Volume 1. No.5     October 1980

In This Issue

Read  Inside front cover – Society details
Read  Editorial
Read  Edgar Silcox Memorial Lectures
Read  Bygone Yeovil
Read  Meetings Reviewed – R.J. Clynick
Read  Tintinhull Project Report – Mrs Pat Knight
Read  Yeovil Museum Working Party Report
Read  Addition’s to the Society’s Library
Read  Yeovil Dialect in the Eighteenth Century – Miss I Rendell
Read  Aerial Archaeology – W.T.J.Chapman
Read  The Clergy House at Alfriston – R.J. Clynick
Read  The Kimmeridge Woman – Mrs G.L.Brice
Read  Wells Cathedral – a View from Yeovil – W.T.J.Chapman
Read  Illegal Yeovil Cottages in 1623
Read  Constable of the Hundred Stone of Yeovil, 1621
Read  Book News and Notices – Mrs Pat Knight
Read  ‘Yesterdays News’ Publication
Read  Sir Francis Drake at Yeovil – Leslie Brooke
Read  School of Music, 1893
Read  Back Cover – Society’s Publications


Inside Front Cover – Society details


Founded 1954

Affiliated to

Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society
The Council for British Archaeology

Subscriptions are under review for submission to the Annual General Meeting on 3 October – please contact Hon.Secretary

Individual – tba
Husband and Wife – tba
Family – tba
Junior – tba


Chairman Miss Isobel Rendell
152 Hendford, Hill, Yeovil.
Telephone Yeovil 6570.
Hon.Secretary W.T.J.Chapman
68 Carisbrooke Gardens, Yeovil.
Telephone Yeovil 21713.
Hon.Treasurer R.G.Gilson
The Cottage, Dinnington, Hinton St. George.
Telephone Ilminster 2950
Committee Mrs P.A.Knight
Hon. Librarian Mrs P.A.Knight
Netherfield, East Street, West Coker, Yeovil
Telephone West Coker 2120.
Publications Editor L.E.J.Brooke
18 Stiby Road, Yeovil, BA21 3EF.
Telephone Yeovil 27991.

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Contents freely available to members, details from Mrs Knight at meetings. Mrs Knight will be pleased to receive further donations of books, pamphlets, etc., either as gifts, or on loan.


Articles and communications regarding the Society’s journal should be handed or sent to Hon.Editor, Leslie Brooke, as soon as possible for inclusion in the next issue.

Articles, etc. which appear in ‘Chronicle’ are the copyright of the respective contributors and must not be reproduced, without prior consent.

Facts, opinions, and observations expressed by contributors are their responsibility alone, the Editor and Committee holding themselves in no way responsible for errors or mis-statements, though every effort is made to ensure correct rendering of copy received.

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Contributions for this issue have not been quite as lengthy as for former members, though there is the usual variety of topics – it is hoped members will continue to do their best to ensure a steady supply of articles – the object of ‘Chronicle’ being not only to report on the Society’s activities as a corporate body, but to give accounts of individual research or finds – no matter how trivial they may seem.

Thanks are due to those who have contributed for this issue – as usual Russ Clynick has been at great pains to record the doings of the society since our last issue, bringing us right up to date with the last of the Summer Outings.

The continuing saga of our Tintinhull project is given by Mrs Pat Knight who, together with a small band of helpers, have carried on the work despite the somewhat in clement summer we have experienced.

The Yeovil Museum working party’s activities, under the leadership of Mr L.C.Hayward, are also given, highlighting some of the tasks carried out during their weekly attendance there.

Our Chairman, Miss Isabel Rendell, has extracted Daniel Defoe’s description of dialect as spoken in the neighbourhood of Yeovil in the early part of the eighteenth century and Mrs G.L.Brice tells us of the Kimmeridge Woman.
Russ Clynick also contributes an account of the ‘Clergy House’ at Alfriston in East Sussex, while our Secretary who recently flew (in an aircraft!) over Dorset, recounts his impressions of that flight besides telling us where in Yeovil it is possible to glimpse Wells Cathedral. Your editor can verify his assertion.

Mrs Knight maintains her watch on publications of local historical and archaeological interest, as well as bringing up to date those additions to our Society’s Library since the last issue.

Finally, by the time this is in your hands, details will, have appeared in the press of your editor’s latest venture into authorship, details of which appear at the end of Mrs Knight’s Book News and Notices, while the evidence for asserting that. Sir Francis Drake visited Yeovil in 1563 is given together with possible reasons for his having done so.

Footnote – Contributions from members for our next issue as soon as prepared please, certainly not later than 6 March 1981 this date is THE, VERY LATEST.

