The Branscombe Project began nearly nineteen years ago. A group of people, some of whom had lived all their lives in Branscombe, others relative newcomers, decided they wanted to find out more about their village and the wider landscape. The time-span is anywhere from prehistoric times to the present, and the idea is to explore changing landscapes, changing lives, historical materials, and living memories.
We have taped over a hundred interviews, dug in the archives and in the ground, and walked the landscape. People have lent us photographs, documents, postcards and objects.
We put on annual exhibitions, winter talks, documentary dramas and ‘disappeared houses’ walks. We have covered topics as diverse as Branscombe Ghosts, Maps, Farming, Cliff Plats, Orchards, Shops & Trades, the Churchyard, Lace Making, Smuggling, Outside Loos, Road History, School History, Hedgerow Dating, Archaeological Excavation & Field-walking, House & Family Histories, Gardens, the Blackshirts, and the wreck of the Napoli.
Our events and activities are open to all - there is no subscription and no membership list.
We want to make as much of our work available on this website as possible. It will take time. We hope you’ll enjoy what’s here and find it useful.
The Steamship ‘Ballarat’ bound for Australia one hundred years ago
To contact us please join up our email address in the usual way: contacts at branscombe project dot org dot uk
The Branscombe Diaspora Your help needed
If you know of anyone who left Branscombe to live in another country in the past, please contact us by email and we will add your stories to our website. Read what we know so far here ...
As we approach the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, like many local history groups we are researching what happened in the parish during that time. We will be presenting our findings as part of next year’s exhibition. Already we know from archival evidence that as the horrors of war and huge losses of men became widely known it was increasingly difficult for the Government to recruit enough soldiers. Many Branscombe men declared they would go when they had to, and not before. Some cases even went to tribunals. What about local women? Do you know of any who worked away in munitions production, on the land, or in hospitals? Alan Rockey has been researching the pewter mugs given to those who served (see this page), whilst Ralph Cox has looked at the war memorial history. If you can help us to tell this story by digging into family memories, documents or old photographs, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.
We are researching now for our next book which will come out in 2014. This will be on Branscombe’s once famous cliff plats - little growing areas on the cliff face which, more or less, fell out of use by 1970. We already have some wonderful material BUT we would like more! As this small industry, growing potatoes that competed with the Channel Islands, gradually died away, holidaymakers took over with chalets in the cliffs. However there was an overlap and many tourists took photos of the men at work on their little plots, and, in particular, children loved the donkeys that were the transport these ‘cliff farmers’ used. Does your family have any photos of this activity from the past? Maybe you have memories you’d be willing to share. If so we would love to hear from you. The cliff plats stretched from just east of Branscombe Mouth, to almost Sidmouth in the west, but we are interested up to Weston as that is as far as Branscombe men travelled to work them.
This old photo shows Cliffy Gosling, one of the last cliff farmers who died in 1966. Sitting on one of his donkeys is a girl who was on holiday.
For many years Elsie Mayo was the curator of the Parish Photo Archive. Over the past few years the Project has been cataloguing, re-assembling in archival quality folders and digitising the 1000 plus photographs for the Parish Council. The archive has been put on ‘Flickr’ and can be found through this link :