Friends of The Museum of Somerset (FOTMOS) 

UPDATED 2 October, 2020

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FOTMOS has resumed its talks programme using Zoom online video-conferencing software.


September 15 – Jane de Gruchy: ‘Archives and the Weather’ – 19:00 for 19:30

October 20 – Brian Freeland: ‘Richelieu; the Cardinal and his ‘City’ – 19:00 for 19:30

November 17 – Steve Miles: ‘Untold Riches; the West Somerset Oil Shale Affair’ – 19:00 for 19:30

December 15 – Tony Davis: ‘How did the Kings find Bethlehem; the History of Navigation’ – 19:00 for 19:30

January 19, 2021 – Dr. Tess Machling and Roland Williamson: ‘The Clevedon Torc in the Light of New Research’ – 19:00 for 19:30

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Non-members are welcome to join in – please email for details

or write to: FOTMOS, Park Field Cottage, Chipley, Langford Budville, Wellington, Somerset TA21 0QU


Click on the Facebook icon above to visit the FotMoS Facebook page

The Friends of The Museum of Somerset

is a registered charity that brings together people who are passionate about Somerset’s past and future. If you love museums and care about Somerset’s rich heritage we want you to join us.

The Friends meet regularly throughout the year to enjoy illustrated talks, outings and social events as well as working on specific projects. Members receive a regular newsletter.

The Friends supported the redevelopment of the Museum, which opened in 2011 following a £6.93m redevelopment.

Our aims are to:

• further the education of the public by promotion, support, assistance and improvement of the Museum through the activities of a group of Friends
• encourage, promote and assist the formation and development of a group of Friends of the Museum
• further the charitable purposes of the Museum and encourage the development of the facilities which it affords
• engage in, support and co-ordinate research, publishing, education, advertising and other charitable work
• make the individual skills of its members available to the Museum and assist the staff with voluntary help

The Friends help the Museum in a number of ways, including helping with their collections, supporting and co-ordinating research, raising funds for special projects and improving access to the collections. 


Jane de Gruchy

September 15th

The Friends of the Museum of Somerset talks programme resumed with an extremely interesting presentation by archivist Jane de Gruchy presented through video conferencing. Fittingly for such an unusually warm September, her talk was on “Archives and the Weather” and drew on archival evidence of past weather events in Somerset. Sources ranged from individuals’ letters and diaries, through churchwardens’ registers, parish records and school logbooks to court records and coroners’ rolls.

John Locke, the philosopher, kept temperature records in Somerset in 1666, and mean monthly temperatures have been recorded continuously since 1659. The early records were not always reliable as people were reluctant to venture outside in the coldest or wettest weather to look at thermometers, and these were often brought inside for convenience!

The Great Storm of 1703 is well documented in Somerset sources. Hundreds of people drowned in flooding on the Levels, along with thousands of sheep and cattle. At Wells, Bishop Richard Kidder and his wife were killed when two chimneystacks in the palace fell on them while they lay asleep. A canon was killed by falling masonry at the cathedral and is remembered in the name ‘kill-canon corner’. The archives record how the price of reed rose after so many thatched roofs were destroyed. One eyewitness account of the strength of the storm came from a man in Mere who ventured outside and had to lie flat and hold onto the ground to stop himself being lifted into the air!

Other records tell of snow on Exmoor, flooding on the Levels, and the surprisingly high number of lightning strikes on church towers. In Chew Magna in 1891 the largest bell in the tower was flung to the ground by a lightning strike.

This first venture into online meetings augers well for the monthly talks programme which FOTMOS has already organized into 2021. The next is on Tuesday October 20th at 19:30 when Brian Freeland will be talking on ‘Richelieu; the Cardinal and his ‘City’.