Dunster - History


Just southwest of Dunster are Bat's Castle and Black Ball Camp on Gallox Hill (also known as British Camp). They were Iron Age hill forts. There was a similar earthwork on Grabbist Hill and another at Croydon Hill.

Dunster is mentioned not only as a manor belonging to William de Moyon in the Domesday Book in 1086 but also the site of his castle.

The 15th-century Gallox Bridge was one of the main routes over the River Avill on the southern outskirts.

Dunster was part of the hundred of Carhampton.

During the English Civil War, Dunster was initially held as a garrison for the Royalists. It fell to the Parliamentarians in 1645 and orders were sent out for the castle to be demolished. However, these were not carried out, and the castle remained the garrison for Parliamentarian troops until 1650.

Dunster is regularly home to Taunton Garrison who re-enact plays, battles, and life in the civil war.

Dunster was the birthplace of the song All Things Bright and Beautiful when Cecil Alexander was staying with Mary Martin. The nearby hill, Grabbist, was originally heather-covered before tree plantation and was described as the "Purple headed mountain". Mary Martin was daughter of one of the owners of Martins Bank.

During the Second World War, considerable defences were built along the coast as a part of British anti-invasion preparations, though the north coast of Somerset was an unlikely invasion site. Some of the structures remain to this day. Most notable are the pillboxes on the foreshore of Dunster Beach. These are strong buildings made from pebbles taken from the beach and bonded together with concrete. From these, soldiers could have held their ground if the Germans ever invaded.

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