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Edgar Silcox Memorial Lectures

Although details of the Winter Programme were not available at the time of going to press, mention must be made of the meeting on Friday 7 November, which will be the first of the ‘Edgar Silcox Memorial Lectures’ to be given, most fittingly on this occasion, by his close associate in the Society, Mr.L.C.Hayward. It is intended these lectures shall be an annual event at which prominent speakers, expert in their own field, will be invited to address the Society, the expenses, at least in part, to be met from a subscription fund set aside for the purpose in recognition of the years of devoted service given by our late Secretary-Treasurer. Edgar’s death, earlier this year, robbed the Society not only of a founding member and loyal officer, but an amiable and knowledgeable friend who will be sadly missed by all. Those wishing to contribute to the fund should contact the Treasurer, Ron.Gilson.

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Bygone Yeovil

The third of our own publications, is available at meetings or at St. John’s Church for £1.50, the whole of the proceeds will be devoted towards the restoration fund of this, the most ancient building remaining in the town – those has been a good sale at the church bookstall so far.

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Meetings Reviewed


The last of the winter meetings held in Yeovil Library on 11th April, was an address by Mr Machin of Bristol University on Vernacular Architecture in North Dorset. Members will recall the ‘walk-about’ in Yetminster when Mr Machin acted as guide around the many 17th century houses. Some of these were included in a well-illustrated discussion, which also traced the development of rural homesteads of the 15th to 18th centuries, from the small ‘hall, parlour and byre’ type, to the more elaborate and dignified dwellings we see today. The many stages of addition and modification in the transition were clearly demonstrated by slides showing ground plansa also shown were statistical maps indicating the distribution of the various types in different areas of Dorset. The speaker was thanked on behalf of the society by the Rev.G.Robinson.

Those members who gathered under the shadow of Robert Blake’s statue on the Cornhill, Bridgwater, at 1030 on Saturday morning, 26th April, were met by Madge Langdon and Freda Richardson of Bridgwater and District Archaeological Society and conducted on an informative tour of the ancient town, which in former days had been an important port possessing a castle of considerable size. Nothing remains of the latter but the watergate which members were able to see, but there are a number of elegant dwellings, particularly in King Street which was used as a backdrop for the filming of Fielding’s Tom Jones a few years ago. In the afternoon those interested in industrial archaeology were taken to see the latest developments, in the town – an altogether enjoyable day’s excursion.

On Friday 23rd May the evening excursion to Mudford was a well-attended one, members being greeted at the church by the incumbent, the Rev Douglas White; a description of the church and its history was given by our Secretary, Bill Chapman, and was followed by some remarks by Mr White who produced for our inspection the church registers and plate. Thanks to the Vicar were expressed by our Chairman, Miss I.Rendell. Members then followed the Secretary through lanes deeply rutted – though fortunately dry, to the site of the deserted village where house platforms, the outline of sunken streets, and village ponds were clearly visible,

The first of the all-day excursions took place on 7th June, when a relatively small party of members paid a visit to the historic city of Guildford in Surrey. Met by a member of the local Historical Society at the Museum, close to the Norman Castle, we were addressed by our guide and conducted through the castle arch, climbing up to the ramparts where he gave us a ‘potted history’ of the city. Guildford has always been small, though it prospered because of the fulling mills associated with the wool trade which flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries. Conveniently situated on routes between London and the south coast on the one hand, and on the Pilgrim’s Way running west to east towards Canterbury, it became a place of coaching inns, some of which remain today as stylish ‘pub’ or hotels, though the coming of the railways diminished their importance. Following this potted history we were taken on a short tour of the town centre, visiting the Town Hall with its famous clock overhanging the High Street, the Angel coaching inn, and the town bridge. The afternoon was left for members to explore at will, reassembling at the Museum at 5.30. The coach, after a false trail, then took us to the modern Cathedral, -though we were disappointed in not being able to tour the inside owing to a practice taking place when we arrived. The weather for the outing, on the whole, had been kind, it was a long day, but apart from the disappointment of those unable to visit the cathedral, it was a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

Four South Dorset churches were the subject of a Saturday afternoon excursion led by our secretary, Bill Chapman, on 12th July. A cavalcade of cars wound a tortuous way through narrow and winding roads in fairly close formation! After assembling at Beaminster our route took us to Stoke Abbott, on to Netherbury, then Symordsbury, and ending at Whitchurch Canonicorum.

At each place Bill gave us a brief account of the most important features of the church – no two being alike in style – The principal feature of the 12th century church of St Mary the Virgin at Stoke Abbott, is a font of sophisticated design, having bowl and stem in one. The Norman chancel was probably lengthened in the 13th century and the 17th century pulpit is sparsely decorated. In the churchyard there is a group of very elaborately decorated headstones belonging to one family.

Netherbury church is also dedicated to the Virgin, it possesses a high Perpendicular tower with a still higher stair turret. Of 14c origin the church was refashioned in the 15th and underwent Victorian restoration. It has a 13c piscina and a square font, of Purbeck marble of the previous century, while the handsome pulpit dates from the 17th century and the fine screen is modern.

The first Rector of St John the Baptist church, Symondsbury, was appointed in 1375. Mainly 14c, the building is cruciform with a central tower, the nave being extended and a porch added in the 15th century. The tower being narrower than the crossing, it is partly supported by heavy corbelling. Principal furnishings are a simple-in-design Georgian pulpit, and a Georgian Communion rail which encloses the altar rectangularly.

