Personal reminiscences of Winsham

My grandparents lived in Winsham and my grandfather's ancestors. Their home Column House was the house I visited mainly in the 1960-1970's. He had a donkey called Ned which he kept in the grounds together with a single sheep. (Never forget the day the donkey escaped into the village and myself and my siblings having to go after it). 

Suzanne Butler (nee Paull)
19 August 2002

My parents retired to Winsham over 10 years ago. Sadly my mother died in hospital in Taunton. I live in north London and have the greatest affection for the villagers of Winsham. At the time of my mother's death, Father Brian was a tower of strength, I will never forget him. I've brought many friends to see this piece of England that sets an example of how people should live together. I said when my parents first told me of Winsham "how on earth did they find this place" I am happy for them that they did. Best wishes for the jubilee and lots of love to my wonderful father who lives in Colham Lane.

Patricia Marchbank
Edgeware, 27 May 2002

I was born at Whatley Cross in the farm cottages, my grandmother was Ethel Beer and my mother was Gwen Beer who married Cherry Wood from Chard. My family moved to Chard soon after my birth but I spent as much time as I was allowed with my Gran and Aunty Norah and Uncle Cliff. the Beer family moved back into Winsham village while I was still a child.

I would live for the weekends when I could get out to Winsham and go into the cupboard under the stairs and just sit and read the comics that were kept there for us. In the long summer days when we would go out walking with Gran, we would go on picnics down to Forde Abbey, pick our own fresh watercress to go with our food, or walk way up over Whatley and into Chard, picking blackberries and sloes, crab apples, and in the early morning, mushrooms.

If Gran was busy, my cousins and I would go down to the river bridge and put one foot in Somerset and one in Dorset, and then tell Gran we had been to Dorset. At the age of 18 I had my first cigarette on that bridge....not any more though! Gran would tell us not to go into the water, but of course we would strip off to our knickers and jump in, swimming for hours.

The Village shop-what an Aladdin's cave; the bakers and people outside on the pavements gossiping away and generally being neighbourly.

My Great Granny Alice was the unofficial midwife and brought many a Winsham baby into this world. We would go up and play in the rec. and go over to her for fresh lemonade. She was a forbidding looking lady but full of heart and kindness.

My Aunt Norah last lived in Fore Street with my cousin Tim. She now lives in Swindon but I try to pick her up once a year and make the pilgrimage to Winsham to catch up with all her old friends.

Winsham is the most wonderful village in the U.K so peaceful and unspoilt. Please keep it that way. Terrific site by the way. Lovely pictures and many of the Beer family are featured there It was great to look at all these and Norah will be excited to see the photos when I next see her. 

Jean Cox   1947-1960

July 22,2003


I have lived in Winsham since1969,and remember when Winsham used to have a Carnival. My Mum was Carnival Queen one year, but I can't remember which year. Can anyone else?

We used to have a baker Baker Bill); Peter Broom delivered the milk and papers on a Sunday. We also had a butchers run by the Holloway family. The headmaster of the school was John Payne, and the infant teacher was Diana Kershaw.

Mary Payne taught us all how to swim.

Davies Close was just a field when I was growing up-I can remember the first families moving in.

Belinda Harris (nee Symonds)

July 26,2003

From David Corbin-January,2005

I am David Corbin, grandson of George & Patience Clark, who lived at Malthouse. My Gran used to go to church most Sundays. I think the Vicar’s name was Charles. She loved the Church so much we had to go. This was in the 1950’s.We used to come to Chard Junction by steam train, and Mr Partridge used to pick us up in a taxi and take us to the village. Back then, it was just me and my two sisters, Sylvia and Shirley and Mum (Irene Corbin nee Clark)-she was borne in the village. When my Mum was younger, she worked at Chard Junction at the cream factory.
We all loved Winsham; we had a lovely walks, and we used to play down at the River Axe.
I also remember playing with other children in Farmer Dommit’s field. He had a hayrick and we had so much fun. We were throwing hay about when all of a sudden we saw the farmer coming. It was too late! He told us all to get down-he let the girls go-but gave us boys a smack on the backside. Then he asked me when I was going home. I said that I was due to go home the next day. He said “We’ll see about that”! I was so worried.

