Widecombe History Group Minutes June 2002

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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House Widecombe on Wednesday 5th June 2002 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 45 people attended.

Apologies:- Bessie French, Jenny Pascoe and Rosemary Mortimore.

Click here for the talk on Devon Privies.

The Chairman began the meeting by welcoming some first time visitors and stated that she hoped this would be the first of many of our meetings that they attend. One visitor however said that he would like to think that he could but he was in fact here from New Zealand on holiday but knew a great deal about us as he had read much of our activities on our website before he came here. His name was Colin Child and the meeting made him particularly welcome.

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


The Church Dropcloth. Progress is still being made.

The Family History Society. Andrew Hamlyn and Kate Strasdin are going to see if they can run this section of our activities between them. Freda Wilkinson offered to assist them with research for this section but her contribution will be in written form which will have to be adapted for inclusion in the website or for e-mail communication. Roger and Ann Claxton offered to get involved with this if further help was required as did Mary Pascoe and Wendy Beard. The Family History send us a quarterly magazine which lists anyone seeking information about any particular family and its roots. Secretary has replied to a Mrs Dawkings regarding a query from her about a John Warren and an Elizabeth Stapling c 1876 (see also May minutes). Suggested that Leusdon Church Records may help her as records started c1864!

Church Tower Scrap Lead. Secretary has made a contact and hopes to make a report to the next meeting.

Annual Church Fete held on 6th May 2002. Several books and gazettes were sold and the treasurer hopes to report on our contributions from them to The Church at the next meeting.

Devon Record Office Exhibition, "The City, The County and The Crown" held recently at Exeter Guildhall has been a success and five of our members attended. It appears that the D.R.O. now celebrating their 50th Anniversary, will shortly be moving to a completely new purpose built building where they can store all their documents and have sufficient room to carry out conservation work on the largest of artifacts. This bodes well for the necessary work needed to be done on our 1842 Tithe Map, with which they have decided to assist.

It has been decided that in future the group will supply the tea, coffee, biscuits etc for our meetings but a rota will still be used for those willing to boil the kettle and do the ‘brewing’ and the washing up!

A sincere vote of thanks was expressed to all those who have supplied this in the past which has helped tremendously in getting the group on a sound financial footing.

July Margaret Steemson and Ann Claxton.

August Rosemary and Audrey Mortimore.

September Dylis Harvey and Phyllis Pascoe.

The secretary agreed to write to the Fursdon Family to thank them for the most interesting guided walk around their farm and Hydro Electric Project that followed last month’s talk.

Aileen Carrett has produced a folder of photographs of our Old Walls Guided Walk and she was thanked for this. She proposes to get a copy made and add to it a copy of the write-up of the talk that Miles and Gail gave and approved. This is a wonderful idea and could set a precedent for the future.

The Outing to Budleigh Salterton on Saturday 8th June 2002 is fully organised.

It is to Fairlynch Museum and Bicton Gardens, the final details were given to the meeting by Ann Claxton who has arranged the whole event.

Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Celebrations. These were held on Sunday 2nd June and Monday 3rd June. On Sunday, at Uppacott Chapel there was a service which was followed by the dedication of a granite seat at the top of Newbridge Hill on the Hannaford Road and a celebratory tea at The Leusdon Memorial Hall afterwards. On Monday at Widecombe the bells rang before a service in The Parish Church, followed by the dedication of a locally hand made iron seat near the Widecombe Fair Sign and followed by a picnic on the village green. Everyone then made their way to The Widecombe Fair Field where ample parking had been arranged, a marquee erected which contained an exhibition of memorabilia and photographs and enough food and drink to feed the whole parish had been assembled. Children’s sports, fancy dress competitions and fun for all ages took place, dancing to a band and disco and as darkness fell a beacon was lit and a spectacular fireworks display the like of which has never been seen before in the Parish.

The secretary was asked to write to The Parish Council who instigated the event to thank them for their efforts and also to make special mention of the hard work that the younger members of the community had put in for the benefit of all.

