high littleton holy trinity church

High Littleton & Hallatrow
History and Parish Records


Michael Browning - 1937-2006

Michael BrowningMichael Lovelace Browning was born at Exmouth, Devon in 1937 and educated at St. Peter's Preparatory School, Exmouth, Exeter School and Kelly College, Tavistock, to which he was awarded a county scholarship. Following school he was articled to Ware Ward & Co. chartered accountants in Exeter. Having qualified he later went into industry and in 1964 moved to Bristol. 

He married Anna Lynne White in 1965 and they had three daughters Georgina, Juliet and Jemma. Michael and Lynne purchased Elm Tree Farm, Hallatrow in 1968, moved in the following year and have lived there ever since. For many years Michael was Finance Director of HAT Group plc and amongst other things became a takeover specialist, accounting for scores of acquisitions in the UK and abroad. His work took him to America, Far East, Middle East and Australia. In 1986 HAT fell victim to a takeover and Michael subsequently spent nearly two years as Chief Executive of Lorne Stewart plc before retiring at the age of 51. He was not short of things to do.

As well as having a large house and garden to maintain, Michael acquired some nearby run down cottages, which he renovated, added to, subdivided and let. Much of the manual work he did himself and he maintained the properties thereafter. During his earlier life Michael played a number of sports competitively, namely rugby, cricket (in 17 different countries), hockey, squash and table tennis. When advancing age eventually forced his retirement from competition, he took up tennis, joining Bishop Sutton Tennis Club and represented them, when they were desperate! He was soon elected Treasurer and was largely responsible for the club’s dynamic growth in membership and expansion and upgrading of the playing facilities over the ensuing years. His long time contribution was recognised in 2004 by receiving the BANES Club Volunteer of the year award.

Michael was one of the original members of Bristol & Avon Family History Society and later became Vice President. He was responsible for a project to transcribe and index (before computers!) all the marriages from 1754-1837 for the county of Avon (approximately 175 parishes - over 150,000 marriages), which took some 15 years to complete. Seven volumes of these, covering the Bristol parishes and Bedminster, were published in book form. Over the years he received and answered many thousands of postal enquiries involving the marriage index.

As well as researching his own family history in depth Michael turned his attention to local history transcribing and indexing a huge number of parish and some private records for High Littleton and Hallatrow. He typed these up and published them under various categories in booklet form. There were between 30 and 40 of these booklets altogether, ranging from 30 to 300 pages each. Despite requests to sell them, Michael made them freely available in institutions such as Somerset Record Office, Society of Genealogists Library and Radstock Museum

Michael also collected some 400 old photographs of the parish, which he has exhibited at the Church Hall. He has also contributed many articles on local history to several different publications and on rare occasions given talks on the subject. He provided all the history (apart from 8 pages) and most of the photographs for the book  "High Littleton & Hallatrow - A Pictorial History", which was published by the parish council for the millennium.

Early in 2004 Michael was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which had already advanced to an inoperable stage. Encouraged by his family and supported by the Parish Council the contents of Michael’s booklets have been made available on this website.

Michael died on 3rd May 2006 and was buried at High Littleton cemetery. A Thanksgiving service was held at Wells Cathedral on 13th June 06.

Much of Michael's work has been donated to Radstock Museum.