Monthly Archives: July 2016

Stitch in Time

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

So far, exciting developments include putting the Celebrating Yeovil 2017 Calendar into print; helping with a new project around Lufton Roman Villa and accessioning a Kelway’s Nursery document from E. Goodman & Son Ltd, The Phoenix Press, Taunton apologising for the delay in printing the ‘Hardy Plant Catalogue.’

One of our new donations this week was a minute book from the ‘Seavington Stitchers’ Group based in Seavington St Michael, between South Petherton and Ilminster, Somerset. The book dates from the ‘Stitchers’ founding in 1982 until their last meeting in May 2007.

This came about after a long-standing member wished to give the book to an appropriate location to benefit the community and a neighbour suggested C.H.A.C.

The group members were originally individuals, making kneelers for the village St Michael’s Church. Upon discovering their shared interest in stitching, they formed the “Seavington Stitchers” with an inaugural meeting at Seavington House on May 31st 1982. “It was agreed to form a committee to be known as the Seavington Stitchers with the purpose of promoting the purchase of a piece of land for and on behalf of the village on part of the existing playing field.”

In addition to this aim, the group, predominately, women, also made patchwork quilts to raise money for a new village hall, with one such draw raising nearly £175.00. There were also cheese and wine parties; ‘sale of work’ ; an annual outing and knitting of ‘squares’ for Zambia.

We were exceedingly grateful to receive this record of social history, as it is a valuable record of village life and efforts. With our collecting policy of Yeovil and South Somerset, we can often miss items from the ‘outlying villages;’ Indeed this type of item actually enhances our knowledge and existing collections, particularly that of ‘women’s history,’ which can often go unrecorded due to the predominant version of history being recorded by rich, powerful, men.

Secondly, the minute book is a fitting example of contemporary collecting, which actually fits our collecting policy. This often ‘thorny’ issue has seen museums look back at what was collected in the recent past to find items like 50th Anniversary biscuit tins, which were popular at the time, but which every museum could collect and which does not have anything to do with Yeovil and South Somerset.

We have also received a fascinating enquiry concerning tables that were presented during the naming ceremonies of the new ‘County’ class railway engines, ‘Yeovil’ was named at Yeovil Town Station on 2 November 1945, but we are uncertain as to the whereabouts of the ‘Yeovil’ table. If anyone can help there is a web link below to see the example of the table presented during the ‘Wadebridge’ locomotive naming ceremony.

Tab ‘Naming and Re-naming’ – http: /

An enquirer to see aerial images of Preston Road, Yeovil is due at 2.30pm.

The Seavington Stitchers Minute Book 1982-2007 – Important for women’s history and contemporary collecting!










The Yeovil Hoard

This week, we feature a story from the Museum of Somerset South West Heritage Trust in Taunton with a Yeovil connection:                                                           

Museum launches campaign to secure Yeovil hoard of Roman coins

The South West Heritage Trust has launched a campaign to secure the Yeovil hoard so that it can be displayed in the Museum of Somerset and enjoyed by local people.

The Yeovil hoard of 3,335 Roman coins was discovered in March 2013 while ground works were being carried out on a new artificial grass pitch on behalf of South Somerset District Council at Yeovil Recreation Centre. The hoard was spotted by Mark Copsey, the driver of a bulldozer, who reported the find.

The hoard was declared Treasure and in May The Treasure Valuation Committee recommended a valuation of £53,500. To support the museum’s acquisition bid South Somerset District Council have generously waived their right as landowner to half the value of the reward. The Friends of the Museum of Somerset have also pledged their support by kindly donating £1,000.

Steve Minnitt, Head of Museums for the South West Heritage Trust, said: “The Yeovil hoard is a significant find. We would be delighted to see it end up in the county museum where it will be seen and enjoyed by thousands of people and help to tell the story of Roman Somerset. We would also like to hold an event in Yeovil exploring Roman treasures from South Somerset, when some of the coins could be displayed.”

The hoard consists of 3,335 silver coins of the second and third centuries AD. 165 of the coins are denarii and the rest are known as radiates. In addition, there are four large brass coins of a denomination known as a sestertius. 40 emperors and empresses are represented by their portraits on the coins, together with a series of exotic animals such as elephants, hippos and lions. The hoard was buried in a small pit which lay on the edge of a previously unrecognised Romano-British settlement, probably around AD 269-271.

Councillor Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at South Somerset District Council added: “It would be fantastic if the hoard of Roman coins found on our site at Yeovil Recreation Centre were to end up in a local museum for many people to enjoy. We are extremely supportive of the South West Heritage Trust’s plans to house the coins locally in Somerset and feel that by waiving our rights as the land owner to half the value of the reward, we are doing the right thing in retaining them at the Museum of Somerset.”

The South West Heritage Trust is extremely grateful to the District Council and the Museum Friends for their generous support. To secure the hoard, grant funding applications are underway to raise the £26,750 needed. As part of this the Trust needs to raise £4,000 through local donations by October. For more information about supporting the campaign to acquire the Yeovil hoard please contact Steve Minnitt on 01823 347440 or

The Museum of Somerset is part of the South West Heritage Trust, an independent charity committed to protecting and celebrating Somerset and Devon’s rich heritage.

 Yeovil hoard 1


Yeovil hoard 1 – Image showing a group of coins before and after cleaning at the British Museum, where the hoard is being held

Yeovil hoard 4


4 shows two coins of Philip I (AD 244-249) with images of elephants being ridden – AD 248 saw major celebrations in Rome to mark what was believed to be the 1000th anniversary of its founding. Coins struck often feature exotic animals such as these.

Yeovil hoard 5

5 Yeovil hoard – Otacilia Severa, wife of Philip I, AD 244-249, with hippo on the reverse.

Yeovil hoard 9

9 shows preserved textile that was used to wrap at least some of the coins in piles.



