Widecombe History Group Minutes March 2006

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A Meeting of The Widecombe & District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe, on Wednesday 1st March 2006 at 7.30 p.m.

Apologies:- Roger Whale, Terry & Bessie French, Michael & Andrea Venables, Rosemary Mortimore, Peter & Dylis Harvey, Fred Daw, Phyllis & Jenny Pascoe, Margaret Phipps, Sylvia Needham, Freda Wilkinson, Peter & Aileen Carrett, Ruth Parnell, Ann Murphy, Wendy Beard, Wendy Cruze, Jim & Ruby Churchward, Betty Andrews and Arthur .

Mr Rodney Cruze was in the chair and 21 ‘hardy and determined people attended’, who profited from an enjoyable evening!.

Due to the severe weather conditions our advertised speaker was unable to attend but she has agreed to come and talk at our AGM on Wednesday May 3rd 2006.

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


Widecombe Fair.

The working party is continuing to meet and the research is on going. Alan Brunton of Orchard Publications, Chudleigh, has agreed to be involved with our proposed book “The History of Widecombe Fair”. He will continue to guide us as we gather the information for the publication which is scheduled for Widecombe Fair 2007. Next meeting Wednesday 8th March.


The team are continuing their work and have decided to try and get this project completed for Widecombe Fair 2006. Secretary is pursuing several avenues for the funding and production of this “History of Ponsworthy from 1900 to date” booklet. Next meeting Wednesday 15th March.

Leusdon Chapel (Uppacott Chapel)

Margaret Phipps has informed the secretary that a leaflet is being produced by

Mr John Tucker about the history of the Chapel frommnotes by his father Mr Jack Tucker. Copies will soon be available. It was suggested that a donation of £1 per copy would be appropriate for Chapel funds!

Display Cabinets

A letter has been received from Widecombe Parochial Church Council agreeing to the placing of the cabinets in the Church to display items of interest concerning the parish and the church which should be of interest to both parishioners and visitors alike. The location of the cabinets and associated display panels must be agreed with the PCC and the contents jointly approved.

Anthony informed the group that our second display cabinet has now been made and the toughened glass ordered. It should be ready by the April meeting.


Anthony has recently given a talk to Newton Abbot Rotary on behalf of the group. They made a donation to our group’s funds as well as purchasing some of our books and paperweights. As paperweight numbers are running low we shall soon need to have a production team session!

Parish Council Annual Parish Meeting

The meeting will be held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 22nd March at 7.30p.m. when cheese and wine will be available prior to the meeting. All parishioners are invited and representatives of the various organisations within the parish are invited to make a presentation of their activities. Anthony has agreed to be our representative.

Widecombe School

The present school was built in 1931 and in April 1932 the pupils re-located from the Church House to the new building. To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the occasion the school intends to hold some events in April 2007. The Friends and staff are now looking for articles, memorabilia, past pupils recollections of times at the school, particularly if anyone remembers moving from the old site to the present school. Contact the school on 01364 621261. Our group has offered to have one table at the Widecombe Fair Heritage Marquee made available this year for the collection of such memories and the display of any material collected to further this cause.

“Up Along - Down Along” - A Special One Off

This old film originally made by the late Stuart Keene, and now in the possession of his son Nicholas, featuring the late A.J.Coles (alias Jan Stewer), will be shown at Widecombe Church House on Thursday 20th April 2006 at 7.00 p.m. He will also show an old silent film of Widecombe Fair. There will be an admission charge of £2 which will include tea/coffee and biscuits. After the interval there will be a showing of a film about Eden Phillpotts - “The Man who said “YEA” to Life”. This is a documentary on the life of Eden Phillpotts. There may be a further surprise! Further details in The Parish Link - this is, like all events organised by our group, an open event where anyone interested can attend. We hope for a good attendance.

Mary Pascoe brought forward several ideas for subjects suitable for our future Heritage Marquee Exhibitions. These included Beatrice Chase, World Wars I & II, the Church storm and bells, past & present industries and businesses.


  • Teignbridge Voluntary Service offers support to community groups through “The Dartmoor Project”. A series of ‘drop in’ sessions are being held from 4.00p.m. - 7p.m. Wednesday 8th March at St Lawrence Chapel Ashburton, Tuesday 14th March at Liverton Village Hall, Wednesday 29th March at South Park Community Centre, Buckfast, Wednesday 5th April at Lustleigh Village Hall. Funding details are also available through the Service. ‘phone 01626 203050.
  • Jill Drysdale sent a list of her further talks, and requested information on the Coaker family of Lydford. Contact numbers were passed to her.
  • Enquiries regarding metal detecting were dealt with by the secretary, he suggested anyone interested should join a metal detecting group for procedural advice.
  • Anthony is in contact with John McGregor on behalf of Widecombe Fair Committee Company Ltd and hopes to meet with him soon.

Future meetings of Interest.

