Dunster is a small village in West Somerset, just under 3 miles from popular tourist resort Minehead. It is closely related as one of the settlements found in Exmoor National Park. Listed in the Doomsday Book from 1086, this village is roughly around 1000 years old. Despite it being a small village it has embraced tourism with open arms and has many things to see and do.
It is perhaps best known for its buildings, of which 200 are Grade II listed, 2 are Grade I listed, and 2 are Grade I*. In particular Dunster is famous for its castle, itself Grade I listed. It is from the Norman era, and can be seen overlooking the village from the top of a steep hill. Little remains from its original build apart from the gatehouse but refurbishments and rebuilds which took place in the 17th century are still here for all to see, now that it is owned by the National Trust. Other notable buildings include the Dovecote, Dunster Mill and religious buildings. These include the nunnery, Priory Church of St George, and also the Dunster Priory, a Benedictine monastery. This monastery was established circa 1100, and had other buildings help to make it up, such as the dovecote, along with the Tithe Barn.
The tithe barn was used to store tithes, a percentage of a farmer’s produce that had to be given to the church in those times. Besides these older buildings, Dunster also plays hosts to three pubs, shops on West Street and the High Street, and numerous restaurants. Throughout the village, once a year, Dunster celebrates the past and the village is lit only by candles. Dunster by Candlelight was only recently established in 1987, and takes place on the first Friday and Saturday in December. The Lantern Lighting Procession begins the festivities, in this families start on the steep and continues through the village until all the lanterns have been lit. The lanterns are lit and put up by costume wearing colourful stilt walkers. Money raised goes to St. Margaret's Hospice in Somerset.
Dunster is also surrounded by wonderful nature. Half a mile from the village lies Dunster Beach. There also used to be a harbour, Dunster Haven, which was a key exporter for wool in Saxon times. Today, the harbour is non-existent, but the beach still has bursts of life. You can see holiday chalets on the beach, where some people live all year round. Also nearby is the Dunster Park and Heathlands Site of Specific Scientific Interest, home to a nationally rare butterfly, the Heath fritillary. It is noted for nationally important dry heathland, acid grassland and wood pasture, home to ancient trees.
Besides this, Dunster is surrounded by Exmoor National Park, full of moor and woodland, which operates tours, and, alternatively, you can explore to your heart’s content by yourself.