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By the end of the eighteenth century, horse racing was one of the most popular forms of entertainment.  The course was on Chilton Common, which was actually across the river from Chilton Trinity, reflecting how the River Parrett had changed its course.  Roughly in the area where Wylds Road meets the Bristol Road, the race course was a one mile circular track of fine grass.  In the centre was a natural grandstand large enough for 3,000 spectators. The races dated back to at least 1780.  Interest in the local races waned for a while but received a boost when Taunton Races were transferred to Bridgwater in 1813 and then again in 1854.  All horses had to be registered at the Crown Inn before the start of the race and ran under the Newmarket rules.  By 1898, the Bridgwater Steeplechase and Hurdle Race was established under National Hunt rules and were run in September.  In 1905, these races were abandoned and attempts to revive them on the Fairfield in 1926 met with some success but only until 1929 when the last race was run.

Other forms of eighteenth century entertainment are indicated in the names of Bull Baiting Acre, which was one of the fields next to the Castle Fields, in the Wylds Road area, and in Coxpit Farm in East Bower.

Text Copyright © 2008 Roger Evans

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