I also remember going to the Jubilee Hall to watch a film. The film broke, and all the children started to stamp their feet on the floorboards. It was so funny.
Another time, some boys and me were outside Daisy Boyts. There were cobwebs on the windows, and we dared each other to go in. The bell rang above the door, and Daisy Boyt came out. She looked very wild. I gave her my sixpence for some sweets that were at the bottom of the jar. There was nothing else for sale-we all rushed out as fast as we could!

Drawing by Paul Smith

  From Gareth Davies-July,2009

My name is Gareth Davies. I am sending this in regards the photo of EMPIRE DAY 1912.My grandmother is in this group, ADA MARCH from Back Street, d.o.b – Sherborne 1898.Married JOHN BUTLER, 15 APRIL 1922 in St Stephens.
In the photo you have, she is just been cut out on the edge, however I do have the same photo with everybody on it. My mother Mollie Davies(BUTLER) is still alive today at the age of 86.Living 5 minutes away from me  in south Wales, I have a lot of information about Winsham and its people due to the family growing up there.

The family has a lot of connections to Winsham, including the house built at LAYMORE by my auntie Joyce Hayball (Butler), who is still living at Chard. There is another Auntie living at Yeovil, Freda Woolcott (Butler); all 3 sisters got married at St Stephen's.


I remember going to AUNT GERT (Gertrude) when I was a small boy, This is my Grandmothers sister, she used to live by the park/monument. Western way I think it is called.My grandmother used to live in Bakersfield and more recently before she died in Davies Close.

Buried in St. Stephen's Cemetery:-

Betty Bone (Butler) died 1946 in D47           my mothers twin sister
John Butler died 1973 in B46                      my mothers father
Butler (March) died 1978 in B46            my mothers mother
William March died 1938 in E6                   Ada’s Father-my great grandfather
Emma March (Brown) died 1944 in E6         Ada’s Mother-my great grandmother (SEE PHOTO)
Leslie Robert Hayball died 1996 in A57       my mother's sister-Joyce's husband



I am the caretaker of the family tree.

Please feel free to contact me by EMAIL.(If anybody would like Gareth's e-mail address, please contact me-John Sullivan)

From Chris Dearle,- August 2009

My mother and father (Joan & Bill Dearle) ran a village grocery shop in Winsham between summer 1969 and spring 1971. My memories are sketchy as I was only 3 and a half years old when we relocated back to North Devon but a couple of things I do recall. One of the two winters we were there was bitterly cold, with thick snow covering the ground. My mum and dad took our old sledge out with provisions on to deliver to local houses and businesses. The sledge made heavier to pull with me sitting on it also! It was hard work for them but a wondrous adventure for me.
I also remember that my late Father would spend parts of the week loading our van with groceries to deliver around the area. I would travel with him in the front of the van, tied in with a scarf (imagine the Health & Safety implications of that now). When he had to brake suddenly his arm would shoot across in front of me to protect me. I also remember that my favourite days were when we had to deliver to Cricket St Thomas as we got to see the animals, which was very exciting for a 3 year old lad.
I am also told (rather embarrassingly) by my mother that I had a great admiration for two of the local characters at the time and there were days when I would ignore anyone who spoke to me, unless they addressed me as Ray Ashford or Mrs Doherty!!
Another memory is of a lady walking into our shop and approaching the counter, before she had chance to make her request, my 12 year old brother appeared from behind the counter and exclaimed "Try Rolos madam, soft creamy toffee in a milk chocolate cup". Luckily, she saw the funny side.

The shop was located at what is now Number 7 Church Street (it was, bizarrely, one of three Number 1's in Church Street at the time) but ceased to be a shop a couple of years after we moved on.

I returned recently for the first time in nearly 40 years. It is still a beautiful, little village,

Chris Dearle (Winsham resident 1969-71)


From Beryl Genge (Dare) who was born in Winsham in 1936,and lived there until 1946.However she has lived in the area all her life and has always had close associations with the village

I was born at Marshwood Farm on the 16th May, 1936 in the year of the three kings! I was christened at St.Stephen’s at about three months of age by the Rev. Frederick Richardson.

One of my first memories is of the outbreak of  World War II in September 1939.We were visiting  my mother’s parents who had retired to ‘The Haven’ in Holbear  in Forton Road-where we have now lived for 47 years. I was coming in from the garden, and I remember the family talking about Neville Chamberlain’s broadcast and the declaration of war. They all seemed very sad, although, of course, I was too young to understand what it really meant.

