Tag Archives: local history

All Mapped Out Louisa’s Links

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 continued to prepare the four maps from the collection ready for transit to the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton to be digitised for the ‘Know Your Place’ project. This is a notable opportunity to contribute to developing resources.

We provided an illustrated talk on the ‘Louisa Harris Diaries 1887-1920 : A Picture of Life in Yeovil’ to Somerton History Group on Thursday 26th November at the Parish Rooms in Somerton. This was our first time we have provided a talk to this group and in this venue and the 40 members all enjoyed themselves – as we were informed afterwards! They particularly liked the selection of handling objects and illustrations of Yeovil History, which we passed around and Louisa’s links to local and national events. One significant example is the sinking of Kitchener’s ship, the H.M.S Hampshire by a German Submarine off the Orkney Islands in the First World War. Walter Horace Adams, “Wallie” named on Yeovil War Memorial worked briefly for the Western Gazette Newspaper and also perished on the ‘Hampshire.’ We use this example to illustrate well known aspects of the First World War including Kitchener’s famous recruiting poster ‘Your Country Needs You’ and the impact that his death would have had on morale; particularly as a journalist was quoted as saying: “He may not have been a great man, but he made a great poster!”

We also use this example to raise the point of perceptions, particularly as people may associate submarines (and developments in technological warfare in general) with the Second World War. However, Louisa underlines how close submarines came to Great Britain with an attack off the Shambles, off Weymouth, Dorset, as her brother was a customs officer, based in the local area.

During the preparation of our South Somerset Remembers the First World War Booklet, we also received several important artefacts related to W.H. Adams including his Memorial Card and letter of bereavement sent home to his family; copies of which we also passed around.

As this was Somerton History Group’s last meeting of 2015, we also referred to Louisa’s rationing at Christmas time and the Christmas parcels sent from pupils of Long Sutton School to former students fighting at the front, as recorded in the Langport and Somerton Herald.

We completed the evening by showing a few slides of places that Louisa would have visited around Yeovil, including Ninesprings, now part of Yeovil Country Park. This is interesting as Louisa was a wheelchair user from a young age and was ‘pushed in her carriage’ as she was “determined to see the waterfalls and springs!”

Another group also helped this week. Yeovil Women’s Institute allowed us to introduce our 2016 Yeovil Calendar to their Christmas meeting and we did very well indeed!

Our group of Yeovil College Students continued to enjoy themselves this week with completing the documentation of Roman villa plans and a series of aerial photographs of Yeovil. We aim to continue the process next week by entering these records onto our database.

We have also conducted our planning meeting for 2016 – so we have (hopefully!) most things ‘mapped out.’

In ‘news just in’ a producer from the BBC programme ‘Heir Hunters’ came to film at CHAC today for background on Yeovil. Will try and report back next week if we are able to!

One of the maps to be digitised later on this month

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Louisa Harris, 3rd from left seated at her home in No.2 Clarence Street, Yeovil. Louisa’s neighbours were the Edgar Family. Mr Edgar was the first business partner of J.B. Petter. Louisa Harris Family

Finders Sharers

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

We welcomed our group of Yeovil College students last week for an initial guided tour. The students are studying English and History and the tour proved rewarding for everyone involved. We were especially keen to discover how the practical tasks we have planned can also help with the student’s future career aspirations.

Staff were interested to learn that the students did not know of CHAC’s existence until they were informed by their lecturer. This is often the case, but this soon changed and by the end of the tour, all were saying “did you see that green chiffon 1920’s dress” or “what about those amazing diaries.”

We aim to have our first practical session this week and will report back on our next Blog.

Staff are also helping with the ‘Know Your Place’ project. This is a new scheme designed to find the significant maps in a museum’s collection and then enable them to be digitally scanned and uploaded to the ‘Know Your Place’ website. CHAC is loaning a selection of Yeovil maps to the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton for this process to be completed at the beginning of December 2015. This is a reminder of the significant detail that goes into the preparation of objects for transit or exhibition, including the ‘condition reports’ to show that an object comes back in the same condition in which it left!

