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Taunton, Somerset Hotels, Resort Accommodations

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Twelve miles from Bridgwater, Somerset's county town of TAUNTON lies in the fertile Vale of Taunton, wedged between the Quantock, Brendon and Blackdown hills. The region is famed for its production of cider and scrumpy (cider's less refined cousin), while Taunton itself is host to one of the country's biggest cattle markets.

Taunton's Castle , started in the twelfth century, staged the trial of royal claimant Perkin Warbeck, who in 1490 declared himself to be the Duke of York, the younger of the "Princes in the Tower" - the sons of Edward IV, who had been murdered seven years earlier. Most of the castle was pulled down in 1662, but a part of it now houses the County Museum (Tues-Sat: April-Oct 10am-5pm; Nov-March 10am-3pm), which includes a portrait of Judge Jeffreys among other memorabilia of local interest. Overlooking the county cricket ground are the pinnacled and battlemented towers of the town's two most important churches: St James and St Mary Magdalene , both fifteenth-century though remodelled by the Victorians. St Mary's is worth a look inside for its roof-bosses carved with medieval masks.

Otherwise Taunton should only detain you as a base to visit the Quantock villages or Exmoor. Information is on hand at the tourist office in the library building on Paul Street (April-Sept Mon-Thurs 9.30am-5.30pm, Fri 9.30am-7pm, Sat 9.30am-5pm; Oct-March Mon-Fri 9.30am-5.30pm, Sat 9.30am-5pm; tel 01823/336344). Central B&Bs include three within a few steps of each other on Wellington Road: Brookfield at no. 16 (tel 01823/272786), Beaufort Lodge at no. 18 (tel 01823/326420) and Acorn Lodge at no. 22 (tel 01823/337613).

A couple of miles outside town, near the village of West Monkton, Prockters Farm (tel 01823/412269; £40-50) is a comfortable old country retreat with brass beds and antiques plus a large garden. For a snack or meal , head down East Street from Fore Street to Brettons , a congenial wine bar at 49 East Reach (closed Sat & Mon lunch, plus all Sun). Vegetarian dishes are served at the Brewhouse Theatre and Arts Centre on Coal Orchard, by the cricket ground, a good place to come in the evening, when there's usually something going on.

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