Hillcommon History

The baby is a member of Oake Parish Council and a Borough Councillor with Taunton Deane.
Cliff Bishop has lived in 
Hillcommon most of his life. 

The property on the far right (with red window shade) was Baker's Cafe, a popular transport cafe. Lorries on route to  Barnstaple used to stop here as a favourite eating house. It was then a transport cafe under a different name. In more recent times it was then the Baron of Beef restaurant and then Wrencon offices.

Stanley Villas on the main road through Hillcommon - these two houses have both been extended in recent years.

This fine house was situated at the main cross roads into Oake but was demolished to improve the visibility at this dangerous spot 




































Does anyone know why Hillcommon is so named? Here is a theory -

Hillcommon seems to be the newest of the four communities in Oake parish. There is some speculation about how the name evolved. Kelly’s Directory of Somerset 1897 supports the theory that it was in fact in the parish of Hillfarrance( part of this name has been traced to the Saxon family name 'Hilla) It is possible that it was called Hillfarrance Common and the ‘Farrance' was later dropped.

It was believed that anyone could lay claim to a piece of land provided that they could build a house on it and sleep there for the night. One of the first houses set up in this way at Hillcommon was a Mr James Hayes of Oake who complied with the conditions of this local tradition by building a house of turf in one night and sleeping in it. Having thus fulfilled the conditions he took possession of the land and soon after he took down the turf house and built a substantial brick and turf residence.

Further information!

We are extremely pleased to have received the following information from Lynne Secrest of North Carolina, the item she has sent us was found in her grandmother's scrapbook. Her grandmother was Lucie Emmeline Harrison, daughter of Brooking Alfren Wrankmore Harrison and Lucy Hayes, she emigrated as a lady's travelling companion in May 1910 on the "Lusitania" to New York, she was a milliner and lived in Albany.
 Brooking (Brook) Alfred Wrankmore Harrison was a painting master of Shoreham-by-sea, Sussex. Her father was George Hayes, listed as deceased, a gardner, on Brooking and Lucy's marriage certificate (27 June 1888). No mother was listed but she may have been an Ann Harris. According to my aunt who spoke with my grandmother, Lucy had siblings James, Emily, Lizzie (Elisa or Elizabeth) and Martha (twins), and Eva.

Here is the item from her grandmother's scrapbook.

Ancient Somerset Families

Hayes of Hillcommon

 One of the oldest families in the parish of Oake was that of Hayes, who lived there from the days of the Commonwealth. A descendant in the person of James Hayes died at Hillcommon in 1875, aged 84. The son of William and Grace Hayes, of Oake, he, in company with his father -in-lay, George Dudderidge, at Allarford, in Hillfarrance (1757-1832), witnessed the hanging of nine men at..............[illegible due to creasing and fading] Stone Gallows at Rumwell for bread stealing and rioting.

According to their account, still preserved, the poor wretches were placed in carts, each sitting on his own coffic, and attended by mounted dragoons were drawn from prison through Bishop's Hull to the place of execution. The nine ropes for hanging were suspended from an erected gallows, and the culprits being made to stand in the carts the ropes were placed around their necks, and the conveyances being drawn from under them, the poor fellows were left suspended until dead.

Soon after his marriage in 1803 he became the founder of the hamlet of Hillcommon in Heathfield, then a large tract of common land on which no one claimed or could appropriate except a house could be erected upon a portion required in one night and slept in there and then. For years this was thought impossible till James Hayes solved the difficulty by building a house of turf in one night, and likewise sleeping in in. Having fulffilled the conditions, he claimed the life's abode. Others in the neighbourhood, seeing this, followed Mr. Hayes' example, and in a short time this common land was nearly build over. One piece, however, was left as a thankoffering to God, the people of the hamlet collecting subscriptions, to build a chapel upon it, the erection of which was superintended by his son, Aaron Hayes. The chapel is in connection with the Bible Christians, and was built, as the stone outside it states, in 1842.

James Hayes had a family of nine children who were all more or less of a pious turn of mind. The eldest, James Hayes, settled in London in 1832, but soon after, in going for a trip with some friends up the Thames, he lost his life. For when passing under Blackfriars Bridge he stood up in the boat and put out his foot to prevent it coming into collision with some barges which were standing hear. In doing this, however, he fell into the water and, getting under the barges was drowned. He left a wife to mourn his loss, but no children. Aaron Hayes, the second son, thus records his own conversion: "It was in the year 1844 I sought and found peace with God through Jesus Christ, and I have been following Him ever since, but I confess that sometimes it has been too much like Peter, "afar off", but now, thank God, have sweet communion with Him every day, and I can say with Paul, 'I know that if this earthly house of my tablernacle were dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.' "He died in 1896. The virtues of total abstinence were exemplified by George Hayes, the youngest son, of Hillfarrance, who died suddenly in 18.... [written over is 68]. He would undertake a whole years harvestisng drinking nothing but cold tea, as his surviving children can testify. Attending the funeral of his uncle, William Dudderidge, at Hillfarrance, on Sunday 27th March, 1859, the vicar, the Rev. J. Warre Magles, took occasion to remark that no man knew when he................................[the rest is torn off}]