Martock Friendly Society

A brief history of The Martock Men’s Walking Club

Whit Monday used to be a great day in the life of Martock people. It was Club Day when the Men’s Walking Club paraded in the Parish. The members, armed with their brass-headed club poles bedecked with blue and white ribbons tied in bows, and the stewards wearing blue sashes, assembled at the railway station at 10am.

The parade was led by the banner bearer followed by a uniformed band of about thirty men and calls were made at the large houses and farms where donations to the club funds were collected whilst the band played and members were refreshed with cider, often brought out in buckets. Eventually they all adjourned to the George Inn in the early afternoon for a three-course dinner when upwards of 180 people sat down to the feast, a typical menu consisting of:

Meats: Boiled leg of mutton with caper sauce; Salt beef; Roast mutton; Roast top & under-butt of beef (allowing ½ lb per person) Vegetables: Roast & boiled potatoes; Spring cabbage & parsnip Pudding: Apple pie; Gooseberry pie; Plum pudding Cheese, biscuits and bread rolls. Cider, beer and wine.

After the speeches and with everyone amply satisfied, the parade re-assembled and continued its way around the parish, ending up at Coat. Meanwhile the Church bells were rung all day; stalls were erected in Church Street from which gingerbread (also known as Brandy snaps), honey cakes, sugared almonds, comfits and ‘Dumps’ (a form of large mint humbugs) were sold. There were brown, white and striped dumps. Other stalls had novelty toys and were displayed under the Market House.

Swings and roundabouts were erected for the children in front of the Manor House and there were coconut shies outside the George Inn where hungry youngsters could also buy baked potatoes outside the kitchens. The Church tower was opened for visitors and the Sexton sat at the bottom to collect the pennies charged for entrance. The day of excitement and festivities concluded with a dance at the George Inn.

The Women’s club, dressed in their white dresses and blue sashes, held their celebration on the following day, which began with a church service, followed later by a tea which was provided at the George. The Bower Hinton branch of the club wore pink sashes and were known as the “pink and whites”.

Aims of the Club

The club was a benefit society, members being able to claim benefit in case of sickness or inability to work. In the event of a funeral each member contributed a shilling[1] (1/-) towards the funeral expenses and to help the bereaved. The club “broke” every seven years and surplus funds were distributed between the members.


It seems likely that the Martock Club was a branch of The Yeovil, Ilchester, Martock and South Petherton Provident and Friendly Society. The rules and constitution were drawn up in the office of Mr. Joseph Pool of Coat, Martock, and printed by M.A.Palmer of Water Street, in 1883 and can be seen in the library of the Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society in Taunton, some of which are summarised as follows:

The original committee[2] comprised: Jabez Bradford E. Arthur Salmon[3] J.J.Hooper H.E.Harbin W.P.Peters M. Locke Blake James Staples Joseph Pool, Secretary

The Management Committee subsequently consisted of trustees, treasurer, six stewards and three honorary members. Stewards were charged with visiting sick or infirm members once a week

Membership was divided into three categories: 1.Honorary Members paying 10 shillings a year; 2.Depositing Members using the club as a savings bank; 3.Benefit Members.

A system of fines was imposed: 1.1 penny for not making the monthly payment; 2.3 pence for any steward neglecting his duty. 3.6 pence for any member failing to attend the A.G.M. 4.2 shillings and 6 pence (2/6d) for any member refusing to act as a Steward once elected.

Assets were to be valued every five years.
Any member found guilty of grossly immoral conduct to be expelled from the Club.
Meetings were held in the Town Hall (now known as The Market House) on the first Monday of each month, from 7.30 to 8.30 pm when members paid their monthly subscription and deposits. Any disputes were to be settled by three arbitrators.

Medical Attendance

Medical attendance was by ticket as follows: Red ticket for attendance at home; 3d paid by member. Blue ticket for attendance at surgery: 2d paid by member. White ticket for extra supply of medicine; 1d paid by member. In addition the member was to pay 6d a mile on a red ticket when more than three miles from the surgery. The Doctor was paid by the Club as follows: Red ticket; 2/-. Blue ticket; 1/6d. White ticket: 1/-. Operation – payment to the surgeon as follows: Compound fracture, rupture or amputation; £5. Simple fracture or dislocation of legs; £3. Amputation of finger or toe; £2. Dislocation or fracture of arm; £1. If the patient dies within 36 hours of the operation; half payment only. No important operation to be performed without the consultation of a second doctor for a fee of 10/-. When the National Health Bill was passed in 1911 the need for this type of club disappeared and it is thought that the Martock Club was wound up in 1913.

Appendix I

Details of the people named taken from the 1881 census.

