East Coker Society Newsletter


January 2007    Free Issue No 125


Chair: John Sugg   863435   e-mail

Newsletter Editor: Lesley Lindsay   862868   e-mail

Secretary: Sarah Owen   862218

Treasurer: Keith Helliar   863700


Happy New Year

East Coker Society News




The 2007 Diary is now at the East Coker Post Office.  Please could village organisations put their forthcoming events in the Diary to avoid the doubling up of these events.  Thank you.





If in future you would like to receive the Newsletter via e-mail, please e-mail Lesley Lindsay with your name and postal address so you can be removed from our delivery lists.  Your e-mail address will be kept entirely private, with no cross-referencing of other people's e-mails.  We greatly appreciate delivery by e-mail as it saves money on our printing costs.


For those already receiving the Newsletter by e-mail, please e-mail Lesley Lindsay if you change your e-mail address.





Thank you to everyone who came and supported the Christmas Bazaar last November.  We made a profit of £296 which will help in printing the Newsletter.   A special thank you must go to Father Christmas who called in on his way to the North Pole and to Carol Blackmore who organised the many varied stalls.  A big thank you to all who helped at this event, your efforts are much appreciated.





The Society would like to say a big thank you to all our distributors of the Newsletter – we couldn't do it without you.  Also thank you must go to Sally Jackson who proof reads the Newsletter and to Martin Wells our chief distributor.



Village Clubs and Organisations




By the time the Newsletter goes to press the East Coker Wine Circle theme party 'A Day at the Races' will have been enjoyed by gathering of over 100 people.  We now look forward to an interesting and enjoyable half-year programme.  At the February meeting we have been fortunate to attract Bramley and Gage (Devon), to give the Circle a tasting of liqueurs.  This is followed in March with another tasting – Blue Vinney cheese and soup.  The April meeting, 'It's a Hoot', a talk and presentation on owls, will no doubt be of great interest to those of our members who are interested in natural history.  The May meeting, 'Coracle Making' by Ted Pitman leads us into the Annual Meeting in June, when we will be having another commercial wine tasting.  Plans are already being made to make the next year something really special, as it will be the 30th Anniversary of the Circle.


The circle meets on the first Wednesday in the month at the East Coker Hall at 8.00pm, unless otherwise publicised.  Guests are always welcome.





We are just beginning our New Year programme with many varied and interesting speakers. We are hoping to welcome new members, both young and old, to boost our numbers.


Don’t think of us as just 'Jam and Jerusalem'. We no longer slave over the hot stove, unless we want to, and no longer sing ‘Jerusalem’ at village level.  Now we are a group of women who like to hear interesting and stimulating speakers on all issues, join together for a sociable evening once a month and lend our voice on issues we think important to health and the environment.


For those who wish to take part, there are skittles evenings, whist evenings, group meetings, craft days and days out, as well as other activities.  Our normal monthly meetings are on the last Thursday of the month at the East Coker Hall at 7.30pm.  Please do come and give us a try; a small guest fee is charged until you know whether we fit into your scene.  The speaker at our first meeting on 25 January is Bruce Trigger, telling us all about the role of the Town Crier.  Before that, on Thursday 18 January we shall be holding a Whist Night at the hall from 7.30pm.


A Jumble Sale is also planned for Saturday, 17 February at 2.00pm at the East Coker Hall. For any further information please ring Linda on 863694


New members are always welcome.  For more information please phone Jean Caunter on 863329





Lunch with a talk 'Secret's of a Honeymoon Suitcase' by Valerie Trefall.  Thursday 22 March at East Coker Hall.


Tickets available from Leigh Mead 863466





Having been a member of the Ladies' Keep Fit for about 20 years I have in the past been a helper with the village lunches put on twice a year.  Now, with dubious sight and increasing age I am no longer much help.


This year I had the delightful experience of being a customer at the Christmas lunch in the East Coker Hall. And what an experience it was – one not to be forgotten!  In two sessions more than 200 people were given a three-course meal – turkey with the usual trimmings, etc.  Red and white wine was served and coffee or tea afterwards.  A selection of mouth-watering desserts was on offer in the Dampier Room.


The hall and the tables were seasonably decorated, with crackers for everyone.  Paper hats fluttered and balloons and streamers were tossed across the tables; and there was a continual buzz of happy chatter.


