The scope of the St Petrock’s History Group covers Timberscombe and the surrounding area of Exmoor. We aim to arrange interesting talks which represent the wide diversity of interests of our members. During the pandemic we issued newsletters which are available below. We now feel able to resume our meetings and the first will take place on Monday 15th November in St Petrock’s Church at 7pm. Details are on the above poster. Further meetings are scheduled for Monday 17th January 2022, Monday 21st March, Monday 16th May and Monday 18th July. Feedback and topic suggestions are always welcome! Details of our talks can be found in the events section of this website
Newsletter: September 2021
The young people of Timberscombe participating in the 20th Century crazes of Scouting and Country Dancing
Much has been written about shorter childhoods in the earlier 20th century, and certainly in a country village such as Timberscombe, on the surface this would appear to be true. As Timberscombe School Log Books and Admission Registers record, most students finished their schooling when they turned fourteen, with “The Cause of Leaving” being “Left Of Age”. A portion of Timberscombe children did continue their education, often at the Secondary School or St. Teresa’s in Minehead, and some were accepted at trade schools. However, a majority of the boys began farming and/or carpentry, and a large percentage of girls “entered service”.
In no way is this to suggest a hard-working life of endless drudgery. Long before the days of television, instagrams and TikTok, most village folk had rich diversions and not just sports, clubs, village festivals and the pub (as good as these were). Across the UK, other interests were embraced, especially by young people. In the early 1900’s, two of these—that became hugely popular—were Scouting and Country Dancing. Access the full newsletter here.
Guided Walk around Luxborough 20th September 2021
On a beautiful late summer’s evening Brian Scott, a History Group member, kindly led a group of 12 people around the village of Luxborough where he was born and where his family has lived for more than 100 years, mainly at Butchers Farm. As the first post-covid meeting of the History Group, it seemed right to be meeting outdoors although it was important to restrict numbers able to attend the walk given that so much of it was to take place on narrow country roads. Brian spoke with passion, knowledge and humour about Luxborough and the impact that industrial progress, the second world war and shifting social trends have had on a small Exmoor farming community.
Newsletters published by the St Petrock’s History Group
On 8th November the St Petrock’ s History Group hosted a mesmerising event when Patrick Hoyte, assisted by two readers – one of them was his wife, who stepped in at the last minute – gave us an account of one ordinary man’s experience of the Second World War. That was not all, though, as Mr Hoyte skilfully wove into his narrative, tellingly illustrated with correspondence read by his fellow presenters, the account of how he had pieced together the story. What we were presented was as full of shocks, surprise turns and dramas as an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” all delivered with a pace and energy which earned a well-deserved round of applause from the audience after the surprise ending.
I shall say no more as I do not want to be accused of leaking a spoiler, given that the whole story is published as a book, copies of which Mr Hoyte made available at the meeting. Allan Sutton
Stuart R. Blaylock, B.A., Ph.D., F.S.A., Independent Scholar and Archaeologist from Cullompton, Devon, came to Timberscombe on the 10th of June 2019. He spent two hours in the afternoon discussing specifics of St. Petrock’s Church and in the evening gave a presentation on the art and science of how to “read” and explore the history of a West Country building.
In 1955, when the Tudor south doorway of St. Petrock’s was uncovered, a medieval wall painting of King David playing his harp (seen above to the right) was rediscovered along with accompanying fragments of English text-that have not been able to be deciphered. The climax of Mr. Blaylock’s talk was his belief that there were two texts here. He proposes that the lower text, from the Book Of Common Prayer read “Take the psalm, bring hither thetabret (a tambourine), the merry harp with the lute” and more chillingly, the upper text states (from Ps 112 v 10) “The wicked shall see it, and be grieved, he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away, thedesire of the wicked shall perish“.
Photographs by Richard Jeffrey
TIMBERSCOMBE HILL FORT
Rob Wilson-North, Head of Conservation & Access for ENPA was the History Group’s third speaker on the 19th of November 2018, with a talk about Timberscombe’s local iron age fort, first reported as an archaeological site in 1992. On the 5th of June 2019, Mr. Wilson-North returned for a walk to the site, entitled “AN EXPLORATION OF THE TIMBERSCOMBE HILL FORT”.
Sir Antony Acland, the President of the Exmoor Society, was educated at Eton and earned his BA in Philosophy , Politics and Economics at Christ Church, Oxford. Entering the Foreign Office, he has served as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Luxembourg, Spain and the USA. The Acland family has been associated with Exmoor since 1155. In 1745, Sir Thomas Acland, the 7th Baronet, married Elizabeth Dyke, altering his family name and gaining control of the Holnicote Estate. In 1944, Sir Richard Thomas Dyke Acland , the 15th Baronet, presented the estate to the National Trust.
Sir Antony, accompanied by his wife, Jennifer, spoke to the History Group about his life, his family and his Exmoor.
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.
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: