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Wincanton is a small town and electoral ward in South Somerset, southwest England The town lies off the A303 road, a main route between London and South West England, and has some light industry The town and electoral ward has a population of 5,2721


  • 1 History
  • 2 Governance
  • 3 Services
  • 4 Geography
    • 41 Climate
  • 5 Economy
  • 6 Landmarks
  • 7 Transport
  • 8 Education
  • 9 Religious sites
  • 10 Culture
  • 11 Sports
  • 12 Twinning
  • 13 References
  • 14 External links


Windmill Hill was the site of a Bronze Age Beaker culture burial, and contemporary artefacts have been found on the Selwood Ridge2

Prior to the Norman Conquest Wincanton was frequently the scene of battles between the Britons, Danes and Saxons3 During the reign of Edmund Ironside, the English, under his command, defeated the Danes, forcing them to leave England4

In the Domesday Book the name of the town was spelled as "Wincaleton", thought to mean "Pleasant town on the Cale"5 Cockroad Wood Castle, which is now in the parish of Charlton Musgrove, was a motte and bailey castle, probably built after the Norman conquest of England of 10666 The castle sits close to the contemporary Norman castles of Ballands and Castle Orchard, and may have been built as part of a system of fortifications to control the surrounding area By 1086 the surrounding land was held by Walter of Douai, although no documentary evidence of the castle remains7

The parish of Wincanton was part of the Norton Ferris Hundred8

Wincanton was probably the site of a market in the medieval period but did not gain a market and fair charter until 15569

The town was the scene of one of the few armed skirmishes in England during the Revolution of 1688 A troop of Horse Guards under Patrick Sarsfield, loyal to James II, defeated an advance party of troops fighting for William of Orange, on 20 November 168810 A great part of the town was destroyed by fires in the years 1707 and 1747511

In the early 19th century Wincanton was a depot for French officers, during the Napoleonic Wars12

By 2010 there had been an influx of foreign nationals, especially Portuguese and Polish citizens13


Wincanton is within the area of Somerset County Council and the Non-metropolitan district of South Somerset, with its own town council14 The town council has responsibility for local issues, including setting an annual precept local rate to cover the council's operating costs and producing annual accounts for public scrutiny The town council evaluates local planning applications and works with the local police, district council officers, and neighbourhood watch groups on matters of crime, security, and traffic; their role also includes initiating projects for the maintenance and repair of parish facilities, as well as consulting with the district council on the maintenance, repair, and improvement of highways, drainage, footpaths, public transport, and street cleaning Conservation matters including trees and listed buildings and environmental issues are also the responsibility of the council

The South Somerset district council is responsible for local planning and building control, local roads, council housing, environmental health, markets and fairs, refuse collection and recycling, cemeteries and crematoria, leisure services, parks, and tourism Somerset County Council is responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, the library, roads, public transport, trading standards and waste disposal

It is part of Somerton and Frome, a constituency of the House of Commons The current member of parliament is the conservative politician David Warburton Residents of Wincanton also form part of the electorate for the South West England constituency for elections to the European Parliament, which elects six MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation15


Memorial Hall Wincanton Fire Station

Wincanton Community Hospital in Dancing Lane was formerly known as Verrington Hospital and in March 2015 had 28 beds on two wards plus intermediate care unit1617 It opened as an Isolation Hospital in September 1910 for patients with Scarlet Fever18

The Balsam Centre is a Healthy Living Centre and also a Children's Centre for Wincanton and South East Somerset19

The War Memorial Hall, which opened on 9 January 1959, has a stage as well as facilities for dancing or for seating 250 It also has a separate committee room that can seat 50

Fire, police and ambulance services are provided jointly with other authorities through the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the South Western Ambulance Service


Wincanton is situated on the northeast edge of Blackmore Vale, 12 miles 19 km northeast of Yeovil, and 10 miles 16 km northwest of Shaftesbury on the extreme southeast of Somerset close to the borders of Dorset and Wiltshire


Along with the rest of South West England, Wincanton has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of the country The annual mean temperature is about 10 °C 50 °F; due to the modifying effect of the sea the range is less than in most other parts of the UK January is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between 1 °C 34 °F and 2 °C 36 °F July and August are the warmest months in the region with mean daily maxima around 21 °C 70 °F20

The southwest of England has a favoured location with respect to the Azores high pressure when it extends its influence northeastwards towards the UK, particularly in summer Convective cloud often forms inland however, especially near hills, reducing the number of hours of sunshine The average annual sunshine totals around 1,600 hours20

Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection The Atlantic depressions are more vigorous in autumn and winter and most of the rain which falls in those seasons in the southwest is from this source Average rainfall is about 725 millimetres 285 in November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, with June to August having the lightest winds The predominant wind direction is from the southwest20


