Widecombe History Group Minutes August 2003

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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe, on Wednesday 6th August 2003 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 29 people attended.

Apologies :- Freda Wilkinson, Sylvia Needham, Rodney & Wendy Cruze, Terry & Bessie French, Jenny Pascoe. Pat Gibson, Fred Daw, and Peter & Dilys Harvey.

Click here for discussion on Military Activity in the District

The chairman began by welcoming those that were attending the group’s meetings for the first time, she said she hoped that they would enjoy themselves and that we will see them at many more meetings in the future.

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


The storage of the Village Dropcloth has to be completed.

Our patient Librarian Richard Wells informed the meeting that this month is the 75th Anniversary of the completion of the Ten Commandments at Buckland Beacon. He has researched this and has written an article which will be published in the September/October 2003 Edition of The Dartmoor Newsletter, published by Paul Rendell. There will also be an account in the Magazine of The Eastern Garage, Ashburton, which has recently closed.

Anthony Beard has met with an engineer who hopes to be able to help utilise the scrap lead from the tower, into making paperweights.

Ann Claxton reported on the proposed outing to Bishops Lydeard, Dunster and Exmoor. This is planned for Saturday 27th September. Leaving Widecombe at 8.30 a.m. to arrive at Bishops Lydeard in time to catch the 10.25 a.m. train to Dunster Steep Station, where we will be met by our coach, transported the short distance to Dunster Village. An hour and half to look around and have lunch, at 1.30 p.m. the coach will take us to Dunster Castle when we will have time to see both the Castle and the grounds. At 4.00 p.m. we rejoin the coach and head homewards across Exmoor stopping ‘en route’ to view the moors and have some light refreshment and arrive home about 7.00 p.m.

The cost of the coach, train, tea/coffee on the train, and entrance to The Castle is £20. For those that are members of The National Trust there is a reduction of £5.50. Lunch, tea and snacks are not included. Please book your seats as soon as possible with the appropriate payment with either Ann at 01364621232 or Wendy on 01364621246. Cheques made payable to "Widecombe & District History Group".

Future Speakers/visits/walks etc.

Secretary had been informed of an exhibition held in June 2003 at Torpoint Public Library concerning Beatrice Chase. He agreed to pursue this for more details.

Details of contacts for Whimple History Group passed to Ann and Wendy for 2004 visit.

The guided walk around Okehampton Army Camp led by Lt.Col. Tony Clarke was a great success as was the trip on the train to Meldon Viaduct on the same day. A vote of thanks was expressed to Tony, who had joined us for the meeting, to hear our reminiscences about military activity in the parish of the last century later in the evening.

About 14 of us were led and given an interesting guided walk at Shovel Down near Chagford on Wednesday 16th July it was thoroughly enjoyed by those that attended in spite of slightly inclement weather. The Archaeological Dig taking place there was looking at the Reave System of Dartmoor, how they may have been built and extended over the years about 2000 years ago. The leaders promised to let us have a copy of their findings and interpretations and just before we reached the dig a beautiful Bronze Age Arrowhead had been found at one of the excavation sites. Another interesting find was how a Medieval Leat had been dug through a reave and the peat had been overlaid with the leat. Thanks to Roger for arranging this walk for us. It is hoped that this dig will continue in 2004, subject to funding.

Peter Hirst had visited the Chudleigh History Group’s Exhibition and said that the collection of photographs, newspaper cuttings and documents particularly covering 1900-2000, were very interesting. The Chudleigh Tythe Map of c1842 was also on exhibition and like ours could do with a little ‘conservation’.

A guided walk around Chudleigh will be arranged for our group later this year or early in 2004, with Alan Brunton.

The meeting was reminded that copies of the "Crow Act - Right to Roam Maps" are still on display but should be viewed by all interested parties before 13th August.

Some Widecombe Fair memorabilia had been collected for Carlton Television from some of the group only to hear that they would not now be requiring it for their proposed film scheduled for October. It is still hoped that some financial benefit will be obtained as recompense for the time spent in gathering it and any such payment will go the group.

Peter and Eileen Carrett thanked members for supporting their coffee morning/lunch and tea day when £358 was raised for the Newton Abbot Branch of World Wildlife Funds.

Roger Claxton is awaiting response from those assessing the Parish Documents CD.

Copies of our book "All Along, Down Along - Widecombe Way" are continuing to sell well. Copies obtainable from Widecombe Post Office and other Local Shops and most good bookshops in the area, price £3.50 plus 50p p&p. Or Telephone 01364 621220 or 01364 621246

To order quote ISBN 1 898964 56 4.


July E-01 Enquiry from a Brenda Wells regarding an Elizabeth Ellis 1776 of Widecombe. Replied with some info. Elizabeth Ellis could be nee Mann daughter of Sylvester and Mary Man(n) bapt. 05.06.1775. Other family names included.

July E-02 Enquiry re Jordan Family. Replied suggesting contact with Jordan Clan with large following in U.S.A.

July E-03 Enquiry from an Ann Williams. Widecombe Village Sign. Replied with details of the early sign, made of coloured glass or tiles, this had c1920-30s won "The Best Village Sign Competition" organised by, we believe ‘The Daily Mail’ at that time, it was damaged beyond repair when being removed in 1939. War time restrictions meant that all signs that could be of use to any impending enemy should be taken down. This also led to all arms of signpost being removed. New Village sign designed by Lady Sylvia Sayer and presented to the Parish by Francis Hamlyn of Dunstone Court in 1948 is now on the Village Green.

July E-04 Enquiry of a Dorothy Daisy Willis who reputedly worked in ‘a big house’ at Widecombe 1920 - 1924. We could find no trace of the lady.

July E-05 Enquiry as to whether Widecombe-in-the-Moor should or should not be hyphenated. Research through many channels has come up with no definitive answer.

Aug E-01 Enquiry regarding the Hext family. As Frank Hext has done a great deal with regards to Hext family tree it was agreed to pass this to him for comment.

Aug E-02 Enquiry regarding a house that could be in the parish. It was decided to notify the present owners and let them act as they please, let them decide whether they wish to make contact or not.


Coach Trip to London 19th-21st December to shop and visit International Show Jumping Championships. Contact Abbot Coaches 01626 204010 cost £117 - 147.

Newton Abbot Adult Education Centre Classes 2003-04 details 01626 206410 or email:-mtecomed@dial.devon.gov.uk

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 3rd September at 7.30 p.m. at Widecombe Church House. Freda Wilkinson will talk on "Widecombe - Life in the 17th Century".

The meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.

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