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Widecombe History Group Minutes
Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 38 people attended. She began by welcoming everyone to the meeting and that she hoped they would enjoy the evening.
Jim and Ruby Churchward, Jenny and Michael Pascoe, Roger and Rosamund Whale, Bessie French, Sylvia Needham and Rodney Mortimore.
It was noted that Sylvia Needham was in hospital and Margaret agreed to send her a get well card on behalf of the group.
The Minutes of the last meeting were read and signed as correct.
Peter Rennells and Mary Pascoe have been to the West Country Studies Library to look for more North Hall information and they examined some 16 different projects and other documents concerning the parish. They have also compiled a list of some of the folders relevant to Widecombe held there. Mary found a copy of the 1906 photograph of Widecombe Church with the timber scaffolding surrounding it (see June minutes). They also uncovered a copy of The Hearth Rates 1581-1660, a list of names of people who were occupiers of estates and fit to be jurors 1870-71, The Devon Subsidy Roll 1520-25, notes on the church bells 1906, the Widecombe Church organ 1896 believed to have come from Leusdon Church, Leusdon Church had aquired a new organ at that time and it was built to fit into the archway, notes on Widecombe Church House and Lands Charity, water piping from Moor Field to The Vicarage 1889, and much more.
Peter then reported on the dowsing project of North Hall. Further to John Christian’s visit, Mr and Mrs Michael Skinner have permitted Tony Heath to dowse the two fields of interest, these fields are one marked by Ordnance Survey as ‘Site of North Hall’ and the one that showed the aerial crop marks, known as Great North Hall Moor. Details of his findings are now being prepared for comparison with John Christian’s findings. Michael and Lorna Skinner have invited members of our group to the sites on the evening of Wednesday 13th September when Tony Heath will demonstrate his technique and outline what he considers lies beneath the surface.
Tony then stated that he has also dowsed the Church and produced an elaborate plan of the church showing numerous ‘energy lines’ found within the building. He briefly explained his findings. The main energy line is in alignment with the North Hall site and also one aligned with Natsworthy. He believes that there was a wooden church on the site in 500 A.D. and that it was replaced by another similar in the 600’s. He then mentioned the possibility of a stone Saxon church around 1000 A.D. The north aisle possibly Norman c1130, the Middle aisle c1230, and the south aisle c1300. Dating the present west end and tower to c1500-1550.
A vote of thanks was recorded to Peter for his continued interest and enthusiasm, and to Tony for the immense time and effort that he has put into helping Peter with his project.
Tony explained that in his opinion Widecombe Church would be described by fellow dowsers as a ‘proper church’, this is because it contains wide energy lines and shows the presence of a strong ‘pagan line’ in alignment with North Hall. Early churches were built on the old pagan sites and he maintains that a ‘cairn’ was most probably sited near the present font. It is thought that in Roman times there was instruction that Christian Churches should be built over Pagan sites.
Peter Hirst has been in contact with a ‘Geophysicist’ he met at an excavation project that he has been involved with recently. The cost of having the involvement of such scientific assistance is considerable. This could be a suitable scheme to get ‘Grant aid’ as the sum required would possibly be in the range required by those administrators.
It was noted that Tony, with the agreement of Mr and Mrs Skinner, will demonstrate his findings on the two North Hall fields, on the evening of Wednesday 13th September. Meeting on The Village Green at 6.30 p.m. and wear sensible footwear.
Tony Heath and Anthony Beard have been able to obtain, free of charge, a steel storage cabinet and they are currently trying to get the key to secure it.
Beating the Bounds
A further 75 millennium mugs have been ordered from Douglas Middleweek in readiness for our ‘Bring and Share Supper Evening’. This will be held at The Church House, Widecombe, on Saturday 14th October 2000 commencing at 5.00 p.m. and running through to 9.00 p.m. The mugs will be distributed at about 6.30 p.m. All those eligible are requested to bring along any photographs that they have of the event for all to see and anyone wanting to have a copy of any of them can negotiate with the photographers concerned. A write-up however small from everyone would be appreciated and these will be added to the photographs and make a good pictorial and written record of this historic event and will be placed in the Parish Chest. It is felt that future generations or organisers of similar events in the future will find this of great help.
The Widecombe Tithe Map c1844/5 will be brought down from its storage point on Sunday 17th September and exhibited in the Church House throughout the day on Monday 18th September from 10.00 a.m. when anyone interested may examine it.
It will be replaced at 9.00 p.m. that evening. While it is on show it will hopefully be examined by Deborah Phillips, Conservator/Restorer of The Devon County Records Office to ascertain what remedial work if any needs to be done to secure it for the future. It is hoped that a copy of the map will also be available for closer examination. Roger and Ann Claxton offered to help Peter bring it down and put it up again.
John Lake Webber’s book of poems
Work still continuing with preparation to publish the above prior to Christmas 2000.
Simon Dell now has all the photographs required for the book, it was suggested that we should include the one of the interior of Leusdon Church, (the property of Bessie French), as it shows the interior of the Church very much as it was in c1900. Sir Roger Birch has written the foreword to the book, and it is interesting that Roger Birch was policeman of this parish approximately 100 years after John Webber. The latest estimate is now approximately £1000 to produce 300 copies. These will sell at £4.99 a copy and advance orders are are now being taken. Information about this will be published in the November and December Editions of our Parish Link (our local Parish Newsletter).
