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Widecombe-in-the-Moor Widecombe History Group Minutes May 2008
The Meeting of The Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 7th May 2008 at 7.30 p.m.
Apologies: Marcia Babbington, Alan Goodall, Carl Haywood, Tony Jewell and Bessie French.
Mr Roger Whale was in the chair and 52 people attended.
The minutes of the April meeting were signed as correct after a couple of minor amendments.
Devon Record Office:
All is progressing well for our exhibition on Saturday 19th July to Monday 21st July, 10.00a.m. till 4.00 p.m. each day.
Tickets are now available for the Film Show at Leusdon Memorial Hall on the
Friday 18th July. Contact Margaret on 01364 631421 (limited to 100 - first come basis).
Peter Rennells gave us another interesting summary of the progress recently made into the research of this project. He filled the meeting with optimism and enthusiasm as he outlined a visit from Dr Robert Waterhouse an eminent archaeologist. Dr Waterhouse has been involved with a project in the South Hams which resulted from the formation of The Devon Rural Archives in 2006. The aims of that group is to “Re-discover buildings and landscape not immediately obvious” to the untrained eye. This initial visit was funded by a research group and cost our group nothing.
The conclusion drawn by Dr Waterhouse is that The North Hall Site is a deserted site of great importance. Lying due North of the Village Green. It appears to be of the style of “A Mott and Bailey” stronghold c13th century, with the characteristic Moat with the soil thrown up inside the moat creating a flat top site where the buildings would have been erected.
In the adjoining field where the aerial photographs of 1947 show crop marks he could see the site of a hut circle or roundhouse of the mid-bronze age 1000 BC, with associated banks and ditches. Evidence also of habitation c1270 existed. The two names for Widecombe [viz: Wide Coombe ‘Wide Valley’ or Withey Coombe ‘Valley of the Witheys’ (Willow Trees)] were mentioned by him. He considered the site would be about 17 acres within the enclosure and the aerial photograph certainly points to a possible settlement. Evidence of the stone faced moat and associated spoil mounds creating a site for a house or dwelling were evident as was the existence of a fishpond. It was considered that the site may well have begun to be dismantled from c1697. Moated Manors of this type are unusual in Devon and this makes the site of particular interest and of ‘High Regional Importance’. There is in his opinion, a need to use some even more sophisticated Geophysical Equipment on this site. The stones that have been ‘rescued’ by David Skinner are of great importance and interest.
Peter felt that he could not end his presentation without mentioning the enthusiasm shown by David in North Hall, whenever Peter visits the site David always appears. He also attended a recent ‘grafting demonstration’ when cuttings from the North Hall trees were taken. The four trees are now beginning to leaf and we shall need some advice on when and how to plant them, possibly next autumn. Simon Tame, local horticulturist has offered his assistance and with the Skinner’s approval and co-operation we look forward to the future and possible community involvement.
Widecombe Town Manor & Boundary
This is progressing alongside the North Hall project. The stone given by Roger Whale is now in the hands of The Dartmoor National Park Authority where it will be engraved as stated in last month’s minutes. It will be placed at Two Crosses and Mary Pascoe brought to the meeting’s notice a book by Dave Brewer ‘A Field Guide to the Boundary Markers on and around Dartmoor which has the following quote: ‘However Robert Dymond in the nineteenth century had intended to erect a stone cross at the “Two Crosses in Turfe” on the northernmost point of his bounds of Dunstone. Having regard to the name of the site, it was proposed that the cross should have two pairs of arms, or alternatively, that two crosses should be erected, but unfortunately, neither came to pass’.
It is hoped that our proposed action will at last rectify this matter and the above quote corroborates the ‘Two Crosses’ story of there being two crosses cut in the turf at that spot. Roger Whale and Jim Churchward are continuing to trace and record the sites of all the boundary stones and maps and early reports and hopefully unearth Manor Records which will bring this project to fruition!
