Somerset Places: The cricket museum
England are raising hopes in their bid to regain the Ashes and, on village greens across the county, weekend battles are being fought every bit as intensely.
Which makes this the perfect time to drop into the cricket museum, in Taunton, and find out more about one of Somerset's best-loved games.
The Somerset Cricket Museum, tucked in next to the County Ground and housed in one of the oldest buildings in the town, makes a fascinating visit, even for those who can't tell a short-leg from a long-on.
Picking out some of his favourite exhibits in the large collection of cricket memorabilia, Peter Yates, the curator, said: "One of the things people make a bee-line for is Joel Garner's boot. He was the famous West Indian cricketer who played for Somerset. He was 6ft 8in tall, and almost as broad, and we have one of his very large boots, which he signed.
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"We also have one of Sir Ian Botham's many bats. It was used during the 1981 Ashes series and is on loan to us. Another section of the museum is dedicated to the England Women's Cricket team as the County Ground, of course, is their home."
The Priory Barn, which houses the collection, has an interesting history itself, and Mr Yates outlined its chequered past.
"The major portion is late-15th century, early-16th century, with many alterations and additions over the years. It was originally a lodging house for a priory but at some later stage it was used as a farm building and more recently it became incorporated into a builder's yard.
"The Somerset Supporters' Club bought the yard in the 1970s and it opened as the Somerset Cricket Museum in 1989."
The museum, which is staffed entirely by volunteers and is a registered charity, is open Tuesday to Friday, 10.30am to 4pm, until the last Friday in October. The entrance is on Priory Bridge Road, the road to the cricket ground, and there is also a pedestrian-only entrance in Priory Avenue. On match days the museum opens one hour before the published start of play and closes after the last person has left after the tea interval.
For more details visit www. somersetcricketmuseum.co.uk.