Whitchurch Canonicorum celebrates 900 years of Christian witness – there was previously a Saxon church on this site, but nothing visible remains of it. The building, is Early English being one of the most impressive of Dorset’s parish churches. Notable feature is the complete stone shrine of St Wite, with three openings in the front into which were placed votive offerings and pleas from those seeking cures of various ailments, this was described by our Secretary in the last issue of ‘Chronicle’.

It would, indeed, be a meticulous visitor who could memorise all the details gathered during this tour of four Dorset churches – the fact is that they are all worthy of a second visit. ‘Bill’ was warmly thanked by Miss Rendell for the research and care he had taken in making this a so well-worthwhile visit.

For a variety of reasons the Sherborne Walkabout, on Saturday 9th August, attracted a somewhat below average attendance. Meeting outside Sherborne Abbey in mid-morning Mr J.H.Gibb, recently master at Sherborne School, took members on a guided tour of the Abbey Church and School, being conducted over parts of the latter which are not normally seen by the public – including the two libraries and parts of the monastic buildings incorporated into the school premises. Mr Gibb was warmly thanked for this enjoyable experience by our Chairman. In the afternoon the 14th century almshouse, adjoining the Abbey Close, was visited by a somewhat depleted party, following which one of the finest small, museums in the country, Sherborne Museum, was toured, and finally the party made its way to the old castle of Sherborne, home of Sir Walter Raleigh before the building of the ‘great house’ on the other side of the lake. Altogether this was a most enjoyable and instructive day, despite sultry weather and ‘wear and tear’ on poor old feet!

The Society’s series of summer excursions ended with visits to two historical sites on successive Saturdays – one local, the other a little more distant. The first was to Halstock on 30 August to make what has become an annual visit to view the progress made on the excavation of the extensive Roman settlement, which has been carried on under Mr R.N.Lucas’s direction since 1971. This year’s work was presented in a detailed description given by Mr Lucas on the site. The layout is a complicated one ranging over a very large area, and, according to Mr Lucas, there still remains a good deal to be opened up. The settlement was the scene of an important villa occupied by a person of some distinction, containing among other features, a large barn, a magnificent bath suite, corn driers, covered drains, and a very large water tank. Mr Lucas was thanked by Mr Hayward for his exposition and valuable contribution to our own local history.

Secondly, on 6th September a small group gathered at Westonzoyland, first for a brief visit to the church conducted by Miss I Rendell and then on to the actual scene of the Battle of Sedgemoor, where we were addressed by the President of Sedgemoor Protection Society, Mr E.A.Roberts who gave us a detailed account of the Battle. This was a very enjoyable afternoon, the weather being kind and the outing a leisurely one.

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Tintinhull Project Report – Churchyard Survey

Mrs Knight reports,

In spite of our first two Saturday afternoon recording sessions in May and June being rained off, the monumental inscriptions recording team have had a very productive and successful season this year. All the gravestones in the southern and eastern sectors of the churchyard at Tintinhull which are of historical or artistic interest have been photographed, a total of 145 stones. Here a special thank-you is due to our editor, Mr Leslie Brooke, who so competently and willingly undertook this part of the survey. The majority of these stones have now been transcribed and the details recorded on the standardised ‘Church Memorial Recording forms’ produced by the Council for British Archaeology. This includes details of memorial type, i.e. flat, head, tomb, foot, etc.; its material, and geology, the stone mason or undertaker’s mark; details of which faces of the stone are inscribed, the number of people commemorated; the technique of inscription; the condition of the monument and of its inscription; the dimension of each stone and its orientation; and the wording of the actual inscription.

Needless to say, the recording of such information for each memorial can be time-consuming (and exhausting), especially when faced with an apparently illegible and lichen-covered stone. However, some of the group of early and mid 18c headstones of the PRIDDLE family, situated in the southern sector of the churchyard are beginning to reveal their secrets, in spite of what seems at first glance to be a completely illegible and eroded stone. The sunken chest tomb of the BROWN family of 17c date and what appears to be an early 17c chest tomb in the eastern sector of the, churchyard (an exciting discovery made by Mrs Brooke) will require a great deal of further work.

Two monuments enclosed by high iron railings and covered with brambles and ivy, will require investigation by the more adventurous and hardy members of our team next season. A few stones are showing the destructive effects of time and the elements, and are flaking and cracking, and, worst of all, breaking into sections. One large and imposing 19c headstone to the LUXTON family had to have broken-off pieces fitted together like a jigsaw, and through the careful work of Mrs Hughes and tins Wheller, the inscription has been recorded in its entirety.

Lastly, many thanks to Mr and Mrs L.Brooke, Mrs L.Hughes, Mr and Mrs J.Moon (and daughter and 18-month-old grandson!), Mrs M.Nicholson, and Miss E.Pawley, who so kindly gave up so many Saturday afternoons this summer to help with the recording work, and, of course, the incumbent who kindly allowed us to carry this out this work in his church.

