A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 6th August 2008 at 7.30 p.m.
Mike Jones, Marcia Babbington, Norma Tempest, Joy Routley, Barbara Norrish, Mavis & Rick Clipson, Bessie French, Ann Murphy, Ruth Parnell, Lyn & Derek Hext, and Margaret Phipps.
Mr Roger Whale was in the chair and 44 people attended.
When the meeting began about half of those attending went with Peter Rennells, David Skinner and Robert Waterhouse (Archaeologist/Project Adviser) to look at The North Hall Site. The remainder stayed and continued the meeting.
The Minutes of the July meeting were read and signed as correct.
The Devon Record Office:
The recent exhibition held at The Church House in conjunction with The DRO was a great success. About 400 people passed through during the three days and The Devon County Information Coach was well used on the Saturday.
Secretary has written and thanked Katherine Weston and her team for their help and also Jamie Dunbar who staged a ‘rolling images of Dartmoor’ feature on behalf of The Dartmoor Trust’s Archives. A letter was received from Leusdon Memorial Hall Committee thanking the group for the film show we organised and held there in conjunction with The
Westward Television Archives, which generated about £280 for the Hall Funds. Secretary thanked all those members who attended and manned the events.
Group Teams / Sub-Committees:
Widecombe Website: Sue Boustead and Roger Whale are progressing in assisting Roger Claxton with this project.
Programme 2009: Ann Claxton has received assistance from Wendy Beard, Mary Pascoe and Maggie Faulkner in organising the programme for next year. They will meet again on Thursday 7th August to finalise their ideas and the
programme. Details at the September meeting.
Widecombe Fair Heritage Marquee: Aileen & Peter Carrett are confident of another successful Exhibition at this year’s Fair. Assisted by Peter Rennells, Mary Pascoe, Rodney Cruze Roger Whale and John Kimber they are getting together an
interesting display. This will include a demonstration of ‘From Grain to Loaf’ by Ian Shears. We shall have our book stall manned by Jim, Ruby & Betty as usual and hopefully the Uncle Tom Model in its partly restored state. (See Below).
Ten tables and chairs ordered for marquee. Passes to come by September.
Widecombe Heritage Centre: To date this team has nothing to report as we await a visit from Ian Parkin who is going to advise the group on taking this idea forward. Secretary and Chairman will arrange a meeting and report to the team.
Anthony will contact Phyllis Pascoe and Deborah Hannaford regarding the history of The Reading Room. It is hoped that a contribution will be received soon to help us begin the project. The Chairman and Secretay will meet with Ian at 11.00a.m. on Saturday 16th August.
North Hall and Widecombe Town Manor: When the group returned from their visit to North Hall, Robert Waterhouse was encouraged to inform the meeting of his general observations and opinions about the site.He is a consultant Archaeologist and his opinion was that it is certainly a Medieval Manor site of great importance to the History of Devon. Firstly one must look at its situation and how it fits into the surrounding Landscape. This is a ‘Moated Manor House’ a rarity in Devon. Only 10/15 are known to exist in Devon, whereas 10/15 exist in a parish in Lincolnshire, this is due to the flat nature of the land in that county. In the 12/14C the Fitz Ralphs of Shillingford St George, near Exeter are known to have been connected with this Manor. In 15/16C many ‘Gentry’ liked to create a ‘facade’ of being extremely well off and had delusions of grandeur. As a result they built Manorial dwellings. From the front aspect these houses appeared to be well fortified buildings with courteledges, messuages, drawbridges and gate houses, but often they could easily be entered from the rear. Gentlemen farmers, fairly well off, but not really wealthy, tried to keep up appearances and built where an impression of grandeur could be noticed. In Prince’s Worthies of Devon c1701 it mentions 12/13C a Fitz
Ralph and a poem of c1690 mentions impressive house, fish pond with water surrounding. The wealth of this area is due to tin and wool. Absentee Landlords can be noted in some cases. The orchard was mentioned and was in keeping with a house of this standing, as was an avenue of substantial trees. The position is very much in keeping with the stature of the place. The site near the village green, the church and church house, the village itself would only have been a couple of cottages. Small houses would more than likely have been situated within the courtledge of the ‘Big House’. 13/14C Butts Park and Butts Close sometimes referred to near a farm as it was not until the 16C that Henry VIII decreed that all able bodied males had to have a bow of Ash or Yew and practice regularly the art of archery so as to be able to protect King & Country. The design of the green is interesting and very suitable for a market place “Widecombe Fair”, in that each corner of the green is like a ‘funnel’, ideal for guiding livestock off the green into any chosen direction by the purchasers.
The Widecombe & District Local History Group is now a member of The Devonshire Association.
The Mechanical Uncle Tom Cobley Model:
Mike Wright once again brought the model to the meeting to show the progress he has made in re-constructing it. He has sorted out most of the mechanics involved with the movement of the different parts and riders. Some of the problems were due to the fact that some of the parts were steel and had corroded and rusted up, where some brass parts were still freely moving. The secretary has agreed to contact Christine Price, the grand-daughter of the maker Harry Price, to inform her of the progress and hopefully obtain further details. We intend to show the partly assembled model this year in our Heritage marquee and we hope to stage the fully working Model at Widecombe Fair 2009 as that will be the 50th Anniversary of it being shown for the first time at the Fair. We hope that the Price family will be represented at that event.
A sincere vote of thanks was recorded to Ann Claxton for organising such an interesting Outing to the Sidmouth area in July.
The meeting expressed its delight at the placing of “The Two Crosses Stone” which took place on Thursday 10th July. Aileen & Peter Carrett were thanked for providing tea and coffee for all those that attended. The event was well covered in
The Mid Devon Advertiser of 18th July everyone who attended were well pleased with the whole concept. The secretary has written to thank The Dartmoor National Park Authority and its staff for the support and assistance received from them in completing the project. Special mention of Andy Cribbett (Stonemason) for job well done. The stone is near the junction of three Manors, Jordan, Dunstone and Widecombe Town close by the old boundary marker.
The secretary continues to reply to correspondence and emails.
A letter has been received thanking the group for a guided walk given to members of The Newton Abbot Twinning Association.
Tuesday 12th August on Widecombe Village Green, a ‘Funday’ to raise funds for Leusdon Church.
Harrowbeer Aerodrome will be holding open days on August 23rd, 24th &25th from 11.00a.m. till 5.00p.m. each day.
Friday 29th August The Peter Hirst Memorial Stroll will begin at Brimpts Farm at 3.30 p.m. followed by a buffet at 5.30p.m. and that will be followed by another short stroll to the refurbished wheel pit nearby. This will be led by Richard Wells and Mike Jones.
Wednesday 3rd September at Leusdon Memorial a Coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Nursing Cancer Support. 10.00a.m. till 12.00 noon.
Wednesday 3rd September is our next meeting when the final arrangements for The Heritage Marquee will be explained. Our speaker that evening will be Felicity Goodall talking about ‘Lost Devon’ based on her recent book of the same
name. This will include some ‘forgotten stories of Devon’.
Devon W. I. Visit is scheduled for Monday 22nd September. Must check the timing. We need the same speakers as last time.
October 15th - 18th Outing to Ironbridge last chance for bookings 01364 621232.
The meeting closed at 10.10p.m