Widecombe History Group Minutes August 2007

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

Apologies: Roger Whale, Ruth Parnell, Arthur Johnson, Dylis & Peter Harvey, Fred Daw, Phyllis Pascoe, Margaret Phipps, Roger Claxton, Bessie French, Sue Booty, Maggie Faulkner, Jenny Pascoe, Norma Tempest, Yvette Elliot and Diane Cackett.

Mrs Mary Pascoe was in the Chair and 45 members attended.

The July Minutes were read and signed as correct after one amendment.


Members welcomed back Alan & Mary Goodall. Alan had been taken ill while away in France and he mentioned the wonderful care that he had received while in hospital there.

The Group wished to send Arthur Johnson their best wishes as he is unwell at the present. Margaret Steemson is very frail but Freda Wilkinson seems quite well but is having difficulty in hearing.

Widecombe Fair Book:

Three drafts of the text have now been seen by the working party and the final draft is now in the hands of the publishers, Orchard Publications of Chudleigh. 01626 852 714. It is expected that the next we will see of it will be at the launch in The Heritage Marquee at Widecombe Fair on Tuesday 11th September and copies will be available in the shops shortly after. A mock-up of the cover was shown to the meeting and is very colourful and was greeted with enthusiasm.

Roger Claxton will be asked to put the sale particulars on our website.

The book will come out at 108 pages with a full colour cover, perfect bound, well illustrated and containing several colour and black and white photographs. It will retail at £6.95 and copies can also be obtained (Plus Postage & Package to be calculated) through our website: www. widecombe-in-the-moor.com

Macmillan Nurses:

The total raised by the Rennells family for this cause has reached £1500. Peter Rennells thanked everyone for their support and sponsorship.

There will also be a coffee morning organised by The Leusdon Memorial Hall Committee in aid of The Macmillan Nurses at Leusdon Memorial Hall on Wednesday 5th September from 10.00 a.m. till 12.00 noon.

Dartmoor Trust & Dartmoor Archives:

Anthony Beard & Roger Claxton have been invited to a meeting of the above on Monday September 24th to discuss the Peter Hirst legacy and its use.

Guided Walk on Saturday 14th July:

Richard Wells reported that only three people attended but an enjoyable afternoon was spent.

Widecombe Fair Heritage Marquee on September 11th 2007:

Peter Rennells has the organisation of the stands well in hand. He asked for volunteers to man the various exhibits during the day and also for help in the setting up on the Monday evening. The Exhibits will include North Hall, Farming’s Past, Beatrice Chase, Candy’s Pottery, a collection of Widecombe Fair pottery, the censuses of 1841 to 1901, and a special exhibit of the material gathered in the process of the compiling of The History of Widecombe Fair Book and our other publications.

There will also be a collection of farming memorabilia both inside and outside the marquee.

Please keep in contact with Peter and assist him all you can!

Several people volunteered to assist on Monday 10th September in the transportation of the larger items and the preparation of the exhibition and on Fair Day to ‘man’ the exhibits and clear up on Tuesday evening. Peter will draw up a rota by the September meeting. A few more volunteers would be appreciated.

Peter Hirst Memorial Walk 29th August 2007:

This has been arranged by Richard Wells and Mike Jones and will start at the Quarry opposite The Two Bridges Hotel at 5.45p.m. prompt and visit Wistman’s Wood, Crockern Tor and back to the quarry. A buffet will follow at The Plume of Feathers, Princetown, costing £8 per head payment in advance by 8th August to Richard. Members of The DTRG have been invited to join us as they have in the past.

Peter Carrett has offered to refurbish our old ‘Holne ARP Bell’, presented to us by Sylvia Needham, by making a new wooden handle.

The group has been contacted by Vivienne Veitch, a dowser. Her details have been passed on to Tony Heath of The Dartmoor Dowsing Group who will contact her.

Autumn Outing:

Ann Claxton distributed information and booking forms for our trip to Saltash Museum, Mary Newman’s Cottage, Elliott’s Shop and Buckland Abbey on Saturday October 6th. Leaving Widecombe at 9.00 a.m. and returning at about 6.30 p.m. We were hoping for a talk by a member of The Tamar Protection Society but due to illness this did not materialise but it is hopeful that it can be re-arranged for our meeting on Wednesday 5th September prior to our trip.

