SANHS Local History Committee

Taunton Castle painting by Thomas Whitcombe
Taunton Castle, painted by Thomas Whitcombe, 1791 (view at the Museum of Somerset)

WHAT’S ON 2022

We are planning several real-world events in 2022 see below for details of Roman Somerset and Medieval Exeter!

If you missed our Zoom talks some are available as recordings just click on the title that interests you


We hope to have a recording of Tom Mayberry’s webinar A Fair Domain: The Bishops of Winchester and Taunton on this site soon.

If you would like to hear David Victor live then head for Wiveliscombe on 19 May

Wiveliscombe Civic and Historical Society

Thursday 19th May

David Victor of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, will speak about Alexander Baring,

Baron Ashburton and his extensive estates in Wiveliscombe and the area

Wiveliscombe Community Centre 7.30pm   £3 entry Society members free

Live events that you may have missed!

12 March 2022: Colin Spackman introduced us to the amazing Easton family of Bradford on Tone, surveyors, land agents, engineers and farmers.

We had a very enjoyable visit to Watchet Radio Museum on Sat 23 April 2022.

Future events

Don’t miss our great Saturday event on Roman Somerset! A lot of excavation and discovery has been done in the last few years which have greatly changed our knowledge of Somerset during the Roman period.

Roman Somerset symposium

Saturday 21 May 2022

Roman Somerset

Saturday 21 May 2022 at St Andrew’s Church Hall, Taunton 10 for 10.30 am

A number of speakers will present the latest discoveries and developments as excavations and found objects change and challenge our picture of Somerset in the Roman period.

Richard Brunning:      Reconstructing a Roman villa dining-room

Damian de Rosa from Wessex Archaeology and Richard Greatorex from Cotswold Archaeology:  A Late Iron Age and Romano-British Settlement and Cemetery in Somerton  

Bob McIntosh and Charlotte Bishop from Oxford Archaeology:  Roman roadside settlement near Banwell

Nicola Hembrey from Historic England and David Roberts from Cardiff University:    Low Ham Roman villa; Enriching the story

Tickets including tea and coffee £15

Booking by 20 May 2022

Tickets can be reserved to pay on the door with [email protected] or tel. 01823.272429 [voicemail]

Medieval Exeter walk on Saturday 18 June 2022.

Des Atkinson will lead a guided walk probably for no more than 16.


SATURDAY  18 June 2022                  2pm

Des Atkinson will lead a walk around the highlights of medieval Exeter


Suggested donation £5

Booking by 16 June 2022 with [email protected] or tel. 01823.272429 [voicemail]

Meet at the Underground Passage entrance, Paris street, Exeter. Numbers limited for safety

Summer Visits and Autumn Talks

We are currently planning events for the rest of the year including talks on Taunton’s hospitals and the manors of Preston Bowyer.

For 2023 we hope to mark the 1623 heralds’ visitation of Somerset and the life of Aubrey Herbert (d. 1923) and have a summer outing. If you have any ideas and suggestions, perhaps you can offer a tour or visit to somewhere of interest perhaps in your own community then please let us know at [email protected]

Our Committee

The local history committee is one of the society’s newer committees, designed to showcase events illustrating the history of Somerset and its unique localities.

We are a small group committed to providing a wide range of talks, walks and other events throughout the year for Society members and the wider community.

We aim to brighten dull evenings especially in the darker months with talks on a wide variety of topics followed by tea and cake, Covid permitting, and the chance to talk to the speaker. In the warmer months we also like to get out on walks and visits to historic corners of Somerset and sometimes further afield. Our annual symposia bring together a wide range of people and specialist speakers in a relaxed way to enjoy a day of presentations, exhibitions and food where possible.

Our events

Recent events have included a symposium on the work of Harold St George Gray, looking at the work of one of the leading 19th-century Somerset archaeologists, and another on sickness and health in Somerset. We have enjoyed  guided visits to Dunster, Minehead, the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, the SS Great Britain and medieval Exeter. We have looked at places, people, events and objects, known and relatively unknown, the good, the bad and the downright ugly! Reports on events will appear in the SANHS newsletters.

The committee is always open to new members. If you have an interest in local history and would like to see more events in your area let us know or contact the SANHS office. Also let us know if you have been engaged in some interesting research that you would like to talk about. Perhaps you live in a place of interest you would like to share with other enthusiasts. We are always happy to hear from you.


We are arranging a 2022 programme full of talks and live events. Keep an eye on this page for news. We plan a talk in Castle House in Taunton in March, a new museum in Watchet in April and a walk round historic Exeter in June. On 21 May we have a joint event with the archaeological committee on “Roman Somerset“.

Our 2019 symposium on “Victorian Architects and Architecture” attracted a wide range of people to hear distinguished speakers like Julian Orbach, Jerry Sampson and John Crockford-Hawley. We also visited the beautiful St. Andrew’s Church, Taunton. We hope that “Roman Somerset” will also appeal to a wide audience.


Few people today have the leisure for the days of outings enjoyed by the original members of SANHS! The Somerset Archaeological and Natural History was born in Taunton on 26 Sep 1849 with Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan of Nettlecombe in the chair. There was from the start a strong social side to the society, formed as it was then of the aristocracy, clergy and gentry and their wives as well as professional men.

In July 1850 nearly a hundred people met at Nunney to visit the castle before proceeding to the Roman villa at Whatley. There they partook of a cold collation before proceeding to Orchardleigh. Frome members had opened their houses and loaned their carriages to visiting members. ‘So that no visitor incurred any expense in the two days beyond that of going thither and returning’.

In September the AGM was held at Wells with talks on the Cathedral as well as the usual reports by the treasurer and others. A further three papers on various subjects were not given as there was insufficient time the members having been invited to tour the cathedral before dinner. Dinner for 120 was provided at the Judges chambers but up to 60 more had to be turned away. This was still a male dominated society but we are told that many ladies graced the table. Ladies were allowed to join without being approved by ballot as the men had to be. More papers occupied the evening and the following day the bishop’s palace and gardens were visited. Then the members proceeded to Glastonbury abbey and eventually returned home after two days of much gratification and enjoyment!