Newsletter 12 January 2021
I hope this finds you all keeping well and warm at this time.
This month our issue is a little different to the previous newsletters. Whilst researching on the internet about a former Vicar at St Petrock’s, an intriguing story emerged. Most of this article is based on National Archive documents which were released to the public by the Security Services commencing 2003. Given the Timberscombe connection, Tom Sperling and I felt an issue devoted to the detail of this story is warranted and we hope you feel the same. As always, your feedback and comments are very welcome.
Work on the History Group website is continuing apace with approximately 200 entries nearing completion. All our thanks must go to Tom Sperling for this monumental achievement which we will be sharing with you in the next few months.
With all best wishes
Newsletter 16 December 2020
I hope that you continue to be well and safe.
Tom and I would like nothing more than to be able to resume our meetings at St Petrock’s but at the moment this still looks to be some way off. As soon as it is possible to plan for this, I will.
Meanwhile Tom, albeit in Florida for much of the time, has continued developing the St Petrock’s History Group website assisted by generous contributions from many local families which is combining to create a really excellent resource for us and those who will be interested in the future. I am deeply grateful for his commitment to this project and for the untold hours and days of work he has devoted to it, as I am sure we all are.
This website should be ready to launch early next year and we will let you know when in due course.
Tom has put together a fabulous Christmas Newsletter which is attached here. I am sure you will enjoy his research and presentation as much as I have. Please remember to keep your thoughts and comments coming through as in this rather restricted environment we all now inhabit, this does provide encouragement and focus for future research.
With my very best wishes to everyone for a Happy safe Christmas and brighter New Year!
Newsletter 18 November 2020
I hope this finds you all keeping safe and well at this time.
Tom Sperling and I have had difficult choices to make this month for our Newsletter as our topic has some excellent photographic records to choose from. We thank everyone who has been so kind as to donate or share their images for the History Group archive. The variety and time span covered by this particular choice means that we can here only give a flavour of what was such a key date in the village calendar, when work could be set aside and a day of colourful display, entertainment and revelry could be enjoyed by all.
Until the advent of national services developing from the early 1900s which looked to provide support for the working man, Friendly Societies had flourished in parts of Somerset such as Timberscombe in the form of voluntary associations of workers for the previous hundred years or so. These Friendly Societies were regarded positively as they were open to all trades and when successful in raising and managing their subscriptions, they would relieve pressure on the parish poor rates.
Working men made regular contributions to a common fund in order to mitigate the effects of illness, poverty and to provide for a decent burial. By coming together in such company, conviviality and solidarity were able to find expression and support, and once a year men, women and children enjoyed an important celebratory Club Walk day in Timberscombe.
The routine of hard work and heavy toil, poor housing, few holidays and a limited diet familiar to most, meant that a day of colourful floral exuberance was welcomed by all. The festive nature of the event and the excitement generated by the march and the music from the band, with the eating and drinking after the church service, and the entertainments, dancing and revels, fortunately made this a desirable event to photograph and record.
The club procession was controlled by Stewards who carried staves with brass finials as can be seen in the Alfred Vowles image on page 2, which released them from the exacting requirement to make a six foot stave of flowers to exhibit otherwise.
As always, your feedback and comments are welcome.
With all good wishes
Newsletter 2 October 2020
As I said in the September message to the History Group, I’m delighted to let you know that Tom Sperling continues his sterling work on archiving quantities of village history materials, even though now it is from Florida!
For our October Newsletter we agreed to combine various sources of information to focus on the Huxtable family, who have been an enduring village presence in Timberscombe since at least 1742. Maurice Huxtable was kind to contribute to the St Petrock’s Oral History Project last year and was interviewed by Alan Hines. I have included below a short 90 second extract from that recording for you to listen to and enjoy.
The majority of Tom’s work is still focussed on developing a dedicated village and local history website which will, in due course, be openly available to all. Your feedback, praise or otherwise, or further helpful provision of materials we can catalogue is always welcome. Thank you all for the very encouraging and supportive comments which were made after we sent out the first Newsletter focussing on the 250th Anniversary of Timberscombe School which is now posted on the History Group section of our village website www.timberscombevillage.com
We hope that you enjoy reading this as a another example of the work being undertaken, and we are keen to reiterate that this is a dynamic project. If you can identify anyone not identified that is also helpful. Of course if you have any other photographs of Timberscombe’ s past, that could be part of this ongoing project, we are keen to see them.
