Williton shown within Somerset
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Avon and Somerset|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|UK Parliament||Bridgwater and West Somerset|
Williton is a small-sized town and civil parish in West Somerset, England. It has many of the facilities of a small town, being the administrative centre for the district. Williton is situated at the junction of the A39, A358 and B3191 roads. It is situated 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Watchet on the coast and is roughly equidistant between Minehead, Bridgwater and Taunton.
The parish includes the seaside village of Doniford and the hamlet of St Decumans.
Since 1974 Williton has been administered by the West Somerset District Council. The Parish Council was created in 1983. It is a registration district for Births, Marriages and Deaths. Williton is twinned with Neung-sur-Beuvron in the Loir-et-Cher département of France.
Within Williton parish, to the south-west, is Orchard Wyndham House, a Grade I listed building,  which was the centre of an estate called "Orchard". Paleolithic, mesolithic and neolithic flints have been found at Doniford to the north-east of Williton while three Bronze Age barrows survive at Battlegore Burial Chamber, just north of the centre of Williton.
The name of Williton is Anglo-Saxon and means "estate on the Willet" (river), but there are no records relating to this period other than a 904 charter. The Willet is a brook that rises at Willet, flows north through the hamlet of Stream, and close to the former manor house of Williton, then it joins the Doniford Brook north-east of Williton. Both watercourses seem to have been known as the Willet in the 12th century. "Willet" may well be a British name. In the Domesday Survey Williton formed a royal estate with Carhampton and Cannington. In the Middle Ages the village was divided into the manors of Williton Fulford and Williton Hadley. An estate known as Williton Templar belonged to the Knights Templar, and was later known as Williton Hospital and Williton Regis. Originally the centre of the village appears to have been near the church but over time it has migrated to the north-east.
Much of the centre of Williton dates from the later 19th century but Long Street includes several 17th-century houses, as do Bridge, Priest, Robert and Shutgate Streets. Agriculture has been the prime activity in the parish while Williton village became a local government and communal centre. Its importance increased with the creation of new toll roads that today are the main roads to the village. It is an important local shopping area and from 1894 has been an administration centre. It had a workhouse for the district, which became the local hospital until 1990 but has now been converted into housing.
Before World War II at a site between Watchet and Doniford a gunnery range was established for various army units to practice anti-aircraft gunnery. Unmanned target aircraft were towed by planes from RAF Weston Zoyland and later were fired from catapults over the sea. Little of the camp buildings survive and it is now the site of a holiday park.
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 West Somerset, which was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, having previously been part of Williton Rural District. The 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, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.
It is also part of the Bridgwater and West Somerset county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election, and part of the South West England constituency of the European Parliament which elects seven MEPs using the d'Hondt method of party-list proportional representation.
Williton is a good centre for visiting the Quantock Hills, the Brendons and Exmoor as well as the coast at Minehead, Dunster, Blue Anchor and Watchet, which are on the West Somerset Coast Path. Accommodation may be obtained in the village. There are facilities nearby for camping, sailing and wind-surfing as well as the usual beach activities. On the nearby cliffs fossils are exposed. There is easy access to the West Somerset Railway, which is the longest private railway in the country, and is run by a trust. Places of interest are the Bakelite Museum and the Tropiquaria Zoo at the old radio station. Halsway Folk Music Centre is not far away.
There is a police station in Priest Street and both a hospital and fire station off North Street.
The Medical Centre at the end of Killick Way has a doctors surgery and pharmacy. Williton Hospital, off North Street, is a part of the Somerset Coast Primary Care Trust but does not have a casualty department. The nearest dentists are in Williton or Minehead.
The West Somerset area uses a three-tier education system. St Peters Church of England First School was opened on its present site in Doniford Road in 1996. It has five classes of mixed ability. There is a fairly large middle school — Danesfield Church of England — which caters for children between 9 and 13. Older students generally travel to the West Somerset Community College in Minehead.
Danesfield is also the centre for community education classes. There is a Somerset County library in Killick Way (closed Tuesdays).
St Peters church in Bridge Street was originally a dependent chapel of St Decumans and dedicated to All Saints. It was largely rebuilt in the 19th century, and is Grade II* listed. At the bottom of Tower Hill there is a Methodist chapel, built in 1883.
Main facilities include 2 chain convenience stores, a greengrocer, post office, two banks, a petrol station and a garage. There are several hair salons, a newsagent, a carpet shop, pet shop and estate agent. In addition there is a butcher's and a fish and chip shop, regrettably the bakers shop closed and replaced with an antiques shop. A paper, the West Somerset Free Press, serves the district. There are restaurants as well as several public houses. Just 1-mile (1.6 km) outside the village you can find Wibble Farm Nurseries — a family run, 17-acre (69,000 m2) nursery/garden centre with display gardens and holiday accommodation.
Gliddons, a family run hardware store and farm/garden machinery specialist, used to be one of the most notable sights in Williton. When Gliddons was the local Massey Ferguson dealer, many tractors, old and new, could be seen displayed along the main road. This was one of the identifying features of the village and many visitors to Minehead and beyond would comment about it.
There is a small industrial estate located on the outskirts of the village. This houses the recycling centre and a number of small retail units, including a computer shop, garage repair and MOT services, a Veterinary Surgery and Carpet shop. A landfill site used to bury waste from the whole of the West Somerset region can be found further out.
There is a recreation ground with a children's area. A new village hall is planned. There are many social activities within Williton including the social club, bowling club, gardening club, Women's Institute, Good Neighbours Club, British Legion and Young Farmers. The Scout Association and Girlguiding UK meet regularly.
There is a weekly Country Market every Friday.
Buses run to Taunton and Minehead for which timetables are available from the post office. There are also buses to nearby supermarkets.
There is a voluntary car service called WHEELs for those without transport for shopping, visits to the doctor etc.
In the 2001 census Williton parish had 1,163 male and 1,411 female residents living in 1,103 households, with 27% being over 65 years. Of all residents, 62% described their health as good.
There is a master plan for redevelopment of the centre of Williton. The West Somerset Council is due to centralise its offices on Williton and the plans for this include retail, residential and community facilities.
Williton has a regular monthly newsletter, delivered free to all homes in the village, called the Williton Window. The slogan is 'Your church and community magazine'. An information pack is available to newcomers through Williton Window.
A book showing Williton as it used to be is The Book of Williton.
An information leaflet on West Somerset organisations is available from the West Somerset Free Press.
Chidgey, Joyce; Chidgey, Maurice. (2007). The Book of Watchet and Williton Revisited. Wellington, Somerset: Halsgrove Publishing. ISBN 1-84114-628-5.
- "Parish Population Statistics". ONS Census 2001. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 2009-12-13.
- "Williton". Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
- "Somerset Hundreds". GENUKI. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Orchard Wyndham". Images of England. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- "Doniford House". Images of England. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- "Limekiln about 100 metres North-West of Doniford Farmhouse". Images of England. Retrieved 2008-02-01.
- Berryman, David (2006). Somerset airfields in the Second World War. Newbury: Countryside Books. pp. 127–131. ISBN 1-85306-864-0.
- "Doniford Camp, Doniford". Somerset Historic Environment Record. Somerset County Council. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
- A Vision of Britain Through Time : Williton Rural District
- "St Peters Church". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-11-23.
- "Methodist Church". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-11-23.
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