It was also in 1939 that my Uncle Tom was killed in an accident at Leigh Farm .He left a wife and two sons, Alan the eldest-now about 76-was sent to a boarding school, but his younger brother, Geofrey, about a year older than me came ,with his mother , to live with us at Marshwood Farm. Geofrey’s grandparents also came to stay with us for a while, because of the heavy bombing where they lived in Bristol. The grandparents did not stay very long- country life with living in an isolated spot did not agree with them!

My cousin Geoffrey and his mother did however stay on for a couple of years.

I started at Winsham School in April 1941, just before my fifth birthday. Living where we did at Marshwood Farm, I had never mixed with other children, and of course in those days, there were no such things as ’Pre-School’.  As a result I was very shy and took a long time to settle in. Cousin Geoffrey also went to Winsham School, and I used to walk to school with him until he stopped living with us. After that I used to walk the two miles each way on my own. Imagine that happening now! It was on one of my walks home, on a misty Friday 23rd October, at ten minutes past four when four bombs were dropped on the milk factory at Chard Junction, killing one person and injuring another.

I was very independent minded at that age. I remember that when the evacuees came, there was a teacher who had come with them. She had lodgings at Tatworth. She wanted to take me home as she walked from Tatworth to Winsham-she must have been worried about a small girl walking so far across fields on her own. But I had a different idea- I did not want to walk home with a teacher, so I ran off. As a result she got lost, and had to ask how to get to Tatworth at the farm cottage.

I started school in the Infants Class and was taught by Miss Durston  who lived in Chard, and drove an old Austin Seven car. Miss Dawes ran the Juniors.

 I then went up to the Seniors - Miss Harding’s class. She always seemed to be picking on me, so I never liked her very much. In later years, unlike my two sisters, I refused to join her Girl Guides Group.

Winsham was very different then. Everybody seemed to have lived there all their life. There were very few cars around, and a lot more shops and pubs. Church Street always seemed deserted when we turned the corner on our way to school.

We had our groceries delivered once a month by Donald Pattemore, from Appleby’s store (now Winsham Shop & P.O).We also had butter, lard & cheese from the Factory shop at South Chard. I remember riding with my father on the cart pulled by a horse taking the milk down to Wilts. United  Dairy (That was before it was Unigate).

I also remember the American soldiers throwing sweets and chewing Gum to us. I also remember the start of the hunting season in 1945.We were allowed out of school to see the Cotley Hunt meet outside the Village Shop

My father suddenly died of Meningitis when I was nine years old-a week before the end of the war. Because of this I missed the Winsham V.E. day celebrations.
My father’s grave is in the Winsham cemetery. He was only forty one years of age when he died

The farm was rented, so we had to move to Holditch to live with my mother’s brother, while she found a more permanent home, and for about a year I went to Thorncombe School, where I passed my Scholarship and went to Lyme Regis Grammar School (now Woodroffe School).When I was eleven years we moved to Pipe House near Kittwhistle.

For the next five years my main link to Winsham was going to Monday night ’pictures’ at the Jubilee Hall. We would pay a shilling to go in. I also came to Village Fetes where the Winsham Band always played.

BerylGenge Wedding Wedding
Left: Beryl with Phylis Froom (sister of Marilyn Maffy)
Above: Beryl's wedding at Broadwindsor in 1958

In 1952 the King died and I can remember coming to Winsham for the Memorial Service at St.Stephen’s. It was packed.

I left school in 1952, usually travelling to Chard by bus from Horn Ash, which also picked up a lot of people from Winsham as very few people had cars at that time. When the weather was fine I used to cycle to save bus fares. I also used to cycle to Winsham to the Monday night dances, when Percy Trott and Mr & Mrs Daniels (from Chard) used to give classes in Old Time Dancing. Like the film show they also charged one shilling admission.

As I left childhood behind my contact with Winsham became less frequent. We lived in the Broadwindsor Parish, and I was married Ronald in Broadwindsor in1958.

However from 1970 until 2006 I worked as a Home Help and was often sent to Winsham and it was good to hear all the stories about the old Winsham. I shall always have fond memories of my life in the area







Click here for Winsham Web Museum home page

Copyright © Winsham Web Museum. All rights reserved.
This page revised 07 February 2012

Click Here to return to Index