Tag Archives: friendly society

“Our Local Surprise”

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.

Staff attended the Yeovil College University Centre annual conference on Friday 19th May from 1pm to 6pm. This was an enjoyable combination of student talks and presentations based on their final course work assignments. CHAC had loaned a number of blue display boards and the colour co-ordination worked particularly well. The students also made reference to the work they had completed at CHAC in their displays, which was useful publicity in the wider community.

This Thursday, we also enjoyed the company of East Chinnock Gardening Group. 19 members of the group shared a tour of the stores, ably assisted by 4 volunteers. There were many memories prompted by the gloving tools; paintings and especially by the costume items selected and explained by one of our costume volunteers. We were also grateful for the £2 per person and contributions for calendars, books and postcards.

Staff and volunteers also helped to display possibly our key East Chinnock object – the East Chinnock Friendly Society Banner, which we got ready by placing inert foam and acid free tissue underneath and then acid free tissue on top. We completed the tour by viewing the Banner, which we introduced as “our Local Surprise.”

Making the effort to prepare the Banner for display was really worthwhile as the whole group got to see it and appreciate the size and quality of the design. This also helped staff and volunteers to check the overall condition. We noted the fringe was shedding and our conservation contact explained: “It looks as though the edging is a silk border which is shattering – breaking into small rectangular pieces as it ages and becomes more brittle. This is often associated with tin salts which were added to silks to make them stiffer.

The manufacturer has helpfully painted his name in the inscription. They are Edward Riley & Co. Ltd., Manufacturers of Flags and Banners, Ladies’ Skirts, Costumes and Robes, and Military Clothing, Providence Street Mills.”

One of the intriguing elements presented by the Banner is the hand in the middle with a heart shape in the palm.

We were also grateful to East Chinnock Gardening Group as several members wish to make repeat visits to see aspects of the collection in more detail. Many were keen on attending our next Photo Afternoon – just need to confirm the date!

East Chinnock Friendly Society banner

East Chinnock Friendly Society Banner cared for at the Community Heritage Access Centre


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.

A Friendly Foundation

A busy and well travelled week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, (CHAC) Yeovil.

On Thursday 1st October 2015, staff and our Volunteer Co-Ordinator enjoyed a journey to the Gold Hill Museum, Shaftesbury, Dorset. The Museum was hosting a course entitled “Building and Maintaining a Volunteer Team” organised by the South West Federation for Museums. Many south west Museums and Heritage Sites were represented including Coleton Fishacre, near Torquay, Devon and Beaminster Museum in Dorset. We soon became aware of how vital volunteers are to some Museums, as one near Bath needed 42 volunteers across the week just to open their doors to the public.

At CHAC, our volunteers help us to document our accessioning backlog and thankfully, new items that are donated by members of the public. We soon realized this was a little different to most of the museums represented on the course, where ‘front of house’ and ‘stewarding’ duties are key. The course was useful to suggest different projects for our CHAC volunteers, where the documentation and ‘form filling’ although crucial to what we do, can be become monotonous. One idea was to create a display for our regular library window slot, based on a particular archive and a printed CHAC Newsletter – both prepared by volunteers – thus giving them a new task and taking responsibility for this, whilst also freeing up staff time to complete other tasks.

On Tuesday 6th October 2105, we provided an illustrated talk to the Fivehead Local History Forum, between Langport and Taunton. This was particularly useful as we were able to add new information to an existing object. When we give a talk to a group in South Somerset, we always like to find a connection to the location in our CHAC collection. In Fivehead’s case, we pass something from the village everyday, when we do our guided tours. This is a collection of Friendly Society pole head emblems stored in four archive boxes. A quick search on our database highlighted the Fivehead emblem and checking the location showed “Fivehead” on the outside of the box. Inside we found the traditional brass emblem but unusually topped by a bird. During further research we discovered the following in a report from the Langport and Somerton Herald, May 27, 1922:

“”In proposing the toast of “The Club,” the President reminded them of what Mr Calder said to them during his speech. They had recently unveiled and dedicated their war memorial in the parish, which had been erected in memory of their gallant fellows who returned not. Those men belonged to the great friendly society which went to stem the German hordes. (Cheers) In referring to the figure of a dove on their club-pole, the speaker said that the dove was the emblem of peace. When the Armistice was signed there was joy throughout the length and breadth of the land and they all spent a happy time in Fivehead on that day.”

The Friendly Society emblems also revealed a central connection and foundation to the Yeovil Museum Collection as the 50 or so emblems were acquired by William Wyndham, the founder of the first Museum in Yeovil in 1928.

Following a Fivehead cream tea (a speciality I understand!) we were back to CHAC via Drayton, Muchelney, Long Load; Tintinhull and Chilthorne Domer to host a visit from a local Brownie Group with 18 Brownies and three helpers between 6 and 7pm. There was a special display of our oldest, newest and smallest objects and an exciting quiz highlighting aspects of the collection including “what is the name of the family that collected the glass collection?” (Answer – Pinney) Everyone enjoyed their time (see visitor book for proof!) and when the quiz asked what was your least favourite object – many hands went up and responded “Is it all right to say we liked everything!”

A friendly foundation all round.

Next time – look forward to a report on conservation cleaning a local drum!

The Fivehead Friendly Society Pole Head Emblem – a dove – emblem of peace – when the Armistice was signed the “doves” of Fivehead came out over 100 strong.

By the 18th Century many village clubs or friendly societies had been formed, usually with headquarters in the local inn. Members contributed a shilling a month to ensure medical attention in time of sickness or to provide a decent funeral.


We also supported Long Sutton Women’s Institute and Flower Club with a copy of a harvest image.