East Coker Society



April 2003   Free Issue 110



Letter from the Chair


How good it is to be able to record so many beneficial changes to the village over the past three months, a testament to the vigour of our community!


First, a warm welcome to Steve, Lisha, Daniel and Ben at East Coker Post Office and Stores. We wish them well and thank them for the careful thought and effort they are putting into running the shop in order to meet the needs of the village. (See page 5).  If you are not a regular customer, do call in to meet them; they are always happy to see a new face and chat over any suggestions you may have.


Some of you may have seen Richard Thorne, our ‘lengthsman’, working enthusiastically around the village.  The Parish Council, especially Barry Hartley, have worked long and hard to establish this post, shared between several local villages.  Already Richard has improved neglected areas of the village with his gardening and maintenance skills.


The Society is also very pleased to welcome Ian and Sue to The Helyar Arms.  Do read Ian`s article on page 6 for all the news.


At East Coker Saw Mills, John and Vanessa have introduced a car repair, servicing and valeting service to the village.


Currently the Society is busy preparing for a ‘Village History Exhibition’ on 13 September so do put these dates in your diary. This arises from the very successful ‘Our Village’ exhibition held in the Village Hall as part of our celebrations for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. So many people commented, then, that they had not allowed themselves enough time to view everything on display that I should give you prior warning that there will be lots to see this time as well!  We are delighted that Abigail Shepherd, the compiler of 'East Coker: A Village Album', an invaluable publication for anyone interested in village life in former years (available at the Post Office), will again be helping us with the new exhibition.


Finally, a thank you to Jean Kelly, there are even more daffodils flowering in the Paddock this Spring - what a delightful picture they have made, one to rival Wordsworth’s ‘host of golden daffodils’.


Pauline Helliar


East Coker Society News



VILLAGE  HISTORY  FAIR / EXHIBITION  Saturday 13 September 2003 – details in next Newsletter



Due to popular demand we have printed another 100 tea towels.  Price is £3 each.  To purchase, please contact Pauline 863700


Village Clubs and Organisations




Burn's Night

The East Coker Committee would like to thank everyone who came to our Burn's Night, it was a very entertaining evening and we raised £750 for our charity.


Butterfly Ball

We will be holding a "Butterfly Ball" on Saturday 28 June from 7.00pm to 2.00am.  This evening is being held at St Antony's Leweston School, near Sherborne.


The evening begins with a complimentary drink in the Music Room and then a chance to wander around the lovely floodlit grounds.  At 8.00pm a Fork Buffet will be served in the marquee, which will then be followed with music by "Within The Blood" an eight piece band from Reading and a supporting Disco.

There will be two bars, one selling bottles of wine only.  Dress will be formal.  Tickets for this event are limited, and will be £30 each.


This is always a very enjoyable evening and we hope to raise £2000 from this event.  Tickets are available from Leigh Mead 863466


Michaelmas Fair

Once again we will be holding our very popular and successful Michaelmas Fair on Tuesday 23 September at East Coker Hall.


We have a few favourites returning but the majority of the stalls will be new!  So put this date in your Diary, this is one event you will not want to miss!




It's still not too late to apply for the job of Show Secretary.  If anyone is interested, please contact Sue Hounsell 863287.


There are six new photography classes in this year's show:


Chimneys          Pub Signs         A Wet Day        By the River       Party Time        Pet Portrait


Also a new Craft Class.  This really opens up all kinds of ideas, so get busy and let's have another record year.  Keep an eye out at the Post Office for the schedules later this month.


Sue Hounsell  863287




We've had a wonderful Spring.  It has no doubt enticed us out into our gardens, planning new schemes and trying out new flowers and vegetables.  Our Club is continuing its series of talks and visits for members to enjoy and to help them in their gardening activities.


Could I draw everyone's attention to our OPEN EVENING on 12 June, when Katherine Crouch, BBC Gardener of the Year 1999, from Ilminster, is coming to give a talk with slides about her garden.  All proceeds from this evening will be given to the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance.  Wine, tea and coffee will be

provided and we hope there will be plenty of plants for sale.  Do come along even if you are not a member.  Tickets will be available shortly and posters will appear around the village

Club Information:  We meet on the second Thursday of each month at East Coker Hall, 7.30pm.  All welcome.