Further work ‘in the field’ has still to be done starting next Spring, so more volunteers are needed, especially as the western sector of the churchyard has not been touched! Please contact me: Mrs Pat Knight at Netherfield, East Street, West Coker, Yeovil (Tel.West Coker 2120), or at one of the Society’s; winter lecture meetings, if you feel you can help in any way.

(Editor’s Note: firs Knight’s report, naturally enough, omikis to mention the most efficient organization acid sound and helpful guidance which she herself has brought to the task of this important part of our investigation in depth into the story and recording of Tintinhull church.)



Allen Farthing   Lucas Pearce Rossiter
Baker Feltham Luxton Penny Russ
Berry Ford Lye Perry Sealey
Bishop Fox Manley Pinney Southcombe
Boycott Francis Masters Poole Stagg
Brown Gaylard Matthews Priddle Tavener
Burrowes Goldsworthy   Milverton Pullen Watts
Carter Hallett Morris Purchase Whitlock
Cole Hamm Newman Read Williams
Cox Jellett Parker Rivers Woodman
Dowden Jones

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Yeovil Museum Working Party Report

Activities of the Yeovil Museum working party under the leadership of Mr L.C.Hayward, have included the following since our last issues

An arrangement of christening robes, dolls, etc., in the main costume display unit on the ground floor gallery.

Two new panels in the upper gallery have been utilised for the better display, on one of Agricultural Bygones from the Museum’s collection, and on the other Law and Order, comprising truncheons, handcuffs, lock-picks, etc. – with illustrations specially drawn for both.

The selection and display of museum illustrative material for the Schools’ History of Yeovil exhibition staged in St. John’s Schoolrooms in July in connection with the church’s ‘600’ celebrations.

The preparation of information on, and specially-taken colour photographs of, museum portraits of members of the Daniell family of Yeovil at the request of and for the Manor Hotel.

Research into, taking of colour photographs, and displaying, the ‘Pearson bequest’, which consists of a ceremonial sword presented by Yeovil townsfolk to General C.K.Pearson together with various Orders and medals.

The conducted tour around the museum of school parties, identification of objects brought by members of the public, dealing with queries relating to local history and families, etc., besides the routine work of recalling and indexing new

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Addition’s to the Society’s Library

The following volumes have been added to the Society’s Library and are available for loan to members:

J.Stevens Cox, editor. ILCHESTER AND DISTRICT OCCASIONAL PAPERS Nos.11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23- (Toucan Press 1979-80) – Kindly donated by Mr L.C.Hayward.

James Dolby THE STEEL NAVY – A HISTORY IN SILHOUETTE (Macdonald, 1965) -Kindly donated by Mr W.T.J.Chapman.

G.C.Rothery THE A.B.C. OF HERALDRY (Stanley Paul, 1915) – Kindly donated by Mr W. T. J. Chapman.

W.H.St John Hope. A GRAMMAR OF ENGLISH HERALDRY (C.U.P., 1913) – Kindly donated by Mr W.T.J.Chapman.

B.A.Seaby STANDARD CATALOGUE, OF THE COINS OF GT.BRITAIN AND IRELAND, 1945 and 1968 editions. – Both kindly donated by Mr W.T.J.Chapman.

Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society PROCEEDINGS FOR 1978/79, VOL.123.


THE SOMERSET YEAR BOOK – No.XXI,1922; No.XXII,1924; No.xxv,1926; No.XXVI,1927;

No.XXX,1931; No.XXXI,1932; No.XXXIII,1934 – No.XXXVIII,1939• – Kindly donated by Mr L.E.J.Brooke.

Charles Trask. NORTON-SUB-HAMDON (Athenaeum Press, 1898) – Kindly donated by Mr N.J.Atkins.

The Trust for British Archaeology. RESCUE NEWS, No-13, Spring 1977 – No.18, June 1979; No.20, December 1979 – No.21, March, 1980 – Kindly donated by Mr L.C.Hayward.

In order to borrow any of the above, or other Library items, please apply to the Society’s Honorary Librarian, Mrs Pat Knight, either at meetings, or at Netherflold, East Street, West Coker, Yeovil BA22 9BG (Telephone West Coker 2120).

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Yeovil Dialect in the Eighteenth Century

Extracted from Defoe’s ‘Tops of the Whole Island of Great Britain’, 1725-28, by Miss Isabel Rendell.

‘In my return to my western progress I pass’d some little part of Somerset-shire, as thro’ Evil, or Yeovil, upon the river Ivil, in going to which we go down a long steep hill, which they call Babylon-Hill; but from what original I could find none of the country people to inform me.

‘This Yeovil is a market town of good resort, and some clothing is carr’d on, in, and near it, but not much, its main manufacture at this time is-making of gloves.

