Collecting Mrs Maudslay

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

Highlights so far have included an enquiry on the history of policing in Yeovil, from a former resident. Coincidentally, our current exhibition in Yeovil Town House is on the subject of historical crime and punishment, so this was a fairly quick enquiry to answer.

We have also received requests for assistance from Crewkerne Museum for their next annual exhibition and Ilchester Museum for their Norman-themed day.

A real gem of a story came in the donation of a pastel portrait. The portrait is of Dorothy Florence Maudslay born in 1892 and died aged 85 in 1977. Her maiden name was Dorothy Florence Fleming and then married Cyril Charles Maudslay, Director of the Maudslay Motor Co. They lived at Coker House, East Coker. Dorothy was very active in village affairs, holding committee meetings of the WI in Coker House and also giving out the prizes at the Yeovil Show. Dorothy was awarded an MBE in 1964.

The North Transept at East Coker Church belonged to the Maudslay Family until the Church took it over in 1985.

We understand the painting was sold at local Auctioneers in 1977 to a local family and then came to a neighbour of the donor. The neighbour passed away in December 2016 and the painting passed to a family member. The family member thought that our donor would like the painting and they then offered “Mrs Maudslay” to CHAC.

Staff enjoyed an exceedingly memorable morning meeting both the donor and the family member and sharing the fond memories the painting evoked. Both the donor and the family member were keen for CHAC to add the pastel portrait to the collection of paintings and artworks. Firstly, for the local person represented to be placed in a local context and secondly, also to highlight the significance of the existing portraits, which contain founders of the gloving industry, bankers, the founder of the first Yeovil Museum and even a Carnival King!

Staff had to explain, though, to colleagues when on the outward journey they had an empty car and then on their return, they had “collected Mrs Maudslay.”

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The portrait is of Dorothy Florence Maudslay born in 1892 and died aged 85 in 1977. We believe the portrait in pastel shows Dorothy around the age of 21 before her marriage – when Dorothy Florence Fleming.

Dorothy and her husband, Cyril Charles Maudslay, lived at Coker House, East Coker.


The Grand Plan

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

Highlights so far have included meeting a Yeovil College Degree Centre Student to discuss the booklet they have designed for our new exhibition starting in June 2017 and a photograph of wounded service men with nursing staff in the grounds of Yeovil Hospital. This image is particularly intriguing, as some of the service men are holding a rabbit or a small dog. The enquiry from the Dementia Care Team at Yeovil Hospital asked permission to use the image to show how animals were used to help in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

We are also holding our next Finds Afternoon today – feedback next time.

We also came to document and accession two plans of Hendford Manor this week, which highlighted the great connections some donations can hold.

The plans were drawn by Dennis Michael Berryman in 1948, when we understand Hendford Manor was converted inside into offices. We were informed Dennis Berryman became the Area Planning Officer. The plans show an incredible level of detail down to stairs inside and fountains in the ornamental garden. What we enjoy with different sources is the ability to compare and contrast, as we have one or two images of the garden before the construction of the Johnson Hall, latterly the Octagon Theatre and showing the former Museum of South Somerset in the (as detailed on the plan) “Coach House.”

The key aspect of the plan is to show all of these details in context and on one piece of paper – then to look back at the photographs – especially the one of a Westland Dragonfly helicopter landing in the grounds of Hendford Manor! We wonder if there are any photographs of the “Fountain” or “Fish Tank” in an album somewhere.

The superb aspect of this particular donation is that we have a photograph of Dennis Michael Berryman – intriguingly helping out on one of Leonard Hayward’s excavations at Lufton Mosaic in “1946-1947.”

Therefore, we wonder at the age of the young man in the photograph and the progression he made to produce the plans of Hendford Manor in December 1948.

Examples of the Hendford Manor Plans drawn by Dennis Michael Berryman in December 1948
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Hendford Manor was built around 1750 for James Hooper and enlarged in the 19th Century by Edwin Newman; both were solicitors.
(Courtesy of Hayward, L.C., From Portreeve to Mayor, the growth of Yeovil 1750-1854, Castle Cary Press, 1987.)

