Tag Archives: talks

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


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


The thumbs Up!

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

One of the main themes this week was beneficial training and courses. Staff attended the Mid-Somerset Curators Group Meeting at the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton and ‘Identification of Natural Materials’ at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, Devon. The Natural Materials course was particularly significant in terms of ivory items in the collection.

We were also present with our volunteer team at the autumn meeting of the Museums in Somerset Group, held at Montacute House, near Yeovil. There were very useful discussions on the Somerset Routes website and ‘Know Your Place’, which is a project to digitize historical maps of a local area and upload these to the World Wide Web. The project started in South Gloucestershire and the speaker was looking to see how Somerset Museums could contribute.

We were also at Drayton Senior Citizens Group on Monday to provide a local history talk with handling objects and displays. One aspect that proved particularly rewarding was a study of the 1910 Kelly’s Somerset Directory. The annual directory provided details of Somerset villages including total acreage; population and commercial workers. We believe they were published until the mid-1960s. Of specific interest were a “Mrs Susannah Stone – school mistress” and a “Harry Stone – taxidermist.” We thought this was notable to have two people of the same surname in a population of around 360 and even more so, as the school teacher was clearly married; an unusual occurrence at this time, we were informed. We checked our 1939 Kelly’s and neither Susannah or Harry were listed. We thought of possible reasons for this – had a better teaching position become available, perhaps at Taunton – or had taxidermy fallen out fashion. During our talk we asked the question of why both were not mentioned in the 1939 Directory – answer – Harry and Susannah were husband and wife – with Susannah passing away in 1931 and Harry in 1936 with their daughter, Edith in 1955. In addition, Harry was a keen photographer and chronicler of village life, as two of his framed photographs were behind the speaker during the talk. Thus, we found “the teacher and the taxidermist.”

We also highlighted possibly Drayton’s best known native celebrity, E.R (Eric Richard) Sturgeon, water-colour artist (1920 – 1999).

Donations this week included a pair of metal thumb piece glove cutters. We were interested to see how these were different to our other glove webs and cutters. Once revealed, we could clearly see the “Ashley Brothers, Yeovil” and size for each cutter on what appears to be a small enamel plate on the front of each cutter; making them, in terms of provenance, one could say ‘a cut above the rest and ‘get the thumbs up from us!’

Next time, developments on the Yeovil Calendar front and looking forward to welcoming a group of Yeovil College Students – exciting time.

Thumb piece glove cutters, made by Ashley Brothers of Yeovil which came to CHAC via the Fleet Air Arm Museum, RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester, Somerset.

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