Widecombe History Group Minutes May 2000


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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 3rd May 2000 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 35 people attended.

Apologies:- Peter Rennells, Jack Elliott, Pauline Barnes, Chris Mayhead, Rosamund Whale, Rodney Mortimore, Ann Claxton, Rachael Belgrave.

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

Arising:-

North Hall

Peter Rennells sent the meeting a résumé of his work completed during the last month.

He is reading; ‘Widecombe in the Moor’ by John Webber 1886, pages 36,37 and 38 ref ‘North Hall Mansion Ruins’ - states:- arched doors with iron bands - home of Andrews family over 100 years earlier - a stately oak, an elm tree tall, a box tree evergreen, a yew, a laurel, large rookery, a water course, a moat ten feet deep and twenty feet broad, fed by a gentle brook. See the poem.

North Hall Mansion plus grist mills and water leased to Andrews family in 1626.

Last lease of Mansion and Mills to the Andrews family in 1736.

(ref Devon County Records 48/14/47.)

He has visited Westcountry Studies Library to research maps.

Greenwood’s Map 1827

John Cary’s Map 1818....neither showed any sign of North Hall.

He has visited DRO to view the following books:-

Lives of the Saints

Survey of Westcountry Manors

Devon Genealogy.......no reference to North Hall or Fitzralph’s.

He visited Torquay Reference Library and made a copy of the leaflet relating to the purchase of ‘The Church House’ by Rev E.C.Wood, vicar.

Anthony Beard has made contact with John Christian, water colour artist and dowser, of South Tawton, and agreed with him and Peter to ‘dowse’ the North Hall site during the summer and give the group an illustrated talk, during our 2001 programme of speakers, on what he finds, his interpretation, and the general subject of dowsing. Time Team has acknowledged our letter.

Devon Family History Society

Their offices are at ‘Family Tree’, Exeter.

Peter has acquired 4 back issues of ‘Devon Family Historian’ published by them.

These contain items on Buckland in the Moor, burials. Families seeking Widecombe connections include French, Hext, and Cleave. Separate booklet containing Widecombe burials 1813-1837.

He was given by DFHS a quantity of microfiche sheets containing register of people world wide who are seeking family connections i.e. Smerdons from Australia and USA, Hamlyns from Australia, New Zealand and USA, Beards from Canada and USA. Is there a need to acquire a microfiche reader so that these sheets can be viewed by our members or is it possible to get the use of one?

He has seen document folders regarding Widecombe families i.e. Smerdons, Hamlyns and Foales, also a ‘Who’s Who’ for Buckland.

The Devon History Society - nothing to report

The Friends of Devon Archives - nothing to report.

Police

Geoffrey Bamsey reported that the information he had on Venton has been passed on to P.C. Simon Dell of Tavistock. He has contacted the man in New Zealand regarding Venton photograph with no success. Simon Dell believes that the photo is now in the hands of a policeman in Cullompton.

Anthony Beard reported meeting Simon Dell and telling him of the John Webber book of poems. Simon expressed an interest in seeing the book. He has offered to look into the possibility of getting it reprinted to be sold to raise funds for the ongoing Church Tower Appeal. He will firstly try to locate anything in the police archives about Webber, then attempt to get some photographs or drawings relevant to that era and to Widecombe and Leusdon Churches, which could add to the interest and appeal of the book, we await with interest his findings.

Peter Rennells has seen in the parish register a record of the baptism of Webber’s children and their untimely deaths c1873, he will pass this on to Simon. He has also seen notice of a P.C.Howard living at Lower Dunstone in 1892, he will pass this on to Geoffrey.

The Police Choir concert held on 27th April was a great success.

Storage - nothing to report.

Sayer’s family gift of ‘The Bell Clappers’ to the Church

It was reported that the ‘Bell Clappers’ are now securely placed in the church, attached to a large piece of timber and will be on permanent display with a plaque attached in recognition of the gift by the Sayer family. They will be discussed as part of the talk to be given tomorrow evening at the Church by Preb. John Scott on the history of our bells, when they and the bells will be able to be seen and examined at the rear of the Church.

