Widecombe History Group Minutes January 2001

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A Meeting of the Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at the Church House, Widecombe, on Wednesday 3rd January 2001 at 7.30 p.m.

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Mrs. Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 41 people attended. She began the meeting by welcoming everyone, including some new faces and Geoffrey Weymouth our guest speaker for the evening and she wished everyone A Happy New Year.

Apologies were received from: Dave Fisher, Bessie French, Freda Wilkinson, Sylvia Needham, Rosamund Whale and Jenny and Michael Pascoe.

The Minutes of the last meeting were read and signed as correct.


North Hall - Peter Rennells reported that according to written evidence North Hall was in ruins in the 1600’s but he has obtained a copy of the 1831 Land Tax which mentioned North Hall Town Mills, owned by Lady Ashburton, leased to Richard Brooking and the rates were £1. 3s. 4d. per annum so there must have been a building of some size there in the beginning of the 19th century to warrant those rates.. Another Mill at North Hall was leased to John Tremills, rates 10s.0d., also mention of Ponsworthy Mill, rated at 8s.0d.

In 1780 it appears that North Hall was owned by John Dunning (Lord Ashburton) and let to John Andrew for £1.13s.4d. Many other properties in the parish are mentioned in the Accounts but the rates of North Hall appear to be well in access of them, which makes one think that a building of some importance was at North Hall to justify the rate. Many properties still in the parish were recorded in the 1831 document. The Chairman congratulated Peter on his interview on B.B.C. Radio Devon, which has generated a lot of interest, when he explained a great deal about North Hall and his methods of research.

Parish Documents - Roger and Ann Claxton are continuing to compile the Database of our Parish documents. Members are urged to contact Peter Hirst if they are prepared to participate in this scheme.

Widecombe Website - Roger Claxton gave us an update of the Website. It has now been running for twelve months, there are over 120 pages with some 200 pictures now on the Website concerning parish events, minutes of the History Group and Parish Council, details from the Parish Link, full transcripts of talks given to the History Group by various speakers, a growing band of advertisements including where to stay and what to do. This has now developed into a comprehensive community project receiving as many as 200 hits (visits) per month from several European countries and from as far afield as USA, Australia, Japan, New Zealand as well as many from this country. Any income generated from the Website will be divided equally between the History Group and the Widecombe Church Tower Appeal.

Roger and Ann can be contacted on roger@widecombe-in-the-moor.com

Roger then explained that he would like people to contact him with details of events and other happenings relating to the parish, so that he can include them on the website in the future.

A vote of thanks was recorded to Roger and Ann for the immense amount of work that they have put into this venture over the past twelve months. None of this would have happened if was not for their enthusiasm and expertise. It was noted that they had paid all the costs relating to the website for the past year including the telephone and of course the many hours of work and time put into the project to get it up and running. We have now paid our website licence for the next year and they are still prepared to give of their time and cover the ‘phone-calls involved. This is an example of the community working at its very best.


The e-mails are continuing to arrive, and are being dealt with.

One regarding Samuel Hannaford, having been passed on to June Kernick, because of her interest and connection with the Hannaford family, concerning his activities in and around Cincinnati, where he was an Architect of considerable repute, designing some 300 buildings, including the Music Hall, City Hall, University and Hospital. See December Minutes.

June has printed off all the details of the said e-mail. She gave the group a copy.

She also mentioned a letter in the Parish Chest concerning a Roger Hannaford, dated 1871, which is over-written at right-angles and difficult to decipher. This could be a son of Samuel.

Beating the Bounds

The last of the children’s walks was postponed due to the adverse weather on the day. Peter Hirst reminded the meeting that the manor boundaries are scheduled for attention during 2001.

More copies of Newsletter No. 6 need to be obtained.

Dartmoor’s Policeman Poet Book is continuing to sell, priced £4.99 plus 50p. postage and package, obtainable from Widecombe & District Local History Group at Bittleford Parks, Widecombe in the Moor, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ13 7TQ. Cheques made payable to Widecombe Local History Group. A vote of thanks was recorded to those who manned the stall at the pre-Christmas craft market and sold copies of the book. The meeting thought that we should do something similar at the Church Fete due to be held next May.

A vote of thanks was recorded to the tea ladies and their helpers.

Tea Rota for:

February: Ann Claxton and Nora Lamb

March: Pat Coaker and Beryl Tabor

The Programme for 2001 was adopted and copies made available to Members, see December Minutes for details.


A reply has been sent to the Parish Council stating that we would monitor the parking so that the road to Venton would not get blocked in future.

A letter of thanks had been sent to Mr Simpson of Spitchwick thanking him for the copy of the Spitchwick Manor Bounds Perambulation write-up and accompanying map.

A letter was received from Mrs Ann Williams of Corndonford giving notice of a meeting to be held at Corndonford on Tuesday 23rd January 2001 at 7.30 p.m. to help promote ‘Ponies that have been born on Dartmoor’, as against ‘Registered Pure Bred Dartmoor Ponies’.

February 7th Meeting is a non-speaker evening.

The meeting closed at 9.57 p.m.

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