‘It cannot pass my observation here, that when we, are come this length from London, the dialect of the English tongue, or the country way of expressing themselves is not easily understood, it is so strangely altered; it is true that it is so in many parts of England besides, but in none in so gross a degree as in this part; This way of boorish country speech, as in Ireland, it is call’d the brogue upon the tongue; so here it is call ‘d Jouring and ’tis certain that tho’ the tongue be all meer natural English, yet those that, are but little acquainted with them, cannot understand one half of what they say: It is not possible to explain this fully by writing, because the difference is not so much in the orthography of the words, as in the tone, and diction-, their abridging the speech, “cham” for “I am”, “chill’ for “I will”, “don” for “put on”, and “doff” for “put off”, and the like. And I cannot omit a short story here on this subject; coming to a relation’s house, who was a schoolmaster at Martook in Somersetshire, I went to his school to beg the boys a play day, as is usual in such cases; I should have said to beg the master a play day, but that is by the way; coming into school, I observed one of the lowest scholars was reading his lesson to the usher, which lesson, it seems was a chapter in the Bible, so I sat down by the master, till the boy had read out his chapter; I observed the boy read a little oddly in the tone of the country, which made me the more attentive, because on enquiry, I found that the words were the same, and the orthography the same as in all our Bibles. I observed also the boy read it out. with his eyes still on the book, and his head like a meer boy, moving from side to side, as the lines reach’d cross the columns of the book; his lesson was in Cant.5.3. of which the words are these,

“I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on, I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?”

‘The boy read thus, with his eyes, as I say, full on the text.

“Chav a doffed my cooat, how shall I don’t, chav a washed my feet, how shall I moil ’em?”

‘How the dexterous dunce could form his mouth to express so readily the words (which stood right printed in the book) in his country jargon, I could not but admire . . .

(In Yeovil is) ‘the Angel Inn, a well-known house, which was then, and I suppose still is the chief inn of the town . . .’

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Aerial Archaeology


Quite recently I had the opportunity to combine business with pleasure. On a flight, in an aircraft travelling at about 120 m.p.h. at a height of 3500 feet. I was able to view the countryside on a beautiful summer’s day over a route which took us from Yeovil to the Isle of Wight.

Certain areas of archaeological interest caught my attention. Firstly, the erosion of tumili due to upland ploughing, and secondly, the majestic views of the great Dorset hillforts.

We flew over Hod Hill and alongsdie Hambledon Hill. The earthworks in the north-west corner of Hod Hill associated with the Roman conquest incorporated within the Iron Age ramparts stood out particularly well, due to the low sun angle. Knowlton was clearly defined with its ruins of a 12th century church with a 12th century tower contained within a Neolithic circle.

My brief sortie over Dorset (approximately 90 minutes duration) made it very clear how valuable aerial surveying and photography can be not only in examining existing sites but in locating new ones.

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The Clergy House at Alfriston


During a recent holiday in East Sussex, we came across the delightful village of Alfriston (pronounced ALL-FRISTON) which lies a few miles north-west of Beachy Head. It is, as yet, completely unspoilt by the proliferation of signs and blatent advertisements at every twist and turn of its narrow winding road. It is a settlement with a long history, its parish church having been built, there about 1360. Several picturesque old-established inns, cottages and houses built over several centuries give the village an atmosphere of charm dignity and distinction.

The church of St Andrew has many outstanding features, but it is the ‘Clergy House’, close to the church, which is the archaeological gem in this lovely setting. It is a medieval house built around 1350 for a community of parish priests at a time when the Roman Catholic church held sway in England, and when the Black Death had all but decimated the population of Europe, a time when the land remained untilled and many manor houses were ruined or abandoned.

The house is of timber-framed construction, infilled with oak laths covered with daub, and faced both inside and out with quick-lime and tallow; timbers were of oak and specially cut in their green state. As the visitor enters the hall which reaches up to the roof, a two-storeyed section at each end can be seen. The whole building is covered by a single roof of the crown-post type, and in front the upper floor once projected at each end giving the impression that the hall was recessed. This type of building is often known as the ‘Wealdon Hall’ house, though this at Alfriston differs from others in one important respect. Before the Reformation, priests were celibate, but employed a servant or housekeeper who had separate quarters at the east end, with a rear door and no direct access to the rest of the house. Many features of the building suggest that Alfriston was wealthy enough to provide lavishly for its priests, and that money could be spent on decoration and other refinements. The two doorways at the west end led to the service rooms, used for storage of food and ale, and a ladder in one of the two rooms gave access to the solar, the medieval upper room which would be used as oratory, bedroom, parlour, and study. Fragments of stone found during excavation indicated a central fireplace, now shown by a brick square in the floor, the blackened roof purlins show how the smoke escaped through the eaves, roof ridges, and apertures which served as windows. The roof was originally of stone, but thatch was substituted in the seventeenth century, as a lighter framework was used because heavy timbers were too costly. However, roof trusses similar to the originals were replaced by the National Trust when it acquired the Hall – incidentally, the ‘Clergy House’ was the first building to come into its care.