Future Meetings and Events:   24 April  Visit to Kew Gardens.   8 May  The Amateur Greenhouse.

12 June  Open Evening.              10 July  An afternoon visit to The Scented Garden at Little Bredy.

Rachel Blow  862849




The players are presenting an evening called 'A May Soiree' on Friday 2 May at East Coker Hall, 7.30pm.  It will consist of a musical first half with the play 'Happily Ever After' following the interval when a 'Bring your own Supper' will be shared.  Please bring you own drink too.  Tickets are £2.50 for adults and £2 for children.


Chris Hollis  863002



Spring Jumble Sale  This will be held at East Coker Hall, Saturday 19th April at 2.00pm.  All donations of jumble gratefully received.  Remember we will collect!

Scout Waste Paper  Firstly, we would like to thank you for your support over the many years we have been collecting in East Coker.  Without the money raised by this activity, the group would be forced to charge more for membership fees.  The money comes from outside the village too for a product that is no longer needed.  Some of you stack and tie your papers in bundles and this is taken to Dorchester to be shredded for horse bedding-and more money is obtained from this.  The remaining paper (around 30 tons) is sent to Martock for re-cycling.  When doorstep re-cycling begins and you receive boxes from the council, please continue to recycle your newspapers with the Scout Group.  This is a very important part of our fundraising and your support is much appreciated.

Next Collection Date 7 June.

Thank You  Chris Bugler and Jackie Glover

Young People




Transport, Seasons, Colours, Music and Dance are just some of the topics explored by children through play, investigation, talking and most of all FUN at East Coker Playgroup.


Our Playgroup is open Monday to Friday during term time from 9.15am to 12 noon, for children aged 2½ up to 5 years.  A session costs £3.95 and at present we are able to offer lunch cover for children who'd like to bring a packed lunch and stay until 1.15pm, for £1.00 per child.


We are registered with Ofsted and the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership.  When eligible, there is funding available through the Early Years Grant.


This Easter Holiday, we are pleased to offer holiday sessions from 14 April to 25 April.  Sessions start at 9.15am until 12 noon for £3.95; for an extra £1.00 a child can bring a packed lunch and stay until 1.15pm.  To secure a place on the waiting list and for information on holiday sessions, please contact Kay Strode on 01935 872126 after 6pm.


Fundraising Events.

Our next fundraising event is the Summer Fair on 17 May at the Pavilion, Long Furlong Lane, fun starts at 2.30pm.  There will be Pony Rides, Plant Stall, Cake Stall, a Raffle with wonderful prizes and many other stalls.  The East Coker School Dancers will be doing a display of Country Dancing and there will be a Bar-B-Q and refreshments. See you there.


Looking a long way ahead, the Playgroup will be running a Craft Fair at East Coker Hall on the 9 November, 10am to 4pm.  Stalls are now available.  All craft types welcome.  The Playgroup committee do refreshments and a cake stall, a photographer will be there and a Raffle. 


Contact E. Dudden for details on 862357




We are a baby and toddler group that meets on Thursdays during term time, from 1.30pm to 3pm at the Pavilion, Long Furlong Lane, East Coker.  There is charge of £1.00 per family which includes refreshments. There are toys for babies upwards, including sand play, painting, drawing, wet play, and on fine days space outside for the children to run, play ball and 'drive' trikes and cars and hopefully tire themselves out.




East Coker Bowls Club held their AGM at East Coker village hall in January 2003, with Andy Adams elected as Chairman, George Dudden, Team Captain and Chris Cooper, Secretary.  The club had a very successful year in the Yeovil and District League and now looks forward to the coming season.


The club meets every Tuesday evening, 7.30pm-10.00pm and Friday afternoon 2.00pm-4.00pm, in East Coker Hall.  This is a sport for all ages.  We would love to have some younger members, from 11 years upwards, to come along and anyone else who would like to join.  We play friendly evenings, enter competitions and play league matches at home and away with other local clubs.  Some of our members have been on various Bowling weekends in Paignton.  We are a friendly social club with members of all ages and if you would like to join us you will be very welcome.  If you are interested please give me a ring and I will introduce you to our members or if we have sufficient response we can arrange an open evening.


George Dudden  864222


The Churches




If you can help by donating to any of the following stalls, please do!  Simply call the person in charge – it all helps to make the day a success.  Thank you.


