Wincanton, Somerset

Historical Description

Wincanton, a small market-town and a parish in Somerset. The town stands on the river Cale, with a station on the Somerset and Dorset Joint railway, 116 miles from London, and 5 SSE of Bruton. There is a post, money order, and telegraph office under Bath. Wincanton was known to the Saxons as Wincaleton; suffered great devastation by the plague in 1553; was the scene of a skirmish between the troops of the Prince of Orange and some dragoons of James II. in 1688; contains a house in which the Prince of Orange slept after the skirmish. In 1707 it suffered from a disastrous fire which destroyed nearly fifty houses chiefly covered with thatch, and which led to great improvements. The town is a seat of petty sessions and county courts. It occupies steep ground at the head of the broad vale of Blackmoor, and has two banks, two chief inns, a police station, a town-hall, a market-hall, a good church, a workhouse, a weekly market on Wednesday, and fairs on Easter Tuesday and 29 Sept. The church was almost entirely rebuilt in 1889, and is an edifice of stone in the Perpendicular style, with an embattled western tower. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Bath and Wells; tithe rent charge, £365. A Carmelite Priory was erected in 1889, and has a chapel attached. In 1892 a large house was acquired to form a convent, dedicated to St Joseph, for nuns of the order of the Ursuline Sisters of Jesus; boarding and free schools have since been added. There are Congregational, Baptist, Wesleyan, Calvinistic, Swedenborgian, and Brethren chapels, and a Friends' meeting-house. The town-hall was destroyed by fire in 1877, but was rebuilt in the following year, and is a spacious building with a market-hall on the ground floor. The Constitutional Club was established in 1884, and there is a thriving Field Club established in 1889, and local institutions. Acreage of the civil parish,, 2590; population, 2109; of the ecclesiastical, 2176. There is a parish council consisting of twelve members. The manor was given at the Norman Conquest to W. de Douay, and passed to the Lovells, the Seymours, the Zouches, and the Daubenys. Marsh Court was the manor house, of which there are no remains but the old moat. A priory was founded at Stavordale in the early part of the 12th century, and has left some interesting remains now incorporated with a farmstead. There are mineral springs similar to those of Cheltenham at Horwood. The site of an ancient British fort, called Kennewilkins Castle, is in the middle of a wood 4 miles distant from the town. Roman coins have been found. Stavordale, in this parish, gives the title of Viscount to the Fox-Strangeways family, Earls of Ilchester.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5

Administration

The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient County Somersetshire
Ecclesiastical parish Wincanton St. Peter and St. Paul
Hundred Norton-Ferris
Poor Law union Wincanton

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.


Church Records

Ancestry.co.uk, in association with Somerset Archives & Local Studies, have images of the Parish Registers for Somerset online.


Directories & Gazetteers

Transcript of HUNT & CO.'S 1850 Directory and Topography of the town of Wincanton.

We have transcribed the entry for Wincanton from the following:


Maps

Online maps of Wincanton are available from a number of sites:


Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Somerset papers online:


Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Somersetshire, 1623 is available on the Heraldry page.