Place:Ilchester, Somerset, England

Alt namesIvelchestersource: alternate name
Lindinissource: Encyclopedia Britannica Online (2002-) accessed 4 August 2004
TypeAncient parish, Civil parish
Coordinates51.017°N 2.683°W
Located inSomerset, England
See alsoTintinhull Hundred, Somerset, Englandhundred in which it was located
Yeovil Rural, Somerset, Englandrural district 1894-1974
South Somerset District, Somerset, Englandnon-metropolitan district covering the area since 1974
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Ilchester (#13 on map) is a civil parish and a village in Somerset, England, situated on the River Yeo or Ivel, five miles north of Yeovil. In the UK census of 2011 it had a population of 2,153.

Originally a Roman town, and later a market town, Ilchester has a rich medieval history and was a notable settlement in the county. Around the 12th and 13th centuries it was effectively the county town. By the beginning of the 18th century it had, however, declined in size and importance. From 1621 to 1832, Ilchester was a Parliamentary constituency and a notorious rotten borough. In 1795 work began on the Ivelchester and Langport Navigation, a canal linking Ilchester with Langport, but the scheme was soon bankrupted. The last markets were held in 1833. In 1889 the historic corporation that had governed the town (the Bailiff and Burgesses) was dissolved and Ilchester reverted to being simply a civil parish.

Ilchester is alternatively called Ivelchester after the River Ivel. The electoral ward of South Somerset District Council is named Ivelchester.

Ilchester Friary was founded between 1221 and 1260 as a Dominican monastery. The buildings were restored in the 13th and 14th centuries until the site occupied a 1.6 hectares (4.0 acres) site, and by the 15th century it extended beyond the town walls. It is believed to be the birthplace of the philosopher Roger Bacon, possibly in 1213 or 1214. The Friary was dissolved in 1538, as part of the dissolution of the monasteries, but the buildings continued to be used, as a silk mill and relief prison, particularly for Quakers, until it was finally demolished in the early 19th century.

Image:Yeovil Rural 1900 small.png


Ilchester was originally a parish in the Tintinhull Hundred, one of the hundreds or early subdivisions of the county of Somerset. From 1894 until 1974 it was part of the Yeovil Rural District.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, all urban and rural districts across England were abolished and counties were reorganized into metropolitan and non-metropolitan districts. Ilchester joined the non-metropolitan South Somerset District which covers the southeast corner of Somerset.

Research Tips

  • GENUKI page on Ilchester.
  • An article on Ilchester from the Victoria History of the Counties of England – History of the County of Somerset, produced by The Institute of Historical Research.
  • The Somerset Heritage Centre (incorporating what was formerly the Somerset Record Office and the Somerset Local Studies Library) can be found at its new location at Langford Mead in Taunton. It has an online search facility leading to pages of interest, including maps from the First and Second Ordnance Survey (select "Maps and Postcards" from the list at the left, then enter the parish in the search box).
    The Heritage Centre has an email address:
  • Three maps on the A Vision of Britain through Time website illustrate the changes in political boundaries over the period 1830-1945. All have expanding scales and on the second and third this facility is sufficient that individual parishes can be inspected.
  • Somerset Hundreds as drawn in 1832. This map was prepared before The Great Reform Act of that year. Note the polling places and representation of the various parts of the county.
  • Somerset in 1900, an Ordnance Survey map showing rural districts, the boundaries of the larger towns, the smaller civil parishes of the time, and some hamlets and villages in each parish
  • Somerset in 1943, an Ordnance Survey map showing the rural districts after the changes to their structure in the 1930s
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Ilchester. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.