Widecombe History Group Minutes July 2001

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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House Widecombe on Wednesday 4th July 2001

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 31 people attended.

Apologies were received from:- Rodney Mortimore, Rosemary Mortimore, Michael and Jenny Pascoe, Bessie French, Geoffrey Hannaford and Mr Jack Simpson.

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


1 Data base of Parish Documents


2 North Hall

Information still being researched and collected by Peter Rennells.

3 2002 programme

Ann Claxton and Viv Layfield reported that the programme is near completion. They are developing an interesting and varied programme including such diverse subjects as The Dartmoor Pony, Devon’s Privies, Victorian Costumes and Hydro-electricity.

April, June, and November will probably be Non - Speaker Evenings.

Anyone having further suggestions for speakers please let Ann and Vivian have the names and addresses.

4 Tea Rota

All the ladies who each meeting assist each other in providing tea/coffee and biscuits were thanked for their efforts.

August Ruby Churchward and Betty Andrews

September Freda Wilkinson and Margaret Steemson

October Wendy Beard and Mary Pascoe

5 Hermon French

Secretary will make contact with Debbie Griffiths - Archaeologist of D.N.Park - regarding the prehistorical finds of Hermon French. He will also check with her regarding the proposed planting of commemorative trees at Hutholes.

6 Outing to Tiverton Castle and Grand Canal - Saturday 13th October 2001.

Ann Claxton reported on the arrangements for the outing to Tiverton Castle and Tiverton Grand Canal scheduled for Saturday 13th October 2001.

She produced booking forms for the event and asked for £5.00 deposits as soon as possible.


9.30 a.m. The coach will leave Widecombe.

10.30 a.m. Arrive Tiverton Castle. where tea/coffee and biscuits will be served.

Followed by a guided tour of The Castle including the private living accommodation of Mr and Mrs Angus Gordon.

Mr. Angus Gordon will then give the Group an address in the Library about the joint collection of mineral specimens that he and the late Hermon French collected from all over the Westcountry including Dartmoor and the Widecombe area, which are now on display in the Castle.

It is suggested that a picnic lunch is brought as there will be an opportunity to explore the gardens until 2.00 p.m. when the coach will take us to The Tiverton Grand Canal Wharf from where a two-and-a-half hour return trip on a horse-drawn barge will begin.

There will be a ten-minute stop at the furthest point to explore the acqueduct.

On the return journey a Tivertonian Cream Tea will be served provided it is ordered and paid for in advance (£2.90).

Total cost for the outing based on a minimum of 40 people partaking is :-

£16.20 plus optional Cream Tea at £2.90. Grand Total £19.10.

As mentioned earlier a £5.00 deposit is requested as soon as possible to ensure your seat.

Balance to be paid by 21st September 2001. Booking forms are now available, return by next meeting if possible.

7 Widecombe School

The team that represented our group at the recent quiz held to raise funds for the school came 6th. The team were congratulated and they reported a very enjoyable evening. Over £100.00 was raised.

The school fete held on Tuesday 3rd July raised over £740.00 for the school funds.

8 Screen

Peter Hirst reported that the screen given to the group by Joyce Heath has now been given with her permission to The Church House Management Committee so that it is available for any organisation using the Hall.

9 Guided walk at Yarner

The guided walk scheduled for Saturday 7th July around Yarner Nature Reserve is definitely on. Meet at the Reserve at 12.00 noon bring a picnic lunch.

10 Newsletter

Peter Rennells brought the latest newsletter to the meeting Volume 7.

Due to pressure of work he is unable to carry on the task of producing future editions, there is a need for a volunteer to take an the task. He was thanked for all his past hard work and in particular, thanked for the last edition which contains comments on the ‘Foot & Mouth’ outbreak. The rest of the contributors were also thanked.

11 Correspondence

A letter from Preb Rev John Scott thanking the group for the copy of the write-up about Widecombe bells received from Dr Tom Greeves. This has added to John’s considerable knowledge of Devon’s Bells, their dates, casting, costs and ‘travels’ including details of those who did the bellcasting and bellhanging. The members expressed their pleasure that they were able to assist in this after such a wonderful lecture last year from John on Widecombe Church Bells.

