Friday 22nd March and Hendrika Foster delivered for us the first Jeff Kingaby Memorial Lecture in memory of our stalwart Secretary who kept us going when times were tough. Continue reading
Museum Update The Museum will be opened, using accommodation at the Library, on Saturday 30 March at 11a.m. Continue reading
On Friday 25th January Chris Forester will be giving an illustrated talk entitled, “be Sober, Be Vigilant! Mounted Police in Victorian London Continue reading
His subject was the dramatic story of the setting up and sad demise in the 60s of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, well illustrated by an interesting collection of photographs.
Held on the evening of the day when a packed memorial service took place in the parish church for Jeff Kingaby, the fact that this talk attracted the biggest audiance we can remember, was a fitting memorial to Jeff whose tireless efforts have kept us all going.
Peter gave us a really interesting talk which attracted a good number of non-members whose great interest was railways in general and the Somerset and Dorset Railway in particular and his talk attracted several interesting questions and the revelation that there are gruops keeping sections of the track alive and there are even plans afoot to construct a new railway to cover much of the old route. We shall have to wait and see about that.
Judith Teasdale’s beautifully illustrated and meticulously presented talk on Lytes Cary Manor on Friday 14th September was a fitting and extremely interesting start to our Autumn programme. She attracted a very good turnout which filled the Balsam Centre Shed and gave everyone much to talk about over our glasses of wine afterwards.
Drawing on her experience of developing a Conservation Management Plan for the property on behalf of the National Trust, Judith showed us pictures not only of the nooks and crannies of this ancient property with its roots going back to manor house and village in Medieval times, but also a series of fascinating photos and stories of the Jenner family who were responsible early in the 20th century for purchasing and restoring the property after it had been reduced from grand house to dilapidated farm buildings. There were calves being kept in the chapel.
Of particular interest in bringing Lytes Cary alive for us were her stories of how Sir Walter Jenner had set off to serve in the Army during the First World War complete with his horse and a batman to look after him and how his wife had worked tirelessly to support the troops with extra supplies and comforts and how their daughter had set off to Wincanton to nurse the war wounded in the hospital set up here in the Carmelite monastery. Noblesse oblige!
Her talk not only attracted good turn-out but encouraged several new members to join the Society. This is great news as the time approaches when we will be able to set up the new Museum in Wincanton Library and there will be plenty for volunteers to do in many ways from following up a pet theme to taking a turn stewarding.
Dear Members and followers,
There are just two items of interest at the moment. 1. We anticipate signing the lease agreement and returning the documents to Somerset Council during the week of 10 /9/12. We will then wait to hear just when we can take occupation of the premises in Wincanton Library and begin to establish a Museum. Will keep you in touch.
2. Have you a story to tell?
As part of the process of promoting an interest in local history and, from their point of view, to increase their coverage, the Western Gazette has suggested that they run articles based broadly on historical aspects of Castle Cary, Bruton and Wincanton. They envisage a monthly article shared between the above three locations on any aspect of local history be it people, places, events changes etc. We, that is the committee, are keen to pursue this initiative and want to take the opportunity to widen participation as far as possible. It has been suggested that local people may well have stories to tell about past life in Wincanton, who have experience of the way in which the town has changed and perhaps personal knowledge of events which have taken place or prominent people who live or have lived in the area. If the project comes to fruition it would mean that we would endeavour to produce an article focusing on Wincanton and our surrounding area and villages.
This would be an opportunity for everyone to become involved in a project, it would not be of a repetitive nature, one off articles would be great and in addition it would assist us all to have better understanding of the town and its people.
It would just be possible for the committee, with some assistance, to take on this task but it was strongly felt that groups of people with similar interests who perhaps are as yet not known to each other or to us could get together, perhaps do some research and produce an article which would be of interest to us all.
As a committee we would be only to keen to facilitate the above suggestions in any way thought appropriate and we could certainly assist in preparing and editing articles, photographs etc.
