Redlynch & District Local History Society

Princes Hill c.1900

The Society was founded in 1996 by Pat Millington to promote interest in local history in Redlynch and its surrounding villages.  It has monthly meetings with speakers on a wide variety of topics. These meetings are held 7.30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at Morgan’s Vale and Woodfalls village hall.  New members and visitors are always welcome. Subscriptions are £9 for yearly membership and £3 for guests per meeting.  The Society also arranges a local visit for its June meeting.  In addition the Society undertakes a variety of local projects. The most recent involved recording the gravestones in St Mary’s churchyard (see below).   Also the Society holds an Annual Exhibition when its resources are put on display and made available to anyone interested in our local history.  In 2019 the theme for our Annual Exhibition was ‘Our Village School and its Place in the Community’ which celebrated the 150th anniversary of Morgans Vale and Woodfalls Village School.

Please visit The News Forest Remembers website. The Society has been closely involved and produced one of the panels which depicts Redlynch during World War I and some of the men who served or died. Finally the Society actively supports other local organisations, such as its two churches and two halls, by mounting exhibitions and displays.  Click the image on the left to view the Society’s Redlynch Trail. For more information about the Society visit its own website:

A Short History of Tudor House and Gardens
Andy Skinner, from Southampton City Council Cultural Services department, gave us our first talk of the New Year – a whistlestop tour of the Tudor House Museum in Southampton. The talk began with a John Speed map of 1611 showing the old city contained within the medieval walls, and indicating the prominence of Tudor House which is one of the most important historic buildings remaining in Southampton. Henry VIII’s antiquarian, John Leyland, called it a “fine building”. There are 3 floors; the cellars, the ground floor leading to the gardens and grounds and the upper floor including a Banqueting Hall and attic. The oldest part of the Grade 1 listed complex is the ruin of King John’s Palace which is accessed from the grounds of the museum. A misnomer, this, as there is no evidence that King John ever lived, or even stayed here. When the Palace was built, in the 1180s, it was on the shore line. MORE
Bob Inns, Secretary

Christmas Crackers
Christmas Crackers were thought to have been invented in 1847 by Tom Smith, who ran his own confectionery business in Clerkenwell, East London. Whilst on holiday in Paris in 1840, Tom was fascinated by French ‘bonbons’ which were sugar almonds wrapped in a twist of paper. He manufactured his own product, adding a love motto in the wrapper. Later he was inspired by crackling firewood, to develop a safe effective snap and encased it along with a motto, and a small gift in a cardboard tube wrapped in paper. His products were called Cosaques (after the Cossack soldier’s whips) but were popularly known as ‘Bangs of Expectation’ and eventually as Crackers. They were very plain and small, but were an instant success. The early Victorian mottoes were mainly love verses and were later replaced by jokes and riddles. The paper hat came later. After Tom’s death in 1869, his three sons ran the business. The Tom Smith Company moved to larger premises in Finsbury Square where it remained until 1953. It was granted its first Royal Warrant in 1906, when exclusive crackers were produced for the Royal Family. New ranges were regularly introduced. Prices ranged from 1s.8d per gross for basic crackers to £2.10d per gross for elaborately decorated and fringed crackers containing fine gifts such as jewellery, perfume and toys.

Before the Second World War, all crackers were hand made and during the War, designs had to be simplified due to a shortage of paper. The Company merged with various other companies and is now part of a UK Design Group. The name lives on and you may well have had Tom Smith crackers on your table this Christmas.
A drinking fountain in Finsbury Square (pictured right), erected by Walter Smith, commemorates the life of the man who invented the British Christmas Cracker.

Penruddock’s Rebellion in 1655
On the 6th October we had our first on line presentation since the start of the Covid 19 restrictions on meetings. This talk by Ruth Butler of the Wiltshire History Centre at Chippenham took a not inconsiderable effort to set up in these new circumstances. Ruth told us about Penruddock’s Rebellion in 1655, part of a national unrest by the Royalist Sealed Knot, however only the Penruddock revolt actually developed as intended. At the time Oliver Cromwell was ruling the country following the end of the Civil Wars in 1651. Col. John Penruddock (right) was a large land owner at Compton Chamberlayne. On the 11 March about 200 royalist men marched upon the Market Place in the largely Puritan Salisbury in the late evening. Their target was a number of top judges and other high officials staying in Salisbury for trials. They comprised 60 horsemen from Clarendon, 40 men from Mompesson, and 100 from Blandford. They comprised small land holders, servants, tradesmen and gentry; amongst their numbers were John Thorpe the jailer and Edmund Mack, the apothecary. MORE

Martin B26 Marauder

RAF Stoney Cross. Part 2 – USAAF Station 452
The US Army Air Force (USAAF) in the shape of the 367th Fighter Group (FG), comprising the 392, 393, 394th Fighter squadrons arrived on 1st April 1944. If ever there was a demonstration on the speed and must do attitude at this time the equipment of this Group on arrival with 75 twin engine P-38 Lightnings was it. The pilots had all trained on single engine aircraft in the States and were expected to start operational missions PRIOR to D Day in early June; needless to say, there were fatal crashes, often caused by engine failure on take-off or landing. A very experienced P-38 pilot was sent to demonstrate correct flying techniques, especially on single engine flying, and the accidents dropped. MORE

The  Committee  has  decided, for  various  practical   reasons, owing  to  the  ongoing  coronavirus situation, that sadly, it is still not possible to hold our normal monthly meetings. We will continue the review the position, but in the meantime we are endeavouring to arrange some online talks for our members. Our Exhibition planned for October, has also had to be postponed. The focus this year was to be on life in the Parish of Redlynch during World War II and in particular the 75th Anniversaries of V.E. Day and V.J. Day. Some of our members have been busy doing research and collecting resources in readiness for this event. Hopefully we can share this with you in the future.  We thought you might be interested in this article which has been researched and written by Malcolm Birch.
Carolyn Birch, Chair

Armstrong Albemarle

All current members should have their membership extended until October 2021, as we will have missed several meetings this year. Membership will be automatically renewed in 2020 and there will be no subscription to pay. Fortunately, we have a healthy bank balance and are able to cover expenses during the coming year. Looking forward, from September, we intend to issue a monthly Newsletter, in which we can detail any changes and also include articles and links to other local societies and videos that we feel may be of interest.
Click here for Part 1 of the history of RAF Stoney Cross airfield.
Bob Inns, Secretary


The Society’s Graveyard Records project has been completed and will be updated as and when necessary. The records can be seen by making an appointment with the Chair, Carolyn Birch (Tel. 01725 511583), to meet at Morgan’s Vale & Woodfalls Village Hall. 


Carolyn Birch (Chair), Jenny Bowman (Vice-Ch), Annette Jack (Vice-Ch), Peter Roberts (Vice-Ch), Bob Inns (Secretary), Kate Crouch (Treasurer), Georgina Babey, Jenny Bowman, Simon Lewis, Michael Peace, Maureen Staley, Steve Western.