  • Princetown Local History Group Tuesday 7th March - Steam Traction Engines by David Davies - Princetown Primary School at 7.30 p.m.
  • Princetown Local History Group, Tuesday 4th April - Wild Life Video by Tim Hockin - Princetown Primary School 7.30 p.m.
  • Bovey Tracey Heritage Trust, a talk on ‘Workings of the Kelly Mine’ by Nick Walters, Tuesday 28th March at 7.30p.m. in The Phoenix Hall, Bovey Tracey, admission £2.50
  • Widecombe & District Local History Group Wednesday 5th April - Merrivale’s Archaeological Landscape by Jane Marchant at The Church House 7.30p.m.
  • Buckland Community Hall Friday 21st April at 7.30 a talk by Jenny Sanders on Dartmoor Longhouses.
  • Widecombe & District Local History Group guided walk with Jane Marchant around The Merrivale Archaeological Landscape Saturday 22nd April, meet at Four Winds Carpark at 1.00p.m. for picnic lunch and the walk to commence about 2.00p.m.
  • Widecombe & District Local History Group A.G.M. at Church House 7.30 p.m. Wednesday 3rd May 2006, after which we shall have a talk by Natalie Gibbs - “An insight into the Activities of The Dartmoor Trust and Archives”. This was postponed from the March Meeting due to inclement weather conditions.
  • The 25th Anniversary Meeting of Torbay Postcard Club at St Paul’s Church Hall, Preston, Paignton, on Friday 12th May at 7.30p.m. for a talk by Bernard Chapman, 4th generation member of the famous postcard publishers Chapman & Son of Dawlish.
  • Dartmoor Tinworking Research Group working party at Brimpts Farm, Friday 23rd March between 10.00a.m. and 7.00 p.m. 01752 696 257 for details.
  • Dartmouth History Research Group open day Saturday 4th March 10.00a.m. - 4.30 p.m. in The Guildhall, Dartmouth.

Group Outings

  • Annual Outing To Whimple Heritage Centre and Killerton House on Saturday 13th May 2006. Leaving Widecombe at 8.45 a.m. return at about 6.15 p.m. Cost £15.80 (National Trust Members £10.00) Optional Tea £3.75 and must be pre-ordered, see booking form for options. Contact Wendy on 01364 621246
  • Cardiff Holiday -Wednesday 11th October to Saturday 14th October 2006 Booking forms obtainable from Ann on 01364 621232 Cost £180 for coach, dinner bed & breakfast for three nights, entrance to various venues as per itinerary. Lunches and other refreshments are not included Deposit £50 to Ann as soon as possible. Balance by10th August 2006.

Alan & Mary Goodall gave the group a copy of Jan Stewer’s ‘Milk and Dairy Regulation’ which Anthony read to the meeting and it caused a lot of hilarity. They also produced details obtained from a website of Pamela Colman Smith’s book ‘Widecombe Fair’ priced at between £488 & £577. Needless to say we cannot afford that money for the villages archives!

Alan posed the Question:- Why did the scarecrow get a rise from his boss? Answer:- Because he was out standing in his field! Oooooh!


When the business of the evening was concluded, and we had our compulsory tea/coffee and biscuits, Roger Claxton gave us a showing of part of a DVD that he and Peter Rennells had acquired. “The Farmer’s Wife” by Eden Phillpotts.

Eden Phillpotts wrote a book “Widecombe Fair” first published in 1913 and on this he based his successful play “The Farmer’s Wife” which was made into two films. One of these films was directed by the famous Alfred Hitchcock, it is a silent film, with from time to time writen captions appearing on the screen. The weather was cold outdoors but this film warmed our hearts and furthered our interest in Eden Phillpotts the author. On April 20th we hope to learn more!

“The Farmer’s Wife” by Eden Phillpotts. (the story so far)

The film begins with Farmer Sweetland sat at the bedroom window at Tunhill with the rest of the family sat around his wife’s bed. She is not long for this world!

They help her sit up and she utters her last words.... “Make sure you keep the Maisters pants warm!” And she dies!

It is close to their daughter’s wedding day and the wedding goes ahead. Farmer Sweetland begins to feel very lonely and some ten months after says to his sister.... “Mrs Sweetland would expect me to take another woman..........now I feel is the time”.

At the wedding breakfast he had eyed up the local available ladies and with the help of his sister Harriott, draws up a list of those in his opinion who could be the most suitable.

He decides to visit them in the prefered order. First the widow Mrs Louisa Windeatt, a keen hunting lady, (with a pillowy body), he tried his best but she refused his offer. He was so upset he got out his list and hurriedly crossed her name off the list!

Next to see Miss Thirza Tapper, after a lot of preliminaries that included running down Mrs Windeatt he dropped onto one knee and proposed. She had never had a proposal before, she had always hoped for one, but now it happened she was all of a fluster and this led him to believe that he had succeeded. Alas after a lot of ‘swooning’ she declined. He faced this rejection with horror in his eyes and said.... “D’you mean No!....You’ll be sorry for this Thirza Tapper. Mark me you’ll regret this!”

Then came Mary Hearn, the postmistress and he had no luck with her either in spite of bringing her a basket of his choice plums. His pre rehearsed speach was of no use and in fact it had upset her so much she and her mother threatened him.

we await the next instalment!!!!!!!!

At 10.00 p.m. we all went home!

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The information on this page was last modified on March 18 2013 12:55:39.

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