Widecombe History Group Minutes June 1999

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A meeting of the Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 2nd June 1999 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 24 people attended.

Apologies were received from:- Peter Rennells, Mary Pascoe, Geoffrey Bamsey, Barbara Mayhead, Jack Elliott, Barbara Guthrie, Roy and Pauline Barnes and Rodney Mortimore.

The minutes of the May meeting were read and signed as correct.

To clarify points in the minutes it should be noted that the Bronze Age Period extended from about 2000BC - 5OOB.C. and it was during 1600-1400B.C. within that period, that the reave system was built.

Regarding the Iron Age Forts, the one at Hembury Woods is the nearest one that is publicly accessible, however there is another on private property slightly nearer, on Holne Chase.


Uppacott Longhouse

About 10 people who were unable to attend the last visit expressed a desire to visit Uppacott Longhouse. Freda Wilkinson agreed to try and arrange another visit.


Dr Tim Whitten's 'paper' on Bonehill was brought back by Freda with a note about an auction of property at "Bunhill" publicised in Trumans Exeter Flying Post in 1867. This related to a Decree through the High Court of Chancery, in the case Coop and Christow. This was all she could add to the information. Sylvia Needham took it home to read to see if she could contribute.

Peter Hirst reported that he hoped to meet June Kernick at "Newhouse" in the near future to map out a plan of the area.

North Hall

In the absence of Peter Rennells, the secretary reported that Peter was still researching the project. He has contacted Michael and Lorna Skinner of Glebe Farm, owners of the land on which North Hall was reputed to have stood, and they have agreed that he can visit the site with one or two others of the group to visually survey the site. Care must be taken to notify them prior to any visit. Anthony had received from Bill Homer of The Devon Archaeology Society a letter enclosing a list of companies that undertake Geophysical Survey work. He also mentioned that Bournemouth University sometimes have students looking for sites to explore. Care must be taken to ensure that all and any expenses that such associations may entail, must be fully explored and understood, before any commitments or undertakings are entered into with such organisations, there have been occasions, when expenses running into many thousands of pounds have been incurred by exercises of this kind. This information will be passed on to Peter. Anthony reported on a meeting that he had with a film company researching storms, cyclones and typhoons that have taken place in America and they were interested in the Great Thunderstorm of 1638 here at Widecombe. During conversation he mentioned North Hall and the fact of there being a collection of aerial photographs taken by the German Airforce, (Luftwaffe), on August30th 1940, currently held by the U. S. Department of Defence, National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, they expressed an interest and would see if when in America, they may well be in the area, and be able to find out the availability. The cost could be as much as £35.00 to obtain a copy. Chris Mayhead and Roger Claxton suggested that they be permitted to look at this from a different angle, possibly through the "Internet", this was agreed and their findings will be awaited with interest. Anthony is still trying to contact Jeremy Butler, author of 'Dartmoor Antiquities', to see if he has any aerial photos of the Widecombe area.

Newsletter Vol III is now available. This is a free publication for anyone interested in the group.

Beating the Bounds

Peter Hirst reported on ideas so far being put forward and his efforts to get a design for a medallion for all those that in any way contribute to this project, or participate in any way or form, towards its happening. The drawing shown to the meeting met with general approval. This showed the 'Grey Mare and Entourage' in the centre with an inscription around the edge, this may carry a 'Dartmoor National Park Motif' on the other side. Peter and the sub-committee will continue to work at this, and the plans for the route etc! He said that the medallion may be made of Bronze or even perhaps Dartmoor Tin!

Home Guard Photograph at Leusdon

Colin and Midge Westward are continuing their work on this project. Names on the Widecombe photo still need correction. Bessie French said that only two ladies in the photo's were un-named.

Leusdon Memorial Hall - Film Show

About 30 people expressed an interest in attending the film show scheduled for 30th October 1999, this will be brought up again at the July meeting and then some idea of the number of tickets required by us will be notified to the Hall Committee. Secretary agreed to compile a rough list of those wishing to see the film and let the Memorial Committee know! Tickets will be about £3.50.

Mr Parker of Dorking and his connections with the Hannafords & Warrens

Freda has not had any further correspondence from him.

Terry French stated that he had seen Wilfred and Dereck Hext of Pudsham, Buckland, who now own the land formally Stone Farm, Buckland, and they had told him that the last family living at Stone Farm were Norrish, c1880. Bessie French suggested that perhaps further information could be obtained by referring to her Kelly's Directory of 1888, or one similar of that era, to see if Stone and its inhabitants are recorded. This was agreed.

Mr Baughn of America - Barters of Brown Berry Farm - Dunnabridge

Anthony has had no further correspondence from Mr Braughn.

List-.of-books, photos, documents etc available for information

Peter Hirst is compiling a list of material that is owned by people, that they are prepared to make available to researchers within the group, and to be used as a source of information in compiling projects.

Postponed walk around Rippon Tor and Seven Lords land and Blackslade Ford etc

The walk previously scheduled for Saturday May 8th was postponed due to bad weather and has now been re-arranged for Monday 7th June starting at Cold East Cross at 6.00 p.m. Mike Perriam of Buckland, will be our guide.

Stephen Woods

The photographs received from Stephen Woods recently, for 'names to be put to faces', have been returned. Anthony expressed a vote of thanks to Leonard Norrish, Ted and Deborah Hannaford, Bessie French and Phyllis Pascoe for their assistance with this task.