The floor of the Hall is known as ‘Sussex rammed-chalk floor’, consisting of lumps of chalk sealed with sour milk and lightly tamped down; at one time the medieval floor was four inches below the old domestic section, so four inches of chalk lumps and thirty gallons of sour milk were tamped in to make up the level.

After the Reformation clergy were allowed to marry, and -the house became the vicarage of St Andrew’s church until 1790 when it was converted into two labourers’ cottages, and so remained until 1885 when they had fallen into decay. The cost of upkeep having become intolerable it was due to be demolished, but a new Vicar in the new vicarage elsewhere in the parish decided in 1889 that here was an important relic of medieval England. Through the interest and influence of Sussex Archaeological Society, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, certain influential nobility, and later the three founders of the National Trust, the building finally came into the Trust’s care in 1896 at a cost of E10 and was restored by the S.P.A.B.

Until 1974 the ‘Clergy House’ was let to a series of tenants, who paid for its upkeep, and opened it to visitors. Then, early in 1977, after a complete renovation, the Trust took the property in hand and the whole of the ground floor and the gardens were opened to visitors. The Hall still breathes a medieval atmosphere gives us an authentic glimpse into days long departed.

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The Kimmeridge Woman

Mrs G.L.Brice

Recently we visited Christchurch Priory, near Bournemouth, and on our way discovered the Red House Museum where we made the acquaintance of the Kimmeridge Woman. Although pleased to meet her she took not the slightest interest in us, understandable, of course, since she had been dead for over one thousand seven hundred years!

There she lay in a glass case, her poor old bones bare for all to gaze upon. Most humiliating, especially as she had lost her head. ‘Lost’ is perhaps the wrong word, ‘mislaid’ might be more appropriate, for when her grave was discovered near the Dorset coast in July, 1947, her head was not attached to her shoulders, but lay beside her poor old bony knees. This is a puzzle archaeologists cannot solve – did she lose her head before or after death? Was she executed as a criminal or was this decapitation part of a ritual burial, to allow the soul to escape from the body? We do not know, and the lady is not telling.

One thing she had in common with modern man; she suffered severely from arthritis. Poor old thing – imagine arthritis without our merciful drugs to dull the pain. Although so secretive she still gives us a clear and melancholy message: However clever man has become with all his knowledge of science and technology, his skills in medicine, his conquering of space, yet at the end of his days he will become a mere handful of dust, or a few white brittle bones, like her, the ancient Kimmeridge Woman.

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Wells Cathedral – a View from Yeovil

W. T. J. Chapman

A lot of people do not realise that on a clear day, and from the right vantage point, it is possible to see Wells Cathedral from Yeovil!

From a point at O.S.Grid Reference 547181, the, west front, towers, nave, central tower and choir can be seen – subject, of course, to correct, weather conditions – at a distance of some eighteen miles as the crow flies.

Although the cathedral can be visible with the naked eye from the spot specified above, it is suggested that those interested in seeing the cathedral from here equip themselves with an ordnance survey map and binoculars.

A good locating point is the Wells television mast, as the cathedral lies only a few degrees to the west of this. Should anyone be interested in locating the cathedral from Marsh Lane, but have some difficulty in doing so, the Secretary would be happy to offer assitance.

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Illegal Yeovil Cottages in 1623

From Records of Quarter Sessions held at Taunton 15th – 18th July 1623:

Upon a certificate from the Portreeve, burgesses, and other inhabitants of the borough of Yevell, that there are many small cottages erected, contrary to the statute, greatly increasing the number of poor people already being relieved out of the common stock, far surmounting the liability of the said inhabitants; and these strangers once settled do tear and spoil other men’s hedges; and other cottages to be erected, to the public prejudice and annoyance of the inhabitants. Referred to Sir Robert Phellipps to take such course for the speedy redress of the said grievances as the law requireth; and in the meantime all erecting of cottages to surcease.

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Constable of the Hundred Stone of Yeovil, 1621

From Quarter Sessions records, held at Wells, 9th – 12th January 1621:

Whereas John Harbyn, esq., is chosen constable of the Hundred of Stone and Catisaish: ordered on good causes shown to the Court that he be discharged of the said office: and that John Jacobb of Evell be chosen constable in his room.

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Book News and Notices

Pat Knight

Some recent publications of interest to readers:

Norman J.Atkins THOMAS HARDY AND THE HARDY PLAYERS (Toucan Press, 1980, 30p) Booklet by one of our members who knew Thomas Hardy and who appeared as Alec d’Urberville in the first production of ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ at Dorchester in 1925.

THE LANDSCAPE OF WESSEX (Moonraker Press, 1980, £7.95)
A concise, illustrated historical geography of the Western Counties the way in which the landscape of the region has been changed and adapted through the centuries by agriculture, the growth of towns and villages, by Communications and by industrial development.

