Newest Review: ... grab coffee with friends. However, Yeovil is a very unfortunate place to find yourself if you're there for too long. It is a beacon of Ch... more
Friendly town, slight lack of historic buildings
Yeovil in General
Member Name: julwhite
Yeovil in General
Advantages: Friendly locals, long history, good shopping
Disadvantages: Too much of the town's long history has been destroyed
I recently visited Yeovil for a few days, so this is a review of the town from a tourist's point of view, rather than as a local resident. Yeovil is situated in the south of Somerset, and has a population of just under 30,000.
The town didn't contain as much visible history as other similar sized towns that I've visited, and for a while the only really historic building that I saw was the church, St John the Baptist. The town does though have a long history, and there are some places which are well worth seeing.
When I walked past the St John the Baptist Church, it was open, and there were quite a few people looking around. The building hasn't changed a great deal externally since it was started in the late 1400s and completed in the early 1500s. There was a guide in the Church was explained though that much changed internally during the Reformation, when some items were destroyed as being too Catholic.
Entry into the Church was free, although you can of course leave donations, and there were literally tens of people milling about outside on the churchyard, so it looked like a good lunch-stop. There are a few graves in the churchyard, but the guide book explained that there were many more, but a churchyard was built further out in the 1860s, and not before time, as water from the graveyard where bodies were ran into the public wells on Silver Street.
I was disappointed to see just how much of Yeovil's history has been demolished, and rather appallingly, a lot of it was relatively recently. Possibly the worst example I read about was the George Hotel on Middle Street, which was built in the 1400s. This was demolished to make the road wider in 1962, just a few years before the road was pedestrianised which made the road changes unnecessary.
There were other examples, such as the former hospital which was demolished in 1969, and the Fiveways Toll House which was once moved 100 yards to protect it from road widening, but then demolished in 1969 when further road changes were being made.
Another demolition was the main Yeovil Town Train Station, which closed in 1967 and the site turned into a car park for many years. It is currently now Yeo Leisure Park, which was developed in 2002, but the only remains of the original station is the foundation stone which has been kept within the complex.
There is though fortunately still a train link to the town, indeed, there are two stations, although they are a couple of miles from the town centre, which isn't ideal. It certainly seems that the removal of the main train station was a mistake, at least from an outsider's point of view. There is though a central bus station, which is situated at the end of Middle Street.
I visited Yeovil Library, which I found to be a lovely building, with really helpful staff. It seemed to be struggling somewhat with technology when I was there, with no working computers and some slightly irate customers, but there was a good selection of local books to find out about the town's history, and it was a nice quiet environment in which to read.
I'm not really a football fan, but I did see the outside of Huish Park, where Yeovil Town football club moved to in 1990. Their old football stadium was demolished to make way for a Tesco, but the new stadium seemed well located. I'm also sure some big clubs will find Yeovil difficult to deal with in the FA Cup in the future, just as they have in the past.
There are a good number of shops in the town, and a shopping centre, which also had a range of local shops and not just the national chains. There is a large Tesco on the outskirts, as there is with nearly every major town now, and some smaller convenience stores in the centre of town.
I only got to visit a couple of pubs in the town centre, there are some with some considerable history. There is also the Mermaid Hotel, the site of where some townsfolk gathered in 1831 to protect themselves from the Yeovil riots. For cheaper fare, there is also a Wetherspoons, next to the bus station.
All in all, I found Yeovil a friendly place to go, with lots of attractions and places to visit nearby, such as Salisbury and Stonehenge, and the beautiful Wiltshire and Somerset countryside. It's also within quite close range to the beautiful town of Bath.
As a negative, I'd suggest that it really is a shame that so much of Yeovil's history has gone. They have suffered from a number of fires in the town's history which has destroyed many records, the town hall, and countless other buildings. But some of the more recent losses of buildings seemed more avoidable, and hopefully generations in the future will be less willing to destroy the town's heritage further.
I'd definitely recommend a visit though.
Summary: Well worth a visit
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