History Group

The scope of the St Petrock’s History Group covers Timberscombe and the surrounding area of Exmoor. We aim to arrange interesting talks over the coming months which will represent the wide diversity of interests of our members. Suggestions are always welcome! Details of our talks can be found in the “https://timberscombe.wordpress.com/events/”>events section of this website

St Petrock’s Church is thrilled and very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for not only providing funding to assist in essential roof repairs to our Grade I Listed Church, but also for facilitating and encouraging heritage enrichment activities in our local community and for the wider tourist and online community.


Monday 15th July at 7.00pm – James Currey lecture ‘JP Martin – Methodist Minister 1948-1966 in Timberscombe and author of cult classicUncle books for children

Wednesday 5th June at 5.00pm – a free guided walk and tour of the Timberscombe Iron Age Hill Fort will be given by Rob Wilson-North of the ENPA


This meeting will tell you more than you could ever have realised about the proud and ancient tradition of bells and bell-ringing, especially in our part of Exmoor.

A talk and slide presentation by Dr. Patrick Hoyte, entitled LIFE BELOW STAIRS.  Dr. Hoyte, a resident of Wootton Courteney and a longtime volunteer at Dunster Castle discussed aspects of being a servant from medieval to modern times. With his access to records of the Luttrell family at the castle, Dr. Hoyte was able to provide specific information on everything from salaries, the status of one servant to another and their relationships with their employers.
Dr. Patrick Hoyte , just before his presentation, LIFE BELOW STAIRS, at St. Petrock’s Church.  
Photo : Gabrielle Horrobin
An undated photograph (possibly the 1920’s) of an outing of the staff of Dunster Castle and their families.  
Photo : Courtesy of the Rural Life Museum of West Somerset
A photograph of the gardening team at Dunster Castle. It would be dated between 1887 and 1900, as Mr. Webber, the Head Gardener is seen on the left and these were his years in that position. In 1900 he left service to open Webber’s Nursery in Minehead.  In typical Victorian fashion, each gardener holds the tool that most reflects their particular duty.  To the right, a child has entered the photograph, seemingly holding a lamb- hopefully a toy one.  
Photo : courtesy of the Rural Life Museum of West Somerset
The St. Petrock’s History Group moved to the Timberscombe Village Hall for this presentation by Harvey Grenville, the author of  “Timberscombe’s Fallen of World War I”. This booklet was written to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, to reflect on its consequences to the village and its people, and mostly to honour the men of Timberscombe who lost their lives. The names of 66 local men are listed on the wooden memorial tablet in St. Petrock’s Church, who served in the war. Mr. Grenville’s book profiles the twelve who gave their lives. Harvey and his wife, Jeanna , then traveled to the grave-sites of the fallen, an experience they shared during this talk. Details of all of the men and with a great deal of supporting background information, are available in a beautifully presented booklet from St Petrock’s Church priced £5. Excerpts are available https://timberscombevillage.com/timberscombes-fallen-of-ww1/
Harvey Grenville holding a copy of “Timberscombe’s Fallen of World War I”, beside the 15th century font at St. Petrock’s Church. This booklet was a non-commercial endeavour, with all proceeds going to the church.   Photo : Gabrielle Horrobin
Attendees gathering for Harvey Grenville’s presentation of IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF TIMBERSCOMBE’s FALLEN in the Timberscombe Village Hall. To the right, Tony Webb is seen talking to Mr and Mrs Grenville. Photo : Richard Jeffrey
Jeanna Grenville opened the talk and slide show of  IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF TIMBERSCOMBE’S FALLEN, describing the personal impact and importance of her husband’s research and writing in creating this book, and how it lead to their visits to the memorial gravesites in 2018. Photo : Richard Jeffrey
At the kitchen window of the Village Hall, during IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF TIMBERSCOMBE’S FALLEN are Erica Holmes, Sheila Ridd and Carol Wheeler, serving tea, coffee, cake and biscuits—as they have generously done many times before. Photo : Richard Jeffrey
From left to right, Allan Sutton, Bob and Jenny Masters at IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF TIMBERSCOMBE’S FALLEN Photo : Richard Jeffrey
The third meeting of the History Group welcomed Rob Wilson-North, Head of Conservation &Access for ENPA, to give a Lecture about the background, and what has been understood about our local iron-age hillfort since it was first reported as an archaeological site in 1992. A detailed earthwork survey was completed in 1995, geophysical and geochemical surveys carried out in the early 2000s, followed by an archaeological excavation and Open Day in 2010.
Rob Wilson-North describing to an enthralled audience how the Timberscombe iron-age fort has been investigated and understood thus far. Photo : Richard Jeffrey
A capacity audience at Rob Wilson-North’s Lecture.
Photo : Richard Jeffrey
The second meeting of the St. Petrock’s welcomed two speakers, Keith Edwards and Clare Maryan Green.
Mr. Edwards, a leader of the Quantock Hills AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) Service volunteers, conducted a talk about the proper procedures (and what is decidedly not proper) when archiving photographs, postcards, paintings and other graphic images. He heads The Quantock Views Picture Archive, a collection of images of this Somerset area, some contributed by people living in the Quantocks and others from a variety of sources.
Ms. Green is a member of the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen and a Freeman of the City of London. She lives and her studio is on the moors of Exmoor. As a stained glass artist, she specializes in painted and fine stained glass. Ms. Green is also a painter, learned about old glass and is partial to sheep.