Location: Bridge House, South Petherton. PRO Ref: RG11/2390 Fo19, p32:

NAME STATUS AGE OCCUPATION BORN William Blake Head 65 Magistrate Crewkerne Fanny O Blake Wife 60 - Bristol M. Locke Blake son 32 Farmer of 400a employing 25 men & 2 boys Bishops Hull Edward Blake son 27 Solicitor Bishops Hull Fanny O Fordham dau 26 - Bishops Hull G. Russel B. Fordham son 2 Grandson Guildon Maldon, Cambs. Elina Stone servt. 51 Housemaid Domestic Huntspill Edward Rexworthy servt. 41 Footman Halse Rose Sealy servt. 17 Under Housemaid Domestic Durleigh Emily Hallett servt. 19 Kitchenmaid Domestic Bridport Amy Trott servt. 30 Cook Domestic Honiton Sarah Webb servt. 44 Nurse Domestic S. Pertherton

Location: Penn House, Penn Hill, Yeovil. PRO Ref: RG11/2392 Fo129, p13:

Jabez Bradford Head 52 Corn & Timber Merchant Thorny Annie Bradford Wife 29 - East Chinnock William H. Bradford son 3 Scholar Yeovil Annie M. Bradford dau 7m - Yeovil Susan Russ servt. 28 Cook Mid. Lambrook Sarah J. Foot servt. 20 Nurse Sherborne Mary J. Priddle servt. 22 Housemaid W. Lambrook

Location: Preston House, Preston Plucknett. PRO Ref: RG11/2393 Fo102, p17.

Henry E. Harbin Head 51 Pensioner on Indian Government & C.S. Pension Kingweston Ellen Harbin Wife 48 - Calcutta, India Louisa Pattemore servt. 24 Cook Domestic Merriott

Location: Private House, Thorne Coffin[4]: PRO Ref: RG11/2393 Fo100, p14:

James J. Hooper Esq. Head 57 Barrister in Practice MA Oxon. Horsington Rebecca Riggs servt. 45 Cook general servant Fordington Ann Stinchcombe servt. 38 Housemaid general servant Siston, Gloucs. Sarah Williams visitor 46 General servant Sherborne

Location: Water Street, Martock. PRO Ref: RG11/2391 Fo28, p8:

Montrose Addison Palmer Head 20 Master Printer (Employing 1 boy) Martock Emma Palmer Mothger 58 (Widow) S. Petherton Florence Alice Palmer Sister 23 Assisting in Shop Martock

Location: Yeabridge, South Petherton. PRO Ref: RG11/2390 Fo16, p25.

William P. Peters Head 52 Farmer in the firm of Peter & William B. Hebditch Charlton Horethorne (sic) Elizabeth Peters Wife 36 - Combe Down Ellen R. Peters dau 11 Scholar S. Petherton Ann Spearing servt. 21 Cook Domestic Hardington Elizabeth Baker servt. 15 Housemaid Domestic Hardington Julia Burr servt. 24 Parlourmaid Domestic Gurney Slade

Location: Martock. PRO Ref: RG11/2391 Fo57, p7:

Joseph Pool Head 58 Farmer of 171a employing 4 men & 1 boy N.. Widcombe Grace Pool Wife 57 Farmer’s wife Tintinhull Grace Pool dau 30 Farmer’s daughter Cameley Phillis Alice Pool dau 28 Farmer’s daughter Martock Caroline Pool dau 20 Farmer’s daughter Martock Joseph Pool son 18 Farmer’s son Martock Kate Pool dau 15 Farmer’s daughter Martock

Location: The Vicarage, Church Street, Martock. PRO Ref: RG11/2391 Fo27, p5.

Edwin Arthur Salmon Head 45 Clerk in Holy Orders, Vicar of Martock Clifton, Bristol Emily Ann Salmon Wife 40 - Newton St. Doe Sophia Greedy servt. 29 Parlourmaid Domestic Fitzhead Emma Cook servt. 23 Cook Domestic Martock

Location: East Stoke (sub Hamden). PRO Ref: RG11/2391 Fo130, p24:

James Staple Head 43 Farmer of 318a employing 15 men & 2 boys Stoke sub Hamden Helen M. Staple Wife 29 Farmer’s wife Woolwich Kent Loisa Abbott servt. 19 Cook Milborne Port Anna Hann servt. 16 Housemaid Nether Compton

[1]Before decimalisation of our currency there were 12 pennies (12d) to one shilling (1/-) and twenty shillings (20/-) to one pound (£1). At 100p to the pound (£) a shilling is equivalent to 5p; 2/6d, or half a crown, is equivalent to 12 ½ p.
[2] See Appendix I for the people named.
[3]Edwin Arthur Salmon, Archdeacon of Wells, Vicar of Martock 1859-1889.
[4]Thorne Coffin, parish in Tintinhull Hundred.
Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 10:37