Local History 2

Please note this group has been formed into Local History.   This section deals with older Local History 2 activities prior to June 2020

About the Group

The former Archaeology/Local History 2 Group met once a month.  The convenor was Jill Walmsley, who has been concerned that members expecting more emphasis on archaeology might be disappointed, or misled. During the course of 2019 the group is being renamed Local History 2, which will reflect more accurately its activities.


In February, Dr Bette Baldwin gave a presentation about Hoar Oak Cottage, the remote Exmoor shepherd’s home, now preserved by Friends of Hoar Oak, who collect images and information about the cottage and the lives of those who lived and worked there. Read a full report here.


There was a good attendance for the December meeting, when Catherine Knight gave a presentation on Daws Castle in Watchet, and Jill showed some slides of our 2019 trips (plus one accidentally of her family in Lynmouth!).  Members made some interesting suggestions about where we might go next year.

In November we spent a morning at the church and the Heritage Centre in Carhampton with excellent guides.

Sadly, owing to low take-up, Jill decided to cancel the planned trip to Combe Martin in October, although several members asked her to reschedule for a more promising time of year in 2020.  We are welcome there at any time, Jill says, so an April visit next year is a possibility.

In September we visited the Radio Museum in Watchet, to see Neil Wilson’s intriguing collection of radio memorabilia.  Originally housed in Tropiquaria, this extraordinary collection covering the history of radio broadcasting from the 1920s has space to expand in its new home.  Neil, a lifelong radio enthusiast, talked to us about radios, TVs, microphones, books, magazines and BBC publications. Read John Martin’s description of the morning.

In July we had an all-day trip to Lynton and Lynmouth – in the morning to the Lyn and Exmoor Museum in a back street of Lynton, and in the afternoon the Lynmouth Flood Walk with a National Park guide.  Steve Pearce kindly recorded the day’s activities.

In June we went around the sites of the West Somerset Mineral Line with Phil Gannon – he agreed to do this again soon to pick up what we had to miss.  It was getting on for 6 pm!  Read Jean Burge’s report.

Our May trip started in Porlock Weir, with Tony White giving us a glimpse back to when Ashley Combe was a wondrous ‘summer palace’ for Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, and her husband, William.  The group then set off with Tony past Worthy Manor to the ruined tunnels and gardens of Ashley Combe.  For a fuller description, please see John Martin’s report

On 4 April we went to Dulverton Heritage Centre for a presentation by John Burgess, author of a new Lorna Doone trail book, and lead curator of the exhibition to mark 150 years since the publication of the famous Exmoor book.  We also looked at other exhibitions in the Centre.  Read the report by Jan Lamacraft

In March, our first field trip of the year was a visit to Bridgwater’s Brick and Tile Museum.  This was followed by a guided walk, led by Chris Sidaway, around some of the industrial and maritime areas of the town. Read Jan Lamacraft’s report of the trip.

In January, Mary Ewing from the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society spoke about her work in Dunster, assisted by Barbara Hoffbauer, one of our members and a SANHS volunteer.  Read Jan Lamacraft’s report, The ancient buildings of Dunster.

In February our archaeologist friend, Nancy Hollinrake, with the support of husband Charlie, gave a fascinating presentation on ‘Dark Age Traffic in the Bristol Channel’, a taster for a field trip to Carhampton later in the year.