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National Gazetteer (1868) - Ilminster

"ILMINSTER, a parish, post and market town, in the hundred of Abdick, county Somerset, 20 miles S.E. of Bridgwater, 12 S.E. of Taunton, and 5 N. of Chard railway station. It was a place of considerable importance in the Saxon times, and was formerly more extensive than at present, having been repeatedly damaged by conflagrations. It is situated on the Chard canal and the river Isle, which is crossed by a four-arched bridge. The parish contains the hamlets of Sea, Crock Street, Peasmarsh, Horton, Winterhay, Higher Horton, Ashwell, and Dillington. A railway is in course of construction, between Ilminster, Chard, and Taunton, thereby connecting, in the most direct way, the two channels from Watchett, through Taunton, Ilminster, and Chard, to Seaton and Axmouth. The inhabitants are employed in the cloth, flax, and silk mills malting, tanning, &c. The land is divided between arable and pasture with some orchards. The soil is a sandy loam, alternating with clay. The town is well paved and lighted with gas. It contains two banks, police station, and market-house. It is under the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold a petty sessions for the division monthly, and constables or tything men are annually appointed at the court-leet of the lord of the manor. It is a polling-place for the western division of the county.

The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value £500. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient cruciform structure, with a lofty square tower containing six bells. In the interior are effigies and monuments, also two brasses of the Wadhams, one of which is to Nicholas, founder of Wadham College, bearing date 1410. The vicar has the privilege of granting licenses for marriages without the jurisdiction of the bishop. The charities produce about £800 per annum, including the endowment of The free grammar school, founded in 1550 by H. Waldron, and endowed with lands for four exhibitions at Oxford University in 1824 by W. Hanning, Esq. There are besides National and Sunday schools for both sexes, also a gratuitous school for the instruction of reading, writing, and arithmetic, maintained by the trustees of Waldron's charity. The Independents, Wesleyans, and Unitarians have each places of worship. Dillington House, the principal residence, is situated in a park, and is the seat of John Lee, Esq., who is lord of the manor and principal landowner. At White Lackington Park is a chestnut tree, under which the Duke of Monmouth dined before the battle of Sedgmoor. Market days are Wednesday and Saturday. A fair for cattle is held on the last Wednesday in August."

"CHURCH, a tything in the parish of Ilminster, in the county of Somerset, near Ilminster."

"CROCK STREET, a hamlet in the parishes of Ilminster and Donyatt, in the county of Somerset, 1¼ mile S.W. of Ilminster. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in the neighbouring potteries."

"HILCOMBE, a tything in the parish of Ilminster, county Somerset, 3 miles from Ilminster."

"WINTERHAY, a tything in the parish of Ilminster, county Somerset, 2 miles from Ilminster."

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