Monthly Archives: June 2016

Search Every Avenue

We have enjoyed a busy and exciting week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

One of the highlights so far is a donation of three Yeovil maps and a planning document from Yeovil Town Library.

One of the maps dates from 1843 and is a tithe apportionment survey. This is contained within a mount and frame and originally given by L.C. Hayward Senior History Master and Librarian at Yeovil School from 1945 to 1965. The next two maps date from 1952 and show Yeovil town centre. This is an interesting date before the construction of the Reckleford relief road was and the building of the present hospital in 1973. The intriguing aspect is seeing the street names from 1843 and what has changed (or stayed the same) over 100 years later.

The 1952 maps also have the added bonus of coloured keys illustrating the growth of Yeovil over a range of time periods including ‘The Medieval Borough’ to the ‘Present Borough’ dated 1928. There are also links to key historical buildings of note and archaeological finds around Yeovil. For example, the location of The Castle Inn and Roman villa sites are highlighted. This is useful in a very simple way to indicate the site of renowned buildings from an aerial perspective, which may be difficult from ‘street level.’

The planning document is significant. This is the original application for the Nissen-Petren Houses in Goldcroft, Yeovil, based These distinctive, quickly assembled, curved roof constructions designed by Petter and Warren Architects were seen as a cheap alternative to brick homes at the end of the First World War, in the midst of a housing shortage. However, the actual cost of construction exceeded the original quoted £350 estimate per home, to around £513 per home, mainly due their experimental nature. The Borough Council decided not to build any more of the prototype houses, but other examples survive at South Petherton and West Camel.

Our Volunteer, with an interest in maps, enjoyed accessioning these items.

Stay tuned for news on our screening of the “Battle of the Somme” Documentary Film at Yeovil Library on Friday 1st July 2016 at 2.30pm.

Gratitude to Yeovil: The Hidden History, Tempus Publishing, 2002.

The Maps of Yeovil dated 1952 recently donated by Yeovil Town Library.




Our most intriguing Case

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

Highlights so far this week have included attending the first West of England Copyright Forum at the American Museum in Britain at Claverton near Bath and a donation of computer components from an early computer systems programmer – which are on their way to the National Computer Museum, based at Bletchley Park.

The big event on Thursday was to create our new “Crime and Punishment” Exhibition in The Town House, Yeovil. This is our annual exhibition, in conjunction with Yeovil Town Council and reflects the development of law and order and policing in Yeovil.

The Town House is a fitting location for the “Crime and Punishment” Exhibition as it is the former Yeovil police station. The artefacts include manacles (or hand cuffs) actually used in the former police station.

The display behind the cabinet illustrates these developments from the early days of the Hundred Stone to the opening of the present police station in Huish in 1975.

By 1305 Yeovil had a Portreeve, who had authority over the town. Portreeves were originally set up in the twelfth century to collect taxes but by the Middle Ages were acting as representatives of the people.

Alongside the official ‘date time line’ (what could be termed the ‘top down’ history) is the ‘bottom up’ stories of crimes committed and the punishments received. Intriguingly, in at least one example, these led to an actual object, which is part of the display. For example:

26/7/1758Elias Newman of Yeovil, Baker, is convicted of selling underweight bread at Milborne Port. This crime became such a problem that Yeovil was issued with standardised weights and measures in 1835 to stop this practise.

There is also a spoon and a pair of gloves to illustrate something of the stories, which in turn, as always, reflect Yeovil at the time. “On 21/7/1786 Henry Collins of Yeovil, shopkeeper, is convicted of selling a pair of gloves for 2s., with no stamp ticket attached.”

For further information on our new exhibition, please contact the Heritage Team, (01935) 462886. Or email us on

Our new exhibition at Yeovil Town House:


















William Jenner, was sentenced at Yeovil, being a male under the age of 14 years to be privately whipped with six strokes of a birch rod, for stealing a cash box and money from his employers Messrs Ewens, Johnson & Co.


‘Abbey Habit’

“The Abbey Habit”

We have enjoyed a busy and enjoyable week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

Highlights so far this week have included loaning three resin, ‘table top’ display cases to the organisers of the historical display section at the 2016 Langport Festival (18th – 26th June); our team of volunteers nominated for the South Somerset Star Volunteer of the Year Award 2016 and a visit from a local business looking for historical images of a shop in Princes Street, Yeovil.

