Place:Taunton, Somerset, England

Alt namesBishops Hull Withinsource: old parish within Taunton
Taunton St James Withinsource: old parish within Taunton
Taunton St. Jamessource: shortened form of above
Taunton St Mary Magdalene Withinsource: old parish within Taunton
Taunton St. Mary Magdalenesource: shortened form of above
Wiltonsource: old parish within Taunton
Comeytrowesource: 20th century parish within Taunton
Galmingtonsource: part of Comeytrowe
TypeAncient parish, Civil parish, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates51.017°N 3.1°W
Located inSomerset, England     (710 - )
See alsoTaunton and Taunton Deane Hundred, Somerset, Englandhundred in which it was located
Taunton Deane District, Somerset, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area 1974-2019
Somerset West and Taunton District, Somerset, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area since 2019

the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Taunton is a town in Somerset, England, with a population of 69,570 as of the UK census of 2011. The town has over 1,000 years of religious and military history. It has various transport links which support its central role in economy and commerce.

Taunton Castle, originally built in the Anglo-Saxon period, later became a priory. The Normans built a castle that belonged to the Bishops of Winchester; reconstructed parts of the inner ward now house the Museum of Somerset and Somerset Military Museum.

The town did not obtain a charter of incorporation until 1627, which was renewed in 1677. The charter lapsed in 1792 owing to vacancies for the members of the corporate body, and Taunton was not reincorporated until 1877. It officially became a municipal borough in 1885.

The municpal borough included several civil parishes. Some of these had their origins with the original ancient parishes into which the town was divided: Bishops Hull Within, Taunton St James Within and Taunton St Mary Magdalene Within. Each of these had an additional civil parish outside the town boundaries which, between 1894 and 1974, were part of Taunton Rural District. The parishes "within" were absorbed into the civil parish of Taunton itself in 1921, along with Wilton (located to the south of the town centre); those "without" were added in 1933. Staplegrove remained a separate parish until 1974. Another parish within Taunton is Comeytrowe. The area was originally within Trull parish, but was transferred to Taunton and built upon in the second half of the 20th century.

Image:Taunton Rural 1900 small A.png

Borough Council

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, all urban and rural districts and all municipal and county boroughs across England were abolished and counties were reorganized into metropolitan and non-metropolitan districts. Taunton joined the non-metropolitan Taunton and Taunton Deane District in 1974 along with all the parishes of the former Taunton Rural District, Wellington Rural District and Wellington Urban District (or town of Wellington).

Taunton is the main settlement and administrative centre of this local government district. Taunton Deane was granted borough status in 1975, perpetuating the mayoralty of Taunton.

In May 2019, the districts of West Somerset and Taunton Deane merged into a single district named the Somerset West and Taunton District. The new district is not a unitary authority, and has not taken any county level functions from Somerset County Council. West Somerset covered a largely rural area, with a population of 35,300 in an area of 740 square kilometres (290 sq mi) and is the least populous non-unitary district in England. Taunton Deane's population was over 100,000, but it was still not considered a large enough district to be kept on its own.

Incidents in Taunton's history

The town name derives from "Town on the River Tone" – or "Tone Town". A location close to Junction 25 of the M5 motorway was the site of a Bronze and Iron Age settlement and a Roman farm.

Taunton was a place of considerable importance in Saxon times. The Saxon town was a burh with its own mint. King Ine of Wessex threw up an earthen castle here about 700, but it was destroyed by his queen Æthelburg of Wessex in 722, to prevent its seizure by rebels.

A monastery was founded before 904. The bishops of Winchester owned the manor, and obtained the first charter for their "men of Taunton" from King Edward in 904, freeing them from all royal and county tribute. At some time before the preparation of the Domesday Book of 1086, Taunton had become a borough with very considerable privileges, and a population of around 1,500 and 64 burgesses, governed by a portreeve appointed by the bishops.

Somerton took over from Ilchester as the county town of Somerset in the late thirteenth century, but it declined in importance and the status of county town transferred to Taunton about 1366. Between 1209 and 1311 the manor of Taunton, which was owned by the Bishop of Winchester, increased two and a half times [in size? value?]. The parishes of Staplegrove, Wilton and Taunton itself were part of the |Taunton Deane Hundred.

In 1451, during the Wars of the Roses, Taunton was the scene of a skirmish between Thomas de Courtenay, 13th Earl of Devon, and Baron Bonville.

Queen Margaret (wife of King Henry VI) and her troops passed through in 1471 to defeat at the Battle of Tewkesbury.

In the Second Cornish uprising of 1497 most of the Cornish gentry supported Perkin Warbeck's cause and on 17 September a Cornish army some 6,000 strong entered Exeter before advancing on Taunton. Henry VII sent his chief general, Giles, Lord Daubeney, to attack the Cornish and when Warbeck heard that the King's scouts were at Glastonbury he panicked and deserted his army. Henry VII reached Taunton on 4 October 1497 where he received the surrender of the remaining Cornish army. The ringleaders were executed and others fined a total of £13,000.

Taunton Castle changed hands several times during the Civil War of 1642–45 but only along with the town. During the Siege of Taunton it was defended by Robert Blake, from July 1644 to July 1645, with the town suffering destruction of many of the medieval and Tudor buildings. On 20 June 1685 the Duke of Monmouth crowned himself king of England at Taunton during the Monmouth Rebellion and in the autumn of that year Judge Jeffreys lived in the town during the Bloody Assizes that followed the Battle of Sedgemoor.

The medieval fairs and markets of Taunton (it still holds a weekly market today), were celebrated for the sale of woollen cloth called "Tauntons" made in the town. On the decline of the woollen industry in the west of England, silk-weaving was introduced at the end of the 18th century.

In 1839 the Grand Western Canal reached Taunton aiding trade to the south. The Grand Western Canal reached Taunton in 1839 and the Bristol and Exeter Railway in 1842.

Research Tips

GENUKI page on Taunton.

  • 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 Taunton. 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.