National Gazetteer (1868) - Dunster

"DUNSTER, a parish, market, and post town, in the hundred of Carhampton, in the county of Somerset, 2½ miles S. of Minehead, and 22 N.W. of Taunton. It is situated in a beautiful spot near the Bristol Channel, and contains the hamlets of Alcombe, Aville, Bondington, Frackford, Kitswall, and Staunton. In the Domesday Survey it is called Torre, and was subsequently a borough returning members to parliament, but afterwards united with Minehead, and was disfranchised by the Reform Bill. In Saxon times there was a stronghold here, upon the site of which William de Mohun, Earl of Somerset, built a castle. There was also a small priory of Benedictines belonging to Bath Abbey. The town, which consists principally of two streets, contains a court-house, where petty sessions are held weekly; a new police station, a market-house, and bank. The old shambles, which formerly stood in the centre of the town, have been removed; but it is still a place of little importance, never having recovered the loss of its wool trade. It is a polling-place for the western division of the county.

The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value £130, in the patronage of H. F. Luttrell, Esq., who is lord of the manor. The church, a handsome edifice in the form of a cross, is in the Gothic style of architecture, and is believed to have been built by Henry VII. after the battle of Bosworth. It is dedicated to St. George, has a lofty tower with a fine peal of eight bells, and contains monuments of the Mohun, Luttrell, and other families; several inscriptions, and a brass of 1497. There is a very handsome screen, also an ancient font. The parochial charities produce about £17 per annum. The register commences in 1560. The Wesleyans have a chapel. Dunster Castle, the seat of Henry Fownes Luttrell, Esq., is a building of the latter part of the 16th century, with a gateway of more ancient date. It was much injured during the parliamentary war; General Blake took possession of it for Cromwell. Prynne was confined in it for a short time. In the neighbourhood are some remains of an ancient camp. This and the adjoining town of Minehead are supposed to be the only two places where the ancient custom still exists of two grotesque figures, the "Hobby-horse" and "Gulliver," going about with a drum to collect money on the first three days in May. Friday is market day, and there is a fair on Whit-Monday."

"AVILLE, a hamlet in the parish of Dunster and hundred of Carhampton, in the county of Somerset, close to Dunster. It is situated in a picturesque country on the south coast of the Bristol channel."

"BONDINGTON, a hamlet in the parish of Dunster, hundred of Carhampton, in the county of Somerset, not far from Dunster."

"CUFFS, a hamlet in the parish of Dunster, in the county of Somerset, joined to Kitswall."

"FRACKFORD, a hamlet in the parish of Dunster, county Somerset."

"KITSWALL, a hamlet in the parish of Dunster, county Somerset, 20 miles N.W. of Bridgwater. It is situated near the coast, and is joined with Cuffs,"

"STAUNTON, a hamlet in the parish of Dunster, county Somerset, 1 mile S. of Minehead."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]