The two paintings in Widecombe Church with Jewish connotations?

This is continuing to create interest. A couple of people are trying to find out more and they will contact our group. It has been suggested that someone from a local synagogue should be contacted. Watch this space!

Stokenham Archaeological Dig:

This dig at Stokenham was aimed at uncovering the remains of a Medieval Manor House which stood in the village for 300 years and then disappeared. It was carried out by a team from Exeter University. It was part of the X-Arch (Exploring Archaeology) community project and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and also supported by the Archaeology Expedition Fund which is funded by donations from the University’s alumni.

Peter Rennells, who has spent a great deal of time and effort in researching the history of The North Hall Medieval Manor site of Widecombe Town Manor, with the secretary Anthony Beard visited the Stokenham site and met with the leaders of the investigation. A file of Peter’s work was presented to them and this has re-ignited their interest in ‘our’ site. Anthony has contacted the owners Michael & Lorna Skinner for permission to survey the site and permission has been granted. Penny Cunningham has since visited the site and expressed a great deal of interest. It was encouraging that their son David expressed a lot of interest in the investigations.

She and her colleague Sam would now like to visit the site and make some preliminary surveys of the two most promising areas during the week of 20th August.

Penny has arranged a group visit to Devon Records Office for the morning of Saturday 24th November and we shall be given a tour and a detailed explanation of how to use the office. This should be interesting for anyone who has never been to the DRO.


Alan & Mary Goodall gave the group a lapel badge of Devon Association of Ringers in recognition of Widecombe Bell Ringers and two Tor Bus tickets. A 5d return and a 51/2d single.


Liverton Women’s Institute are holding a coffee morning at Bradley Oaks, Cummings Cross, Liverton on Thursday 9th August from 10.30 a.m.

Newton Abbot Court Leet & Baron are holding The Annual Inspection of The Borough Stocks on Wednesday 29th August at St Leonard’s Tower at 12.00 noon.

Westcountry Studies Library have several photographs of places that they need identifying. Images can be viewed on: www.devon.gov.uk/localstudies

If anyone can help please contact them 01392 384216.

Princetown History Club meet on the 4th September for a talk on South Devon Railway in Days of Steam by Peter Gray.


A letter from The Environmental & Rural Affairs Committee of The Devon Federation of Women’s Institutes requesting Anthony Beard to give an address similar to what he gave to The Devonshire Association President’s Symposium to be followed by a walk around Widecombe. As there could be as many as a hundred people involved Anthony thought it would be better if this was done under the auspices of our History Group and base it on a similar event recently staged by us for The Devon History Society but without the exhibition.

The date of Thursday 3rd April 2008 would be offered to them and The Church Hall has been provisionally booked. The programme would be for tea/coffee and biscuits at 11.00 a.m. followed by presentations by three or four of our members. Possibility of Candy Pottery by Mike Jones, North Hall by Peter Rennells, Ponsworthy by Roger Whale, Old Farming Tools by Rodney Cruze and The History of Widecombe by Anthony Beard. After a break for lunch we suggest a guided tour of Widecombe from 2.00 p.m.

We shall suggest they make a donation to the group and our paperweights and publications will be available for purchase if they so wish.


13th June: from Penny Bud wishing to contact Julia Ober regarding Vian Smith.

The meeting was reminded of ‘The Bracken Bashing’ events organised by DPA for August.

Leusdon Memorial Hall will hold Coffee Mornings on Wednesday 5th September in aid of Macmillan Nurses. There will also be Coffee Mornings on Wednesday 3rd October, Wednesday 7th November and Wednesday 5th December from 10.00 to 12.00 noon, when we have been invited to have a Book Stall.

Elfords of Sheepstor:

The family tree recently received from Mr & Mrs Elford of Buckinghamshire will be made available to view at the September meeting.

The next meeting will be on Wednesday September 5th when final arrangements will be made for Widecombe Fair and possibly an address by a member of The Tamar Protection Society.

The meeting closed at 9.47 p.m.

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