Allerton History Society
The Allerton History Society
We try and organise 2 evening talks of a historical nature per year and one visit.
2015 saw the launch of a project to look at the development of the village and the history of its houses. It is hoped that this will form the basis for another publication about the Allertons.
For further information please contact the Secretary Kate Durston - Tel 01934 712309
(Also see our About The Allertons page)
The next meeting is an outing to the newly refurbished Somerset Rural Life Museum on July 4th. If you would like to join us then please contact Kate Durton
AGM and talk
Over twenty people turned out on a bitterly cold February evening for the Allerton History Society AGM and a talk by Dr Sue Shaw. The Chair, Secretary and Treasurer of the History Society remained unchanged from last year, but Alan Williams has regretfully decided it is time to retire from the Committee. Alan Williams will be greatly missed as he is almost the last remaining founder member of the History Society. If anybody would like to replace him on the committee please contact Kate Durston on 712309.
The History Society is continuing to focus on old houses and the talk, “Every House tells a tale”, was designed to help with research into old houses. As a landscape archaeologist, Sue was able to explain the importance of detailed observation of the exterior and interior of our homes. She used slides to help us spot interesting features of old houses, and she suggested that we took photos of interesting features and details in our houses and put them in scrap books. She also suggested we catalogue any items found in our gardens and in the backs of cupboards or under the floor boards. It is vitally important to note where things have been found.
Sue showed us slides of some of the very old houses which she has researched. Many of them went back to mediaeval times. Most of the houses were “vernacular” – that is built by local people from local materials. There was only one “polite” house designed by an architect and built out of expensive materials. It had been built in the early twentieth century in Barton. She had included it because of a very interesting discovery in the garden. When footings were being dug for a conservatory, the digger went through a skeleton. The police were called in to find out whether it was from a recent murder victim, but it turned out that the skeleton was that of a Romano-British man. There happens to be a Romano-British settlement quite near the house but why had this man been buried in a coffin all on his own?
Sue used to keep the skeleton pieces in a Tupperware container under her bed and took them to village fetes at Winscombe where she laid out the pieces of the skeleton for children to look at. The skeleton was named George!
Having shown us how much we can learn about houses through careful observation, Sue went on to suggest we also draw up plans of houses. These can reveal dead spaces which show how they have been altered over time. We should also explore the roof space as this can provide important clues about the house. Charcoal on roof timbers indicates a very old house that had open fires in the middle of the building before any chimney were built.
Old maps help indicate the age of a house. Sue finished off her talk by showing us some old maps of Stone and Chapel Allerton and accompanying lists of the owners of properties and the names of tenants. Chapel Allerton is quite a straight forward village to research, but Stone Allerton was divided between Chapel Allerton and Weare Parish in a most confusing and haphazard way. Sue told us that being on a border would give us double trouble with researching this village.
History of the Houses Project
Research into the history of the houses in the Allertons is on-going. If anyone would like to get involved then please contact one of the committee who are always glad to help with the resarch.
Feb: New Tyning, Stone Allerton (known previously as Rose Villa)
built around 1844 by Isaiah Hatch, a Master Carpenter
March: Harewood House, Chapel Allerton
A modest Gentleman's residence completed in 1864
April: Applebarn, Stone Allerton
Originally a barn belonging to Stone Allerton Farm and used as a cider house
May: Sleepy Hollow, Stone Allerton
A house built in the 1700's and later used as two or three separate residences which included a forge
June: Jessamine House, Chapel Allerton.
Built around 1700 and owned by the church
Carvings in Weare Parish Church
On June 1st 2016 several members of the Society met Margaret Jordan in Weare Church to learn about the Pinwill carvings.
For those who don’t know, the Pinwill sisters are renowned for their carvings in churches throughout Devon and Cornwall. The ones that decorate the choir stalls in Weare are the only example of their work in Somerset and they were commissioned by the Luttrell family of Badworth Court, as part of a restoration project in 1901.
The sisters were the daughters of the Rev. Edmund Pinwill who became the vicar of a rather rundown church in Ermington in Devon in 1880 and who hired woodcarvers to restore the woodwork there. He and his wife encouraged the daughters to learn the craft of woodcarving and three of them, Violet, Mary and Esther carved the pulpit for the church. They subsequently went into business in 1890 forming a company called Rashleigh Pinwill, which specialized in oak carvings based on natural forms. Violet later ran the company on her own, under the name V. Pinwill Carvers. She employed men but also did a lot of the carving herself. It’s worth remembering that this was done at a time when few middle-class women worked or ran companies employing men and no woman had the vote!
Thanks to Fiona Torrens-Spence for arranging this visit.