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                   Thorncombe Village Trust - caring for Thorncombe's  environment

 Thorncombe Village Trust

Photo Album

PHOTO ALBUM  see a slide show of old photos of Thorncombe and its residents


Harry Banks (1869-1946)

A friend of Lucien Pissarro who lived at Hewood, fellow artist/printmaker Harry Banks lived at Synderford House for over 40 years during the inter-war period. His work included the design for Edward VII’s coronation invitation.

By June Ede

Lucien Pissarro (1863-1944)

Recollections of Lucien, son of French impressionist  Camille Pissarro, who spent the wartime years in Hewood,  where he died in 1944.

by Heather Roughton , Diana Bradley and Donald Hutchings


Hedge dating Blind Lane

How to date a historic footpath using Hooper’s Rule.

by Eve Higgs

Once Upon a Thorncombe Road

Ponderings on whether the track between Sadborow Pound and Yew Tree Farm was a drover’s road.

By Eve Higgs

Thorncombe’s Lost Roads & Hidden Holways

Many of Thorncombe parish's footpaths are survivals of an earlier road network consisting of  prehistoric ridgeways, forgotten medieval holloways and lost roads.


By Eve Higgs


Brief History of Thorncombe

From the 12th century to the present day.

by Eve Higgs

First World War Thorncombe Men

Compiled by Heather Roughton, November 2018, to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.

Heather has compiled a moving account of the 21 young men from the Thorncombe are who gave up their lives in the First World War.

Thorncombe Changing Boundaries

In 1844 the parish of Thorncombe was transferred from Devon to Dorset but retained some of its links with Devon for administrative purposes until 1896 when it became part of Beaminster Rural District. Further changes to Thorncombe’s Somerset  boundary took place in 1966. This introduction draws from Jim Hart’s detailed account of the legislation which drove these complex changes. His booklet Thorncombe – a tale of Three Counties is available as a download via this article.

by Jim Hart

When Exeter was Down Thorncombe was a Town Revisited

Thorncombe's population statistics from 1674 to 1881 examined.

By Eve Higgs


Parish Poorhouses and Workhouse

The history of the parish poorhouses and Workhouse, and how the hamlet of School house got its name

By Eve Higgs

For Want of a Loaf

The story of Thorncombe agricultural Labourer James Hockey’s suicide following the loss of his poor relief . Drawn from correspondence  between the Poor Law Commission and the Guardians of Axminster Workhouse catalogued by local volunteers.

by  Eve Higgs

Life in Thorncombe’s  Workhouse

As well bread and cheese washed down with beer,  according  to its parish workhouse accounts, Thorncombe’s  18th century paupers, appear to have enjoyed a surprisingly varied diet which included veal, beef, lamb, pork and bacon, and a regular supply of  tobacco.

by Dr Arnold Shipp on behalf of Beaminster Museum


Chard Street Bakery & Forge

Memories of Thorncombe’s  last bakery and  the forge next door.

by Richard Holt

Holway Cottage

Bought for £300 in 1935, how  Holway Cottage  became a much loved rural retreat.

by Raymond Firth

Forde Abbey

Founded in 1141 by the Cistercians, Thorncombe parish grew and prospered under their care until the Abbey’s dissolution by Henry VIII in 1563. It was transformed from a ruin to Italian palazzo during the English civil war, and is now owned by the Roper family. Its gardens and house are open to the public throughout the year.

by June Ede

Gough’s Barton

Dating back to the 17th century, Gough’s Barton, one of Thorncombe’s oldest houses was sensitively restored during the 1970s.

by Peter Moreland

Holditch Court

Who owned and in some cases lived at Holditch Manor between the 11th century and 1714.

by June Ede

The Story of Upperfold House, Saddle Street

Behind the facade of a grand Georgian residence.

by Caryl Bicknell

Sadborow Hall

For nearly 400 years, the Sadborow estate was owned by the Bragge family. Designed by John Johnson, the Hall was rebuilt in 1773. A former servant recalls glamorous dinners and dancing in the new year before death duties resulted in the estate being broken up

by June Ede

Wayside, Fore Street

Wayside’s residents since 1795.

by John Dalziel

Thomas Place and The Terrace

An account of the Ousley family and their long association with Pinneys and the Terrace

By Eve Higgs


The story of Pinney’s Close in the centre of Thorncombe, dating back to the 17th century

By Eve Higgs

 1 & 2 Church View, Chard Street…Thorncombe’s ‘Great House’.

