Back Row: Unknown; Unknown; Jack Hawkins; Roy Harnell; Mr Broom; Unknown; Bill Baker; Tom Hutchins; Fred Pulman; Edward Stevens; Jim Floyd
Middle Row: Cpl Sid Jones; Tom Lock; Henry Dunn; Reg Marks; Bill Winter; Bob Winter; Harold Sharland; Bill Pavey;Charles Tarr; Cyril Cornish; L/Cpl Leslie Stone
Front Row: Cpl Bill Radford; Sgt L Sparks; Sgt The Rev Reece Davies; LT R B Hankey; Sgt H Elston; Cpl F Bickham; Unknown





















The original Village Hall, situated next to the Oake Post Office was a well loved building ...

A 'feeding station' on the annual
Taunton Deane Marathon
One of many fund raising events  
John Sharland, chairman (and so much more)
of the old hall for many years
The old hall decked out for the final party  
The final party  
Ivy, our bookings secretary until the old hall closed  
the old hall carpark was transfomed
into two new homes
the new village hall completed in September 2003  
a view of the new hall from Saxon Close....  
..... internal building work in progress   
The sun shone, and a good time was had by all ..  
... for the official opening at last  
In preparation for the building of Saxon Close, the Pig and Whistle bridge which carried the road from the B3227 to Oake, was demolished. The mini roundabout at the entrance to Saxon Close was constructed in its place. The lounge in the new village hall is named after the bridge.  
The picture shows the road over the bridge running along the left of undeveloped agricultural land with the barn (now repaired) situated on the edge of the recreation field of the more recently built village hall.  
As demolition work began, the road was diverted across the front of the barn - note the de-restriction sign on the approach to the bridge!   
The picture is a view of the bridge from the west prior to the new development  
The sad demise of a noteable landmark  

An extract taken from 'A popular history of West Somerset'

by Edward Jeboult dated 1893

A small parish, situated five and a half miles West of Taunton, four and a half miles North West of Wellington. It was formerly Ac, Acha - Ache or Oke, and derives its name from the oak tree, probably once very abundant in this neighbourhood. There are four places in this county which take their simple titles from the names of trees - namely Ash, Elm, Halse and Oak. At the time of the Norman Survey by William I. Oake is thus described:- Goisfrid holds of Roger, Ache. Domno held it in the time of King Edward,...There is a mill of four shillings rent and seventeen acres of pastures and ten acres of wood. In Milverton a house pays eleven pence. The whole is worth four pounds. When he received it it was worth fifty shillings." It was one of those places belonging to the Manor of Taunton, under the Bishop of Winchester.

Oake lies in a flat, well-wooded country, traversed with deep roads, once very miry and almost impassable after wet weather.

The Malets of Enmore, formerly held the manor. It then passed to the Trivets and the Cokers. Oake was at one time held on the Manor of Compton Dundon.

The Church is small, plain edifice, dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, and consists of nave, South aisle and chancel. It is principally built of red and grey sandstone. It stands in a field, in apparently an almost deserted spot. The building is rough-cast, and covered with whitewash, altogether reminding us of the neglect of the 8th century, there being hardly a trace of a path from the road to it. The rectory is about three-quarters of a mile to the East.

Near the church are schools, supported by subscription. There was formerly a small free school, endowed with about thirty shillings a year.

Oake lies on the new red sandstone formation. The soil is loamy and produces large crops.

The railway from Taunton to Barnstaple runs through this neighbourhood.

The parish is mostly tenanted by a few farmhouses and labourers' cottages.




Another death was recorded in connection with the Somerset poisoning mystery at Oake on Friday. Mrs Maunder, the wife of Walter Maunder, and mother of the three children who had previously died, succumbing from apparently the same cause, this making the fifth death out of a family of eight. Particulars of the deaths and the opening of the inquests on the father and three children were fully reported in our last issue.

The funeral of Walter Maunder, the father, who died the previous Monday at Taunton Hospital and three of the children, took place on Sunday at Oake, in the presence of a large concourse of people from the country side, several being present from Milverton. The arrangements for the funeral were under the direction of Mr F.Flood, relieving officer, of Milverton. The bodies were conveyed from the residence to Oake churchyard in two carriages, and were met by the Rector, the Rev J.R.Broughton. Each of the deceased was taken separately into the Church, and a short service was conducted. The bodies were then brought out and placed all together in one large grave. The burial service was impressively read by the Rector, and the solemnity of the scene in the secluded churchyard was greatly added to by the tragic circumstances which surround the deaths. Numerous signs of sympathetic respect for the deceased were shown in the village, and at the graveside many of the spectators evinced considerable grief. The following were the inscriptions on the coffins :-
 "Eli Walter Maunder, died Dec 18th 1900, age 30 years. Lily Maunder, died Dec 13th 1900, age 2 years.
 Thomas Maunder, died Dec 18th 1900, age 4 years. John Maunder, died Dec 20th aged 6 years." The undertaker was Mr L.Shattock of Milverton.