Maps, Sale Catalogues and other Documents of Property in the Parish

Terry French said that it would be a good idea if copies of sale catalogues and maps of properties in the area that come up for sale were obtained and added to our chest. He felt that this would be of considerable interest for future records and research. The meeting agreed, and Terry said that he had a copy of the "Hutholes Ground" recently sold and he would bring this to the next meeting and start the collection. This could then be added to the plan of Hutholes drawn by the late Mrs Minter and given to the group by Deborah Hannaford at a previous meeting.

Reading Room

Research into this has not been followed up.


Sylvia Needham reported on a telephone conversation she had recently with a Mr Michael Wince of Wembury near Plymouth, who had stayed at Dipleigh in c1940's. Miss Herbert had Dipleigh rebuilt in 1912. He was able to tell her about a Mrs Howard, J.P., of Paignton, who was the owner of Dipleigh 1919-1949 and who's son spent a great deal of the summer each year there, (he could not work having lost both feet during World War 1). Mr Wince said that he had some early photographs of Dipleigh and would try to find them and bring out for Sylvia to see, he was only a small child but he can remember how frightened he was when he had to go to the toilet, in a shed away from the house, and at night trying to find his way with a candle - thank goodness the wind was not too bad!. Sylvia is looking forward to meeting Mr Wince, and seeing the photographs.

Freda then read the meeting an account of a Spitchwick Manor Court Meeting, held in February 1872.

Minute of the Court Leat and Baron, before me Francis Dymond, steward, and H. Firth, of Cator, foreman, and listing all those present. Presentments and business of the meeting was recorded. Mention of the old pound on which ground Beacon Cottage was later built, this being near the Tavistock Inn. This meant a new pound being provided at the bottom of Lake Steep to take its place. [ N.B. a similar thing happened at Widecombe when the old pound was taken over by the Radcliffe family, who owned the Old Inn, the pound was adjoined the south side of the Old Inn, and was accessible directly from the village square. They provided another pound in the yard at Glebe Farm, on the north side of the village green, this is believed to now have a roof and was last used as a pigsty. So it was goodbye pound!]. The commoners, said Freda, had considerable power in those feudal days, contrary to belief, and exercised that power over the Lord of the Manor. Mention of the Barn on 'Broadstreet' (now known as Broadsetts, built in 1872), between Lower Town and Townwood, above the 'plats' on the hill that runs down to Townwood.

Margaret produced a small write-up on Leusdon Church that she and Freda had compiled for an exhibition they once staged. It was suggested that this could be a good beginning to a leaflet on 'Religious Buildings of the area' similar to June's Newhouse booklet. This will be pursued.

Huccaby Races

Freda had some details on Huccaby Races. Betty Andrews and Ruby Churchward informed Freda that their father was official starter at Huccaby Races in 1921. Bessie French can remember going to Huccaby Races, the horses had to cross the road twice, this was west of Dunnabridge on the top of the hill towards Princetown, on the way home they walked all way around Believer and Cator. A story about Dinna Tuckett was recorded, her pony was not running too well, she went out into the middle of the course with her stick and brought it down on the pony's rump and said "bugger can travel when he's amind to"! Mention of the possibility that "Cock's lake" (Dartmeet side of Dunnabridge), could have been a crossing place at one time, this is questionable!

Tin Streaming

A copy of the Dartmoor Tinworking Research Group's Newsletter Number 11 has been added to our chest, this shows a detailed plan of the area downstream from Ruddicleave Bridge,

Buckland, and shows streaming mounds, and much more. Perhaps as much as 20% of Dartmoor has been affected by the action of Tinworking over the centuries. The D.T.R.G. is intending to map the area upstream from Ruddicleave Bridge in the next few years.

Devon Record Office - Certificates!

The meeting was reminded that certificates are available from the secretary for anyone wishing to go to the D.R.O. to research, and so obtain free admission.

Tea Break

Thanks to the tea ladies, Phyllis and Audrey and their helpers, for the refreshing twenty minutes during which time a great deal of discussion and exchange if ideas and information takes place. This always produces something of interest.

Parish Chest

Several people then took part in the wrapping of documents in the Parish Chest with the calico, (cut and hemmed by the ladies, see last meeting), and then tied up with tape and numbered. It was decided that more tape was required and further calico wrappings made. Due to the fact that the card-wrapped packages can become weak after continually being opened and closed, it was suggested that perhaps it would be better to have a simple card/folder made of the special manila card and then wrap them with calico, as with the other books etc, for simple access, this met with general approval.

Another section of the meeting took part in an experiment of recording details off 'apprentices examinations', 'overseers reports', 'indentures', 'removal orders' etc, onto a draft form, produced by Roger Claxton, to see if the details could then be transferred onto a 'computor data base' for easy future access to information. The form was in the style of several boxes into which the necessary information could be transferred. The exercise was very promising and Roger will assess the results with the aim of getting the system working ready for winter evening projects!

As Peter Hirst is archivist to both the Parish Chest and our chest, it has been agreed by the Parish Council that we have another copy of their keys cut for him to use, this will simplify his work as he will have instant access.

Congratulations were offered to Jim and Ruby Churchward on the occasion of their 48th Wedding Anniversary which they were celebrating in our company that evening.

Next meeting Wednesday 7th July with Len Copley giving a talk on Tinners and Warreners.

On the following Saturday, 10th July, he will lead us on a guided walk around Trowlesworthy Warren, meeting at Cadover Bridge at 12.00 noon

Congratulation were extended to Robert Steemson, (our chairman's eldest son), on being awarded a certificate in recognition of his involvement, and the work that he has done, with young people and the Duke of Edinbrough Award scheme

As there was no further business the meeting closed at 10.20 p.m.

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