Widecombe History Group Minutes August 2002

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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 7th August 2002 at 7.30 p.m.

Click here for the talk on the Dartmoor Granite.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 41 people attended. Some fresh faces were welcomed to the meeting and the hope was expressed that they would enjoy the meeting and become regular members.

Apologies were received from Wendy and Rodney Cruze, Ken Hamlyn, Kate Strasdin, Bessie French, Jenny Pascoe, Peter Rennells.

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


Church Dropcloth. Still awaiting accurate measurements.

Family History and E-mails.

1) Tanner family. George Tanner married Elizabeth Davis in Widecombe November 27th 1815 (witness John Coaker). Had a son Martain before immigrating to Ontario, Canada.

Any information please!

Replied:- In my records I find that George Tanner of Hembury married Elizabeth on that date. No further mentions of Davis or Tanner. Hembury is near Widecombe in either the parish of Holne or Buckfastleigh.

2) Langworthy. Enquiry if any Langworthys are still in the parish.

Replied:- No Langworthy family. There is a Langworthy Farm and the present owners are willing to correspond.

3) Jones. Lyn from Australia on holiday in England.

Replied:- No information available. Suggested she look in D.R.O. in Exeter and Mormon’s records for a start.

4) Howis/Thorne/Wills. Letter from Canada tracing these family names mainly from the Ashburton area.

Replied:- Suggest contact Ashburton information centre for further contacts.

The Meeting suggested that I should pass this on to Dick Wills of Narracombe, Ilsington as he has about fourteen generations of Wills in his family tree. There is also a Howis living in Ashburton. This will be done.

5) House named Smithill in Widecombe. My husband’s ancestors lived at Smithill in Widecombe for 100 years from 1810, named Warren. Does the house still exist today.

Replied:- Smithill Farm is in the parish of Lydford. At that time they would be brought to Widecombe to be buried. The little incline in the road up to Widecombe Village Green is known as Smithill, there were and still are a couple of houses on the hill and could well have been referred to as such as the area, rather than the actual name of the cottage. Several Warrens still in the area. Their occupations vary from thatcher, farmer, mason etc.

6) Barter family and Sherburton and Brownberry Farms. Question regarding a great aunt and uncle who died there as infants, were they buried on the farm?

Replied:- The two farms are Duchy Farms and are believed to be farmed as one unit by the Coaker family of Sherburton. Regarding the infants, thought to be referring to the two buried at Widecombe Church one month after the other c1854, details of which I sent to Charles Baughn in 1999/2000.

7) Lichway. Enquiry of the route of the Lichway. Roger has replied. Suggested refer to Eric Hemery’s "Ancient Trackways".

8) Minutes 06.01.1999. A Brian Coaker has recently read those minutes and confirms that the Richard Coaker referred to in them was Richard Coaker of Painsford, Ashprington, who was the son of John Coaker of Bellaford (Bittleford?) Widecombe, who was one of the first people recorded as attending Widecombe Fair.

9) French family. Enquiry from a person in New Zealand who has researched the Tuckett family and published a book in 1993, (copy in the DFHS Library). Three Tucketts had married three Frenchs. He relates the thunderstorm story of Rowbrook when the middle child of three sleeping in the same bed was killed by lightning. He is now researching the French families of Widecombe, and particularly the Rowbrook Frenchs. Question regarding Hermon French, who were his parents? Terry French has agreed to see what information he has on the subject. The meeting agreed that Hermon’s father was Thomas and it was believed that his mother was related to the Coaker family now of Bittleford this could be through the Langdons, this needs checking!

10) Frank Hext reported that he has made contact with Jonathan Hext of Conniston (July Minutes). It appears his family were miners from Mary Tavy and moved to Conniston. Frank has exchanged several E-mails with him and this is still on-going.

Tower Lead. Secretary and Peter Hirst still pursuing the idea of using the lead to produce paper weights. Peter has obtained a mould to use for experimental work. Anthony has borrowed a pot and ladles from Alan Boon of Ashburton for this purpose. Anthony is also tracing a firm that makes brass commemorative plaques. It was considered that care and patience should be the optimum.

Goggles, protection from water contact, clamps to hold mould, gloves etc are all to be utilised. If successful green sticky felt should be obtained for the weights. It was suggested that Foundry & Fabrications of Totnes may be a good contact. Dick Wills of Ilsington who ran The Vintage Rally may be another.

