Somerset featured in a pronounced way during King Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s. The lands of the monasteries that were dissolved were bought by certain important families in Somerset from the king.

Somerset is well respected for its cider and cheddar cheese. Somerset was once the cider capital of the UK thanks to its treasure of apple orchards. Today, the Cheddar Gorge caves are still in use for the maturation of cheese.

Cheddar Palace

The Royal palace at Cheddar has stood since the 10th century, gaining a licence to crenellate in 1264. Three chapels stood on this site, replacing 10th and 11th-century buildings The third chapel, dedicated to St Columbanus, lies in ruins having survived from around 1300. The 17th century saw the chapel converted into a house, existing as such until a century ago.

Amenities

Toilets: No

Car Park: No

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: No

Barrington Court

Henry Daubeney inherited Barrington Court from his father who was a courtier to Henry VII in 1514. Henry Daubeney and Henry VIII’s doomed wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were related through marriage. Daubney was made the first Earl of Bridegwater by Henry VIII.

In the swinging 20s, Colonel Arthur Lyle rescued the dilapidated 16th-century Court House to restore it to its former glory and revive the productive estate. He made his money out of the colonial sugar industry, to become the Director of his grandfather’s company now known as Tate & Lyle. His restored house was filled with architectural salvage he had salvaged as well as rescued staircases, panelling, and fireplaces.   

Gertrude Jekyll influenced the walled White Garden, Rose and Iris Garden, and Lily Garden with their playing fountains, brilliant hues, and heady perfumes. The original kitchen garden keeps the kitchen stocked. This self-sufficient Lyle family hosts events teaching the willing to camp, climb trees, and build bird boxes.

National Trust home.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

price

Adult – £10.00

Child – £5.00

Family – £25.00

1 adult family – £15.00

Group Adult (Minimum group size 15) – £9.50

Group Child (Minimum group size 15) – £4.75

Tyntesfield

The extravagant Neo-Gothic house of Tyntesfield was built for the merchant, William Gibbs who profitably traded with Spain and South America. The Estate was named Tyntes Place when William Gibbs acquired it in 1843. Remodelling started in 1863 converting the existing Georgian house according to Gothic Revival principles. The house symbolised the owner’s Anglo-Catholicism. Amidst the woodland play area, plants, trees, and wildlife, events such as guided estate walks, woodwork classes, outdoor theatre events, and sketching tours are hosted on the estate.

National Trust house.

price

Adult – £14.00

Child – £7.00

Family – £35.00

1 adult family – £21.00

Group Adult (Minimum group size 15) – £13.30

Group Child (Minimum group size 15) – £6.65

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

The Roman Baths

Somerset boasts Britain’s only hot spring and it was on this site that the Romans built their splendid temple and bathing complex. After 2000 years, the hot waters still flow from their natural source. Visitors can see the ruins of the temple of Minerva that attracted Roman worshippers thousands of years ago.

The museum teaches us about the people who lived and loved in a time before us through such inspirations as the costumed characters who revive the stories of yesteryear’s people. The display included the Beau Street Hoard which is a collection of over 17,000 Roman coins recently discovered on Beau Street in Bath.

Take a break in the 18th-century Pump Room for a lunch or afternoon tea accompanied by live music.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: No

Walking: No

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

Price

Adult (19+) – £25.50

Student – £24.50

Senior (65+) – £24.50

Child (6-18) – £18.00

Family 2 adults + 2-4 children – £70.00

Family 2 adults + 1 child – £63.00

Family 1 adult + 2-4 children – £50.00

Bath Abbey

A church has stood on this site in three different forms since 757 AD. The first was the Anglo Saxon monastery razed by the Norman conquerors. They replaced it with their massive Norman cathedral around 1090 which was also reverted to ruins by the late 1400s. It was in the years following that the present-day Abbey church took its place here.

Bath Abbey boasts the unique ladders of angels said to have come to be because the Bishop of Bath, Oliver King, dreamt of angels ascending and descending into heaven. It was this dream that inspired not only this design but the new abbey church in its entirety. The church lived on to be the last great medieval cathedral built in England.

The dissolution of the monasteries ordered by King Henry VIII in 1539 saw the abbey laid to ruin for over 70 years. Come 1616, restorations began to restore it to use as a parish church. In the 1830s after another two hundred years, local architect George Manners added new pinnacles and flying buttresses to the exterior and interior. He also built a new organ, galleries over the choir, and installed extra seating.

