Archiver > ENG-SOM-EASTCHINNOCK > 2007-06 > 1183243620

From: "Jenny" <>
Subject: [ENG-SOM-EASTCHINNOCK] Interesting Article about Norton Sub Hamdon
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2007 08:47:00 +1000

Hi Listers

This has some names of Interest

Hope you do not have this Mr Wills in your line!

Yesteryears and the Lord Nelson.


About 1891 there was a Brass Band in the village, the members meeting in the upstairs Club Room of the ‘Lord Nelson’. They took part in many festive occasions, of which one was Norton Feast Day ,when they paraded through the village playing their instruments. Their leader carried a brass Pole, the top of which was decorated with blue ribbon. Sometimes they played in people’s homes – Mrs Wills can remember them playing at Brook House.


Rectory Road was formerly known as Frog Street, due to the numbers of frogs about in the Withy beds further along the lane, and the well, used by all the inhabitants, situated just on the Rectory side of Mr Gillman’s cottage. The well has been capped but not filled in and is marked by an arch of stones in the Rectory garden wall.

Wells or pumps still exist in Broadmead Lane, at ‘Hopes’ in Little Street, and at Little Norton Mill, and at ‘Carpenters’, Higher Street.


No one really knows the origin of the Norton Feast, but it is probably an altered form of custom hundreds of years old connected with Church’s Harvest Festival, which is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the 19th September.

Long ago the festival is believed to have lasted about a week with the walls of the cottages garlanded with green boughs and flowers culminating in the feast with dancing and stalls in the street.

About a hundred years ago, Barbara Raison used to come from Chiselborough and set up her stall with sweets, ginger-breads and ‘clumpers’ opposite the Lord Nelson Inn.

It was a tradition that ‘the bad lads of Norton’ should move her stall and set it up in front of someone’s door or in a garden. The stall was not damaged in any way and it was all treated as a joke.

Regular celebrations of the Feast or ‘Apple Tart Day’ with a competition to see who could bake the best apple tart were held in the early years of the century.

In 1951 the Feast Day was revived by members of the Women’s Institute as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations and as a means of raising funds for the erection of the bus shelter in Great Street. The apple tart competition and ‘Barbara’s Stall’ were among the attractions.

A Harvest, or feast Supper for the senior residents of the village has been held on Saturday near to the 19th September for the last four years and of course homemade apple tarts are included on the menu.

a.. clumpers – large light brown peppermint humbugs, or pink and white striped fruit sweets.

About one hundred years ago, there lived in a cottage in Higher Street a man called Wills, who had married a widow with one child. This man was cruel to the poor child – he used to thrash and beat her to such an extent that the near neighbours decided to exercise the old custom of ‘Rough Justice’ in the form of a Skimmety Ride.

The people of Norton rose to support this and the Rev Blomfield and his wife joined them. An effigy of the offender was made and put into a farm wagon willingly lent by a neighbouring farmer. Various men of the village offered to take the characters of the widow, the husband and the little child. They dressed up, and together they depicted the scene of the father beating the poor, screaming child with a crowd of neighbours looking on and crying ‘Shame’. All this took part on the wagon which was drawn (no doubt from the Nelson Arms) all round the village, until they came to the plot of land opposite the cottage where the family lived. This was the cottage with three steps leading to the door – next door to Vine Cottage. There was an orchard opposite and it was here that the effigy was set up on a bonfire and burnt.

It is remembered that Mr Bool brilliantly enacted the part of the child. He was dressed in robes made by Mrs Blomfield, Mrs Samuel Hamlin and, no doubt, several others. Joseph Lawrence took great delight in playing the part of the stepfather. The family left the village very shortly afterwards.

(This is very similar to the ‘Skymington’ depicted in the plaster frieze in the great hall at Montacute House. This is contemporary with the building of the house in 1580. The offender was tied to a pole that was carried horizontally on the shoulders of Montacute citizens).

This story is vouched for by close relatives, who helped with the preparations in their house, where the sewing was completed


Hamdon Hill is a fortification of unusual extent, north-east of Norton-Sub-Hamdon and immediately south of Stoke-Sub-Hamdon. It encloses a roughly oblong plateau 400ft above sea level, half a mile from east to west. At the north-west angle of this area the hill runs out to the north, forming a fan-tail projection about 600yds long, 200yds broad at its south end, where it joins the larger area, and 400yds broad at the north end. The sides of the hill fall very steeply about 240ft to the level land on the east, north and west, and about 200ft a little less steeply on the south. The surface of the plateau is either under the plough or has been extensively and deeply quarried, whilst the east and part of the north slopes are thickly wooded, and the west slope has been altered by quarrying operations and the making of roads. The main defence was the same round the whole of the area, a distance of more than three miles. The upper slope of the hill was steeply scarped and a bank thrown up round its edge. A ditch, now 8ft to12ft broad, with a counterscarp which varies in height at different points, was formed some 20ft below the natural level of the plateau. Below this again the slope is steeply scarped, and at the south end and along part of the east side, some 20ft below the upper ditch, is a second and less important ditch, now almost completely silted up. On the lower slopes of the hill the natural outcrop of the rock forms steep escarpments, which add to the difficulty of ascent. The bank round the edge of the plateau still exists along the north and east sides of the smaller projecting portion, for 400yds. Along the west side of the larger area, for about 200yds. At the north end of its east side, and for about 40yds on either side of the sharp bend near the middle of the north side of the larger area, but elsewhere it has disappeared. The upper ditch and its bank can be traced all round except at the south-east corner of the main area, along parts of the west side of the projecting portion, where it has been destroyed by the making of a road, and in the north-east angle, where the projecting portion joins the main area.

In the north-east angle of the projecting portion, close under the bank, is an approximately circular amphitheatre 100ft in diameter, with an entrance at the south end, whilst immediately south-west of this is an oblong enclosure 100yds east and west by 40yds north and south, marked on the Ordnance map as ‘equestrain camp’.

The principal original entrance now remaining is at the north-east corner of the main area, where a broad path rises steeply through the banks, and the northern banks runs out for about 60 yds to effectively flank the upper part of it. At this corner of the hill a steep and narrow ridge runs out north-east and rises steeply to a cone with an elliptical base known as Hedgecock Hill. The lower bank of the entrenchments continues along this ridge, and dies away some distance from its top. The sides of this hill have been scarped, and not only did the ridge and hill effectively flank the entrance on this side, but the hill most probably served as a beacon or outlook for the whole fortification.

There is a smaller entrance about the middle of the east side of the projecting part, but this seems to have been intended as a way of retreat from the ditches to the upper part of the camp, or at most was of the nature of a postern. The upper bank turns inwards obliquely so as to flank this entrance at the top.

Whether, as one would expect, there was an entrance in the angle between the projecting part and the larger area, it is now impossible to say, because the area has been altered by quarrying. There are some indications, by no means conclusive, that the projecting area was cut off from the main part of the hill by a large bank and ditch, so as to form a sort of ‘keep’, to which the main hill plateau stood in the relation of a huge bailey. This is a conjecture only, as the ground along the neck of the projection has been much quarried. It is noteworthy however that the banks and ditches of the projecting portion are much more formidable than those of the main area. There are two ditches, and the principal bank rises more than 40ft above the present surface of the lower ditch Whilst the upper bank rises 15ft above the surface of the upper ditch.

Weapons and other articles of Neolithic, Celtic and Roman work have been found in the camp, and most of them are now in the Taunton Museum. Remains of Roman buildings have also been found.

>From this site



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