Devon Federation of Womens Institutes:
The visit of members of The Womens Institute was an outstanding success. About 90 members attended with about a further 200 disappointed members hoping to attend. We are intending to stage a similar event on Monday 22nd September for some of those that we were unable to accommodate last time. We record our thanks to all who attended for their generosity and for the interest shown in our publications several being purchased. “Copies of our publications can be bought through our website” www.widecombe-in-the-moor.com
Widecombe Tithe Map:
We understand that the digitising of our Tithe Map has now been done and we await confirmation from The Parish Council. Copies will be made available, and in due course Roger Claxton hopes to have scanned onto DVD, the Apportionment Book relating to the Tithe Map, these can then be viewed in conjunction with eachother, again available through the group. The receipts from The Devon Record Office for the Tithe Map and the School Records has been deposited into The Parish Chest.
Lower Blackaton Farm:
The present owners, Mr & Mrs David Lomax, have given the group a copy of an Archaeological Building Survey of a Former Longhouse at Lower Blackaton Farm, Widecombe, recently undertaken. Catalogue - Exeter Archaeology. Report No. 08.08. Project No. 6343. February
The Society of Moorland Dowsers:
Tony Heath of The Society of Moorland Dowsers presented the group with a copy of their 2007 Journal in which full reports of all their activities are recorded. In August visits to (H)Emsworthy, Honeybags and Chinckwell were recorded, with further visits also recorded and reviews of their findings. The conclusion of work carried out at the Ugborough House site is included in the Journal and dowsing carried out at Seaton. Details of other dowsing activities and a trip to Vancouver all make interesting reading.
Correspondence and emails:
The secretary has dealt with several letters and emails this past month. A contact with a Ian Parkin who may be able to source funding for us if we ever need it. Teignbridge Voluntary Services checking our status and offering equipment that can be borrowed for use in recording historical documents etc.
Mary Pascoe produced a note regarding Buckland Boundary Report in 1593 mentions “Horsditch” where seven Lordships meet, by 1698 it was referred to as “Heartsberry”. “It was the spot where open air meetings of the Lords of the seven outlying Manors of the Haytor Hundred in ancient times met to discuss matters. Quote: “Heartsberry where seven Lords meete and sevven stones are pitched so up together to each Lord a stone and the stone that belongs to the Lord of the Mannor of Buckland is the South Stone save one”
Doug & Lyn Pidgeon have given the group a pair of extension leads for use of visiting speakers.
Thanks were recorded to The Tamar Valley Male Voice Choir for their generosity in giving a donation to Widecombe Church Funds after a guided walk around Widecombe given to them by our secretary on Saturday 12th April.
Sue Booty has produced Volume 21 of our six-monthly newsletter and she hopes to improve its contents in the future with the inclusion of small articles from members. Please send them direct to our editor Sue.
Future Diary Dates:
The group will meet at the garage adjoining Knightstone Cafe (Not Yelverton Village Hall as previously announced), on Monday 26th May for a picnic at 12.30p.m. followed by a guided walk around Harrowbeer Aerodrome at 2.00p.m. Leusdon Memorial Coffee Morning Wednesday 6th June at 10.00 a.m.
Our next meeting is Wednesday 6th June at 7.30 p.m. when Helen Harris will give a talk titled “Incomers to Devon” based on her recent book on the subject. Our July meeting will be on Wednesday 2nd July when Simon Dell will give a talk “Mutiny on the Moor” based on his recent publication. Our meeting on August 6th will be to finalise preparations for our Heritage Marquee at Widecombe Fair Tuesday September 9th.
The Annual Peter Hirst Memorial walk will be at Brimpts Farm on Friday 29th August to view the work carried out by the DTRG in improving the access and features of the old tin mine that Peter had been involved with. The first stroll of about three and half miles to the North Mine leaves Brimpts at 3.00p.m. culminating in a Buffet Tea at 5.30p.m. and after tea the second stroll to the South Mine close by being about one mile. The DTRG will be joining us to show us around the sites. The Cost will £8.00 per person and must be booked by the Wednesday 6th August Meeting with the payment. Booking forms are now available from Richard Wells and Mike Jones who organise this annual event.
One of our themes at Widecombe Fair will be “Grain to Loaf” which should fit in well with the theme of “Devon’s Year of Food”. (We shall persue the theme of Fleece to Jumper for 2009). Our marquee sub-committee need to know the size of the marquee available to us this year.
James & Robyn Tuckett of New Zealand have made contact with the group. They are researching Tuckett, French & Norrish connections with Widecombe.
The meeting closed at 10.10 p.m.
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