May. Thursday, 24th, Village Hall, 7.30pm. ‘The Romans in Somerset’ John Smith, archaeologist and historian gave a vivid account of roman life. John brought 30 so items from his collection of roman artefacts – tiles, togas, ladies wear, samian and other pottery along with graphic A3 sized pictures. 27 members and visitors were absorbed by John’s presentation and enjoyed anchovy buttered flatbreads, etc. after – but no dormice. There were requests for him to visit us again. A short video diary is available.
April. Monday 16th, Village Hall, 7.30 pm. 19 Members attended. The treasurer’s report shows the Club has a surplus of £671 which was considered a sensible amount in reserve to cover speaker expenses, publication advances and other sundry expenditure – thank you Carolyn for all your hard work in keeping us on the straight and clear. The secretary’s report included a time tunnel video review of the year, which reminded all present of the surprising range of the Club’s activities. Future programme ideas were discussed which included exploration of cider, fossils, lead mining, out-working, a visit to the Rural Life Museum, quarrying, cheese making. Liz Leyshon (for many years manager of Strode Theatre) would be asked as a speaker. The evening ended with fizz and very nice nibbles.
March. Saturday 17th. Tour of Shepton Mallet Prison. 32 people came on this grimly memorable visit. The weather was bitterly cold, more so inside than out ! Howard our guide, had worked as a prison officer until the prison closed in 2013 so knew the place and its history personally. Starting in the yard looking up at the 17 foot + high stone wall and on the spot where firing squads took place, we went on to the ancient part of the prison dating from Elizabethan times, taking in the site of 2 of the 6 fearful treadmills used to power a flour mill and the squalid infirmary. From the exercise yard to the actual prison blocks and then finally to the execution block where the Pierrepoints hung many hundred murderers. There is a good brief history of the prison in Roger Evans ‘Somerset. A chilling history of crime & punishment’ ISBN 978 1 84674 1753
March. Thursday 15th, Village Hall, 7.30pm. ‘SOMERSET FARMS – Then and now’ We had a delightful evening with well known local artist and historian Kate Lynch who documents Somerset farmers and their history. Her illustrated talk using her own paintings, drawings combined with old photographs and oral / video recordings enchanted 46 people – including Pilton (7) and Evercreech, Tintinhull History Groups. Good bread, cheese and refreshments after went down a treat.
February. Thursday 15th, Village Hall, 7.30pm. Clare Blackmore from the Central Western Gazette enchanted 24 BHC members and a guest with ‘Somerset Anecdotes’, most about Barton, drawn from press reports through the 19th century – Mr Look, obviously we would now say an alcoholic, figured serially. Clare endowed the Club with her anecdotes and promises to do further research on Barton press coverage. We wish her publishing endeavours on behalf of a much under rated Wells Folk Poet every success. After the meeting we enjoyed the usual BHC bonhomie. Thanks also to Linda who chauffeured Clare to and fro.
January. Saturday 27th, Village Hall, 7.30pm. For 300 years in England, Village Bands played music for all manner of church and village events. An audience of 51 listened to a 1 hour presentation led by Chris Blacker and the 14-piece Somerset Russets Village Band who re-lived the music these bands played, accompanied by readings from Thomas Hardy and others, illustrating their enlivening role in English Village life. A convivial gathering stayed on after sustained by an excellent Ploughman’s supper & refreshed with warm apple and cider punches. A DVD compilation is available from the Secretary.
December. 43 people came to hear John Stafford’s excellent presentation on the History of the Waggon and Horses (now the Barton Inn). John led the forum using a slide show Powerpoint including photos, maps, old records, newspaper cuttings punctuated with anecdotes from the audience. The evening was rounded off with a sumptuous supper (suggested £4 donation) of good bread, cheese, meats and relishes, mince pies and plenty of convivial socializing. A DVD fly-on-the-wall is available.
November. Saturday, 18th, 7.30pm, Village Hall. BHC prides itself on a varied programme of events and speakers. Frank Reynolds’s theme ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ proves the point. On a small stage with an audience of 30 in a half moon around him, Frank, celebrating his 81st birthday on that very night, regaled us for 90 minutes with stories of his childhood (youngest of 14 siblings) and episodes from a fantastical army career. Most people attending decided they had not laughed so much for years. Excellent nibbles after… the special punches went down well also !