Having previously been on the other side of the counter, so to speak, I know how much hard work and planning goes into this event.  All the food is prepared and much of it cooked at home.  The Keep Fit ladies are mostly in the kitchen dishing up and filling the plates. Daughters, and young wives prepare the starters and act as waitresses; boy friends and husbands are wine waiters.  In the crowded hall it was amazing to me how the young people could weave their way among the tables keeping everybody served and happy.


As the second session came to an end a long table was being prepared for the weary workers to sit down at last and have their Christmas lunch.


A similar event takes place in early summer – this time a Roast Beef Lunch. These lunches have been going for 26 years. They are never advertised and somehow, mysteriously, they are always fully booked.  They are also fund-raisers.  From their proceeds, plus raffle money, a four-figure sum is raised during the year to be donated to one or more local charities.  The Ladies' Keep Fit and their lunches are part and parcel of East Coker village life.


Sally Jackson





The winners in the October draw were Mr & Mrs A R Jullens £100, Mr H Stirrat £50, Mr & Mrs A T Kimpton £40, Mrs E Horwood £30, Mr M Evans £20, Mrs F Todd £15, Mrs S Graham £10 & Mrs J Ogilvie £10.





One of the highlights of the last quarter of 2006 for the Gardening Club was the visit by 25 members to 'Highgrove' at the beginning of October.  Having seen the slides of the garden presented by David Howard in May, it was a great opportunity to experience the place we have all heard so much about, and to see the expression of the Prince of Wales' ideas about working with Nature.

The Annual General Meeting on 9 November was held again at the Quick Silver Mail and was an enjoyable occasion. The business of the meeting was followed by a meal and a game of skittles, at which Don White was the overall winner and Helen Styles obtained the highest score among the women.

Olga Clifford resigned as Chair after serving several years, first as Secretary and then in the Chair. Her place has been taken by Helen Styles; Catherine Denney has filled the vacant office of Secretary, Stan Shayler remains Treasurer and Sally Jackson Press Secretary. Rachel Blow resigned as Programme Secretary, but remains on the Committee, and Don White is the new Programme Secretary.  Mike Bayliss has been co-opted onto the Committee.

A few days later Brimsmore Garden Centre invited the Club to their Christmas 'Fairyland' for discount shopping.  The year ended with a fascinating talk on 'Orchids' by Blair Siburn from Chetnole, who came at very short notice to take the place of Marion Emery's 'Victorian Christmas', as she had been put out of action by an emergency operation.  Mulled wine and mince pies provided the Christmas spirit.


Programme: February – April 2007

Thursday 8 February – Pam Gossage, a member of the team at the East Lambrook Manor Nursery, with an illustrated talk on 'Snowdrops'

Thursday 8 March – Paul Hending on 'Soil Science'

Thursday 12 April – Terry Bracher on 'Dahlias'


A return visit to Cornwall – a trip so successful two years ago – has been arranged for 27-29 March There may still be places available or last-minute vacancies, so it is worth contacting the Secretary or Treasurer for further information.


Meetings are usually held on a Thursday, at 7.30pm in the East Coker Hall.  Visitors and new members are always welcome.  Enquiries to the Secretary, Catherine Denney 862294 or Treasurer, Stan Shayler 420291





East Coker Players would like to thank everyone who attended their pantomime 'Goldilocks & The Three Bears'.  If you are interested in joining or helping out in any way our next meeting is on 5 February 2007 at East Coker Hall in the Dampier Room from 7.30pm.  This is also our AGM when we will be electing a new committee and discussing future productions, so if you would like to see us continue, we need YOUR support.  For more details, please contact Nora White 477897.


Future events include a Barn Dance with the Yetties – 22 June; Christmas Bingo – 8 December.  The above events are fundraisers for the Yeovil Division Guides trip to Switzerland in 2008.





Due to illness and unforeseen circumstances the Thursday Badminton group would welcome new members.  We are a group of mixed ability ladies who enjoy the fun and exercise.  We meet at 2.15pm at the East Coker Hall and play for just an hour.  The timing is ideal for those mums with children at school who would be able to play and then collect their children later.


For any further information please ring Joyce on 862816




Poppy Appeal

Once again, many thanks to all collectors and all who gave so generously, giving us a total of over £5000 for the combined villages.  Barry and I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2007 and look forward to seeing you all at the Cheese & Wine later in the year.


Sue Hounsell





Annual poetry writing competition


The subject for the East Coker poetry group annual writing competition this year was 'The Seasons'.  There were more than a dozen entries and it was standing room only when the winner and runners up were announced at a special event at the Helyar Arms on 24 October.


