Work in Progress

The great vale of Taunton Deane fills the space between west Somerset's three ranges of hills: the Brendons in the west, the Quantocks in the east and the Blackdowns in the south.  It was described in 1609 by John Norden as the great paradise of England. It is an area rich in settlement with fertile soil and ample water. It is not only geography, which defines its area, but also history. The manor and hundred of Taunton Deane, acquired by the bishops of Winchester from the 10th century provided a princely income for its lords and funded the great castle at Taunton. Other hundreds are sited in the vale partly because others desired its rich lands. The king held Milverton, the abbots of Glastonbury owned West Monkton and the bishops of Bath and Wells held several large manors there including Wellington and Bishop's Lydeard. 

In addition to Taunton itself some 25 suburban and rural parishes in the geographical area of Taunton Deane comprise the proposed study area. There are many subjects for study and a rich body of sources with which to work. Much remains to be done on the study of the succession of settlement from the Bronze Age to medieval village and on the formation of estates and parishes, the management of Taunton's 'colossal manor' [Maitland] under the bishops of Winchester, the development and decline of Taunton's textile industries, the effects of religious change and dissent on local society and the development of democracy, the influence of Taunton's market on its rural hinterland, the Assizes and the development of social and cultural institutions, canals and railways as catalysts for economic and social development, the rise of Taunton's education 'industry', the creation of modern local government, slum housing and the development of social housing estates, and the impact of tourism and commuting on rural communities.

Taunton has seen great changes in recent years as large housing estates, ambitious road schemes and large industrial and business parks have changed the town's environs and swallowed up villages and hamlets that were once independent agricultural settlements. Much of Taunton's ancient core has been rebuilt, even its 19th-century buildings are disappearing and with the new Vision for Taunton project to rebuild much of the town centre it has become imperative to record the town's history. Archaeological work in advance of these developments has created huge public interest in Taunton's past. Perhaps the paucity of surviving historical buildings above ground has made what lies beneath our feet or in our archives even more important.

Places to be covered are: (Note - drafts of the names in bold are available below):

  • Angersleigh
  • Bishop's Hull
  • Bradford-on-Tone
  • Cheddon Fitzpaine
  • Corfe
  • Cothelstone
  • Heathfield
  • Hillfarrance
  • Kingston St Mary
  • Lydeard St Lawrence
  • Norton Fitzwarren
  • Nynehead
  • Oake
  • Orchard Portman
  • Otterford
  • Pitminster
  • Ruishton
  • Staplegrove
  • Stoke St Mary
  • Taunton
  • Tolland
  • Trull

Draft texts on individual parishes are being added to this website as work progresses.

Please submit any corrections or comments to the County Editor via email to Mary Siraut.

Bishop's Hull

Bishop's Hull - Introduction by Mary Siraut PDF 879.4 KB
Bishop's Hull - Landownership by Mary Siraut PDF 395.83 KB
Bishop's Hull - Economic History by Mary Siraut PDF 879.63 KB
Bishop's Hull - Social History by Mary Siraut PDF 598.42 KB
Bishop's Hull - Religious History by Mary Siraut PDF 653.16 KB
Bishop's Hull - Local Government by Mary Siraut PDF 279.5 KB

Bradford-on-Tone

Bradford-on-Tone - Introduction by Scott Pettitt PDF 443.04 KB
Bradford-on-Tone - Landownership by Scott Pettitt PDF 494.43 KB
Bradford-on-Tone - Economic History by Scott Pettitt PDF 519.61 KB
Bradford-on-Tone - Social History by Scott Pettitt PDF 304.7 KB
Bradford-on-Tone - Religious History by Scott Pettitt PDF 468.04 KB
Bradford-on-Tone - Local Government by Scott Pettitt PDF 370.59 KB

Norton Fitzwarren

Norton Fitzwarren - Introduction by Rosalind Johnson PDF 236.6 KB
Norton Fitzwarren - Landownership by Roasalind Johnson PDF 354.37 KB
Norton Fitzwarren - Economic History by Rosalind Johnson PDF 313.13 KB
Norton Fitzwarren - Social History by Rosalind Johnson PDF 325.57 KB
Norton Fitzwarren - Religious History by Rosalind Johnson PDF 265.38 KB
Norton Fitzwarren - Local Government by Rosalind Johnson PDF 168.5 KB