Widecombe History Group Minutes July 2002

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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House Widecombe on Wednesday 3rd July 2002 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 40 people attended.

Apologies:- Ken and Sue Hamlyn, Kate Strasdin, Freda Wilkinson. Bessie French, Betty Andrews, Jim and Ruby Churchward.

The minutes of the last meeting were read and signed as correct. Mrs Steemson then welcomed our guest speaker for the evening, Len Copley, who was to give the meeting an interesting illustrated talk on ‘Dartmoor-the North Moor’. Len then offered to give the group a guided walk around the Meldon Area on Saturday 13th July, meeting at Meldon Reservoir Carpark at 12.00 noon. Bring a picnic. Map Reference:- SX 562 918


The Church Dropcloth. We are awaiting the actual measurements before storage can commence.

Family History Society. See E-mails for latest enquiries.

E-mails. Three received this month.

1). Frank Hext agreed to deal with this one as it refers to the Hext family.

This was received from a Jonathan Hext of Coniston, in the Lake District, and who is the present Chairman of The Coniston Parish Council. An ancestor, Frances Hext has traced the Hext family to c1350. Frank has agreed to follow this up!!

2). Enquiry of Langworthy family from Widecombe by Thomas Earle Langworthy of The Grand Rapids, Michigan USA. As there is Langworthy Farm in the parish, it poses the question - did the early families take their name from the farm or did they give their name to the farm - secretary will reply. Terry French said Langworthys did appear in old parish church records. Peter Rennells said there are Langworthys on the micro-fiche.

3). Enquiry from Lyn in Australia who intends to visit Torquay in August looking for information on her G. Grandfather Charles Jones, possibly of Widecombe c1860 - he had a son George Jones born in Australia 1887 - secretary will reply.

Tower scrap lead. A contact has been made with a Pete Kibble of Moretonhampstead who has suggested that aluminium moulds similar to those used to make fishing weights would be suitable for making paperweights, he has suggested a contact to obtain the same, they can be in 2, 4 or 6 ounce sizes. Anthony and Peter Hirst have agreed to follow this up. If this materialises we shall decide how a proportion of any profit is distributed to other local organisations.

Budleigh Salterton Outing. Audrey Mortimore proposed a vote of thanks to Ann Claxton for organising such an enjoyable group outing on the 8th June. This was unanimously agreed and Ann was informed that she has now landed herself with a job for life organising future events. A letter of thanks has been written to Miss Gawne thanking her for her assistance and stating that many members have expressed the intention of visiting the museum again to look particularly at the vast amount of information held in the numerous folders on show. Peter and Aileen Carrett produced a folder of photographs recording the event for members to see. They also gave the group a similar folder containing photographs and the write-up of the Old Walls Hydro Electric scheme talk and visit. This has the cover stamped with our own ‘Logo’ which they have obtained for us. This will be used in future to mark any books etc that are donated to the group.

Kelly Mines. Peter Hirst said that the visit in June was excellent and reminded the group that their open day is set for Sunday 1st September from 2.00 p.m. when anyone interested can visit. He also reminded the meeting that parking nearby is generally difficult.

Peter and Dylis Harvey reminded the meeting of their Garden Open Day to be held on Saturday 27th July at Higher Brownswell Farm, Ashburton from 2.00 p.m. to raise funds for The Children’s Hospice South West. Any contributions for cake stall or draw prizes would be appreciated. Brownswell will be sign-posted from Owlacombe Cross and the Ashburton Road.

The usual tea/coffee break was enjoyed by all. Thanks was expressed to all those who help each month with its preparation.


August - Rose and Audrey Mortimore

September - Dilys Harvey and Phyllis Pascoe

This rota lists those who have agreed to boil the water and set up the cups etc. The tea, biscuits, etc are supplied by the group and so many members always seem willing to help with the washing up. Thanks to everyone.

Map Stone? Further to Joyce and Tony Heath’s photograph of the unusual ‘map stone’ seen at Sherrill, Sylvia Needham brought a book to the meeting, showing a very similar stone in South America. This caused considerable discussion during the tea interval!

Treasurers Report.


Jenny Pascoe updated the meeting on the situation regarding publications that the group sell.

a) The books produced by Joanna Radford in conjunction with The Widecombe School Children during the Foot anf Mouth Outbreak have all been sold and raised £129.95. Of this £29.95 has already been passed to the Church, the difference will now be forwarded to The Parochial Church Council for Church Expenses. This item will now be concluded satisfactorily.

b) The Dartmoor Gazette. In addition to the cost of producing these copies, 50p from each copy sold is also going to Church Funds. There is today still £11.00 to be transferred, this is continuing to be a successful ongoing project.

c) The Dartmoor Policeman Poet Book is still selling and hopefully there will be an accumulation of funds available for further future publications from this fund. The committee will continue to monitor this project.

d) Revenue from advertising on the Website will be divided equally between the group and the Church Fabric Fund. Roger and Ann Claxton were thanked for the tremendous job they do for the community in running this website.

Further business. Two photographs have been received by the secretary showing a young lady feeding chickens in front of an old farmhouse porch. Could this be Chittleford and who is the lady? Audrey Lamb agreed to try to solve the mystery!

August Meeting is on Wednesday 7th August and is a Non-speaker evening. In view of the current interesting exhibition being held at The D.N.P. Information Centre at Postbridge, entitled "Dartmoor Rock - again" and the publication of a booklet "The Evolution of a Dartmoor Landscape" it was decided that the discussion at the August Meeting would be based on the geology of Dartmoor and the uses that Granite has been put to over the centuries, in other words - Dartmoor Stones. Peter Hirst will lead the discussion and will take the group on a guided walk around Sharp Tor and Burrator on Saturday 10th August meeting at 12.00 noon, at the carpark on the crest of the hill, between Princetown and Dousland, - by the pond, - before the road descends off the moor to Dousland. Bring a picnic. Map Reference:- SX 557 707

It was suggested that members may well like to visit the exhibition prior to our August meeting.

Black-out for the Church House windows. Peter Hirst asked for volunteers to make up some simple blackout curtains for the use of all hirers of the hall. Wendy Beard offered to do this, Audrey Mortimore and, Margaret Steemson also offered to help. The material has been purchased by the hall committee and Peter will get it so that the ladies can proceed.


A letter from The Dartmoor Trust publicising a film lecture by John Earle at The Wharf Tavistock on Friday 5th July at 8.00 p.m. tickets £6.50.

A poster from Newton Abbot Branch National Trust advertising a coach trip to Plymouth to see ‘Music of the Night’ on Thursday 18th July at The Citadel contact 01626 332597 for details. £25.00 including coach.

There were a few aerial photographs of Widecombe shown and for those taken donations were made to the church.

Further to last month’s talk on ‘Privies’ a postcard showing the privies excavated at Hadrian’s Wall was passed around. It showed a place big enough for several to use at once, the water supply running in gutters around the middle and large troughs used for washing - interesting!

Hadrian’s Wall is a remarkable place to visit, the excavations include granaries, dwellings, forts and associated buildings. There are also some excellent museums showing details of Roman life and articles in leather, iron, wood and stone that have been discovered intact, buried in a black muddy morass.

It appears that the mud that covered these artefacts in the filled trenches has kept the oxygen from getting at them and so stopped much deterioration.

As there was no further business the meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.

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