Local History 2/Archaeology
In February Dr Bette Baldwin gave a presentation about Hoar Oak Cottage, the remote Exmoor shepherd's home, now preserved by Friends of Hoar Oak, who collect images and information about the cottage and the lives of those who lived and worked there. Click on the link on this page for a full report.
Our first field trip of the year, on Thursday 5 March, will be to St Decuman's Church and Holy Well in Watchet, with guide Charles Birch. Please let Jill know if you wish to come and if you need or can offer a lift. The 1.40 pm No 28 bus from Bancks Street should get to the stop at the church entrance in time for a start just after 2pm.
The group will normally continue to meet on the first Thursday morning of each month. You’ll note from the newsletter that Jill is gradually introducing the idea of re-naming the group Local History 2, as the name 'Archaeology' isn't entirely accurate, but she assures us that nothing will change really!
There was a good attendance for the December meeting, when Catherine Knight gave a presentation on Dawes Castle in Watchet, and Jill showed some slides of our 2019 trips (plus one accidentally of her family in Lynmouth!). Members made some interesting suggestions about where we might go next year.
In November 2019 we spent a morning at the church and the heritage centre in Carhampton with excellent guides.
Sadly, owing to low take-up, Jill decided to cancel the planned trip to Combe Martin in October, although several members asked her to reschedule for a more promising time of year in 2020. We are welcome there at any time, Jill says, so an April visit next year is a possibility.
In September we visited the Radio Museum in Watchet, to see Neil Wilson's intriguing collection of radio memorabilia (photo by Margaret Shaw). To read John Martin's description of the morning, click on the link on the right.
In July we had an all-day trip to Lynton and Lynmouth – in the morning to the Lyn and Exmoor Museum (see photo, right) in a back street of Lynton, and in the afternoon the Lynmouth Flood Walk with a National Park guide. Steve Pearce kindly recorded the day's activities: click on the link Lynton/Lynmouth trip July 2019 to read Steve's report.
There’s no meeting in August, but for Thursday 5 September Jill has organised a visit to Neil Wilson's Radio Museum in Anchor Street, Watchet. Originally housed in Tropiquaria, this extraordinary collection covering the history of radio broadcasting from the 1920s has space to expand in its new home. Neil, a lifelong radio enthusiast, will talk to us about radios, TVs, microphones, books, magazines and BBC publications. Donations welcomed. Please let Jill know if you wish to come, and if you can offer or need a lift – although the museum is just a short walk from the Watchet Station bus stop. We shall meet at the museum at 10.15 am.
In June we went around the sites of the West Somerset Mineral Line with Phil Gannon - he agreed to do this again soon to pick up what we had to miss. It was getting on for 6 pm! To read more about this trip, click on the link to Jean Burge's report June 2019 Mineral Line trip.
Our May trip started in Porlock Weir, with Tony White giving us a glimpse back to when Ashley Combe was a wondrous 'summer palace' for Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, and her husband, William. The group then set off with Tony past Worthy Manor to the ruined tunnels and gardens of Ashley Combe. For a fuller description, please see John Martin's report by clicking on the link, top right. The photo showing group members walking through one of the tunnels in the grounds of Ashley Combe is by Cherrie Temple.
On 4 April we went to Dulverton Heritage Centre for a presentation by John Burgess, author of a new Lorna Doone trail book, and lead curator of the exhibition to mark 150 years since the publication of the famous Exmoor book. We also looked at other exhibitions in the Centre. To read a report by Jan Lamacraft, click on Dulverton visit April 2019 on the right.
In March our first field trip of the year was a visit to Bridgwater’s Brick and Tile Museum. This was followed by a guided walk, led by Chris Sidaway, around some of the industrial and maritime areas of the town. Jill’s photo (right) shows some very chilly group members listening to Chris, who is sharing with them some Bridgwater history. Click on Bridgwater visit 7 March 2019 to read Jan Lamacraft's report of the trip.
In January Mary Ewing from the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society spoke about her work in Dunster, assisted by Barbara Hoffbauer, one of our members and a SANHS volunteer. To read Jan Lamacraft's report, click on the link (right) The ancient buildings of Dunster.
In February our archaeologist friend, Nancy Hollinrake, with the support of husband Charlie, gave a fascinating presentation on ‘Dark Age Traffic in the Bristol Channel’, a taster for a field trip to Carhampton later in the year. Jan Lamacraft has also written a brief report on this meeting, which you can read if you click on the link (right).
About the Group
The Archaeology/Local History 2 Group meets once a month – normally on the first Thursday of the month. Meetings in December and February are usually at Townsend House; in December we discuss the last year, show slides to remind us of our activities, and plan for next year; January we have off and in February we normally invite a speaker. At other meetings we go out on guided trips, rarely more than a hour's drive from Minehead, and usually for a morning only. Car sharing and using public transport is encouraged. Cost is minimal, usually a few pounds a head for our guides, and/or admission to historic sites and properties.
The convenor is Jill Walmsley, who has been concerned that members expecting more emphasis on archaeology might be disappointed, or misled. During the course of 2019 the group is being renamed Local History 2, which will reflect more accurately its activities.
Some of our previous activities
Our trip to Crowcombe in April 2018 was blessed with lovely weather, primroses and lambs. First we were shown the church with its splendid pagan bench ends and spectacular modern chandelier. Then we had an illustrated presentation in the restored 16th-century Church House - one of only two in community use in Somerset. Afterwards, for some of the bravest, a muddy walk to the quarry identified by our guide as the source of the stone for the House. See the report by John Martin (link, top right)
Our first meeting of 2018 was on 1 February when Catherine Knight gave her presentation on Watchet lifeboats, coastguards and hobblers. She has promised to arrange a follow-up walk in Watchet later in the year. Members of the Local History group enjoyed this last year.
Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.