Magnifying Memories

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

We supplied a selection of photographs to the Celebrating Entertainment in Yeovil Show, which marked the 40th Anniversary of the Johnson Hall and Octagon Theatre. This special film show was held at the Octagon Theatre on Sunday 10th July 2016 and all those that attended enjoyed the evening; especially the combination of singing on stage and the interviews in the film – including the memories of a female wrestler!

We also attended a meeting at the Somerset Heritage Centre at Norton Fitzwarren, near Taunton to discuss the Somerset Collections Project and will report back on progress in future blogs.

One of our other highlights this week was a visit from a researcher to examine the Louisa Harris Diaries as a possible basis for a University dissertation.

The diaries are always a rewarding part of the collection to get out as they continue to provide new insights and inspiration. Louisa lived in Yeovil and wrote a diary between 1887 and 1926. The last 6 years were written in Weymouth, Dorset, where they moved to, but Louisa and her sisters are buried in Yeovil Cemetery, just off Preston Road. One of the intriguing aspects is that Louisa was (as we say today) a wheel chair user from a young age. We do not know the reason for this, but Louisa records “waiting at the bottom of South Cadbury until her friends came back, but was determined to see the thatched cottage at Ninesprings.”

The key thing was getting ‘professionally’ prepared for the researcher to view the diaries. Therefore, we set up a reading pillow and cleared the table of any cups or refreshments and suggested reading one at a time, leaving the majority of the small A5 notebooks in the acid free, archival box.

We thought we had planned this well, until the researcher asked for a magnifying glass as the writing was very small and tightly spaced together. We had laid a suitable foundation, but are always open to suggestions. The closer examination was particularly rewarding to see each individual letter and ‘magnify’ the memories contained therein.

We are also getting on well with our school loans boxes and will report back later.

On the enquiry side, we have received a fascinating request regarding coffee tables that were presented to Councils as part of the naming ceremonies of ‘named’ locomotives. ‘Yeovil’ was named on the 2 November 1945 and we are currently searching for the corresponding table! If anyone can help please let us know – More next week!


Just one of the fascinating Louisa Harris diaries.


Loan Boxes coming along well!




Reference Remembrance

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

The highlight has to be our screening of the Battle of the Somme Film at Yeovil Library on Friday 1st July 2016, the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Battle. Copies of the film were made by the Imperial War Museum for institutions to show free of charge to the public. The Library had kindly provided the top ‘Music floor’ for our use and a lap top and projector in order to show the film. The technical side was particularly appreciated as we had arranged a back-up plan with spare lap top and projector – only to discover at 11am that our computer did not have a DVD player!

Fortunately, all worked out well and we took our prepared board display with panels also provided by the Imperial War Museum to the top floor. Librarian staff helped us set up and around 25 members of the public came to appreciate the introduction to the film and the film itself. We were also grateful to our ‘lap top’ helper who reminded staff not to let the screen lock, as we would need the librarian to keep entering their password to unlock the screen for us.

The film is around an hour-long and most people stayed for the whole screening. We also appreciated the quietness of the library; as even with the telephone ringing and general visitors, we had very few interruptions. We also hoped the afternoon was useful for the library in helping to bring in more visitors that would otherwise not have come in.

Fundamentally, we thanked Yeovil Library for helping to provide us with the means to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in Yeovil with local people.

We are now considering other projects that could help CHAC and the Library, particularly in terms of increasing visitors and ‘usage.

Other interest was created by a visit from a gentleman and his wife to see the display of railway images we had previously shown in our Yeovil Library window display and a visit from a researcher interested in the Louisa Harris diaries – which we will report on next time.



Visitors enjoying our display panels provided by the Imperial War Museum at our screening of the Battle of the Somme film at Yeovil Library on Friday 1st July 2016.


Display of Unity

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

First and foremost in our minds is the 100th Anniversary Commemorations for the Battle of the Somme taking place today around the world. We are marking the milestone with a screening of the Battle of the Somme film loaned to us by the Imperial War Museum (IWM). This will take place at Yeovil Library on the top floor at 2.30pm with the kind assistance of Yeovil Librarians (particularly on lap top and projector duties!)

The official IWM Guide to the Film provides useful background context:

“The Battle of the Somme film is one of the most popular films of the First World War seen by over 20 million people in Britain at the time. These momentous audience numbers make The Battle of the Somme one of the most popular films in British Cinema history. The film marked a turning point in film making, being the first feature length documentary about a war, and changed the way cinema and film were perceived by society. In 2016, IWM will be making the restored version of the film available to members of the Centenary Partnership to screen in their venues to audiences all over the world.”

We are already fulfilling this aim, as several local community and history groups wish to screen the film as part of their regular meetings. Significantly, the hosts cannot charge an entry fee, but through the screening, CHAC hopes to let people know more about our service and role and also help Yeovil Library by simply prompting more visitors to come in and see what the library has to offer.

In addition to the film, we also have a static ‘panel’ display with historical information around the time of 1916 and related to the Battle of the Somme also provided by the Imperial War Museum.

We also helped Langport and District History Society with their ‘Pop Up Museum’ as part of the Langport Festival with the last day on Saturday 25th June 2016. We loaned three small, resin, sloping display cases as the main idea was for members of the public to bring in items related to Langport to show during the period of the Festival. This was an intriguing idea and school photographs proved a popular item to be brought in. Significant items from possibly Langport’s most famous name, the economist, Walter Bagehot, were also on display, together with projected images of Langport carnival.

More next time on our Battle of the Somme Screening.


Assisting Langport and District History Society with their ‘Pop Up’ Museum with the loan of display sloping cases as part of the Langport Festival.