Category Archives: Heritage

AUCTION OF THE DULVERTON LAUNDRY BUILDING: STATEMENT FROM DWLCT

The following is a statement, from Philip Hull, put out by the Dulverton Weir and Leat Conservation Trust…

The auction of the Dulverton Laundry building will take place at Taunton Racecourse at 3pm on 11 December. The guide price is £250,000 approx.

DWLCT always felt that once the project to restore the upper part of Dulverton Urban Watermill Landscape (weir & mill leat) was completed, the safeguarding of the Dulverton Laundry building would be a logical extension to Trust activities, our strong partner and stakeholder network being the perfect vehicle for this to take place. It is unfortunate that the laundry building has become available somewhat earlier than we all expected.

The Trustees of DWLCT take the view that the Trust is not currently in a position to seek to acquire ownership (or give undertakings of acquiring ownership) of the laundry building at this point in time. All of our partnership agreements, funding applications and donor monies received are on the basis of the current clearly defined weir & leat project.

Over the past few weeks the Trust has been in discussion with partners and other interested parties to try to identify any solutions for the building which would not require a purchase at this stage, these efforts have however been unsuccessful.

We understand the current owner’s need to dispose of the building which is listed, empty and in a parlous state; and we await the outcome of the auction with interest.

GENERATION OF SCHOOL CHILDREN INSPIRED BY LORNA DOONE

A South Somerset school has visited Exmoor National Park for the 25th year running, giving thousands of students the chance to experience the landscape that inspired the world-famous romantic novel, Lorna Doone.

Students from Maiden Beech Academy, a middle school in Crewkerne, first visited Exmoor’s famous Doone Valley in October 1993, and have visited every year since. Approximately 100 Year 8 pupils attend each year, meaning the total runs into the thousands.

Guided by National Park leaders, they are taken on a walk from County Gate to Malmsmead Church to Cloud Farm, and on to the medieval ruins of the ‘Doone settlement’ – all prominent locations in the book. The return trip includes the steep climb from Badgery Water back up to County Gate, which is hard on tired legs, but remains a fun and exhilarating challenge that is remembered for years to come. During the visits, the children also have the opportunity to learn about field skills, such as river surveys, as well as map and navigation skills.

Lorna Doone was published in 1869 by R.D. Blackmore – one of the most famous British novelists of the Victorian era. The story incorporates wonderful descriptions of the most remote and rugged parts of Exmoor, as well as real events such as The Great Winter and the Monmouth Rebellion, plus folk traditions of the notorious Doone family and the highwayman Tom Faggus. It has never since been out of print.

Year 8 teacher Chris Stacey, who has been accompanying children on the visits for the past ten years, said: “The Lorna Doone books are almost worn out now, but the children so enjoy the story that the study continues. They love visiting the places described in the novel and being able to experience the wonderful landscape around the Doone Valley.”

Exmoor National Park’s Dave Gurnett, who has led all 25 of the visits, said: “It’s an incredibly atmospheric place and taking the children there makes such a difference to their understanding of the book. With just 12 per cent of UK children having never visited the countryside, we believe outdoor learning should form a vital part of every child’s education.”

Next year marks the 150th anniversary since Lorna Doone was first published, with the National Park encouraging local businesses and organisations to join in with the celebrations, planned to include a major Lorna Doone exhibition at Dulverton Heritage Centre, along with themed walks, arts events, literary sessions and a variety of other events around the National Park. Anyone interested in organising an event should contact Katrina Munro on KJMunro@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk or call 01398 322236.

HESTERCOMBE ONE STEP CLOSER TO RESTORATION

The restoration of one of England’s most important historic gardens, the unique Hestercombe Gardens near Taunton in Somerset, is one step closer thanks to a £1.5 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

The NHMF grant has enabled the Hestercombe Gardens Trust to acquire land totalling 320 acres, reuniting the world-class, Grade I registered landscape, gardens and buildings for future generations.

Now returned to its full size, what makes Hestercombe Gardens so important is that it combines four complete period gardens spanning four centuries of garden design.