Last year's winner Ros Treloar lives in Australia, but thanks to the wonders of the Internet, she was able to judge the competition.  First prize of a meal for two at the Helyar Arms, went to Jane Williams, from Wells, who also won this year’s Wells Festival of Literature International Poetry Competition.  Her poem 'Cuckoo Call' "used vivid, sensual language and unexpected images to make palpable what was being sensed” said Ros.  (See below).


The two runners-up prizes of a bottle of wine went to Anthony Watts, for 'Blackberries', and Iona Lambe, for 'New Tree'.  There were also special commendations for David Cloke’s 'Seasons on the Road', and Sally Jackson’s 'A Time for Everything'.



Cuckoo Call


And there it was!  Miraculous!


Arriving in a shiver of bright green,

frivolous, teasing catkin tails,

a flickering of swallows, violets,

a sheen of crocus, uncurling hawthorn,

a melt of water, primroses in the hedge.

Dawn reddening the frosty field like blood,

there’s an eyeless lamb, stiff, cold. 

Swoop of a sparrowhawk looping the barn

to steal day old chicks.

Across the valley the cuckoo’s call

faint but sure.


And there you were

releasing winter’s grip.

Your warmth unfurls my tenderness.

For you I sing a merry madrigal,

I put on crocus-satin gold,

dare the cold, risk a late frost

blossom beneath your touch


Because there is no choice in the necessity of the season

I surrender to your kiss,

Winter’s over.  Spring is victorious.


Somewhere across the valley a cuckoo calls

faint but sure.


Jane Williams



Tuesday 20 February 'Maiden Newton Ecliptic'


Virginia Astley and her daughter Florence present a poem based on a twenty-four hour walk around the village of Maiden Newton near Dorchester.  This long poem is set with a Harp accompaniment.


Virginia lived in East Coker several years ago and has family connections here.  She has been involved for many years in the music world as a singer/songwriter.  Her debut album 'From Gardens Where We Feel Secure' was first released in 1983, and re-released on CD again in 2003.  Recently she has been devoting more time to her writing and poetry.


Tuesday 27 March – Fire River Poets


Fire River Poets from Taunton come to East Coker for this meeting.  John Stuart and Anthony from this group are already well-known to East Coker Poetry Group having read poetry at our Poetry Summer Evening.  Anthony Watts' poem 'Blackberries' won second prize in our poetry competition this year.


Meetings are in the Skittle Alley, the Helyar Arms 7.30pm.  Material for the Group's February Newsletter, or any correspondence, can be sent to David Cloke, Group Co-ordinator, Church Cottage, Burton Cross, East Coker, Yeovil, BA22 9LY, 862623 or Joyce Best 862317





As I am sure you are aware, we have been actively fund-raising to provide a new Pavilion at Long Furlong Lane for the last four years and, with the continued and very generous support of the village, have, to date, raised just over £50,000.00.  However, as I am sure you will appreciate, this alone will not be enough to see the project to its fruition and we have, therefore, been endeavouring to obtain grants/funding from outside organisations, the main one being the Football Foundation.


Unfortunately, it appears that we, as a fund-raising organisation, are unique in that we are trying to facilitate so many different groups and, sadly this has been causing major problems in obtaining Grants; the final straw being that we have now been turned down by the Football Foundation as we do not and, indeed, cannot meet their necessary criteria.


However, although this does mean that we will inevitably need to scale down the project, all is not lost.  Robert Mead and various experts have been looking further into the matter and believe that, with the money we have already raised and with the help of the Parish Council, we will be able to extend and considerably improve the existing facilities, hopefully taking into account all the special needs of each group using the building.


The East Coker Pavilion Fund Committee will, therefore, still actively be working towards this goal although, unfortunately, without Robert Mead at the helm.  He has been Chair for the last four years and has reluctantly decided to take a back seat.  However, he will still be involved with regard to the building project and his help and expertise will be very much appreciated.  I will be taking over his role as Chairman and hope that I can help keep the momentum going that Robert has created.


As Chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Robert very much, both on behalf of the Committee and, indeed, the village as a whole – we could not have got this far without him.


As always, anyone who has any views and/or suggestions to offer is more than welcome to come along to our meetings.  For meeting dates, etc, please contact me on 863435 or Paula Downes on 862264


Bridget Sugg  Chairman – East Coker Pavilion Fund


Quiz  Night – Could you and your friends be the Brains of East Coker?


