This article came from the Chronicle
Volume 2(2) published May 1983. Pages 16-17


Meetings Reviewed (1983May)



The first meeting of the autumn session, on 2 October, was addressed by Ron Gilson, whose subject ‘Some Recent Thoughts on Vernacular:Architecture‘ was in the nature of a follow-up of the South Petherton walk-about in July as described in ‘Chronicle‘ Vol.2,No.1, page 5. He described the interior Structures of numerous types of habitations from the early ‘hall-type’ with its central open hearth, lacking a smoke outlet, and the gradual evolution Of various forms of construction. Slides which accompanied his talk, showed original roof and wall constructions, jointing’s and bracings in natural-shaped timbers, and evidence of smoke-blackened members and under-thatching which still. survive. Ron has made – a comprehensive survey of buildings ranging from humble cottage to two-storeyed manor house, not only in nearby localities, but further afield to the granite homesteads of the bleak moorlands. He was warmly thanked for his scholarly and fascinating talk by Mr Leslie Brooke.

The subject, of the meeting held on 6 November was ‘The Natural History of Ham Hill‘, a talk given by Mr J Keylock of Yeovil Natural History Society. Ham Hill, as well as having been desigated a ‘Country Park’ and Conservation area, is indeed an important archaeological feature also – a prehistoric Hill Fort, later occupied by the Romans, and, over the centuries, extensively quarried for the famous honey-coloured ham stone. Being calcareous, its flora is predominantly lime-loving, and the speaker’s beautiful slides. showed in great detail the many varieties of ferns, succulents, dwarf thistles, and grasses to be found in crevices and scree while on the ground surface were great varieties of tiny flowering plants – dainty, colourful, and full of charm, often so small as to be seen only by very close scrutiny. Also shown were delightful slides of birds and butterflies to be seen there. As a result of Mr Keylock’s talk, many members of the Society will now view Ham Hill in a new light, and, hopefully, derive greater pleasure from future visits. Bill Chapman thanked the speaker warmly on our behalf.

A well-attended annual general meeting was held on 4 December with Miss I.Rendell in the chair. In her opening remarks she explained the reason for the shift of date for the AGM, as decided last year, and in reviewing the year’s meetings and excursions, spoke of the inauguration of the Edgar Silcox Memorial Lectures, the first having been given by his friend of long standing, Mr Leonard Hayward. She expressed thanks to Mr Dove, Mrs Swetman, and others of the Library Staff for their much-appreciated hospitality and arrangements. While expressing regret that Bill Chapman was relinquishing the post of Hon.Secretary, she thanked him on our behalf for the valuable service he had rendered the Society; and finally thanked members for their loyal support over the year past.

The Hon.Treasurer’s Report, copies of which had been circulated, was them discussed. It was a fairly well-balanced account and, there being no queries, it was adopted.

The Hon.Editor’s Report was given by Mr Leslie Brooke, who spoke of the progress of ‘Chronicle‘, emphasizing the continued need for contributions from members in order to present balanced issues. He also outlined the success attending the Society’s other publications, and spoke of the ever-increasing costs of printing. His report, also, was unanimously adopted.

Mrs Pat Knight, our Hon.Librarian, gave a short report on her work, acknowledging the contributions made by members of archaeological and other literature, end expressed the hope for even more participation in this side of the Society’s interest.

The retiring secretary, Bill Chapman, was then presented with a book token in appreciation of his valuable services to the Society. In reply he thanked the Chairman and members for the gift, spoke of the pleasure he had in the execution of the task, and of his having made so many friends in consequence. He expressed his intention of remaining a member, willing to give whatever help he could, and hoped, for the future, to be able to devote more time to field work.

Election of Officers for positions to be filled resulted in the following Hon.Secretary – Mr John S.Moon (3 years, 1984); Committee done year) – Mrs M.Eedle, Bill Chapman, Russ Clynick. Remaining officers continued to occupy their posts, their term of duties not having; yet expired.

There followed an illustrated talk by Committee member Mrs Eedle on a Survey of the Parish Boundary of Beaminster, undertaken by the Dorset Archaeological Society for the Society of Antiquaries. The purpose of the survey was to record the boundary as defined today, by road, river, hedge, bank, and ditch. The survey took three years to complete, the parish covering an area of some 5,000 acres, with a boundary extending to between fourteen and fifteen miles. By the use of excellent slides, taken in all seasons, and a very clear description of the way it was accomplished, we were able to follow the route – a testimony to the stamina and endurance of those who undertook this daunting task. The appreciative audience warmly applauded this most interesting ‘talk-about’, as Mrs Eedle described it.

The January meeting, scheduled for the 8th, which was to have been : ‘1981 – The Year Through the Eyes of the Committee had to be cancelled owing to bad road conditions following heavy falls of snow.

A fascinating talk on one aspect of industrial archaeology was given by Mr A Roles at the meeting held on 5 February. A very keen collector of what he called ‘Railwayana and and an ardent supporter for conservation of private steam locomotive systems, Mr Roles told of his obsession with railways from boyhood. Joining the GWR as a young engine cleaner, he progressed to become the driver of main-line locomotives. Whilst still. employed by the railway, and since his retirement, he has accumulated a remarkable collection of what may be termed ‘Railway Paraphernalia’. Like a magician producing things from a hat, an astonishing number of items from this collection were displayed to members. There was an extraordinary assortment of oil lamps, large and small, mostly of 19c date, which had been used for a variety of purposes, not only for signalling purposes, but by different members of the staff both on and off the stations. With racy commentary he showed and explained a number of gauges, whistles, direction boards, engine name plates, and carriage compartment furnishings – to name but a few! It is impossible in this short account to do justice to the zeal and enterprise of the speaker, nor to the preparation he had made to present such an unusual and entertaining evening. Mr Roles was warmly applauded on a vote of thanks proposed by Bill Chapman, who is himself a Railway devotee.

The second Edgar Silcox Memorial Lecture was given, on 5 March, to a well-attended meeting when the speaker was Mr J.H.P.Gibb, F.S.A., a former master at Sherborne School and author of ‘Thu Book of Sherborne’, his subject being ‘Medieval Sherborne‘. As an introduction, he briefly sketched the story of the Sherborne settlement from Roman times to the Saxon era, before embarking on the main theme of the lecture, which dealt with the Abbey and its associated school, from Saxon times to the present day. With the aid of a collection of magnificent slides, he traced the development of the Monastic establishment from pre-Saxon days, the effect of changes owing to demolitions, additions, redevelopments, and alterations through the different ecclesiastical regimes. Shown too, were photographs of archaeological ‘digs’ in the Abbey precincts, pictures and sketches made by the speaker of some of the buildings which resulted from the changes in the Abbey complex. The wonderful architecture of the abbey, as we now see it, was depicted in great detail; in particular, the vaulted ceilings, windows, bosses, pillars, and grotesques around the walls. In addition a number of slides showing beautifully illuminated manuscripts and psalters were included. As a result of Mr Gibb’s scliolarly and entertaining discourse we shall all look at Sherborne Abbey with a more informed eye, and appreciate more fully the labours which succeeding generations of craftsmen have contributed towards it. The speaker was warmly thanked by our Chairman, Miss Rendell, on behalf of a most appreciative audience. Among those present were Mrs Edgar Silcox and her son, John.

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