How Bruge de Walter became Bridgwater.
When you start exploring Bridgwater, you discover there's a lot more to it than the willow man landmark beside the M5 and the town's annual carnival, which is the largest illuminated procession in the world.
For starters, it has a vibrant and significant history, and has experienced in the past many hundreds of years as a 'boom town', making it architecturally rich.
The earliest evidence of human activity here dates from around 6800 BC. This flow of productivity has run through the town ever since and it retains a reputation for industriousness even today.
By the 11th century, it was a farming and fishing settlement called Bruge, which William the Conqueror gave to Walter de Douai. And that's how the town got its name, becoming known first as Bruge de Walter and later as Bridgwater.
Much of Bridgwater's history can be discovered at the Blake Museum and examples of fine architecture reflecting its past glory as a busy port and commercial centre are found in Castle Street, Kings Square and the Cornhill, which all exhibit Georgian craftsmanship.
There are plenty of interesting places to visit here too including the unusually shaped St Mary's Church, Bridgwater Arts Centre - the first in the country, Somerset Brick and Tile Museum and the Docks, large parts of which now form a Conservation Area.
Go back a little further in time and you'll find Bridgwater was the birthplace of Admiral Robert Blake (1598-1657). There is a wonderful statue of the sea general in the town.
Once you delve deeper into the town's past you discover all sorts of fascinating things - for example did you know Bridgwater became the first town in Britain to petition the government to ban slavery in 1785?
Then there's the Chando Glass Cone, which was built in 1725 as a glasswork firing kiln by the first Duke of Chandos, James Brydes, as part of an industrial development that added dramatically to the town's economic development at the time. You can still see part of the structure today.
Also on our side of Bridgwater, and at the edge of the town, is the small village of Westonzoyland. It is the home of Somerset's earliest steam-powered pumping station, built in 1830, which was originally the guardian of the flatlands and is now a museum displaying the largest collection of stationary steam engines and pumps in the South of England.
If you'd like to explore Bridgwater in person, then book in for a break with us soon.