This event will take place on Saturday 10 March at East Coker Hall; doors open at 7.00pm and the quiz will start at 7.30pm.  Teams – one per organisation only – will consist of eight people, and the prize will be a trophy.


A licensed bar has been applied for.


Tickets which will include a fish and chip supper will be available from Bridget 863435



Young People




Beaver Scouts – 6 to 8 years old

We are in a position to re-start our Beaver Colony for boys and girls.  Please contact Mike 863430 or Max 862186 if you have children who are interested.


Cub Scouts – 8 to 10½ years old

We also have spaces within the Cub section.  Please contact David on 474648 or Max 862186 for details


Waste Paper Collections

The collection point is opposite the School on the last Saturday of each month from 8.30am to 10.30am. If possible please flat pack your newspapers and tie into bundles.  We are now only able to collect newsprint – sorry, no magazines.  Arrangements for Nash Lane and Helena Road are co-ordinated separately by Ray Smith.


Scout Jumble Sales for 2007

Spring – Saturday 21 April          Autumn – Saturday 20 October.  Both to be held at East Coker Hall from 2.00pm.  Remember we will collect.  Contact Max Bugler 862186


Thank you for your continued support.  Jackie Glover.





What a fantastic and exciting half term the children at playgroup have had.  I write this because when I sat down to note what the group had done, my list got so long.  Thank goodness the Christmas holiday arrived, giving the children, parents, carers and staff a chance to recover for the Spring Term.


First there was Halloween to discover and find out about, quickly followed by Bonfire Night.  The committee and parents worked very hard to make the Craft Fair, held in November, a resounding success.  The playgroup would like to extend an enormous thank you to everyone who supported the Craft Fair.  The annual event raised over £1350, which will be use to improve facilities.  Bookings are being taken for the next Craft Fair; please contact Liz on 864405 for further information.


'Take Art' visited the group in November with themed sessions on African Art.  The children decorated old CD’s and made a beautiful display that sparkles in the light.  This suspended display was easily incorporated into the Christmas decorations and display that the children made.  A busy time was had making calendars for parents, table decorations and Christmas cards.  The parents and carers were treated to a fabulous Nativity Show.  The children did really well, dressing up, singing and dancing and enchanting everyone present.  Father Christmas kindly stopped off from his busy schedule to visit the playgroup and meet the children during their Christmas party.


East Coker playgroup is situated at the Pavilion, Long Furlong Lane, in an outstanding and safe location, with parking on site.  From the Pavilion direct access to the playing fields allows the group every opportunity to take the curriculum outside and enjoy physical and outdoor exploration.


The wealth of experience of our fully qualified staff offers quality childcare and education through play, exploring the wider environment and local community with project-based activities.  These include trips out and visitors, such as the fire brigade, police, vet, doctor, dentist, clergy, musicians and local artists.  Ofsted have consistently given the group excellent reports and commended us for the interaction and encouragements between staff and children, partnership with parents, teaching, management and the emphasis on fun.


Children can join us from the age of 2½ and Nursery Education Funding is available from the term after the third birthday.  We are open during term time every weekday morning, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and offer optional lunch cover for children who like to bring a packed lunch.  We also offer sessions during some of the school holidays.


For more information and to put your child/children on the waiting list please contact Kay Strode on 07798 812540 or after 6.00pm on 872126





The Helen Laxton School of Dance is now offering Ballet, Jazz/disco and Tap dancing classes for children in the East Coker Hall on Wednesday afternoons.  Children are taken from the age of 3 – 16 years.  The classes are taught by fully qualified, professional teachers who aim to bring out the best in every child and to instil a love of dance and music.


For more details telephone Helen Laxton LRAD, ARAD, AISTD, AIDTA on 474717



The Churches





Sunday 4 February                     10.00am Children's Candlemas Eucharist

Sunday 4 March                        10.00amFamil Service – Speaker Rev'd David Gent of Barwick

Mothering Sunday 18 March       10.00am Flowers presented to parents and adults

Palm Sunday 1 April                  10.00am Eucharist

Maundy Thursday 5 April            6.30pm Eucharist – Last Supper, The Watch

Good Friday 6 April                    10.00am Litany Prayers

Easter Saturday 7 April              6.30pm Festival of Light – Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Easter Day 8 April                      8.00am Holy Communion 1662  10.00am Family Eucharist 2000


Parish Church Annual General Meeting  Wednesday 18 April, 7.30pm Dampier Room, East Coker Hall





By The Rev. Dr. Peter Mullen


Saturday 24 March 2007 11.00am

St Michael’s and All Angels Church, East Coker

and afterwards at Tudor Wing, Coker Court




Admission Free – Any donations to the East Coker Vicarage Fund



Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael’s Cornhill, London, and is a regular columnist for The Times, The Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator Magazine, as well a contributor to Radio 4.  He has also published several books on theology, philosophy and politics and also a number of novels.  He is a lifelong Eliot devotee and enthusiast.


