Print Friendly


The Yeovil Rural District Council at its meeting in June 1908, received a letter from Admiral Baker complaining of the nuisance from the stench of pigs kept by some of his neighbours. The Admiral wrote that although Mr Fish, the Inspector of Nuisances, had agreed on several occasions that his complaint was not exaggerated, the official appeared unwilling or unable to get the nuisance abated. This lack of action had caused the Admiral to write to the Council and with the onset of the hot weather, he was concerned at the possibility of an epidemic illness. He went on to write that the Council appeared to have done nothing to deal with the problem and if the Inspector was unable to cope with the nuisance then the matter should be referred to the Council’s Medical Officer of Health.
     Replying to a question from Colonel H.E. Harbin, the Chairman of the Council, Mr Fish confirmed that there was an occasional smell when the wind was in a certain direction, but it was a matter of opinion whether this amounted to a nuisance.
     Colonel Blake opined that this might be a nuisance at one time and not at another. However he thought the Medical Officer of Health should visit the area and see whether it was a permanent danger to the health of the residents.
     The Reverend Armstrong suggested that the Inspector of Nuisances was showing a greater laxity to the nearness of pig styes to dwelling houses than his predecessor had.
     Mr J.G. Vaux observed that there had been no complaints before Admiral Baker came to live here and this opened up a wide question as the pig styes had been there for generations and they were from 100 to 200 yards away from the Admiral’s house.
     The Council referred the complaint to the Medical Officer of Health and the Works Committee were instructed to visit South Petherton and report back.
     It seems that the problem was cleared up to everyone’s satisfaction because a few months later the Admiral wrote thanking the Council for the action they had taken to abate the nuisance.

Jack  Sweet
April 2017 

Print Friendly

FRONT COVER Fragment of 14th century tile from Somerton. (see item on page 71) L. Brooke

This article came from the Chronicle published November 1988.  Page 79



Brian and Moira Gittos


This 13th C military effigy now lies in South Petherton church. It was discovered in 1929, in Pitway, when a hole was being dug for a petrol tank. It was described in S&D, N&Q, Vol XIX part CLXI, p217 and in the Somerset Proceedings, Vol LXII p 46. The heraldry appears to identify the figure as Sir Philip D’Aubini (died 1294) but it may, alternatively, represent his brother, Sir William (died 1285). It shows several unusual features, the flaps of mail which protected the face and the coif laid back on the shoulders. The figure is sword handling and straight legged, with the feet resting on a beast of which only the paws remain. It is carved from oolitic limestone (probably Doulting). Where are four holes drilled from underneath and several notches in the edge of the slab, which could have taken ropes for raising it, when found. It would probably have been brought via the Rivers Axe and Parret. We visited the church on the 8th October 1988, accompanied by Jerry Sampson, the Archivist of the West Front of Wells Cathedral. He examined the figure and found minute traces of the original colour still remaining. In order to record this important evidence, this illustration has been prepared with the colours indicated. Unfortunately, no colour was found on the charges, on the shield and so the doubts about the heraldry were not resolved.


Print Friendly

FRONT COVER Fragment of 14th century tile from Somerton. (see item on page 71) L. Brooke

This article came from the Chronicle published November 1988.  Pages 76-78



Leslie Brooke


The following extracts are from recollections of A.J.B.Milborne, written in 1950, when he was living in Canada. He was born at 12 Princes Street, Yeovil, on 23rd August 1888, his father ‘at the time a prosperous tailor’, and his mother ‘ a Londoner who had formerly been a nurse at the Salisbury Infirmary’.

The Milbornes’ ancestors had traditionally always been tailors and drapers, the most noteworthy having been Sir John Milborne, a draper in the reign of Henry the Eighth, and Lord Mayor of London in 1522, A.J.B’s grandfather, a tailor and draper in Princes Street, was born in Yeovil about 1815. He died as the result of a railway accident at Bath, when the Widcombe Bridge collapsed as the result of extra heavy traffic during the celebrations of the centenary of the Bath and West of England Society, in June 1877.

