Category: Travel

Watchet Summertime


Watchet Summertime. Not a term for Watchet in the summer, but an amazing week-long celebration that sees our community put on a plethora of events to entertain the visitors as well as locals.

Starting on Saturday 11th August and running through to Saturday 18th August, the whole town really came alive with themed days and stalls along the Esplanade and the pubs busy with musical acts. There were jolly sea shanties galore with a workshop and shanty evening held in the Boat Museum. Even our beautiful churches got in on the music action with a live concert.

Tell me more, tell me more!  An outdoor cinema screening of Grease had people sitting all over the Esplanade. It turned colder, but that’s not where it ends… The festivities continued with a Family Fun Day by Watchet Town Council, architectural history walks around the town and the much-loved traditional duck race. The finale had the Esplanade alive once again with more live music, a hog roast and some of the most beautiful and mesmerising fireworks ever!

Phew! What an amazing week! But that’s not it… Breaking the usual tradition of being in Watchet Summertime week, the stunning peaceful candle float had to be held on Monday 27th to coincide with the tide times.

Wow Watchet… You really know how to throw a summer party! A huge well done to the organisers of Watchet Summertime, the Town Council and all of the local businesses. We can’t wait for the 8th Watchet Summertime in 2019.

Photos by Terry Walker.

Things to do in Watchet May Half Term 2019

 

Looking forward to Half Term?

Whether you love having the kids home for a week or dread it, I can guarantee you’ll be looking for something to do with them!

Saturday 25th May, Rope Making, 10.30am – 2pm, Boat Museum
Join us in the Boat Museum where Chris will teach you how to make your very own piece of rope! Great fun and you get to keep your rope as a lovely souvenir! Admission and rope making is free of charge. Donations welcome.

Sunday 26th May Wheelbarrow Race, 2 til 4.30pm The Esplanade
Watchet’s annual and totally wacky Wheelbarrow Race will take place with Pit action happening at around midday. Racing starts  at 2pm on the Esplanade. Watch as teams of fancy dressed racers in customised wheelbarrows aim to be the first to complete the pub circuit.

Monday 27th May to Saturday 1st June, From 2pm, Crafternoon at Country Banana, 37A Swain Street
Decorate a cotton shopper in Maritime pictures with textile paint using your hands, fingers or brushes. See your bag transformed into a piece of Art with the help of Dea, the owner of Country Banana. £6.00 per bag.

Date and time to be arranged Fossil Walk, starting at the Visitor Centre
Scratch far below the surface of Watchet and come and enjoy our fossil walks hosted by local geologists Andy King and Dave Evans. Travel back nearly 200 million years and discover the fossils of animals that lived in the shallow, warm seas that covered Watchet during the Jurassic Period, the time when dinosaurs walked on the nearby hills. See wonderful fossils, including spectacular ammonites, oysters and clams.
Each fossil walk lasts about 2 hours. £4 per person. Booking essential! Contact the Visitor Centre – 01984 632101.

Thursday 30th May, Pirate stories 11am in the Boat Museum
Come and listen to the swash buckling tales of Pirates on the high seas! Under 6 years old. £1.00 per child

Saturday 1st June, Rope Making,  10.30am – 2pm, Boat Museum
Join us once again in the Boat Museum where Chris will teach you how to make your very own piece of rope! Great fun and you get to keep your rope as a lovely souvenir! Admission and rope making is free of charge. Donations welcome.

Sunday 2nd June, Street Fair, 10am – 4pm, the Esplanade
Loads of stalls and activities for all the family including live music, stalls, fun activities and local produce. All taking place on the beautiful Esplanade in Watchet.

Picnic at Splash Point, anytime!
Bring you own picnic, pick up some sandwiches from any of our wonderful cafes and deli, or some fish and chips from the Harbour Fish Bar. Then take a short stroll up to Splash Point which boasts breath taking views across the harbour, marina and town!

Crabbing off the Harbour Wall, when the tide is in!
Take your crab line and bucket and enjoy hauling in your catch!

 

Watchet Stories

One of the things I love most about Watchet, and working in Visitor Centre is the wealth of rip roaring good yarns of Watchet’s past that people come and tell me.  In the best tradition of a good story, we have all the ingredients needed; heroism and dark deeds, tales of courage and events of mythical proportions, pirates, murder, resurrection, Kings, Queens, poets who changed the world, vikings and a famous singing sailor. How did such a small town collect such an array of brilliant, shocking and dramatic tales?

 

Here are a few of my favourites…

 

Did you know King Canute (he of holding back the waves) had a Royal Mint in Watchet?  The Vikings held raids on Watchet for the best part of 100 years between 918 and 977 and the Saxon mint was possibly situated where the remains of Dawes castle is now. In 1066 after the Battle of Hastings and an ill-fated arrow in the eye, King Harold’s mother Eleanor fled to Watchet in order to take a boat and escape to the island of Flat Holm (the one with the lighthouse on it next to Steep Holm).

 

1170 was the year of murder most horrid, when 2 of our local Knights were involved in the murder of St. Thomas Becket, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. The knights apparently felt duty bound after hearing Henry II utter the famous words “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” (Unfortunately for the knights it turned out to be a rhetorical question).  In order to atone for their sins their families’ did penances, including building St. Decuman’s Church and gave land to the Order of the Knights Templar, apparently land on which Knights Templar First School now sits.

 

In the 17th Century brave Watchet Sailor George Eskott tricked and captured a notorious and bloodthirsty pirate gang, led by the wicked Thomas Salkeld in their stronghold on Lundy Island, apparently George fought the pirates with only a shovel, but managed to break Thomas Salkeld’s arm and win! (seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!)

 

On a visit to Watchet some 352 years ago Queen Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese wife of King Charles II, was so delighted by the colour of cloth once produced here, that she distributed spiced cider and hot cakes to the people of the town to show her pleasure. Locals have commemorated this unusual royal bonanza over the years and celebrate Queen Caturn’s Day on the last Saturday in November

 

Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his bestest mate William Wordsworth are said to have penned ‘The Rime of The Ancient Mariner’ over a pint in the Bell Inn. The poetry they wrote during this time is credited with starting the English Literary Romantic Movement.

 

St. Decuman, who the local church is named after he apparently sailed over to Watchet from Wales in a handmade raft with his trusty cow, landed only to have his head cut off by a zealous local.  Nonplussed our practical and ever calm saint washed his head in the sacred well, put it back on and managed to win the admiration of the suspicious locals.

 

Watchet’s patron saint is not the only story of resurrection. Lady Wyndham rose again after a Sexton attempted to cut off her finger to get to her gold rings as she lay dead in the church. She woke from her torpor, frightened off the Sexton, walked home and had problems convincing her family she wasn’t a ghost!

 

Yankee Jack is another Watchet hero, who sailed the seven seas and joined a Yankee ship in the American Civil War. He sung sea shanties with a famously melodious voice, and brought the songs home to Watchet, his songs were collected by Cecil Sharp who was the founding father of the folklore revival in the 20th Century. Yankee Jack’s statue on the Esplanade is the subject of many visiting ‘selfies’ sat on his knee and maybe the reasons for his Mona Lisa – style smile…

 

There are many more stories where they came from, most of which can be found in the excellent Watchet Museum. Local stories are so important, they are entertainment, memory and identity all rolled into one, and they deserve to be told as often as possible.

– Louise, Manager of the Visitor Centre