History Group Talk August 2014

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Simon Dell gave the Group an interesting talk about Beatrice Chase (Olive Katherine Parr) also known as 'My Lady of the Moor', and about her life in our parish.

Olive Katherine Parr, (Beatrice Chase), daughter of Charles Chase Parr and Olive Katherine Parr, was born on 5th July 1874 in London and died on 3rd July 1955 at Newton Abbot. She is buried in Widecombe Churchyard near her mother’s grave.

Her father died when she was quite young, she also had a sister Hilda who died at the age of 18 years. She claimed being related to William Parr, brother of Katherine Parr the last wife of Henry VIII. William was a Lancastrian and on many of her letters the Red Rose of Lancaster featured. She also had a ring with the rose embellished on it.   She was a well educated lady going to St Mary's Catholic School in London, and both her and her sister became nuns. Her sister Hilda died aged 18 years old and when Beatrice was 21 years old she left the Order but continued to do a great deal of charitable work in the east end of London. This work involved care of homeless children and fallen women and also became a prison visitor at Holloway Women's Prison. All this work with people in poor health resulted in her contracting tuberculosis (TB), and as her health deteriorated her mother was advised to move to the south coast, and they headed for Dawlish. As her health did not improve, they were further advised to consider moving to Dartmoor.

They visited Widecombe on 2nd July 1902 with the intention of renting a property. By 'divine intervention' ? they met with a person who asked 'are you looking for somewhere to stay?' This resulted in them renting a cottage at Venton. In the ensuing years they purchased the Cottages and Higher Venton Farm. In 1908 they had constructed, adjoining the farm house, another cottage with stone already on site. Beatrice at this time decided to extend her writing career and a window in the house became her 'Dartmoor Window' through which she sold her books to passing visitors. She is reputed to having had a fiancée who perished during WW1, this is yet to be substantiated. She wrote in long-hand and it became expensive to get her manuscripts typed up for publication. She decided to purchase a Remington Typewriter - funds were low, but 'divine intervention' again resulted in the required £21.18s.6d coming her way from a family bequest.

She was always a staunch Catholic and decided to build a Chapel at Venton and on Whit Sunday 1908 the Chapel was consecrated by the Bishop of Plymouth She did many good deeds in conjunction with her mother who she called "The Rainbow Maker". She employed male servants who she called 'Mr. Bluejacket', mostly retired Royal Navy personnel they lived in one of her cottages. The middle Cottage at Venton at one time was the police house (E308 Constable William Hunt).

She had her pet dog known as 'Tweed-dog', which was mentioned in some of her novels. She did prison visiting at Princetown and wrote numerous novels, one 'The Heart of the Moor' sold 70,000 copies.

She got to know John Oxenham who wrote a book entitled 'My Lady of the Moor' and this is how she acquired that title. During WW1 she crusaded for the many service men, she had a book of names which she kept at the Altar of the Chapel and she prayed regularly for them, she referred to them as 'White Knights'.    She was concerned about their welfare and that of their wives and girlfriends. She prayed that they may not be led astray while in foreign lands.


The information on this page was last modified on August 15 2014 22:22:42.

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