 Reading the architectural clues behind the front doors of 1 & 2 Church View,  Chard Street - Thorncombe's former parish workhouse

By Eve Higgs


Dodgy Local Ice Cream

Thorncombe’s  1937 food poisoning outbreak

by Eve Higgs

Gribb Arsenic Poisoning

In 1847 a  Thorncombe  grandfather ended up in court,  accused of  spiking his  daughter’s family’s  breakfast broth, was sentenced to hang, then reprieved.

By Eve Higgs


Thorncombe’s Industrial Relics

The 19th century story behind the ruined woollen  mills  in the Synderford Valley.

by Eve Higgs

Westford Mill

Thorncombe parish’s last  working mill.

by Peter Moreland

Thorncombe’s Flax & Hemp Industries

By Eve Higgs


Broomstick Weddings

Thorncombe’s cut-price wedding venue

by Eve Higgs

Golden Lion

Thorncombe’s last pub

by David Higgins

The Royal Oak, Fore Street

Dating back to the 15th century, Royal Oak was one of three village pubs during the early 20th century. But it wasn’t always an ale house.

by Pippa & Roger Montague



St Mary’s Church

Dedicated in 1239, the old church was pulled down in 1865 and a new church built in 1866. Some relics from the old church were incorporated into the new structure including 17th century pew ends, oak communion table and the Brooke memorials which are said to be amongst the finest medieval brasses in England.

By June Ede

Thorncombe’s West  Gallery  Choir

Thomas Hardy's Mellstock had its 'quire' so did Thorncombe! During late 18th and early 19th century 'divine service', anthems and psalms were sung by a parish choir probably drawn from local tradesman. It was accompanied by a cello and sat in a specially built gallery in the old church,  under the tower facing the altar. Georgian psalmody or 'west gallery music'  as it is now popularly known predates congregational hymn singing in the Church of England.

By Eve Higgs

Thorncombe’s Chapels

During the 19th century there were three non-conformist chapels here; Ebenezer where the Baptists worshiped, the Congregationalist chapel at Venn and Gospel Hall in the centre of the village which is still used by the Plymouth Brethren.

By June Ede

Thorncombe’s Commonwealth Vicars

During the civil war Thorncombe’s parish priests Robert Gomersall and John Bragge  were found guilty of delinquency for ‘ayding and assisting the Enemy agt. Parliament’, and paid the price.

By Eve Higgs

Thorncombe’s Quakers

The location of Thorncombe’s Friends Meeting House and burial ground.

by Eve Higgs

Who was William Bragge?

One man’s journey from a Somerset blacksmith’s forge to the outer ranks of Thorncombe’s gentry.

By Eve Higgs



An account of some of this idyllic hamlet’s former residents.

by June Ede

Memories of a Thorncombe Evacuee

Louise Silver vividly recalls her time in Thorncombe, as an evacuee between 1942 and 1943, during World War II.

by Rachael Whitbread

Starting out in 1960s Thorncombe

Early married life in Stonelake Bungalow

by Carolyn Frampton

School days in Holditch

Memories of wartime schooldays in Holditch

by Donald Hutchings

Thorncombe between the wars

Memories of village life in the 1920’s & ‘30’s

By Amy Sweet (nee Hellier)

Village Life in the 1980s

Reflections on how life has changed in Thorncombe  in recent decades.

by June Ede

Wartime memories

What life was really like in Thorncombe and Hewood during the war

by  Donald Hutchings

Wilfrid Potter (1923-2008)

A neighbour’s recollections.

by Eve Higgs


Holditch Memories

Photos and recollections from the early days of Holditch School

by Marilyn and Simon Rose

St Mary’s School

A potted history of education in Thorncombe; former pupils recall their school days before and during the second war, the day the school burnt down and how it was rebuilt.

by June Ede

St Mary’s School photos

Recently contributed photos of schoolchildren from 1890’s and 1920’s


Thorncombe’s Forgotten 1644 Epidemic

A hidden story from the parish burial registers revealed.

by Eve Higgs

Thorncombe’s Jacobites

 Francis Gwyn of Forde Abbey  - secret supporter of the ‘Old Pretender’?

by Eve Higgs

Unless stated photographs are the copyright property of the author, and should not be reproduced without his or her permission.