Milverton, Somerset

Wheeling in Wellington

Serra da Estrela
Serra da Estrela

Two of our most distinguished military leaders have been Admiral Lord Nelson of Battle of Trafalgar fame and , perhaps lesser known, but equally important, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. It was he who beat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.(Hence the Wellington monument). He won his fighting spurs in commanding the forces, including both Portuguese and Spanish troops, which drove the French out of Portugal and Spain.

That campaign covered much of the Iberian Peninsula but Wellington’s offensive against the French began at Torres Vedras a town 30 miles north of Lisbon and finished in Toulouse, four years later. As the crow flies that’s a distance of 775 miles via the A62. In 1810, of course, there was no A62. The road system hardly existed. An army could march about 11 miles a day. Think of going on a walking holiday taking your food and water for several days as well as carrying a rifle and ammunition. And I nearly forgot – there were canon weighing about a ton with all their paraphernalia to get from a to b.. I hope you get the picture?

When a friend suggested let’s follow Wellington’s campaign by bicycle – why not? We could cycle more than 11 miles a day. And unlike Wellington’s infantry, we would stay at inexpensive hostelries en route – meals provided. What we hadn’t appreciated was the terrain, the weather and the state of a lot of the roads. Imagine cycling up many hills steeper than Cothelstone, on a gravel rutted surface into a stiff wind. Thank goodness for electricity! We were lucky. Wellington’s troops didn’t have electricity and at the end of an exhausting march they often had a battle to fight and frequently food and water to find.

Our efforts were rewarded. Averaging 12 mph one can get a much better feel of geography and place. Although the spring flowers were glorious, much of Spain is drying out. Even the weeds looked thirsty. The climb up the Serra da Estrela was rewarded with spectacular views and a nine mile free wheel into Mantegais. Similarly the views as we climbed up from Irutzun to Etxerri in the Basque Pyrenees were stunning. As were our stops in Salamanca, Burgos, Pau and Toulouse, not forgetting Lisbon. And Wellington’s battlefield sites. They are now under industrial parks or housing estates except Talavera. That is marked by a crumbling monument.

Many thanks to William Waddington who completed this epic cycle ride.

Benchends tour and talk

Peter Hutchinson will be doing tours of the church bench ends in Milverton Church on Monday 1 May in conjunction with the heritage display. The tours will take place at:

  • 11am
  • 12.30pm
  • 2pm
  • 3.30pm

Each tour timed at something less than an hour. Maximum number 6 in each tour. No booking, but on a first come basis.

Milverton Heritage Day

The Archives will be staging a display during the Street Fair on 1 May, Bank Holiday Monday. The tithe map of 1840 will be on show and other old maps and photos of Milverton through time.

Come along and learn about the history of this interesting village. Entry is free.

If you can spare a few hours to help, please get in touch with Maggie. We hope to provide refreshments so offers of cakes would be very welcome.

Maggie Dinning
Email or phone 01823 400142.


Connection to Britain’s colonial past

Have you or you family lived, worked or perhaps been born in a place connected to our shared colonial history?

I am studying the links between rural Britain and past colonies, with the aim of mapping them. I am interested in hearing your stories from overseas. Many families have past or present connections across the world and I would be grateful for any information you have on the subject from your own family archives.

I can visit you or we can chat on the phone. All information will remain confidential unless specifically agreed by you. Call Nicky Saunter on 01823 400696 or email

A brief history of Milverton allotments

Allotments have been in existence for hundreds of years. The system we recognise today has its roots in the Nineteenth Century, when land was given over to the labouring poor for the provision of growing food.

In 1947 Milverton Parish Council took out a loan to purchase the land behind the Courtfield Estate for the provision of allotments for the villagers. The cost of the land was £250 with a supplement for the boundary fencing.

The original allotments consisted of 34 plots laid out much as we see them today, with a few amalgamations and sub divisions which have happened over the years.

The Parish Council has the original rent book for the allotments which covers the period from 1947 to 2003 when 37 plots are shown on the map. Currently the Trickey family are the longest standing plot holders and have held allotments since 1953. Recently, more plots have been subdivided and they now total 55, with the majority of potholders belonging to the Allotment Association.

There had never been provision for water until 2022 when a working party of plot holders volunteered to design and build 3 water catchment sites each with 2 x 1000 litre tanks to store rainwater.

Originally, rents were 10/- (50p) in 1947 for a full 10 yard plot increasing to a massive £3.50 in 2003. Currently, the charge is 12p per square metre, making a 250 square metres £30 per year.

Maggie Dinning

Milverton Primary School history lesson

Class 1 have fully immersed themselves in our new local history topic where we are looking at the Duke of Wellington and why, on the Blackdown hills (which we observed from our school field) we can see the Wellington Monument.

