Society much regrets that the Centre had to close in
2008 due to circumstances beyond our control. The new
centre is at
The building where
the Exmoor Natural History Society had their centre,
was originally Oare Village Hall. It is in the parish
of Oare, even though in the village of Malmsmead.
It was built following various fund-raising events by
local residents. It was opened as a Village Hall on
Wed. 27 August, 1930, to serve the people of Oare and
Culbone. This opening was no small event and commenced
with a short religious service, followed by a Gymkhana
and Fete with stalls, skittles, treasure hunt and teas.
At 7.30 p.m. there was a Dance which continued well
into the evening.
For the next ten years, the Hall was well used for social
events and business meetings and regular dances. During
World War II, concerts, harvest suppers and Sunday school
events took place. American soldiers from the nearby
encampment joined the dance nights.
After the war, regular events continued
with Hunt Dances and Bingo, etc. There was a childrens
party to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth
II. Flush lavatories and new furniture was installed
in 1960. In 1973, a new modern Village Hall was built
at nearby Brendon and this saw the dwindling use of
Oare Village Hall, until eventually it stood unused.
Natural History Society Take Over
Thus the scene was set
in the Autumn of 1976 when the Exmoor Natural History
Society agreed to set up a Centre here. It soon became
a popular venue with over 4000 visitors each summer.
A Malmsmead Management Committee was formed with Mr
Peter Bivand as Chairman. This post was subsequently
held by Mr Tom Frampton (1986); Mr John Waite (1990)
and Mr Mervyn Cornish in 2000)
In the early years of our management the Centre was
frequently visited by school parties from far and near,
often two or three in a week. Some London children who
had never seen sheep before are well remembered. Many
schools came back time and again for a conducted walk
and time spent in the Centre with the displays and games.
Sadly, with financial cut-backs in funding to schools
these groups dwindled and today a school party is a
rare occurrence. We now rely on visits from other groups
and Societies. (Tel: 01598 741396 to book or email
to book or enquire about group visits).
The Centre is run entirely by volunteers from the Society
who are responsible for the displays, care of the building
and garden, leading the walks and acting as hosts to
welcome visitors and answer their queries.
- Is Near the Doone Valley
(see location map)
- Has FREE Admission
- Makes Children welcome
- Allows Dogs on short
- Gives Wheelchair access
- Is open 1.30 –
5 pm Wednesdays & Thursdays May –
- Takes guided walks lasting
about 2 hours, 2 pm on THURSDAYS
- Contains wildlife displays,
bookstall, games, etc.
||Mervyn Cornish, Chairman Malmsmead Management
Committee, 01984 631859
Vanessa Mason, Secretary Malmsmead Management Committee,
01643 821241 or email
Group Visits to Malmsmead.
Caroline Giddens, Hon. Secretary. 01643 707624 or
||Car Park behind Lorna Doone Farm (SS792478) or
Disabled parking inside gates at Centre itself.
There is a scenic path down from the Car Park at
County Gate by the A39 but it may seem a long steep