Annual General Meeting

14 April 2015

Chairman’s Report

The Annual General Meeting of the History Group took place in the Village Hall on 17 April 2014, and in addition there were committee meetings on 24 June, 16 September, 10 November, 27 January and 7 April. At the AGM Charles Clark retired from the committee and Maxine Homer joined it.

The speaker at the AGM was Jane Hill, Project Officer with the Hinkley Point C Outreach Project. Jane explained how the proposed creation of Hinkley C power station had given rise to an unprecedented archaeological opportunity. Excavations had taken place between 2008 and 2014 ahead of building works by EDF Energy and had led to wide-ranging discoveries from the Bronze Age onwards. In particular a Romano-British villa had been discovered on the route of the new Cannington bypass, and Dark Age burials very close to the power station site were potentially of national significance. Jane brought with her a wide variety of small finds which those present were able to examine in detail.

Among the major excitements of the year were the two archaeological digs carried out in the village under the supervision of Bob Croft, the County Archaeologist. The digs took place on 20 May at Fyrse Cottage and Tuckers Farmhouse, and on 3 July at The Orchard and Higher Broughton Farm. The finds ranged from Bronze Age flint flakes at Higher Broughton Farm, to Roman-British, 12th-century and later medieval pottery at Fyrze Cottage and Tuckers Farmhouse. The digs were thus remarkably productive in increasing our understanding of the prehistory of the village, suggesting that it has been a settled site from a very early period. No comparable finds have been recorded from the centre of the village before.

On 27 September history group members went on a very enjoyable visit to Lacock Abbey and Avebury. We saw the monastic cloister and memorable 18th century gothic hall at Lacock, as well as the setting for Henry Fox Talbot’s early photographic experiments. At Avebury we were confronted by the extraordinary achievements of our Neolithic and later predecessors.

An evening event in the village hall on 4 November was the occasion for Bob Croft to report back on the finds made in the village during the summer and to put them into context. During the second half of the evening Sarah Baddeley described one of the great might-have-beens of local history when she told the engrossing story of canal schemes that were never constructed. On 15 November History Group members contributed in various ways to the commemoration tea party marking the centenary of the First World War.

Several History Group members were able to be present at the launch event on 30 January marking the return of the Alfred Jewel to Somerset after 297 years. It was displayed during the month of February at the Museum of Somerset. The last talk of the year, ‘Victorian Values’, was given by Tom Mayberry in Stoke Church on 17 February to mark the exact one hundredth anniversary of the church’s reopening after restoration and enlargement.

Thanks continue to be due to Sarah Baddeley, and to Mike, for maintaining the excellent standard of the website.  Further oral history recordings were made during the year, and the collection as a whole now represents a major historical record of the village.  A structure for the village history will be in place by 1 May, and Pauline Rook, an outstanding Somerset photographer, is ready to begin her photographic essay for the book.

The History Group repeats its thanks to all those who contribute to its success, including our Honorary Secretary, Stephanie Crockett, our Honorary Treasurer, John Pugh, and our President, Graham Salter.

Finally we were very sad to lose some longstanding village personalities during the year, including Clive Bowerman, Howard Drew, Margaret Salter and Dorothy Hardwell..   They will be much missed.

Tom Mayberry Chairman

14 April, 2015