We have our advent calendars ready for this weekend and are all set to begin the count down to Christmas. This got us wondering what interesting advents Somerset has to boast about. It turns out quite a few, but here are five we enjoyed finding out about this week:
The autobiography, 1576.
Thomas Whythorne was an English composer born in Somerset. He lived between 1528 and 1595 and is thought to have penned the earliest known surviving autobiography. A book titled “booke of songs and sonetts with longe discourses sett with them”. So it may not be a catchy title, but we can still claim the Somerset first!
America’s first “bestseller”, 1682
Mary White was born in Somerset and lived there until her family moved to Salem, Massachusetts. In 1675 during King Philip’s War, Native Americans kidnapped Mary where she was ransomed and released. Some years later she wrote about her experience of thriving on the fear of Native Americans. The book became a bestseller and was reprinted four times. She is considered to be the first bestseller of American literature.
Australia’s first novel, 1831
Henry Savery was born in Somerset (and who can blame him). Through misadventure and some highly questionable moral judgments he began trading forged bills of credit. The law caught up with him and sentenced him to be hanged. However, owing to some good connections he managed to change the sentence to transportation and a day before he was due to be killed he departed for Australia. While there and during further misadventure he started to pen the crime novel, Quintus Servinton: A tale founded upon Incidents and Real Occurrence and although it received favourable reviews in its day, it is now noted for its historical value over its literary merits.
The Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference, 1869.
Edward Thring was the Headmaster of Uppingham School who wrote to a few of his colleagues and asked them to his house to discuss setting up an annual gathering of headmasters. The institution he founded is still running with around 280 schools affiliated to it. Edward was a son of Somerset, being born in Alford. He is recognised as a pioneering educator, and a quote attributed to his philosophy is “honour the work and the work will honour you”.
The three speed bike, 1901.
Before the three speed hub came along we were stuck in two speeds and forget freewheeling down the hills on one of those things! That was until Henry Sturmey of Norton sub-Hamdon got to tinkering. He and James Archer invented the Sturmey-Archer three speed hub for bicycles. He gave the sole rights to the Raleigh bicycle company and we have never looked back (mostly because it makes the bike wobble).The three speed bike, 1901.
And before you go…
…did you know that the words to the song Danny Boy were written by a barrister and lyrist born in Portishead? It is true; Fredrick Weatherly wrote the song in Bath in 1910, set to the Irish tune Londonderry Air.
If you would like to ask a question, suggest a topic or even submit your own Somerset five things, please get in touch.
So Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat. We all know about the big Christmas markets in Somerset in Bath and Frome, but we’ve dug a little deeper to find some hidden gems. Here is a selection of other markets that caught our eye in and around Somerset this festive season.
Norton Fitzwarren: Christmas Shopping for a Good (Netballing) Cause. Link
30th November from 6pm. Taunton Netball Club are hosting a Christmas Fayre at Norton Fitzwarren Village Hall. Home made gifts, arts & crafts and a brilliant raffle. All proceeds go towards Taunton Netball Club and it’s great that a local charity is taking the initiative for a Festive fundraiser.
Tintinhull: Tinsel town comes to Tintinhull. Link
9 December 12-5pm. Free entry to this family friendly festive fun at Tintinhull Village Hall. Roast hog, mulled wine, and Santa’s Grotto.
Cheddar: Festive shopping for one night only!
7 December from 6pm. Held annually on the first Friday before Christmas, Cheddar opens up it town for festive cheer. No tickets required. Full details to be announced so give it a Google or Facebook search before heading over.
Allerford and Selworthy: Christmas gets crafty. Link
1 & 2 December 10-4pm & 10-2pm. Festive craft fair at Allerford and Selworthy Hall, where you can buy one off gifts from local traders.
Minehead: Choo, Choo, Choose the perfect gifts! Link
1 December 11-5pm. The West Somerset Railway is holding a Christmas Market to remember. Stalls will adorn the platform and you can even get the steam train there! Tickets are £10 per adult.
If you fancy some of the big events, check out Visit Somerset’s site Link.
Hello all, thank you for visiting. We are working on a few more fun fact packed Somerset blogs in coming weeks. However, this week we wanted just to share some things happening around the county as we finish up the Carnival Season and head towards the festive celebrations:
Not been to a carnival yet this year? Head to Glastonbury this weekend for the last in the region. Main procession starts at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday 17th November.
History of West Country Dialect, Radstock. More information here
If you liked our post from last week, you will love this talk hosted by Radstock Museum. It takes a look at the history of our dialect, local words and customs. It is on at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday 20th November at the Radstock Working Mans Club. Admission is £3.00, under 18 year olds free.
Missing the firework displays of a couple of weeks ago? Don’t fear, Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier has you covered on Saturday 17th November at 5:30 p.m. with a firework spectacular.
Following the moving Remembrance Day tributes last weekend, you can still pay your respects. The Bishops Palace is hosting a public installation of 8,000 poppies made by school children in and around Wells. Each poppy represents a serviceman from Somerset or who served in a Somerset regiment and lost their life in World War One. It is being displayed until 25 November.
Looking ahead to Christmas, lots of town centre lights are about to be switched on. Here is a nice early one for you to get you in the mood. Saturday 17th November, 5.30pm Yeovil town centre.
This week we thought we would take a break from sharing events after all the excitement of fireworks and horror movies to find and share some of our faviourate examples of Somerset dialect in culture.
King Lear by William Shakespere
In the tragic play written in 1605 Shakespere writes one of the personas of Edgar in a Somerset dialect. “Chill not let go, zir, without vurther ‘cagion.”
The Guest, a Drama of the Monmouth’s Rebellion in the Dialect of Somerset by J.A. Garton.
A play written in 1932 that is entirely in Somerset Dialect. “Pretty fair, zur, thank ‘ee, mussen grumble’s no.”
Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore.
A romance of Exmoor, this classic novel written in 1869 and set in the late 17th century is an epic tale of feuding families and dramatic landscapes. “Hot mootton pasty for twoo trav’lers, at number vaive, in vaive minnits!”
Adge Cutler and the Wurzels
The Somerset hit makers took Top of the Pops by storm with the songs full of Somerset dialect. “Don’t Tell I, Tell Ee”.
The Sorcerer, Gilbert and Sullivan
The comic-opera kings Gilbert and Sullivan set their third collaboration in a fictional Somerset village called Ploverleigh. “Eh, but oi du loike you!”