Widecombe History Group Minutes April 2004

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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 7th April 2004 at 7.30 p.m.

Click here for Bob Mann's talk on Vian Smith

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 42 people attended. Special welcome was offered to Shirley & Jim Kevern from Cambridge who were visiting the area researching their connections with the French family, they said that they had enjoyed their visit and the contacts that they had made.

Apologies:- David Cole, Roger & Ann Claxton, Peter Hirst, Tony & Joyce Heath, Val & Richard Casey, Rosemary Mortimore, Phyllis Pascoe, Bessie French and Audrey Lamb.

A ‘Get Well Card’ for Peter Hirst was passed around the meeting for all to sign.

The Minutes of the March Meeting were read and signed as correct.


The Church Drop-cloth is now covered, in place, and awaits permanent fixing.

Librarian Richard Wells, is continuing his filing.

Lead. We await more details.

Future Speakers & Outings.

Several ideas were mentioned and Ann & Wendy will be asked to see what they can arrange.

Ideas put forward included:-

Morwelham in conjunction with a trip up the Tamar from the Barbican, Lostwithiel, Heligan, Buckland Abbey and The Garden House, Cardiff Museum of Rural Life/Fagans, Blue Hill Tin Mine/Cornwall, Swannery at Abbotsbury, Tynefield at Bristol.


March ‘04/03. Tony Adams has not yet responded to our reply regarding this month’s speaker Bob Mann, who gave us a most interesting talk about the late Vian Smith, author/journalist. Details of this talk will follow the minutes.

March ‘04/02. Michael Smerdon has made contact with Mrs J. Philp regarding the Smerdon family tree. He expressed his delight on the information that he has gathered.

April ‘04/01 Shirley & Jim Kevern attended the meeting and we gave them our response to their ‘E’ enquiry.

April ‘04/02. Secretary reported that he had sent to Mrs Bunkham as much detail that he could find about her ‘E’ concerning the ‘Stook(e)/Stuck family that lived in the area during the 1550-1850.

Widecombe Social Club. Funds are continuing to grow and the club is still making good progress. 01364 621294 for details.

St Antony, Cornwall.

John Kimber still following this up.

The Community Landscape Project.

Secretary will write regarding the promised newsletters still not received.


1). The Annual Parish Meeting arranged by The Widecombe Parish Council on 24th March was a success. Peter Hirst is still looking into the request from the Parish Council for details of a ‘Fireproof’ container to hold the most valuable of our Parish Documents.

2). The Police are very concerned about the number of bogus callers that are operating in the County. A recent walk-in burglary, when a handbag was stolen included credit cards etc, this resulted in the householder being telephoned by a person, pretending to be the police and asking for her PIN number. She did NOT give this information, if she had, it is obvious that the thief would have used this information with the stolen card. Please be very careful what information you divulge and who you let into your home.

3). Mr Jack Simpson, Lord of the Manor of Spitchwick has donated to the group a copy of the ‘Short History of the Manor of Spitchwick for our archives. Secretary to write and thank him.

Trace the Film - "All along down along out along lee" featuring A.J.Coles c1951.

Does anyone know of its whereabouts?

It was suggested that:- TSW Film Archives should be contacted: Dartington Archives: Chips Barber: Nicholas Keen, son of Stuart Keen who made the film: - are there any other suggestions?

The next meeting of the Group will be Wednesday 5th May when the speaker will be Prof. Ian Mercer. The subject "Mercer’s Dartmoor".

There will be a guided walk around Chudleigh on Wednesday 14th April meeting at Chudleigh Town Hall at 7.00 p.m.

Peter Rennells mentioned The Devon Records Office and how they are now moving to purpose built offices on The Sowton Trading Estate, Exeter. He then told the meeting that they have set up ‘Service Points’ around the County where information can be obtained, much via ‘microfiche’, and how helpful the staff at the ‘Totnes Service Point’ have been to him when he has visited. These points hold microfilm copies of parish registers (containing baptisms, marriages and burials), tithe maps and apportionment’s (showing land ownership and use in about 1840), non-conformist registers, and some other records for the local area. Check opening times with the Totnes Museum Curator on 01803 863821.

Chagford History Group. Visit to Heatree House, Manaton on Tuesday 4th May to view a reconstruction of a Bronze Age Hut. Contact Marian for details 01647 432098.

The meeting closed at 10.10p.m.

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