Dr Bryan Brown & John Looseley THE BOOK OF WESTON-SUPER-MARE (Barracuda Books Ltd, 1979, £10.50)
One of the town book series in style and form similar to Robin Bush’s Book of Taunton and Leslie Brooke’s Book of Yeovil, consists of nine chapters and some 200 illustrations, A4 size.

J.Stevens Cox, editor – Ilchester and District Occasional Papers –
No.23 BRIEF FOR THE PROSECUTION IN THE CASE OF SLADE AND SIMPSON, 1858. (Toucan Press, Nos.18-21 1979; Nos 22 & 23 n.d.)

Cecil N.Cullingford A HISTORY OF DORSET (Phillimore & Co, 1980, £6-95)
Concise (128pp) account of Dorset history from prehistoric times to the present day. Attractive format with numerous illustrations in the form of photographs, marginal drawings, and specially-drawn maps.

P. Cunnington HOW OLD IS YOUR HOUSE? (Alphabooks, Sherborne, 1980, £5.95)
Illustrated guide to discovering the age of ordinary houses, i.e. country cottages to terraced town houses, from their architecture and documentary sources.

DEBRETT’S PEERAGE AND BARONETAGE, 1980. Edited by Patrick Montague-Smith. (Debrett’s Peerage Ltd-, 1979, £45)
New edition of this standard work, first published in 1769. A copy is available for reference in Yeovil Public Library, (Reference Section)

Robert Dunning SOMERSET AND AVON (John Bartholomew & Son Ltd, 1980, £7-95)
Well-illustrated historical gazetteer of the two counties arranged alphabetically by places.

John Field PLACE-NAMES OF GREATER LONDON (Batsford Ltd, 1980, £6.95)
Although basically a dictionary of Greater London place-names arranged A-Z, useful chapters on the development of London, the pattern of naming, settlers and their languages, interpretation of place-names, common place-name elements, etc.

J.S.W.Gibson CENSUS RETURNS 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871 ON MICROFILM: A DIRECTORY TO LOCAL HOLDINGS (Gulliver Press & the Federation of Family History Societies, 1980, £1)
Guide, arranged alphabetically by county, listing public libraries, record offices and other repositories where microfilm/photocopies/-transcripts of censtn, returns can be found, with details of specific holdings.

Marion Meek THE, BOOK OF WELLS (Barracuda Books Ltd, 1980, £10.95)
One of the town book series with a foreword by the Dean of Wells. Seven chapters, 180 illustrations, size 10.5 x 8.25 ins. Marion Meek, archaeologist and architectural historian, was for some years Conservation Officer in Avon and Mendip.

Richard Muir THE ENGLISH VILLAGE (Thames & Hudson, 1980, £7.50)
‘A study of the history of the village, illustrated with views of village life yesterday and today.’

Robin Page THE JOURNAL OF A COUNTRY PARISH (Davis-Poynter, 1980, £7.50).
‘Chronicle of a year in the life of a typical country community’. Includes folklore, traditional recipes, and a month-by-month account of wild life.

George Pelling BEGINNING YOUR FAMILY. HISTORY (Federation of Family History Societies, 1980, 75p)
Concise 60-page guide to tracing one’s ancestors by a teacher of family history.

Rosalind Schama SOME OLD SOMERSET NATURE NAMES (published by the author, Yeovil, 1979, 35p).
Small booklet, with illustrations listing local names for flora and fauna, compiled from childhood memories of Somerset rural life.

Rev.Basil Short & John Sales THE BOOK OF BRIDPORT (Barracuda Books Ltd,
1980, £10-50)
Another in the town book series. Mr Short who has spoken to our Society is the retired Unitarian minister and resident of the local Historical Society, while Mr Sales is curator of Bridport Museum. Eleven chapters, 216 illustrations and A4 in size.

Christopher Simon Sykes COUNTRY HOUSE CAMERA (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1980, £9.95)
Three hundred ‘newly discovered’ black and white photographs of country house life from the 1850s to the 1930s.

Account of the campaign and its aftermath.

David Young COBBLESTONES, COTTAGE,, AND CASTLES (Wessex Publications Ltd.
1980, 85p)
Account, by this well-known Yeovil architect of historic buildings and sites throughout the South West worth visiting, and which are featured in ‘Westward Diary’, Westward Television’s regional news magazine programme.


The Book of Sherborne – Leaflet giving particulars enclosed with this issue. Anyone desirous of becoming a subscriber and wishing to save postage, may hand reservation form to the editor, Leslie Brooke, for forwarding to the publisher.

