Tag Archives: Dorset

A Punishing Schedule

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

Highlights so far have included our volunteers visit to the Alfred Gillett Trust at Street, Somerset to discover how the Trust Staff look after the collection of shoes associated with Clarks International.

We have also wrapped up the objects for our forthcoming ‘Crime and Punishment’ Exhibition. The next step is to mount the labels and chosen photographs for the exhibition and rear panel in the Town House, Union Street, Yeovil. With the recent sunshine, we took the opportunity to take photographs of the Hundred Stone, just off Mudford Road; the former Ewens & Johnson Building near Stars Lane; the Magistrates Court next to Petters Way Car Park and the current Police Station off Queensway. These illustrations will accompany key captions in our display.

In the Anglo-Saxon period, policing in Yeovil was carried out by the Shire Court, held originally at Somerton and later at Ilchester. Below the Shire Court in power came the Hundred Court. In Yeovil this was held at the Hundred Stone on the corner where Combe Street Lane, Mudford Road and Stone Lane meet. Petty crimes were dealt with such as assaults and thefts and the condition of the roads.

In our ‘object of the month’ we consider a painting of Trent Manor House by architect J. Johnston, with a notable historical link. We only had a very brief description on our database, so asked our volunteer with an artistic background to provide some more descriptive detail. This was significant as the existing description read “Landscape View of Trent Manor House.” This is true, until  we discovered that the painting also includes a blow-up image of King Charles II and his hiding place in the Manor House. This detail was added along with more insights on the Manor building itself.

For the eagle-eyed among our readers, making the observation that Trent is in Dorset, the Kelly’s Directory for Dorsetshire 1931 notes the following on this point and more on King Charles II: “Trent – this parish 3 miles north-east from Yeovil was transferred from Somerset to Dorset as from 31 March 1896. The Manor House, formerly occupied by the Wyndham family, is famous as the place in which Charles II was concealed for 15 days after the battle of Worcester, September 3, 1651.”

The Hundred Stone – the Hundred Court. In Yeovil this was held at the Hundred Stone on the corner where Combe Street Lane, Mudford Road and Stone Lane meet.


The painting of Trent Manor House with the ‘hidden’ detail!DSCN1446





Fourchette Me Not

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

Last Friday we enjoyed the company of a lady glove designer. The meeting was arranged to  discover the fascinating story when the lady worked for Southcombes of Stoke sub Hamdon as the company’s only female glove designer. Southcombes are perhaps best known today for producing fire-retardant gloves for the fire brigade, as well as a range of ‘dress’ leather gloves.

We were expecting an informative interview, which would provide valuable background ‘working’ detail of an actual South Somerset gloving factory. This is always useful to enhance our gloving tools ‘on the shelves’ in the store. This went very well indeed, with superb insights into the everyday experiences of a family-run business and some of the colourful designs.

With the notes taken (in an individual form of shorthand!) we came to the two large carrier bags, placed at the end of our table. We had expected a few pairs of gloves to be donated, to illustrate the lady’s intriguing life story, but not around 80 pairs. Moreover, our designer wished to explain the thoughts that went into each design; the significant development represented by each design and the market each glove was designed for.

We were so grateful for this; not only for such a key donation, but also for wishing to take such a degree of time and effort to explain the context of each design. We often have the case where people do not have the time to explain the significance of the items they donate, particularly the connection to family and place.

The explanation was central in this case; for the simple reason that the lady designed many, if not all of the gloves and Southcombes made them; often in some cases, only making an individual sample.

The only problem, on a practical level, was actually how to record the level of detail on 50 pairs of gloves laid out and numbered on our Research Room table. Fortunately, we used the ‘film’ option on our digital camera to record each numbered glove and the associated information – which was useful to keep both together for future reference.

Our gloving week continued with our visit to Chester Jefferies Glove Factory Ltd at Gillingham, near Shaftesbury, Dorset. This was a great experience, as staff were provided with a guided tour of every aspect of the process. This illustrated all the aspects we had spoken of on the Friday and essentially helped staff to confirm exactly what certain gloving tools were called and how they were used.

Chester Jefferies was founded in 1936, but due to competition rules, another company could not be set up within 100 miles. Therefore another site was chosen in Westbury, Wiltshire and then in 1963, Gillingham, Dorset, continuing the tradition of finely made, leather gloves, where individual customer requirements can be achieved.

We were fascinated to actually see how a glove is made, using traditional tools and the many Yeovil connections. These included gloving webs made by Hallett’s of Yeovil and the main press made by Ashley’s of Yeovil. We were also fascinated to confirm the difference between  quirks and fourchettes in a finished glove and discover a framed photograph of “The Oldest Glover in Dorset” using a sewing machine made by Moffatt’s of Yeovil!


A busy morning at Chester Jefferies Ltd, Gillingham, Dorset.

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And a Yeovil Connection!

Keep Sake

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

Intriguingly, our week starts and ends with a Dorset connection. Last Friday, we were in Dorchester for our annual Research Trip, investigating another Museum to pick up hints and tips and to see if we can use these to develop the service we offer at CHAC.

We started our day at the Keep Military Museum, located on the junction of Bridport Road and Barrack Road, Dorchester, which was the home to the Regiments of Devon and Dorset. The Keep was completed in 1879 and designed to resemble a Norman Castle. The Keep is built of Portland Stone, which gives it a white appearance.

We enjoyed a superb tour, climbing ever higher up the spiral staircase – and were mindful not to look down as we climbed! Of particular interest was the outreach work completed with local schools and sixth form colleges. We were shown around the dedicated outreach room and the replica uniforms used to illustrate a series of talks and activities. On the way to the newly opened replica trench with periscopes to view the ensuing battle at the front in case of snipers, we passed Adolf Hitler’s desk complete with Christmas card from the Fuehrer!

Very small details like display stands and archive drawers were another great spot.Our tour was completed with a roof top glimpse out over Dorchester in the brilliant sunshine and explanation of how the Keep Gateway was part of the Barracks layout.

On our way to leave, we also received a number of documents related to Yeovil including a leaflet related to the “Cessation of Conflict on VJ Day” – a helpful addition to our collection as we have a selection of items on VE Day, but only a few on VJ Day.  Following our enjoyable lunch time arrangements (soup with side serving of seasonal vegetables) we completed our day at Dorchester County Museum, with a noticeable focus on the new archaeology gallery. The display of small tokens on resin blocks so both sides were visible was a great insight.

The following day we were in Yeovil Town Centre for 9am with our Yeovil Calendars at the “Super Saturday” Event between the Farmer’s Market and ‘Busker’s Base’ – 1 of 4 we were informed!This was very much worth attending as we did well in terms of calendar sales and explaining the background and purpose of CHAC – one lady even asked when our next lecture was due!

So to Shaftesbury for Thursday 1st October 2015 – report due next time.

View from the top of the Keep Military Museum, looking out over the layout of the barracks – a little changed by modern construction!


Part of our Display from “Super Saturday” in Yeovil on Saturday 26th September 2015