We also welcome the Somerset Finds Liaison Officer to CHAC for our next Archaeological Finds Afternoon. This is another beneficial activity, as local finders have a nearby, regular event to which they can bring ‘newly discovered’ archaeological material and finds brought in to previous afternoons can be returned to them. Finds dated to before 1700 come under the remit of the Finds Liaison Officer and where time allows, identifications are often made during our 2pm-4pm time slot. Often 5-6 finders arrive in the 2 hours. This may not sound many, but each person often brings 30 individual items to identify and then may also have some to be returned. In addition, accurate paperwork needs to be completed, often consulting an Ordnance Survey Map (or similar!) to obtain a 6-figure grid reference of exactly where the items were found. Two or three ‘finders’ can often be waiting, but this is another enjoyable aspect of the ‘Finds Afternoon’ – for different finders to see, discover and share discussion on what they have found and where. This underlines the professional standards around ‘responsible collecting’ and archaeological finds; which includes gaining permission from landowners in the first place and then reporting the finds under the Portable Antiquities Scheme (or PAS) as the context or place where something is found, is often as important as the object itself – particularly if an unusual object is found at an ‘existing’ site, which is already well documented; thus making us re-evaluate existing information!

We will try and report a selection of what ‘finds’ were brought in (where permissible) in our next post.

The Yeovil in the Past 2016 Calendar continues to do well – with sales around the 350 mark! Thank you to everyone including all our outlets, which are helping us; special mention to The Emporium, Princes Street, Yeovil; Yeovil and Cartgate Tourist Information Centres; Ninesprings Café and Brimsmore Garden Centre.

One of our recent donations is this Yeovil spoon with the St. John the Baptist Emblem representing St. John’s Church, Yeovil.

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Point of Perspective

Point of Perspective

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

One of the main events so far was Data Protection Training for our volunteer team, provided by two of our District Council colleagues. Many of the points of security on Data tend not to apply to historical Museum data, but making sure our computer is locked and a tidy desk policy certainly do – that is why one staff member tries to ensure they have two desks! Many of the points also have an application in our daily lives, especially who we forward emails to in a multiple conversation. Overall, the Data Protection Training was also useful to remind every one of how apparently technology has progressed, but presents new security issues; smart telephones with the ability to access emails for example – never leave lying around!

We also had another ‘point of perspective’ literally speaking. One of our most recent donations was a series of photographs showing the building of Yeovil’s Quedam (Qwee-dam) Shopping Centre, completed in 1984. One of the main problems was just how much had changed in this area over the last 31 years. One photograph, in particular, presented a few puzzled expressions. A local fish and chip shop, Palmers was a distinctive yellow building on the corner of Market Street and the building in question certainly was a strong contender as the same building. However, under a magnifying glass, we read “Bat-Liners Automotive.” The strange thing was that staff remember going to the chip shop in the 1980s, the same period as the photograph, apparently showing a different shop in the same building. We even have a planning application showing when Palmers came into the Market Street location. Fortunately, we found another black and white photograph of the same scene, which stated ‘on the corner of Vincent Street and Earl Street,’ highlighted on a map that the two streets are near each other and with a car park in the background, literal perspective is once again a notable factor. However, we do not wish simply to accept what the donor writes on the back! We now believe Central Road is in front of the building and Reckleford in the foreground!

Fundamentally this highlighted the significant balance between what and how we remember and actual evidence – often when we wish we had a photograph that was ‘just left a bit’; closer in or further out – perspective in a ‘time’ sense.

Fortunately, we often do and some are featured in our 2016 Yeovil in the Past Calendar with images from 1880 to 1965.

The interesting image from one of our recent donations; Vincent Street, with Earle Street to the left.

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CHAC ‘a’ Clooney

Ever wondered about the link between the Community Heritage Access Centre near Yeovil, Somerset and the marriage of George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin? To be honest, neither had we! However, we recently received a few (few thousand!) receipts related to Thorpes’ Chip Shop in Yeovil; one of which shows the purchase of a Bridal Gown & Veil, Bridesmaid Frock and Head Dress to order from Frederick Taylors The House of Quality on June 11, 1928 for £10.10.0.

Topical wedding link this week with Frederick Taylor's Store on the corner of King George Street and High Street

Topical wedding link this week with Frederick Taylor’s Store on the corner of King George Street and High Street

This is particularly interesting as the majority of receipts are for potatoes, fish, meat and oil. A few of the receipts provide another insight into the lives of the shop owners themselves.