Otterhead Estate Heritage Update October 2012


1. Weather conditions have been bad underfoot and often overhead leading to postponement and cancellation of activities.

2. Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society (SIAS) members have located and cleared the underground chamber that formerly housed a miniature waterwheel used for pumping spring water to tanks in the roof of Otterhead House. The Otterhead Estate Trust is seeking advice on the best way of conserving the chamber.

3. SIAS members have also found and partly cleared a second, higher, flight of steps linking the House Terrace and the Lower Terrace as well finding a pipe enabling House Leat water to bypass both the chamber and the culvert under the House Terrace.

4. The discovery of the chamber resulted in inspection of a miniature waterwheel elsewhere in Otterford to see if it was the missing Otterhead waterwheel and or whether it would be worth conserving. It had not come from Otterhead (the size was wrong) and was not worthwhile conserving.

5. The two most recent SIAS visits have been surveying a chamber possibly associated with a hydraulic ram. Results of a previous survey several years ago were confirmed including the presence of a wooden structure, possibly a sluice gate or a door, below the bed of a stream.

6. Further restoration work has been carried out on the House Leat. Water is now flowing down to and via the pipe (3 above) to the House Lake. For the first time in many years the arch of the only surviving bridge over the leat is now visible due to lowered water and silt levels.

7. A team from Somerset Rural Youth Project has located a second southern entrance into William Beadon’s Terraced Gardens while reducing laurel.

8. Somerset Gardens Trust is considering surveying the now dismantled ornamental arches seen in photographs in 1904 and 1907.

9. Otterhead Forest School is removing trees from the site of Otterhead House and a felling licence is being applied for to remove trees from the Higher Walled Garden.

10. Somerset Gardens Trust is attempting to access and copy a collection of Otterhead photographs taken while the Goschen family were leasing Otterhead House and the surrounding lands, now owned by Wessex Water, from 1916 or earlier until early 1938.


Roy Coombs, Project Co-ordinator, The Otterhead Estate Trust Company Ltd.   15 October 2012