The newly acquired land includes the site of a rare, early-seventeenth-century Water Garden which it is planned to restore together with other historic features within the park. Planted to its original design, Hestercombe’s Formal Garden is considered the finest example of the famous collaboration between garden designer Gertrude Jekyll and architect Edwin Lutyens.

The purchase also allows for the possibility of extending the current contemporary art gallery in the house to include outside spaces for the display of art. This will affirm the Trust’s ambition to become a national Centre for Arts & Landscape.

Popular TV gardener Monty Don, who has filmed at the site several times, considers Hestercombe one of his very favourite gardens.

Hestercombe Gardens Trust chairman, Sir Andrew Burns KCMG, said: “This is a tremendous vote of confidence in Hestercombe and recognises Somerset’s leading heritage garden as a site of outstanding national importance. We are enormously grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and our other funders for their most generous and timely assistance in securing the future of Hestercombe for public enjoyment.”

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of NHMF, said: “On a par with Stourhead, Castle Howard and Blenheim, Hestercombe is an exquisite landscape with such an important story to tell in the history of English garden design. This was a once in a generation opportunity to restore it in full and one that we at the National Heritage Memorial Fund felt had to be seized .”

The history of Hestercombe
The Hestercombe estate was sold to The Crown Estate by the Portman family in 1944. In 1961 The Crown clear-felled all the eighteenth-century designed landscape, parkland and woodland for its timber value. This process also drained the lakes and destroyed a number of garden buildings. The statuary from the Lutyens garden was sold off and the Georgian landscape and surrounding woodland were replanted as commercial forestry.

In 1953 Somerset County Council rented Hestercombe House from The Crown to provide a headquarters for Somerset County Fire Brigade. In 1973 Somerset County Council began the restoration of the Formal gardens designed by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll, which was awarded a European Heritage Award, the council also purchased the house and formal gardens.

The total cost of acquiring the land, following the Crown Estate’s decision to sell off its agricultural holdings, together with a picturesque gatekeeper’s lodge, which was acquired separately, was £2.7 million. Substantial and generous partnership funding to complete the purchase was received from three private trusts and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Philip White MBE, Founder and Chief Executive, said that: “This had been a remarkable and possibly unique opportunity to put back together a nationally important historic landscape when so many others are broken up, which has been made possible thanks to the vision of Hestercombe’s trustees and its generous supporters.”

The Hestercombe Gardens Trust is very grateful to the leaders of both Somerset County Council, Cllr David Fothergill, and Taunton Deane Borough Council, Cllr John Williams, for their strong support and also to Taunton MP, Rebecca Pow, a long time champion of Hestercombe, who was able to promote the application at a national level.

UNVEILING OF THE SHROUDS OF THE SOMME AT QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK

After his five-year mission to honour the dead of the First World War, artist Rob Heard will finally unveil his remarkable Shrouds of the Somme installation to the world on the morning of 7 November 2018.

Rob will be available for interview as the last of the 72,396 small shrouded figures are laid out by volunteers and members of 1 Royal Anglian Regiment in the shadow of the London Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The following day members of the public are invited to visit the free attraction which will form one of the major focal points as the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Each of the 12-inch shrouded figures represent the men who died in the bloodiest battle in British history but whose bodies were never recovered from the Somme battlefield.

The installation is so vast that when the shrouds are laid out they will cover 4,400 square metres – almost the size of a football pitch.

Find out more: www.shroudsofthesomme.com/

HISTORIC LANDKEY PARISH TABLE FINDS NEW HOME IN BARNSTAPLE MUSEUM

A rare 400-year-old trestle table has been saved from auction and will be rehomed in the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon.

The museum was recently successful in a bid for almost £10,000 from the Museums Association Beecroft Bequest to keep the Landkey Parish Table in North Devon. The item will be put on display in the museum library, which is being converted into a public research area as part of its extension project.

The Landkey Parish Table is believed to have been assembled inside the Landkey parish house, which is where it stayed for over 400 years. This rare piece is one of only two parish room tables from the sixteenth or seventeenth century known in Devon and is an exceptional example of the workmanship of West Country craftsmen. The impressive table measures almost 17 feet long and is made from a single plank of oak, with fixed benches on either side. One trestle-end is carved with the date 1655 and flanked by the churchwardens’ initials WL and TG (William Lavercombe and Thomas Gould were churchwardens in 1655).