Please contact Ewen Stewart 07976 528535 or Rev Roger Burt 01935 862125




Focus on Mission at St Michael's – 'Zambia Link' and 'USPG'


These are two charities which St Michael's Church has made a commitment to support annually.  If you would like more details of the charities, please use the following web-sites.


Zambia Link – www.bathandwells.org – under mission


USPG – www.uspg.org.uk


St Michael's Social Responsibility Group


The Pilsden Community, near Beaminster, is a Christian Organisation who mainly help ex-drug addicts and ex-alcoholics, who stay for as long as necessary.  We would like to support them this year.


They are currently re-furbishing 4 bedrooms and need mattress covers, pillows, bed-side lamps, mugs and if anyone has a spare bed-side locker it would be very welcome.  Any of these items will be most gratefully received, and can be left at the Vicarage or St Michael's Church for delivery to Pilsden.  Thank you.


Kay Privett


Lent Lunch – 12.45pm Soup, bread and cheese and a short talk on a Somerset (Corton Denham) /Zambian parish link.  All Welcome


Young Families Group


The St Michael's Young Families Group are keen to raise £400 to train a midwife at St Francis Hospital, Katete, Zambia, and it is hoped that donations from the Lent Lunch will kick-start the fund-raising interaction…it will be organising more activities throughout the year.  The first one for your diaries, Saturday 10 March, 12 noon – 2.00pm at the Vicarage.





A very big thank you to all who supported the Carol Service and the Christmas Nativity.  This year the Church was packed for the presentation written by Roger Barber.  I think we had more Kings and Angels than in the past, but one little angel was more interested in a Labrador dog, suitably decked with tinsel, than in Mary and Joseph!



Sunday 18 February 10.00am Family Service

Mothering Sunday 18 March, 10.00am, when the children will give flowers to their mothers.

Good Friday 6 April, 10.00am, will be a short service for both adults and children.

Easter Sunday 8 April 10.00am Family Service


All services last about 30 minutes and tend to be very informal.


Monica 862834





With well over a hundred candles to light the church, our Candlelit Carol Service was again a great success, with over seventy friends old and new to fill the church on a dry, mild night.  This was followed by mince-pies and mulled wine to put everyone in the Christmas spirit.  Thank you for your continued support generosity for this special service and we promise to have the usual printed Carol Sheet up and running again for 2007!


There is still time to have a go at our Quiz: ‘More Saints for All Saints’, which follows the format of previous quizzes in aid of the Friends of All Saints’ and especially to fund the Porch Roof Repairs, which is our main project for this year.  £2 to enter and we have extended final entries to 14 February.  Copies are available from Heather Snook (474138) Anthony Dening (474294) or at the churches.


Notelets – featuring an attractive picture of the Norman Chancel Arch are available in packs of 12 for £5, or 50p each from Heather and Anthony and these are also part of our fundraising activities.  There about 10 packs of our very popular Christmas Cards left, featuring the Candlelit Carol Service, at the same price, as well as bookmarks, key rings, pens and other memorabilia.


Services  February – April


Sunday 4 February 9.00am Holy Communion                   Sunday 18 February 11.30am Holy Communion

Sunday 4 March 9.00am Holy Communion                       Sunday 18 March 11.30am Holy Communion

Good Friday 6 April 11.00am Litany Prayers                     Easter Sunday 8 April 11.30am Holy Communion

Sunday 15 April 11.30am Holy Communion


We look forward to welcoming you to Sutton Bingham in 2007.





A warm welcome awaits you at the end of Burton Lane. Services are as follows:

Sundays – The Lord's Supper 11.00am.  Prayer and Bible Study 6.30pm.

Monthly Family Service on the 2nd Sunday at 11.00am when The Lord's Supper takes place at 6.30pm instead of the Bible Study.  Other events announced weekly.