Staff and two volunteers also attended the summer gathering of the Mid Somerset Archivists and Curators Group Meeting by kind invitation of Glastonbury Abbey on Tuesday 7th June 2016.

The theme for this meeting was ‘interpretation.’

We enjoyed a varied and fun-filled day with presentations on the Abbey’s planned loan box ideas; new interpretation panels around the Abbey grounds and a guided tour from a ‘living history’ guide in period medieval costume. During our tour we met ‘Brother John’ who outlined the significance of the Abbot’s Kitchen and demonstrated the structure’s incredible resonance and ambience with three ‘hallelujahs.’ In the 14th century, as the head of the second wealthiest abbey in Britain (behind Westminster Abbey), the Abbot of Glastonbury lived in considerable splendour and wielded tremendous power. The main surviving example of this power and wealth is to be found in the Abbot’s Kitchen – part of the magnificent Abbot’s house begun by John de Breynton (1334-42).

In the afternoon, we shared an exciting, guided tour of the newly refurbished Somerset Rural Life Museum, just a short walk around the corner. This was particularly intriguing as the original entrance lobby has been removed and visitors will enter and exit through the farm-house, which was home to the Mapstone Family for a large part of the 20th Century. This underlines a much greater emphasis and focus upon the social history of the family that actually lived on site. We also understand ‘Prince’ will be returning (those who knew the Somerset Rural Life Museum will be familiar with one of its star exhibits!)

Delegates also had the opportunity to explain their latest projects under the heading of ‘interpretation.’

We were all impressed and thankful for being made so welcome and struck by the perception of the word and place ‘Glastonbury.’ Perhaps some people think of a certain festival with international connections. However, with the efforts of the Glastonbury Abbey Team, celebrating the wonderful grounds and tranquil setting, plus awaiting the opening of the Somerset Rural Life Museum set for Spring 2017, visiting Glastonbury may become more of a ‘habit.’

The Glastonbury Abbey Website provides the additional useful contextual background:

The great Norman structures were destroyed by fire in 1184 along with many of the ancient treasures. In 1191, in order to raise extra funds from pilgrims to rebuild the abbey, the monks dug to find King Arthur and his Queen Guinevere. Bones from two bodies were raised from a deep grave in the cemetery on the south side of the Lady Chapel. These bones were reburied, much later, in 1278 within the Abbey Church, in a black marble tomb, in the presence of King Edward I.

Privileged pilgrims might once have stayed in the abbey itself; excavations have disclosed a special apartment at the south end of the Abbot’s house, erected for a visit from the English King, Henry VII.

In 1536, during the 27th year of the reign of Henry VIII, the social and religious upheaval took place, which became known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries. There were over 800 monasteries, nunneries and friaries in Britain. By 1541, there were none. Glastonbury Abbey was one of the principal victims of this action by the King.

Gratitude to the Glastonbury Abbey Website for historical information.

Delegates from Museums and Heritage Sites across Somerset attended the Mid Somerset Archivists and Curators Group Meeting at Glastonbury Abbey on Tuesday 7th June 2016 – together with our ‘Medieval Guide!’




Some of Glastonbury Abbey’s new interpretation panels.

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Discoveries and Battles

This week has been a week of discoveries, some good, some bad.  The only known photograph of the Railway Inn, Middle Street (not Hendford) was discovered in the collection.


You can see The Railway Inn here on the left of the photograph, the photograph was catalogued as Middle Street with no further details given.  Staff and volunteers are currently going through the photograph collection to update the descriptions and to give more detail.

Staff were also asked if we had any photographs of the old Telephone Exchange, now Telford House in Clarence Street.  We discovered we had two, not very good ones, one of the Exchange in the distance when the site for Tesco’s was being developed in 1991 and one of machinery being unloaded just in front of it in 1970.  So if you have any photographs of the building we would be interested to hear from you.

Staff have also been organising a screening of the film, the Battle of the Somme, at Yeovil Library on 1.7.2016 in partnership with the Imperial War Museum.  It will take place from 2.30pm – 4.30pm, is free, on a first come, first served basis and toilet facilities are available.  Look out for further details in the press.