Anthony has written to Dartmoor National Park and to The Dartmoor Trust to see if any grant or financial assistance is available towards this project. We have been offered some private financial assistance with the project, the donors wishing to remain anonymous.
Widecombe Church Bells
The coach trip to Dorchester to see the bells and their new steel frame was well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all those that went.
The bells are now re-erected in the tower and were heard this morning. They will be rung on Saturday 9th September when the Millennium Time Capsule (instigated by the Parish Council as our Millennium Project) is buried on the village green. This will take place at 6.30 p.m. and all members of the parish are invited by the Parish Council to witness the event and there will be a cream tea served at The Green Restuarant for all those that attend.
Family Tree Society
Peter Rennells has published in The Parish Link a list of local families about whom he has had requests for information, from all over the world. Those that would like further information about any of these names should contact Peter and he will pass on the relevant contact addresses. To date 9 families have expressed interest.
Guided walk around the Burrator Reservoir Area with Len Copley
Once again a most interesting guided walk was given to the group by Len Copley on Saturday 5th August, based on his talk given at our August meeting. This was around Burrator Reservoir and Sheepstor. All those that were able to attend found it most informative.
Anthony Beard reported on a recent visit to Kelly Mine, near Lustleigh, where an iron ore was mined ‘Mecachous Hematite’ this has very peculiar qualities and was used to produce a rust resistant paint and the powdered ore was used prior to blotting paper, on letters and documents. Traces of this can still be found on some of our old parish documents in the Parish Chest. The people involved with the restoration of the mine have agreed to give the group a talk on its history and workings and also arrange a guided walk around the site, a date for this will be arranged.
Anthony also reported that he is well on the way to finalising the 2001 list of speakers and associated guided walks. Suggestions for 2002 are always welcome.
Scobitor and other Victorian ‘Follies’.
A letter was received from Phillip Knowling of Buckfastleigh. He has recently been involved with ‘The Valiant Soldier Project’ at Buckfastleigh. In his letter he states that he is preparing a book on Dartmoor’s Victorian Follies. He has collected information on about 15 of these and includes Scobitor ‘Round House’ amongst his list, (see correspondence July Minutes). Audrey Lamb said that she believed that a family by the name of "Goff" were responsible for its erection and it was built as a place to teach their sons how to shoot. Mary Pascoe has a photograph of the interior of the building, she is prepared for a copy to be given to Mr Knowling.
Correspondence from the organisation ’55 plus’ about workshops and classes and courses being run by them, for people that fit into that category.
It was noted that Dunstone Chapel is undergoing a major refurbishment. A water supply, toilets and sewage system are being put into the Chapel and during the work it has been noted that the timbers in the roof are rotting. The Chapel is now covered by scaffolding and tempory roofing while the new roof is constructed. Mary Pascoe has undertaken to build up a photographic record of the project as it progresses.
Website and E-mails
Roger Claxton reported on the activity during the last month.
Enquiry from P.J.Hannaford-Hill, Crawley, West Sussex.
George Hannaford, was he the son of Jacob Hannaford and Eleanor Churchward and did he live with Irene Hill and did they put their surnames together forming Hannaford-Hill? Possibly lived at Bovey Tracey or Stoke Gabriel?
Were these their children?
i) Edmond George HH 06.04.1842 - 12.15.1904
ii) William Henry HH bapt 10.21.1851 d 10.23.1851
iii) Anna Eliza HH bapt 04.10.1857
iv) Elizabeth HH bapt 04.10.1857
v) Ellen Louise HH bapt 04.10.1857
vi) John HH bapt 04.10.1857
vii) Michael HH bapt 04.10.1857
viii) William Henry HH bapt 04.10.1857
ix) James Grant HH bapt 04.10.1857
x) Martha HH bapt 08.28.1870
xi) Selina HH bapt 08.28.1870
It was suggested that Deborah and Geoffrey Hannaford, Audrey Lamb and June Kernick should be made aware of this enquiry.
Two enquiries from Pradip Joshi on the subject of ‘Elton Manor’.
It appears that his main interest is in Conan Doyle and The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Question (i) Did Conan Doyle stay at Elton Manor while writing the book?
(ii) Did William Blake write ‘Jerusalem’ there?
(iii) Did an apparition of the Virgin Mary appear there?
(iv) Are there any sacred sites nearby.
(v) Did St Pancras Church catch fire in 1638 as a result of the lightning strike?
Roger will contact him for more accurate details.
An enquiry dated 13th August 2000, from the Grant Family (Kathy Grant, Brisbane, Australia).
She was excited to find our website and is interested in the database we are building up of Parish Documents, she would like details when it is available. She is researching Thomas Blee who married Jane Roberts at Manaton in 1757. Their first child Mary was christened at Widecombe 16th October 1757, they also had a son Thomas, (info needed). Jane Roberts was buried at Widecombe 8th July 1762. Mary and Thomas seem to have been brought up by their Grandfather, John Roberts of Widecombe. Any information on Thomas Blee senior?
October meeting with Michael Vyner - "A light hearted look at Local Parish Churches".
Tea rota :- Ruby Churchward and Betty Andrews.
Meeting closed at 10.12 p.m.
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