The museum’s bid for funding was supported by the Regional Furniture Society, the Devonshire Association and local historians, who were all keen for the table to remain in the district following the Landkey United Charities decision to convert the under-used parish rooms to a dwelling.

Executive Member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Brian Moores, says: “This is a unique and very significant piece of Devon furniture and I’m very pleased our museum team was able to raise the funds to keep it in North Devon. It will fit well in the museum library, where it can continue to be used and appreciated by local visitors to the museum.”

Michael Gee, Secretary of Landkey United Charities, says: “All are agreed that the under-used Parish Rooms will make an attractive dwelling, and it is good that the table has found an accessible local home.”

Dr Todd Gray, author of Devon’s Ancient Bench Ends, says: “The table was secured for the people of North Devon by the museum manager, Alison Mills, who has worked tirelessly to ensure it stays where it belongs – in North Devon.  The region has some of the most interesting early wooden carving in England and I hope all those who love North Devon appreciate that Ms Mills harnessed the expertise of specialists around the country in supporting this bid. This really has been a great coup for the people of North Devon!”

Roderick Butler, FSA Furniture Historian, says: “So little sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century secular furniture with an undoubted Devon provenance has survived that the acquisition of this table for the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, so close to its original home, is nothing short of miraculous.”

Follow the progress of the museum’s new extension project, including behind-the-scenes photos and information about the new displays at www.barnstaplemuseumblog.wordpress.com.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Bonhams 1973 Ltd

DOVERY MANOR MUSEUM FIRST WORLD WAR PROJECT

Are you or your family from the Vale of Porlock and did you have family member who fought in the First World War? Perhaps you had a grandfather or a great uncle who served in the ranks? Or a great aunt who volunteered to work as a nurse treating the long-term wounded in Minehead Hospital?

Dovery Manor Museum in Porlock is marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War with a series of newly researched publications by Jeff Cox.

Already on display at the museum is a comprehensive register recording the name, rank, regiment and often the home addresses, of over 350 men and women from Porlock, Luccombe, Selworthy, Culbone, Oare and Stoke Pero who served. It’s the first time such detailed research has been attempted, honouring the sacrifices made by so many from the district.

The second volume is a Roll of Honour, which pays tribute to all those men from Porlock and the Vale who died in the First World War. It tells in some detail the story of each man whose name is carved on one of the three parish war memorials at Porlock, Luccombe and Selworthy.

Is your relative listed in the register? Or might details in the register help fill gaps in your family history?

The museum now wants to hear from anyone who has stories or photos of their family members from the three parishes who served in the conflict, for inclusion in a third publication which will tell the very human stories of sacrifice, service and dedication.

The volumes are the result of extensive new research, timed to culminate this November – the centenary of the end of the First World War. But they do not claim to be the final story. There may well be errors or omissions. And that is where you can help. Do visit the museum and look at these volumes; and please tell them if you have information that can improve this tribute to the men and women from Porlock and the Vale.

The museum has recently been successful in acquiring a grant from One Stop Carriers For Causes which will make possible the publication of all three volumes and the creation of a a permanent First World War memorial display at the museum.

Please contact anyone at the museum (which is open daily from 10am-5pm, except Sundays) or Jeff Cox on 01643 863083, or by emailing jeff.cox@talk21.com

PHOTO: Unveiling of the war memorial, July 1921.

MINEHEAD’S NORTH HILL ON THE RADAR

A convoy of military vehicles will depart from Minehead this Saturday (8 September) at 10.30am en route to the Second World War tank training grounds and Radar Station on North Hill, as part of a celebration of wartime heritage hosted by Exmoor National Park and the National Trust for Heritage Open Days.

