Seven Wells, Coomb, in the Quantock hills - vintage postcard
From Edward Freeman 'The Shire and the Gá', 1879:
'...as the land of Somerset is not called after the twon of Taunton, so neither is it called after any other town. There is indeed within its borders a town bearing a kindred name, the King's town of Somerton. But the land of Somerset is not called after the town of Somerton; the name of the land and of the town are simply cognate, derived from a common source, but neither of them derived from the other. But the difference is not merely a difference of names: it is also a difference of facts. There is no town, Taunton or any other, which stands to the land of Somerset in the same relation in which the town of Northampton stands to the shire of Northampton. (...)
'...in Somerset we have no one town which holds, or ever did hold, the same indisputable position as the local capital. The largest town is the Roman city of Bath; but that, lying as it does in a corner, is wholly unsuitable for such a purpose. Taunton does not lie so completely in a corner as Bath; but we of Wells sometimes keenly feel that Taunton is not a geographical centre, and the map will show you that it is a great deal nearer to Devonshire than it is to Gloucestershire. Wells, more cental than Taunton, is much smaller; Glastonbury, most central of all, is smaller still. Somerton has its kindred name and its precedence in Domesday; but it would hardly assert any more recent claims to the rank of a capital. Ilchester, rival of Bath in antiquity, has really more historic claim to be looked on as the local capital than any of the towns which I have spoken of. It was the place of the county elections down to the first Reform Bill; it kept its county goal later still. But Ilchester lives only in the past; it has the memory of its elections and the memory of its siege; it has the presence of the beautiful mace of its chief magistrate; but it would hardly venture now to put forward a claim to be deemed the head of Somerset. (...)
An attractive market town.
Another attractive market town with an amazing churchyard.
Somerton was once the county town of Somerset
Old postcards of Somerton, Somerset
A bit of old Somerton. Somerton mill, Somerton flood
Old Counties and Islands