A.J.B.Milborne’s education may be said to have started when he had a governess, named Manley, from Evershot, who was engaged ‘to drum into the head of my sister and into mine, the rudiments of education’. His recollections continue: ‘The earliest memory of my schooldays was taking lessons in reading from Mrs.Monk, the wife of Henry Monk. At that time the Yeovil Grammar School, of which Henry Monk was Headmaster, was in a fairly prosperous condition. There were certainly no less than fifty or sixty boys in attendance.

‘The rival school -Aldrich’s (Aldridge’s), ‘where my father was educated, was then on the downgrade, to be resurrected with the coming of a new Master named Budd (the name was actually Rudd) with more modern ideas. Like so many schools under the English system of private education, these schools last but the lifetime of the proprietor, and by the time I left school, the old school had dropped to but a dozen pupils, the old building on Hendford had been closed and the school was housed in an old building behind St.John’s Church, which from its construction, I believe had formed part of the original ecclesiastical foundation of that parish’. (This was The Chantry, formerly in St.John’s churchyard, adjacent to the tower, and which had once been the chantry chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary without the Church -LEJB). ‘We used to sit on the high wall to eat currant rolls (2d) purchased at Banfield’s in the Borough.

‘I do not recall how old I was when I first went to Monk’s School, but I remember the gravelled yard, because it was hard on the knees if one should fall in playing the usual games, rounders, ‘iacky’ etc. Then there was the open space under the school building where we played when the weather was wet, at the end of which was the “Bog”, an awful six-holer, which stank to high heaven. The School was held in one large room, heated by a wood stove on which pans of water were evaporating. Old Monk nearly always had a drop on the end of his nose, and I imagine we all did, too, though we boys probably used unpolite methods of removing them.

‘Mr.Monk’s daughter, and his son-in-law were the staff, and I think we all got a fair education there, though the curriculum did not contain so many subjects as are taught in primary school today. I still have my old Euclid  – the pons asinorum is still a deep mystery to me. We took French and Latin, and I can still recall snatches of Caesar and Remus and Romulus. Mr.Monk was a grand character, beloved by all his pupils (at least in later life) and I have always felt a pang of regret that I once hit him in the face with an overripe tomato that was intended for one of my fellow pupils. In those days the cane was an important part of the equipment of a schoolmaster, and old Monk used it with vigour. I got it once or twice, and I think it is a pity that is use has disappeared. It instilled respect into the boys for their elders and betters which is non-existent today.

‘I had not been long at school when my father got into the first of his business difficulties, and we had to leave Princes Street and move to No.32 Kingston … My sister had by this time been enrolled as a pupil at Mrs. Nosworthy’s establishment for the education of young ladies, known as Girtin School, and as I was taking lessons from old Nosworthy, a cantankerous fellow, I also was compelled, much against my will, to go to this Girls’ School twice a week to practise under the tutorship of a soured and vinegary spinster named Whittle, who made frequent use of a long pencil upon my knuckles. They had curious ways of teaching music in those days, and I nursed a consuming hatred for these two teachers of music.

‘It was Nosworthy who insisted on the entering into the pages of a little book the hours of practice I spent at the piano, which led me into certain infringements of the moral code… I remember nothing that these two taught me, though I can play pieces of music taught to me by Mr. Bastick in my early teens. This Miss Whittle was not a relative of a Mr.Whittle who, on Saturday nights, used to dispense delightful and mouth-watering confections of his own manufacture in the market-place under the glare of naptha flares, and to whom I paid willing tribute from my penny or tuppenny weekly pocket money… In 1897 we moved to less expensive quarters at No.4 Peter Street. Here my father was close to the Church! (Holy Trinity where he played the organ). He also obtained pupils for the piano and organ…

‘In 1900 my father was again in financial difficulties… and we moved to an old-fashioned house on Market Street. … The change in the family’s fortunes when we moved to Market Street affected me, because mother found she could no longer pay my school fees. I was then a little over 13 years of age. So I left Monk’s School and obtained a job as a proof-reader on the Western Gazette. Mr.Monk was sorry to see me leave school at such an early age, and very kindly undertook to continue my instruction in the evenings, and this arrangement continued for about a year. Then I enrolled as a pupil of the Evening Continuation School at Reckleford, which was under the direction of a man named Perry, and the only thing I can recall about this was that he had smelly feet.