With all good wishes for your continued good health and interest in matters historical!
MarionNewsletter 1 September 2020
I hope that this finds you, your family and friends all in good health.
It has been some time since we were able to meet at St Petrock’s Church for our History Group due to the impact coronavirus has had on our way of living. Part of the reason for setting up the History Group was to encourage social interaction and learning opportunities in a beautiful Listed building which is now equipped with modern facilities after a great deal of hard work and fundraising by our community. This has now been completed and is ready for use but we are currently constrained from using St Petrock’s for more than services of worship.
During this period, and even before lockdown started in March, our archivist, Tom Sperling, has been working extraordinarily hard to sift through a large volume of material accessible or acquired from local donations, the school, the church and other external sources. This is in order to create a fantastic unique online resource of village history and heritage in our area which in due course will be openly available. I can honestly say that the website will contain an amazing body of work which will benefit researchers of local history and is of interest to anyone with a passion for social history as much as those who simply wish to enquire into their own heritage.
Tom has proposed that we could issue to History Group members a monthly bulletin which will focus on one particular aspect – whether a person or place of local historical importance – drawn from this resource whilst it is in formation, and I am sure you will agree that this is an excellent idea. It was very hard to decide what to feature first but we agreed that the 250th Anniversary of the foundation of Timberscombe School was a good choice, and this bulletin follows on below.
We hope that you enjoy reading this as an example of the work being undertaken, and we are keen to emphasise that this is a dynamic project. You may have material to add to that given in which case we would be delighted to be made aware of it, or you may have corrections which are also welcome! If you can identify anyone not identified that is also helpful. Of course if you have any other photographs of Timberscombe’ s past, that could be part of this ongoing project, we are keen to see them. Tom or I can quickly scan it, if that helps, and return your original to you.
Our intention is that when the next monthly bulletin is issued, the previous featured piece will be made generally available on the History Group section of the Timberscombe website, and so on.
On a financial note, I would like to add that for existing members the 2020 membership contributions made will also cover membership for 2021.
If you have any comments or suggestions, they will of course be most welcome.
With all good wishes
POSTPONED – with regret owing to coronavirus concerns.
THIS LECTURE WILL BE REARRANGED WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES PERMIT
|LECTURE TOPIC||SPEAKER||DATE OF MEETING|
|Our History – Through the Lens||Tom Sperling||20 January 2020|
|Soldier Jack||Patrick Hoyte||18 November 2019|
|Lorna Doone||Christopher Chanter||27 September 2019|
|Archaeology of St Petrock’s Church||Dr Jerry Sampson||16 September 2019|
|Rev JP Martin – Minister and Author||James Currey||15 July 2019|
|Somerset Archaeology||Stuart Blaylock||10 June 2019|
|Timberscombe Iron Age Hill Fort walk||Rob Wilson-North||5 June 2019|
|Farming and Estate on Exmoor||Sir Antony Acland||20 May 2019|
|English Church Bells and Bellringing||Sara Coward||18 March 2019|
|Life below Stairs – Servants in Dunster||Patrick Hoyte||21 January 2019|
|Timberscombe’s Fallen of WW1||Harvey Grenville||4 January 2019|
|Timberscombe Iron Age Hill Fort||Rob Wilson-North||19 November 2018|
|Archiving Images – Quantocks||Keith Edwards||17 September 2018|
|Stained Glass – our Heritage||Clare Maryon-Green||17 September 2018|
|A Blacksmith’s Life on Exmoor||Jim Horrobin||16 July 2018|
|Inaugural Meeting of History Group||Marion Jeffrey||4 June 2018|
Our History Through the Lens
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.
Jerry Sampson has kindly made available the text of his research which is available in full on https://timberscombevillagehall.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/somerset-churches-project.pdf
- The diagram on the upper left indicates the probable position of the three altars, in red, with the Chapel of the Five Wounds on the bottom centre.
- Bartenders of the evening, Tom Sperling and Alan Hines.
- Slides of the Five Wounds boss and the altar positions were supplied by Dr. Sampson. All other photographs are by Marion Moncrieff.
The full Lecture notes of the presentation given at St. Petrock’s, are available through this link on the Timberscombe website, with the kind permission of James Currey. https://timberscombevillage.com/timberscombe-methodist-chapel/
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 the tabret (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, the desire 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:
Somerset Archives https://swheritage.org.uk/somerset-archives/
Friends of Somerset Archives : https://www.friendsofsomersetarchives.org.uk/