Castle Cary — Somerset, England
Castle Cary, known as Cary to its residents, is a small, pretty market town located on the River Cary in Somerset. The buildings, erected of "Ham" stone from nearby quarries, gives the town a golden luster.
The 12th century Norman castle that the town is named for no longer exists. The site of the castle, excavated in 1890 found evidence of a square tower; but only the earthworks are visible today. Evidence suggests that there may have been a Roman military site near the town; and the church of All Saints, an English Heritage Grade II* listed building, is possibly of Saxon origin, although no such evidence remains today.
What is certain is that Castle Cary was besieged by King Stephen in 1138, and again in 1153. By 1468 the castle had been abandoned in favor of a manor house that had been built beside it, when John de Zouche who owned the estate was granted a charter by Edward IV for a weekly market, in addition to two annual fairs. Castle Cary market gained prestige in 2004, when it was granted Fairtrade Village status, joining it to the worldwide network that has been rapidly growing during this century. In addition to being a market town, Castle Cary was known for its manufacture of cloth, and eventually the production of horsehair cloth, which became a major industry bringing the town prosperity during the early 20th century. Horsehair production was moved to the Ansford factory which joins Castle Cary at the north, and is still in production today, one of only two such factories remaining in Europe.
The old part of Castle Cary is the town centre, dominated by the historic mid- Victorian Market House built in1855. The Market House is home to a Museum, two old prison cells, and the Information Centre. The Museum offers collections of agricultural, industrial and domestic artifacts in addition to a section on the local geology, showing how the area was once under the sea. Around the corner from the market hall is the historic round house, a temporary prison, or lock-up; used for people who had been misbehaving. This is one of only four in the country, built in 1779 by Mr WM Clark for £23. The structure is circular, stone and has a domed roof. It is 7 feet in diameter and 10 feet high with two iron grills for ventilation. There is also a wide range of shops, an art gallery, cafes and restaurants in the town centre making Castle Cary a visitor friendly town. They even have a "kissing gate" which is on the far side of the footbridge that is suggested as a starting point for a tour of the village.
There are numerous trails and footpaths for hikers; a bridleway through a 12-acre wetland conservation area, as well as the Monarch's Way, Macmillan Way and the Leland Trail which all cross Lodge Hill, offering spectacular views; while the Millennium Woodland behind All Saints' Church provides quiet woodlands. Carymoor Environmental Centre is rich in wildlife, and can be contacted for workshops on alternative technologies, conservation issues, sustainable development as well as country crafts.Where is Castle Cary?
Castle Cary is located in Somerset along the A359 between Sparkford and Frome. The nearest populated areas include Shepton Mallet to the north and Yeovil to the south.Have you ever visited Castle Cary?
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