Lytes Cary talk by Judith Teasdale

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.

John Baxter

Jeff Kingaby Diamond Jubilee and Retires

Jeff and MollyThis July Jeff and Molly Kingaby are Celebrated 60 Years together with a Diamond Jubillee Party in Wincanton  Joined their by their friends and family in their garden, they had a lot to celebrate.

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.


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.

Museum Update. Treasurer Jim Longley

Wincanton Museum  Where are we now?

Many readers will know that we had to move from the cottage at 32 High Street in 2010.  However the Museum lives on and will shortly have a whole new future. But, as the heading says, where are we now?

We have been in productive discussions with South Somerset District Council (SSDC) and we have agreed, potentially, terms where we can utilise a room within the Wincanton Library, Carrington Way.  This is useful space immediately opposite the main entrance which used to house the Tourist Office.  The Library Staff have been incredibly supportive at both local and area level.  We in the throes of agreeing a three year lease, that we would expect to extend as the term matures.  The lease conditions are very favourable to us.  Once the lease is finalised it will be “all systems go” to put in place display cabinets and thence the artefacts. We will also introduce a modern electronic display to show other related presentations.  Proper signing will be arranged in the streets, and outside and inside the premises.

Funding has been carefully considered.  We hold certain reserves but the SSDC have been greatly supportive and have agreed a one off capital grant of £2,350.  Wincanton Town Council will also look favourably on an operational grant that will help us cover the rent and public liability insurance over the next three years.  A huge thank you is extended to both Authorities.

In the meantime the artefacts have been carefully preserved.  Some are in secure storage and interesting articles are on display in special cabinets at Wincanton Primary School and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary School.  Other items are being shown, on loan, at King Arthur’s Community School (those relating to World War 2 to complement related studies) and in the restaurant at The Dolphin Hotel.  Important sorting, cleaning and cataloguing work continue.

So we are optimistic of reopening the Museum this summer (2012).  In the meantime our programme of regular history talks continue – see elsewhere on our web page for details.  We also need help from any interested party.  Currently our curator would appreciate support in the artefact management processes.  When we open (possibly 5 mornings a week) we will need additional volunteer stewards.  This is not an onerous task and full training and on-going support will be given.

Jim Longley   April 2012

14-3-2012 Press Release

Following a meetings with the South Somerset District Council and members of Wincanton public it is pleasing to report that plans are progressing well to reopen the Wincanton Museum in shared premises with the Library in Carrington Way.

The Museum’s Chairman, Terry Stanford, advises that sufficient stewards have come forward to allow the Museum to be active for five mornings a week throughout the year.

“This, hopefully, is just the start of the programme” say’s Terry.  “If we can attract further stewards we can expand the opening hours and perhaps provide even better and varied displays”

Progress can be monitored and contact can be made via


Our AGM and a Talk on the History of Wincanton’s Catholic Church

 The Shed was packed with the best turn out the Museum and History Society had ever had. No doubt this was helped by the presence of our visiting speaker, Fr Louis Beasley Suffolk.Still, the well organised AGM was important with the report by our chairman Dr Terry Stanford that the negotiations with the Library are going well and that now the Museum has been closed, our artefacts and records have been safely stored and are being exhibited in King Arthur’s and Wincanton Primary schools. This is work which has taken a great deal of time and effort by both our chairman and our Curator, John Atkins.

Over the past year turnout at the talks we have organised has also been consistently good and at £10 a year for a subscription – which gives you entrance to all the talks (£5 for visitors)- membership is good value.

The trustees were then affirmed and the committee elected with great speed, but it was strongly emphasised by Terry that we really do need new active members. He emphasised that getting involved with the Museum and History Society is both personally interesting and a way of doing something of real value for the local community, so if you are tempted to get more involved please get in touch. Call our Chairman on 01963 31665.

Father Louis then treated us to a humerous and offbeat account in his own inimitable style of some of the characters that have played a leading part in the story of St Luke’s and showed us some diagrams and pictures illustrating the work done on refurbishing the church last year. It all went down very well.

Roman Catholicism here in Wincanton has an interesting history involving not only the turmoil of the Reformation but also the contribution of French Napoleonic prisoners and later the building of the Church and the adjoining Carmelite monastery where missionaries were trained.

Biscuits, cheese, wine, tea, coffee and much socialising followed, making for an interesting and enjoyable meeting, so don’t forget our next meeting and put our programme in your diary.

This is also a good time for members and potential members of the History Society to pay their annual subsciption of £10 per person.  This then covers the cost of talks for members.

Forthcoming Events 2012

24th February  “Death, Destruction and the Cat and Mouse Act” Some aspects of the Suffragette Movement in the Early Twentieth Century.  Dr Terry Stanford.

30th March. A Contemporary Archive. Highlights in words and pictures from the last two years in the Wincanton Window.  John Baxter.

27th April. Ravenna, The Magic of Mosaics. Hendrika Foster.

25th May. A Talk and a Walk Around Wincanton.  Frank Foster.

8th June. Riot, Riot, Riot.  Jeff Kingaby.