Widecombe History Group Minutes February 2008


A Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 6th February 2008 at 7.30p.m.

Apologies: Sue Booty, Rosemary Mortimore, Jan Peek, Phyllis Pascoe, Fred Daw, Valerie and Richard Casey, Ann Murphy, Bessie French, Michael Smerdon, Sam Boustead, Colin & Elaine Dyson, Derek Hext and Michael Skinner

Mrs Mary Pascoe was in the Chair and 65 people attended. There were a few new visitors and a particular welcome was extended to Lorna and David Skinner the owners of Glebe Farm on which the site of the Old North Hall Manor House is situated and to Patrick & Pat Coaker the present ‘Lords of the Manor of Widecombe Town’.

Please click here for Peter Rennell's talk entitled, "North Hall 1998-2008".

Arising:

Richard Wells our Librarian reported that he had received 6 ledger/log books containing details of the activities of Widecombe School for the years 1876-1993. Much of the contents have been transcribed by Mary Pascoe and Wendy Beard and will form a booklet when printed to be deposited in the Archives. It was suggested that these ledgers should be deposited at The Devon Records Office for safe keeping on a ‘permanent loan’ basis so that they can be made available to local researchers whenever needed.

Annual Programme:

Annual Dinner at Dartmeet on Saturday 19th April. Alan Goodall distributed booking forms for Saturday 19th April (7.00 for 8.00 p.m.) complete with the choice of menu. Tickets £15. Please return booking slips and payment by Wednesday 2nd April at the latest.

Ann Claxton then gave details of three further events that she has organised for the members:

  • Monday 26th May. An afternoon visit to Harrowbeer Airport, Yelverton, for a guided walk around the site and a chance to view an exhibition at the Village Hall about the wartime activities of that area.
  • Saturday 5th July. Annual Outing to Sidmouth Museum, Norman Lockyer Observatory, the Donkey Sanctuary and Beer Quarry Caves. Details and booking forms available at the March meeting.
  • Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th October. A three night, four day short holiday trip to Ironbridge Gorge, a World Heritage Site. Detailed itinerary will be available at our March meeting. Members should book by April 2nd after which it will open to others if there is a need to fill the coach. Price approximately £225.

Parish Tithe Map 1842/44:

Widecombe Parish Council will be meeting on Thursday 7th February and the History Group will get the Tithe map ready for them to inspect. John Draisey of the Devon Records Office will be attending to give his expert opinion on its conservation and storage. There is a move afoot to get all Tithe Maps digitised and he will give the Parish Council his recommendations. It is understood the cost of this is in the region of £850 plus VAT and transport.

Devon Records Office Exhibition:

The Devon Records Office have agreed to stage an Exhibition in the Church House, Widecombe, for the weekend Friday 18th July to Monday 21st July. They intend to bring the Devon County Information coach complete with computers on Saturday 19th July, for anyone interested in their Family History to obtain help and knowledge in sourcing information. The exhibition will contain various documents relating to the parish that are at present being held by the Devon Records Office in their store at Sowton, Exeter. Katherine Weston, Heritage Outreach Officer, will be in attendance to give help and guidance.

Widecombe Fair, 9th September 2008:

The Widecombe Fair Committee have requested a potted history of Widecombe Fair (80-100 words) to add to their website which will have a link to our website. The Secretary has agreed to supply this.

To date, no reply has been received from them regarding our ‘Grain to Loaf’ theme for this year.

Correspondence and e-mails:

A reply has been received from Mr. & Mrs. Hicks declining the offer of a plaque commemorating Beatrice Chase.

The Secretary has replied to several e-mails this month:

  • One about the 15" Naval Shell given to the parish for collecting Sphagnum Moss during WW1. It is situated under the ‘pentice’ outside The Church House.
  • He has also suggested contacts for various family tree researchers. and other local History Groups.

Information has been received on the death of Mrs. Winifred Harman. she had also previously been the wife of the late Mr. Joseph Olszewski and Mr. Hermon French. The Secretary was instructed to write a letter of condolence to her son Jan and his family. He will also request that if the family have any of Hermon’s notes relating to the parish, that they do not wish keep themselves, would they please donate them to the History Group as they would be invaluable to us.

