Steve Dayman-Johns to Prater Prather Genealogy

ĚSee the end for art snapshots.

Hello friends. A little while ago I introduced myself, and Marty and Gary have kindly allowed me to post various things I might consider of interest to members. I've attached four watercolours of mine [ I've sold A4 prints for $30 and postcards for $3 [ p&p extra, which I mention because some Americans have already bought some, so I am ok with posting tracked delivery]. Anyway, I'm sure members are already knowledgeable of the more well known history of Nunney castle and the village, so I will try to add bits that may not be so well sourced.

Nunney castle : Crenellated 1373 by Sir John DeLa Mare etc etc : There is supposedly a mysterious tunnel from the castle to 'Tom Tivey's hole', which is about half a mile away on the ridgeway [ which follows the original pre-historic, then Roman, track]. The hole is more of a rock shelter [ human remains were found there], and the supposed tunnel from the castle to here is rather long...but it is a myth and story that has lasted...[ ! ]

The parapet on the top of each turret is actually quite wide, and would have had a wooden balustrade around, to allow the occupants to come out of the turret doorway and view the peasants below. My Dad, as a boy, climbed up the inside wall and rode his bicycle along and round one of the tower on earth he didn't fall off I don't know, but I guess when he was a boy there weren't the distractions of computer games et al, - so with nothing better to do...[!!!]

The casual observer will look at the castle and think ''ok, it's a castle...''In fact it was NOT built as a castle per se, to 'defend the realm', ie the reason castles would normally have been built during that time. It was built as an expression of his new found wealth, and to allow a degree of control over the local population. As a favourite of the King [Edward 111], he was allowed to go ahead with his building PRIOR to obtaining official permission first [ when normally fortifying a building or building a castle, permission had to be granted by the King before any building took place, - you had to be a 'Kings man ' ]. Thus it was built as a grand manor house, albeit in castle format ! The visual giveaway is the fact that the castle is built in a hollow, when castles would normally have been built in a better defensive position, ie on the TOP of a hill.

I have given a number of tours of the castle to vistors/friends, and I enjoy letting them hold a silver longcross penny of mine, minted circa 1350, ie they are standing in the castle, holding an original coin that the occupants would have seen, touched and been very familiar with. It helps bring the history to life.

I've included a couple of other general views of Nunney : A view from a cottage garden I was asked to do, which has the castle nicley peeking above the roof. The cottage would have been built using some of the stonework salvaged from the castle after it was slighted by Cromwell's roundheads.

The Nunney brook view is from the bridge looking down towards the church, and the castle would be on the left, just out of sight.

The watercolour of All Saints Nunney is the view I have regularly walked [ my father was churchwarden, and my mother church organist for 50 years, their grave is just outside the front door]. The DeLaMare stone effigy's are in the church [ which readers will already know]. My wife is now organist, and we regularly attend. I was a choir boy for many years [ naughty memories of bad choir boy behaviour ].

Some years ago, an outside tomb's roof collapsed, exposing some stone coffins. I helped my Dad re-cover the roof with iron girders and flagstones, then we turfed it over. If you walk round the church, at head height, scored into the wall you will see a '10' scratched in. I made this mark [ and from time to time refresh it], to identify how many feet from the wall this now hidden from view tomb lies. Should you visit, have a look out for this little known source of information.

Sunday 8th November I shall be playing the Last Post and Reveille at the Remembrance service [ uniquely, on my trombone, - which I have done for 48 years]. I play towards the castle, as the sound echoes nicely off the walls, and echoes round the village.

I have other sources of more recent things that the castle has been used for, which I can post another time if that would be of interest to anyone. It's just nice that the castle still performs a useful and valued service to the village.

Best wishes. Steve

Additional Comments from Steve Dayman-Johns

For info, A4 size, is 11 and a half inches long, and 8 inches high. There's a minute bit extra, but once mounted in a frame, since my actual watercolours are WITHIN that measurement, ie there is a border of an unpainted area around the picture, they could be trimmed to fit...or mounted suitably to fit a larger frame size...!

Here are some samples of mine (email me at: