So much for trying to sneak out of Minehead … I need to post one more here … and let you know about a couple of other interesting points ... prompted by Mel of A Heron’s View …
|Quay Town and the harbour, under the lea of|
North Hill, Minehead - on a windy day
|Dunster Yarn Market - the castle is|
in the background
The southern entrance to Dunster is the Gallox Bridge – a stone packhorse bridge … important for the transporting of wool and other goods into the village market in the early 1200s.
It was called Gallocksbrigge – but derives from the gallows, reminding us of gruesome times – it crosses the River Avill close to Dunster Working Watermill, at the foot of Castle Hill, and provides access to Dunster Castle’s Deer Park.
Mel’s next suggestion is the West Somerset Railway - now owned by a charitable trust … it was closed by British Rail in 1971 and reopened as a heritage line in 1976.
|The heritage line near Watchet|
This runs from Minehead along the coast to Watchet before turning inland to Bishops Lydiard … it looks stunning – and for railway fans – would be a perfect day trip.
Daniel Defoe came back in 1724 to search for fossils at Watchet, which I gather is rich in reptile remains, with ammonites being common – fossil casts of giant ammonites can be seen on the foreshore.
|Ammonite split in half|
|Quirke's Almshouses in the 1900s and 1930s - they have|
been refurbished for the 21st C now - but retaining the
ambience (fortunately not demolished in the 1980s)
In the 1630s a master mariner, Robert Quirke, was caught in a storm, so serious it was that … he and his crew vowed to sell the ship and cargo and benefit the poor and needy in Minehead should they return safely.
Some almshouses were built, and over the years have been refurbished, or reconstructed! due to their state of disrepair … they have been maintained over the centuries from the leased income of two cellars on the quay.
|The Mission Chapel is down stairs through the|
dark door ... the Old Ship Aground is to the left and behind.
This is on the quayside - the Lifeboat station is at the back.
In 1910 the cellars, originally a 17th century warehouse, became St Peter’s Mission Chapel, which we saw, as the Chapel is next to the Old Ship Aground, but were unable to visit as we were too late or too early leaving.
|A painting by an unknown artist of about 1620 -|
a Hobby Horse at Richmond, Surrey
The ‘Obby ‘Orse … is custom purported to go back to Viking Days (800 – 1066 AD) … when an error of judgement caused a Viking warrior to be chased through Minehead until he was caught and then ‘bootied’ by the locals. The ‘Orse charged the marauding Danes, who hastily retreated and put to sea in flight.
I can’t find out what ‘bootied’ means – but a “Boot” (courtesy of my “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” was an instrument of torture … and you all thought they were comfortable walking footwear for various functions?!
|The Victorian Hobby Horse Hotel on the front|
Always associated with Quay Town is the Hobby Horse, a genuine remnant of early eras – now the brightly coloured ‘horse’ with its long tail is used to encourage donations … ‘it’ is accompanied by a group of musicians … with the tradition established to start on May 1st and last for four days, which may well reference the ancient May Games.
The Hobby Horse hostelry – I thought would be a small pub – but no ... it is a Victorian grandiose building on the seafront … with an incredibly elegant ballroom … reminding us of times gone by.
The Bootie … ‘parade’ goes through the town stopping over to collect donations, which go towards Mental Health, and the Lifeboat Institution in the town.
|Today's version - outside the Old Ship Aground|
and the Chapel on the quay
A fun day for one and all … lots of entertainment at that magnificent Hobby Horse Hotel and at the Old Ship Aground Inn – which seems to be a folk musicians paradise ... situated as it is on the quay.
What Whistles up a Storm? – why the whistling ghost of Old Mother Leakey … there were several inns amongst the old fishermen’s cottages: the Queen’s Head, opposite the Old Ship Aground, and then The Mermaid … all on Quay Street.
|View from harbour across to the cottages|
These old buildings which altered their business according to the times … a warehouse, a ship’s chandlers, a 19th C department store, then a demolishment, an inn, or a tea room.
|There is more to Mother Leakey than|
whistling up a storm on the seas
(see link at end)
But Old Mother Leakey caused a stir during her lifetime and after her death in 1634 became notorious as the whistling ghost – whenever one of her son’s ships neared port she whistled up the next storm.
The townsfolk were haunted by her tauntings … and called in the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who presided over a commission to inquire into the matter: it was confirmed that such an apparition did not exist … but some inhabitants were not quite so convinced! Her ‘influence’ waned in the coming years … but the folklore is part of Minehead’s history.
Now should you wish to return along the South West Coast Path back down the north Devon coast, into Cornwall and round the peninsula, crossing back into Devon on the south coast and walking on until you reach Dorset … you would be welcome … but don’t put those ’booties’ on!
|The sculpture at the start of the|
South West Coast Path - reading
an ordinance survey map, which
intrepid walkers would carry for
… the ‘first’ path to be controlled every day in pursuit of revenue protection against smuggling. A whole series of coastguard cottages were built at convenient intervals (lighthouse to lighthouse; or with the creation of a hamlet around a church with an enormous spire, which the sailors could see from afar) and most of these stand in rows along the path today – reminding us of how the path originally came about.
|The reverse of the sculpture -|
sculpted by Owen Cunningham
from Belper, Derbyshire
Their children used to use the path to get to school, while their wives used them to get from one fishing hamlet to the next … giving us their considerable history of usage.
To find out more … artists, craftspeople, writers and musicians … films and tv series … please see the BBC Somerset site … but note their “Nota Bene” at the end … the time frame required to walk round!
|Minehead - the tiny harbour in Quay Town|
The Old Ship Aground is just up the slipway
I’m showing some links – if you wish to find out more … but I shall be moving on along the Vale of Taunton to our last stop – which was with near-relatives ...
… there will be two or three more posts, together with a summary post – things I’ve picked up along the way … and then a post on Emily Hobhouse herself, as this trip was to follow in some of her footsteps, while giving Jenny a chance to see some parts of the country she wanted to return to, or to see again.
Minehead a Short History … this is very informative
|Watchet:A sculpture celebrating|
Coleridge and his poem
"The Ancient Mariner"
BBC – Somerset – Coast … stage 4 covers my recent posts
The Hobby Horse – an old tradition of Minehead
An article from Warwick University re Peter Marshall’s book onMother Leakey and the Bishop – there is more to this story as you’ll find out here.
The Religious History of Minehead … may interest some of you
Now before I write any more … I’m jumping in my car (well we did pack up and moved on!) and finding my way to our next destination …
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