Yeovilton — Somerset, England
Yeovilton is a small village and a civil parish located on the north bank of the River Yeo in Somerset, in close proximity to the Fosse Way, the Roman Road linking Exeter in the South West to Lincoln in the East Midlands; however, Yeovilton is best known for its association with the Fleet Air Arm Museum and as the home of the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton, (HMS Heron).
A manor known to the Saxons as Geviltone was in existence at the time of the Norman Conquest, and during the medieval era, circa 900 King Edward granted an estate in Yeovilton. Coincidentally Gevil was the early name for Yeovil, which is located a short distance from Yeovilton, suggesting that the manorial holdings of Geviltone may have been extensive. Yeovilton has remained a small parish with only a few hamlets throughout the ages and the village of Yeovilton only achieved large recognition when it became a base of operation for the RNAS during World War II. With the passage of time RNAS Yeovilton became one of the busiest military air stations in Europe, and it follows that the subsequent Fleet Air Museum located in Yeovilton was destined to become the second largest naval aviation museum in the world.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy located at Yeovilton comprises four Museums, reflecting the fact that the Royal Navy operates on the sea, under the sea, on the land and in the air. The history of the development of each of these Naval arms is quite extensive which has necessitated having four exhibition halls, filled not only with numerous aircraft, but with over two million records of information detailing its early origins, from its first air ship in 1909 to the present. Each hall is comprised of a large lower level gallery with the upper levels displaying the historical significance of the exhibitions. A Reserve Collection is housed in Cobham Hall, a climate controlled building containing aircraft being repaired or preserved. There is a great deal to see in one day, as there is much to see and to learn; with this in mind the museum includes a restaurant and a children's adventure playground conveniently located outside the museum for adults and children needing a break between exhibits.
The Church of Saint Bartholomew, a Grade II* listed building dating from early medieval times was originally a Saxon church that was largely restored on its original foundations during the 1400's. By the 1900's the church fell into great disrepair and disuse, until the advent of World War II when "St. Bart's" became associated with the RNAS. After the war, following years of appeals to restore the church, the Ministry of Defence purchased the church, which is now run by a Board of Trustees that is not affiliated with any one religious sect. There are five Chaplains of various denominations available including several from the RNAS. With no specific affiliations, St. Bart's survives solely on donations, and is known as the Memorial Church for the RNAS at Yeovilton. During restoration, the church retained many of its original features and memorials, with a few modern touches being added without losing the beauty of its antiquity. The Naval cemetery is open to the public daily, however it is advisable to call ahead as occasionally the church may be closed without giving public notice.
For those remaining in the area, there is a lovely sight at the south edge of Yeovilton where the Yeovilton Weir is located, on the River Yeo. Although this is a somewhat level landscape, the wetlands and river beds offer beautiful sights, and for the sports minded, you might consider finding a quiet "fishing hole" and enjoy the tranquility of the river as a respite from the frequent air activity at RNAS Yeovilton.
Where is Yeovilton?
Yeovilton is located in Somerset near the A303 and A37. The nearest populated areas include Ilchester to the west and Limington to the south.Have you ever visited Yeovilton?
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