Castle Cary

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Castle Cary is a market town and civil parish in south Somerset, England, 5 miles (8 km) north west of Wincanton and 8 miles (12.9 km) south of Shepton Mallet.

The town is situated on the River Cary, a tributary of the Parrett.

The site of Cary Castle is above the town. It was built either by Walter of Douai or by the following owners, the Perceval family, after the Norman conquest. It was besieged by King Stephen in 1138, and again in 1153. By 1468 the castle had been abandoned in favour of a manor house which was built beside it. The site was excavated in 1890 and demonstrated the foundations of a 24 square metres (258 sq ft) square tower, although only the earthworks are visible today.

The parish was part of the hundred of Catsash.

The manor was held by the Lovels and descended by marriage in 1351 to the St Maur (Seymour) family and in 1409 to the lords Zouche. The manor was bought in the 1780s by the Hoares of Stourhead in Wiltshire.

The town grew around the mediaeval weaving industry and is home to a horsehair weaving factory.

The Living History Group is an active group of local amateur historians in the town who have published several books concerning the history of Castle Cary and its personalities. In 1900, for example, Castle Cary cricket club provided five players for the Devon and Somerset Wanderers team that won the only Olympic cricket title. The Cricket Club is to mark its 175th anniversary in 2012, with a celebration of the Castle Cary players who played in 1900, whilst the London Games take place.

The town has become increasingly popular with people moving out of London and looking for somewhere quiet to raise a family. The high-speed railway line to London, good local schools and services, along with an attractive rural setting have all played their part in the recent growth of the town. Nearby is Wyvern Waste’s recycling centre, based on the old army camp at Dimmer. It holds educational tours around the site for schools.

On 19 June 2004, Castle Cary was granted Fairtrade Village status.

On 29 May 2008 Castle Cary (and a large part of Somerset) were hit by a rapid flash flood after a violent downpour shortly after midday. The local drainage was soon overwhelmed and roads were covered in several inches of water flowing towards the centre of town. Water inundated the Horse Pond Inn, the White Hart public house and the Co-op supermarket.

The parish 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 parish 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. The parish council’s 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 village falls within the Non-metropolitan district of South Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Wincanton Rural District. Castle Cary is also part of Somerset County Council.

It is also part of the Somerton and Frome county constituency represented in the House of Commons, and part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament .

Castle Cary railway station is on the main West of England railway and the Heart of Wessex Line. It is about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the town. Every year around the time of the summer solstice this railway station is used by thousands of festival goers who travel to nearby Worthy Farm for the Glastonbury Festival (about 7 miles from Glastonbury);— a parade of free buses and coaches take ticket holders to and from the festival site.

The town is on the Monarch’s Way long-distance footpath.

Attractions in Castle Cary include a small circular eighteenth century prison called the roundhouse. This is a temporary prison, or village lock-up. It was built in 1779 by Mr WM Clark for £23. The structure is circular, stone and has a domed roof. It is 7 feet (2.1 m) in diameter and 10 feet (3.0 m) high with two iron grills for ventilation. The building has an inner and outer door. The interior of the building has a single stone privy. In 1992 the Lord of the Manor, Sir Henry Hoare Bart, gave the building to the parish council.

The Market House a grade II* listed building built in 1855 in anticipation of increased trade after the projected arrival of the railway in 1856, by F.C. Penrose. It replaced the former house on the site which had stood since 1616, and incorporating some features from the earlier building. The market house contains the local Castle Cary and District Museum. There is a varied collection of exhibits spread over the two floors of the building. The earliest are local fossils including ammonites and a display about the discovery of an Ichthyosaurus at Alford. Local industry and agriculture are represented with displays on the production of rope and hemp and a collection of agricultural implements, tools and relics. A room is dedicated to the live and work of Parson James Woodforde who was born at the Parsonage in nearby Ansford in 1740. He was later curate at Thurloxton before moving to Norfolk. For nearly 45 years he kept a diary recording an existence the very ordinariness of which provides a unique insight into the everyday routines and concerns of 18th century rural England.

The largest church in the town is All Saints’, which dates from 1470 and is notable for its high steeple, which contains six bells dating from 1760 and made by Thomas Bilbie of the Bilbie family. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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