With a population of over 60000 people, Taunton is the largest town in all of Somerset. It is in the south western area of the county, and is steeped in 1000 years of military and religious history. Taunton has played a part in many war stories, from the War of the Roses to the English Civil War, and has been one of Somerset’s most thriving communities for over 1000 years. It was first noted of in Saxon times; back then it was a small town yet it had established its own mint. In 904 its first monastery was built, and in 1366 Taunton had took over Somerton as the county town.
Geographically, it lies on the River Tone, in an area known as the Vale of Taunton, made of the Quantock, Brendon and Blackdown hills. Around Taunton are several nature reserves, home to all sorts of woodland wildlife. They include birds such as the kingfisher and grey heron, as well as otters and butterflies.
Religion has helped create some of the most significant buildings in Taunton. A majority of these are almshouses, set up by Christians to provide accommodation for those in need. St Margaret’s almshouse is a notable one, at one time being a leper colony. Its two main churches are the parish church of St James and the parish church of St Mary Magdalene. Both have features made up from the 15th and 16th centuries, with St Mary Magdalene church’s tower being the most prominent feature. St James’ church can be seen from Taunton’s cricket ground, the County Ground.
For those that love to shop, there are shops both in the centre and on the outskirts of the town. Riverside Retail Park is situated on the outskirts of the town, close to the M5, so is easily accessible. It also has a cinema, restaurant and bowling complex. The town centre has a mix of local and chain stores, with the County Walk being the main shopping hub.
Taunton also has some beautiful public parks. The most notable is Vivary Park, which is a massive 19 acres, and is near the centre of town. The Sherford stream, a tributary of the River Tone, flows through the park. It is not just an open space but also home to tennis courts, a war memorial, tennis courts, a golf course, playgrounds and a model railway track. It is especially popular during the Taunton Flower Show, which it plays host to once a year. The show attracts over 20000 people over its two day duration. With its many trees, rose gardens and thousands of flowers being planted every year, the park may thrive in the summer but remains a beautiful floral masterpiece all year round.
With all this on offer, the town has taken the role as the somewhat urban hub of Somerset, and is definitely a far cry away from the many traditional and historical surrounding villages.
Here at the Exmoor White Horse Inn we are only 40 minutes away from Taunton making us an ideal base for exploring surrounding areas. See our special offers here.