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Requests the Pleasure

We have enjoyed a busy, involving and rewarding week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

The last seven days have seen a selection of fascinating donations, all of which come within our Collecting Policy of Yeovil and South Somerset. We started with two banners and one tapestry from the United Reformed Church, Yeovil, to be followed by items related to Yeovil School, including the donor’s 6th Form Tie and then a rather intriguing diary with several entries related to the donor’s Mother-in-Law, who ran a business from home, fitting ladies bodices.

We completed the week’s donations with 23 photographs of Yeovil taken in 1969. The photographs were taken specifically by a lady for a ‘Where Am I’ in Yeovil type Quiz. The lady not only took each photograph, but also developed the images in their own dark room and mounted them on individual cards. Each image provides a ‘snapshot’ in time, particularly the photographs of the Electricity Showrooms and the archway through to Frederick Place.

We also enjoyed the company of six people on our latest Photo Afternoon, where the theme was “Royal Observer Corps – ROC” and “Westland.” Two of the attendees were particularly keen to come along as they were former members of the “ROC” at Southwoods in Yeovil. Each person paid £2.00, which included refreshments.

One of the highlights in the recent variety of donations is a letter from the Head Girl of St Gildas Convent School requesting the attendance of boys from Yeovil School to a Dance in 1964:

“Dear Head Boy,

The Upper V requests the pleasure of the company of the boys of the V and VI forms at a Beat Dance to be held in aid of St. Gildas Building Fund on December 16th. As this dance is in aid of a fund, we regret that we shall have to ask you to pay a small entrance fee. Could you please inform us of the number of boys wishing to attend, and we will send the tickets as soon as possible. We would be grateful for your immediate reply.

Head Girl.”

High Ham Highlight

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

We have helped Crewkerne Museum with their forthcoming Travellers and Explorers exhibition by loaning them some items from the C.H.A.C handling collection, including a parasol and late Victorian style ladies boots.

We have also received donations related to Yeovil Glove Company; Yeovil Co-Operative Society and Yeovil High School.

One of this week’s highlights was a talk to High Ham Ladies Group (plus one gentleman!) at the High Ham Village Hall, not far from Langport.

Staff spoke on the recent history of High Ham using the 1910 and 1939 Kelly’s Directories and then explored some of the ‘Hidden Faces of South Somerset’ with links to Petter and Westland with the Horseless Carriage of 1895 and Ben Jacobs and the first aircraft to fly over Mount Everest in 1933 which was a Westland Aircraft. Staff emphasised the rather colourful character of Lady Houston, who provided the financial backing for the expedition.

The real surprise came when staff shared their personal connection with High Ham in the form of their Primary School Group Photograph as their class teacher was from High Ham. When Staff mentioned the teacher’s name, a hand went up at the back to confirm “Yes, I am here, that’s me!”

Our next CHAC Photo Afternoon is Thursday 15th June 2017 at 2pm – £2.00 per person – please book (8-10 places available!) Themes: Royal Observer Corps and Westland.

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One of our recently scanned images showing East Street, Crewkerne

Room for Improvement

We have enjoyed a busy and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

So far, we have loaned a set of display boards for the Yeovil College University Centre Students Forum and welcomed a representative from the Quedam Shopping Centre interested in a “Then and Now” Photographic Project.

One of our volunteers is also diligently checking through items of costume; photographing and re-packing each item and making suggestions for conservation cleaning.

We have also just received some exciting news, which will definitely make some ‘room for improvement’ and hopefully we can share next time!

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One of our recently digitised images showing Montacute, we believe around 1910.

Written In Denture

We have enjoyed a busy and involving week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil.

So far we have shared the company of a Yeovil College Degree Student looking at their project on Henry Stiby and his influence on Yeovil and held our latest Photo Afternoon on the theme of “Yeovil Town Centre -1950-1980.”

