Widecombe History Group Minutes November 2003

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A Meeting of The Widecombe & District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 5th November 2003 at 7.30 p.m.

Please click here for Freda Wilkinson's talk on The Dartmoor Peasant

Please click here for the discussion on Fire and Water etc.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 34 people attended.

Apologies were received from :- Eileen and Peter Carrett, Sylvia Needham, Mrs Coaker, Bessie and Terry French, Rodney and Wendy Cruze, Peter Rennells, Joyce Heath.

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


Lead - Mr Hodges is still working on the mould.

Dropcloth - In view of the fact that our Rector Derek Newport will be leaving the Parish in March of next year, the dropcloth being stored at the Rectory needs to be moved to the Church House. Several people offered to help with this including Richard Wells, John Kimber, Roger Claxton, Chris Mayhead, Simon Booty, Jim Churchward.

Peter Hirst and the secretary will endeavour to get a suitable liner for this which has been offered by Arch Mortimore and arrange a date.

Librarian - Peter, Anthony and Richard are still trying to find a date mutually acceptable to them all.

The Parish Document Browse CD.

Roger is intending to load this on to other computors for members to assess its ‘workability’!

From Anthony’s ‘Grey Book’ some details of Brownings/Brookings/Brinnings in the area, miners, of Postbridge, New House Lydford (Warren House Inn), Challacombe and South Sands (Sousons). Peter Hirst produced details from the Tythe Map regarding Pitton.

2004 Programme.

Copies of the 2004 programme were available at the meeting and a vote of thanks was expressed to Ann and Wendy for compiling such an interesting programme of events including a good selection of guided walks. Ann posed the question of whether we could organise an exhibition to incorporate items from the Parish Chest, items in private collections, and other items of local interest. This idea was received with enthusiasm, dates suitable and volunteers to man this need to be co-ordinated. Suggestions please at the next meeting. A good selection of guided walks.

Simon Booty suggested that a meeting with an archaeologist, who could help identify objects found locally, could be interesting. Anyone with flints, pottery, bits & pieces, that they have found in the area would be invited to bring them along and get them identified and if they merited it, recorded. A record of where they were found is also invaluable for historians. This idea has also been filed for future programming.

Freda kindly offered to give the group a talk on farming during the 19th century, even at short notice if we needed a ‘stop-gap’ at any time. This information has been filed, she referred to Hermon French, Peter Hannaford, Miss Mann and Mrs Caunter, now long departed from this world, as sources of her information.

Newslettter Volume 12 has been produced by Sue Booty, a vote of thanks was recorded to Sue.

Diary Dates from other Local History Groups.

There were none to hand and we shall be contacting other local secretaries for details. It was felt that to exchange details of neighbouring group meetings is beneficial to all concerned.


a. From June Kernick regarding the Hannafords of Totnes and she does not think that there is any connection with the Widecombe families of the same name. She offered an interesting aside - in 1881 there were 1090 Hannafords living in Devon!

b. From a S. Anderson mentioning her two cousins from Montana USA whose great grandfather Robert Nosworthy was born at Dipleigh in about 1825. They all enjoyed their visit to Widecombe.

c. From Polly Fryer, St Austell, Cornwall, a grandaughter of A.J.Coles, (Jan Stewer). She mentioned having deposited two trunks of ‘memorabilia’ at an establishment in Exeter, could this be The Devonshire Association? The secretary will try to find out more.

d. From someone looking for Andrews relations. Could this be any connection with North Hall. We must look at CD and discuss with Peter Rennells who has researched North Hall.

Guided walk October

The guided walk around the walls of Exeter on Sunday 5th October was a great success and proved very interesting. Our thanks to Derek Gore for an enjoyable morning.

Next meeting is Wednesday 3rd December. Speaker is Dr Tom Greeves and he will be "Talking to the Old Men (Oral History Recording) and the history of The Dartmoor Tin Industry".

The January meeting on Wednesday 7th January 2004 will be an address by Wendy Major on Old Ashburton. The second half of the evening will be our Christmas/New Year Party. Please bring some food to share on that evening, and Peter Rennells will be asked to sort out the liquid refreshment.

The meeting closed at 9.55 p.m.

Letter recieved from Terry Faull of Bere Ferrers through the Parish Council, concerning Holy Wells and a project to highlight the many Holy Wells in Devon. "They are a part of our spiritual and cultural history and have been visited over thousands of years." Amongst the places listed with a Holy Well was Widecombe, so we designated a meeting to discuss the place of Fire & Water in our history.

No one in the Parish can ever remember our Village/Saxon Well being known as a Holy Well, it was always the "Village Well or Water Supply" and the people living at the Inn, the Cottages, the Church House all went there for there water. Here follows a writ-up of our discussion. Attached to this minute is a copy of the ‘Details of the "Holy Well" at Widecombe as taken from the website:- www.holywells.com on 05.11.2003

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