Contact us on 422594 or 863735





There is a service held at 10.30am each Sunday at East Coker County Primary School.  Our worship tends to be informal in style.  You are very welcome to join us.


Little Wheelers is a well established Parent and Toddler Group that runs each Tuesday morning in term time at East Coker Hall, commencing at 10.30am.  It is a chance for parents to relax and socialise, while their children play.  We run Little Wheelers with help from other churches.


Bridges is a midweek group for teenagers.  It is an opportunity for food, friendship and exploring together the good news of Christianity.  There is also a sailing club for young people, called 'Broadreach'.


We have other groups and activities for adults and for young people.  Up to date information on all of these events can be found on our website www.millchurch.org.uk – which includes a weekly news-sheet – or you can telephone the church office in West Coker on 864136.





These meetings will take place in the East Coker Hall.  Do join us and bring your friends.  Refreshments are served after each meeting.  For details please contact, Roy Hodder 862519.



Village News




Grateful Thanks from the RNLI

The Yeovil Branch of the RNLI has expressed its appreciation to the Helyar Arms and to all those who attended the coffee morning held in November in support of this life-saving service supported entirely by voluntary donations.  Over £190 was raised.  Although many of us are aware of the lifeboat activities, the beach lifeguard service has also been brought into the public eye by the BBC TV Series Seaside Rescue.  Last year was even busier for them than 2004 in which the beach lifeguards handled over 8,000 incidents and saved 51 lives.


Friday 26 January – In aid of ARC (Arthritis Research Campaign)


10.00am – 12 noon – Entrance £2.50 including Coffee & Cake.

ARC is a research organisation entirely supported by voluntary contributions and committed to finding a cure for arthritis.

Do come and join us by the fire!


Friday 23 February – In aid of Mercy Ships


On Friday 23 February, the Helyar Arms is hosting a coffee morning in aid of Mercy Ships. This charity provides hospital ships and land-based units crewed by doctors, nurses, water engineers and agriculturalists to bring medical assistance and long-term development to some of the world's poorest regions in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and Asia.


A local Rotarian and ophthalmologist from Yeovil, Yinka Osoba, has freely volunteered her services for a period to Mercy Ships.  The proceeds from this coffee morning will go towards funding the support costs of her trip.


Come and join this friendly local event from 10.00am until 12noon to enjoy fresh coffee and excellent cakes or pastries for only £2.50.  For further information, contact Peter Burrows on 862218 or Dennis Stevens on 823960 or enquire directly at the Helyar Arms.


Friday 30 March – In aid of Parkinson's Disease





A very big thank you to everyone who gave all their used stamps to CLIC.  Please continue to collect them.  They can be dropped in to the East Coker P O or to Holly Cottage nearby.


Micky Hall





Hatherstone Wood, situated at Primrose Hill on the parish boundaries of East Coker, West Coker and Hardington Mandeville, was created in 1999 as part of The Woodland Trust’s ‘Woods on Your Doorstep’ scheme, a millennium project.  The woodland is maturing well but does need some attention from time to time, e.g. the removal of tree guards, strimming etc.


If you would like to assist with the maintenance of this community woodland, please contact Carol Blackmore 862192 or Jean Kelly 862407





The Dunning family would like to wish all our customers both old and new, a very happy and healthy New Year, and thank you for your valued custom and support.  We look forward to serving you again throughout this coming year.


Phil & Liz Dunning 863735





New Year's Day 2007

2006 was reputed to be the warmest year on record.  It was an interesting year for weather-watchers.  After an indifferent Spring, the summer began with a very hot and dry spell.  Temperatures soared to a hot maximum of 31.8ºC (89.2ºF) on 19 July.  In that hot spell the mains water temperature rose to a luke-warm 24ºC (75ºF).  Conversely the lowest temperature of the year was -5.1ºC (22.8ºF) on 11 February, when the mains water temperature fell to 8ºC (46ºF).  Even this low water temperature was high compared with the low of 1962/3, when the mains temperature fell to a whisker above freezing, in that long cold winter which lasted from Christmas to March.