October. Thursday 19th, 7.30pm, Village Hall. Eminent archaeologist, Dr Richard Brunning presented the inside story of his extraordinary 30 year work on the ‘Wet and Wonderful World of Avalon’. Richard is famous for his continuing archaeological discoveries in Somerset (eg. Beckery). An audience of 30 attended and enjoyed refreshments and discussion about the era of Barton-upon-Water !
September. Monday 18th, 7.30pm Village Hall. We welcomed Dr John Little back for the third of his powerful lectures in the WW1 series. This time on the ‘ Battle of Messines’ – which produced the loudest man-made sound ever made in human history up to that time. John’s lecture was, as ever, a brilliant evocation of dreadfulness of (trench & tunnel) warfare. A desultory 11 people turned up. After, we shared nibbles and drinks.
August. Wednesday 16th. Glastonbury Abbey guided tour including parts of the museum not open to public. 30 people met at the Abbey’s reception at 1.45 pm ( see gallery ). Entry £5.90 group rate. Luke Loader was our excellent guide. His presentation was later described as a model of how to present a history lesson. Our journey through time and space started with the first priest/hermit endowed land where the future Benedictine Abbey took root and grew into one of the 4 most important & richest institutions in the land until the Dissolution of the Monasteries beginning in 1538. After the tour we gathered in a marquee for tea and a chance to view some of Luke’s favourite archive items including glass fragments from the Abbey’s glass kiln, probably one of the first Medieval kilns established in England. Pointing to St John’s Glastonbury with a tower about 120 feet high, Luke mentioned that it is thought the Abbey’s Tower rose about 270 feet, dominating the landscape for miles around.
July. BHC had a stall at Barton’s Carnival on Saturday, July 15th, to meet folk, explain what we are trying to achieve, hear their views and ( if we are lucky) acquire more items for the village archive. Moments in Time 1 & 2, as well as the 1841 Tithe Maps were on sale. We did get lucky. C 1911 photo of Barton St David Church interior !
June. Monday 19th, 7.30pm, Village Hall. ‘An amazing space, the Story of the Dove Centre’. Bron Bradshaw and Pauline Watson recounted the fascinating story of how this creative powerhouse on our doorstep started 45 + years ago in Copis Cottage (now Dove Cottage), Mill Road and then, with a leap of faith,into Broadmoor Farm on the entry to Butleigh, which required considerable renovation. After many travails the Dove Studios have become a well known and prized Arts Centre for print making, mixed media, furniture, pottery, jewelry, ecological enterprise – viz the ‘White Field’ nature reserve. 26 people attended and were regaled after with chilled rose wine and soft drinks and delicious nibbles. Here’s to Dove Studios long may they prosper ! For more information read their book ‘An AMAZING SPACE’ available from Dove Studios.
May, Thursday 18th, 2pm. The Club arranged a special visit around Midelney Manor, the home of the Trevilian family for over 500 years in deepest Somerset. 27 Members and friends left Barton at 1.30pm to travel in convoy led by Dennis and Janet Powell. Alice, the charming current lady of the manor, took everyone on a tour of both her Elizabethan House and its gardens (set in 400 acres). The visit finished with an al fresco cream tea. By common acclaim it was a special afternoon which will long be talked about. In fact a return visit is planned. The event was the brainchild of Dennis, who organized every detail and even neutralized a poor weather forecast. Thank you again Dennis, brilliant !
April, 2nd AGM, Thursday 20th, 7.30pm, Village Hall. 13 members attended. Club funds are £384; we have 32 paid-up members. The Secretary reported steady growth of the Club archive (images, documents, maps, oral recordings – now over 1000 items), Club display activity (publications, at Carnival, village events), Club members’ research projects citing those of Rob Butt, Denise Goodman and colleagues, John Stafford & David Lawson, who would assist setting up a ‘Buildings at Risk’ group. Home Farm was raised as a possible example. Dennis Powell gave a comprehensive and enlivening review of BHC’s year. There was discussion about future events – a talk from the Clarks archivist, a visit to Glastonbury Abbey set for Wed. 16th August, 2pm. The Club’s second Moment in Time booklet ‘Barton Icons’ was announced. The formal Meeting gave way to refreshments, delicious nibbles and animated chat.