Keith Edwards beginning his slide show, A VIEW THROUGH TIME-AN ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF THE QUANTOCK HILLS, concerning the twists and turns of archiving historic images. Photo : Richard Jeffrey

Clare Maryan Green exhibiting an example of stained glass in front of the 16th century Rood Screen at St. Petrock’s Church, as part of her presentation,  STAINED GLASS – HERITAGE AT WORK. Photo : Richard Jeffrey
People of Timberscombe, attending the lecture by Clare Maryan Green and examining samples of stained glass. Visible from left to right: Allan Sutton, John and Pippa Prideaux, Ian Moncrieff, Owen Rush, Erica Holmes, XXXXXXXXX and Carol Wheeler. Photo : Richard Jeffrey
Master Blacksmith James Horrobin (FWCB) launched  the St. Petrock’s History Group with a talk and slide show about his life and work, entitled A BLACKSMITH’S LIFE ON EXMOOR.  Jim, a life-long resident of West Somerset is a member of the British Artist Blacksmith’s Association and the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.  His commissions have included gates for the Metalwork Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum, lanterns for St. Paul’s Chapel on Broadway in New York City and The Churchill Memorial Screen at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.
He and his wife, Gabrielle, live at Furze View, Timberscombe, where he also maintains his studio.
Marion Jeffrey, at the lectern of St. Petrock’s Church, welcoming everyone to the opening evening of the St. Petrock’s History Group and preparing to introduce James Horrobin.  Jim is seen to the left. Photo: Richard Jeffrey
Photo : Richard Jeffrey
Photo : Gabrielle Horrobin
The  Doverhay Forge  
A photograph of the Doverhay Forge, at Doverhay, Porlock, that has been identified, by different sources, as being taken in 1900 and 1911. The head blacksmith at the time of this photograph was James (Jim) Norman, who was succeeded by his son, Tom. The forge was next owned by Fred Kent, whose family had been blacksmithing in West Somerset since at least 1832. Later the Doverhay Forge was headed by artist/Head Blacksmith Jim Horrobin, who created the designs for some of his most renowned commissions from his studio here.  
photograph courtesy of the Rural Life Museum of West Somerset
The invitation to the village posted for the inaugural meeting in June 2018.
36 people attended which confirmed there was a desire for the formation of a History Group. Photo : Richard Jeffrey

June 4th meeting agreed that Marion Jeffrey would co-ordinate the History Group for the first year, Carl Farmer would be Treasurer, Tom Sperling would be Photo Archivist and Paul Sheldon would assist with Archiving of objects and images. Gabrielle Horrobin would provide creative input to the production of posters to advertise the meetings, and take photographs of the meetings, along with Richard Jeffrey, to add to the archive. Meetings would be held in St Petrock’s Church on the the third Monday of alternate months and annual membership should be £10, with £1 additional per meeting and £4 per visitor to encourage membership. In view of the support extended by other villages it was decided to name the group Local History Group for Timberscombe, Wootton Courtenay and Neighbours.

Mary Siraut, County Editor of Somerset Victoria County History, kindly gave a Lecture titled Timberscombe and its Neighbours in June 2017 at the invitation of the St Petrock’s Timberscombe Parochial Church Council (PCC), as part of a weekend of celebration of the patronal feast which historically has been celebrated at the beginning of June.

Her research https://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/sites/default/files/work-in-progress/timberscombe_intro_and_landownership.pdf

Packed attendance at her Lecture in the Village Hall clearly demonstrated the level of interest in matters historical and so in July 2018 a new local group was formed : St Petrock’s History Group for Timberscombe and its Neighbours.

There are a number of interesting websites and history societies which cover our area of Exmoor and some of them are listed here:

Somerset Archives https://swheritage.org.uk/somerset-archives/

Friends of Somerset Archives : https://www.friendsofsomersetarchives.org.uk/