SANHS Local History Committee

Taunton Castle painting by Thomas Whitcombe
Taunton Castle, painted by Thomas Whitcombe, 1791 (view at the Museum of Somerset)

WHAT’S ON 2024

Join us live at the newly refurbished Wyndham Hall or on-line for one of our entertaining local history talks or come on an enjoyable local history walk

If you missed our Zoom talks some are available as recordings just click on the title that interests you



WEDNESDAY 20 March 2024                                          7.30pm

BOOZE, BLOOD AND BASKETS; electing Taunton’s MPs

Mary Siraut will talk about bribery, potwallopers, voting and violence at the Taunton parliamentary elections, leading to Reform and the town becoming the model of the secret ballot.

Join us for one of our enjoyable local history talks at the newly refurbished Wyndham Hall

Venue: Wyndham Hall

Book with SANHS by 19 March

Suggested donation £5

SATURDAY 20 APRIL 2024                                              11 am

AXBRIDGE, from burh to borough

John Page will lead a walkabout through Axbridge exploring the history, architecture and personalities who have made this such a fascinating town. Join us on one of our enjoyable local history walks

Book with SANHS by 19 April

Suggested donation £5

WEDNESDAY 16 May 2024                                              7.30pm


David Victor will talk about the family that inspired a novel by Thomas Hardy.

Join an on-line webinar for one of our enjoyable local history talks

Venue: on-line

Book with     

Suggested donation £5

29 June 2024                                                                                               2pm


Tom Mayberry will give a tour of the Castle and Castle House on 29 June 2024 to mark the 150th anniversary of the purchase of Taunton castle.

After a break to allow people to take tea in the café, Mary Siraut will give a talk on the early history of SANHS and its connection with the castle

Numbers limited to 30. If you would like to join us for an enjoyable afternoon book early!

Venue: Taunton castle

Book with SANHS

Suggested donation £5

Looking ahead to 2025 and beyond can you offer a tour or visit to somewhere of interest perhaps in your own community? If you have any ideas and suggestions then please let us know at

Our Committee

The local history committee is one of the society’s newer committees. However, it was designed to showcase events illustrating the history of Somerset and its unique localities.

Like the society as a whole the committee exist to promote the history of the historic County of Somerset.

We are a small group committed to providing a wide range of talks, walks and other events throughout the year for Society members and the wider community.

What we do

We aim to brighten dull evenings especially in the darker months with talks on a wide variety of topics. Talks are followed by tea and cake, Covid permitting, and the chance to talk to the speaker. In the warmer months we also like to get out on walks and visits to historic corners of Somerset and sometimes further afield. By way of contrast our annual symposia bring together a wide range of people and specialist speakers in a relaxed way to enjoy a day of presentations, exhibitions and food where possible.

Our Events

Recent events have included a symposium on the work of Harold St George Gray, looking at the work of one of the leading 19th-century Somerset archaeologists, and others on sickness and health and Roman Somerset. We have also enjoyed  guided visits to Dunster, Minehead, the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, the SS Great Britain and medieval Exeter. Moreover, we have looked at places, people, events and objects, known and relatively unknown, the good, the bad and the downright ugly! Reports on events appear in the SANHS newsletters.

If you would like to get involved

The committee is always open to new members. If you have an interest in local history and would like to see more events in your area let us know or contact the SANHS office. Also let us know if you have been engaged in some interesting research that you would like to talk about. Perhaps you live in a place of interest you would like to share with other enthusiasts. We are always happy to hear from you.


Few people today have the leisure for the days of outings enjoyed by the original members of SANHS! The Somerset Archaeological and Natural History was born in Taunton on 26 Sep 1849. Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan of Nettlecombe took the chair. There was from the start a strong social side to the society. It was formed of the aristocracy, clergy and gentry and their wives as well as professional men.

July 1850

In July 1850 nearly a hundred people met at Nunney to visit the castle before proceeding to the Roman villa at Whatley. There they partook of a cold collation before proceeding to Orchardleigh. Frome members had opened their houses and loaned their carriages to visiting members. ‘So that no visitor incurred any expense in the two days beyond that of going thither and returning’.

The First AGM

In September the AGM was at Wells with talks on the Cathedral as well as the usual reports by the treasurer and others. A further three papers on various subjects were not given as there was insufficient time. The members had been invited to tour the cathedral before dinner. Dinner for 120 was provided at the Judges chambers but up to 60 more had to be turned away. This was still a male dominated society but we are told that many ladies graced the table. Ladies were allowed to join without being approved by ballot as the men had to be. More papers occupied the evening and the following day the bishop’s palace and gardens were visited. Then the members proceeded to Glastonbury abbey and eventually returned home after two days of much gratification and enjoyment!