Widecombe History Group Minutes November 2005

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A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 2nd November 2005 at 7.30 p.m.

Please click here for Mike Wright's talk on his favourite slides of Dartmoor

Apologies:- Michael Venables, Bessie French, Sylvia Needham, Simon & Annabelle Booty, Rosemary Mortimore, Peter & Dylis Harvey, Phillis Pascoe, Sue Booty, Val & Richard Casey, Ann Murphy, Pat Gibson and Dawn Nosworthy.

Mr Rodney Cruze was in the chair and 41 people attended. Rodney welcomed a couple of new faces and hoped that they would find the meeting interesting and that they would become regular members.

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


The Heritage Marquee at Widecombe Fair. Anthony has contacted Helen Crosby and he will meet her with the chairman to discuss the safe storage of the “Mosaic”. Keep it dry & not too cold is the first suggestion.

The group is still getting compliments on the exhibition staged at last Widecombe Fair and will plan to do similar next year.

Hugh Black of Hereford has sent some interesting documents regarding Blackaton Manor, which he once owned. He is hoping to visit again next year. Letter of thanks has been sent.

Jonathan Aylett of Michelmore Hughes has given the Group a copy of an old map of the Old Rectory, Widecombe. This map shows the site of “The Old Cross”. This was the Dunstone Cross that a previous Vicar, Rev Mason had removed from Dunstone and had erected in the wall of the Vicarage Garden. The secretary was able to tell the meeting that in 1980 he had suggested to Miss Mary Hamlyn of Dunstone Court, who wished to do something for Dunstone, that she should get it returned to its rightful place. He had negotiated with Rev Brown, who agreed that this could be done. Miss Hamlyn paid for the work to be done, which amounted to getting some large stones fixed on Dunstone Green close to “The Dunstone” and the cross brought back and re-erected, a plaque recording the event is attached to the stones. Dunstone Cross is believed to be unique in the fact that it has an incised cross carved partway down the shaft, whereas other crosses have them high up between the arms of the cross.

Display Cabinets. Secretary is obtaining quotes for the supply of display cabinets from a few sources. He will also get prices for some table top display panels. Tabletop display panels similar to what Buckland has acquired would be ideal. It is hoped that with the co-operation of The Widecombe Parochial Church Council these items could be displayed in the Church.

Working Parties:-

Widecombe Fair. The series of meetings has recommenced and the next meeting is on Wednesday 30th November. The team visited Sticklepath, Okehampton & Spreyton as a research venture on Friday 21st October. We were received with great kindness and all those we met were most helpful. At Sticklepath we visited Finches Foundry where we met Bert Stead, local historian, he gave us copies of several documents, including a photo of Tom Pearse, that are in his possession. He then gave us a conducted tour of “The Quaker Churchyard” at the rear of the foundry. With the aid of Mary Stephens at the cafe we found the “Mosaic of ‘The Old Grey Mare’” in the grounds at the rear of the foundry, she is living in a cottage reputed to be where Bill Brewer once lived, and at one time a post office. At Spreyton we met Ken Vile, churchwarden, who showed us around the church and graveyard. The most interesting aspect being the grave of one Thomas Cobley and his nephews. Then to The Tom Cobleigh Inn for refreshments, good food and pleasant atmosphere. The Landlords, Roger & Carol Cudlip, showed us many of the items that they have collected regarding Tom Cobleigh (Cobley). They too were most generous in presenting us with copies of much of their collection of articles and newspaper cuttings. We shall be returning there!

Last call was Okehampton, where we visited the Museum of Dartmoor Life and the Library. Information gathered here included the Pearse, Brewer and Davey families and their association with different parishes in the area. The team will begin formulated all this information at their next meeting. Neighbouring parishes may well hold more information amongst their records.

Ponsworthy: The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 9th November. The social history is the next project being worked on by this working party. Roger Whale is transferring several of his postcards onto CD and he will be giving the Group an insight into these at our New Year’s Party on January 4th. We have acquired some information about Ponsworthy from a website.

