West Somerset

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West Somerset
Official logo of West Somerset
Shown within Somerset
Shown within Somerset
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth West England
Ceremonial countySomerset
Admin HQWilliton
Created1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district
 • LeaderTim Taylor
 • CouncilConservative
 • MPs:Ian Liddell-Grainger C, Rebecca Pow C
 • Total280.63 sq mi (726.84 km2)
 • Total34,900
 • Density130/sq mi (49/km2)
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
Post Code
Area code01984
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML
GPX (primary)
GPX (secondary)
GPX (all)

West Somerset was a local government district in the English county of Somerset. The council covered a largely rural area, with a population of 34,900[1] in an area of 740 square kilometres (290 sq mi);[2] it was the least populous non-unitary district in England. According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics in 2009, the population of West Somerset has the oldest average age in the United Kingdom at 52.[3] The largest centres of population are the coastal towns of Minehead (population 10,000) and Watchet (4,400).

The council's administrative headquarters were located in the village of Williton, with an additional office in Minehead.

In September 2016, West Somerset and Taunton Deane councils agreed in principle to merge the districts into one (with one council) subject to consultation.[4] The new district would not be a unitary authority: it would still be part of the Somerset County Council area.[5] In March 2018 both councils voted in favour of the merger and it came into effect on 1 April 2019, with the first elections to the new council in May 2019. The new authority is known as Somerset West and Taunton Council.[6][7][8]


The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of the previous urban districts of Minehead and Watchet, along with Dulverton Rural District and Williton Rural District.

Listed buildings[edit]

There were 33 Grade I listed buildings in West Somerset: the oldest are Culbone Church (one of the smallest churches in England,[9] and pre-Norman in origin)[10] and Tarr Steps, which some say originates in the Bronze Age, although others date them from around 1400.[11] Dunster has the greatest concentration of Grade I listed buildings including Dunster Castle, the Yarn Market, Gallox Bridge and Priory Church of St George. Other sites include manor houses such as Nettlecombe Court and Orchard Wyndham. The most recent buildings included in the list are Crowcombe Court which was completed in 1739[12] and the Church of St John the Baptist in Carhampton which was rebuilt in 1863.[13] There are numerous religious structures in Somerset, with the largest number being Anglican parish churches, dating from Norman or medieval eras. Some of the churches are included in the Somerset towers, a collection of distinctive, mostly spireless Gothic church towers.

West Somerset Council Offices in Williton

Recent financial difficulties[edit]

In 2012 financial difficulties at the council, including a £1 million reduction over three years, lead to plans to outsource most of the services provided to the population and make most of the staff redundant.[14] It is proposed that some services may be shared with Taunton Deane council.[15] In December 2012 the grant received from central government was increased by 0.9% meaning the council had £3.8million to spend on the provision of services.[16]


West Somerset benefits from one of the most scenic landscapes in England. Nearly two-thirds of the western land area of the district forms part of Exmoor National Park, designated in 1954, while on the eastern edge of the district are the Quantock Hills, which in 1956 became the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty created in the UK. Large areas of Exmoor and the Quantock Hills are also designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest because of their value for wildlife.

The West Somerset Railway runs through most of the district, from Bishop's Lydeard in the south east to Minehead in the north west. Operated mainly as a tourist attraction, the railway runs mostly steam and some diesel locomotives.


West Somerset District Council was elected every four years, with 28 councillors being elected at each election. From the first election to the council in 1973 to the 1995 election the council had a majority of independents. Since then the Conservative Party won a majority at the 2003 election, but independents took a majority back at the 2007 election. Following the election in 2011 the Conservatives regained a majority, which they then held until the council's abolition in 2019.[17]