March, Monday 20th, 7.30pm, Village Hall. Bartonian David Lawson’s talk was packed full with practical illustrated advice on ‘Researching & dating old buildings’. David has been in the building trade for 46 years specializing in the restoration of major city heritage buildings. He is a post grad of the Architectural Association in Historic Building conservation. 30 people heard that David’s central approach is ‘ never trust what you are told and always go back to original records if you can’.
February, Thursday 23rd, 7.30pm, Village Hall. ‘The Natural History of Somerset’ Stephen Parker, chair of SANHS (Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society), gave a vast over view of probably more than 300 species of Somerset’s flora and fauna – many examples unique to the County. 28 people came and were totally fascinated by Stephen’s account. He is an ecologist by profession for Somerset County Council and supremely competent to talk about the ecology of this region. Refreshments were enjoyed by everyone after the meeting
January, Saturday 21st, 7.30pm, Village Hall. ‘The History of Mead’. Our speaker, Brett Johnson, makes mead commercially and has researched mead making historically over the last 5,000 years. A delightful 27 people attended to hear Brett’s account of how mead is made, its place in ancient Greek and old Norse cultures – he has a tremendous grasp of the Norse pantheon of gods and the sagas. However he explained that all was not well in his own entrepreneurial endeavours. He brought a number of different meads for tasting after his talk and a convivial evening ensued.
December, Tuesday 13th, 7.30pm, Barton Inn Skittles Alley. Another ‘What have we here Quizeum No.2?’ Where we bring along personal items of historic interest to challenge and enlighten. A good fun evening with bread & cheese etc. And it was ! 25 people, 12 armed with historical objects attended. Once again Joe and Jenny Fitzgerald kicked proceedings off with a fascinating quiz which included Witches Balls. Refreshments were served on the Village Bier.
November, Thursday 17th, 7.30pm, Village Hall. Bartonian David Odgers FRSA , one of the UK’s foremost advisors on the conservation of historic buildings discussed the grave effect that quarry closures are having on the restoration & repair of our nationally important buildings. 28 people attended an excellent presentation with supporting illustrations. David explained that of the 6000 different kinds of stone amassed into the Sedgwick Stone Collection around 300 only can now be reliably quarried and used. The talk headlined the state of Somerset stone quarries ( much diminished) but necessarily covered the national and international picture also. David has worked on restoration at St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and The Houses of Parliament and is currently involved in the restoration of Audley House. The evening ended convivially with champagne and an array of ‘nibbles’.
October. Thursday 20th. John Denning ‘To be a Farmer’s Boy’. John’s presentation was about farmers and farming around Barton, the iron foundries around Mells, hedging and ditching. Interestingly before mechanization, hedges in Somerset had always been cut 4ft 6in high and wide to accord with human ergonomics. This is what one person had to say about the evening : ‘Yet another glorious triumph! 28 people attended, an interesting talk about farming in Barton, pleasant chat, good wine, excellent nibbles with a superb mustard dip which must have been delivered in the late afternoon from Harrod’s Food Hall – a most enjoyable evening’.
October, Wednesday 5th. Many thanks to Tricia and Tony Phelps for organizing a Club visit to John Boyd Textiles Ltd., Castle Cary. 13 people toured the horse hair dyeing & weaving mill. John Boyd have been producing horsehair cloths (and other artefacts) since the mid C19th. We were fascinated by the mechanical picker which pulls one strand of hair at a time to feed to the loom shuttle. This was developed as a result of the 1870 and 1880 Education Acts which stopped the supply of child labour. Up till then children had been doing this key task. Horse hair textiles have wear properties which are 1000 times contract rub test requirement and as with other natural fibres like wool, are naturally fire resistant. The cost per metre reflects its exceptional performance and craft skills – £120 up. A very interesting and enjoyable afternoon. Does anyone have an idea for another BHC visit ?
