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Burnham was seriously affected by the Bristol Channel floods of 1607, with the present curved concrete wall being completed in 1988.
Bridgwater is between two junctions of the M5 motorway and Bridgwater railway station is on the main railway line between Bristol and Taunton.
Historically, the town had a politically radical tendency.
The Battle of Sedgemoor, where the Monmouth Rebellion was finally crushed in 1685, was fought nearby.
The boundary with Durleigh partly follows streams, and that with Wembdon was marked by the northern edge of the former Queen's wood. 8) West Bower, beyond Durleigh to the west, was divided into two small, irregular areas. 9) The civil parish of Bridgwater Without, including Dunwear, East Bower, Chedzoy Lane, and Haygrove, was created in 1894. 10) East of the river the parish is on low-lying alluvium . Three fields named Parks survived in Haygrove in 1847. Increases of over one fifth followed in each of the next three decades, giving a total of 10,450 in 1841, which included 311 temporary labourers on the canal and railway and 92 in ships in the harbour. Mary's Cross, at the south-eastern corner of the churchyard, probably marked the original entrance to the market place from the south. 101) In 1724 the corporation ordered the churchwardens to remove timber and lead from the cross, which probably formed a shelter around the cross shaft. 102) The cross was removed in 1769 to Penel Orlieu and was demolished in the 1830s. 103) A replica was built in 1989 at the east end of Fore Street. Many of the houses are of three storeys and in the 19th century they have stepped voussoirs to the window heads. The Infirmary was refronted in 1876 in a mid 18th-century style and the former Y. On some of the less humble houses unfaced stone is used for walling, and gables with ornamental bargeboards are common, perhaps in an attempt to be different. 188) Its condition was severely criticized by John Howard in 1789. 189) The building, on the south side of Fore Street, had an imposing rusticated classical frontage; it was closed and demolished in 1875. The Bridgwater steeplechase and hurdle races were held in 1898 but were said to have been abandoned by 1905. 250) There was a reading room in the market house by 1830 which by 1840 had become the Literary and Scientific Institution. 259) and a tax levied in Cornwall in 1234 was to be taken for safe custody to the town. 268) and in 1536 four men were executed in the town after a rising at Taunton. Fairfax took Eastover with 600 prisoners, finding that most of the suburb had been fired. 285) Henry Harvey, lord of the Castle manor, claimed to have lost £4,000 including a house by the bridge, and the mayor in 1656 asked help to repair 120 houses destroyed in the town including the almshouses. 286) Many of the inhabitants had removed themselves for safety to Wembdon. 287) Between 8 January and 17 July 1645, before the siege, 68 soldiers were buried in the town; thereafter no burials were registered until 1 December. 288) Troops remained in the town, which was used as a base for the expedition to Ireland, (fn.
After transfers of land to all six adjoining areas, including West Bower to Durleigh, in 1886-7, the area of the parish was 3,967 a. 6 metres above sea level nearest the river and 12 metres on the north-eastern boundary at Horsey. Thereafter for a time the annual increases were much smaller, the largest being over one tenth in the 1890s to a total of 14,900 in 1901. 79) Between 19 the total rose sharply to 17,981 but thereafter increases were smaller until 1951. 99) By the end of the 18th century the cross comprised six columns supporting a pinnacled roof around a central column which supported a cistern holding the town's water supply. The part of the town east of the river appears always to have had an architectural character inferior to that of the west. Cells were built at the police station in High Street, and in 1911 at the new station in Northgate. 190) A lock-up called the Cockmoyle prison was mentioned in 1575. 191) It was later said to be part of an inn of the same name, and in 1687-8 was called the borough bridewell. 192) The lock-up was evidently on an upper floor over a lane between High Street and the churchyard, since it was known as the higher prison in the 17th century and Upper Bow in the 18th. 193) In 1729 the quarter sessions established a bridewell for the borough and parish, probably an extension to the town's prison, and set up a whipping post there. Races were revived in July 1926 at Durleigh, but were discontinued in 1929. 239) Tennis and fives were played in the town in the 17th century, and the corporation owned a bowling green in Eastover until the 1720s. 240) Popular entertainment is suggested in the field name Bull Baiting acre, adjoining Castle field. 241) Revels were said to have been held near Pig Cross on Oak Apple Day (29 May) until the 1830s. 242) Annual amusements, including public breakfasts, balls, and backsword play, were held on Chilton common by 1793, and a festival, probably to celebrate peace with France, was planned to entertain 10,000 people on the Cornhill in 1814. 243) Bonfires traditionally held on the Cornhill to commemorate the Gunpowder plot took on political overtones in the 1850s, and the crushing of the Indian Mutiny inspired a procession, the first to be called a carnival, in 1857 with decorative floats, a band, and firework displays known as 'squibbing'. 244) Processions in 18, the second to celebrate the completion of the new town bridge, were followed by a more organized carnival in 1884, beginning a tradition for which Bridgwater has become renowned. 245) The last bonfire on the Cornhill was made in 1924, but the squibbing (fn. 247) Turkish baths were opened in York Buildings in 1861, and swimming baths in Old Taunton Road in 1890. 248) The baths were replaced by the Lido in Broadway in 1960, and the Lido by the Sedgemoor Splash in Mount Street in 1991. 249) The Blake Gardens were opened in 1902, Eastover recreation ground in 1905, and Victoria Park . In 1539 part of the body of Richard Whiting, abbot of Glastonbury, was displayed at Bridgwater. 269) The town was chosen as the title for a possible suffragan bishopric in 1534, but no appointment was ever made. 270) In June 1643 half the parliamentary garrison of Taunton, retreating before the king's army, stayed briefly in the town. for the borough, and the defences of the town included four guns ordered by Prince Maurice. 273) Some of the garrison mutinied when there were rumours of Irish troops landing at Minehead and Bristol. 274) In 1643, between June and November, 17 soldiers were buried in the town. 275) In 1644 the governor refused to use his troops to protect excise collectors from attacks, in which some local recruits joined. 276) In August men from the garrison beat off 500 parliamentary horse who had attacked a supply column near North Petherton. 277) During the year 20 soldiers were buried in the town including two killed at North Petherton. 278) In the year from September 1644 the town paid for 400 pairs of hose and shoes for the king's forces then at Wells. 279) Prince Rupert and the leaders of the Western Association met in Bridgwater in April 1645. 280) After his defeat at Langport on 10 July Goring brought his guns and some infantry into the town. 281) The New Model army followed up its success by a gradual investment from the south and east. Massey established his headquarters at Hamp House, and Col. The defenders, behind earthworks at the east end of St. He then crossed the Parrett, forcing the royalists to yield the town. Fairfax said that a third of the town had been burnt, while a royalist declared that 'most of the town' was destroyed by fire except some houses near the castle, the damage ascribed either to Col. 289) and in 1646 blood was shed when the County Committee used them against a crowd of local people who had come to help slight the defences. 290) In 1646-7 the corporation paid for the removal of guns from the quay and the wages of three men for three days 'towards dismantling of the garrison'. 292) During Monmouth's rebellion the town was occupied twice by rebel troops and for at least a year afterwards by regular dragoons.