During the war, North Hill was closed to civilians and brought under military control. It became one of country’s five new tank training ranges for British, American and Canadian troops. Tucked down the coastal slopes lay a top-secret Radar Station, one of 244 across the country and part of a coastal defensive chain to identify shipping and low-flying aircraft. The stations were ‘manned’ 24 hours a day and operators at Radar Stations were often women from the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

The top-secret radar stations were often stationed by women (photo sourced by Gwen Arnold).

The convoy will parade along Minehead seafront via Blenheim Gardens, before heading to North Hill where spectators can discover more about this incredible time through displays at the Radar Station and guided walks of the training grounds across to Bossington Hill. There will also be a chance to learn about the earlier archaeological landscape, from the Iron Age settlement at Bury Castle to the ruined medieval Burgundy Chapel.

The event is suitable for all ages and free to attend, but donations are welcome to CareMoor for Exmoor, which fundraises towards the upkeep of the National Park.

Shirley Blaylock, Historic Environment Conservation Officer at Exmoor National Park, said: “This is a fantastic chance for people to discover a slice of history from the National Park that is often overlooked. North Hill was an important military complex during the Second World War and it’s great to be able to bring to life the role that it played in maintaining national security at this critical time.”

For more information about the event visit: www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/castles-in-the-sky-the-wwii-radar-station-on-north-hill

HALSWAY MANOR OPENS ITS DOORS FOR HERITAGE DAYS

At the foot of the Quantock hills, not far from Crowcombe, lies an extraordinary historic building many do not realise is there. Now is your chance to discover this hidden gem, as Halsway Manor will be open to the public as part of Heritage Open Days 2018, on Friday 7 and Friday 14 September.

On a day-to-day basis Halsway Manor operates as the National Centre for Folk Arts, offering residential courses in traditional music, dance, song, crafts and more, welcoming artists and guests from all over the UK, Europe and beyond.

As part of Heritage Open Days, the charity is offering members of the public the opportunity to visit this beautiful Grade 2* listed manor and access rooms normally closed to the public. Through newly installed interpretation, visitors will learn about the manor’s fascinating history from the Domesday Book, to the current building’s origins in the fifteenth century, from eccentric past residents, to its current status full of interesting creative goings on. Families are welcome and there will be special souvenir story and activity packs for children. There are six acres of beautiful gardens and grounds that visitors are also welcome to explore.

Alice Maddicott is the Creative Lead for an ongoing Heritage Lottery Funded ‘Future Halsway’ project, and has been instrumental in the creation of new interpretation materials at the Manor. She says,”We’re really excited to be able to welcome new visitors to discover Halsway and the fascinating history of this beautiful house and area. We really hope people enjoy exploring the house – including the library, great hall and grounds, plus one or two of the more interesting bedrooms too!”

The house will be open to visitors from 10.30am to 3pm, with free parking available onsite. Refreshments will not be available, but visitors are welcome to bring their own – why not bring a picnic lunch to eat on the lawn?

For more information please contact: creative@halswaymanor.org.uk Fancy making a day of it? Other Heritage Open Days properties in the Quantock / West Somerset area include: Halswell House, Dunster Castle, North Hill on the Radar, St John the Baptist church, Carhampton. For more information visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk.

Halsway Manor, National Centre for Folk Arts, has been established as a Charity since 1965. Nestling at the foot of the Quantock Hills Halsway Manor provides a year-round programme of events and activities in traditional folk music, dance, song, storytelling, folklore and related arts and crafts.

WANTED: 100 PEOPLE, 100 STORIES

To celebrate the new Long Bridge Extension and complement the museum’s current project ‘North Devon in 100 objects’, the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is setting a challenge to find 100 local people to contribute their stories of life in North Devon to be preserved in 100 one-minute documentary films.

The extension, which is currently being built, will house a new social history gallery.  An exciting feature of the gallery will be the installation of a campervan cinema.  This micro cinema will be created from a vintage VW campervan and will house an interactive screen and comfortable seating where visitors can select and view short films mirroring the themes of the social history gallery.

The 100 mini documentaries will be created by staff and volunteers at the Museum but first they need… YOU!

Amanda McCormack from North Devon Moving Image, the project partner, says “People often think that their stories are insignificant.  They think they would not be interesting to others, but think of all the stories you might have heard your grandparents and parents tell you about their earlier lives.  Those gems of stories could be lost in the passage of time but these short snapshot films will create a valuable and entertaining archive.”

