2017 Annual General Meeting of Hemyock History and Archiving Assoc.

The AGM was held on Thursday 16th March with Stephen Major taking over as Chairman and a supporting committee of: Brenda Calcraft, Mike Cooper, Jon Henville and Rev Chris Hudson. The Bank Balance stands at £3,631. It is proposed that monthly meetings should be held on the 3rd Thursday of the month and the constitution was amended slightly.

History Talks for April and May 2017

The 13th April talk will be from David Greenfield a civil engineer from Taunton on the life and works of  I K Brunel.  The 11th May talk will be a talk from Phil Andrews of Wessex Archaeology on recent finds in Devon

History Group Talks February and March 2017

On the 9th of February HH&A heard a talk from Andrew Watson, PhD Candidate at the University of Glasgow, on phenomenology and its application in archaeology.

Andrew began by focusing on the history of phenomenology, which is a branch of Western philosophy that is concerned with how people perceive a phenomenon, and looked at the works of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.  Andrew summarised the approaches that archaeologists had undertaken to date and discussed three key studies incorporating landscape studies, a study of sound and the transferring of hand signals in a Neolithic ditched enclosure in Italy and closer to home, some archaeoacustic studies looking at the effect of sound in Neolithic long barrows.   Finally Andrew outlined his Doctoral studies and his approach to phenomenology. Using four Neolithic long barrows as case studies Andrew hopes to better understand people’s bodily and sensorial engagements with Neolithic long barrows in the modern day.

The March talk was given by Brian Carpenter from the Devon Heritage Centre on the documents and information on the Hemyock area stored at the centre.   Brian brought to the meeting a list of the registers showing the documents stored in safe custody   related to various properties in the Hemyock area plus documents related to the Culmstock Rural District Council which included the parishes of Clayhidon, Hemyock and Culmstock.  Brian also listed the various books displayed on the public shelves listing the historical information stored within the centre, including the Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths with:

Christenings   from 1635-1959

Marriages       from 1635-2007

Burials            from 1635-1923

His talk was a very good way of understanding how to trace documents and other material stored within the centre and how various research projects can progress efficiently by visiting the centre and accessing the material that is available.  Brian also left with us the route in words of the Bounds of the Parish of Hemyock from 1754.  An interesting project would be to reintroduce the practice of Walking the Parish Bounds on Rogation Sunday.   We are hoping to form a team interested in progressing a number of research projects.

Talk by Brian Carpenter of Devon Heritage Centre on Thursday 8th March

The monthly meeting on Thursday 8th March at the Hemyock Church Rooms at 7.30pm will be by Brian Carpenter of the Devon Heritage Centre, Exeter.

Come along and find what information is stored at the Heritage Centre, how you can access this information and what research you can accomplish:

What information is stored on Hemyock history.

What Culmstock Rural Council files, which included Hemyock Parish, are available.

What information is stored on Families, Estates and Houses in the area.

plus any other questions you would like to raise.

WW1 Book – Upper Culm Valley at War 1914 – 1919

This book was published in 2014 by Michael Cooper with financial support from the Heritage Lottery and the Blackdown Hills AONB with a supporting team from Hemyock History..

Copies of this  book have all been sold but there are copies of the book at both Wellington Library and Wiveliscombe Library.  isbn z001676365 under section 940.3





Monthly meetings Thursday 9th February 2017 7.30pm at Church Rooms

The next meeting on Feb 9th will be a talk from Andrew Watson who is completing a Phd in Archaeology on Phenomonology.  All welcome to an interesting talk.

The meeting in December was a talk from Philippe Planel, an archaeologist with East Devon AONB on the excavations at a cottage close to Honiton.  Searching through the tithe maps of Devon that are now available in digital format one finds that most buildings listed have been developed.  However one, Lees Cottage, was in exactly the same condition as it was left during the farming recession at the middle of the 19th century. Now surrounded by woodland the plot was cleared by local archaeologists to show the remains of the walls and the floor of the kitchen which was found still to be as hard as concrete and was analysed to show that it had been made of ash and lime.  Research showed that the owner also worked as a tailor and various brass buttons plus other household items were found on the site. Philippe gave a fascinating talk on the world of archaeology in the area and the types of projects that would warrant further investigation.  Members were asked to suggest sites that might justify applying for finance to fund excavation.

The January talk was by Brian Lane-Smith and Robin Gilbert of the SW Airfield Heritage Trust and was very well received by our group due to the detailed information they presented and knowledge evident from their answers to the many questions.  Brian covered the activities at Dunkeswell where US Navy Liberators were used to patrol the Atlantic for U boats and Robin described the preparation, planning and executing of the aircraft at Upottery and Merryfield used for the D Day Invasion.

The airfields were built in the early years of the war by the construction companies working for the Ministry such as Geo Wimpey, Laings and Mowlem under Royal Engineers control.  The local Hemyock company Redwoods Coaches started their business transporting personnel to and from  the airfields during the construction and operation starting in February 1942.  The runways at Dunkeswell were operational by September 1942 and the Nissan Huts assembled to provide accommodation and operational control by early 1943.

