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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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

29th April 16 – The History of Palestine by Brigadier(rtd) J Deverell

If Middle East History is your thing or you are just interested, then come along to the Wincanton Memorial Hall on 29th April 2016.

Brigadier (retired) John Deverell CBE MPhil(Cantab) is giving a talk on “ The History of Palestine”.

With 10 years’ experience in the Middle East as an army Officer,  a diplomat, and  as a businessman, Brigadier Deverell will talk about his experience of this most topical and complex region

He has enjoyed postings with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem and Yemen.

In Iraq he was instrumental in disproving the pre-war intelligence on the weapons of mass destruction WMD) as the senior British officer in the Iraq Survey Group. He presented his findings on the TV programme Panorama.

In Libya he advised the Gaddafi regime on how they would benefit from giving up their WMD programmes.

In Yemen his work with local officials helped avoid war in the wake of 9/11.

In the Palestinian Territories he was the only British government servant to live and work full time.  He was at the forefront of US and British efforts to reform the Palestinian security sector as a basis for a Two-State Solution. In this role John worked alongside Quartet Representative Tony Blair and General Jim Jones, thereafter the U.S. National Security Adviser.

John has spent time in almost every Middle Eastern country and, since leaving the Army, continues to work in the region – most recently in Lebanon.

He now runs Deverell Associates, working with commercial companies to advise them on Enterprise Risk Management and crisis management at home and abroad. He summarises his work as being about “the Prepared Mind”.

The talk is at 7.30 PM. Cost; Non-Members £5 Members £2