Friendly Relations

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

On Tuesday, staff attended a training course at M Shed Bristol provided by the South West Museum Development Programme on the theme of strengthening links between Museums and Higher Education. This was a useful and effective day with talks on ‘setting the scene’ ; case studies, which included firstly, “Sharing the fun with University Volunteers,” led by Joseph Williams, PhD Candidate, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, University of Bath to talk about the Young BRSLI Programme and secondly, “The Pathways Programme” led by Sam Jackman, Early Career Development Co-ordinator at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, (RAMM) Exeter and Plymouth City Museum. The Pathways Programme is a paid internship scheme led by the MPM partnership of Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and RAMM with the University of Exeter. The programme will run in June 2017 and is designed to encourage more students to consider careers in the creative and cultural sectors.

This was an eventful time, especially after the freight train derailment between Castle Cary and Frome on Monday night saw us take an enjoyable, scenic coach trip from Castle Cary Station to Westbury, before proceeding back on the train to Bristol Temple Meads Station and our destination for the day.

Donations this week have included a late-Victorian vapouriser in the original box. This came via a telephone message left on our answer phone. The vapouriser looks like an oil lamp with a circular metal plate on the top and is useful in the treatment of (and to quote): “Catarrh; Spasmodic Croup; Asthma and Whooping Cough.” There is not a direct Yeovil link, so this will be useful in our handling collection.

On Wednesday, we were delighted to receive the Horsington Friendly Society banner as a donation into the CHAC Collection, following agreement with all parties concerned. We were grateful to the depositors for transporting the banner to us.

Information provided by the depositors explains: “The banner is a rare and significant relic of the social life of Horsington at a time when the village was still a traditional and largely agricultural community with much of its population employed on the land or in trades associated with farming by one of the few landowners like the squire. A Horsington club is known to have existed in 1850 and may have originated earlier. The modern development of the club was finally dissolved in 1982.

Clubs like Horsington existed in most local villages to encourage thrift and to provide insurance through savings schemes against sickness, unemployment and death. They were funded by monthly subscription from members for their common benefit. On or around May Day, the Horsington banner was paraded through the village and brought to a celebratory service in St. John’s Church. The date of the Horsington banner is unknown. The motif depicts a handshake between worker and master. The Union Jack was not part of the original design.”

This was a great example of staff and volunteers working together effectively to complete a range of tasks. While staff helped the visitors on a tour of the store, volunteers were documenting new donations; checking costume and where necessary lending a helping hand (literally!) for a photograph of the banner.

The Horsington Banner is an important donation in its own right, but also enhances the friendly society collections at CHAC, including another banner from East Chinnock Friendly Society and the village pole heads, among the earliest donations to the original Museum Collection.

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The Horsington Friendly Society banner donated to the Community Heritage Access Centre.

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