Between 1864 and 1874 Sir George Gilbert Scott transformed the interior according to his vision of Victorian Gothic architecture. Replacing the ancient wooden ceiling over the nave with the spectacular stone fan vaulting still there today is indubitably his greatest work.

A National Churches Trust initiative.

Price

Adult – £8

Child (aged 5-15) – £4

Amenities

Toilets: No

Car Park: Yes

Walking: No

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: No

Glastonbury Abbey

Rife with legend and myth since Medieval times, Glastonbury Abbey is lauded as the earliest Christian foundation in Britain linked to Joseph of Arimathea and the burial place of King Arthur. It is a tourist attraction as much for its history and folklore as its spiritual enrichment being that a church has occupied the site for more than 1500 years. By the end of the medieval age, Glastonbury was second only to Westminster as the richest monastery in England.

National Church Trust initiative.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

price

Adults: £11

Over 60s: £9.90

Students: £9.90

Additional Under 16s: £6.60

Wells Cathedral

Befitting its description as “the most poetic of the English Cathedrals”, Wells Cathedral was built between 1175 and 1490, the first English Cathedral built in the Gothic style. It stands out among other English cathedrals by its iconic West Front and the ‘scissor arches’ that support the central tower. Not to be discounted is its standing as boasting one of the largest collections of historic stained glass in the country. Its Wells Clock is believed to be the second oldest clock mechanism in Great Britain. Visitors can tour the cathedral for free every day except Sunday, throughout the year.

National Trust site.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: No

Walking: No

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

Shepton Mallet Prison

King James introduced the act for all counties to have their own ‘House of Correction’. Soon after, Shepton Mallet was built in 1610 to be the oldest working prison in the United Kingdom, opening in 1646. The Georgian jail was decommissioned in 2013 and its life as a category C lifer prison holding 189 prisoners came to an end. In 1930 the prison closed due to low numbers of inmates but it returned as a military prison after WW2 broke out. A new execution block was added to hang condemned prisoners. Important historical documents were stored here, among them the Domesday Book. The prison returned to civilian use in 1966.

It is now open to the public with guided tours, self-guided tours, ghost tours, A Night Behind Bars, escape rooms, and Prison Break.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

Price

Adult – £15

Child – £10

Priddy

The Mendip village of Priddy saw the excavation of a Mesolithic hut site in 1977. But Priddy had relics of yesteryear found long before this. The Priddy Circles, a Stone circle or Henge monument of the same Neolithic era – circa 2180 BC – as the more famous Wiltshire Stonehenge are nearby. Priddy’s Neolithic ‘Henges’ was however made of wood. Neighbours to the Circles on the North Hill are two round barrow cemeteries, Ashen Hill and Priddy Nine-Barrows. Priddy’s ‘Nine Barrows’ have inspired the legend that a golden coffin is buried in one of them. Signs of the Bronze age are evident at Deer Leap in the form of a burial mound. Remnants of a medieval settlement of Ramspit share this location and the Neolithic ceremonial location of Drove Cottage Henge lies east of the village.

Amenities

Toilets: No

Car Park: No

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

King John’s Hunting Lodge

King John’s Hunting lodge is open to the public as a local history museum at a fee. It is an early Tudor timber-framed wool merchant’s house from around 1500 and is a fine specimen of medieval life. Arcaded stalls open onto the street on the ground floor.

Entrance is free to all National Trust members.

Amenities

Toilets: No

Car Park: Yes

Walking: No

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: No

Price

Per person – £2.50

Old Hall Somerton

When Edward I arrived in Somerset on his way to Glastonbury in 1278, the Old Hall was set up as the County Hall and the Court of Assizes. Somerton qualified as such as head of the county.

Amenities

Toilets: No

Car Park: No

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: No

Montacute House

Elizabethan Renaissance architecture and design at its finest, resplendent with towering walls of glass and ham stone, set as it is in its garden and parkland, is Montacute House. Built in 1601, it stood as a statement of wealth, ambition, and showmanship. It boasts the longest Long Gallery of its kind in England, displaying more than 60 Tudor and Elizabethan portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Montacute House plays host to outside theatres, archery, and wood art workshops.