Bottle Tombola – David Jenkins  424510    Cakes – Gloria Mead  862384   Bric-a-brac – Doreen Bates  862706

Toys and Games – Hazel Clarke863381               Plants – Olive Sharman  862693




These meetings are held once a month at St. Michael's Church.  The emphasis is placed on preaching and teaching the Bible.  AIl meetings start at 7.00pm and last for one hour followed by refreshments and plenty of time to chat.  The dates of the next meetings are:


Tuesday 29 April  Rev'd Brian Ruff           Thursday 29 May  Rev'd Charles Dobbie

Tuesday l7 June  (Details to follow)          Tuesday 22 July (Details to follow)      Thursday 28 August  Barbecue


Please feel free to join us for further details please ring: 862519 or 862785


Roy Hodder




A warm welcome awaits you at our chapel, situated at the end of Burton Lane. There is ample parking space at the rear.


In general the services follow this pattern:  Each Sunday (except 2nd. Sunday in the month) 10.00am  Sunday Club for children aged 4-10 years


11.30am The Lord's Supper     6.30pm Prayer and Bible Study     2nd Sunday Family Services l0-30am  Other services as announced.


Phone- Sunday Club - 422594 or 862428    General Information - 863735 or 422594


Village News




The East Coker Society has been contacted by a villager, asking us to encourage Newsletter readers to clear up litter dropped on roads and pavements in their locality. 


The Society is aware that many individuals already do a grand job disposing of continuous supplies of unwanted litter strewn about our lovely village, but the Society would indeed encourage others to do the same.




We would very much like to thank everyone for the level of support shown since our arrival in the village, all the family has been made very welcome.


We hope that we will be able to improve the service that is offered by the shop and the Post Office, and are happy to accept feedback and discuss any issues or needs you may have.


As most people are aware we are now open on Sunday mornings for all of your needs, having recently been granted a licence to include the sale of alcohol.  For your convenience we will now be extending the hours

further, in that we will now open at 7.30am from Monday - Saturday.  There will be no lunchtime closing and Monday - Friday we will open untiI 6.00pm.


On the subject of stock we are now able to supply milk direct from Balham Hill Farm at Chiselborough, take orders of fresh meat from the Butcher of West Coker (not a serial killer, I must add) and continue to add to our current ranges of locally produced products.  We will also be gradually introducing certain products from the various Sainsbury's ranges that are available, as we have recently signed a contract to allow us to retail a majority of their own brand products.


So once again thank you to those of you who have made us so welcome - and to the villagers that we have not yet met, we would love to see you!


Steve and Lisha


New shop opening hours are:


Monday- Friday  7.30am-6.00pm             Saturday  7.30am-1.00pm           Sunday  8.00am-12.30pm


Normal Post Office opening hours are:


Monday  9.00am-5.30pm                                                Tuesday  9.00am-1.00pm


Wednesday-Friday  9.00am-5.30pm                                Saturday  9.00am-12noon




The Hall is the focal of a thriving, active village.  The Committee incorporates elected officers and representatives from clubs and societies within the community.  The Committee are fortunate to have the support of dedicated members who carry out numerous tasks of maintenance, general repairs, decorating,

cleaning, etc.  However we do need a new volunteer force 'waiting in the wings'.  If you have a particular skill or hobby and would be prepared to give a little of your time, please contact any member of the Committee, the representative of any group or organisation or tel 427846




When we moved to East Coker last September, it was with the idea of taking life a little easier.  I had worked in the restaurant industry in London for 25 years and I was looking forward to a few early nights, long days working in the garden and more time spent with my two young children.  Then the lease of the Helyar Arms became available and I couldn’t resist the challenge.  The Helyar Arms was a lovely property but everyone seemed to agree that it needed a lift. 


I took over the lease of the pub on 31 March and although I have a long experience of restaurant openings and transfers, it didn’t prepare me for the difficulty of taking over a business at 10.00am in the morning and opening your doors to customers an hour or so later.  In the past, I’ve always had a couple of weeks in between to sort out any glitches.


However, within a few days, we had found our feet and now we are looking ahead, with plans for improvements that we hope our neighbours will appreciate.  We are going to introduce a new menu and wine list at the beginning of May, and during the summer, we will be sprucing up the garden; carrying out some redecoration; introducing a few family-friendly features and, of course, bringing the skittle alley back into full service.


