along with a cider museum. Dowlish Wake, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0NY
Chard– the birthplace of powered flight set in the foot of the unspoiled Blackdown Hills
South Petherton– a small delightful country town on the River Parrett distinctive for its traditional hamstone construction.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015