Tag Archives: education

The Banner of Life

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One of the great aspects about being the co-ordinator at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre is the variety of sources we have available to assist the public with enquiries.

These include objects, documents and photographs but as staff are learning through the help of our volunteers,  another valuable source is the wonderful selection of costume. This features a notable array of banners and samplers, which are currently being checked for condition and re-packed.

The two examples are from a set of four school house banners from Grass Royal Secondary School in the period 1939-1971 and we understand were made by school teacher and archery champion,  Marion Felix.

In another request for information, can anyone tell us what happened to the canon or Howitzer gun that used to be in Bides Gardens. We have at least one photograph that shows the canon at the Princes Street entrance to Bides Gardens, possibly in the 1950s – therefore suggesting it was not melted down for the ‘War Effort.’

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Dracula came from Keinton Mandeville

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

So far, we have loaned a set of display boards to our District Council planning colleagues, organised a Victorian-themed Half-Term Trail and enjoyed the company of a local Scout troop, earning their history badge – more on this in our next BLOG.

One of the recent highlights came in our talk with Keinton Mandeville Women’s Institute. Staff looked at two ‘self-made’ Keinton Mandeville men. The first was Oliver Chalker, a local quarry owner and known as the ‘Keinton Mandeville Strong Man’ – with some justification; as the photograph we have of Mr Chalker is believed to show him as a 91 year old possibly in the 1920s lifting a wooden wheel barrow laden with weights around 250kgs.

The second ‘self-made’ man was the more recognisable, Henry Irving; the great theatre actor, born in Keinton Mandeville in 1838. Henry’s father worked in the village for a drapery business. In 1842, the family moved to Bristol where there was more work available. Henry went on to become one of this country’s greatest stage actors at the Lyceum Theatre in London and appeared in many plays with the equally renowned Ellen Terry. However, the really striking element which came out of staff research for the talk was Irving’s connection to perhaps one of the greatest gothic novels of the late Victorian age.

Staff passed around Henry Irving’s portrait and then asked for reactions to the image. These included ‘brooding’ ‘mysterious’ and ‘like Oscar Wilde.’ Staff then explained that the connection was fitting, given the rather stormy, windswept night and the proximity to Halloween. One of the members then made the connection and said: “Dracula.”

Indeed this is the case as Henry Irving’s stage manager at the Lyceum Theatre was none other than Bram Stoker and it is said that Stoker based his now legendary character on Irving and so therefore (perhaps rather loosely!) we can say that Dracula came from Keinton Mandeville!

Staff also re-dressed the all-male balance by highlighting Lady Lucy Houston, the primary funder of the first ever flight over Mount Everest, achieved by two Westland Aircraft in April 1933, which was named (in her honour) as the Houston-Westland Expedition.

The 2018 Yeovil Calendar is now available from the Courtyard Café, Market Street, Yeovil – thank you!

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A set of Great Western Railway Buttons reflecting our Victorian-themed Half-Term Trail!

An Education in themselves

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

Highlights so far have included sorting out the finds to go back to Ham Hill; ordering our list of preservation materials; arranging a radio interview with Somerset Sound on the Barwick Follies and completing our order to attend the South West Federation Learning Symposium at the American Museum in Britain, near Bath on Wednesday 8th March 2017 with two of our volunteers.

Donations this week include a selection of Yeovil High School magazines dating from autumn 1947 to autumn 1953. Yeovil High School for Girls was based at 45, The Park, Yeovil. The ‘last ever’ Yeovil High School magazine was produced in Autumn 1973 prior to the school joining with Yeovil (boys) School and Summerleaze Secondary Modern School in 1974 as Westfield Comprehensive School.

The magazines are an education in themselves as they describe the prefects, examinations and the trips out including a visit to Bristol described in French and an expedition to Maiden Castle. There are also further links to Yeovil with trips to see an exhibition of dolls at Denners and in the ‘Old Girls’ Section, a number of girls were working at Aplin & Barrett. There is also some invaluable advice of gym attire!

Intriguingly, the donor had only a short time to complete the entry forms before departing for another appointment; CHAC being just one stop of the day on a lengthy list. However, when we opened up the summer 1948 Edition, we also discovered pieces of paper and two photographs tucked inside. These were a Speech Day; A Carol Service; A list of characters in a play entitled “Prunella or Love in a Dutch Garden,” and the photographs were possibly corresponding images of either the carol service or “Prunella.”

We amended the entry form and sent a copy to the donor. We continue to be amazed and delighted by the objects and associated history that still come to light and which people have the grace to donate to the Centre, in line with our collecting policy.



Examples from a recent donation of Yeovil High School Magazines. Note the Motto: “Palma Non Sine Pulvere” = Victory not without toil or ‘Dare to Try’ which seems to be the motto of many schools at the time. The pupil’s name and Class is also a great ‘human interest’ connection.

Conference Call

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

So far, we have sent off for the first proof copy of the 2017 Celebrating Yeovil Calendar, finalised more of our Summer Town House Exhibition and our volunteers have celebrated their 2-year anniversary of volunteering with a meal in Stoke Sub-Hamdon.

The big event of the week was our attendance at Yeovil University Centre Student Conference at Yeovil College University Centre, Mudford Road, Yeovil on Wednesday 25th May 2016.

This was a student led conference displaying a range of professional skills, including presentations and discussions on a variety of themes spanning across English and History. The conference showed the skills and knowledge gained over three years on the students’ degree course.

A notable element of these skills and knowledge were gained at CHAC as the students visited between November 2015 and February 2016, to learn about some of the key tasks staff carry out to care for the collection.

These included accessioning photographs; conservation cleaning of objects and downloading information on relative humidity and temperature to see what the climatic conditions were like in the stores; (Not to mention a chemise worn by Queen Victoria!)

The students had reflected these ‘rewarding visits’ in their ‘Student Market’ portfolio displays, with academic blogs ‘linked to a local museum’ (guess who!) and photographs of their time with staff carrying out their activities like cleaning or even locating selected objects in the store.

In the morning, we learnt about the students’ courses with elements of creative writing, journalism, teaching abilities, blogging and editorial pieces. After a refreshing lunch, in the afternoon session, the four students each gave a presentation. Three of these were critiques of novels around a specific theme, including Neoliberal Corruption; identity and the circularity of Life or approaches to narrative.

Staff from CHAC were thanked specifically for their help during the course, especially for providing access to a work-based environment and examples of actual work that has to be completed to ensure the best quality of care for the items and photographs. Staff did not realise how much they had helped and encouraged the students – and dare we say – how much fun we enjoyed along the way!

Fundamentally, the conference was a reminder to Staff of the significance of connecting with a new part of the community and that the care carried out is worthwhile and has a purpose.


CHAC Staff with Yeovil University Centre Students –


Yeovil University Centre Students with Staff and Lecturers


Thank you Card555