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.

Hemyock History Talk December 2015 and January 2016

We were entertained by two very good speakers at the Church Rooms in December and January.  Denis Dodd who was part of the team involved locally in renovating the Grand Western Canal boat lift, presented the history of the Canal during a period of great industrial advances.  The proposed route from Bridgwater to Exeter would have saved cargo ships the hazardous route round Lands End.  The completed section did allow welsh coal unloaded at Bridgwater to fuel the factories in Taunton, Wellington and Tiverton. The added complication of having to lift boats up and over the illustrious tree lined carriageway to the front door of the Sanfords estate at Nynhead did not help the budget.

James Bradnock, an English and Theology teacher gave a fascinating discourse on the creation of one of the greatest books in the English language, the King James Bible.  Created by a team of learned men over a period of 7 years when Shakespeare was the popular entertainment of the day, it has given us many memorable phrases.

The language of the previous Bishop’s Bible translated in 1602 includes the following verses with the King James version for comparison:

God is my shepherd

therefore I can lack nothing.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He will cause me to repose myself in pasture full of grass

and he will lead me unto calm waters.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures ; He leadeth me beside the still  waters.

Truly felicitie and mercie shall follow me all the days of my life : and I will dwell in the house of God for a long time.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The next two speakers on February 11th and March 10th will be Peter Fisher on a Hemyock man who served in the Great War and Colin Spackman on the visit of the Duke of Wellington to this area in 1919.

History Talk November 2015

The new series of history talks started on November 12th with Dr David Pugsley talking about a duel held between a Judge and a Doctor in 1833, the year after Dr Peter Hennis became a local hero of the Exeter cholera outbreak.  Both participants, Judge Sir John Jeffcott and Dr Peter Hennis went to the same school in Ireland.

The whole world of duels, insults and remedies was explored during the talk with the protocol across different countries discussed.  The recent challenge to a duel issued by a Polish Prince to Nigel Farage was mentioned as was the court case brought by the MP Andrew Mitchell against Westminster police.

Mackham Farm early 1900s

Take a look at this great photo from the early 1900s at Mackam Farm.

Centre of Hemyock in 1900

Take a look at this great photo of the centre of Hemyock in 1900.

Hart Hem centre to East 1900

WW1 Drama Monologues

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WW1 Drama Monologues

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