National Trust Site.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

price

Adult – £14.00

Child – £7.00

Family – £35.00

1 adult family – £21.00

Group Adult (Minimum group size 15) – £13.30

Group Child (Minimum group size 15) – £6.65

Ilminster Minster

Named after the church the village mushroomed around as well as the River Ile that runs through it, and we have Ilminster Minster. The Minster church dates back to medieval times, around 1450. The churchyard is surrounded by among the oldest buildings such as the grammar school founded in 1549. During Victorian times this was a staging post for travellers with east-west and north-south routes converging. The peaceful village with its enchanting street names like Strawberry Bank, boasts a Market Square, a theatre, and interesting shops.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: No

Walking: No

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: No

Taunton Castle

In the heart of Somerset’s county town stands Taunton Castle which has homed a Museum for well over a century now. The bishops of Winchester owned a great Somerset estate of which Taunton Castle was at the heart. This was their residence in the Anglo-Saxon period. Although they owned land over seven English counties, Taunton was their largest estate, spread over thousands of acres in the Vale of Taunton Deane.

In the 12th century, the castle served as an administrative centre and a status symbol, receiving such guests as King John and his son Henry III. The Yorkist, the Earl of Devon, was besieged at Taunton in 1451 by the Lancastrian Lord Bonville. The Castle sustained severe damage during three bitter sieges during the Civil War in 1644–5. In September 1685, the Bloody Assizes following the Monmouth Rebellion were presided over in the Castle’s Great Hall, where 144 rebels were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. After serving as a law court until 1858, the Castle began falling into decay only to be saved by Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, which bought it in 1874. The result is the Museum of Somerset.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

Longleat House

Offering 450 years of history, Longleat House is a fine example of high Elizabethan architecture. Today, this stately home is open to the public, occupied by the 7th Marquess of Bath, and has been home to 15 generations of the Thynne family. Set in 900 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped gardens, Longleat House was once a 16th-century Augustinian priory. The many treasures and heirlooms lovingly added by generations of the Thynne family comprise early books and manuscripts, paintings, Flemish tapestries, and fine French furniture.

Price

Adult (16yrs+) – £36.95

Child (3-15yrs) – £27.70

Infant (0-2yrs) – £0.00

Carer (Any) – £0.00
Must be accompanying a guest with additional needs.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

Dunster Castle

Standing vigil dramatically from its wooded hill since Norman times, Dunster Castle’s medieval gatehouse and ruined tower speak of a turbulent past. The Luttrell family has lived in the castle for 600 years, succeeding in the 19th century in establishing it as a lavish country home. The terraced garden and tranquil riverside wooded garden below provide an opportunity to enjoy the grounds, with trails for walkers, and lead to the historic working watermill. Visitors can tour the castle and attend events at the outdoor theatre.

National Trust site.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

price

Adult – £13.00

Child – £6.50

Family – £32.50

1 adult, up to 3 children – £19.50

The Bishop’s Palace

In the early thirteenth century, the first Bishop of Bath and Wells received a crown licence to build a residence and deer park on land to the south of the Cathedral of St Andrew. The Bishop’s Palace is the result. The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens remains home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells for more than 800 years. The medieval palace, while still occupied as such, is open to the public, welcoming visitors to walk in their footsteps through many of the rooms of the Palace. Visitors get to cross the moat, watch the resident swans from the flagstone drawbridge and explore the 14 acres of RHS Partner gardens.

The palace hosts year-round family events, garden activity days, historic re-enactment, concerts, talks, workshops, demonstrations, family theatre, and guided tours. Visitors are invited to browse the gift shop and partake of the café which offers the best views in all of Wells.

A National Trust initiative.

price

People’s Ticket Child – £8.00

People’s Ticket Child + Carer – £8.00

People’s Ticket Student/Blue – £12.50

People’s Ticket Adult – £16.00

People’s Ticket Adult + Carer – £16.00

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: No

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes (Grounds Only)

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

Hestercombe House

Hestercombe is old, with a mention in an Anglo–Saxon charter of 682. Today, the stone archway circa 1280 is the earliest remaining medieval feature. This can be seen at the A Gentleman of Taste exhibition. Hestercombe House belonged to the Warre family between 1391 and 1872. Over this half-century, the house was much reinvented. Between 1725 and 1730 most of the medieval section of the house was removed, and the west elevation was re-fronted to the typical Georgian façade present today. In 1872, the 1st Viscount Portman took ownership and the house underwent an expensive Victorian facelift. A new wing was added in 1895 to the rear of the 17th-century Orangery. Today the Stables Restaurant feeds the hungry where the stables, tack room, groom’s accommodation, and loose boxes once catered to the horses. 1904 saw the Formal Garden designed by Edwin Lutyens take form.

