Horses

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The day after war was declared against Germany, government inspectors travelled round Somerset to commandeer horses for use by the army. It has been estimated that the number of horses that served in the First World War was around six million, with a large percentage of them dying due to war-related causes. In 1914, estimates put Britain's horse population at between 20,000 and 25,000. This is Albert Champion, killed in action in 1917, but we don't know whether the horse was called up.

This is Frank Wyatt, outside his smithy in Griggs Hill, opposite the Baptist Chapel. Frank had a tragic end at the age of 51, when he fell face downwards into a disused withy pit in Curload, wearing a Home Guard greatcoat. He was on his way home from the Railway Hotel (Pigeons) and was found the next morning by Cecil Champion. Unmarried, he had lived in Curload with his brother, Clifford, who had gone to work at 7.15 am, but told the coroner that it was not unusual for Frank not to come home at night.

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Jo (Joseph) Patten, at Wilments Farm, with his stallion and the farm horse, Gipsy. Jo was a farmer, horse breeder and carrier, and the founder of our village family (his great great grandson is - 2022 - at the village primary school). Jo was also a cider maker and the local constable would call in most evenings for a glass or three of cider. The PC had some warning system for when the sergeant came out from North Curry to check on him, so that he could get back 'patrolling the streets'.

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Jo's daughter Floss remembered peeping over the hedge with her sister May when a mare was brought to the farm for servicing. Here are the sisters on presumably another of their father's horses. May married Herb Cox, who was landlord of the Rose & Crown after World War 2.

Sam (Andy) and Selina House at Culvercroft. Their father, Fred, was probably the last farmer to use horses for hauling hay up from Sedgemoor.

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And, finally, one of those photos that seem to sum up the tranquillity of English village life before the mechanical and digital explosions that changed so much. Here is the Pearce family, in Windmill Lane outside their home, Willowdene. In the background is Plas Newydd, which burnt down in 1980?