The question of whether the seat would be brought indoors for the winter, as the Silver Jubilee seat used to be, was raised. It appears that the new seat is concreted into the ground, so this will not be possible and as it is made of metal this should not be necessary. It was noted that this new one replaces, the old Silver Jubilee seat, and the timber from the old seat with the carving commemorating that event, has been co-opted into the new seat. Received from Valerie and Richard Casey were two sets of photographs of the celebrations for our archives.

E-mails. No e-mails of special importance have been received this month. Roger and Ann mentioned that the Annual Subscription to the World Wide Web will be due in October. It was agreed that the renewal fees must be paid by the group. Roger and Ann are still prepared to run the site for the community.

Roger reminded us that he still holds for the group one of the poles from Hameldown erected during W. W. II to prevent enemy aircraft/gliders from landing.

Kelly Mines. The Moretonhampstead History Group have arranged a visit to The Kelly Mines on Wednesday 19th June at 7.30 p.m. and any of our members that wish may join them, this is the first step in cooperation between local groups as a result of our recent inter-group meeting.. The Annual Open Day at The Mines is scheduled for Sunday 1st September at 2.00 p.m. The importance of careful parking was emphasized. We have sent current information to Moretonhampstead Group so that cooperation will develop in the future.

Peter and Dylis Harvey brought a poster advertising the opening of their extensive gardens to the public on Saturday 27th July at Brownswell, Ashburton. This is to raise funds for The Children’s Hospice South West, at Fremmington, near Barnstaple. Anyone who can contribute to prizes for the draw would be much appreciated.

Tony and Joyce Heath will inform us of map reference for the site of the stone mentioned in May Minutes. After the meeting the following information was received. Sylvia Needham mentioned a similarity of this stone to some in South America she has read about.

Engraved Stone 0677/7515

"T" Stone 0686/7474

Mary Pascoe requested a copy of newsletter Vol 8 and a copy of a photograph showing the bells on the lorry on their way to or from the foundry.

Wendy Beard mentioned some initials that she has noticed part way up the South Side of The Tower. They are J.B. W.M. C.W. 1813. Mary and Wendy have found out that they stand for :-

James Barter, William Mann, Church Wardens, 1813.

We must find out what special event was being commemorated by this inscription! Wendy suggested that we look into The Churchwardens Accounts for that period to see if it is recorded. Sylvia Needham stated there was George Barter early last century who was Churchwarden of Holne. There was a Barter family who lived at Brownberry Farm, opposite Dunnabridge Pound c1850’s. Roger Whale said he once met an Amercan whose relations were reputed to have lived at Brownberry. Anthony Beard said that he too had met members of the Barter family from America and they were related to him by a marriage c1850 to a Susannah Beard from Widecombe. Terry French said he has seen mention of Barter farther back than 1800’s.

Anthony also said he had met recently two ladies from America claiming to have descended from the Jordan family with connections to Jordan Manor in the 13th and 14th centuries. He had taken them to see ‘Hutholes’ and shown with permission from Mr & Mrs Harrell the current owners of Jordan Manor, the Manor House. It appears that there is a "Jordan Family Convention" at Maime in U.S.A. every three years. In the booklet "Forgotten Manor of Widecombe" written by Miss Linehan and Herman French, the Jordan family is mentioned as living at Jordan in the 1700’s.

Kate Strasdin requested any details concerning a Miriam Adams 1765 - 1835 who was the postmistress at Ashburton for 40 years. She had a donkey called Betsy and a dog called Traveller. She is reputed to have brought the news of the Battle of Waterloo to the rural parishes in the area.

John Kimber brought a couple of books and donated them for the benefit of members. It was decided to obtain a rubber stamp and ink pad and stamp the front cover on all items that are being donated so that when people borrow them, the sight of a stamp on the front cover will act as a reminder! Lets hope that they are all still circulating. We ask that everyone has a good look around at home and moves them on! John also brought a copy of an Indenture showing his Great Grandfather being indentured to a blacksmith at North Lew complete with a modern typed copy ‘verbatim’ dated March 1868.

Our visitor from New Zealand Colin Child, thanked the meeting for the warm welcome he had received and wished the group much success for the future.

The next meeting is on Wednesday 3rd July when Len Copley will give a talk about The Northern parts of Dartmoor, followed by a guided walk on Saturday 6th July. Details at the next meeting.

As there was no further business the meeting closed at 10.10 p.m.

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