‘Tiring of the piano, I was provided with a violin, and took lessons from a Mr. Ricketts … Being “musically” inclined, however, I, of my own volition, bought a banjo, receiving lessons from an old man named Harrison who lived in Huish, one of our poorer neighbourhoods. The old boy gave me a good grounding and eventually I became a fairly accomplished player to the extent that I was capable of performing in public. I also picked up a few shillings myself in instructing others in the art…

‘My entry into the newspaper world necessitated a knowledge of shorthand and I took lessons from a Mr.V.O.Dover, who was sound instructor in Pitman’s. My knowledge of shorthand was not acquired easily, but my fundamental instruction was sound, and in time I became something of an expert, and was an Evercirculator group member, with membership all over the world, and ready to meet in the public prints any attack upon Pitman’s by the devotees of the other so-called shorthand systems’.

This ends Mr. Milborne’s recollections of his education in Yeovil, though there are other interesting details which may form the subject of notes in subsequent issues. These extracts are from family records loaned by Mr. and Mrs.P.Sampson, of Minehead, who have kindly granted permission for their use in ‘Chronicle’. Mrs.Sampson, who is 85, is a surviving member of the Milborne family of Frome.

Print Friendly

London born, Betty Balfour was a big star of the British silent cinema screens during the 1920s, and was acclaimed as the only British star on the international scene. In 1927, the Daily Mirror named Betty as the country’s most popular star, renowned for her mixture of good humour, cheerful character and sentiment – she was called the ‘Queen of Happiness’

Betty Balfour’s career began in 1920 when at the age of 17 she appeared in the silent film Nothing Matters, but it was in the role of Squibbs, a Cockney flower girl and her adventures, that her career took off and established Betty as a national star. Betty Balfour never attempted to break into the Hollywood scene, but as with many popular stars of the silent cinema, the advent of sound in the late 1920s saw her fade from the screen. The once ‘Queen of Happiness’ died in November 1977, sadly forgotten it seems by all but silent cinema enthusiasts.

The Mayor welcomes Betty Balfour (centre) at the Palace Theatre.

On Tuesday evening, 11 August 1926, Betty Balfour appeared both on the screen in Sqibbs wins the Calcutta Cup and in person on the stage of the Yeovil Palace Theatre. The entrance to the theatre off the Triangle, was packed with fans anxious to catch a glimpse of the diminutive star as she was welcomed by the Mayor, Alderman Jabez Matthews, wearing his chain of office, and accompanied by fellow aldermen and councillors whilst the Town Band played ‘Rule Britannia’.

During the interval in the show, Betty Balfour a spoke to the audience, expressing her delight at being with them and sharing the excitement of the film. Following the entertainment, the mayor and town councillors, were her guests at a ‘social evening’ in the Mermaid Hotel.

The Western Gazette reported that Betty Balfour was working on location for a film called Somebody’s Darling at Martock, Compton Pauncefoot and Minehead, which the producers stated provided rural settings which were ‘something the Americans could not get’.