North Devon Council’s Executive member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says:  “Creating a social history of North Devon and its residents is a wonderful way to preserve memories.  This project is similar to a visual time capsule which can be enjoyed for many years to come.  Please do get in touch with the museum if you would like to share your stories and pass them down to future generations to help them understand what living in North Devon was like in the earl-twenty-first century.”

What the Museum is looking for are anecdotes about life in North Devon and because these will be told on film they need a visual element to the story.  So, do you know a local ‘character’ who might like to be interviewed, who represents life in North Devon?  Do you have memories you would like to share or stories passed down through generations?  Have you kept your old school reports and maybe your school uniform?  Do you have a collection of artefacts you can show to the camera and talk about – maybe locally made toys, clothing, machinery or household objects?

If you or someone you know would be ideal for the 100 mini documentaries please get in touch with the museum team on 01271 346747 or email museum@northdevon.gov.uk.

PHOTO: Daisy Tucker of Combrew Farm, Bickington, delivering milk in Draceana Avenue, Sticklepath, to Mrs Teape and her daughter Sandra in 1946. This image was published in the Spring 2017 issue of Exmoor Magazine, in an article about memories of milk rounds in and around Barnstaple, written by Avril Stone.

MUSEUM’S BIG BUILD HAS FINALLY BEGUN!

The big day has finally arrived and the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is beginning its transformation.

Devon Contractors start work today – Monday 25 June – on the museum’s eagerly anticipated £2m Long Bridge Wing extension, which will increase the building’s footprint by 70%, making space for a new social history gallery, larger shop, café and improved education space. The project, supported by nearly £870,000 of National Lottery funding, is expected to take 12 months to complete, with the museum reopening fully in summer 2019.

The current museum was provided to the town by William Frederick Rock in 1888 as the home of the North Devon Athenaeum. Originally there was another building between it and the Long Bridge, but this was demolished in 1963 when the bridge was widened. The extension will be built on the site of the old building using brick and slate as the main building materials, in keeping with the existing museum building. Terracotta details, reflecting the work of Brannams and copper (which was used extensively by Shapland and Petter in their furniture) will be blended to create interest and soften the impact of the brick.

North Devon Council’s Executive member for Parks, Leisure and Culture, Councillor Dick Jones, says: “This project has been three years in the making, so it will be really exciting to see the scaffolding go up and the builders on site. The museum has remained unchanged for many years, so this is a momentous occasion in the history of this iconic building. The improvements we are making will give the museum the space it needs and deserves to showcase the history of North Devon to the many visitors we welcome through its doors each year.”

Museum Manager, Alison Mills, says: “We’ve already started work behind the scenes, moving collections into storage and clearing parts of the museum that will be affected by the building work. This has revealed features that haven’t been seen in years and hidden treasures we didn’t know were there, including a locked safe behind the underwater world display – we’re still looking for a key that fits! We are all really excited to be part of the museum’s transformation and can’t wait for the building work to get started!”

A temporary front of house is available at the ‘Pop-up museum’, across the road in Bridge Chambers, which is also the base for collecting stories and objects for the new Social History Gallery, so pop in and see how you can get involved.

For behind-the-scenes updates and progress of the build, follow the Museum Manager’s blog at barnstaplemuseumblog.wordpress.com. You can still contact the museum on 01271 346747, museum@northdevon.gov.uk or get in touch on the museum Facebook page.

The Long Bridge Wing Extension project is funded by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Coastal Communities Fund and North Devon Council, with additional contributions from the Arts Council Ready to Borrow scheme, Devon County Council and the Barnstaple and North Devon Museum Development Trust (MBND), which has secured significant contributions from the Garfield Weston Foundation, Fullabrook Windfarm CIC, Foyle Foundation and a host of local businesses, charitable trusts and individuals.  A full list of the MBND funders is available on their website mbndtrust.org.

PHOTO: Museum manager Alison Mills and Cllr Dick Jones with the chosen bricks for the museum extension.