Outings. Ann Claxton agreed to organise further outings for the Group. She emphasised that she is open to suggestions of where and when. The possibility of a), Bishop Lydeard, a trip on the Steam Railway to Dunster and so to Dunster Castle, a good look at Dunster itself and home over Exmoor, or (b), a trip to Lostwithiel and Restormel Castle, and a couple of other ideas have already been suggested. Ann will report on her findings and considerations.

Kelly Mines. The meeting were reminded that Kelly Mines Open Day is scheduled for Sunday 1st September from 2.00 p.m. Parking will be in a field close to Lustleigh Village and then walk up a pathway to the mines.

Peter and Dylis Harvey thanked all the members of the Group that had supported them in their fundraising Garden Party for Children’s Hospice South West, Fremington, held at their home, Brownswell Farm, when £875 was raised.

The Tea Rota for

  • September Dylis Harvey & Phyllis Pascoe
  • October Freda Wilkinson & Margaret Steemson
  • November Betty Andrews & Ruby Churchward
  • December Bring & Share Party Night.

Audrey Lamb reported on the photograph mentioned in the last minutes. She was able to confirm that it showed Hilda Mann at Chittleford, Widecombe, c1920’s, feeding the chicken. Hilda was the sister of Maurice Mann who ran an electrician business at Ashburton c1930’s, 40’s & 50’s. Cousins of the Mann family of Great Dunstone, Widecombe. Frank Hext told the meeting that she married a cousin of his, a Victor Essery, and they lived at The Avenue in Newton Abbot for some time. This was confirmed by Audrey, with the help of Margaret Harris.

Black out curtains for The Church House have been made and will soon be available for anyone to use when giving a film or slide show in the hall. Thanks was expressed to Wendy Beard, Mary Pascoe and Aurdey Mortimore for their time and effort in making them. There will be need for the Hall Committee to find a drawer in which to keep them.

Aileen and Peter Carrett were thanked by the chairman for their compilation of two folders. one showing the Old Walls Hydro-electric Scheme and the other showing our Budleigh Salterton Trip.


A letter from The Widecombe Church Tower Appeal thanking the group for £193 recently sent to them from the sale of our booklets etc.

Letter from Beryl and George Foskett thanking the group for the warm welcome shown to them at the Meldon walk and they hope to attend some meetings soon.

A letter seeking information on the Hannaford family, this was passed to June Kernick to deal with as it refers to her family tree.

The subject at the Wednesday 4th September Meeting, is a talk by Elizabeth Newbolt-Young on The Dartmoor Pony. Elizabeth and Roderick Newbolt-Young have invited members to their Stud at Chittleford to see the stock, on the evening of Friday 6th September at 6.00 p.m.

Peter Hirst offered the Group a guided walk around Sharpitor, Peek Hill and Burrator Reservoir to look at the Geological Features on Saturday 10th August, meeting at the top of Peek Hill at 12.00 noon.

Ann Claxton gave a review of the 2003 programme so far arranged:-

  • January 8 Rodney Cruze. Thatching
  • February 5 Jenny Sanders. Ancient Farmsteads in the central basin of Dartmoor.
  • March 5 Tim Jenkinson. Dartmoor’s lesser known Tors
  • March 8 Guided walk led by Tim Jenkinson.
  • April 2 Non-speaker evening. Discussion on Farming
  • April 5 Guided Walk led by Peter Hirst at Bullaton Farm, Lustleigh
  • May 7 Andrew Hamlyn The History of the Ten Tors
  • June 4 T.B.A.
  • July 2 Col. Tony Clarke History of the Army on Dartmoor
  • July 5 Guided Walk led by Tony Clarke of Okehampton Camp and the Area surrounding it.
  • August 6 Non Speaker Evening. Subject ?
  • August 9 Guided walk led by Peter Hirst
  • Sept 3 T.B.A.
  • October 1 Derek Gore Roman Conquest of the South West
  • (Sun) 5 Guided Walk led by Derek Gore Exeter Roman Walls, Northernhay, Exeter
  • Nov 5 Non Speaker Evening. Subject ?
  • Dec 3 Tom Greeves Talking to the Old Men - oral recording and the archaeology of the Devon Tin Industry

Budleigh Salterton Museum. June Kernick has visited the Museum to see some of her family clothes with particular interest in an old bonnet that once belonged to her great grand-mother.

Miss Joy Gawne has asked the Group if they would like some of the surplus clothes as they are keen to dispose of sixteen items - Lady’s chemises, underclothes in both cotton and linen. The Group felt that storage would be the problem and declined the offer. It was suggested that perhaps Killerton House N.T. would be interested. A further suggestion was that perhaps Ashburton Museum would be interested - contact Jamie Broughton.

The meeting closed at 10.20 p.m.

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