The thumbs Up!

A busy and intriguing week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, Yeovil.

One of the main themes this week was beneficial training and courses. Staff attended the Mid-Somerset Curators Group Meeting at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton and ‘Identification of Natural Materials’ at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, Devon. The Natural Materials course was particularly significant in terms of ivory items in the collection.

We were also present with our volunteer team at the autumn meeting of the Museums in Somerset Group, held at Montacute House, near Yeovil. There were very useful discussions on the Somerset Routes website and ‘Know Your Place’, which is a project to digitize historical maps of a local area and upload these to the World Wide Web. The project started in South Gloucestershire and the speaker was looking to see how Somerset Museums could contribute.

We were also at Drayton Senior Citizens Group on Monday to provide a local history talk with handling objects and displays. One aspect that proved particularly rewarding was a study of the 1910 Kelly’s Somerset Directory. The annual directory provided details of Somerset villages including total acreage; population and commercial workers. We believe they were published until the mid-1960s. Of specific interest were a “Mrs Susannah Stone – school mistress” and a “Harry Stone – taxidermist.” We thought this was notable to have two people of the same surname in a population of around 360 and even more so, as the school teacher was clearly married; an unusual occurrence at this time, we were informed. We checked our 1939 Kelly’s and neither Susannah or Harry were listed. We thought of possible reasons for this – had a better teaching position become available, perhaps at Taunton – or had taxidermy fallen out fashion. During our talk we asked the question of why both were not mentioned in the 1939 Directory – answer – Harry and Susannah were husband and wife – with Susannah passing away in 1931 and Harry in 1936 with their daughter, Edith in 1955. In addition, Harry was a keen photographer and chronicler of village life, as two of his framed photographs were behind the speaker during the talk. Thus, we found “the teacher and the taxidermist.”

We also highlighted possibly Drayton’s best known native celebrity, E.R (Eric Richard) Sturgeon, water-colour artist (1920 – 1999).

Donations this week included a pair of metal thumb piece glove cutters. We were interested to see how these were different to our other glove webs and cutters. Once revealed, we could clearly see the “Ashley Brothers, Yeovil” and size for each cutter on what appears to be a small enamel plate on the front of each cutter; making them, in terms of provenance, one could say ‘a cut above the rest and ‘get the thumbs up from us!’

Next time, developments on the Yeovil Calendar front and looking forward to welcoming a group of Yeovil College Students – exciting time.

Thumb piece glove cutters, made by Ashley Brothers of Yeovil which came to CHAC via the Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester, Somerset.

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