Dunster, Somerset Family History Guide

Dunster is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Somerset.

Other places in the parish include: Alcombe, Aville, Bondington, Frackford, Kitswall, and Staunton hamlets

Status: Ancient Parish

Parish church: St. George

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1559
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1594

Nonconformists include: Roman Catholic and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Dunster

  • Carhampton
  • Minehead
  • Wootton Courtenay
  • Timberscombe
  • Luxborough

Historical Descriptions


The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

DUNSTER, a small town, a parish, and a sub-district, in Williton district, Somerset. The town stands on the margin of a rich and fertile vale, opening toward the Bristol channel, environed all round by lofty, picturesque, successive hills, 5 miles W of Watchet r. station, and 24 WNW of Bridgewater. It was the site of a fortress of the Saxon kings, called Torze, or "the tower;" and the word dune or dun, signifying "a hill," being afterwards prefixed to that name, the place came to be called Dunetorre, or corruptedly Dunster. The town is a quaint old place, amidst the most beautiful scenery of Somerset; and offers much attraction to strangers, both by its own antiquities, and by its command of numerous, near, interesting view-points. It consists principally of two streets, the larger of the two running N and S, the smaller branching westward from the church; and it contains a post office‡ under Taunton, a chief inn, a market-house, an ancient market-cross, remains of an ancient castle, fragments of an ancient priory, a parish church, a Wesleyan chapel, and charities £17. The inn is remarkably old; seems to have been founded, in connexion with the priory, soon after the Conquest; and contains several curious ancient sculptures and carvings. The market house is a ricketty old wooden structure; and stands associated with a notable ancient manufacture of kerseymeres, mentioned in an act of James I. as "Dunsters." The castle succeeded the fortress of the Saxon kings; was erected, in the reign of William the Conqueror, by the first William de Mohun; has a great gateway of the time of Edward III.; was rebuilt in 1580; suffered capture, by the Marquis of Hereford, in 1643; was visited by Charles II.; sustained a siege, with capture, by Blake; was the place of William Prynne's confinement by Cromwell; is now the seat of H. F. Luttrell, Esq.; and stands on a steep ascent, to the south of the principal street, closing the vista of the street-view. Only an iron-studded door and a ruinous tower of the original Norman structure now remain; but the apartments of the newer edifice contain interesting objects of art, including a portrait of Cromwell by Vandyke; and the circumjacent park, comprising 69 acres, presents picturesque features, and commands some brilliant prospects. The priory was founded about the same time, and by the same person, as the castle; was devoted to Benedictine monks, dedicated to St. George, and annexed as a cell to the abbey of St. Peter at Bath; and, at the dis-solution, was given to Humphrey Colles. The church is of the time of Henry V., or that of his successor; was restored or enriched by Henry VII., in gratitude for aid given by the inhabitants at the battle of Bosworth; consists of nave, transept, and chancel, with central tower 90 feet high; and contains, in the chancel, which has long been disused and neglected, monuments of the Mohuns and the Luttrels. A weekly market is held on Friday; great markets, on the second Friday of Feb., and on the Friday before Nov. 20; and a fair, on Whit-Monday. The town, in the time of Edward III., was a borough, and sent members to parliament; and it afterwards held the elective franchise conjointly with the neighbouring town of Minehead; but both it and Minehead were disfranchised by the reform act. The parish includes also Alcombe, Aville, Bondington, Frackford, Kitswall, and Staunton hamlets. Acres, 3,455; of which 585 are water. Real property, £3,935. Pop., 1,112. Houses, 215. The property is much subdivided. Grabhurst hill, situated contiguous to the town, has a height of 906 feet; rises from intermediate eminences, called Tor and Conygar; has remains of terraces on which "the Dunsters," or old kerseymeres, were dried; and commands a circle of charming views. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bath and Wells. Value, £130. Patron, J. F. Luttrell, Esq.  The sub-district contains also six other parishes. Acres, 26,984. Pop., 4,293. Houses, 844.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].


Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

Frackford, a hamlet in Dunster parish, Somerset; near Dunster.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Lewis Topographical Dictionary of England 1845

Frackford, a hamlet, in the parish of Dunster, union of Williton, hundred of Carhampton, W. division of Somerset; containing 8 inhabitants.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis Fifth Edition Published London; by S. Lewis and Co., 13, Finsbury Place, South. M. DCCC. XLV.


County: Somerset
Civil Registration District: Williton
Probate Court: Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Taunton
Diocese: Bath and Wells
Rural Deanery: Dunster
Poor Law Union: Williton
Hundred: Carhampton
Province: Canterbury