The inquest on the mother was held on Monday morning at Oake by Mr Foster Barham, coroner for the district, but after evidence of identification had been given the enquiry was adjourned. In the afternoon the mother also was buried in Oake Churchyard, amid renewed manifestations of sympathy.

 " The Coroner: Was arsenic present in any quantity?"
 Dr Alford: "There was over a grain"
 The Coroner: "I suppose a grain would be enough to prove fatal?"
 Dr Alford "Well you see the man had been ill for some time, and had been vomiting so I did not get the whole dose. One and a half grains has been known to kill, but it differs with the individual very much. The time it is taken also makes a difference and so does the mode it is administered."

 The Coroner: "Do you think that Arsenic would have the effect of setting up fatty degeneration of the liver?"
 Dr Alford: " I do not imagine it would in so short a time. It would cause inflammation of the stomach and intestines, vomiting and diarrhoea and nervous collapse, but for fatty degeneration, whatever the poison, it would have to be administered some considerable time before you get such changes. I have no knowledge of arsenic causing such a thing-it would kill long before that had time to set in".
 The Coroner: Even though the deceased had been taking arsenic for some time it would not produce this effect?"
 Dr Alford: "Oh, no."
 The Coroner pointed out that Dr Randolph had attributed death in the case of the three children to phosphorus poisoning., but Dr Alford stated that he found no phosphorus.
   Supt. Durham: "Nor ptomaine?"
 Dr Alford: "It is a very difficult thing to find ptomaine, but it does not produce these effects"
   Supt Durham: "Would a grain and a half destroy life if it were to remain in the stomach, or a large proportion of it?"
 Dr Alford: "A great deal might have in this case have been absorbed by other parts of the system".
   Supt Durham: "From the condition of the stomach, must have had a larger dose than a grain and a half?"
 Dr Alford: "More than I found there".
 The Coroner: "Do you think from what you have seen that the death of the deceased was due to arsenic poisoning?"
 Dr Alford: "It is possible I think. The conditions stated by the house surgeon to exist are quite compatible with arsenic poisoning".



 The inquest concerning the death of Mrs Maunders and three of her children , who together with the father of the family ,Walter Maunder, an agricultural labourer residing at Oake, all died within a short space of four days in December last, from the effects of poison , was resumed on Thursday morning. The inquiry as before was held at Rendy farm, Oake, through the kindness of Mr Read, the employer of the deceased man.
 Present were, Dr Thomas Stevenson, lecturer in forensic medicine at Guy's hospital London and scientific analyst at the Home Office: Mr S.Durham, (Taunton) P.S. Luke (Wellington), P.S. Masters (Bishops Hull) and P.C. Trask of the Somerset County Constabulary.

 ................The Coroner: Is fatty degeneration of the liver and kidneys a symptom of arsenic?
 Witness: "It is not very common".
 The Coroner: "I ask because Dr Randolph expresses the opinion that death was due to phosphorous, and that the condition of the liver and kidneys pointed to phosphorous as being the poison.
 Dr Stevenson:" degeneration is a common and usual result of phosphorous poisoning in an extreme form, and it is not usual in arsenic poisoning.
 Undoubtedly arsenic had been taken; and it is possible that phosphorous also might have been taken, but considering the length of the illness, phosphorous would have disappeared, as such before the analysis was made, but there was quite sufficient arsenic to account for death. It is quite possible there might have been phosphorous with the arsenic."

 The Coroner: The children were taken ill on the 10th (Dec) and this child (John) was removed from the cottage home at Oake to Milverton on the 17th, so he must have been ill all that week. You suggest they might have taken arsenic on the 10th and subsequent days?
 Dr Stevenson: Very possibly, but I cannot say for certain, the fact that the illness went on for such a length of time looks to me as if they had taken it more than once .
 Mr Durham: "and in liquid form?"
 Dr Stevenson: "I found no evidence of solid particles of arsenic..."
 Mr Durham: "It might be taken in tea?"
 Dr Stevenson " Yes, in fact anything"

 Some questions of Witness William Raffle who had been lodging with deceased for a year.

 The Coroner: You had breakfast with them on the 10th, after which day they were taken ill?
 Witness: Yes
 The Coroner: Did you have tea with them?
 Witness: Yes
 The Coroner: Did you take it out of the same teapot as theirs?
 Witness: Yes
 The Coroner: Did you have anything of what they ate?
 Witness: Yes, I had one of the fish. nb. (At the previous hearing this witness said he ate part of the rabbit. He was questioned about this contradiction, but said he had forgotten)
 The Coroner: With what water was the tea made?
 Witness: From the pump.

