The Enigmatic Charm of Shepton Mallet: History, Hauntings, and Community Spirit


Nestled just 16 miles southwest of Bath, the quaint Somerset town of Shepton Mallet beckons visitors with its captivating landscapes and rich heritage. The town’s history is a tapestry woven with Bronze Age settlements, Roman influence, and Saxon origins, creating an intriguing destination for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

Unveiling the Past:

Shepton Mallet’s historical layers unravel through archaeological discoveries, revealing a Bronze Age settlement with remnants of dwellings and pottery dating back to 1995. The enigmatic Maesbury Ring, an Iron Age hill fort to the north, adds to the town’s ancient allure. The convergence of history finds its focal point as Shepton Mallet positions itself west of the eminent Roman road, Fosse Way, attracting Roman settlement in its vicinity.

Saxon Origins:

The foundations of present-day Shepton Mallet trace back to the Saxons, whose 7th-century conquest of eastern Somerset paved the way for numerous village formations, including Shepton Mallet. Etymologically rooted in an Anglo-Saxon term signifying a haven for sheep, the town’s nomenclature pays homage to its initial economic underpinning. The town’s name also echoes its historic ties to the Mallet family, who received lands from Henry I in 1100, contributing to the town’s distinctive identity.

A Safe Haven and Inclusive Community:

Community Development Officer Laura Miller, a Shepton Mallet native, speaks of the town’s allure, emphasizing its safety, camaraderie, and vibrant local events. The town radiates a sense of unity, embracing all who call it home or visit. The community’s inclusivity and forward-thinking ethos contribute to its welcoming ambiance.

The Haunting Legacy of Shepton Prison:

Among Shepton Mallet’s unique attractions stands the former Shepton Prison, once the UK’s oldest operational prison until its closure in 2013. With its haunting reputation, the prison offers not only historical insight but also immersive experiences like escape rooms, ghost tours, and even overnight stays. A social history museum within the prison walls captivates visitors with thought-provoking exhibits, making it a must-visit destination.

Lush Landscapes and Local Delights:

Beyond its historical treasures, Shepton Mallet invites visitors to savor its culinary and natural offerings. Cafes, restaurants, and bars dot the landscape, while the picturesque Collett Park provides a serene backdrop for leisurely walks and community gatherings. The park hosts free yoga classes and various fitness activities, fostering a sense of togetherness.

A Hub of Creativity and Inclusion:

The town resonates with creativity and inclusivity, as noted by Councillor and tech entrepreneur Claire Sully. From events and festivals to quirky clubs, Shepton Mallet pulsates with a vibrant artistic and communal spirit. The local wine bar doubles as a hub for contemporary art and performances, reflecting the town’s dynamic character.


Shepton Mallet’s allure lies not only in its charming landscapes and historical treasures but also in its inclusive and tight-knit community. A blend of history, art, and hospitality make this town a captivating staycation destination for families seeking a unique experience.

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