Taunton Castle is a Grade 1 Listed Scheduled Ancient Monument standing at the heart of Somerset’s county town. It is Taunton’s most important secular historic monument and has been the home of a museum for over 100 years.
The Castle dates from the 12th century, and the building has been central to the story of Taunton, of Somerset – and, at times, of England itself. The Castle was founded by William Gifford, Bishop of Winchester 1107-1129, and parts of the building are believed to date from this period. The Castle was extensively reconstructed and extended in the 13th century and again in the 16th century. After the Civil War, the Castle became the location for the Assize Courts.
In 1786, it was acquired by Sir Benjamin Hammet, who made extensive alterations to the buildings.
The Castle was purchased in 1874 by the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, as the location of its new museum. The Society leased the Castle and its museum collections to Somerset County Council in 1958 – an arrangement which continues to this day.