September, Monday 12th. 23 people gathered in the newly re-furbished Village Hall to hear the third in (Dr) John Little’s WWI lectures. The Battle of the Somme had many phases the last being the Battle of the Ancre (Nov – Dec 1916) where General Goff and his 5th Army took the fight to the German forces and landed a series of knock-out blows. John’s lecture was brilliantly researched and presented. We are hoping he will take the story on in 1917 and 1918. The meeting also saw the book launch of the ‘Barton St David Battlefield Tour June 2016’, £5, an excellent account in pictures and word of the memorable visit organized by BHC member Barbara King and John accompanied by 41 people from Barton and surrounding villages.
August, Wednesday 17th. Bizarre Barton 2, the Silver Street Trail. 43 Bartonians and guests met in a field opposite Vine Cottage for a conducted walk up to Gosling Street, then back to Breadstone House, on to Manor Farm and finally, at the kind invitation of John and Sandy Cleland, gathering for Pimms and a rustic platter on what was a splendid summer evening (except for one light shower). Each stopping stop was used to introduce a host of Barton bizarreities about the life and people who had lived along our route over the centuries – of course prompting yet more questions. London Road ? London Inn ? 6 parts of Barton ? The Farm that Time Forgot ? The Teasel growers ? Howard and Sharman Glanfield gave us a tour of Breadstone (Broadstone) House, this act of hospitality and courage (43 to 1) will long be remembered. The 16th century Manor House was the perfect final port of call.
July, Carnival, Saturday 16th July. The Barton History Club’s stand attracted a steady stream of visitors throughout the afternoon. Our first book, ‘Moments in Time’ and the remarkable 1841 Barton Tithe map were on display and respectively, 5 copies of each were sold . We were delighted to be the launch pad for John Dennings’s long awaited book ‘To be a Farmer’s Boy’ – and John was delighted too, he sold & signed 31 copies – all proceeds going to D&S Air Ambulance. 1 membership form was issued and Christine King of Pilton History Group told us about 13 old Postcards they hold of Barton, copies of which she would send us. All in all a very enjoyable and productive afternoon for BHC on, most agreed, one of the best Carnivals.
June, Wednesday, 15th. 9 members were given a guided tour of Taunton Museum’s Archive of Somerset Treasures. Our guide, Ben, showed us his favourite exhibits and explained in many cases their national significance in the story of our Island. His selection included the Jade Axe head found by the Sweet Track, the Frome Hoard of 30,000 coins, the Dido and Aeneas mosaic floor and of course King Alfred’s Jewel (reprod). Taunton Museum, recently undertook an £11m re-build and is surely now one of Somerset’s Treasures. If you haven’t visited – don’t leave it too long !
May, Thursday 19th, 7.30pm, Village Hall. Jem Dick, who has been recreating ancient instruments for 30 years, was our guest speaker on ‘the Origins and development of music’. Palaeolithic peoples were not, as we are, separate from the natural world, its flora and fauna. They were totally part of it. Jem lead us into their thinking, through reference to wall art on caves like Lascaux, the recently discovered ‘sweat houses’ at Stonehenge, shaman ritual. And at each stage demonstrated how found objects like animal bones, horns, skins, stones, pine cones could be and probably were musical instruments. He cited the 2 estranged ‘pigmy’ peoples of S.Africa separated for thousand years and by thousands of miles who neither shared language nor way of life but played the identical music. He made the point that to be human is to have music. His talk was exciting and provocative. We hope to invite Jem back !
April, Wednesday 20th, 2.30 pm, held in the Village Hall. ‘A Barton Childhood’. Our speaker, Sue Griffiths’ parents ran the Village shop from Virginia House (now a private dwelling) during the 1950s. Fortunately for us Sue kept and now shares their treasure trove of photos of Barton then – in winter snow and radiant summer. 25 Bartonians attended, many bringing their own memories of people and events to add to the mix. The new projector, screen and headset mike were put to the test and found invaluable. Tea and biscuits rounded off a convivial afternoon gathered round the giant size copy (A0) of the 1841 Tithe Map.