Thhis is about all we know of the project at this date but anyone expressing an interest could initially do so be contacting me and we will see how far we can get.
Lytes Cary Manor near Somerton the National Trust tells us is “ an intimate medieval manor house with a beautiful Arts and Crafts garden where you can imagine living. Originally the family home of Henry Lyte, where he translated the unique Niewe Herball book on herbal remedies, Lytes Cary was then lovingly restored in the 20th century by Sir Walter Jenner. The garden rooms contain a magical collection of topiary and herbaceous borders, while tranquil walks on the estate take you along the River Cary.”
Wincanton District Museum and History Society have asked one of our newer members who has come to live here, Judith Teasdale to give our next talk. This will be on Friday 14th September in the Balsam Centre, 7.30pm. As usual entrance is £6 for visitors and free for members. Refreshments are always provided at the end adding to the friendly social nature of these occasions.
Judith Teasdale is a landscape architect who specialises in work on historic sites, occasionally straying into the buildings too. She frequently undertakes commissions for the National Trust and, in 2009, she was asked to write a Conservation Management Plan for Lytes Cary Manor in Somerset. To do this, she needed to explore parts of the manor house, its outbuildings and the wider agricultural estate that visitors rarely get to see. In her talk, she will share her journey ‘behind the scenes’ with us, describing the history of these less visited parts of Lytes Cary Manor and of some of the people who have lived there.
Since coming to live in Wincanton Jeff almost immediately became Secretary of the Museum and it has been his relentless energy , efficiency and friendly manner which has been responsible for enthusing others and keeping the show on the road during a testing time when it almost looked as if the Museum might fold.
What Jeff has done here during the past eight years in some ways replicates his time living in Morchard Bishop in Devon for twenty-six years. There he was responsible for founding the Bowling Club and launching a town magazine which is now a thriving web-magazine. While there he also wrote and published three books on the town. They also arrived with their five children. They now have thirteen grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Jeff has written a short but fascinating biography, entitled JFK, his initials! In it he describes vividly his childhood in the East End and as an evacuee “billeted” with a variety of families both well-off and poor during the Second World War. His words evoke a tough and dangerous world and amazingly resilient people. It is hard to believe a couple could see such changes within one life-time.
After the war Jeff did National Service for a compulsory two years and was shipped out to serve in Malaysia and Hong Kong. On returning he soon met and married Molly in 1951 and rather reluctantly joined the police in St Albans. In 1963 he moved from the Hertford Constabulary to the Met. There he was able to pass the necessary courses and clearly showed considerable ability for he was promoted steadily, ending up as an acting Chief Inspector in Greenwich. In the course of his service he also had one particularly narrow escape. In 1976 he was confronted by an IRA gunman who had already killed a train driver and had fired at the police. He aimed at Jeff at point blank range, only to discover he had run out of ammunition. Jeff was highly commended and received the Bow Street Medal. He then chose to take early retirement in 78 at the age of 47. This gave him the opportunity to leave the city with his family and settle in Morchard Bishop with the intention of living as he says, “the Good Life, ” which clearly they did.
JEFF and MOLLY HONOURED
The sun forgot to sulk and the rain to fall giving us a lovely sunny afternoon on Saturday June30th for the Museum and History Society Garden Party Cream Tea. As last year this was held in the grounds of the Meeting House thanks to the generosity of the Wincanton Quakers.
In addition to Society members, the mayor, councillors and other supporters had been invited and there was a turnout of just under forty and everyone enjoyed the opportunity to socialise and tuck into the delicious home-made scones and cream.
The real focus of the afternoon however was for our President, Frank Foster, to make a presentation to Molly and Jeff Kingaby for all their work supporting the Society ever since they moved here some eight years ago. Jeff remains on the Committee but has now retired from being Secretary, a crucial role which he has carried out with tact, efficiency and enthusiasm.