There were 21 days of frost, with a sprinkling of snow on two days.  Rain fell on 137 days giving a total for the year of 725 mm (28.54ins).  Despite the rain days, the summer was a dry one.  By August the landscape was beginning to resemble the dry scene of 1976.  But then a cooler damp spell made the grass grow again.  A warm dry spell towards the end of summer was followed by a brief damp mild autumn.  Several frosty days at the beginning of November came as quite a shock.  A foggy spell with a barometric high of 1047mb and virtually no wind, for the five days before Christmas, changed to rain and gales to end the year.  The highest rainfall in a 24 hour period was in this spell with 28.5mm (1.12ins) falling on 29/30 December.


Despite the warm weeks of summer, wild life was sparse in the garden.  The usual garden birds did not return until late in the year and even then were indifferent to food put out for them.  I received several reports of a scarcity of birds in the village.  But one report of a Little Owl in Mill Lane was particularly welcome, as was a sighting of a Green Woodpecker in December.  In the warm autumn, the leaves began to colour in mid-October, but remained on the trees for longer than usual.  Apart from the usual Large & Small Whites, butterflies were scarce.  A late Red Admiral fed on ivy flowers on 22 September, while a Bumble Bee visited a flowering Viburnum on 14 November.  Even later, I was surprised to see a Brimstone butterfly flying strongly on 28 November, in bright sunshine when the temperature was 11.6ºC (53ºF).


The mild damp October gave a splendid crop of fungi on local lawns.  The most numerous were the brown heads of Paxillus involutus resembling individual Yorkshire puddings but the most striking were clumps of the bright yellow 'sulphur tufts' Hypholoma fasciculare.  Other fungal growths in profusion were the violet headed Russula cyanoxantha.  This profusion of fungi led to local bookshops running out of their stock of books on fungi identification, an unexpected consequence of a warm autumn.


Most planets will not be well placed for evening viewing in the early months of 2007.  Saturn will be moving across the southern sky at bedtime as the year progresses.  Sirius, the brightest star, will be low in the south.  Solar eclipses in March and September will not be visible from East Coker, but a total eclipse of the moon will be visible on 3 March, from about 22.00 hrs to midnight.


For some years I have been puzzled by the curious fact that around the time of the shortest day the sun gets up later each morning for several days after the sun begins to set later in the evenings.  The same phenomenon happens at the summer solstice but is not so noticeable at an early dawn.  Any explanation would be welcomed.


Francis Cloke  862496





A Couple I knew in the West Coker Road told me they planned their Sunday morning walk so that they could hear the bells of St Michael's wafting across the fields.  A few weeks ago somebody said "I didn't hear the church bells on Sunday".  They didn't because there were not enough ringers, for the only ringers available were needed at Closworth!


St Michael's has eight bells and Closworth five.  To be able to ring a peal of changes at least five bells are needed.  When I first started to learn there were enough ringers for both churches to have their bells rung at the same time. 


Sadly, for various reasons the number of ringers has declined and there is a danger that it may no longer be possible to ring regularly at St Michael's unless we have some new recruits.


It is only the very old who can remember the silence of the war years when church bells could not be rung, and the delight when bell-ringing could be heard again.  That was why it was so moving when Closworth bells were repaired and re-hung for the Millennium.  They had not been heard since 1939!


There are certain misconceptions about bell-ringing.  It was because of some of these that I did not start until I was over 80 years of age.  It would have been better all round if I had started 20 years earlier.  A major misconception is that one should be a regular C of E churchgoer.  Another is that one is committed to ring every Sunday.  Bell-ringing takes place in a church towers because that is where bells are, and it is used as a call to worship, but is not part of church services.


Anybody can be a ringer – 'believer' or 'non-believer'.  The ringers at Froxfield, near Marlborough, where a friend rings, include a Jew, and Michael Nasar, a Moslem, was a promising ringer here, until he gave up to do humanitarian work overseas.  It was once considered to be a man's world, and in the 18th and 19th centuries, ringers were once regarded as rollicking yokels, drunk on cider.


There is no age limit – one experienced ringer here started when she was nine years old, and when I first began to learn, a father and school-boy son were both in the tower.  There are distinct advantages in starting young, not least the confidence of youth.


People talk of the danger, the danger of being caught up in a rope and whisked up to a grisly end amongst the bells.  Nothing like that could happen at St Michael's, where the ringing chamber has a fairly low ceiling with holes for the bell ropes to go through to the bell chamber – though one must always respect the bells.  It is an excellent place for learning as there is a relatively short length of rope to learn to control.


Bell-ringing is a skill that has to be learnt.  Like riding a bicycle or driving a car it requires co-ordination of thought and movement, which once learnt is never forgotten.  It is an excellent exercise in concentration and team-work, combined with relaxation.