In the late 1890s the West Surrey Central Dairy Company purchased a local creamery In 1908, after developing a dried milk baby powder, it changed its name to Cow & Gate The creamery and dairy products factory had its own sidings from the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway station, providing access for milk trains

In order to cope with the transport problems across its quickly expanding creamery, milk bottling and doorstep delivery network, Cow & Gate formed a dedicated logistics arm in 1920 Spun out in 2002 from successor company Unigate, Wincanton PLC is the UK's second largest logistics company The company still has a dairy products base in the town, although its head office function moved to Chippenham, Wiltshire in 200521

In 1999, Unigate sold its remaining dairies to Dairy Crest, which still has a creamery and milk processing plant in the town, but has sold the cheese business to Adams Foods Ltd, producer of the Pilgrim's Choice brand of Cheddar cheese, in 2010 the second best selling brand in the UK22


The Dogs also called The Old House was built around 1650, and was reshaped internally by Nathaniel Ireson in 1740-50 It is a grade I listed building23


The town had a railway station on the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway but this closed on 7 March 196624

The town is north of the A303 road, one of the main routes between London and South West England

The nearest railway stations are in neighbouring Templecombe, Somerset and Gillingham, Dorset Trains run on the Exeter to Waterloo line


Primary education, up to the age of 11 is offered by Wincanton Primary School and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary School25 The history of Wincanton Primary began in 1833 when an appeal was launched to provide a National school in Wincanton and after a number of difficulties the school was built in North Street in 1838, although this had very few pupils A school board was formed in 1871 and opened a school in the former National school buildings with over 200 pupils In 1875 there were 206 children attending In 1894 the board raised money for a new school to accommodate 445 children, which opened in South Street in 189726

Wincanton has one secondary school, King Arthur's Community School, which is Somerset's first specialist Sports College27

The Balsam Centre is a Healthy Living Centre and also a Children's Centre28 Since 2005 it has received grants for the re-fitting of the training kitchen and construction and refurbishment to create a dedicated teaching area, counselling and interview rooms and a studio space for physical and community activities29

Religious sitesedit

Church of St Peter and St Paul

The Church of St Peter and St Paul was almost totally rebuilt in 1887-91 by J D Sedding; however, parts of the tower may be remnants of an earlier church, dating from 1313, on the same site30 In 1793 the tower was raised by 12 feet 4 m making it 50 feet 15 m high; five bells were cast and a sixth added The additional carving and north porch were added in subsequent years31 The churchyard includes a self-designed monument to the local architect Nathaniel Ireson who died in 179632 Because of the state of the roofs, which are under repair, the church is included on the Heritage at Risk register33

The Roman Catholic Church and Presbytery of St Luke and St Teresa was built in 1881 by the priest/architect AJC Scoles34

There are also places of worship for Pentecostals, Methodists, Baptists and Quakers in the town35


Wincanton Museum is a small local museum in the High Street which closed in 2010 You can now visit some of the items which were in the museum in the library which is situated in Carrington Way

The cartoonist Tony Weare was born in Wincanton36


Wincanton Racecourse

The town gives its name to Wincanton Racecourse which is in the neighbouring parish of Charlton Musgrove

Wincanton has a Non-League football club Wincanton Town FC who play at the Wincanton Sports Ground on Moor Lane37 The Sports Ground in Moor Lane also provides facilities for tennis and bowls5

Wincanton Sports Centre was opened in 2001,38 funded by a National Lottery grant5

The cricket club, which plays in the recreation ground, has two Saturday teams and a Sunday team39

The rugby union club plays at King Arthur's Community School in the town In 2010 they won the Dorset & Wilts division of the English Rugby Union South West Division40


The town sign of Wincanton, showing twinned towns

Wincanton is unusual in that it was twinned in 2002 with a town which can only be found in fiction As well as with Gennes / Les Rosiers in France and Lahnau in Germany, Wincanton is twinned with Ankh-Morpork,5 a fictional city state near the Circle Sea on Terry Pratchett's Discworld41 On 5 April 2009, a number of roads were retitled with names taken from Ankh-Morpork, such as Peach Pie Street and Treacle Mine Road,42 after a short-list was voted upon by fans43 There are shops in the town selling Discworld-related goods44 In 2015 the Uncle Tom's Cabin pub unveiled a sign by Discworld illustrator Richard Kingston referencing The Mended Drum Pratchett and Kingston were regulars45


