P R O F I L E
The Shire Hall and Vivary park
Upper High Street
Telephone: 01823 281110
The construction of the Shire Hall in Taunton coincided with the end of and distribution of Russian cannon from the Crimean War. The foundation stone for the building was laid on August 14, 1855, with much pomp and circumstance. It is no surprise therefore that the cannon destined for the town took pride of place outside the Shire Hall. The building was to house the Somerset Assizes, which had until that point been held at Taunton Castle - deemed 'not convenient' as an Assizes hall - by the press.
The town had been seeking suitable courts for civil and criminal business, and the plan was for a purpose-built public building. In a contemporary newspaper report, it was said: "As far as we may judge from the plans and lithographed views, the building when completed will be equally an ornament to the town and a credit to the county.
Today the Shire Hall is the grey gothic style building that houses the main Council Chamber, located on the first floor of the building and used for meetings of the full County Council. Shire Hall itself is now used principally by the Courts Service and their staff are responsible for security arrangements at the main entrance. Sadly, this beautiful building is in dire need of repairs and renovation and the Crimean Cannon has been removed.
Vivary Park is a public open space in Taunton, Somerset. The Sherford Stream, a tributary of the River Tone, flows through the 7.5 hectares (19 acres) park, which is located near the centre of the town. Vivary Park was owned by the Kinglake family, but in 1894 they sold it to the Municipal Borough of Taunton for £3,659, to encourage healthier lifestyles and to provide recreational opportunity for the urban working class, as set out in the Public Health Act of 1875. In the mid 19th century, the park contained the Crimean War cannon known as the 'Sebastopol Gun', which was fired on great occasions. It would appear therefore that this was a later location for the cannon, following its initial siting at Shire Hall.
Today there is no sign of the Crimean Cannon, like so many towns that once had one of these memorable monuments.
Country town/village, Urban
England - Southern
THE FEATURES PRESENT
Crimean Cannon Location, past or present