A letter from T.C.V.S. (Teignbridge Council of Voluntary Services) expressing thanks for submitting full details of the group, for the local CVS Database. They also enclosed details of what they can do in promoting and supporting organisations such as the History Group. Jack Elliott explained that they do not submit applications directly, but they will put organisations such as ours, in contact with people who will. The question arises -

"Should we join.....membership is £5.00 per annum?"

12 A.O.B

(a) We are still looking for the copies of 1841 census loaned to the group by June Kernick. Members were asked to look at any History Group literature that they may have at home to see if they have inadvertently been ‘tucked away’!

(b) Further to the copies of the poems written by the children of Widecombe Primary School regarding the Foot & Mouth outbreak and the ephemera including the signs erected on the moors now being collected, Mrs Sue Price (head teacher), has given one more poem written by the children as a look towards the future ‘after F&M’, this will be added to the file.

(c) Ann Claxton has written to Mike Brown of Dartmoor Press regarding a future talk on Buckland-in-the-Moor and requesting details of his books and leaflets published by him - to date no reply!

(d) Peter Hirst reported on a recent meeting between the Officers of the group and Miss Kit Hall during which she offered the group the original "Dymond Diaries". These are diaries written by her ancestors who lived at Blackslade Manor in the late 1800’s and relate many happenings in and around the area, many with personal notes of the Dymond family and their activities while they were at Blackslade Manor during their summer holidays and record a homely look at the everyday lives of the family. The Group accepted them and are currently having two copies made, one for Miss Hall for the family to retain and one for the group so that the originals need not be continually handled by those wishing to read or use them for research.

(e) Further to the recent examination of the "Tithe Map", it was found that the Parish also has the Tithe Book which has all the relevant details as regards to field names, numbers, acreages, owners and occupiers, and tithes paid etc which relate to that map. Peter has spent many hours during the last four months transcribing all the details in the book onto his computer and has produced a comprehensive print-out. He now requests that a group of our members should "proof read" this print-out to check his transcription. A very warm vote of thanks was recorded to Peter for this marathon effort, some 2348 plots entered and examined, it was agreed to do this to assure the accuracy of the copy. The following people offered to partake in the exercise:- Sue Booty, Terry French, Freda Wilkinson, Margaret Steemson, Wendy Beard, Mary Paascoe, Audrey Mortimore and Peter Hirst. It is planned to meet at The Church House at 7.30p.m. next Tuesday 10th July.

(f) Terry French stated that in the recent issue of "Dartmoor The Country Magazine" No 13 Summer 2001, there was a photograph showing the Leusdon Homeguard. This was sent in by Maurice Hill of Ilfracombe. Maurice was born at Ponsworthy his father being Ronald Hill, his mother Eveline (nee Down of Brimpts) and he had a brother Reg. The meeting was told that several people were writing to the Magazine with details. In early minutes of the group it can be found that a similar photograph at present hanging in The Leusdon Memorial Hall lists most of those in the photograph.

(g) Peter Rennells expressed a desire to pass over the responsibility of being "Family History Society Secretary" for the time being. June Kernick agreed to consider taking that task on and in view of her interest and knowledge in genealogy this was thought to be a good idea.

He informed the meeting that current contacts are being sought for :- Vogwell/Vogwill/Fogwill, Cribbett, Mann, Hannaford, Nosworthy and Warren.

June Kernick agreed to contact Peter and see how much work this would entail before committing herself.

(h) Peter Rennells is also looking for someone to take on the responsibility of editing the next newsletters. This entails writing a precis of six months minutes and getting it typed up and printed. He will write up a ‘job description’ and explain the finer details to whoever ultimately takes this project on.

(i) Freda Wilkinson then read to the meeting reports of the "Meltor Cartwheel Rolling" believed to have last taken place in 1954. She also had some associated photographs. This was done on the eve of St John the Baptist Day, 23rd June 1954 (mid-summer eve). A report of the event appears in the Transactions of The Devonshire Association Vol LXXXVII 1955 page 356.

She has several newspaper cuttings of the event.

