Widecombe History Group Minutes November 2007

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A Meeting of The Widecombe & District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 7th November 2007 at 7.30 p.m.

Please click here for Peter Stead's talk entitled, "The Latest Findings of The Princesshay Project".

Apologies: Jim & Ruby Churchward, Betty Andrews, Jenny Pascoe, Ruth Parnell, Joy Routley, Barbara Norrish, Tina & Barry Welch, Bessie French, Phyllis Pascoe, Norma Tempest, Pat Gibson and Audrey Lamb.

During the past month we have lost one of our members Arthur Johnstone. The members stood for one minutes silence in his memory.

Mrs Mary Pascoe was in the chair and 61 members attended including once again some new faces.


The History of Widecombe Fair book is continuing to sell well and the group has been invited to have a stall at The Xmas Fayre being held at The Leusdon Memorial Hall on Saturday 1st December from 12noon - 4.00p.m. We have also been invited to do the same at their coffee morning at The Hall on Wednesday 5th December. An opportunity for people to purchase our books and paperweights for their Christmas Presents. John Kimber will see if copies of pre-war W.M.News are available.

Sue Booty has produced a write-up about Widecombe Fair 2007 to add to our Widecombe Fair historical information collection.

Sue Booty has also compiled a list of contacts collected at Widecombe Fair 2007.

The Dartmoor Trust:

To date we have not had a reply to our letter .


Items continue to be passed to our librarian Richard Wells for inclusion into our archives .

2008 Programme:

Ann Claxton has produced another interesting programme of speakers for next year. A list is now available and much of it is printed on the back page of our most recent Newsletter Vol 20 (May 2007 - October 2007) edited and produced by Sue Booty.

Old Local Sale & Auction Posters:

It is hoped that the CD with these images, will be able to be viewed at our New Year’s Party on Wednesday January 2nd 2008. Members will be able to obtain copies of any that interest them.

The 1842 Tithe Map:

The Widecombe Parish Council are interested in supporting the conservation of this map and are willing to contribute to the cost. Secretary has been requested to obtain an estimate of the expense that would be involved. It has been suggested that the map should be displayed at The January Meeting of The Parish Council. Assistance will be required to arrange this, names of any volunteers to the secretary.

North Hall:

The history of North Hall, the Medieval Manor House of ‘Widecombe Town Manor’ is progressing steadily under the direction of Peter Rennells who has been researching this subject for the past ten years. Official Archaeologists are now taking an interest in the project. Peter has found reference to an orchard on the site in 1634 and further details in 1860. Due to the interest and support of The Skinner family, the present owners, he has had considerable access to the site and he will give the group an address at our February 6th 2008 meeting on his findings so far and the opinions of some of the experts that have viewed the site. Peter is looking for support in this project in the form of any knowledge of mining activities that may be connected to this site or its immediate vicinity. He also seeks information about the now ’defunct’ North Hall Cafe’. The site we now believe is owned by D.N.Park Authority.

We await his talk in February with interest.

Widecombe Fair and The Heritage Marquee:

The secretary reported that he has made contact with The Dartmoor National Park Authority to see if they are prepared to give the group some financial help with the cost involved in the research of our Widecombe Fair book and the equipment for the displays in The Heritage Marquee.

He stated that the Dartmoor National Park Authority have considered the request and is intending to make a contribution of £250 towards our costs. It was decided that when the cheque comes through we should contribute £100 to The Widecombe Fair Committee Company Limited towards the cost of the Marquee.

It was also decided that we should donate to The Fair Committee the sum of £50 from the sale of our new book as a good will gesture.

Ideas for our 2008 marquee exhibition please to Peter Rennells.

We can then keep The Widecombe Fair Committee informed of our plans.


There will be a suggestion book available at meetings for members to use regarding ideas, projects, speakers and subjects in fact anything for the benefit of and the continued interest of he group.

Sue Booty has suggested that we should try and record as much detail as we can about the WWII years in the parish.

Roger Whale has suggested that we should look at the history of the Civil War years and its effect on this parish. Could Todd Gray be a useful source of information?

Congratulations were expressed to Mark Hutchins for organising an excellent Fireworks Display for the Parish.

Sincere thanks were expressed to Ann Claxton for organising such an enjoyable Annual Outing to Saltash and Buckland Monochorum on Saturday October 6th.

Eileen Carrett has agreed to obtain for our consideration a ‘Polo Shirt’ in royal blue on which our History Group Logo could be printed for members to wear at group functions.

The question of who will be providing music at our Annual Dinner was raised. Alan Goodall will clear up any misunderstanding that has arisen between ‘Henry & Jeannie’ or ‘Len Jackman’.

Alan Goodall has produced extra lists of local books available to borrow direct from him, he also gave the group a copy of a letter regarding Beatrice Chase (Olive K. Parr) that had come his way to add to archives.

Roger Whale is currently collecting as much information as possible about the bridges in the parish. Please contact him with any photographs or details that you may have including stories, dates of construction or modification about any of these bridges.

Nigel & Alison Wildsmith of Pickering in Yorkshire wrote to congratulate the group on its new book and requested a list of our future speakers as whenever they are down this way they hope to come to some of our meetings.

Annual membership due to ‘Friends of Devon Archives’ passed to treasurer.

Correspondence and e-mails.

  1. Letter is awaited from Parish Council regarding conservation of 1842 Tithe Map.
  2. A letter from Alan Wills a 3rd year student of Archaeology at Exeter University, asking for details of any free-standing Dovecotes or their remains that were purpose built for the sole use of breeding pigeons or doves anywhere in Devon as part of a comprehensive survey he is doing. Members will bring information to our December meeting. One suggested is at Pridhamsleigh near Buckfastleigh.
  3. E-mail from Patricia Le Gauch of New York giving the group permission to use illustrations from her book arrived too late for our publication. She has now got a copy of our book.
  4. Secretary has replied to a questionnaire about Dartmoor from Emma an 11year old student of Okehampton College.
  5. Correspondence from Linda Wilkinson of Australia is hoping to visit us on 2nd January 2008. She is descended from the Norrish family and would like to make contact.
  6. Contact details have been received for a guided walk and talk regarding Harrowbeer Aerodrome. Passed to Ann for future use.
  7. Enquiry about Lower Blackaton Farm and the Manor. It is believed that Grendon and Blackaton Manor houses are mirror images of each other. Designed and built by the same person(s)? Perhaps.
  8. Enquiry regarding a murder and suicide in 1929/30 of one Hermon Richard Hext and his wife Elizabeth (nee Hellier). This is believed to have happened at Waye Farm, Ashburton. Suggest contact with the Coroner’s Office, or Mid Devon Advertiser, Evening Herald, Express & Echo and their archives.
  9. Enquiry regarding the restoration of working leats and hydro-electric generation, suggested contact Miles Fursdon 01364 631282

Dates for your diary:

Thursday 8th November at 7.30 p.m. at Buckfastleigh Town Hall an illustrated talk by Phil Newman on the mines of Buckfastleigh and Ashburton. Penny Cunningham has arranged for up to 20 members to attend an information morning at The Devon Records Office, Exeter, on Saturday 24th November at 10.00a.m. Names of those interested to Secretary by Tuesday 20th.

At our Meeting on Wednesday 5th December there will be a talk about The South Devon Railways by Ted Parrott.

‘Carols Down the Line’ is an opportunity to travel from Buckfastleigh to Totnes and back on Thursday 6th December with The Dart Valley Railway. There will be Carols and Mince-pies for all passengers. Names to Ann Claxton by 30th November. 01364 621 232.

The meeting closed at 10.10p.m.

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