April 2017 – Jack Sweet

Print Friendly

     An interesting comment on the use of the rifle in combat in the 1860s, when the main infantry weapon was the muzzle-loading rifle, from the Western Flying Post of 13 November 1860:

     ‘We extract the following amusing anecdote from the speech of John Nicholetts Esq., delivered at the meeting of the Martock Agricultural Society, which is fully reported in another place:- He would relate an anecdote in connexion with rifle shooting told by his brother who is at Palermo. On one occasion he met Colonel Peard – Garibaldi’s Englishman – who said to him, “Mind, if ever you go rifle shooting use your rifle in a scientific manner. Recollect always not to kill your man, but to wound him, then it takes two men to carry him off, and those two men never by any chance come back the same day. With a double-barrelled rifle, therefore you may get rid of six men at each discharge.” We think this worth consideration.’

     Meanwhile over at Castle Cary, the Pulman’s Weekly News of 11 March 1863 issued a warning to its readers:

     ‘About a week since, an individual appeared here who has since succeeded in duping more than one of the inhabitants. He represents himself as having just arrived from Australia, and it is singular that he can give correct accounts to their relations of many persons who are now in Australia, but sometimes inaccuracies are apparent in his statements. He represented himself as the grandson of one poor old man. Of course the old man was delighted to see him come back safe from the distant continent. He therefore housed him for a day or two, and on his stating that he was short of cash, he even supplied him with some until he could get his Australian bills cashed. Having obtained what he could of the old man, he has since decamped, and it has transpired that he was no relative whatever. It is rumoured that he has been successful in several instances, by similar representations, of duping many in this locality. He is about five and a half feet high, of a dark complexion, and appears about 25 years old.’

     In the autumn of 1874 there was a variation to the quotation of ‘A bull in a china shop’ at Crewkerne, as reported in the Western Gazette of 2 October:

     ‘On Thursday afternoon, some bulls were driven through this town by a drover employed by Mr. Pattinson, cattle dealer. On arriving in Sheep Market Street, and seeing the gate leading to the yard of Mr. Tout, ironmonger, open, three of the animals walked quietly into the yard and one of them unceremoniously entered and took possession of the back kitchen, and it was not until he had broken four panes of glass, and then with some difficulty, he was driven out. The animals then proceeded on their way through Sheep Market Street, but on reaching the dwelling house of Mr. Fone, tailor, whose front door they found open, two of them entered the passage. Mrs. Fone was sitting in a room at the left hand side of the passage with tea laid awaiting the return of her children, and on seeing the head of her unexpected caller thrust into the room she was much alarmed. She, however, managed to leave the room through another entrance and the drover of the bulls crawled underneath its legs into the room, and succeeded in driving it out.’

     Pulman’s Weekly News reported relief in West Coker in April 1899, when;

     ‘A large number of parishioners met at The Laurels on Monday evening to welcome home Mr. Arthur Herbert Gould, eldest son of Mr. Job Gould, twine manufacturer. Mr. Gould had recently undergone a very successful operation at the College Hospital, London, where his leg was amputated at the hip. The operation caused the gravest anxiety to the parishioners at large, and the ringing cheers with which he was greeted on his arrival testified to the sincerity of the welcome he received. Mr. Gould has been for some years an active member in the firm of Messrs. Gould & Sons, and it is hoped that he will be long spared to push forward the industry of the village, whose interest he has so much at heart.’

     However, on 17 October 1899, Pulman’s Weekly News reported relief of a somewhat different and slightly mysterious kind at East Chinnock:

     ‘Miss Kate Rendell, who mysteriously disappeared from home on Thursday week, returned home on Wednesday evening, to the intense relief of her relatives. She was in too weak a condition to give any explanation of her absence.’

     I wonder where she’d been and her explanation!   The record is silent.

May 2017 – Jack Sweet

Print Friendly

YEOVIL in 2000?

