Tag Archives: Costume

Order of the Garter

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

Staff have completed arranging our new annual exhibition at Yeovil Town Council Building in Union Street. This is entitled “Student’s Choice” and comprises the objects chosen by our group of Yeovil College University Centre students. These include a leather bag used to collect rent by a member of the Harris family and a small Vesta case with a tiny photograph advertising a local bicycle agent.

Staff and volunteers are also in the process of finalising the Yeovil 2018 Calendar with a few tweaks here and there and discussions over the front cover!

Staff will also be present at this weekend’s Wessex Truck Show with a historical photographic display of trucks around Yeovil from the 1950s to the 1980s. The aim is to use the truck theme as a channel to share and generate interest in local heritage and hopefully raise awareness of CHAC and the collections.

We also discovered a notable find during our volunteering day on Wednesday. Two volunteers help us to look after and monitor the costume collection. In one small box was a garter dating from the 18th century, which was in a rather poor state. We did not have a record of any previous condition on our database, so therefore completed a detailed analysis on this occasion.

Last week we reported on the excavations at Lufton Roman Villa but forgot to include the link to the Blog page. To rectify this, the Blog link is below:



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.”

Print pf MM649


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.


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!

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.

Costume Highlights

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

We have welcomed staff from the British Museum and the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer, which we aim to report on shortly.

Our volunteer team is currently helping staff to examine, photograph and re-pack boxed items of the costume collection. This is particularly important, especially as the acid free tissue becomes rather old. The simple aspect of opening a box and checking a waist coat or hat for any signs of damage or new wear is an important role, especially when a photograph is taken at the same time. This allows us to have a reference to show the extent of any change and where this is located on the items and is also useful for talks and exhibitions.

New donations this week included a colour photograph of St. Michael and All Angels Church, Yeovil, in June 1990.

Copies of the Celebrating Yeovil 2017 Calendar are still available.

Some of the stars of the waistcoat collection.










Aspiring to Greatness

Aspiring to Greatness

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

So far this week, we have shared our first loan of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) “Battle of the Somme” DVD with Milborne Port History Society with a screening on Monday 17th October 2016. This copy was returned on Wednesday 19th October 2016, only to be loaned out again to East Coker. We were particularly intrigued to hear the conversation between the group organiser which had seen the film and the one about to view the documentary. We will be even more fascinated to hear the ‘view from East Coker’ and discover their impressions. We also loaned a selection of Somme themed A4 mounted images, produced by the IWM to East Coker.

The big event this week was in Salisbury, Wiltshire as a staff member and volunteer travelled to The Salisbury Museum for training on “Caring for Social History Collections.” This was particularly thought-provoking as the first part of our discussion looked at how we define ‘social history’ in the first place. Possibly the simplest, ‘working’ definition would be ‘shaped by human intervention with written or artistic provenance and reflecting everyday life’. This helps to distinguish social history from archaeology. However, as we discussed, the parameters can be indistinct, especially when a local collector (and therefore within in a museum’s collecting policy) collects the archaeological item and makes notes about the object in a diary.

We also enjoyed practical exercises writing object condition reports and making observations. One example was a book mark with a fabric tassel, which presented issues of looking after paper and textile, but also the obvious points could be the ones we miss; as the greatest risk in terms of potential damage would simply be from bending or folding. In addition, the Winchester- themed book mark also presented issues in terms of collecting policy, as clearly Salisbury Museum would not wish to collect this object; but the book mark may have come in a book on Salisbury and be part of the object’s ‘social history.’

We also took part in conservation cleaning exercises and practical cleaning of objects with a variety of materials, including microfibre cloths.

We also learnt it would possibly be best on our next visit to Salisbury and Salisbury Cathedral with Britain’s tallest spire at 123 metres to use the Park and Ride!

The Celebrating Yeovil 2017 Calendar is now in The Courtyard Café, 27 Market Street, Yeovil BA20 1HZ (01935) 472407.

We were also looking at storage of costume this week.


One of our recently scanned photographs:



Costume Connections

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

So far, activities have included checking an ‘odds and ends’ box from a local garage for woodworm after treatment; looking at loans to local museums and deciding on the best course of action with a recent donation related to a photograph at Pen Mill School (More on this hopefully next week!)

Continuing our costume theme, we highlighted a connection between a fascinating apron and a well-known Yeovil figure.

When our volunteers requested a ‘familiarisation’ tour of our upper level environmentally controlled store (ECS) we started with two volunteers helping us with the care, re-packing and documentation of the costume collection.

This revealed how storage of the costume has changed, particularly from the former, very small and cramped store. We also asked our volunteers for their favourite item of costume and one ‘spoken of’ but not yet seen was a decorative apron listed as ‘Jacobean’ and worked by ‘Sarah 1st Duchess of Marlborough for our Great Grandmother.’ Upon locating the apron within the similar index of items, the true intricate nature of the garment was revealed – and radically different to our modern idea of a functional apron!

Upon checking our MODES Database for more information, we discovered the item was donated by W.R.E. Mitchelmore. This is particularly intriguing, as William Richard Edwards Mitchelmore also donated an eel spear and was involved in the preliminary investigations at the Westland Roman Villa Site in 1925. He was also the first honorary curator of The Wyndham Museum. Mitchelmore is perhaps best known as the ‘Peace Mayor’ – serving three terms between 1918 and 1921. Therefore, the connection with such a decorative item of costume, not only furthers our appreciation of the item itself, but also casts new light on our existing knowledge of this renowned individual and his status within Yeovil society.

The ‘Celebrating Yeovil’ 2017 Calendars continue to do well.

Gratitude to The Archive Photographs Series “Around Yeovil” Compiled by Robin Ansell and Marion Barnes, Chalford Publishing, 1995.

An embroidered apron listed as a production period ‘Jacobean’ from the period of English history that coincides with the reign of James 1 of England (1603 – 1625)