The Barton Tudor Dance and Buffet on Saturday 20th February, in the Village Hall was attended by 34 people. Our brilliant dance mistress Anne Hinchcliffe – an advisor to the BBC Wolf Hall epic – announced all would dance and dance all did – sometimes in masques, in the dark holding (electronic) candles, great fun – punctuated with historical snippets explaining the background to the dances. Anne’s musician colleague, Frances Eustace, a specialist in medieval instruments, played tabor and drum, rebec, viol, crumhorn and many more and at the interval explained and demonstrated these instruments. The candle lit Tudor Buffet produced by the Barton Events Group, turned out to be a feast complete with (display) Boar’s Head. One learning to pass on – 34 people is just about the maximum the Hall can hold for a combined meal and dance event.
In January 2016 the History Club held 2 meetings. On Sat. Jan. 20th Louise Clapp gave a talk and comprehensive slide show (using the Village Hall’s new super duper projector) on ‘ Baltonsborough. The Past Behind The Present’. It was the first Saturday meeting. 14 came along to hear Louise’s skilful review of 2000 years of Baltonsbury’s past – the buildings, houses, industry, people.
The second meeting was on Wednesday, 27th January in Barton Inn’s skittle alley. John Little gave an illustrated talk on research he has undertaken into how the WWI Balfour cabinet enacted National Conscription, when in effect every British male was conscripted into military service – the lame, the insane, all were apparently eligible. Although only 12 people attended, John’s lecture was as ever a masterly account of a turning point in British history on the exact day 100 years after the Act was passed into law.
December Quizeum held in the Skittle Alley of the Barton Inn on wed. 16th, 7.30pm. Joe and Jenny Fitzgerald brought along 10 ‘historical’ items for us to identify. Best score was 6. Most 1 or 2. Well how are you on ‘Turkish towel ends ! Then the table was turned and everyone had the chance to present objects they brought along. The diversity was amazing – bow seed spreader, Spitfire camera, U-Boat wheatstone bridge, buried grease gun with WWI tank background, bel monde cigarette holder, eminent Victorian signatures, debris from King Louis Phillipe’s throne, a wrongly dated Edward VII coronation plate … and many more. Sustained by bread, cheese, meats, olives and liquid refreshment the evening continued convivially. About 30 people attended.
November Thursday 12th. Village Hall, 7.30pm. Dr John Little aided by Hayden Davies author and owner of Wells Reclamation, gave a powerful talk in the WW1 series entitled ‘War in the Trenches’ Actually John described the course of the War from Declaration to Amnesty on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918. 50 people sat gripped for 2 hours! We learnt about trench & tank design, battlefield tactics, the immense resilience of the British army. Refreshment was served in the interval and boy it was needed.
October Thursday 22nd. Village Hall at 7.30pm. Ann Healey a pioneer in the recording of Somerset people, gave a talk illustrated by excerpts from her library of over 600 recordings. 30 Bartonians and a visitor from Ilminster attended. Non members paid £1 at the door. Most stayed after to chat. Wine, soft drinks and savouries were on offer. Club work was displayed in particular the newly released 4 volume BHC Movies ‘Barton Old House Record’ based on original research by John and Barbara Lee in 1988. Early bird price £5 per volume (£4 for BHC members) normal price £7 (£6).
September Wednesday 16th. Village Hall. Dennis Chedgy from Radford Mining Museum gave an enlivening talk to 19 people about the ups and downs of setting up and running a small but perfectly formed museum. Radford is now a European accredited museum for mining studies. Dennis invited the History Club to come and see for themselves. Sounds like an offer we should take up in the near future.
Bizarre Barton Trail/1 , Wednesday 19th August 2015.
Starting from the Church at 6pm, 33 Bartonians and a dog explored 12 historical Village ‘stepping stones’. These included the Whittle family, the old School House, the new School till 1949, a lost Roman Emperor, Trotters, The Church Farms, the Old Vicarage, Gregorys Orchard, Brook Lanes (both of them). The last ‘stepping stone’ took us to the Skittle Alley of the Waggon and Horses. After liquid refreshment, baguettes, cheese and pate, Rob Butt did a fascinating screen presentation of research he is doing on Barton Landownership from Domesday to the 20th century.
Great turnout, well received by all.