Widecombe History Group Minutes November 2006

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

Please click here for our discussion entitled, "A Look at Farming in the District over the years".

Apologies: Roger Whale, Peter Rennells, Bessie French, Rosemary Mortimore, Barbara Norrish, Richard Wells, Nora Lamb, Audrey Lamb.

Mr. Terry French was in the Chair and 47 people attended including two new faces.

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


Ponsworthy Book: is still selling well and Alan and Mary Goodall sold several copies at a recent meeting of the Dartmoor Letterboxing Group.

History of Widecombe Fair: the Working Party are meeting regularly and the project is progressing well but there is still a need for more information. Thanks expressed to Sue Booty who is typing the draft of our deliberations.

Leusdon: anything concerning the area of the Parish known as Leusdon should be passed to Margaret Phipps, 01364 631421.

Metal Detecting: items are still being unearthed by John McGregor from Widecombe Fair Field.

Widecombe Heritage Marquee 2007: reference October 4th Minutes 2006: ideas for 2007

Ref: (h) Item 9. The Farming history of the Parish, Secretary requested to put notice in the Parish Link.

Ref: (h) Item 8. Aileen & Peter Carrett volunteered to work on this project and they request the use of Rodney & Wendy Cruze’s display cabinets.

Display Cabinets: have been reinstated in the Church and the exhibits are being changed from time to time.

Mrs. Tessa Rennells and Mrs. Bessie French thanked the Group for their cards and good wishes.

The 2007 Programme of Speakers and Events is being prepared.

E-mails and Correspondence:

  • ref.0ct.06/02: Simon Dixon’s request for someone to compile a 3000 word article about the 1723 Swearing of Oaths of Allegiance to King George I, met with little response. Anyone interested please contact the Secretary.
  • Nov.06/01: Request from Jeremy Flack of Swindon for details of twentieth century Military Constructions and their locations with a view to compiling a database. A copy of this has been sent to Col. Tony Clarke to deal with. The Secretary has given to Col. Clarke a copy of the 1943 Widecombe Home Guard Exercise and also a copy of the write-up of a previous meeting when we discussed War-time activities in the village. Mention was made of the large red brick ‘butts’ on Halshanger Common, within the Rippon Tor Newtake, which was used for rifle practice until the closure of Denbury Army Camp, which is now Denbury Prison. When firing was in progress red flags were flown from posts at Hemsworthy Gate, Cold East Cross and various other places around the perimeter wall of the newtake.
  • Nov.06/02: Enquiries from Divina Owen concerning 1861 Census. Is there a place known as Lish where at that time several masons and a carpenter were living? Could this be Aish at Poundsgate? Also seeking details of the ‘Hamlyns’ of Widecombe. A copy has been passed to Peter Rennells requesting he looks at our collection of Census papers.
  • Nov.06/03: Richard Horsham requesting details of River flooding in the area with particular reference to July and August. August 1938 saw severe flooding in the area including Buckland Bridge being washed away, the middle of Ashburton was flooded as were many roads, to considerable depth. The late Johnny French is recorded as having driven his lorry through flood waters beyond Holne Bridge when the water came into his cab. In the same year the Hole Stone (a boundary stone at Ilsington) was washed away never to be seen again. The road at the top of Bonehill Lane was washed away under the Moor Gate to such a depth that it was possible to drive a horse and cart under the gate. There are many other references to flooding in the area, i.e. Hemery’s High Dartmoor, and the local press, the Western Morning News and the Mid-Devon Advertiser for example, and we suggest that Richard views their archives.
  • Nov.06/04: Nigel from Leeds relates a strange dream he recently had of Widecombe even though he has never visited our village. He related hearing the phrase ‘sidecombe’ and requests any information.
  • Nov.06/05: Karryne Hodgkinson of Salisbury asking for details of ‘Uncle Tom Cobley Pottery’. Secretary has replied suggesting she looks on ‘e-bay’ where various samples are displayed for sale.
  • Nov.06/06: Requests from Jackie Tomkinson who is writing a novel about the Victorian era in Devon. Secretary asked to reply suggesting that she reads novels of that period by the likes of Conan Doyle, Eden Phillpotts, Beatrice Chase and other authors of that era.

