Somerset may be the ideal location if you are looking for a new home in the South West of England.
Covering four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and boasting 37 miles of unspoilt coastline, it’s no wonder Somerset has earned the title ‘jewel of the South West’. Think beaches, strawberries, cheese and cider too. It could be the ideal place for your new home!
It is a historic county steeped in myth and legend bordered by five other counties (Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire, Dorset and Devon) as well as the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel.
Somerset has a contrasting landscape of rolling hills such as the Blackdown Hills and the Exmoor National Park and flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels wetlands. It is home to the legendary Arthurian Isle of Avalon, thought by many to be Glastonbury Tor.
The county town of Somerset is Taunton. There are new housing developments being built around the town which is proving to be a great area for families looking for a new home.
There are two cities in the county, Bath and Wells. The other major towns by population are Bridgwater, Weston-Super-Mare and Yeovil. There are also several market towns including Axbridge, Castle Cary, Chard, Frome, Glastonbury and Midsomer Norton, as well as many picturesque villages.
The price range of new homes in Somerset will suit most budgets. The average house in the county costs less than the average in the wider South West of England region which itself is less than the average in England as a whole.
Looking at averages does not give a complete picture, however, and you will find that there are significant differences between different locations within the county.
The best housing bargains are often to be found in some of the villages surrounding the major towns such at Taunton.
The lifestyle in Somerset can be idyllic. It is a beautiful county and a wonderful place to look for a new home in the South West of England.
Music fans can enjoy the annual Glastonbury Festival, the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world, which takes place on Worthy Farm near Pilton.
The annual Bath Literature Festival is one of several local festivals in the county. Others include the Frome Festival and the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival which, despite its name, is held at Farleigh Hungerford in Somerset. The annual circuit of West Country Carnivals is held in a variety of Somerset towns during the autumn.
Premiership Rugby is played at Bath while Yeovil Town plays football in League Two of the English Football League. There are horse racing courses at Taunton and Wincanton.
There are plenty of interesting historic buildings, houses, gardens and museums to visit around the county. Somerset also has many literary associations for literature fans interested in the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth and the 19th century novelist Jane Austen.
Wildlife and open spaces are there for all to enjoy in places such as the Exmoor National Park, the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Somerset Levels. If you enjoy walking there are several long-distance footpaths in the county including Coleridge Way, Mendip Way, Quantock Greenway and the River Parrett Trail. The South West Coast Path National Trail has its starting point at Minehead.
Along the coast there are several resort towns including Burnham on Sea, Minehead and Weston-Super-Mare.
The county is home to some of the most iconic architecture, thanks to the combination of Georgian town houses, thatched stone cottages and grand Victorian and Edwardian homes.
Despite its size and diversity, however, Somerset has a comparatively low population, making it a destination of choice for house hunters looking for their next move.
The M5 motorway passes through the west of the county providing access to Exeter in the south up to Birmingham and the West Midlands in the north. There are trunk roads including the A303, A37, A38 and A39 which give good connections across the county.
Rail services in the county are provided by South Western Railway on the West of England line which runs between Exeter and London Waterloo via Yeovil Junction. There is also a service through Bath Spa to Bristol Temple Meads with connecting services to London Paddington.
There are numerous bus routes linking towns and villages in the county.
Somerset has a variety of options at primary, secondary, further and higher education levels from which to choose. Both the state comprehensive and independent sectors are well catered for in the county - there are 30 state and 17 independent schools in Somerset at secondary level.
A wide range of further and higher education is available. Colleges include Weston College, Bridgwater and Taunton College, Bath College and Frome College. Higher education is provided by the University of Bath, Bath Spa University and University Centre Weston, as well as the University of Bristol in the neighbouring authority.
Somerset is generally a healthy place to buy a new home. Male and female adult life expectancy, and deaths from smoking, heart disease and cancer are all better than the national average according to government data.
There are more than 100 GP practices across Somerset. Out-of- hours services are provided by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.
The main providers of NHS acute hospital care in the county are Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust and Weston General Hospital.
Somerset has been settled since the Stone Age, particularly caves in the Mendip Hills and Cheddar Gorge including famous locations such as Gough’s Cave, Aveline’s Hole and Wookey Hole. The dry areas of the Somerset Levels around Glastonbury and Brent Knoll also have a long history of settlement. There are ancient roads and tracks, stone circles and hill forts in the county.
The Romans invaded in 47 AD and remained in the area for over 400 years. Roman remains have been found across the county, most notably the Roman baths in Bath. After the Romans left, the region was settled by Anglo Saxon peoples and Somerset became part of the Kingdom of Wessex.
During the Middle Ages the Somerset Levels were drained. The woollen trade flourished as did agriculture and many associated cottage industries.
In the English Civil War Somerset was largely Parliamentarian, with key engagements fought locally being the Sieges of Taunton and the Battle of Langport.
The industrial revolution killed off the cottage industries, but agriculture continued to prosper. Coal mining became an important industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, aided by improvements in the turnpike roads and the construction of several waterways including the Somerset Coal Canal, Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, Westport Canal and Glastonbury and Chard Canals.
The modern economy of Somerset is still dominated by agriculture. Cider making and food manufacturing – including cheese and other dairy food production – are both important in the county. Other significant industries include nuclear power, defence technology and tourism. Taken together, they provide a range of employment opportunities for anyone considering a new home in Somerset.