2006 Programme Ann Claxton and Wendy Beard have compiled once again an interesting mixture of speakers for 2006. This will also include a series of walks lead by Richard Wells along some of the Dartmoor Trackways. A couple of outings are also planned and the question of whether a ‘two or three-day break’ perhaps in October, would be of interest to members was posed. This lead to an immediate positive response from at least twenty people. This will be followed up in the New Year.

The last day to visit Bovey Tracey Heritage Museum for this year is Sunday 13th November, from 12 to 4p.m. There is a chance that we could have a private Evening Visit to Bovey Tracey Heritage Museum if enough people so wish. Details at the next meeting.

Roderick Newbolt-Young brought to the attention of the meeting the proposal to erect a Tetra Communications Mast near the new houses at Brook Lane, Widecombe. This is causing a great deal of anxiety, not only from the appearance within the village but also due to the proximity of this mast to these houses where young children are living and to the local Primary School and the Church House where the Pre-school Group meet, and there is a risk that further masts will be needed further down the valley to link up with this proposition. The health risk is still very high on peoples list of concerns about this whole project. There is also great concern that siting this mast in the middle of a designated area of natural beauty is contrary to national policy. Is anything being done to monitor the health of those, like the police, who are using these tetra phones?

Peter Rennells thanked all those who had contributed to the Charity Coffee Morning held recently for the Teignbridge Branch of HomeStart, over £200 being raised.

Roger Claxton is seeking the use of a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Peter Carratt may be able to help.

Richard Wells and Pat Watson have been working on the parish chest and our archives, they have received from John Kimber a copy of Eden Philpotts’ “Farmer’s Wife” and a copy of the Devonport Dockyard information booklet. Also Freda Wilkinson has given us a copy of the list of births, marriages and deaths of the parish, 1554 - 1837.

Anthony has been asked to do a couple of talks and walks about Widecombe, the groups concerned have agreed to make a donation to the group as a ‘thank you’ gesture and also to possibly purchase copies of our books and paperweights. He may be pleased to have the assistance once again of Peter and Roger.

A representative of The Dartmoor Trust will be one our speaker in March 2006 and as they are the controlling body for The Dartmoor Archives, the organisation to whom our past Chairman Peter Hirst left the bulk of his estate, this should be very interesting. We shall get to know what they spend the money on, and, what are their aims. Peter was investigating the idea of obtaining a secure “fireproof box” for the contents of the Parish Chest, and The Dartmoor Trust did at one time agreed to give the Parish a Grant towards the cost of this. Mrs Margaret Phipps, Chairman of the Parish Council, will follow this up and it was suggested that contact should be made with The D.R. Office for advise on the type of container that would be suitable for this purpose. The present wooden Parish Chest is about 4ft x 3ft x 3ft, so the fireproof box will need to be a reasonable size to hold all our documents. We should also mention to them the restoration of the Tithe Map.

Terry French gave an interesting report on the recent Beating of the Bounds of Spitchwick Manor. This commenced with an address by the Lord of the Manor of Spitchwick, Mr. Patrick Simpson, setting out his intentions for the Manor, this was followed by the reading of the Proclamation by the Land Steward, Mr. Jonathan Aylett at Lower Lodge Spitchwich, at 8.35 on the morning of Saturday 8th October. The route followed the River Dart to Buckland Bridge, then the River Webburn to Ponsworthy, good progress was made over this length of the boundary. Leaving Ponsworthy at 10.15 a.m. through Jordan, Shallowford, Cator, Cator Bridge, Rex Bridge and arriving at Grendon Bridge stopping for lunch at 12.45 p.m. Leaving again at 1.20 p.m. The Rector, Rev. Corynne Cooper was ‘bumped’ on the Boundary Stone by Straight Mile. The next Boundary Stone under Sousons was turned back into Spitchwick according to custom, on the last occasion it was turned the other way! On the Boundary Stones at Ephraim’s Pinch the younger members of the Party were bumped. Continuing to the Wallabrook where walking boards were needed to cross the wet ground to the river and that boundary stone. The party then following the Wallabrook down to Pizwell, Riddon, Babeny and Dartmeet by 3.30 p.m. The rain at last relented and walkers started to dry out a bit! At Dartmeet they all had a cup of tea and then the traditional race up the River was held, from where the Darts meet to the centre span of the Bridge. Five volunteers took part, three males and two females.

