Somerton Town Guide
...the ancient royal town of wessex now an attractive rural town to the south of the beautiful River Cary valley.
A beautiful rural town in the heart of Somerset - the ideal location for relaxing in the local area or visiting all the sights that Somerset has to offer.
The Domesday book notes Somerton as Sumertone which is thought to be a reference to a summer hamlet or farmstead. This could be due to the grazing of animals during the summer time in the area before being moved to other pastures for the winter period.
It was in Saxon control when in 733 it was lost to Ethelbald, King of Mercia. Taken back into West Saxon control during the 9thcentury it grew to a small market town by the 13thcentury which entitled it to hold an annual fair. Even the courts and jail were moved there during this period however by the 14thcentury these had moved back to Ilchester and Somerton remained as a market town. To this day it hasn’t really grown much bigger and thus retains a lot of the old world charm and some of the lovely old buildings.
A delightful setting between the steep River Cary valley to the north and the Mill Stream to the south, Somerton was an ideal pace for a town with these natural defences on two sides. It retains remnants of its past as a market town and set around the market square there are still some of the old buildings such as the Town or Market Hall, Parish Rooms and the Market House. The oldest church in the town is the church of St Michael and All Saints which dates from the 13thcentury although much of it was added and restored later. The roof is divided into square carved panels each of 640 panels with the same design. There is also the 17thcentury pulpit and alter of Jacobean woodwork.
The market cross or Butter cross is a roofed structure from the 14thcentury which was restored in around 1673 and well worth viewing.
The town was large enough to have its own brewery for many years which traded up until 1935 however this is now where the shopping precinct stands. There is also a 12thcentury country house, Somerton Court, which now acts as a privately owned wedding and conference venue.
The memorial gardens are set on the site of the old Cow and Gate factory which was bombed during the war. Sometime after the war the company donated the land to the town for a children’s playground and gardens.
Things to see and do
Walking and cycling – Somerton is set just to the south of the Polden Hills which offer many tracks and routes for walkers and cyclists alike.
Summer Arts Festival and Funday – During early July for a period of about a week Somerton hosts its own arts festival and funday which includes as many types of music as possible along with craft fairs, talks, quizzes and much much more. Further details can be found at http://www.somerton.co.uk/ssf/
Local places of interest
Glastonbury and Glastonbury Tor are just to the north of the town.
Fleet Air Arm museum based near Yeovilton is a few miles to the south west.
The old town of Yeovil itself is slightly further south.
Some of the historical attractions nearby include Stembridge Tower Mill, Lytes Cary Manor, and the Priests House at Muchelney, all National Trust properties, and the site of the Battle of Langport.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015