The US Navy set up complete facilities including machine shops, engine sheds, airframe,  propeller and spark plug manufacturing plus tailors and cobblers to serve the personnel.    The size and scope of the American planning towards D Day were a scale above anything seen before or since.


Talk on Otterhead

Hemyock History and Archiving Association
Present an illustrated talk by Elizabeth Stonex
on the work of The Otterhead Estate Trust
at the Church Rooms Hemyock at 7.30pm on Thursday 8th September 2016
Cost including refreshments: £2 members and £3 non-members
THE OTTERHEAD ESTATE TRUST, a not-for-profit limited company, manages the Otterhead Estate and Lakes Local Nature Reserve, in the Taunton Deane parishes of Churchstanton and Otterford, Somerset, close to the village of Churchinford, leased from Wessex Water. The neglected Victorian landscape, half formerly in Devon, includes the ‘lost gardens’ of Otterhead House (demolished in 1952) with terraced walks and drives as well as two former walled gardens.
The most obvious features are the two remaining Otterhead Lakes and the River Otter but by taking into account the sites of former lakes and other water management features such as leats, the reserve can be considered to have the appearance of a much neglected one mile long water garden. The Trust aims to improve wildlife habitats and conserve garden plants and built heritage features as well as restoring where possible the designed landscape. The reserve forms only a part of the Wessex Water owned Otterhead Estate; it should be noted that the Estate Trust lease does not include the two remaining lakes, management of which is retained by Wessex Water.
Photograph and text courtesy of The Otterhead Trust

Hemyock History Talks – April and May 2016

The April meeting was a talk from Colin Spackman of Wellington Museum on  Wellington and its Dukedom.   Prior to Colin’s research on the subject there was no proof that the Duke had actually visited the site of the Monument in any local archives or newspaper reports at the time.   There were newspaper reports that he visited Taunton and Wellington when he was en route to Plymouth to be awarded the Freedom of Plymouth in 1819.  He travelled in a coach and was mobbed wherever he stopped.  Although Mr Fox was the local Lord of the Manor, William Kinglake was the estate manager and there was a report of Kinglake accompanying Wellington on his travels towards Plymouth.   Colin searched through the family archives and found nothing new.  However when he travelled to Southampton University and searched on the name Kinglake he found an original letter from Kinglake to the Duke asking for a favour and reminding the Duke of their visit to the site of the proposed Wellington Monument.  The group are proposing meetings in Wellington during the summer months led by Colin around the historical attractions of the town.

The May meeting was a fascinating talk from Julian Hewitt on his field work in the South West over the last 25 years with his trusty metal detector which has found artefacts across some 3,000 years of history.  Many Celtic burial mounds were searched but the hundreds of items that Julian has found include many Roman coins,  a Viking metal stirrup mount, and many 18th and 19th century artefacts.  Julian shared many tips on where to look and how to grid a field and proceed with the detection process.  His latest work has been focused on canon shell cases from the Battle of Britain from which he has proved that a specific pilot in a hurricane shot down Goring’s nephew which crashed into Portland Harbour.

There are no open meetings during the summer months only the committee meeting on June 9th.  The new season program of events will be published in the next issue.

Hemyock History Talks – February and March 2016

The March meeting started with an AGM when the Chairman provided the audited financial report together with information on the previous year’s activities.  The Group is in a healthy position both financially and with its on going activities and has successfully completed projects over the last few years.  Several new names were appointed to take the group on to the next stage of development. John Butterwith was appointed Secretary,  Marion Churchill and Tony Bennett will look after the monthly collections and report on the financial situation and Jon Henville will look after the blackdownarchives.org.uk web site.    Additional names are still required to allow the   Group to become involved in new projects that will benefit the community.

Mike Cooper has been chairman now for 9 years and will be retiring  in the next year to allow the Group to continue with its development.

Following the AGM, a very interesting and informative presentation was given by Paul Steed on “Milling and the Mills in the Culm Valley. In the Domesday Book, it would appear that there were five water mills situated at Culmstock, Whitehall, Culm Pyne, Gorwell and Hidon. At the peak time, Paul informed that there were eighteen mills. Thanks were expressed to Paul for sharing his knowledge with us, and these were demonstrated by the presentation of a bottle of wine from the members.

The February meeting was a talk from Peter Fisher, one of our members, on John Wood an agricultural labourer of Clayhidon who enlisted for unlimited service with the 40th Regiment of Foot at the age of 16 in 1805.  He was involved with the Army in South America, North America, Portugal and Spain ending at the Battle of Waterloo. The details of his talk will be available to members from the archives.

The next meeting appropriately will be by Colin Spackman on the Duke of Wellington and his visit to Wellington Monument. The May meeting will be given by Julian Hewitt, an amateur archaeologist, on his field work in the South West with his finds of historical artefacts from the last 3 thousand years.