The earliest reference to the town of Wellington is to be found in a grant made at the very beginning of the 10th century, where it was called “Weolingtun”. In the Domesday Book, the name is “Walintone” and is administered by John the Usher for the Bishop of Wells. At this point, there were two mills and 17 cattle.
One local resident was Sir John Popham, who was a Lord Chief Justice of England taking part in the trials of Mary Queen of Scots, Guy Fawkes and Sir Walter Raleigh. His mansion in Wellington stood on what are now the Court Playing Fields but was destroyed during the English Civil War. There is a monument to him in Wellington Parish Church.
The town was also involved in the Monmouth Rebellion, when the secret of the Duke of Monmouth’s advance was revealed at the Half Moon Inn in North Street, Wellington. This eventually led to Monmouth’s defeat at Sedgemoor.
Arthur Wellesley took the title of Viscount Wellington of Wellington and Talavera in 1809. His title refers to this town in Somerset, where he had an estate. He later became Duke of Wellington. However, he is believed to have visited the town only once. The 175 feet high Wellington Monument was built in his honour and is a major landmark in the area. It is on the highest point of the Blackdown Hills, on what was the Duke’s own land, and is visible from many parts of the town. It was completed in 1892. There are superb views from the Monument across the Vale of Taunton to the Bristol Channel and Exmoor. Unfortunately, present concerns about the safety of the monument make it inadvisable to approach too close to it.
In the middle of the 19th century, the town was described as being well built and containing several streets, the chief of which was half a mile in length. At that time it had a town hall, a corn and provision market, a market house, a police station and a union workhouse. The main industry was the wool trade, but there were also brick, tile and agricultural implement manufacturers. In addition, there were coal mines and lime quarries in the area.
Today Wellington is a small country town situated between the River Tone and the lovely Blackdown Hills. In addition to the usual high street shops, it has a number of speciality shops supplying a wide range of goods. A farmers’ market is held on the third Saturday of every month.
There are several pubs, cafés and restaurants, in addition to other amenities. Wellington Park was given to the town by the Fox family in 1903 and has recently been restored. The park is an example of late Victorian design. Wellington is close to the M5 motorway and there is plenty of holiday accommodation in the area. It makes an ideal centre from which to explore many parts of Somerset and North Devon