A juror: What did Walter Maunder say on the Sunday? Didn't he say he would poison himself and all the lot?
 Witness: Yes, he knocked the little boy, and she made up a row with him about it because he did it
 The Coroner: Are you sure he said he would poison the lot?
 Witness: He said he would do away with the lot.
 Coroner: I suppose he was angry at the time he said it.
 Witness: Yes, Just about an hour afterwards he was all right again.

 The next witness called was Eliza Broom of the Royal Oake Inn. Oake.
 In her testimony she said she called on the family on the evening of the 10th Dec. The father Walter had gone to fetch the Doctor Mrs Maunder and Laura were ill but up the rest of the children were ill in bed.
 The witness returned the following Thursday that day one of the children had died. The witness said she stayed there from 8am to 9pm. Mrs Maunder said it must be the water or influenza. The witness had a cup of tea and a bit of bread and butter. Immediately afterward she felt very sick and an hour later vomited.
 Witness said she had no suspicion whatsoever.

 The Coroner said that every effort had been made by Mr Durham and the Police to find out something to assist the jury in arriving at a conclusion, but without success..................The Lodger, Raffles, who appeared to be prepared to say "yes" to any question he was asked did not seem to suffer at all. He seemed to have always drunk the same water as the Maunders, but without ill effects from it.
 He thought the jury would have no difficulty in finding that the four deaths under consideration were due to Arsenic poisoning, but it was an impossible task to say how the poison was administered.
 The jury returned a verdict to that effect.

 Extract from the Wellington Weekly News December 29th 1900.

 "an inquest was held at Taunton Hospital on Thursday morning by the coroner for the district Mr Foster Barham,..................the first witness called was James Fry, a farm labourer of hill common, Milverton, who identified the body as that of Walter Maunder. Witness and deceased were both employed by Mr. Read of Rendy Farm, Oake, and on the Monday deceased came to work complaining of being ill,. He also mentioned that his wife and children were very bad. The deceased did not come to work on Tuesday, but came up on that day for some water, and he then again complained of being very shaky about the legs and ill.
 Witness did not see him again until he was bought to the hospital. "
 ".................William Raffle, labourer said he had been living with the deceased and his family for the last twelve months. on Friday, the 7th December, some fresh herring were bought, and these were cooked on the Saturday morning for breakfast, and for dinner they had the rabbit which the deceased had bought home.
 Witness did not notice anything the matter with the fish or the rabbit, nor did he feel ill afterwards. On the Sunday morning the breakfast was made off the remainder of the herrings, the deceased eating three of them, and remarking how good they tasted".
 "..............Witness did not eat any of the fish on the Sunday morning, and Mrs Maunder did not touch any of them at all, because she did not like fish.
 All in the family except witness soon after fell ill, one of the children dying on the 14th, one on the 17th, and the father on the 17th.
 Two of the childre n were ill before they ate the rabbit".


 "..........The next witness was Eliza Broom, wife of William Broom of Oake, who said she was on her way home on the 10th December................... she called in to see Mrs Maunder, with the hope that Mrs Maunder would walk on part of the way with her. She found Mrs Maunder and the six children in bed. Mrs Maunder complained of being very ill, and that the children were all bad. She (Mrs Maunder) thought perhaps that it was the water, and therefore lately had been sending to Rendy farm for it, as the water from her well was very bad............
 She went to their house again on the following Thursday , and then she was very bad herself, as was also Mrs Maunders sister, who was stopping there at the same time. She did not know what made her sick, for she only had a cup of tea, which she made in the same teapot as the family had used. She did not have anything else to eat or drink there because she was afraid to do so".

Testimony of Dr Charles Randolph, medical practitioner of Milverton.

 The Coroner: "What is your opinion as to the cause of death"?
 Witness: "The only poison I know of that could account for the condition of the internal organs is phosphorous".
 ..........Coroner: "Can you account for the sickness in the cat and Mrs Broom",
 Witness: The sickness of the cat I cannot account for, but it is a very interesting point. The sickness of Mrs Broom was probably caused by the fact that the others were sick. She had no definite symptoms.
 Coroner: "What is the condition of the house"?
 Witness: "It was very, very dirty indeed. Food was left about in the saucepans, and bottles were left about with pickles in them and all sorts of filth".
 Coroner: What have you to say about the water"?
 Witness: "In my capacity of medical officer for health of the district I condemed the water at Lowton on the 1st March last as unfit for dietetic use, but no analysis was made. The well was accordingly cleaned out.
 When I went to the house on the 11th inst. I again examined the water and found it very bad, and there is percolation from a dung pit and possibly a closet. I do not, however, consider the symptoms in any of these cases are consistent with poisoning through drinking bad water"........