Combe St. Nicholas Parochial Trust (Registered Charity No 1072852)
What is it?
The field, woodland areas and pond at the junction of Underway and Combe Hill, known as Underway Meade, has belonged since 1998 to the Combe St Nicholas Parochial Trust. This charitable organisation is required to retain it as a parish amenity promoting the conservation of wildlife and the environment, encouraging enjoyment, recreation and educational activities for the local community. The trustees have worked hard to achieve these aims and to maintain the Meade for the benefit of local people.
Where is it?
Who can use it?
Everyone is welcome to visit Underway Meade. Please tread carefully as we haven’t yet created many paths, and the woodland and fields are very uneven, while the pond is deep! Dogs are welcome but please clean up after them. There is a dog waste bin just outside the wide five bar gate near the pond, and an ordinary rubbish bin in the fenced area.
Who are the trustees?
The current trustees are:
Lynn Osborne (Chairman)
Chris Palmer (Treasurer)
Sue Pargeter (Secretary)
You can contact the trustees via:
Telephone: 0780 392 8717
What is the field’s history?
Evidence has been found of prehistoric activity in the field and it is thought that the mound could have been used as an animal enclosure in the bronze age or possibly a mini hill fort, though this possibility has yet to be investigated. There is evidence of a small flint quarry and an iron age foundry on the site. In 2000, a visiting expert made several discoveries, including two stone age knives, a medieval horseshoe, fragments of a 17th/18th century porringer, and evidence of considerable iron casting based on large deposits of moulding sand on the upper side of the leat. The leat served Wadeford Corn Mill further downstream where it joins the river Isle.
The Golden Hart Inn was situated where the pond is now. This thatched building burnt down in September 1881, when the horse-drawn Chard Fire Brigade engine was unable to reach the fire in time. The Chard and Ilminster News reported: “The cart house burnt down and the dwelling house in flames when a man called at the inn. Nearly all the furniture, two carts, and the whole of the beer and spirits destroyed. The Chard fire engine arrived some time after the discovery of the fire, but it was found impossible to save the house, the roof being of thatch, and it was totally destroyed”.
Between the first and second world wars, the Symes family had a builders’ workshop by the pedestrian entrance, where there is now a plaque which reads “Dedicated to the memory of Frank, Jack and Charlie Symes who gave their lives in the service of their country” (all were killed within 3 months of each other during the second world war). The picture shows John Symes unveiling the plaque at the official opening of the Meade on 3rd June 2002, timed to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Some beech trees on the mound were planted by school children from mast which they raised from trees on the Lawns and in Whitehall Farm.
What is happening now?
Advice on the condition and possible future development of the Meade has been provided by the local Private and Community Nature Reserve Area Contacts, and the Meade was selected as one of 15 different projects being supported by the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures Project. Funding from Wessex Water has enabled bird and bat boxes to be installed, and money from Somerset County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Fund, plus donations from Combe Parish Council, Combe and Wadeford Gala Committee, Local Ladies and various individuals has enabled a new footpath to be laid along the road edge and new access points to be created. Paths have been created in the woodland with the help of the Neroche volunteers. Ongoing work includes hedgelaying, grass cutting, path maintenance, and tree and flower planting. Various events have been held, including a bug hotel building session, wildflower planting by local schoolchildren, and a “Big Lunch” community picnic. A new bench has been installed in memory of Gerry Sayers, one of the earliest trustees, and daffodils have been planted around it. A Friends scheme has been set up, with an annual membership fee of £10.
What plans are there for the future of the Meade?
A consultation exercise was carried out in 2016 to determine what further improvements to the Meade would be welcomed by the local community. The full results of the survey can be viewed . The top four requests were for a log structure for children to play on, an archaeological survey, trees for shade in the picnic area, and a shelter. Bids have been made to Wessex Water to fund fruit trees for the picnic area and an electric fence to enable sheep to graze the mound for a period, and to Tesco Bags of Help for a log climbing structure. The South Somerset Archaeological Group has agreed to carry out an archaeological survey, but this may be delayed unless funding can be obtained. It may be possible to create a shelter at low cost with the help of the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures Project and local craftsmen. More events will be held in the Meade to encourage its use. These will be advertised in the Cloverleaf magazine, via posters in the village, on the events page of this website and on the Combe St Nicholas Noticeboard Facebook page.
A disabled access survey has also been carried out, and work is in hand to implement its recommendations.
How can you get involved?
Becoming a Friend of the Meade helps maintain and develop this lovely community asset for current and future generations to enjoy enjoy. We are very grateful to those trustees and volunteers who provide their labour free of charge, but unavoidable regular costs alone amount to about £750 a year, including Public Liability insurance, roadside hedge trimming, petrol and tool maintenance, and there are often one-off costs such as materials or the hire of a chipper. Small regular annual donations really help!