After housing the headquarters of Somerset Fire Brigade for over 60 years, the Hestercombe Gardens Trust from Somerset County Council acquired the property in 2013. The house was opened to the public in May 2014 with its gallery, gift shop, and second-hand book shop.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

price

Adult – £14.85

Child (4-15 years) – £7.45

Child (Under 4 years) – Free

Family Saver 1 (1 adult & up to 3 children) – £22.50

Family Saver 2 (2 adults & up to 3 children) – £37.50

Wheelchair User – Half Price**

Admission for Tramper user – Half Price**

Somerset Rural Life Museum

To get a glimpse into the rural lives of the English countrymen from the 1800s onward, visit the Somerset Rural Life Museum. Learn about the county’s heritage, landscape, food and farming, working life, and rural crafts through the five Farmhouse Galleries and the large Farmyard Gallery. The centrepiece is the 14th-century Abbey Barn which also plays host to exhibitions and events.

The Grain Store Café offers quality locally-sourced food and drink.

price

Adult £7.50

Senior Citizens and Concessions £5.95

Family (1 adult and up to four children aged 5-17) £12

Family (2 adults and up to four children aged 5-17) £17.50

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: No

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

Cadbury Castle

This military stronghold has stood since the Stone Age, a fort for over 4000 years. The Durotriges tribe occupied the fort during the Iron Age, falling to the invading Romans in AD 70 who then razed the fort and surrounding village. 16th-century legend held that King Arthur used the castle during the 6th century, and archaeological evidence suggests it to be an important fortification at that time. AD 500 saw the fort re-established and then extended by Ethelred the Unready in AD 1000. He used it to defend against the plundering Vikings.

Amenities

Toilets: No

Car Park: No

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: No

Box Tunnel

Box Tunnel between Chippenham and Bath took the cake as the most difficult single engineering work on the route between London and Bristol. Critics debunked its proposal in the Great Western Railway Act of 1835 as an impossible and dangerous engineering project because of the unusually steep gradient, by Brunel’s standards, of 1 in 100 over its length. Completion ran long overdue, effectively completed in April 1841, months after the other sections of the London to Bristol route were done. Work on the tunnel was undertaken simultaneously from both the east and west sides of Box Hill in 1836. So on the mark were Brunel’s calculations and so skilled were the contractors and navvies that when the two ends met in 1841 the alignment was out by less than 2 inches (5cm). It opened unceremoniously through London – Bristol traffic on 30 June 1841.

Amenities

Toilets: No

Car Park: No

Walking: No

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: No

Cafe / Restaurant: No

Fleet Air Museum

The Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton Somerset is where Museum meets theatre. The largest collection of Naval aircraft in Europe is displayed here alongside the first British-built Concorde, the cockpit of which is open for viewing.

Visitors get to ‘fly’ by helicopter to the replica flight deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal to bear witness to fighter aircraft, a Phantom interceptor fighter, and a Buccaneer strike bomber projected onto huge screens. An interactive experience not to be missed.

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: No

Dog Friendly: No

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes

price

Adult (16 – 64 years of age) – £19

Child (3 and over) – £14

Family (1 adult/senior, 3 children) – £39

Family (2 adults/seniors, 3 children) – £49

Senior (65 and over) – £18

Haynes International Motor Museum

With the UK’s largest collection of the greatest cars, visitors to The Haynes International Motor Museum have more than 400 cars and bikes to see. Cars and bikes from the late 1800s through the 1950s and 1960s, there are Bentleys and Rolls Royces and supercars like the Jaguar XJ220.

price

Adult (age 16+) – £17.50

Over 65s – £15.50

Child (age 4-15) – £11

Under 4s – Free

Student – £15.50

Adult with Disability – £15.50

Child with Disability – £9.50

Carer – Free

Amenities

Toilets: Yes

Car Park: Yes

Walking: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Kids Playground: Yes

Cafe / Restaurant: Yes