National Gazetteer (1868) - Wincanton


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"WINCANTON, a parish, market town, and nominal borough in the hundred of Norton-Ferris, county Somerset, 34 miles E. of Taunton, and 108 S.W. of London. It has a station on the Dorset Central railway, and is only 5 miles from the Bruton station on the Wilts, Somerset, and Weymouth, and 5 from the Temple Combe station of the London and South-Western railway. This place was called by the Saxons Wyndcaleton, from its situation amongst the windings of the river Cale, by which the parish is bounded on the W. During the parliamentary war in the reign of Charles I., some of the earliest skirmishes are said to have taken place in the immediate vicinity of the town, and Burnet in his "History of his Own Times" states that the first blood shed in the revolution of 1688 by the Prince of Orange was spilt here, though others refer this to Cirencester.

The town, which stands on the western slope of a hill, rising gently from the river Cale, was destroyed by fire in 1747. It is regularly laid out in four main streets, containing many well-built houses, and is a polling place for the eastern division of the county. Near the centre of the town, on the western side of the market-place, stands the townhall, in which petty sessions and the county court are held monthly. There are, besides, a police station recently erected, a branch of Stuckey's bank, a branch of the Wilts and Dorset bank, the East Somerset savings-bank, reading-rooms, a brewery, stone bridge, and union workhouse. The streets are paved and lighted with gas, and the houses supplied with water by conduits. The population of the parish in 1861 was 2,450. The manufacture of linen and bed-ticking, formerly carried on to a large extent, is now obsolete, but a considerable business is done in the corn and cheese trade.

About a mile to the S.E. of the town are mineral springs, resembling in their properties the waters of Cheltenham. Wincanton, though called a borough, has no chartered corporation, but is under the jurisdiction of the county magistrates. It is divided into the borough and the tything; two constables for the former being annually appointed at the manorial court, and a tything-man for the latter at the court leet for the hundred, which is also held annually under G. D. Wingfield Digby, Esq., of Sherborne Castle, who is lord of the manor. The estate of Stavordale, in this parish, where are the remains of an ancient priory, confers the inferior title of Viscount Stavordale on the Earl of Ilchester. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Bath and Wells, value £125. The church is dedicated to SS. Peter and Paul. The Independents and Baptists have chapels. There are National, Sunday, and denominational schools. The charities produce about £6 per annum. Many Roman coins have been found here, and in a wood near the ruins of Stavordale Priory are the remains of a British fort called Kennewilkins Castle. Market day is on Wednesday, for corn, cattle, and cheese. Fairs are held on Easter-Tuesday and 29th September."

"STOKE STONEY, a hamlet in the parish of Wincanton, hundred of Norton Ferris, county Somerset, 2 miles N. of Wincanton. It is situated near the river Cale."

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