Patten of Life

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

So far this week, we have helped two students from Yeovil College University Centre with their project on Henry Stiby; discovered the background to Kingsbury Episcopi Time Travellers Group’s First World War Project and received the two supporting poles for the Horsington Friendly Society Banner.

In a busy upcoming diary, the date for Yeovil Library’s “Horrible Histories” event is due to be Tuesday 30th May 2017, 10am-1pm and we are due to be present with an initial plan at the moment entitled “What’s In The Box?”

One of the exciting highlights were three pairs of shoes, which came back off loan from Bruton Museum. As an Accredited Museum, CHAC can loan objects of interest to other local Accredited Museums. This raises the profile of CHAC and helps other museums to show a variety of different objects and photographs.

Bruton Museum has a changing, temporary display area called “Case Space.” CHAC recently loaned a pair of bright red Mary Quant plastic boots; a pair of ladies open-toed, wedge sandals and an intriguing pair of pattens. These look like a leather sandal on the top, with a large metal ring screwed to the wooden base, perhaps with the idea to walk over muddy ground. The fascinating element was contained in a handwritten note accompanying the pattens. This highlighted that the ‘shoes’ were made near Wedmore in 1920 for a lady; but the lady died before she could wear them.

Any more information on these would be gladly received – particularly if we have patten spelt correctly as some versions have one ‘T’ and some have two!

In another Bruton – Yeovil connection, during the visit of the Horsington Friendly Society donors, we talked about our recent Volunteer outing to Bruton Museum and one of the “star attractions” being John Steinbeck’s writing slope. As it turned out, the donor’s wife, typed up Steinbeck’s manuscripts when Steinbeck lived near Bruton and several pupils from the local school went to see the ‘Great American Author’ when they were actually studying “Of Mice and Men.”

Steinbeck’s love of Bruton is underlined that when passing away, his wife wrote a note with the question: “When were we happiest?” and Steinbeck is reputed to have answered by writing: “Bruton.”


A pair of pattens (or patens?) made in Blackford, near Wedmore in 1920. More information and insights gratefully received!

Registering Our Success

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

Carrying on, from where we left off, the two enquirers with a shared interest in the Ship Café, Earle Street, Yeovil met at CHAC on Friday 7th March 2017 and shared memories together of growing up around the town. Two photograph albums were particularly helpful as they showed the area around Earle Street and Vincent Street before, during and after the Quedam Shopping Centre was built.

The particular reminiscences were great to hear, including remembering the blue and white diamond pattern table cloths; an especially fine coffee, which was a ‘trademark’ of the Ship Café and the staff behind the counter, which were the one enquirer’s relatives!

This Monday we were joined by a Yeovil College University Centre Student to complete a CHAC display for our regular Yeovil Library Window slot. This was on the theme of Registrars and Registration in Yeovil from around 1830 to the modern-day. This was a superb exercise as the student completed all the text and captions and requested copies of certain photographs to illustrate the locations of the buildings which historically housed the registration departments.

This collaborative project fulfilled two aims; to provide our next Library Window Display and the student with a practical piece of actual evidence for their coursework.

On Tuesday, staff and volunteers were made welcome at Bruton Museum and the nearby Hauser and Wirth Art Gallery for our Volunteer Outing. We were blessed with the weather and John Steinbeck’s writing desk and some were also able to enjoy the delights of Cole Manor Tea Rooms around one mile from Bruton.


The display on the history of Registrars and Registration in Yeovil created by a Yeovil College University Centre Student.


Meeting of Memories

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

So far, we have welcomed two District Council Colleagues on tours of the Centre. This was especially useful for staff as one tour highlighted the treadle sewing machines, which brought to mind a relative’s role as an outworker in the local gloving industry. The second tour revealed an interest in aerial photographs, so the 1948 black and white aerial image of Huish Football Ground and the colour image of Reckleford were of particular interest. Intriguingly, the Reckleford image showed a completed Yeovil Hospital, so was after 1973, but still showed the Huish Football Ground, so was therefore taken before 1992.

