Widecombe History Group Minutes July 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 July 2004 at 7.30 p.m.

Apologies:- Dilys & Peter Harvey, Fred Daw, Phyllis Pascoe, Jenny Pascoe, Margaret Phipps, Simon & Anabelle Booty, Bessie French and Peter Rennells.

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

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


Drop cloth still awaiting permanent fixing.

Richard Wells, librarian, is continuing to log our archives, contact him if you wish to borrow any items.

Lead. It was agreed that a book token and a copy of our book "All Along Down Along Widecombe Way" should be sent to Mr Hodges of Torbay as a sign of our appreciation for his help in constructing a mould for the future production of paper weights from the scrap lead salvaged from the Church Tower. Secretary is looking into suitable packaging.


A vote of thanks was recorded to Ann Claxton for arranging such an enjoyable outing to Abbotsbury last month. Several photo’s of the event are available from Mary & Eileen.


July ‘04/01: From David Mann of Australia seeking details of the Hamlyn family of Widecombe, a copy of this will be forwarded to Jenny Sanders of Tavistock who is related to the Hamlyn family in the hope that she may be able to help him.

July ‘04/02: From Simon Dell, giving details of John Rose, member of the Devon Constabulary of the 1860s to 1880s. This resulted from an e-mail received in May ‘04/03.

July ‘04/03: From Frank Hext replying to e-mail June ‘04/01.

Widecombe Parish Social and Entertainment Club:

Monthly draw is continuing, contact 01364 621294 for raffle tickets.

Advance notice - 14 miles and 7 miles Sponsored Fun Run to be held on Saturday 9th October 2004 to raise funds for the Club, leading to Fireworks Display and Ram Roast at the Rugglestone Inn for parishioners only on 5th November 2004, contact 01364 621294.

Community Landscape Project:

Secretary still trying to arrange a date convenient to Mr. & Mrs. Michael and Lorna Skinner of Glebe Farm and Sean Hawken, the Project Leader based at Exeter, for a visit to the "North Hall" site. The names of Roger and Ann Claxton and Mary Pascoe to be added to the list of those wishing to attend.

St. Antony, Cornwall: John Kimber is continuing his search for information regarding the St. Antony Storm of 1640, which is so similar to the one at Widecombe of 1638.

Parish Documents: The fire-proof chest is still being sought.

History of Widecombe Fair:

Anthony Beard is intending to compile, with the co-operation of the Widecombe and District Local History Group, a history of Widecombe Fair before so many memories are lost in the mists of time. This will be published by the Widecombe Fair Committee. If anyone can help with memories, pictures, newspaper cuttings, old programmes or tales your friends and family have told you about Widecombe Fair, its origin and history, those that took part, its venues, visitors and how it has developed and altered over the years, or anything that should be recorded about the Fair, please contact him. All contributions offered will of course be acknowledged. Photographs and material will be copied and returned. Please contact Anthony on 01364 621246 or write to him at Bittleford Parks, Widecombe in the Moor, TQ13 7TQ.

A.J. Coles:

Secretary continuing to pursue the film "All along down along out along lee".

Local Community Police are continuing to make people aware of distraction burglaries and nuisance visitors. Do not let anyone into your home unless you are sure that they are genuine callers or have a previous appointment. Contact 0845 2 777444 if in any doubt.

Devon Records Office, Exeter:

The Records Office will be closed for five months from Monday 5th July and all records are being moved to Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton, Exeter. Limited access only will continue at the Castle Street Exeter premises and North Devon Records Office, Plymouth and West Devon Records Office and some other service points. See Web site www.devon.gov.uk/record_office.htm or phone 01392 384253.

Old Photos of Widecombe from Ben Knibbs: We are in receipt of copies of some old photographs relative to Widecombe and the Kernick family. Plenty more to come for our archives. Eileen Carrett & Mary Pascoe would like a copy of the Dunstone Chapel photo.

The Dartmoor Trust:

Notice received from Dartmoor Archives of an exhibition at Neadon Farm, Manaton, from the 10th to the 16th July, 11.00 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. featuring historical photographs from the Hunt, Taylor and Burnard collections.


Secretary still collecting information on the village of Ponsworthy with amendments to the original draft.

Tony Heath presented the Group with a copy of the ‘Activities and Annual Report of the Society of Dartmoor Dowsers 2003’ for our archives.

Geoffrey Weymouth:

Geoffrey gave the meeting an interesting illustrated talk on Dartmoor Mires.

A Dartmoor mire is basically a wet area and within that mire can often be found a bog. A bog or mire is a wet, soft, spongy area of ground composed chiefly of decayed vegetable matter, in which a variety of flowers, insects, mammals and many other types of wild life thrive. Caution must be exercised when visiting areas of this kind particularly on Dartmoor. Folklore relates many cases of people and animals being sunk without trace in Dartmoor mires, some areas are totally impassable and should be avoided at all costs. This was brought home to the meeting by a photograph taken by Geoffrey of a sheep submerged up to its neck in the brown morass of a bog, fortunately still alive, and Geoffrey was able to save this creature from an untimely death. It took him a considerable time and a lot of effort to drag this unfortunate creature out of the mire. His photographs showed the ‘before and after’ scene. Geoffrey has spent years photographing and recording all aspects of Dartmoor and this talk illustrated the wide diversity of life that can be found in and around these areas. He began by showing four photographs of one mire in the four seasons of the year, the contrasts were remarkable. As in any area there is an eco system, whereby each and every type of life is interdependent one upon the other. Firstly the moisture created by the head waters of a stream, the way it permeates through what is generally the bottom of a valley and the environment that this creates. Beginning with the vegetation from bogland grasses and rushes, through the wide variety of plant life so aptly illustrated by Geoffrey’s excellent photography. Species such as the Sundew and the Bog Bedstaw, Ragged Robin, Bog Aspidel, St. John’s Wort, Crowsfoot and Orchids, just some of the wide variety of plants that can be seen. The Sundew, a carnivorous plant capturing flies and small insects on its sticky leaves is a simple example how all types of nature are interdependent one upon the other, like the adder living on small creatures and the young from various birds nests sites, the scavengers like the Crow and the Magpie feeding off the young of the small birds and the remains of dead and dying animals, up to the Buzzards and other raptors. The insects of these areas are fascinating, varying from Beetles and Butterflies to the beautiful Damselflies and Dragonflies. The bird life shown included Meadow Pipits, Snipe, Curlew, and the Plover. The aforementioned Adders, Frogs, Toads, Newts, etc. all shown in beautiful colour in their own special environment made a very interesting evening. Our sincere thanks to Geoffrey who can be contacted on 01364 631220.

Peter Hirst will lead a Guided Walk on Saturday 10th July at Foxtor Mire at 12 noon.

The Guided Walk lead by Dr. Tom Greeves around the Warren House Inn and Vitifer Tin Mine area on the 9th June was a great success.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday 4th August at 7.30 p.m. when we shall have a talk entitled "The Shovel Down Project- re-examining Bronze Age land division on Dartmoor". Phase 2 of the Shovel Down excavation will take place from Sunday 18th July to Friday 13th August. It is hoped that a guided walk can be arranged for the weekend of the 7th/8th August. Anyone wishing to help with the exploration and excavations contact Roger on 01364 621232.

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