The topic started by watching a drone video of Wellington Monument in which we could see Wellington in the distance from the air. We learnt lots of facts about the Monument including that it’s the largest 3 sided obelisk in the world.

We couldn’t really picture how tall the Monument was so we went onto the field and measured out the full 53 meters and ran between the distance! I set Class 1 a challenge to build a model Wellington Monument out of a resource of their choice. It was tricky to construct a three sided shape, but after some perseverance we had some great structures out of paper, Mobilo and Lego. We also created an observational painting of the Monument – the children worked really hard on this and their work was excellent!

We are now learning about the Duke of Wellington himself and the Battle of Waterloo. Class 1 have composed a list of questions which they would like to answer by the end of the topic, which include: How many days was the battle? What did you wear during the battle? And how old is the Wellington Monument?

We have also been talking about the Primary and Secondary research types, and why it’s important to think about our reading, and consider whether it is true or not.

Mrs MacCormack

Class 1 create Wellington Monument pictures

Phones and cameras needed!

Reception Class are looking for old phones (mobiles or landline) and any old cameras for their play area. If you have one to donate, please send it in! Thank you.

Lecture by David Victor

Alexander Baring, Baron Ashburton

On Saturday 13 Nov 2021 on 2pm Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society present David Victor’s talk about Lord Ashburton and his very extensive estate interests in Wiveliscombe and Milverton and local villages.

To register in advance for this Webinar, either email SANHS by midday on Friday 12 November at or to register online at the webinar registration page. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

This is a free event, with donations to Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. If you would like to
donate, please go to the SANHS website and use the Donate button.  We suggest a donation of £5 or more.

Milverton and Fitzhead Society October update

An intriguing title for the introductory evening of the 2021 to 2022 season of talks to the Milverton and Fitzhead proved to be both enlightening and entertaining. Janet Few and Chris Braund know all that there is to know about ‘Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs’ and at the end of the evening, the audience certainly knew a little more about some of the expressions which are in common use today, and which are derived from much earlier times.

Following the success of this talk, the autumn series will continue on 14 October, when Chris Hamilton will talk about Making Paris into a Modern City – Haussmann and Marville (they were the Architect and Photographer of modern Paris). All talks are in the Methodist chapel, and begin at 7.30pm  Everyone is very welcome. All talks are in the Methodist Chapel, and begin at 7.30pm. Everyone is very welcome.

Saint Michael’s Church pulpits

As several parts of the Church were in poor condition, including the south wall, which was bulging, a major reconstruction of the Church took place in 1849 to 1850. Included in the work was the replacement of the pulpit, which was taken apart and used to make cupboards in the vestry.

The new pulpit, of white stone/marble, to the design of Pugin was erected. As well as the usual tracery carving, was inscribed round the rim, “Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it. Amen”. Near the base is a carving of the Lamb with a pennant. Apparently, there was no dedication, being merely an integral part of the repair and upgrading of the Church.

By the 1920’s, there was a feeling that the old pulpit be restored. In 1926, a resident of the village, though working in Derby, was killed in the Charfield railway accident in Gloucestershire, and his mother, Anne Jenkins arranged that the present (and former) pulpit be restored.

The dedication was carved into a panel “To the glory of God and in memory of Goodwin Philip Jenkins 1 May 1906 to 13 October 1926 this the ancient pulpit was replaced by his mother Anne Jenkins”.

The octagonal pulpit is made up from panels thought to be rather newer than the majority of the bench ends, possibly during the Stuart Dynasty, though still of Renaissance design.

The stone pulpit was sent to the Parish of Caerau, near Maesteg, Glamorgan, where a new church was being built in the mining village, and dedicated there by the vicar, the Rev C J Benyon.

Peter Hutchinson

A little education

In the Summer of 1961 I was working at the Restaurant de la Tour Rouge in Vezelay, France to improve my spoken French before I went to college.

I had to do everything from cleaning the loos, waiting at table, fetching wine from the cellar, doing some of the cooking and ironing the table napkins.

One evening I went to a Son et Lumiere performance in the Abbey. I learned that it was here in 1166 that St. Thomas a Becket, while in exile, preached from the pulpit threatening to excommunicate Henry II of England.

Many years later when living in Penshurst in Kent I discovered that St. Thomas a Becket had installed Wilhelmus as the first priest of St. John the Baptist church when he was staying there two days before his assassination in Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170.

Much later, I went to a service in St. Decuman’s church near Watchet and learnt that two of the murderers lived in the nearby parishes of Orchard and Sampford Brett.

Frances Vail