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North Petherton

North Petherton is a small town in Somerset, England. It only became a town in the late 20th century, until then claiming to be the largest village in England. It's now largely a dormitory town for workers in Bridgwater and Taunton.

The town is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Nortperet, and the name derives from the area's location to the north side of the River Parrett.

The town boasts a church with a highly decorated tower which, at 120 feet / 36m high, is claimed to be one of the tallest towers in the south west of the country. The building is mainly dated from the 15th century, with a minstrel gallery from 1623.


Geoffrey Chaucer (~1343-1400), author of "The Canterbury Tales" was appointed Deputy Forester of the royal forest of North Petherton towards the end of his life. The royal forest dated from before the Norman Conquest.

The Alfred jewel, an object about 2-1/2" long, made of filigreed gold, cloisonne-enameled and with a rock crystal covering, was found at North Petherton. Believed to have been owned by Alfred the Great it is thought to have been the handle for a pointer that would have fit into the hole at its base and been used while reading a book. It is inscribed, "AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN," ("Alfred had me made"). It may be one of the "aestels" Alfred had sent to each bishopric with a copy of his translation of Pope Gregory the Great's book Pastoral Care. A replica of the jewel can be found in the church of St Mary.


In the past the town boasted a brewery and light engineering works, but local emplyment is now largely restricted to farming and service businesses.

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