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Advance Notice – ‘Yesterdays’ News

(Details supplied by the author)

‘Yesterday’s News’ will be the title of a work by our editor, Leslie Brooke, which tells the story of the Sherborne Mercury, the Western Flying Post, the Yeovil Times, and The Western Gazette. As with the ‘Book of Yeovil’ now in its second impression, the publication of his new book will depend on the prior guarantee of a minimum of 500 subscribers – the price to them will be £6.95, and once the list is closed the general edition will cost £9-50! The book tells first of the founding in Sherborne in 1737 of the Sherborne Mercury, followed by the Western Flying Post in Yeovil in 1744, and their amalgamation in 1749. Following chapters deal with how the paper was produced in those early days, the difficulties and hazards both in obtaining the news and distributing the paper, the production of a weekly magazine, and other ‘parts’ issues to accompany the paper, examples of items of news, letters, literary contributions, advertising, the story of the newspaper tax, and various owners. Then comes The Western Gazette in Yeovil with its early struggle, but meteoric rise to success and eventual takeover of the older publication – all told in an entertaining and readable manner. Appendices will include the Gazette’s ‘family tree’, a chronological table, and where file and microfilm copies are to be, found. The format will be about 9 x 6. ins in hardback cover and jacketed, the text consists of some 37,000 words and there will be about 25 pages of illustrative material, besides the appendices, an index, and list of subscribers. Details of how to place an order for subscribers’ copies will appear shortly in The Western Gazette, or, if desired names can be sent to the author, or handed to him at meetings of our Society – his address appears on the inside cover of this journal.

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Sir Francis Drake at Yeovil

Leslie Brooke

Edward Harris and Thomas Clare were churchwardens of St John’s Church in Yeovil in the 26th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First (1583), and in their well-kept accounts they recorded under payments received ‘for Belles’ – ‘of Sir Francis Drake for a Peal with all the Bells xxd’. So far as is known this is the only mention of the famous Devon seaman ever having visited Yeovil.

The question naturally arises as to what Sir Francis was doing here and why he requested the bells to be rung. This was a period of ‘rest’ from his sea-going exploits – he had circumnavigated the world between 1577 and 1580 and had been knighted by the Queen on his return, his voyage to Spain and the Indies was two years in the future (1585-6), and the ‘singeing of his Catholic Majesty’s beard’ at Cadiz, the year before the sailing of the great Spanish Armada in 1588. So it is unlikely that any of the former and certainly none of the latter events were being celebrated, especially at his own expense!

However, his presence in Yeovil might be accounted for by the fact that two years later he married Elizabeth Sydenham, daughter of George Sydenham ‘of Cleve, Somerset’. This supposition might, at first sight, seem to have no connection with Yeovil, until it is recollected that Elizabeth Sydenham’s father had purchased the manor of Sutton Bingham in 1561, later to be inherited by Elizabeth herself. Furthermore, George Sydenham’s brother, Elizabeth’s uncle, was Sir John Sydenham of Brympton. It seems more than likely Sir Francis was well acquainted with the Sydenhams, amid possibly courting his future bride at this time, and if, as seems possible, she was visiting her father’s estate at Sutton, and/or her uncle at Brympton, it might well be that Sir Francis was escorting her. One could even go so far as to speculate whether they might have become engaged here, Sir Francis celebrating the event by expending 1s 8d for a peal on Yeovil’s church bells – it would be nice to think so.

It may be significant that the churchwardens’ accounts also show in this same year under their receipts for the ‘Lone of Vessels’ from the Church House, that six dozen were ‘lent -to Brympton at Christmas’ for 2s 6d – an unprecedented number for that manor,-and one that was not to be repeated.

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Advertisement in the Western Gazette ‘Almanac’ for 1893

(Organist and Choirmaster of St John’s Church, Yeovil; Certified Organist,.T.C.L; Member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians; Local Examiner for the R.C.M.
Conductor to the Yeovil Musical Association, &c.)
Tuition in the Science of Music, Harmony, Counterpoint and Practical Composition; the Art of Singing, Playing the Organ, Pianoforte, or Harmonium.
Upwards of 50 Candidates, prepared by Mr.J.Smith, have been successful in the
HIGHER Examinations, held in the various Colleges in London.
HARMONY Taught by Correspondence when desired.
For Testimonials, References, and other Particulars, apply to the above, at
“Beethoven-haus”, Hendford, YEOVIL

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Back Cover – Society Publications

No.1 – THE ROMANS at Ilchester, Lufton, Yeovil and District, 1978 – L.C.Hayward

Liberally illustrated account of the Romans in the neighbourhood of Yeovil, as revealed by excavation and reconstruction. A few copies still available from the author, at £1.30 from local booksellers, or from the author 226 Goldcroft, Yeovil, (by post £1-50).

No.2 – STREET NAMES IN YEOVIL – Leslie Brooke – 1979 – This publication is now out of Print.

No.3 – BYGONE YEOVIL – L.C.Hayward and Leslie Brooke 1980

Profusely illustrated story of life in Yeovil, centred around St John’s parish church from pre-Reformation days, as revealed by church records. Obtainable from St. John’s church bookstall, or at Society meetings.£1-50. Proceeds from this publication are for the church restoration fund.

Journal of this Society.

At present issued twice-yearly for the reporting of our Society events, results of members’ research, excavations, and other activities, contributed articles, book notices, etc. etc.

FREE to members of the Society, extra copies 15p, obtainable from the Hon.Secretary. A few back numbers are also available on application to the secretary.
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