Taunton is a lively place that is home to the 40 Commando unit, the UK’s Hydrographic Office and its own flower festival. We’re lucky that our store is based in a town rich in history that stretches back to the Bronze Age.
The town might not have any direct links to the land of nod but whether you’re a Marine or green fingered we all sleep, though many of us in different ways. Below are a few pieces of Taunton trivia that might help you get to sleep at night whatever your occupation…
Dubbed the Chelsea of the West, the Taunton Flower Festival has been a regular feature of Taunton’s summer since 1831. Aside from the sleepless nights that gardeners experience preparing for the festival’s competitive classes, there are plenty of links between flowers and sleep.
While there are natural remedies made from plants that claim to aid sleep, it’s said that just the smell of some is enough to give you a restful night in bed. If you’re having trouble dozing off it might be worth keeping either a Jasmine, Gardenia, or Lavender plant by your bed.
What did the Romans ever do for sleep…
Plant cultivation isn’t just a modern occupation of Taunton residents, excavations in 2009 revealed evidence of a Roman Farm on the site that is now the town’s Park & Ride.
A hard day’s work on a farm is enough to prepare anyone for a good night’s sleep, but if Taunton’s Roman farmers found themselves tossing and turning after their toiling then they may have believed that they’d upset the god Somnus. In Roman mythology, Somnus was the personification of sleep and the inspiration for the word ‘insomnia’.
A common remedy for those who have trouble nodding off is listening to the sound of the ocean, something the staff at the UK’s Hydrographic Office are all too familiar with. Part of the Ministry of Defence, the office has been charting the world’s oceans for over 200 years to ensure the Royal Navy and merchant mariners have the latest information to navigate by.
A deep sleep induced by the sea is a distant dream for anyone sailing the sea on their own though. It’s not unusual for solo sailors to sleep in short bursts of as little as 20 minutes, to ensure that their ship stays on course.
Although the phrase ‘going commando’ is American in origin it’s no less relevant for the Royal Marines based at 40 Commando, a battalion-sized formation of the Royal Marines located near Taunton. It’s no secret that being a Marine is a tough life. They’re also trained to operate on very little sleep, so being a Marine is perhaps not the best career choice for anyone who enjoys a good lie-in.
Restless spirits and restless nights
Taunton Castle may now form the Museum of Somerset and the Castle Hotel but its bloody history lives on in the form of ghosts who are said to haunt its remains. During the civil war in the 17th century, it became the scene of the famous “Bloody Assizes”, where hundreds of rebels were hung after a failed attempt by the Duke of Monmouth to take the crown from the King.
The museum is said to be haunted by ghosts of soldiers, while guests at the hotel have reported hearing the otherworldly sounds of the Duke and his followers celebrating a victory that was short-lived.