History Group Minutes August 2009


  A Meeting of The Widecombe History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe, on Wednesday 5th August 2009 at 7.30 p.m.

Apologies: Carl Heywood, Doug & Lyn Pidgeon, Rosemary Mortimore, Ruth Parnell, Ruth Tanner, Derek & Lyn Hext, Dawn Nosworthy, Jim & Ruby Churchward, Betty Andrews, Rodney Cruze, Jenny Pascoe, Ann Murphy, Margaret Phipps and Dot.  It was reported that Rodney Cruze has had his operation on his ankle and is home again. A card sending him best wishes was circulated during the meeting for all to sign.   

Arising: Widecombe Fair, Tuesday 8th September 2009: Peter & Aileen Carrett gave an up to date review on the arrangements for The Heritage Marquee.  UTC Model: Mike Wright, Sid Pontin and Aileen Carrett reported that the model is now fully restored. A photograph was produced showing it in its newly completed state. It was decided that this photograph will be made into postcards and copies will be available at the show at 50p each. A plaque has been made with an inscription, worded by the Price family, which will be attached to the model. Members of the Price family hope to attend Widecombe Fair to see the model which has now been restored to its original glory as it was in 1959. Sheep: This year is the centenary of the formation of The Greyfaced Dartmoor Sheep Breeder’s Flock Book. To help celebrate this we shall be featuring them at the Marquee and in conjunction with them we shall be staging a ‘Fleece to Jumper’ exhibition. Shane Palmes is organising some of her friends to demonstrate spinning and knitting with wool from a Greyfaced Fleece and the Greyfaced Breeders are also showing a selection of wool and wool products. Machinery: In conjunction with the above, Mr. Ian Minshull of Lamerton has offered the Group a selection of his sheep shearing machinery collection, shepherds crooks and sheep management tools to exhibit. Telephones: Peter’s collection of old telephones will be on show. Weather: Mary Pascoe and Aileen Carrett have arranged an exhibition of photographs relating to previous severe weather conditions in the parish. Bridges: Roger Whale’s collection of photographs of bridges in the parish will be exhibited. North Hall: Details of Peter Rennells’ research will be on view. Mining: Val and Pat Watson, in conjunction with the DTRG, will show aspects of mining on Dartmoor. Census: Copies of Census papers will be on view. Mosaic: This Uncle Tom Cobley item will be on view. Books, Postcards and Paperweights will also be available to purchase. Further items were archived by Richard Wells, our Archivist, including items on Widecombe Fair and Ponsworthy Bridge.

Peter Rennells gave an update on his continued research into the North Hall Manor site. This is now owned by two separate families and meetings with them need to be arranged. The apple trees grafted from cuttings taken from the trees in the old orchard have rooted and fruited successfully and are now ready to be planted in the Old Orchard this coming Autumn. He has been looking at the details of the successful recordings of Ilsington Manor, in the Churchyard at Ilsington and the financial support that was received for that project from The Dartmoor National Park. It is hoped that in the future North Hall may benefit from similar support. Archaeological advice can be obtained from Anita Travis, Archaeologist, and she will also help with research, the cost of which will need exploring. The Truman’s Exeter Flying Post, an early newspaper, may well be worth exploring for information. The practice in the 1600s of absent Landlords led to many old mansions falling into disrepair and it has been recorded that in 1685, in the reign of James II, a ruling titled ‘The Star Chamber’ was set up to rectify this. More cause for research!  Kingshead ‘D’ stone?In The Dartmoor Magazine Issue 95, Summer 2009 (page 67), there is a photograph of a stone near Kingshead Corner that appears to have part of a ‘D’ inscribed on it. Could this be a boundary stone between the Manors of Widecombe Town and Jordan? Jordan Manor was known as ‘Dewdon’ many years ago! 

The Old Reading Room, Heritage and Educational Centre: Roger Claxton reported on the limited progress so far. Since the last meeting we have heard from Jonathan Aylett that the Totnes Archdeaconry Glebe Committee have asked him to do a full review of the site. In view of our detailed proposal, which he acknowledged, we hope to hear of his findings soon. To assist with our funding of this project a Whist Drive has been arranged at Leusdon Memorial Hall by Joy Routley and Barbara Norrish, on Friday 7th August at 7.30 p.m. We record with thanks the various individuals and businesses that are supporting us with this project. A meeting of the Reading Room Sub Committee will be held soon.To further our knowledge of the history of the Reading Room, we need to ask senior members of the community for their memories. Deborah Hannaford and Fred Daw were mentioned as suitable candidates.

Correspondence and e-mails: These are continuing to be answered by the Secretary. Roger Claxton has been contacted by the Devon Records Office asking if there are any old Wills relating to the parish that can be copied. The Will of Uncle Tom Cobley shown to us when we were researching The History of Widecombe Fair could be one such item. Permission must be obtained first from the family concerned.

Walks and Talks:  The Peter Hirst Memorial Walk will take place, meet at the Vitifer Tin Mine site at 2.30 p.m. Bring a picnic. Members of the DTRG have offered to show us around the site and the nearby Gold and Dagger Mine, and for those that feel fit, they can stagger up to Birch Tor where they will be rewarded with spectacular views. “When we’re all done and dusted, a visit to the Warren House Inn on the way back will not be discouraged!” A guided walk along the Stover Canal. Meet at Sampson’s Farm at 1.45 p.m. Cream teas available at the end of the walk at £4.50 per head.  A visit to Newton Abbot Museum has been arranged. Meet at the Museum at 7.30 p.m. 

Diary Dates: Saturday 29th August: Peter Hirst Memorial Walk. Tuesday 1st September: Princetown LHG - talk by Helen Harris (in the new Village Hall).  Wednesday 2nd September: Coffee Morning at Leusdon Memorial Hall at 10a.m. Talk on the Stover Canal by  Roger Harding, Chairman of the Stover Canal Society. Saturday 5th September: Guided Walk along Stover Canal. Tuesday 8th September: Widecombe Fair. Wednesday 16th September: Moretonhampstead LHG - talk by Robert Hesketh. Monday 21st September: Devon Women’s Institute talk and walk at Widecombe  Meet at 10.30a.m. in The Church House. (Provisionally booked). Wednesday 23rd September: The Lustleigh Society - talk by Professor Mark Brayshay.  Talk by Commander Charles Crichton on ‘My early years in the Navy’.

2010 Programme: Suggestions and ideas for speakers, walks and outings should be sent to Ann Claxton as soon as possible.
Peter Rennells informed the meeting that he had recently visited Finch’s Foundry at Sticklepath, near Okehampton, and they have a ceramic model of ‘Uncle Tom Cobley and All’ on display, believed to be on loan from Dawlish Museum, this needs more exploration. At Okehampton Rural Museum there is also an interesting mug. Two places worth a visit.
A guided walk around Challacombe was another suggestion.
Roger Claxton gave an interesting presentation of old film clips from Pathe News relating to Widecombe and Dartmoor. He also showed some DVDs prepared by Peter Carrett depicting past outings and activities of our Group. One very interesting clip showed the whole restoration process of the Uncle Tom Cobley Model made by the late Harry Price in 1959 and restored this year by the team mentioned above.Roger also brought to the Group’s notice an Archaeological Dig currently taking place near Bellever Tor. Anyone wishing to see this must do so within the next two weeks as the site will then be back-filled.
                                                                    The meeting closed at 10.10 p.m.

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