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"WATCHET, a township, seaport, and market town in the parish of St. Decuman, hundred of Williton, county Somerset, 5 miles E. of Dunster, and 18 W. of Bridgwater, to which it is a subport. It is the terminus of the West Somerset railway. It was called by the Saxons Wecedport, and was several times burnt by the Danes in the 9th and 10th centuries. At the Conquest it was given by William I. to the Mohuns, and once returned members to parliament in the reign of Edward I. The town is situated in a creek on the coast of the Bristol Channel, and has a tidal harbour of ten acres, which has recently been improved by the construction of a breakwater. It is sheltered from all winds, having piers on the E. and W. sides, with quays and a landing-slip. A considerable trade is carried on in grain, flour, malt, iron ore, coal, and timber. There are also an iron foundry, extensive paper-mills, lime works, and a cloth manufactory. The population of the town in 1861 was about 1,000. It is a coastguard station, and manorial courts are held annually by the Wyndham family. The cliffs in the vicinity abound with alabaster and limestone, in which are embedded fossil fish, ichthyosauri, and traces of strontian. For church, &c., see [Decuman, St.], Market day is on Saturday. A fair is held on the 17th November." From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) Transcribed by Colin Hinson © 2003

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