Shepton Mallet prison by Graham Miller

The Wincanton and District Museum and Heritage Society held its AGM on the 25th January followed by a very interesting talk by Graham Miller, and his wife Laura, entitled The History of Shepton Mallet prison. Around 35 people were in attendance.

Shepton Mallet prison closed in 2013, after approximately 400 years is service. At the time of its closure it was the oldest operating prison in the United Kingdom. It had held, at any one time, 189 prisoners. But this Grade 11 Listed Building has a vast history.

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Paul Maze, the Last of the Impressionists by Paul Schofield

On Friday 23rd November 2018 The Wincanton and District Museum and History Society, held a very interesting talk by Phillip Scholfield, entitled “Paul Maze, the Last of the Impressionists”.

Phillip Schofield had first come across this remarkable man whilst a schoolboy – finding Paul Maze’s book in the school library.  This led to a lifelong interest in his paintings, and his life.

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NATHANIEL IRESON of WINCANTON – Architect, Master Builder & Potter

On the 23rd September 2016, in the Wincanton Memorial Hall; Peter Fitzgearld will give a talk on,

Nathaniel-IresonNATHANIEL IRESON of WINCANTON – Architect, Master Builder & Potter

Nathaniel Ireson has long deserved to be restored to his rightful place as one of the leading West Country architects of the early 18th century, and in Peter FitzGerald he has found an author worthy of his achievements.

Peter FitzGerald, who lives near Wincanton and has a particular interest in architecture, has undertaken extensive research which has uncovered the very large number of houses, churches and other buildings on which Ireson worked.

Peter FitzGerald’s patient research has unearthed evidence of at least forty other houses that Ireson designed, many of them in the Provincial Baroque style that was his hallmark. One of the book’s strengths is the detailed appendix listing the buildings on which Ireson worked. Ireson made his home in Wincanton, where he set up a delft pottery. He carved church monuments and played a crucial role in the rebuilding of Blandford Forum after the Great Fire of 1731. By the time of his death in 1769, he was a highly regarded architect, whose legacy lives on throughout the West Country.

Peter makes a strong case for the importance of this neglected architect-builder-entrepreneur, who became Wincanton’s biggest employer and principal citizen.

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It is sad that his name is no longer known outside the town, but Peter FitzGerald’s fascinating new book – Nathaniel Ireson of Wincanton, Architect, Master Builder and Potter – should redress that situation (and raise money to restore the imposing Ireson statue in Wincanton churchyard).

Wincanton Memorial Hall 23rd September 2016 7.30 PM

Cost; £5 Non Members, £2 Members