Think of Exmoor, and images of craggy coastlines, windswept moors, romantic castles, and hamlets with thatched cottages may come to mind. Somehow Minehead doesn’t seem to fit. On the surface it’s a traditional Victorian English seaside resort with a sandy beach, fish & chip-snagging seagulls, crazy golf and ice creams. But look closer and you’ll discover that Minehead is bursting with history. Here are five of our favourites:
- The Quirkes Almshouses in Market House Lane were built in 1630 by mariner Robert Quirke. Legend has it that during a terrible storm he prayed to be saved, promising to build houses for the poor if he survived. Look for the inscription above the door: “…cursed be that man that shalt convert it to any other use.” Eagle-eyed visitors might spot one of his warehouses, under the arches on The Quay, once used as a chapel for sailors.
- Dating to the early 1900s, the grand NatWest building on The Avenue is built of fine sandstone with elaborately carved and ornamented front and side.
- Don’t miss the beautiful carved oak doorframe of The Priory on the corner of the High Street and Summerland Road. One of the most ancient buildings in the town, it belonged to the Luttrell family, who once owned Dunster Castle.
- Walk up to North Hill and take in the stunning view from the beautiful Church Steps. Standing at the bottom, the brick house on the left-hand side was the parish workhouse from the mid-1700s until 1821. Opposite, the house now called ‘The Lantern’ was a school room, where Mr Lewry was schoolmaster. He provided a room for paupers from the workhouse to spin wool.
- Inside St Michael’s Church you’ll find the 15th Century rood screen with a walkway along the top, once used for processions and religious plays.
Find out more about Minehead’s history at the museum at The Beach Hotel.