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Widecombe History Group Minutes
A Meeting of The Widecombe History Group was held at the Church House, Widecombe, on Wednesday 7th April 2010 at 7.30 p.m.
Apologies: Pat and Roger Dickenson, Norma Tempest, Rick and Mavis Clipson, Bessie French, Ruth Parnell, Jenny Pascoe, Dot Jones, Arch Mortimore, Margaret Phipps, Richard Wells, Rodney Cruze and Wendy Beard
Mr. Roger Claxton was in the Chair and 45 people attended.
The Minutes of the March meeting were read and signed as correct.
Arising: Widecombe Fair 14th September 2010: Preparations are continuing, more details from Rodney Cruze at the May meeting. He is meeting members of families involved with transport in the parish and will liaise with Maggie Faulkner who is also developing information on the theme of transport within the parish. It was decided that the Groupwould become a 'Friend of Widecombe Fair', as a not for profit organisation, with a subscription of £25.
Power Point and Projection Equipment: We have been advised to approach the Widecombe Parish Council and The Teignbridge Rural Aid for grants towards the purchase of this equipment. It is also intended to get scanning and digital storage equipment.
North Hall/Glebe Farm: Peter Rennells gave the meeting a report on the research recently done by Dr. Anita Travis into North Hall and the support given by Jane Marchand of D.N.P. Information has been sourced from Plymouth Records Office, The Devon Records Office, West Country Studies Library and The British Museum. Dr Travis has researched many documents that made reference to North Hall. The earliest mention of Widecombe was in 957 AD referring to King Eadwig and Bittleford. In 1258 the Church is mentioned and also a Thomas Deboklande. North Hall Manor is mentioned in 1042 and a man named Edric as occupier for services rendered to Edward the Confessor. In 1216 the Manor was held by the Fitzralphs. In 1300 it appears that Fitzralph moved to Shillingford St. George and changed his name to Shillingford. In 1370 there are mentions of a Walter and William Widecombe. In 1406 J. Shillingford was buried alongside his mother in St. Catharine's Chapel in Widecombe Church. The Shillingford family appeared to be absentee landlords in 1480 when King Henry VII sent in the Sheriffs and seized three manors, Widecombe, Shillingford and Farringdon. There appears to have been £5000 then owed to the Vicar of Widecombe, a John Beaufitz, (what a large sum for that era). In 1480 North Hall was given to Lord Huddesfield, Attorney General, for services to King Henry VII. The previous assumption that Fitzralph became Arch Bishop of Armagh, has been disproved, we acknowledge our error in previous writings. Huddesfield had two daughters, the eldest wed Baron Edmund Carew in 1499. In 1542 George, Arch Deacon of Totnes, sold Widecombe Manor to John Southcote of Indigo, Bovey Tracey. A manor survey of 1600, indicated that North Hall was divided between six tenants, some were involved in tinning. In 1642 Southcote had to sell Widecombe Manor to settle debts. By 1652 Richard Cabell had strong interests, his daughter Susan having married William Wootton. For the next one hundred years, Woottons and Cabells are recorded as collecting the tenants' rents. In 1769 John Dunning, Lord Mayor of Ashburton, known as Lord Ashburton, became sole Lease holder of North Hall, he married Elizabeth Baring (of the banking family). The word ‘Narrow Way’ appears on one old map. (Could this refer to the way into North Hall or could it refer to Northway in the ‘narrows’ of Widecombe Hill?) Throughout the next one hundred years a Margaret Baring is recorded as collecting tenants' rents. Dunning died and left the property to daughter Anna, she married Thomas Cresswell. Manor Court rolls of 1718 to 1722 make no mention of a Vicar and refer to 'The Gentry Gate' being out of repair (could this be the blocked gateway facing North Hall in the Church yard wall?) By 1800 there appears a large drop in the rents and taxes regarding North Hall, could this be due to the demise of the buildings leaving only a land tax to be collected. North Hall does not seem to appear on any maps of that era. 1845 finds a lease purchased by Caroline Drake, the Vicar's niece. 1863 a High Court Decree mentions a dispute between Coope v. Cresswell concerning Widecombe Town Manor and 706 acres which had been sub-divided. Anita Travis has found two etchings, one of 1770 another of 1826 of Widecombe Church. In the background of 1770 etching there appears a large house which could well be North Hall Manor. Robert Waterhouse of the Devon Rural Archive is of the opinion that the site originally was a Norman 'motte and bailey fort', a wooden castle built on an earth mound, surrounded by a wooden palisade and a moat and fishponds. After the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror, ordered all wooden Forts and Castles to be replaced by stone ones where stone was available. It has been suggested that in conjunction with the Devon Rural Archive and Dartmoor National Park further geo-physical surveys should be done leading to a possible dig on the site. Existing stone piles nearby should be examined carefully and hopefully the existing orchard extended.
N. B. Devon Rural Archives are open for research Tuesdays and Thursday, 11.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. at Shilstone, Modbury, contact 01548 830888. N. B. In Prof. Ian Mercer’s new book on Dartmoor mention of Widecombe Town Manor appears. We need to ask him about his sources.
Heritage and Educational Centre/Parochial Church Council/Diocese: No reply has been received to date to our letters to Widecombe Parochial Council concerning our exhibits. Further correspondence with the Arch Deacon of Totnes regarding the Reading Room depends on reaction to our letters. Letter from Clare Born thanking the group for £416 recently sent to the P.C.C. This is a contribution from Gazettes and Paperweights sold last year.
Education in and around Widecombe: As a result of our discussions held last month, a write-up of the main points raised has been deposited in Box 1 of our Archives containing folders etc. relating to schools in the Widecombe area. The meeting decided that anyone wishing to take this further can organize a group during next autumn and winter to develop this into a booklet/leaflet as a project for the 'dark evenings'!
Volunteers to instigate this are needed.
A. O. B: An enquiry regarding a policeman’s daughter named Shirley led to no conclusion. Letter received from John Hutcheson of Denbury relating his experiences while wiring properties for electricity in the parish in 1960s. Letter requesting access to Widecombe documents. Reply suggesting await for the completion of our digitising project. Enquiry regarding the Follett Family of New House/ Rugglestone Inn. We shall try and get information for Sue Bennett (nee Follett) including a photograph of a painting of ‘Granny Follett’ which is held by a member of her family. We shall look at records in old Directories! An interesting account of details relating to Dewdon/Jordan Manor has been received by the group and will be added to our archives. There is a move afoot by The Parish Council to organise a ‘Parish Plan’ anyone interested in being involved with this should contact the Parish Clerk.
Diary dates: Monday 12th April we shall be hosting a guided walk around the village for members of The Curious Club. Meet at 11.00 a.m. Wednesday 5th May: Annual General Meeting when Roger Claxton will give an illustrated talk on The Tithe Map and the Apportionment Book. It is hoped that this may lead to a further discussion on Field Names and Owners and Occupiers over the years. Saturday 8th May: Annual Outing to Arlington Court and Lynmouth, forms and details from Ann Claxton 01364 621232. Wednesday 2nd June: June meeting when Andy Crabb of the D.N.P. will give an illustrated talk on Archaeology on the Moors above Widecombe. Wednesday 9th June: Andy Crabb will lead a guided walk around that area to look at the archaeological features. Meet at the car park at the top of Widecombe Hill at 6.00 p.m. PLEASE NOTE change of date and time.
The meeting closed at 10.25 p.m.
A talk followed given by Peter Kaminiski on The History and Work of the Met Office.
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