Millennium satellite aerial photo - www.getmapping.com - nothing to report.

Flower Festival 17th - 20th June.

It was agreed that those organising our display should meet at the church on Tuesday 16th May at 2.00 p.m. to make and finalise the arrangements for our contribution. There is a need for old country artifacts, equipment and tools, and old household commodities, salt glazed jars and utensils to be made available to our team to enhance the display. Rodney Cruze has offered to make a replica stone circle or round house to compliment Freda Wilkinson’s model of a Dartmoor Longhouse and her old packhorse saddle. These tools etc should be brought to church on the 16th May for the displayers to see what they have available to use.

Geoffrey Bamsey said that there would be an article in the June edition of ‘Devon Life’ promoting Widecombe and particularly the Flower Festival, Tower Appeal and Widecombe Fair.

Programme 2001

Secretary still open for suggestions regarding speakers and guided walks.

Suggestion from Ken Hamlyn:- Sheila Perigal of Bovey Tracey - subject - TREES.

Beating the Bounds

Peter Hirst gave an update on the arrangements for our series of walks to ‘beat the bounds’.

He would have a book available for everyone participating to sign in. This had two purposes, firstly so that a list of all those taking part would be recorded with a view to giving them a ‘special millennium beating the bounds mug’ to commemorate the event and secondly so that it would be possible on each walk to keep tally of everyone as they joined the walks and most important when and where they left, so that there would be no need to send out ’search parties’.

He suggested that everyone kept an eye on two or three other walkers and noted that they had reached each stopping point and that way all could be easily accounted for. There would be regular stops for refreshments, Sylvia Needham has volunteered to be the ‘mobile food wagon and transporter of rucksacks, picnics and if needed of anyone who has to drop out for any reason’. There would be stretches of the walk where there would be an option of a difficult path keeping very close to the bounds, or an easier track still keeping the boundary in view but more simple to negotiate. This would be pointed out as and when we reached them. Peter went on to suggest that suitable clothing is important, good strong footwear, waterproofs as the weather can change quite quickly, food and drink, and also to remember any medication, sunblock, simple emergency equipment like plasters. A couple more financial contributions towards the cups etc were received. It was suggested by Terry French that we ought to ask Simon Partridge of Leightor Farm if we could use his field at Newbridge to park cars if there was a need, rather than overfilling the DNP park. Remember we have to return to Newbridge by sharing cars.

Request that everyone taking part should write up their own account of the walks and what they saw and thought, copies of photographs to add to the compilation are invaluable particularly bridges, stones crosses and engraved stones etc and those taking part. Dogs to be kept on leads.

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

Roger Claxton reported that the website is continually being updated. It currently has about 18 months minutes on line, as well as the Flower Festival and Widecombe Fair promotions. The Indenture Database is building, with over 100 parish chest documents so far examined and their contents recorded. Nothing further on Westcountry TV.

Items for June Meeting (non speakers meeting)

Poles on Hameldown and Pudsham Down. Letter from Widecombe School regarding the use of swimming pool. Letter from Plymouth Atheneum re: ‘Lady Drake’. Newsletter Vol 5.

Refreshment Rota

A vote of thanks for all those involved with this meeting’s tea and biscuits, and washing up afterwards!

June Mary Pascoe and Wendy Beard.

July Audrey Mortimore and Pam Clare.

August Phyllis Pascoe and Margaret Steemson.

The meeting closed at 10.12 p.m.

Illustrated talk by Brian Byng - Dartmoor’s Megalyths and Moonlight!

For a transcript of the talk, please click here.

The meeting was reminded that Brian would be giving the group a guided walk around Merrivale Stone Row and its associated circles, cairns etc on Wednesday 17th May beginning at Four Winds (Foggingtor School) car park at 7.30 p.m.

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