We would like to thank Yeovil Library for helping us as the Afternoon was advertised via our historical display in one of the library windows. Three people attended as a result of seeing our note. A couple used to run the Quicksilver Mail in Yeovil and a gentleman enjoyed his time in the Royal Observer Corps. All three loved their time looking through old photographs and were happy with the £2.00 charge for our time and refreshments.

Staff always enjoy sharing memories evoked by the photographs. This continued with details of the lady’s time in the Telephone Exchange on the corner of Clarence Street up until 1960. These memories were enhanced when the gentleman visitor explained his sister had also worked in the Exchange from 1964.

We are now planning our next Photo Afternoon and choosing the next theme – suggestions via the BLOG would be appreciated.

Our next public vent with the help of our volunteers will be a Horrible Histories based activity at Yeovil Library on Tuesday 30th May 2017 from 10am-1pm. We are holding an activity linked to the ‘darker’ side of local industries, illustrated with a selection of main collection and handling objects. References include ‘The Pure’ used in the leather dressing industry and glove trade; a small box from a local dentist and pioneer in the use of anaesthetics and something first worn by a Town Clerk in 1949 right up until 2015. However, helpful information from Yeovil Town Council shows that only four people seem to have worn the item – which is interesting for them and us today, given the nature of the object! To find out more under the heading of “What’s In the Box?” – do come along.

We have also just received an important donation of objects and photographs, which include two group photographs of Robbins Gloving Factory Staff, formerly of Alexandra Road, Yeovil. The second image shows the Robbins Gloving Factory Ladies Football Team around 1935 – more on this next week!

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Some of the objects we hope to have at our “What’s in the Box” themed activity at Yeovil Library on Tuesday 30th May 2017 between 10am-1pm. These include something from a local dentist and the Royal Observer Corps. To find out, please come along!

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.”

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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.

 

The Grand Plan

We have enjoyed a busy and involving week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, near Yeovil, Somerset.

Highlights so far have included meeting a Yeovil College Degree Centre Student to discuss the booklet they have designed for our new exhibition starting in June 2017 and a photograph of wounded service men with nursing staff in the grounds of Yeovil Hospital. This image is particularly intriguing, as some of the service men are holding a rabbit or a small dog. The enquiry from the Dementia Care Team at Yeovil Hospital asked permission to use the image to show how animals were used to help in the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

We are also holding our next Finds Afternoon today – feedback next time.

We also came to document and accession two plans of Hendford Manor this week, which highlighted the great connections some donations can hold.

The plans were drawn by Dennis Michael Berryman in 1948, when we understand Hendford Manor was converted inside into offices. We were informed Dennis Berryman became the Area Planning Officer. The plans show an incredible level of detail down to stairs inside and fountains in the ornamental garden. What we enjoy with different sources is the ability to compare and contrast, as we have one or two images of the garden before the construction of the Johnson Hall, latterly the Octagon Theatre and showing the former Museum of South Somerset in the (as detailed on the plan) “Coach House.”

The key aspect of the plan is to show all of these details in context and on one piece of paper – then to look back at the photographs – especially the one of a Westland Dragonfly helicopter landing in the grounds of Hendford Manor! We wonder if there are any photographs of the “Fountain” or “Fish Tank” in an album somewhere.

The superb aspect of this particular donation is that we have a photograph of Dennis Michael Berryman – intriguingly helping out on one of Leonard Hayward’s excavations at Lufton Mosaic in “1946-1947.”

Therefore, we wonder at the age of the young man in the photograph and the progression he made to produce the plans of Hendford Manor in December 1948.

Examples of the Hendford Manor Plans drawn by Dennis Michael Berryman in December 1948
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Hendford Manor was built around 1750 for James Hooper and enlarged in the 19th Century by Edwin Newman; both were solicitors.
(Courtesy of Hayward, L.C., From Portreeve to Mayor, the growth of Yeovil 1750-1854, Castle Cary Press, 1987.)

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.”

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A pair of pattens (or patens?) made in Blackford, near Wedmore in 1920. More information and insights gratefully received!