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Roger Carter, tributes flow in

In December we learnt of the passing of Roger Carter. Since that time tributes to Roger have flowed into the Museum. We would like to share some of these with you.

Angie Loader, the Museum's present Curator wrote - Roger was a gentle, modest, man with a brilliant mind, who wore his learning lightly! His love of local history, archaeology and landscape was both academic and practical. He had field walked with his friend, Professor Mick Aston {of Time Team fame} and contributed to many research projects and learned publications. Roger was able to identify artefacts, answer obscure questions and had the skill to conserve.

I was his assistant for nearly ten years, working in the ‘back rooms’ of the museum and in that time, he taught me so much, always with kindness and patience. It was Roger who explained that the seemingly random pile of bricks, standing in splendid isolation, in a field on the Blackdown Hills was the sole remains of the chimney from the sergeant’s mess, when a WW1 Army camp was sited there and that if I looked carefully in the nearby woods, I would see the bumps and hollows, where the soldiers trained for trench warfare.

While working, we would discuss such profound subjects such as good places to lunch, which café had the best cakes and interesting places to visit! I am still working through a long list of destinations not to be missed, and recommended by Roger.

We both shared a love of cats [each owning a rescue moggie], the countryside and gardening, swopping plants and produce in season. Roger was very fond of Seaton, which he would often visit with Maggie and his enthusiasm for this little seaside town has rubbed off on me and now I walk there often, with my husband.

Roger, my friend and colleague was a good man and a walking encyclopaedia………….irreplaceable and sorely missed!

Brian Murless, who worked on many projects for SIAS and SANHS with Roger wrote - personally, I feel a true loss having known Roger from the late 1960s and shared with him the satisfaction of creating the short series of SANHS Parish Surveys. His immense knowledge of the landscape in South Somerset brought alive to so many the rich archaeological heritage of this part of the County. In addition, his work on transportation by road, canal and railway brought new insights into its history and followed on by his active involvement in building, creating and developing aspects of the museum for which this, and so much more will be a lasting legacy.

Chris Brewhorne, the present Chairman of the Chard History Group posted on Facebook - for the last few decades Roger was undoubtedly Chard's central history man. We'll all remember his humility, enthusiasm and cheerful contribution to our History Group meetings and the information and research he shared with such passion. He was a good friend to so many and truly recognised as an outstanding citizen.

Gwyneth Jackson, the Museums School and Groups Coordinator as well as our Displays 'person' told us - when I first started volunteering at the museum I had a wide ranging interest in history. It had been one of my favourite subjects when I was teaching. However, it was Roger who really sparked my passion for the history of Chard. He taught me so much and inspired me to explore that history further, especially researching the fascinating life of Margaret Bondfield. She was such a Chard treasure to uncover. When I was given the privilege of being in charge of displays Roger was a mine of information about our collections and provided me with any information I needed to display our artefacts in an interesting and meaningful way. I will miss having access to all that knowledge and I will miss that modest and gentle man, as will all of us at the Museum.

and maybe the final tribute should be from our own Chair, Vince Lean - I had the sad duty to represent Chard Museum at Roger Carters Funeral at Taunton crematorium. While these events are always tinged with sadness, I have to say that the service was memorable in that not only did it talk of his passing but more importantly. it celebrated his character and achievements during his long and fruitful life.

I first met Roger some five years ago when I first joined the museum as a naive volunteer. He was introduced as the curator and my first impression was of a quiet silver haired gentleman, very precise in his habits and method of working. Because he was reserved, it took quite a long time to get to know him well, but the effort was worth it. The more you talked with him, the more you learnt and I gradually became astounded by the width of his knowledge, not only on the heritage of the town but also his great love of the countryside.

Looking back over the short time I knew him, what repeatedly crops up are the number of people from across a wide variety of organisations that knew and respected him.

It is so important that we do not forget Roger’s achievements and for that reason, as a starting point for the Chard Museums celebration of his life we would like to hear from anyone who has anecdotes and stories about this extraordinary person. Please go to our Forum and share your memories

You can read the first story written from the Roger Carter Collection relating the background to Shick Shack Day.

What Next ......

Roger has left an enormous legacy to his local community. The Museum is planning to create the Roger Carter Collection. This will be a fully archived collection of the huge files of his research. This research he shared with people across many borders. This will then be available to those undertaking their own research, to tell even more ‘hidden stories of Chard’. Like his mentor, Len Hoskins, Roger was to our own Senior Researcher, Gerrie Bews, an oracle. Gerrie said ‘he was unfailingly in his patience, and polite about my ignorance; he always uplifted me and made me think that I knew the answer anyway’.

When restrictions allow the Museum will be hosting a ‘thank you Roger’ event where a plaque recognising his contributions as 'our' local historian will be marked. The plaque will sit next to the one already on display remebering Len Hoskins.

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