Freda also mentioned the belief that on going to the top of Corndon Tor on Easter Sunday Morning and looking East, the Sun may be seen to rise and then dip again to salute the Risen Christ. This happening (recorded in T.D.A. 1957) refers to people going to the top of Corndon Tor in 1876 to see the "Sun Dance".

(j) Anthony Beard then showed the original Indenture relating to the formation of The Widecombe Educational Foundation 1814. Anthony and Chris Mayhead will make a transcription of the deed and Peter Hirst will obtain a photocopy.

When this is completed the original and the copy will be placed in the archives. Anthony then gave the meeting a resumee of the history of both The Church House and Lands Charity and the Widecombe Educational Foundation, how the funds are created and disposed of. The Church House and Lands are referred to in a document in the Parish Chest dated 22nd May 1608 when one John Baker was granted the use of the building. In the 1800’s The Church House, Buttes Parke (the present Village Green), land at Dunstone (Lady Meadow) and a house named Lady House were recorded as the assets of The Widecombe Church House and Lands Charity. Ultimately the present four cottages were built on the site of Lady House, the remainder of Lady Meadow was sold to the then Newton Abbot Rural District Council for the building of the six Council Houses, the Village Green was passed to the Parish Council to manage and the Church House was, after being sold to the Education Board in the 1880’s, bought back in the 1930’s and then given to The National Trust. The above charity was decreed to give one ‘moiety’ (half) of its annual surplus to Widecombe Church to be spent on its upkeep and one moiety to Widecombe Educational Foundation to be spent on assisting children attending the village school and on equipment for the school. He hopes soon to do a full and more detailed write-up of these two Charities for the group and the whole parish would then become aware of their existence and functions.

(k) Mary Pascoe produced a list of names of ‘Evacuees’ who lived in this Parish from 1940 - 1944 during World War II. Does anyone know of the present whereabouts of any them?

l) Mary has also developed a list of Justices of the Peace and Local Magistrates of the Mid 1800’s. This could be very helpful when transcribing the ‘Identures etc of The Parish’.

(m) Audrey Mortimore brought her photographic scrapbook complete with her write-up concerning The Beating of the Bounds 2001.

(n) Peter Hirst is obtaining some more unbleached calico for the wrapping of the most valuable documents in the Chests.

Family History Society.

A leaflet is circulated each quarter.

The names of people looking for connections relating to this area could be included in our website and the Parish Link.

Devon Records Office

Half Yearly Newsletter. Issue 27. May 2001.

EXETER. This lists several recent acquisitions from the 109 received since last November 2000 and their index numbers for example :-

Ashburton County Primary School log books 1876-1991 (D 6020).

It is a great help when looking for research material if the reference numbers are known. It is most important to write them down once found, as this can save a tremendous amount of time when revisiting the D.R.O. to continue any studies.

BARNSTAPLE. This office too has received several deposits this past six months.

D.R.O. has continued to offer Family History Courses. Information on this can be obtained from Family Tree Magazine.

Copies of Parish Registers are now available to purchase from D.R.O. on microfiche or microfilm. They do not cover marriage registers after 1837. Many people do not realise that the D.R.O. offers a self financing research service, including material held at D.R.O. and Westcountry Studies Library and Exeter Central Library.

Friends of Devon Archives -

Meetings:- 29th September and 20th October. Two meetings being a two part conference entitled ‘Manuscripts and Museums’ to be held at Torquay Museum and ‘Archives and Research’ to be held at County Hall Exeter. In November there will be four Local History Workshops probably (Reading Tudor and Stuart Handwriting, Tythes, Diocesan Records and The Exeter Archives), details expected in the next newsletter issue 28.

Devon Record Office Catalogues On-Line

At present catalogues available are :- Devon Quarter Sessions 1536 - 1972, Devon Crew Lists and Agreements 1863 - 1913, Plans of Public Undertakings 1793 - 1972, and others will shortly be added. To access http://www.a2a.pro.gov.uk/.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 1st August when the speaker will be Len Copley. The subject will be "Railways of Dartmoor".

There will a guided walk with Len Copley on Saturday 4th August beginning at The Dartmoor Naional Park carpark at Princetown at 12.00 noon of Princetown Railway and the surrounding area.

The meeting closed at 9.55 p.m.

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