Place:Ilminster, Somerset, England

TypeAncient parish, Civil parish, Urban district
Coordinates50.926°N 2.911°W
Located inSomerset, England
See alsoAbdick and Bulstone Hundred, Somerset, Englandhundred in which it was located
Chard Rural, Somerset, Englandrural district in which it was located 1894-1899
South Somerset District, Somerset, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area since 1974
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Ilminster is a town and civil parish in the countryside of southwest Somerset, England, with a population of 5,808 in the UK census of 2011. Bypassed in 1988, the town now lies just east of the junction of the A303 (London to Exeter) and the A358 (Taunton to Chard and Axminster). It is also close to the river known as the River Isle.

Ilminster's population rose from 4,272 to 5,808 (36%) between 2001 and 2011. Wikipedia does not say if this was due to any expansion of its borders. It is probable that the parish of Ilminster Without (#16) was absorbed back into Ilminster at some time following the Local Government Act 1972 which created the South Somerset District in 1974. No discussion has been found on this topic.

The addition of Ilminster Without to Ilminster is a possible reason for the increase in population shown in Ilminster between the UK censuses of 2001 and 2011.

The parish of Donyatt (#12) which separates the two sections of Ilminster Without is listed as a parish within South Somerset District. It may have absorbed the northern section of Ilminster Without after 1974.

Image:Chard Rural 1900 small.png


Ilminster is mentioned in documents dating from 725 and in a Charter granted to the Abbey of Muchelney (10 miles (16 km) to the north) by King Ethelred in 995. Ilminster is also mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086) as "Ileminstre" meaning 'The church on the River Isle' from the Old English "ysle" and "mynster". By this period Ilminster was a flourishing community and was granted the right to hold a weekly market, which it still does.

In 1645 during the English Civil War Ilminster was the scene of a skirmish between parliamentary troops under Edward Massie and Royalist forces under Lord Goring who fought for control of the bridges prior to the Battle of Langport.

Ilminster takes its name from the River Isle and its large church of St Mary, which is known as "The Minster". The hamstone building dates from the 15th century, but was refurbished in 1825 by William Burgess and the chancel restored in 1883. Further restoration took place in 1887-89 and 1902. Among the principal features are the Wadham tombs; those of Sir William Wadham and his mother, dated 1452, and the founders of Wadham College, Oxford, Nicholas and his wife Dorothy Wadham who died in 1609 and 1618 respectively.


Ilminster was part of the hundred of Abdick and Bulstone, one of the hundreds or early subdivisions of the county of Somerset. For the four years 1894 to 1898 it was part of the Chard Rural District and possibly was one entity with the area that became Ilminster Without. In 1898 the rural part was separated off as a separate civil parish in the rural district and the urban part of Ilminster became an urban 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. Ilminster and Ilminster Without both joined the non-metropolitan South Somerset Hundred in 1974.

Research Tips

  • GENUKI page on Ilminster.
  • 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 Ilminster. 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.