Image Name Status Population Former local authority Coordinates Refs
Stone building with arched windows and square tower. Bicknoller Civil parish 371 Williton Rural District 51°09′N 3°16′W / 51.15°N 3.27°W / 51.15; -3.27 (Bicknoller) [18][19]
Stone building with square tower, partially obscured by trees. In the foreground are gravestones. Brompton Ralph Civil parish 287 Williton Rural District 51°05′N 3°19′W / 51.08°N 3.31°W / 51.08; -3.31 (Brompton Ralph) [18][19]
Several buildings including a square church tower amongst trees. Brompton Regis Civil parish 449 Dulverton Rural District 51°04′N 3°29′W / 51.07°N 3.49°W / 51.07; -3.49 (Brompton Regis) [18][20]
Stone building with square tower, partially obscured by trees. Brushford Civil parish 519 Dulverton Rural District 51°01′N 3°32′W / 51.02°N 3.53°W / 51.02; -3.53 (Brushford, Somerset) [18][20]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones and trees. Carhampton Civil parish 865 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°25′W / 51.17°N 3.42°W / 51.17; -3.42 (Carhampton, Somerset) [18][19]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are stone crosses, gravestones and trees. Clatworthy Civil parish 101 Williton Rural District 51°04′N 3°21′W / 51.07°N 3.35°W / 51.07; -3.35 (Clatworthy) [19]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are stone crosses, gravestones and trees. Crowcombe Civil parish 489 Williton Rural District 51°07′N 3°14′W / 51.12°N 3.23°W / 51.12; -3.23 (Crowcombe) [18][19]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones. Cutcombe Civil parish 361 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°32′W / 51.14°N 3.53°W / 51.14; -3.53 (Cutcombe) [18][19]
Stone building with arched windows and square tower seen at the end of a narrow lane with white painted houses on the right and a wall on the left. Dulverton Town 1,408 Dulverton Rural District 51°03′N 3°33′W / 51.05°N 3.55°W / 51.05; -3.55 (Dulverton) [18][20]
Street scene with houses and shops on the left and an octagonal structure has a central stone pier which supports a heavy timber framework which carries a slate roof with central wooden lantern surmounted by a weather vane. In the distance is a castle. Dunster Civil parish 817 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°27′W / 51.18°N 3.45°W / 51.18; -3.45 (Dunster) [18]
Stone building with square tower amongst trees. In the foreground are cows in a field. East Quantoxhead Civil parish 104 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°14′W / 51.18°N 3.24°W / 51.18; -3.24 (East Quantoxhead) [18]
Stone building with tiled roof and square tower, surrounded by vegetation. Elworthy Civil parish 103 Williton Rural District 51°07′N 3°19′W / 51.11°N 3.31°W / 51.11; -3.31 (Elworthy) [19]
Stone building with square tower. Trees are to the right and behind with gravestones in the foreground. Exford Civil parish 405 Dulverton Rural District 51°08′N 3°38′W / 51.13°N 3.64°W / 51.13; -3.64 (Exford, Somerset) [18][20]
Mound of stones with fields in the background. Exmoor Civil parish 251 Dulverton Rural District 51°08′N 3°45′W / 51.14°N 3.75°W / 51.14; -3.75 (Exmoor civil parish) [18][20]
Wooden waterwheel on the side of a white painted building, partially obscured by trees. Exton Civil parish 243 Dulverton Rural District 51°05′N 3°32′W / 51.09°N 3.54°W / 51.09; -3.54 (Exton, Somerset) [18][20]
Buildings nestled in rolling hills. Holford Civil parish 392 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°13′W / 51.16°N 3.21°W / 51.16; -3.21 (Holford) [18][19]
Square stone tower with gravestones in the foreground. Huish Champflower Civil parish 301 Dulverton Rural District 51°04′N 3°22′W / 51.06°N 3.36°W / 51.06; -3.36 (Huish Champflower) [18][20]
Stone wall with window of ruined building. Kilve Civil parish 305 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°13′W / 51.18°N 3.22°W / 51.18; -3.22 (Kilve) [18][19]
Looking down on the village with houses and stone church building with square tower. Luccombe Civil parish 157 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°34′W / 51.19°N 3.56°W / 51.19; -3.56 (Luccombe, Somerset) [18][19]
Stone bridge over water, surrounded by vegetation. Luxborough Civil parish 237 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°28′W / 51.13°N 3.46°W / 51.13; -3.46 (Luxborough) [18][19]
Town seen from a nearby hill with multiple houses. The sea can be seen on the left and the white tent like canopy left of centre is the Butlins centre. Minehead Town 11,981 Williton Rural District
Minehead Urban District
51°12′N 3°28′W / 51.20°N 3.47°W / 51.20; -3.47 (Minehead) [18][19][21]
Old stone building with archway. Minehead Without Civil parish 60 Williton Rural District 51°12′N 3°31′W / 51.20°N 3.51°W / 51.20; -3.51 (Minehead Without) [19]
Stone building with square tower. Monksilver Civil parish 113 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°20′W / 51.13°N 3.33°W / 51.13; -3.33 (Monksilver) [18][19]
Reddish stone buildings. The church in the foreground has a square tower. Nettlecombe Civil parish 174 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°21′W / 51.13°N 3.35°W / 51.13; -3.35 (Nettlecombe, Somerset) [18][19]
Small stone bridge over a stream Oare Civil parish 68 Williton Rural District 51°12′N 3°43′W / 51.20°N 3.71°W / 51.20; -3.71 (Oare, Somerset) [19]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones. Old Cleeve Civil parish 1,672 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°23′W / 51.17°N 3.38°W / 51.17; -3.38 (Old Cleeve) [18][19]
Street scene showing stone church with truncated spire, On the right is a white painted building. Porlock Civil parish 1,440 Williton Rural District 51°13′N 3°36′W / 51.21°N 3.60°W / 51.21; -3.60 (Porlock) [18][19]
Stone building with white painted square tower. In the foreground is a road junction. Sampford Brett Civil parish 270 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°19′W / 51.16°N 3.31°W / 51.16; -3.31 (Sampford Brett) [18][19]
Thatched roofs of white painted houses nestled in tree filled valley. Selworthy Civil parish 477 Williton Rural District 51°13′N 3°33′W / 51.21°N 3.55°W / 51.21; -3.55 (Selworthy) [18][19]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones. Skilgate Civil parish 100 Dulverton Rural District 51°02′N 3°27′W / 51.04°N 3.45°W / 51.04; -3.45 (Skilgate) [20]
Wooden signal box next to railway platform decorated with flowers. Stogumber Civil parish 702 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°17′W / 51.13°N 3.29°W / 51.13; -3.29 (Stogumber) [18][19]
White painted church with square tower topped with a spire. Stogursey Civil parish 1,385 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°08′W / 51.18°N 3.14°W / 51.18; -3.14 (Stogursey) [18][19]
Stone church with red tiled roofs. Stringston Civil parish 116 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°11′W / 51.18°N 3.18°W / 51.18; -3.18 (Stringston) [19]
Reddish stone church with square tower. Timberscombe Civil parish 402 Williton Rural District 51°08′N 3°32′W / 51.13°N 3.54°W / 51.13; -3.54 (Timberscombe) [18][19]
Stone kilns built into a bank with a road in front. Treborough Civil parish 51 Williton Rural District 51°07′N 3°25′W / 51.12°N 3.41°W / 51.12; -3.41 (Treborough) [19]
Stone building with small bell tower. In the foreground are gravestones. Upton Civil parish 250 Dulverton Rural District 51°06′N 3°26′W / 51.10°N 3.44°W / 51.10; -3.44 (Upton, Somerset) [18][20]
View of multiple houses with sea on the left and hills in the background. Watchet Town 3,785 Watchet Urban District 51°11′N 3°20′W / 51.18°N 3.33°W / 51.18; -3.33 (Watchet) [18][22]
Waterfall cascading down rockface. West Quantoxhead Civil parish 343 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°16′W / 51.17°N 3.27°W / 51.17; -3.27 (West Quantoxhead) [18][19]
Stone building with arched doorway and windows. Two small towers. Williton Civil parish 2,607 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°19′W / 51.16°N 3.31°W / 51.16; -3.31 (Williton) [18][19]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones. Winsford Civil parish 321 Dulverton Rural District 51°06′N 3°34′W / 51.10°N 3.57°W / 51.10; -3.57 (Winsford, Somerset) [18][20]
White painted church with square tower. Withycombe Civil parish 293 Williton Rural District 51°10′N 3°25′W / 51.16°N 3.41°W / 51.16; -3.41 (Withycombe) [18][19]
Stone bridge with six arches over water. Withypool and Hawkridge Civil parish 201 Dulverton Rural District 51°07′N 3°39′W / 51.11°N 3.65°W / 51.11; -3.65 (Withypool and Hawkridge) [18][20]
Stone building with square tower. In the foreground are gravestones. Wootton Courtenay Civil parish 264 Williton Rural District 51°11′N 3°31′W / 51.18°N 3.52°W / 51.18; -3.52 (Wootton Courtenay) [18][19]