After a warming cup of tea the party left Dartmeet at 4.00 p.m. to return to bottom Lodge via Newbridge, arriving at about 6.30 p.m. The last Proclamation was read by Mr Aylett and the Lord of the Manor donated mugs to all those who had completed the whole perambulation. A very successful day, very hot to start with but the rain did spoil it a bit. Plenty of wildlife was seen including roe deer at Grendon, foxes, goosanders, dippers, plenty for the observant to see. Some of our members did part of the walk and they agreed with Terry that it was a wonderful thing to be involved with.

The owner of the mobile canteen that met the party at various points around the route had generously donated his taking to the Devon Air Ambulance Association.

Secretary to see if he can contact Nicholas Keen, the son of the late Stuart Keen, regarding the film “Up Along Down Along” featuring A.J. Coles.

Notice that the local Entertainment’s Group is staging a Firework Display at The Rugglestone Inn on Saturday 5th November. Tickets available on the night, £5 or £2.50 for children. This will include a Ram Roast.

A copy of the Womens Institute’s Survey of Field Names in the Parish is held in the Parish Chest, Item No.48. This needs inspecting regarding a query from Mr. Hugh Black for the field names of Blackaton Manor.

December 7th Meeting will be a Talk by Dr. Tom Greeves on the Tinners Rabbits (Hares) entitled “From China to Widecombe”.

On Wednesday 4th January 2006 it will be our Annual New Year’s Party when Roger Whale will show his collection of Postcards. This will be a Bring and Share Supper.

Tim Wright would like to see the list of headstones at Widecombe Churchyard, Parish Chest Item P 59.

The meeting closed at 10.08 p.m.

An interesting illustrated talk was given by Mike Wright on his favourite slides of Dartmoor.

My Favourite Slides of Dartmoor

by Mike Wright

Mike began by saying that he was introduced to Dartmoor as a result of his activities with Youth organisations, this began with the Scouts and then moved on to include the Ten Tors Expeditions. He began about fifteen years ago, by taking groups of youngsters out on Dartmoor in all weathers and conditions in order to encourage them in the pursuit of commaradie and co-operation with dealing with the elements. They soon found themselves walking up to fifteen miles a day in training and this leads to a great deal of character building, wind, rain, sleet and snow does not stop them.

The Ten Tors Expedition now involves 2500 youngsters for a period of two days when they are expected to walk according to their age 35 / 45 or 55 miles . The determination of the group of Handicapped youngsters that complete a 7, 14 or 21 mile course has to be seen to be believed, their achievement must be recognised and they must be congratulated.

At 7.00 a.m. on Saturday morning they are ‘off’ in all different directions. All the team leaders and many parents that support the excersise create a ‘mini town’ at Okehampton Camp and await the return of all the weary walkers during Sunday.

Mike’s slide show then covered such a wide variety of aspects of Dartmoor, it must be seen to be appreciated. The views shown were quite spectacular covering such things as granite crosses, hut circles (round houses), stone rows, standing stones, and other archaeological artefacts including examples of Dartmoor Longhouses. The tors and rivers of Dartmoor made pleasant viewing. The wild life of Dartmoor was also shown including plants, birds and even a young adder. The industrial history was also featured from tin mining, stone cutting and quarrying, to the massive China Clay Works at Lee Moor. Samples of feathers and tares were shown, used many years ago for cutting stone, and the signs engraved on tors to show the limit of legal stone cutting activity. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was enhanced by an interesting commentary and some varied scenes that many will not have seen before. A series of photographs showing a reconstructed Bronze Age Settlement gave some idea of how our ancestors lived.

Birds of the area also featured including, swallows, martins and barn owls. The uses of granite for building was demonstrated with pictures of troughs and fireplaces.

Agricultural activities such as warreners of years ago. Their pillow mounds ‘artificial rabbit burrows, stone gate posts with the groves for holding ‘five bars’, potato clamps etc.

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