Tag Archives: clock

A-Z of Somerset: Haselbury Plucknett

H is for Haselbury Plucknett

In the south of the county of Somerset, almost at the border with Dorset, lies the enchantingly named Haselbury Plucknett. Lying three miles (5km) to the east of Crewkerne, the name literally means “(Alan de) Plugenet’s hazel grove”. A somewhat busy road runs through the village, but this does not detract from its charm.

The cottages in the centre of the village are built of local stone and face the village green. They’re well-attended and give the village a real sense of community, something that was in evidence as I roamed around.


Just down from the village green are the Jared Gear Almshouses, set aside to provide safe and secure housing accommodation for people with limited financial resources who have connections with Haselbury Plucknett.


Wulfric of Haselbury was a noted resident of the village. In 1125 he moved there from Compton Martin, just south of Bristol, in pursuit of a wholly religious life. He withdrew from secular matters almost completely, living in a cell adjacent to the village church, St Michael and All Angels. Wulfric’s piety attracted notable well-wishers; King Henry I and King Stephen both sought his advice and he became well renowned not just around Somerset, but also at court. When he died in 1154, he was buried in the church.

The village church lies just off from the centre and, like the village itself, is a tranquil place. There are no Commonwealth War Graves in the churchyard, but the War Memorial commemorates the twelve Haselbury souls who gave their lives on the field of battle during the Great War.

One of those remembered was Harry Shyer. He was just 20 years and 3 days old when the ship he was serving on – the HMS Good Hope – was torpedoed off the coast of Chile during the Battle of Coronel. All hands from the ship were lost, a total of 926 men.

The war memorial includes two sets of brothers: John and William Eastment and George and Harold Tout. Given the population of Haselbury Plucknett was less than 500 at 1911 census, the war must have taken an incredible toll on the village and the twenty-two losses would have been felt.


Two other key parts of the village lie within 300ft (90m) of each other; the local school and the village pub. (I make no assumptions as to their location, other than Haselbury Plucknett being a small village!)



An A-Z of Somerset: Farrington Gurney

F is for Farrington Gurney

Wedged between the Somerset link roads of the A37/A39 and A362 lies the unassuming village of Farrington Gurney.

As you might guess from my previous posts, it was the village name that drew me in. The Doomsday Book mentions the village of Ferentone, while Gurney is thought to come from the de Gournay family, who owned the lands in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The village owed a lot to the coal industry. There were three pits in Farrington itself, with a further two in neighbouring Midsomer Norton.

The majority of the houses are old, dressed stone, although as time has passed, newer properties have filled in the gaps between them; on the outskirts – just off the A37 – new buildings have started to sprout up.

As you might expect, a manor house is at the heart of the village – hidden behind high stone walls, is a large property dating back to 1637, which you can only see from tantalising glimpses in the tree line.

The village church – dedicated to St Jon the Baptist – is set in open fields around a mile from the village itself. It’s a small parish – there are less than 1000 residents – and the church is easily visible from form the village (and, more importantly, the manor house, the owners of which presumably paid its construction).

It’s a beautiful little church, though, and its peaceful location adds to the calm surroundings.

One war grave sits quietly in the churchyard, that of Gunner Watts – my next post will talk more about his life.

Farrington Gurney is a lovely little village; there’s a bit of a juxtaposition between the old and the new, and the proximity to two main roads can jar a little, but it fits in to the A-Z nicely.



An A-Z of Somerset: Evercreech

E is for Evercreech

A hop and a skip away from Dinder is a bit of a jolt; the population of Evercreech is ten times the size, and you do notice it.

Just to the south of Shepton Mallet, this has the potential to be a bustling place, although the day I visited was a typically English summer, with heavy showers, so it was quieter than it could have been.

The centre of the village holds onto its Norman roots – Evrecriz was mentioned in the Doomsday book – and the buildings are old stone cottages, with the occasional larger manor thrown in.

The church, however, is one of the things that drew me to choosing this as my ‘E’ village. The renowned twentieth century architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner said than it has one of the finest Somerset-style towers in the county, but it is the mysterious clock that interested me.

The face of the clock has no 10 on it (or no X, in Roman numerals). Instead, the numbers go 9 – 11 – 12 – 12 (IX – XI – XII – XII).

Local rumour suggests that the person who paid for the clock to be made was instructed by his wife that he had to be home from the pub by 10 o’clock. Therefore, he ensured that the 10 o’clock numeral (X) was missing from the clock face.

While the village is a large one – with a population of nearly 2,500 – it is very easy to get into the open countryside.

Walk past the Bell Inn, one of Evercreech’s three pubs, and you find yourself crossing open fields to reach the village’s cemetery.

A small graveyard, but still in regular use, this holds a history of its own.

There is a war memorial to those who fell in both World Wars, while there are four war graves to those whose remains were able to be buried on English soil. Four stories, which I’ll explore in later posts.


An A-Z of Somerset Villages include:

  • Ashcott
  • Baltonsborough
  • Charlton Mackrell
  • Dinder
  • Evercreech

Time

A lot of what is going on in the world at the moment is weird. I mean plain WEIRD. In four short weeks, society has been turned on its head and it’s taking us a long time to get used to it.

There are lots of high impact, big things going on, but often it’s a combination of smaller changes, little side effects that build and build to screw with our minds.

While I know it’s not life shattering in the grand scheme of things, time of one of the elements I have noticed has changed.


I moved to Somerset from West Sussex in mid-February. It’s a move I’d been planning for a number of years, and everything had fallen into place for it to happen in the early months of 2020.

I was moving down here without employment and lucky enough to have a financial buffer to be able to not worry about working for a while. In effect, I have been in the fortunate position to be able to semi-retire.

The thing I have found since the move is that time loses its meaning. Days and weeks have quickly merged into one, and weekends have become almost meaningless. For the first time in about twenty years, I have had to keep a mini diary to enable me to track what I have been doing each day.

This has ramped up even more over the last week or so, since the lock-down really kicked in here in the UK. With shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants closing down and other places to visit – National Trust properties, museums, etc. – being extremely limited, the complete freedom we once enjoyed has been (understandably and rightly) restricted even more.

What I have found this has led to can be summed up very simply:

“I can do that tomorrow.”

For me, someone who very readily would look to ‘do today’, this has been really frustrating. I find myself running the risk of putting off simple things; well not even putting off, but delaying, ‘spreading the joy’ of confinement.

Trying to find structure in the time of coronavirus is increasingly becoming a challenge. Routine is disappearing, commitments have little meaning, time passes quickly, with little or nothing to show for it.


To take part in the current Mass Observation Project post on ISOLATION:

  • Take a photograph based on the theme of ISOLATION, however you want to interpret it.
  • Email the image to adayinphotographs@outlook.com by Wednesday 1st April 2020.
  • Images should be a maximum of 650 pixels wide.
  • Include your name, website/blog address and a short note about the image, including where it was taken.
  • Come back and see the results on Sunday 5th April!