County schools (those which are not independent) in the five non-metropolitan districts of the county are operated by Somerset County Council.

For a full list of schools see: List of schools in Somerset

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Statistics & Census Information". West Somerset Council. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  2. ^ "West Somerset (Local Authority): Key Figures for Physical Environment". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
  3. ^ "Maps chart UK's ageing population". BBC News. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
  4. ^ West Somerset Online
  5. ^ Your New Council
  6. ^ "Somerset councils merger approved despite criticism". BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  7. ^ Simmons, Alice (19 March 2018). "Taunton Deane and West Somerset vote in favour of council merger". Somerset County Gazette. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  8. ^ Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (24 May 2018). "The Somerset West and Taunton (Local Government Changes) Order 2018". legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Parish Churches". Somerset County archives. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
  10. ^ "Culbone church". historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
  11. ^ "Tarr Steps". Everything Exmoor. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Crowcombe Court". historicengland.org.uk. English Heritage. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  13. ^ "Church of St John the Baptist, Carhampton". historicengland.org.uk. English Heritage. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  14. ^ Morris, Steven (12 December 2012). "West Somerset council considers making most of its staff redundant". London: Guardian. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  15. ^ "West Somerset Council anti-bankruptcy plan approved". BBC. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Why West Somerset Council is at risk of going bust". BBC. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Council composition 2018". West Somerset Council. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj "Statistics for Wards, LSOAs and Parishes — SUMMARY Profiles" (Excel). Somerset Intelligence. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac "Williton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Dulverton RD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  21. ^ "Minehead UD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  22. ^ "Watchet UD". A vision of Britain Through Time. University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 5 January 2014.

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