One of the key elements Centre staff expressed was the Collecting Policy and how this has become much more stringent over the years! We also explained the constant reminder that objects are from the public, for the benefit of the whole community.

We also met our prospective Work Experience Student for two days in July this year. Like the two staff tours, they were also surprised by the range of objects cared for at the centre.

All three tours raised what may seem simple questions, but are important to follow-up. These included: “What type of handle is that on the Denner and Stiby Knife”; “Is William Wyndham, the provider of Yeovil’s first Museum related to the Wyndham in ‘Wyndham Hill’ and “Can you loan dresses out to a film company for extra income?”

The last question is covered by our Accreditation standards and the original agreement signed by the donor of the item. Other ethical issues raised by the question need more consideration, to be ready for future tours.

We also enjoyed a co-incidental meeting of memories recently, when two separate enquiries shared a connection to the Ship Café in Earl Street, Yeovil. One enquirer’s relatives owned or worked in the Café and the second enquirer remembers going in for refreshments. We hope to unite the two enquirers today at 3pm. We aim to report back on progress next time!

We also completed the W.H. Slade, Glenville Road Glove Company Enquiry this week, by scanning two planning documents; one from 1920 and a second from 1952 – aspects of which are reproduced below.

Directory 1910 Slade578

In the 1910 Kelly’s Directory, Henry Slade are listed in Reckleford, Yeovil.

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This is the proposed new Factory Site in Glenville Road, Yeovil. The plan is dated 31st January 1920.

Mapping Progress

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

Monday started with two local student researchers. The first is helping staff with a planned collaborative window display for Yeovil Library on the fascinating history of registrars in Yeovil. This will also provide a practical project assessment for the student’s coursework module.

Soon after, the second student arrived and staff helped to answer the enquiry on the development of the St. Michael’s Avenue area of Yeovil and a more specific focus on W.H. Slade Glove Factory in Glenville Road, Yeovil, owned by a relative, for which we could provide evidence from local directories, photographs of the factory and plans of factory developments.

Tuesday saw staff travel to the Literature Exchange at Haynes International Motor Museum at Sparkford, Somerset, which was organised by the Economic Development section of South Somerset District Council. This was an opportunity to tell around 50 local businesses and heritage organisations about CHAC. We also discovered some inspiration from the Haynes displays to help interpret some of the transport themed collections at CHAC.

Wednesday saw a busy volunteering day, which included checking and re-packing one seemingly endless box of costume; documenting the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Brochures (Yeovil Branch) and the newly donated Guide uniform. Of particular interest to our volunteer with cartographic experience was completing a detailed study of two maps for the Know Your Place Project. These were of Hinton (Mudford) and Marston Magna, near Yeovil, dating from 1763 and 1764 respectively. These used to be stored behind a Perspex frame, but following digitization at the Somerset Heritage Centre, are now stored in much more manageable inert plastic sleeves. The line drawing of the churches in each map is particularly detailed, as is the compass rose and the north pointer is indicated by a ‘fleur de lis.’ Both maps have a connection to landowner, John Old Goodford, Esq, a well-documented figure, but the actual cartographer of the map the ‘made and taken by’ Samuel Donne of Melbury Osmond (near Yeovil) in the County of Dorset needs further research, to discover more about what seems a fascinating figure based on their work.

The specific details taken by our volunteer is a great asset, which can be placed in the object history file for each map, for use by further researchers and added to our database records for each map.

Thursday saw our next Photo Afternoon, which was attended by two new people, one of which found out about the event through our library display.

While the Photo Afternoon was in progress, our contact from the Dementia Care Unit at Yeovil Hospital brought back our Glove Loan Box 1, which they were trialling. Suggestions for improvement were broadly based around more contextual information and photographs of the gloving process and this also provided useful additional income.


A photograph of W.H. Slade & Co. Ltd, Gloving Factory, Glenville Road, Yeovil.

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.


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