Welcome to Somerset! This county is home to the World Heritage Site of Bath, Roman ‘Aquae Sulis’, with its famous Roman baths and pump rooms. This lovely city has so much to offer the visitor that it is rightfully one of the most popular tourist destinations in England.
Somerset is also home to the cathedral city of Wells and Glastonbury, famous for the enigmatic Glastonbury Tor and of course, the music festival! Glastonbury is steeped in myth and legend: it was here that Joseph of Arimathea is supposed to have planted his staff into the ground when it instantly flowered to become the Glastonbury Thorn. The church that was established here was, according to legend, built at Joseph’s behest to house the Holy Grail. It is also supposed to be the burial place of King Arthur and Guinivere.
Somerset is a rural county of rolling hills such as the Blackdown Hills, Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park, and large flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels. There is evidence of human occupation from Paleolithic times, and of subsequent settlement in the Celtic, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. The county played a significant part in the consolidation of power and rise of King Alfred the Great, and later in the English Civil War and the Monmouth Rebellion.
- John Cleese, star of Fawlty Towers and Monty Python, was born in Weston Super-Mare in October 1939. His father’s name was originally Reginald Cheese. The village of Cheddar is just over 10 miles from Weston Super-Mare.
- Wells is England’s smallest city.
- After the Monmouth rebellion of 1685, which centred on Taunton, no member of the Royal Family visited Somerset for 300 years. It is said that Queen Victoria was so ashamed by events there that when she took the train through Somerset she pulled her blind down as she passed the town.
- It snows more in Somerset than anywhere else in England.
- Somerset has two gorges, as well as the most well known Cheddar Gorge there is also Ebbor Gorge which also contains two geologically important caves that hold the bones of Ice Age mammals.
Population: 948,900 (2016)
County Town: Taunton
Towns of Somerset: