What is Somerset Day, what does it involve, and how can you celebrate it by visiting Dunster?
Somerset Day will fall on May 11th this year and this date holds some historical import. The organisers have the bunting and flags on hand so you can celebrate this remarkable day on your own. But why do we celebrate it and how can you join in the fun and frivolities in Dunster Village? Let’s talk about how Somerset Day came about and why we celebrate it.
What is Somerset Day?
Somerset Day is, at its heart, a day where the county can celebrate itself. Held every year, this celebration of the West Country focuses on rejoicing in the culture, history, and camaraderie shared by the Somerset people.
Over the course of a few days, the people of the region celebrate by holding live events, organising fairs, and attending the local beauty spots for games and festival-like entertainment. The May 2022 Somerset Day celebrations include foodie days out at Castle Cary, special on-the-day markets, and reflections in museums over famous residents past, such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
The savvy, however, pledge to spend Somerset Day in Dunster, celebrating in the true tradition of the quaint Somerset village.
Why is Somerset Day on May 11th?
May 11th is a culturally significant date for those who live in Somerset. It was on this day that St Dunstan crowned King Edgar in Bath Abbey in 973. This coronation was the first we have historical records of, making it an important date in the royal throne’s calendar. We remember him as Edgar the Peaceful.
Somerset Day falls on 11th May because this was the day in 1645 when the siege of Taunton ended. The Royalist forces retreated, giving rise to the Taunton rhyme: “Rejoice ye dogs, it’s the 11th of May, the day the Cavaliers ran away!” Taunton experienced three sieges during that Civil War. The castle was a useful strategic piece for both sides.
There is also input from Alfred the Great, which shaped the day we celebrate Somerset on. Alfred the Great was the man who united all of England. It was formerly separated into many smaller kingdoms. Alfred was king of the West Saxons in his early years and was frequently attacked by Danes. A smart king, Alfred retreated to the marshlands of Athelney after being beaten by the Vikings. He regrouped, called his Witan, and marched again in May 878. His attack was so successful that the Danish leader converted to Christianity. It was the beginning of the Danelaw and the formation of England as one whole country.
Somerset has a lot to celebrate.
How to Celebrate Somerset Day in Dunster Village?
There are many ways you can celebrate Somerset Day by visiting the village of Dunster. This lovely little town features multiple attractions all within striking distance. Why not visit the Dunster Museum & Doll collection on May 11th? There are 1,300+ dolls on display in the memorial hall. Alternatively, opt for a more traditional celebration of May 11th and visit Dunster Castle. Workers erected the castle after the Norman Conquest at the behest of William de Mohun (the first Earl of Somerset). the castle is open to the public and makes for an enticing afternoon out.
If castles and doll collections don’t do it for you, spend Somerset Day enjoying the views at the Dunster Dovecote, a 16th century, Grade II listed building. Or if you fancy some challenging walks with historical sights try Conygar Tower or Bat’s Castle are well worth the extra steps on your fitness tracker! There is also a lovely peaceful walk just on the outskirts of the village at Dunster Tall Tree’s Trail where you will find England’s tallest tree, which has been growing since 1876 and was 60.05 metres when it was last measured in 2009.
Last but not least, take a trip down to Dunster Beach if the weather is nice. What better way to celebrate the birth of all England than by a trip to the beach?