Widecombe History Group Minutes December 1999

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The December Minutes follow. The talk on Dartmoor Treasures will be found here.

A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held in the Church House Widecombe on Wednesday 1st December 1999 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 38 people attended.

The meeting began with the chairman welcoming everyone and some new faces and our speaker and his wife, Mr and Mrs Ted Fitch of Dartington.

Apologies:- Pam Clare, Geoffrey Bamsey, Arch Mortimore and Rosamund Whale.


Newhouse and Scobitor

To date June Kernick has been unable to visit Scobitor and meet Mr Hanson regarding a photograph and information of the Hannaford family connection.

Anthony has been unable to track down the Devonshire Association�s visit to the �Scobitor Folly�. Jenny Sanders stated that it was not the Buildings Group of D.A. that organised it - try the Exeter Group.

North Hall

Peter Rennells reported that while continuing his researching into North Hall he found mention of a guided walk to Widecombe in 1874 led by J. S. Amery of Druid, Ashburton, arranged for The Teign Naturalist Field Club. Quote "Starting at the ruined cottage near Rippon Tor marked New House on the map, they went to Widecombe where they viewed the ruins of �The Manor Castle� of North Hall, the moat of the castle can still be traced, stones and earth and remains of the drawbridge can still be remembered by local residents. On visiting the Church he stated that the eastern part of the Church was probably the �Original Church of North Hall�."

There was a Lady Margaret Baring, from Ashburton, who inherited North Hall and in 1845 she appears to have owned 20 farms, in total 1300 acres and 14 houses in the parish. (Dartmoor Tithe apportionments, by Mike Brown). Peter mentioned Mr Webb of Ashburton who has advised him that there is more information available about Widecombe at Buckfast Abbey Library, Torquay Library and Museum, Devon Exeter Institute Library and Exeter University Library, and thanks to Roger Whale for an aerial photograph of the North Hall area.

Could it be that there are in fact two sites, perhaps an early Saxon site and a more recent Medieval site, this is an possibility suggested by Peter Hirst, something more to explore!

Copies of his November presentation were available for members to read. It is hoped that by the next meeting a booklet on his research so far will be available for those interested.


Geoffrey Bamsey has been in contact with Simon Dell of Tavistock regarding the photograph of St Michael�s Police Station at Venton of the early 1900�s.


Books, pamphlets, and walk and talk write-ups continue to be circulating.


Points raised in a letter from Roger and Ann Claxton.

The whereabouts of a photograph showing the tithes being paid on the "Dunstone"?

Are there transcripts of the Peter and Ruby film recently shown at Leusdon?

(Inscribed on the lead roof of Widecombe Church Tower are the names of those local men who did the lead work). As this is being ripped up and replaced would it be a good idea to rescue the lead base before it gets ruined, and preserve it perhaps in a wooden frame, ultimately to hang up in the church? Secretary to write to the P.C.C.


In addition to Phyllis Pascoe�s offer of a chest for storage, we have received a further offer from Bessie French of another chest. These will be �born in mind� as we examine the suggestion from D.R.O. that a steel cupboard with shelves may be of more use, as items can be more easily accessed. The available room in the upstairs kitchen of the hall has also to be considered in view of proposed refurbishment. The cost of such a cupboard could be in the region of �250.00.

It is necessary to consult with the Hall Committee before proceeding. Peter Hirst will collect the manila wrappings from D.R.O. for the indentures and this will cost �15.00, hopefully the Parish Council will pay this.

Beating the Bounds - Millennium Project

Peter Hirst reported on the recent meeting of the organising committee.

The draught plans are for the bounds to be split into six manageable stages, each stage to be walked twice at different speeds so to accommodate various ages and abilities. The Saturday walk approximately 6-7 miles, then that walk divided into two 3 - 3.5 mile walks on the following Tuesday and Thursday. It is hoped that this will enable most of those interested to at least take part in some if not all of the excursions. While the fittest and most agile will be able to stick rigidly to the boundary, those less able may take the easiest trail, be it either side of the boundary but most importantly in sight of it! The committee are very much in favour of fully cooperating with Mr Jack Simpson, Lord of the Manor of Spitchwick, to fit in with his plans of beating the Spitchwick Bounds. Margaret Steemson and Freda Wilkinson will make contact with Mr Simpson regarding this.

In addition to these there will be four sections of the bounds walked as a school project, organised in conjunction with the Headteacher (Mrs Sue Price), so that all the children of the school may be made aware of the history and importance of this local knowledge. Some parts of the bounds will be walked and some parts pointed out to them. Transport for the children may have to be organised, this may entail a certain amount of expense, hopefully a way to cover this will be found!

Mementos of the event however small need to be acquired, suggestions would be appreciated.

