Named after the River Tone, on which it lies, Taunton (‘Tone-town’) dates back to Saxon times. It served as a castle base for King Ine of Wessex in about 700AD, and it was here that a monastery was founded in 904AD at the behest of King Edward.

Famous for its wool and silk industry, Taunton became an important commercial centre between the late 17th and late 19th Centuries – earning it the privilege of being the county town of Somerset. The town is also home to Somerset County Cricket Club, which, although still relatively successful, was most popular in the 1980s when it claimed Ian Botham, Viv Richards and Joel Garner amongst its players.


Taunton is a fairly pretty town that in itself boasts some interesting architecture, including the 17th Century almshouses on East Street, and the parish church of St Mary Magdalene, which Simon Jenkins rated as arguably “the finest in England.” In addition, the Somerset County Museum is located in the picturesque Taunton Castle, which has local artefacts and history, as well as hosting touring exhibitions. Taunton is also home to the Genesis Project.

Outside of Taunton, the Somerset countryside has much beautiful scenery to discover, with walking and riding routes, country houses and gardens all dotted regularly throughout its landscape. Somerset is also home to Cheddar Gorge and famous music festival venue, Glastonbury, which also hosts a Museum of Rural Life, a distinctive Abbey, and a Lake Village Museum.


Superficially, Taunton’s pretty streets are compromised by the rather ordinary selection of shops that the city has to offer. However, beneath this surface, Taunton also offers a weekly traditional arts and crafts market, a weekly cattle market (for those interested in such things), and is of course home to Cheddar cheese and a wide range of local ciders, which one can obtain at the weekly farmers’ market.

Nightlife/Eating Out

In the grand scheme of things, Taunton sits alongside the vast majority of county towns as being characterised by a boisterous city centre whose pavements are lined with alcopop bottles, cigarette ends and worse come Sunday morning.

However, it does offer some pleasant pubs and restaurants. Included among the former are the Hankridge Arms, Harpoon Louies, the Masons Arms, and the Wyvern Club. Brazz, the Castle Hotel, and the Willow Tree are the recommended restaurants.

Taunton has a few nightclubs, including Bobby’s Place, Third Base and Roseland. They are much of a muchness and firmly dedicated to enhancing the local Cheddar industry (i.e. they almost uniquely play cheese). House music passes for exotic.

Tourist Information

Taunton Tourist Information CentreThe LibraryPaul StreetTauntonSomerset TA1 3XZT: 01823 336 344F: 01823 340 308E: tauntontic@tauntondeane.gov.uk


Bristol International Airport, which lies about 30 miles from Taunton, is the nearest airport to offer flights to and from other parts of Britain and continental Europe.

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