Although some alterations have already been made, the other changes will take a few months to complete and we hope you will bear with us in the meantime.  Finally, if you have any ideas, we would love to hear them.


Ian McKerracher 862332.




Local Elections  These take place on 1 May for both District and Parish Councils.  More information regarding the elections will be advertised nearer the date.


Lengthsman Scheme  This is now in progress in our parish and we hope parishioners are pleased with the work carried out so far.  It would be much appreciated if residents would also help by cutting back shrubs, trees and other vegetation which overhang the roads and pavements in the village.


Parish Plan  The scheme is in progress and information regarding this will be advertised as soon as possible.


Play Equipment  The Parish Council has arranged to have the slide and other play equipment removed from the play area, Long Furlong Recreation Field, as it failed Health & Safety checks.  It is hoped to replace it at an early date.


If the Dog Litter Bin is full in the Recreation Field, will people who exercise their dogs there, please take the excrement home and NOT leave it under the bin or put it in other bins situated in the field.


The position of Clerk will become vacant at the end of June 2003.  If anyone is interested in filling this position will they please apply to the present Clerk in writing at the following address: 


Catherine Denney, Clerk, East Coker Parish Council, 29 Broadacres, East Coker BA22 9LW


A Note from the Clerk  As stated above, I have decided to retire as Clerk from the end of June 2003 and I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all past and present Councillors for the immense help and support they gave me during the past 14 years.  This also applies to Officers and Councillors from both District and County Councils.


Catherine Denney




We will need some help to talk with our new Danish Grandson.  Can anyone help with some basic Danish lessons, please call Mike or Wendy on 862472.  Many thanks Mike and Wendy Weston, Dairy Cottage, Slades Meadow, East Coker.





Many of you will be aware of the existence of the Pavilion Building and play area along Long Furlong Lane but maybe not of its importance to the community as a whole.


At the present time, it is utilised mainly by East Coker Pre-school Playgroup who have been in existence for around thirty years and who currently cater for approximately forty children between the ages of two and a half to five years.  This Playgroup plays a very important part in the formative years of the children and provides a safe and happy environment within which they can learn and develop.  However, they have long outgrown the building and would benefit greatly from improved facilities.


The building also houses Parish Council meetings and provides a changing area for football and cricket teams.


As you can imagine, this is a lot to ask of a small building that was not built with all of this in mind and which has now started showing serious signs of ageing.


However, with the help of the Parish Council, an opportunity has arisen to acquire more land for sporting facilities and to erect a new purpose-built Pavilion.  This will enable the Playgroup to operate in its own purpose-built area and also for the football and cricket teams to have their own changing areas and facilities.  There will also be the possibility of an area specifically for youth clubs, etc, which is long over-due within the Village and maybe even some tennis courts in the future.


The land has already been acquired by the Parish Council; this will now mean that there will be separate football and cricket pitches, enabling the Cricket Club to have their own dedicated square which is not possible at the present time.  However, the next stage is funding the building of a new Pavilion.  Obviously, Lottery funding is being looked into at the present time by a Committee which has been formed to oversee this project but this will not cover all the necessary expenditure; an additional £50,000 at least needs to be found.


This is where you come in.  If anyone out there would like to take part in helping us to raise funds or indeed, make a contribution to the fund, however small, please contact one of the people mentioned below and they will be happy to give you more information. In fact, our first fundraising event - a Supper Evening – raised £1070.  Any ideas/donations would be most welcome.


Robert Mead  862972  Bridget Sugg  863435  Paula Downes  862264


We have been given the opportunity to really make a difference.  Paula Downes  Secretary - East Coker Pavilion Fund




There is to be a Public Enquiry at the Village Hall commencing at 10am on Thursday 22 May.  It may also run over into Friday 23 May.  It concerns the possible upgrading of a footpath to bridle path status, from Lodge Hill to Back Lane. 


Official details will be advertised in the local press, the Post Office and the Parish Council.




Saturday 17 May, 10.30am – 12noon.  A wide variety of plants, cuttings and cakes for sale.  Any plants or cuttings gratefully received.




