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Williton (Somerset)

Williton shown within Somerset
Population 2574
OS grid reference ST077412
District West Somerset
Shire county Somerset
Region South West
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Williton
Postcode district TA4
Dialling code 01984
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
European Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Bridgwater
List of places: UKEnglandSomerset

Coordinates: 51°09'53?N 3°18'31?W? / ?51.1648, -3.3087

Williton is a medium-sized village in West Somerset. It has many of the facilities of a small town, being the administrative centre for the district. Williton is situated at the junction of the A39, A358 and B3191 roads. It is situated 2 miles south of Watchet on the coast and is placed roughly equidistant between Minehead, Bridgwater and Taunton.

It is home to one of the ten stations of the West Somerset Railway,

Since 1974 Williton has been administered by the West Somerset District Council. The Parish Council was created in 1983. It is a registration district for Births, Marriages and Deaths. Williton is twinned with Neung-sur-Beuvron in the Loir-et-Cher département of France.


[edit] History

Up until 1902 Williton was part of the ancient parish of Saint Decuman, [1] which included also the town of Watchet. Within Williton parish, to the south west, is Orchard Wyndham House, a grade I listed building, [2] which was the centre of an estate called "Orchard". Paleolithic, mesolithic and neolithic flints have been found at Doniford to the north east of Willton while three Bronze Age barrows survive at Battlegore just north of the centre of Williton.

The name of Williton is Anglo-Saxon and means "estate on the Willet" (river), but there are no records relating to this period other than a 904 charter. The Willet is a brook that rises at Willet, flows north through the hamlet of Stream, and close to the former manor house of Williton, then it joins the Doniford Brook north east of Williton. Both watercourses seem to have been known as the Willet in the 12th century. "Willet" may well be a British name. In the Domesday Survey Williton formed a royal estate with Carhampton and Cannington. In the Middle Ages the village was divided into the manors of Williton Fulford and Williton Hadley. An estate known as Williton Templar belonged to the Knights Templar, and was later known as Williton Hospital and Williton Regis. Originally the centre of the village appears to have been near the church but over time it has migrated to the north east.

Much of the centre of Williton dates from the later 19th century but Long Street includes several 17th century houses, as does Bridge, Priest, Robert and Shutgate Streets. Agriculture has been the prime activity in the parish while Williton village became a local government and communal centre. Its importance increased with the creation of new toll roads that today are the main roads to the village. It is an important local shopping area and from 1894 has been an administration centre. It had a Workhouse for the district, which became the local hospital until 1990 but is now being converted into housing.

[edit] Tourism

Williton is a good centre for visiting the Quantocks, the Brendons and Exmoor as well as the coast at Minehead, Dunster, Blue Anchor and Watchet. Accommodation may be obtained in the village. There are facilities nearby for camping, sailing and wind-surfing as well as the usual beach activities. On the nearby cliffs fossils are exposed. There is easy access to the West Somerset Railway which is the longest private railway in the country, and is run by a trust. Places of interest are the Bakelite Museum and the Tropiquaria animal farm at the old radio station. Halsway Folk Music Centre is not far away.

[edit] Facilities

[edit] Emergency Services

There is a police station in Priest Street and a Fire Station off North Street.

[edit] Medical

The Medical Centre at the end of Killick Way has a doctors surgery and pharmacy. Williton Hospital, off North Street, is a part of the Somerset Coast Primary Care Trust but does not have a casualty department. The nearest dentists are in Watchet and Minehead.

[edit] Educational

Somerset area uses a three-tier education system. St Peters Church of England First School was opened on its present site in Doniford Road in 1996. It has 5 classes of mixed ability. There is a fairly large middle school - Danesfield Church of England - which caters for children between 9 and 13. Older students generally travel to the West Somerset Community College in Minehead.

Danesfield is also the centre for community education classes. There is a Somerset County library in Killick Way (Closed Tuesdays).

[edit] Religious

Williton Methodist Chapel built in 1883
Williton Methodist Chapel built in 1883

St Peters church in Bridge Street was originally a dependent chapel of St Decumans and dedicated to All Saints. It was largely rebuilt in the 19th century, and is grade II* listed.[3] There is a Methodist Chapel at the bottom of Tower Hill which was built in 1883.[4]

[edit] Commercial

Main facilities include a local supermarket, chain supermarket, post office, two banks, a petrol station and a garage. There are several hair salons, a newsagents, a veterinary centre, pet shop and estate agent. In addition there are butchers and bakers shops, as well as a fish and chip shop. A paper, the West Somerset Free Press, serves the district. There are restaurants and a wine shop as well as several public houses.

Gliddons, a family run hardware store and farm/garden machinery specialist used to be one of the most notable sights in Williton. Before the owner started to shut down operations, many tractors, old and new, could be seen displayed along the main road. This was one of the identifying features of the village and many visitors to Minehead and beyond would comment about it.

There is a small industrial estate located on the outskirts of the village. This houses the recycling centre and a number of small retail units. A landfill site used to bury waste from the whole of the West Somerset region can be found further out.

[edit] Social

There is a recreation ground with a children's area. A new village hall is planned. There are many social activities within Williton including the social club, bowling club, gardening club, Women's Institute, Good Neighbours Club, British Legion and Young Farmers. The Scout Association and Girlguiding UK meet regularly.

There is a weekly Country Market every Friday morning at the Red Cross Centre in Killick Way.

[edit] Transport

Williton Station
Williton Station

Buses run to Taunton, Minehead and Bristol for which timetables are available from the post office. There are also buses to nearby supermarkets.

Williton railway station allows steam and diesel trains to be caught. There are regular services and special events.

There is a voluntary car service called WHEELs for those without transport for shopping, visits to the doctor etc.

[edit] Demographics

In the 2001 census Williton parish had 1163 male and 1411 female residents living in 1103 households, with 27% being over 65 years. Of all residents, 62% described their health as good.

[edit] Residential Areas

There are two main areas of housing in Williton. There is a fairly large council estate (although most homes are now private) adjacent to the industrial estate. Larger, private houses are located around the Tower Hill area and towards Watchet.

[edit] Redevelopment

There is a master plan for redevelopment of the centre of Williton. The West Somerset Council is due to centralise its offices on Williton and the plans for this include retail, residential and community facilities.

[edit] Paperwork

Williton has a regular monthly newsletter, delivered free to all homes in the village, called the 'Williton Window'. The slogan is 'Your church and community magazine'. An information pack is available to newcomers through 'Williton Window'.

A book showing Williton as it used to be is "The Book of Williton".

An information leaflet on West Somerset organisations is available from the West Somerset Free Press.

[edit] References

  1. , Williton. Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey. Retrieved on 2006-11-23.
  2. , Orchard Wyndham. Images of England. Retrieved on 2008-02-05.
  3. , St Peters Church. Images of England. Retrieved on 2006-11-23.
  4. , Methodist Church. Images of England. Retrieved on 2006-11-23.

[edit] External links

(Source: Wikipedia)
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