Current Programme  
  Foundation and History  
  Key dates and Achievements  
  Malmsmead Field Centre  
  Porlock Weir Natural History Centre  
  Conservation Work  
Malmsmead Natural History Centre

The Society much regrets that the Centre had to close in 2008 due to circumstances beyond our control. The new centre is at
Porlock Weir

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.

The Exmoor 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.

The Centre
  •  Is Near the Doone Valley (see location  map)
  •  Has FREE Admission
  •  Makes Children welcome
  •  Allows Dogs on short leads
  •  Gives Wheelchair access
  •  Is open 1.30 – 5 pm Wednesdays &  Thursdays May – September
  •  Takes guided walks lasting about 2 hours,  2 pm on THURSDAYS
  •  Contains wildlife displays, bookstall,  games, etc.

Contacts: 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 email
Parking: 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 walk back!

  Current Survey  
  Exmoor and its Wildlife  
  Main Wildlife Habitats  
  Wildlife Portraits and Information  
  Submit your Wildlife Records  
  Contact Us  
  Useful Links