09. Public Buildings

Most of the buildings of Somerton are constructed of the local stone - blue lias. This has been quarried extensively since Roman times and several quarries in the parish are still active. The stone varies in colour from a bluish grey to a light yellow, depending on the impurities in it. It makes good flag stones and has also been used to make spiral stone staircases and lintels over doors, windows and fire places.

Ham stone from Ham Hill near Montacute has been used in more wealthy houses and in public buildings for centuries. It is easily carved and is used in windows and doorways and for decorative work. The church, market cross and town hall are good examples.

A few buildings survive from medieval and Tudor times, and many of the old shop fronts in Broad and New Streets date from the 18th century. During the decline of Somerton in the 19th century, many older cottages fell into decay and were rebuilt in a rather uniform style, especialy those belonging to the Pinney estate, where a single architect seems to have been employed for several decades. Examples of Pinney estate buildings can be seen in Tudor House in the Market Place, Monteclefe and Kirkham House in Kirkham Street.

Information about the houses in this section of the web-museum is taken from the deeds and other papers relating to the building, where they have survived, or from architectural evidence and the knowledge of the owners.