In celebration of King George V’s Silver Jubilee on 6 May 1935, several local journalists produced a Souvenir programme. One of the contributors looked forward to Yeovil in the year 2000 and this was his vision (tongue somewhat in cheek perhaps) of the town in the brave new world 65 years later:
     ‘The flood-lit air port was astir with the busy hum of machines and hurrying figures when I arrived by the night mail. It was my first glimpse of Yeovil after many decades. I had returned to take part in the city’s celebrations at the birth of the year 2,000.
     ‘I knew that the one-time old Somerset market town had become the hub of the West, the key town to one of England’s most flourishing shires, but the transformation that had taken place was startling. Looking out of the windows of my host’s car as it glided silently through the town, ablaze with light, it might well have been a dream city.
     “No wonder you fail to recognise it” said my old friend, smiling at my bewilderment. “Of course you must remember that a very large area of Yeovil as you knew it was scheduled for demolition long ago and has been rebuilt,” he explained.
     “One of the first steps taken by the City Council was the re-planning of Yeovil into industrial and residential zones. There has been a clean sweep, and most of the old landmarks have disappeared. There are still some romantic old-world corners left, but you will have to go out into the countryside to find them for many of the villages of your day are now suburbs of Yeovil.”
     ‘It had been a gala day in Yeovil, and thousands of people were present at the opening by the National Director of pastimes of the huge new sports stadium, where a display had been given by many famous speedway “stars.” Now the night-life of the city was in full swing, and Yeovil’s “Broadway” glittered with light.
     ‘Later I was to discover that in spite of the robot-like efficiency with which the life of the city was carried on, the architect, in planning the new Yeovil, had built with the mind of an artist, and had given it a new beauty. There were spacious parks, broad avenues and boulevards that had taken the place of narrow, crowded streets with great motor ways.
     ‘Garden cities, with their own communal halls and social centres, had replaced the old housing estates, while in the industrial zone itself, though the factories were working at full pressure, smoke and grime were things of the past. The system of employment was so designed that there was work for all.
     ‘The feature of the new Yeovil was its imposing Guildhall, the centre of civic administration, with its lofty Gothic pillars and noble facade.
     ‘For the old market place, nestling under the shadow of the Mother Church, now a cathedral, I looked in vain, but on a new site, covering many acres, Yeovil Market had grown to become another Smithfield.
     ‘Despite the growth of aviation and the impetus it had given to one of Yeovil’s most flourishing industries, railways continued to play an important part in the nation’s life as far as heavy freightage was concerned. This was apparent by the big railway depot, Yeovil Central, which had taken the place of the three stations that formerly served the town.
     ‘With its rise to fame and the cosmopolitan character it had acquired, there had sprung up a new culture. Yeovil had become one of the most musical towns in the country. Its schools and colleges were well known, the Engineering Institute having gained world-wide repute.
     ‘Yeovil Hospital, too, in its park-like surroundings, had also moved with the times, and was the centre from which sprang many new health services, ranging from delightful hostels for mothers and babies to the rest home for the aged in the eventide of their lives.
     ‘What fascinated me most, perhaps, was the new accent that the inhabitants had acquired. Had any one asked, in the plaintive tones of the old days, “Where be I too?” he would have been regarded with as much curiosity as an aborigine. Fashions had also changed, but it was the men who now set the pace in raiment of colourful hue.
     ‘Sleepy Somerset had gone for ever. As the vision of Yeovil faded, I realised the very name of the place had changed. Yeovil was no longer Yeovil but Yeotopia.’

Jack Sweet
April 2017


All YALHS talks start at 7:30pm and are held at the Holy Trinity Church & Community Centre, Lysander Road, YEOVIL, BA20 2BU (Non-members Welcome – £2 at the door)

Dates of our Summer Events
8th June – Visit Castle Cary
3rd July – Crewkerne Walkabout
1st August – Visit Lufton Villa Excavations
5th September – Visit Brympton d’Evercy House

Click >H e r e< for our 2017 Summer Programme


2014 - pg106_plate 111 2014 - pg109_plate 116 2014 - pg121_plate 130 2014 - pg127_plate 135a 17th c chamberpot from Yeovil Library site Leslie-Booke's-Model-ofThe- St John's Church, Yeovil St John's Churchyard, archaeology day 6 Tail-Mill-Merriott-in-2014(