All this sounds deadly serious; in fact we have a lot of fun in the tower – any excuse for a party!  Champagne flowed as the bells rang in AD 2000.


If you would like to see the ringers in action, you are welcome to come and watch, and then – who knows?  You might want to have a go, and from there, like me, become absorbed into a really rewarding activity.


The best person to contact is Lesley Lindsay, the Captain of the Tower, on 862868.


Sally Jackson





Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to clean up rubbish, debris and leaves outside their properties.  Hopefully, more residents will make the effort to do the same and keep the village as tidy as possible.  This also applies to rights of way.  Please clear up after your dog – there is still dog dirt on pathways, which is unpleasant for pedestrians, and take your rubbish home.  Do not throw bags of rubbish onto the verges or into hedges as dogs mess is one of the worst (and most unhygienic) hazards for users of strimmers.


Mini motor-bikes have been seen in the village, both on and off public highways.  If you do not have your own private land, it is illegal to use these bikes, and they will be reported and confiscated by the police.  They are also a serious hazard for horses and horse riders.


Would horse riders please be prepared to give way to walkers on narrow pathways?  This especially applies to walkers with children and pushchairs.  Do not expect pedestrians to squeeze by horses when there is no room, so make sure your horse is able to ‘rein back’ if you are not able to turn around.  Dogs should be kept on leads when passing horses.


There have been several incidents of sheep worrying and even attacks in the Parish.  Dogs must not be allowed access to flocks of sheep, and now that lambing has started, ewes and their lambs are especially vulnerable.  You may think that your dog is ‘playing’, but this is no excuse when the stock are frightened – sheep do not know the difference, and even the nicest dog seems to have a change of personality when in the company of sheep!  Dogs must be kept on leads.  A barking dog can instantly scatter a flock and lambs can lose their mothers in a moment of panic.  Do not allow your dogs out unsupervised, as this can often lead to the worst cases of sheep worrying.  Farmers are within their rights to shoot dogs that attack or worry their sheep.


Back Lane footpath Y9/41 has now been drained and refurbished and will hopefully be more passable for walkers.


Local police officers are currently trying to identify those members of the community who may be more vulnerable to the risk posed by bogus callers.  They want to provide help and support to individuals to reduce the risk of them becoming victims, and to promote crime prevention.  If you know someone in the area who may benefit from such help, please e-mail ssnsomerton@avonandsomerset.police.uk or call 0845 4567000 and leave a message for Somerton Sector Neighbourhood Police.


Regular daily parish Beat Patrols, are being carried out by the local Coker Beat Team.  Contact numbers, if you need to speak to police on non-emergency issues, are as follows, 01935 402175 or 0845 4567000.


            Contact personnel are listed below:

            Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) – Michelle Haimes 8913.

            Email: Michelle.Haimes@avonandsomerset.police.uk

            Sector Inspector – Neil Pitman 280

            Email: Neil. Pitman@avonandsomerset.police.uk (01935 402177)

            Section Sergeant – Sgt Chris Stanbridge

            Email: Christopher.Stanbridge@avonandsomerset.police.uk

            Please remember these phone numbers are not for an Emergency call



THE  FLAX  INDUSTRY  OF  THE  COKERS – How the Construction of the Leat Affected the Village


Friday 2 February, 7.00pm – 7.30pm at the East Coker Hall – a talk by Robert Allwood on the local flax industry.  There will be an exhibition in the Dampier Room with contributions from Abigail Shepherd and other experts on Flax.  Refreshments will be available during the evening.  This will be of interest to locals and visitors alike.


Saturday 3 February, 9.30am – 4.45pm at the East Coker Hall – an all-day symposium to investigate further and to progress knowledge of the industry of Flax and Hemp in the Wessex area.  Already several speakers have agreed to give presentations and will be answering questions about the industry in the Wessex area from early times.  There will also be demonstrations by local museums and other specialists.


Anyone wishing to attend should contact Sandy Buchanan, (Chairman of the Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society), 2 Blake Green, Ashcott, Bridgwater, TA7 9QF.  The cost of the day which includes refreshments will be about £10.





The next issue of the Newsletter will be in April 2007.  Copy, please, to Lesley Lindsay, Little Meadow, Coker Marsh, East Coker or e-mail Lesley Lindsay or to the East Coker Post Office & Stores by Monday 26 March 2007.



Top       Home