Secretary has written to Rose Mortimore (Widecombe Church House Management Committee) confirming the continuation of our booking for the first Wednesday of each month for our regular monthly meetings. Also confirming the booking of the Church House for Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July 2007 from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 a.m. both days for an Exhibition and Meeting.

Secretary has replied to Miss Elizabeth Maycock of the Devon History Society, confirming that we will entertain their members on Saturday 30th June 2007 for their Summer Meeting. We shall offer them tea, coffee and biscuits when they arrive at 10.00 a.m. followed by a presentation about our Parish and History Group and an Exhibition of Documents and Memorabilia. We suggest they book lunch for 1.00 p.m. at the Wayside Cafe and we will meet them there after lunch and give them a Guided Walk around the village.

Further to the letter received in August from Jeffrey Wilson of Langport, regarding Home Guard activity, the secretary has been in conversation with him and has now sent him a copy of the Home Guard Exercise held in Widecombe and Poundsgate in 1943 to add to his archives.

The Secretary is attempting to contact a Louis Le Bailly of Cornwall regarding a letter from him printed in the Western Morning News on Tuesday 12th September with reference to young people involved in ‘The Dartmoor Patrol’.

Publicity for the Widecombe Firework Display at Great Close next Saturday November 4th from 6.00 p.m. Contact 01364 621294.

Notice of Car Boot Sale in aid of Widecombe Primary School to be held at Becky Falls Car Park on Sunday 19th November from 9.00 a.m. Details from Wendy on 01647 221513.

Old Inn, Widecombe, is currently undergoing refurbishment and the Secretary has enquired about the safe-keeping of old photographs etc. which have been on display in the Inn for many years. He has contacted Hall and Woodhouse, the current owners, and they have agreed to get copies made of items of particular interest for the Group’s archives. He has received a folio of small images and will select the ones we would like, we look forward to receiving these free copies.

Leusdon Memorial Hall Coffee Morning, December 6th, from 10.00 to 12 noon.

The next meeting will be held on Wednesday December 6th when we will welcome the Wren Singers who will give us a talk with folk songs inspired by the late Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould. In view of the fact that we are researching Widecombe Fair, Ann Claxton has agreed to make them aware of this and request that they bring with them any specific information they may have concerning our Fair with them.

Our Annual New Year’s Party will be held on Wednesday 3rd January 2007 which will take the form of a Bring and Buy supper. Liquid refreshment will be supplied by the Group.

A presentation was made to Roger & Ann Claxton in appreciation for organising such an enjoyable trip to Wales. Thanks were also expressed to the coach driver for his co-operation. We visited Fagins the Welsh rural history village, The Big Pit the Welsh Tin Mining Museum with an underground tour where we saw the stables for 75 pit ponies. This reminded us that Dartmoor Ponies sometimes were employed down the mines years ago. We toured Cardiff and saw the new buildings, the waterfront, museum, castle as well as a trip on the Brecon Railway. On our homeward journey we visited Slimbridge Nature Reserve. The amount of activities fitted into the three days and the fun enjoyed by all those that went had us considering re-naming our Historical Group ‘The Hysterical Group’!

It has been suggested that we hold an Annual Dinner. Alan and Mary Goodall will make enquiries from Badgers Holt about the feasibility of holding this and will report back to the next meeting when details will be put to the Group as to whether they are in favour of the idea. Mary gave the group a copy of Jan Stewer’s ‘On the Moor of a Night’ which will be added to our collection. Members should remember that anything in our library can be borrowed by contacting Richard Wells our librarian and signing the item out.

It was noticed that there was a new framed ‘collage’ hanging in The Church House which has been presented to The Hall Management Committee by the Sir Joshua Reynolds (Plympton) Womens Institute. This item was entered in the Yealm Group W. I. Group meeting last March when it won first prize and the cup. It was subsequently entered into a craft competition in Plymouth and won the ‘Gold Star’ certificate. The Institute decided that as it depicts the story of the Great Storm of 1638 showing the devil on horseback at the top of the Church Tower with the four playing cards (hearts, clubs. diamonds and spades) it should be presented to Widecombe Village and hung in the Church House. A script attached to it relates the event and a plaque naming the donors.

The Meeting closed at 9.57 p.m.

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