West Country English has a fascinating history. In Medieval times, West Saxon was the form of English spoken in the kingdom of Wessex, which encompassed most of what we now call the West Country and some other counties besides. It also included Winchester in Hampshire, which was the capital of England at the time.
As the dialect of King Alfred and his courtiers, West Saxon quickly became one of the most well-known Old English dialects. It is the dialect most of our remaining Old English literature is written in, whereas nowadays West Country English is thought of as a rural, ‘non-standard’ dialect. This is a good reminder of how attitudes towards language can change, and how historical circumstances have shaped them. If Winchester had remained the capital, West Country English would probably be our modern-day ‘standard’!