A donation of £10 has been received from last month’s Australian visitors in appreciation of the hospitality they received.

Widecombe Town Manor:

The main project being undertaken by the Group at this time is researching the history of Widecombe Town Manor. With the co-operation of Mr. & Mrs. Michael Skinner, owners of Glebe Farm, the site of the ancient Manor House of Widecombe Town, we are attempting to build up a detailed history of the site. With the support also of Mr. & Mrs. Patrick Coaker, Lords of the Manor of Widecombe Town, we intend to record details of the whole of that Manor. The first thing we need is a full survey of the Manor boundaries, listing the various boundary stones. Roger Whale and Jim Churchward have agreed to obtain accurate map references of the position of the boundary stones when we work out their accurate location, there is an urgent need to obtain any documentary evidence regarding the Manor and its early Court Meetings. Any information on any aspect of Widecombe Town Manor should be directed to the Secretary.

One point recently raised is that of Two Crosses, the south-west corner of the Manor where it joins Dunstone and Blackslade Manor and Jordan Manor. At present there is a small menhir (standing stone) at this point and the question has arisen as to why it is named ‘Two Crosses’. As recorded in the January 2008 Minutes under the ‘History of North Hall’, there were two crosses cut in the turf at that point and renewed every year by the village lengthmen. This has now been verified in some notes by the late Hermon French concerning the Beating of the Bounds of Widecombe Manor of the 7th October 1659 which have come into the secretary’s possession. These will also assist in the recording of the Boundary Stones of this Manor. Permission has now been obtained from Mr. & Mrs. Coaker and agreed by Debbie Griffiths of the Dartmoor National Park, that we may place a suitable stone, donated by Roger Whale, and engraved by the D.N.P. stating two crosses and two incised Xs on it at that point.

Mr. & Mrs. Skinner and their son David have shown the group the remains of what appears to have been the Manor House orchard. It now consists of 11 live trees and one dead tree. A section of the dead tree proves it to be over 100 years old. There is an orchard grafting session taking place at The Great Barn, Higher Ashton, in the Teign Valley, on Sunday 24th February when grafts from old trees can be made onto new root stock for the purpose of restoration. Cuttings need to be one foot long, straight and about the size of a pencil. More details on 01803 732212. It is hoped to participate and take some cuttings from the North Hall Orchard. Peter is concentrating his efforts at present on the crop marks in Great North Hall Moor but he would appreciate volunteers to help research the Orchard, the Manor boundaries, the Mills and DRO Documents. Please contact him./

Forthcoming Events:

  • Blackawton Village Hall. On Monday 18th February at 7.30p.m. A talk by local Archaeologist, Robert Waterhouse, on his survey of the history of Local Parishes.
  • Stokenham Parish Hall. On Friday 8th February at 7.30p.m. An illustrated talk on Vintage Farm Machinery by David Peters & Mike Hallett.
  • Our next meeting is on Wednesday 5th March at The Church House when Penny Cunningham will be giving a talk on ‘Understanding Geophysics’, with particular reference to North Hall.
  • Wednesday 20th February: Moretonhampstead History Group have a talk by Dr. Todd Gray on ‘History that Hurts’ (his talk may challenge some long standing assumptions).
  • Tuesday March 4th: Princetown History Club have a talk by Len Copley on Bodmin’s Wildlife and Landscape.
  • Our meeting on April 2nd is with Dr. Todd Gray, he will talk on ‘A fresh look at Exeter during W.W.11’.
  • Thursday April 3rd we host a visit from the Devon Women’s Institute Environmental and Rural Affairs Committee at 11.00 a.m. for tea, coffee and biscuits and presentations by Roger Whale, Rodney Cruze, Peter Rennells and Anthony Beard, to be followed by a guided walk at 2.00 p.m. around the village. They will be having lunch at Wayside Cafe.
  • Saturday 19th April, Annual Dinner at Dartmeet.
  • Sunday 1st June 2008, after the Annual General Meeting of the Devonshire Association, some of its members will enjoy a Guided Walk around Widecombe and they will finish with a cream tea at the Wayside Cafe. Representatives from our Group will lead the walk. The Association will be contacting the Cafe regarding numbers.

The meeting closed at 10.10p.m.

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