A. Some form of medallion.

B. A printed certificate.

C. A first-day type envelope incorporating a map, design, stamped with dates and year.

D. A set of 2000 year coins in a presentation folder.

The option undertaken will depend a great deal on the funds available.


Tucker Stone

Try to position it in the Church before Christmas. Terry French offered to help and Mary Pascoe would like to photograph the event.

Flower Festival - a Millennium Celebration of Village Life - 17th - 20th June 2000

The committee to oversee our contribution has been appointed.

Betty Andrews, Ruby Churchward, Freda Wilkinson and Sylvia Needham.

Secretary to approach Barbara Newport to obtain dimensions of the area allocated to the group, and to obtain a copy of the proposed mural which will act as a backcloth. It was felt that our activities should be portrayed, history of the Parish and our Heritage, agriculture and the home through the ages, making use of the plough already in Church and other country, household and heritage artifacts if possible The committee to meet in the Church, possibly with Barbara Newport, to view the area allocated and to formulate ideas and present them to the group, outlining what they would like members to loan and supply in the way of articles, flowers, items for display etc.


The supply of newspaper cuttings, leaflets, photographs etc continue to accumulate. No news to date about the model of Widecombe Fair, see last month�s minutes.

Ted Fitch, this months speaker suggested that we should contact Dartington Rural Arts, Foxhole, Dartington, regarding the best way of keeping cuttings and photographs etc, and the storage of copies.

Widecombe Chronicle

Twenty extra copies have been prepared. They are still selling and recently a further 20 were sold amounting to another �10.00 (50p per copy) for church funds.

Website.......www.widecombe-in-the-moor. com

Roger and Ann Claxton reported that we now have our own "Website" set up and this should lead to contacts being made to the group via the "Internet". The meeting thanked them for their

time and expertise in this field and we now await with interest any results. Their offer of a couple of hours instruction on this medium of information is still open to any takers.

To date several indentures and/or apprentices examinations have been transposed onto forms ready for processing into "database". This will then become available to interested parties through our "Website". Secretary to explore financial backing for this project.

Grants and Financial Support

The secretary has agreed to explore a variety of sources for grants and financial assistance with projects now in the pipeline. These include the Website, Storage of Documents, Millennium Projects (Beating the Bounds and Photographic Records etc), Microfiche copies of Old Records, Database and future actions of Historic Value and Local Interest.

Sources of funds include, Lottery Funding, Heritage Funding, Dartmoor National Park Authority, Dartmoor Trust and some Local Support. Other suggestions welcome!

Freda stated that a history group she knows in Wales are on the �Web�. As they receive many of enquiries for family trees etc they make a small charge to help with the running costs of the group. The monies so made can then be ploughed back and spent on further projects.

Parish Appraisal 1999

Nine parishioners formed the committee for this appraisal to obtain the views of all parishioners on how they would like the parish to progress into the next millennium. What they do or don�t want to see or happen in the parish and perhaps spark off new community initiatives. The results and findings of this appraisal was discussed at a meeting on 24th November 1999, and the Parish Council was then told of the opinions expressed and given a copy of the findings for their future reference. A copy was added to our archives. Appreciation was expressed to Terry French, the chairman of the committee, and to all the other members for the tremendous amount of work that they had undertaken.

Other Items

New Bridge has once again been damaged and will be closed during the weekend of 4-5th December for repairs.

Contact has been made with BBC Radio Devon who need a person to interview with regard to Christmas 1939, Bessie French agreed to do this. It was agreed that Christmas 1939 must have been a sober time!

A most interesting point was raised by Jim Churchward who remembered war being declared on the Sunday morning and seeing his father cry, "something that I had never seen before - my father cry". A demonstration of how awful an event it was, as seen by someone who could remember the previous war.

Terry French has recently done an interview with regards to Rural Transport, Neil Smerdon, (chairman Parish Council) and Anthony Beard had also been involved.

Jenny Sanders has obtained some tapes which the late Miss Gawne had recorded of Miss Bessie Beard and Mr Ern Pascoe, various subjects including threshing and life in the early part of this century are on them. She hopes to get copies made and give the group one for our archives.


A hearty vote of thanks was recorded to Ann Claxton and Jenny Pascoe for their delightful mince-pies, in place of the usual biscuits, and their helpers for the tea, a nice start to Christmas and to the end of the second millennium.

Rota:- January 2000 - Mary Pascoe and Wendy Beard.

February - Nora Lamb and Pam Clare.

Ted Fitch - Dartmoor and its Treasures

A vote of sincere thanks was recorded to the Fitch family for their combined efforts in giving the group such an interesting evening.

January meeting is 5th January 2000 - Peter Wakeham - Mans influence on Dartmoor.

The meeting closed at 10.00 p.m.

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