Otterhead Estate Heritage Update March 2011

1. Somerset Rural Youth Project teams have continued work as mentioned in the November 2010 update. Excepting for one very large fallen tree, the path beside the House Leat has been cleared as far as a collapsed sluice north-west of the former Top Lake. This has enabled surveying of the Estate water pipe line and former watercress beds to be carried out. Overgrown laurel and rhododendron has been cleared from the Main Garden Path and a second parallel terraced walk discovered and part cleared. Utilising an existing bridge and reinstating two lost bridges will open up several circular walks leading from the Otterhead House site.

2. The South Drive east of the Lower Lakes has been cleared. Widening is in progress to enable access for drainage improvements for which funding has been obtained. A sunken path which probably predates the Lower Walled Garden has been cleared and some work has been done to two flights of steps and the main path linking same in the Higher Walled Garden. All this is being carried out by Groundwork South West teams.

3. Trees are to be felled on the Otterhead House site and in and outside the walled gardens so that the perimeter walls can be repaired.

4. Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society work is yet to start. Photographs of a range of outbuildings demolished (unfortunately) in the early 1980’s have been found. A second independent description of the site of the underground chamber that housed the miniature waterwheel has been obtained.

5. Photographs of many Otterhead rhododendrons have been forwarded to help identification. The provisional Identification of Rhododendron ‘Rosamundi’ (‘Rosa Mundi’) has been confirmed. It is hoped that the various path clearances will make rhododendron surveying this year less challenging.

6. Access from the Car Park is being improved by constructing a new path avoiding steps and by rebuilding the steps and adding a handrail. This is being funded by an Awards for All grant.

7. The demise of The Local Channel websites was a considerable problem for Otterhead and some communities around the Blackdowns. A replacement has been obtained:

Material has been posted on other websites, too. The BBC Breathing Places website (33901) is likely to cease at the end of March 2011.

8. Taunton Midweek Conservation Volunteers have cut down laurel and also worked on the meadow areas where wildflowers are being encouraged.

9. Guided Walks can be arranged.


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