  1. ^ a b "Statistics for Wards, LSOAs and Parishes — SUMMARY Profiles" Excel Somerset Intelligence Retrieved 4 January 2014 
  2. ^ "Wincanton" A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 7: British History Online Retrieved 16 October 2008 
  3. ^ "Wincanton" Victoria County Histories British History Online Retrieved 15 March 2009 
  4. ^ "Wincanton" Somerset Guide Retrieved 15 March 2009 
  5. ^ a b c d e "About Wincanton" Wincanton Town Council Retrieved 16 October 2008 
  6. ^ Creighton, Oliver Hamilton 2005 Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England London: Equinox ISBN 978-1-904768-67-8 p62
  7. ^ Motte and Bailey Castle, Cockroad Wood, Charlton Musgrove, Somerset County Historic Environmental Record, accessed 18 July 2011
  8. ^ "Somerset Hundreds" GENUKI Retrieved 18 October 2011 
  9. ^ Richardson, Miranda "Wincanton" PDF Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey Somerset County Council Retrieved 2 February 2010 
  10. ^ http://wwwoxforddnbcom/patricksarsfield Retrieved 12 December 2013
  11. ^ Havinden, Michael 1982 The Somerset Landscape The making of the English landscape London: Hodder and Stoughton p 139 ISBN 0-340-20116-9 
  12. ^ "Outline History of the Town" Wincanton Museum and History Society Retrieved 25 July 2011 
  13. ^ "South Somerset District Council Highly Rated by the Audit Commission" Wincanton Window Retrieved 12 November 2010 
  14. ^ "Town Council's Role" Wincanton Town Council Retrieved 16 October 2008 
  15. ^ "UK MEPs for the South West" European Parliament UK Office Archived from the original on 17 December 2007 Retrieved 11 January 2008 
  16. ^ "Wincanton Community Hospital" Somerset Community Health Retrieved 25 July 2011 
  17. ^ "WCH" Retrieved 22 March 2015 
  18. ^ "Fete to celebrate hospital centenary" This is Somerset Retrieved 25 July 2011 
  19. ^ "Balsam Centre" Balsam Centre Retrieved 5 October 2010 
  20. ^ a b c "About south-west England" Met Office Archived from the original on 5 June 2011 Retrieved 22 March 2010 
  21. ^ "History & Business" Wincanton Plc Retrieved 5 October 2010 
  22. ^ "New look and new products for UK’s Number two cheddar cheese brand" The Grocery Trader Retrieved 12 November 2010 
  23. ^ "The Dogs" Images of England English Heritage Retrieved 16 October 2008 
  24. ^ "Wincanton" Somerset & Dorset joint Railway Retrieved 5 October 2010 
  25. ^ "Education" Local Authority Publishing Retrieved 17 October 2008 
  26. ^ "Wincanton" A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 7: Bruton, Horethorne and Norton Ferris Hundreds pp 208-232 1999 Retrieved 8 December 2008 
  27. ^ "Prospectus" PDF King Arthur's Community School p 15 Retrieved 25 July 2011 
  28. ^ "The Balsam Centre" The Balsam Centre Retrieved 14 May 2010 
  29. ^ "Balsam Project" Somerset Rural Renaissance Retrieved 14 May 2010 
  30. ^ "Church of St Peter and St Paul" Images of England English Heritage Retrieved 16 October 2008 
  31. ^ "Stroll around Wincanton" Local Authority Publishing Retrieved 17 October 2008 
  32. ^ "The Nathaniel Ireson Monument" Somerset Historic Environment Record Somerset County Council Retrieved 17 October 2008 
  33. ^ "St Peter and St Paul, Church Street, Wincanton — South Somerset" Heritage at Risk English Heritage Retrieved 19 October 2013 
  34. ^ "Roman Catholic Church and Presbytery of St Luke and St Teresa, Wincanton" Somerset Historic Environment Record Somerset County Council Retrieved 17 October 2008 
  35. ^ "Churches" Wincanton Town Council Retrieved 17 January 2016 
  36. ^ "Obituaries: Tony Weare" London: The Independent 20 December 1994 Retrieved 15 November 2011 
  37. ^ "The Ground — Wincanton Town Football Club, Somerset" Wincantontownfccom Retrieved 2013-07-24 
  38. ^ "About Us" Wincanton Sports Centre Retrieved 30 September 2010 
  39. ^ "Wincanton CC" Play Cricket Retrieved 25 July 2011 
  40. ^ "Wincanton Rugby" Wincanton Rugby Retrieved 25 July 2011 
  41. ^ "Pratchett city twins with real town" BBC News 6 December 2002 
  42. ^ "Roads named after Discworld books" BBC Online 5 April 2009 
  43. ^ I Name This Street - altfanpratchettannounce - Google Groups
  44. ^ "Terry Pratchett's Discworld comes alive in Wincanton! From This is The West Country" Thisisthewestcountrycouk 2009-04-08 Retrieved 2013-07-24 
  45. ^ "Terry Pratchett pub sign unveiled in Wincanton" BBC 22 March 2015 Retrieved 22 March 2015 “Both men were regulars They used to come here after creative meetings at the Discworld Emporium a few doors down the street,” said Mr Yateman the landlord 

External linksedit

  • Somerset portal
  • Wincanton at DMOZ

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