The year began with some very mild weather on New Year's Day.  At dawn on 1 Jan the temperature was 11C (52F), but a long cold spell soon followed and frost was recorded on nine consecutive mornings from 4-12 Jan, with bright days and cold nights. The overnight minimum on 11/12 Jan was -6.6C (20.1F) with a hard frost.  Milder, cloudy weather continued to the end of January with a pleasant 12.7C (54.9F) temperature on Sunday 26.  A bright frosty day ended the month  Rainfall in January was 3.03ins (77mm), the heaviest rainfall being recorded on 1 Jan at 1.10ins (25.7mm) and 1.05ins (26.7mm) on the 19 Jan.


February was a drier month with a rainfall of 1.8 ins (47.5mm).  An intense high settled over the country giving us a frosty period from Feb 14-19.  My barometer showed a pressure of 1038 millibars on Feb17 but some very gloomy days during the month made the winter seem never ending.  Candlemas, 2 Feb, was a day of bright periods and showers so I wonder what to make of the old weather saying.


                              If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,

                              Winter will have another flight.

                              If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain,

                             Then winter will not come again."


March began with some quiet, bright weather but a few dull and gloomy days ended the first week. Gales on 8/9 March gave way to a mild one the next day, which had an afternoon temperature of 12C (54F).  As I write, on the Mar 18 a high of 1040mb has given us a very welcome dry, sunny spell in the middle of the month, frosty at night but warm enough to sit out during the day.  I wonder if the month will go out like a lion.


In the garden an over wintering Blackcap appeared in January.  The usual Greenfinches on the bird feeder were joined by a couple of Siskins in February.  Frogs appeared in my pool on 9 Feb and a few days later glistening, speckled pincushions of frog spawn graced the pool.  A Brimstone butterfly and a Small Tortoiseshell flew in the warm sunshine on 17 March.  Already molehills are appearing on the grassy bank by Longfurlong Lane.  The hedges are greening and the lawns need the first cut of the season.


In the night sky Venus was a prominent bright object in the mornings of January, just before dawn.  In mid March, Jupiter is high in the sky at the end of the evening looking to the South.  The four largest moons of Jupiter can be seen through a pair of binoculars on a clear dark night.  The great winter constellation of Orion is still to be seen in the South-western sky but is inexorably moving away to the West, soon to be replaced by the less spectacular Summer night sky.


F.W.Cloke  862496


ANTIQUES FAIRS – Under new management


I believe there have been regular Antiques Fairs held at East Coker Hall for the last 25 years.  We had feared they would cease when the organiser retired in December.  I am therefore pleased to report that Clive Welch (of Sherborne & Chard Antiques Fairs) has taken over the organisation of Fairs at East Coker Hall.


The first will be Sunday 13 April from 9.00am-4.00pm.  Others are planned for the 29 June, 31 August, 26 October. 


If they are well supported, Clive's plan is to hold them throughout 2004 on the last Sunday of alternate months.




VILLAGE  EVENTS  April  2003 – July 2003


Thurs 17 April            Whist Drive,  East Coker Hall  7.30pm


Sat 19 April                Scout Jumble Sale,  East Coker Hall  2.00pm


Fri 2 May                    A May Soiree,  East Coker Hall  7.30pm


Tues 13 May              East Coker Society AGM,  Dampier Room (East Coker Hall)  7.30pm


Sat 17 May                Plant Sale,  Bubspool House  10.30am


Sat 17 May                Playgroup Summer Fair,  The Pavilion, Longfurlong Lane  2.30pm


Tues 20 May              East Coker Hall AGM,  Dampier Room (East Coker Hall)  7.30pm


Thurs 22 May Public Enquiry (See page 7)  East Coker Hall  10am

                                    THIS MAY ALSO RUN INTO FRIDAY


Sat 31 May                Pimms, Pate & Poetry (In aid of Hospice)  North Coker House


Sat 28 June               Sutton Bingham Church and Manor Open Afternoon,  2pm – 5pm


Sun 29 June               Antiques Fair,  East Coker Hall,  9am – 4pm


Sat 5 July                   St Michael's Church Fete, North Coker House,  2.00pm


Sat 12 July                 Special Songs of Praise,  Closworth Church,  7pm



If your event is written into the Village diary (kept in the Post Office) we will include it in this section of the Newsletter.