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Widecombe History group Minutes
Meeting of the Widecombe History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe, on Wednesday, 2nd December 2015 at 7.30pm
Terry French was in the Chair. There were 36 present.
Apologies: Lyn & Derek Hext, Lorraine Ashman, Roger & Ann Claxton, Val Watson, Rose Mortimore, Margaret Phipps, Flash & Judy Southcombe, Serena Walcot, Joanna Radford, Paula Stevens, Sid & Jo Pontin, Miho Rennells, Helen Barrow.
Anthony extended a welcome back to Ruth Parnell and Ann Murphy, both of whom had been absent recently.
The Minutes of the November meeting had been circulated and it was agreed that they should be signed.
A map of the Parish has been obtained from DNPA, on which we can mark the location of local features and identify stones. A master copy will be kept and other copies will be available for those who wish to add information. Tim Whitten has provided information about the Hennafoot Stone which is to be found on the Blackslade/Widecombe Town Manorial boundary near the Rugglestone. A discussion took place about the actual location of the stone. Consensus of opinion was that it could be the stone part way up and close to the hedge between the field owned by Gerald Lamb and Riverside.
World War I Roll of Honour
The first draft of the Roll of Honour was dedicated at the Remembrance Service on 8th November 2015. Members of the History Group planted crosses in memory of each named serviceman. Peter Rennells expressed his thanks to Reverend Geoffrey Fenton for the beautiful service. Since the draft Roll of Honour was written, three more names have come to light.
Christmas in the Parish
Mary Pascoe reported plans for the History Group Christmas Tree are well advanced. The display will be on show on 12th and 13th December in the church as part of the Christmas Tree Festival.
Also on 12th December, there will be a Christmas Market in the Church House, the Pre-School will be doing refreshments upstairs and holding a raffle. The Pre-School recently spent a lot of money on refurbishing the toilets in the Church House and need to recoup funds. For this reason, the History Group will not be doing a raffle this year. There will be a Craft Market at the Old Inn and National Trust shop will be open.
The Widecombe Carol Service is being held at 4.00pm on Sunday, 20th December, and the Leusdon Carols by Candlelight service is at 4.00pm on Sunday, 27th December.
New Year Lunch
Peter Carrett is organising a History Group New Year Lunch. This will be held on Wednesday, 16th March, at Stover Golf Club. Three courses for £15. Full details at the January Meeting.
History As It Happens
Geoffrey Fenton reported that one of the hands had fallen off the new clock. It was safely recovered and will need to be fixed back again. Major refurbishments are being carried out at Dunstone Chapel, including a new floor and moving the pews. They will be holding their Carol Service as usual on Tuesday, 15th December, at 6.30pm.
“Where is Butts Cross?” A junction on the main road, above the Poundsgate Methodist Chapel. A minor road leads to Primms Cottage and eventually to Foxworthy. One of the fields nearby is known as ’Butts Close’(Spitchwick Manor). It was mentioned that the Green in Widecombe is called Butts Close(Widecombe Town Manor). A field on Bittleford Farm is known as Bittleford Butts (Jordan Manor) All of these names would be derived from the places that were used for archery practice.
Next month’s teaser is “Where is Horse Park Lane?”
An email has been received enquiring about the ‘moil’ stone at Natsworthy.
Manaton & East Dartmoor Theatre Company emailed to ask to assistance on a new project concerning Wolves on Dartmoor. Kirsty Peake offered to help them.
Moor Than Meets The Eye
Judy Southcombe, Anthony Beard, David Ashman and Geoffrey Fenton attended a meeting in Widecombe recently. The idea is to have two information boards in the car parks and the History Group are to provide information about the pigs houses. Every business has been asked to produce a history of their building and it is hoped that the cafes and pubs will give information about an aspect of the village, e.g. the Fair. Photographs and post cards are needed for the displays.
The next meeting is on Monday, 7th December, at 7.30 in the Old Inn.
Anthony has drafted a report about the pigs’ houses which he read to us. Following Anthony’s reading a discussion took place reminiscing about the various ways of preserving pork (brine and salt) and the containers used for this. The method of making 'hog's puddings etc.
Here is Anthony's Draft:-
These two sheds joined together on the edge of Widecombe Village played an important part in the life of those that lived in the two Manor Cottages to your right. They were their pighouses.
Each of those cottages would have had a 'privy' at the bottom of their garden. A privy is the polite name given for a 'earth closet' an early form of toilet. They would be situated well away from the house and in towns and cities up and down the country, similar ones could be found in the back yard or at the end of the street of the terraced houses.
Affectionately known as 'a bucket and chuck it' as they needed regular emptying, the contents were dug into the garden soil as fertilizer. Some had a simple wooden board with a hole cut in it above the said bucket, but there were some examples that had two holes and a few with three where a smaller one was added for the children to use, they must have gone there as a 'family outing'! They were sometimes situated above a stream an early water closet! The mind ‘boggles’
These two sheds however are Pigs Houses, most cottages had one. People used to rear a pig, generally two a year, one to be killed in the spring and the second killed in the autumn. Due to the heat during the summer months, when it was impossible to get the salt to properly cure the meat a saying developed. "Never kill a pig unless there is an 'R' in the month". In other words from September to April, the cooler months, there is an 'R' in the spelling of each month and it was OK to do it then, while from May to August there is not an 'R' in the spelling. A little bit of country lore!
Why a pig you may ask? The answer is that it was a very economical animal to keep. Cheap to buy, cheap to rear, it lived off all the food waste from the household, cooked or uncooked. Potato skins, vegetable peelings, food scraps of any form, a handful of barley meal added to the scraps and the pig flourished. Waste not want not was the secret of the cottager's existence. They had very little money. It was not unusual for a pig to weigh up to Twenty Score deadweight. That is 400 pound. the pig would be killed and cut into joints, the size to suit the family. Blocks of salt would be rubbed into the meat, a labour intensive job and quite tiring, some folk added the meat into a saline/brine placed into a large earthenware container, 'a saltern'. Sometimes made of half of a cider cask with a wooden lid, and left to ‘pickle’. After a couple of weeks the meat would be taken out and more salt rubbed into it, then the meat hung up in the dairy or other cool place to dry. Some was hung near the 'open hearth fireplace' where it was gradually smoked. There was another country saying - You could use everything from a pig except for its ‘squeal’.
A most useful animal. As well as the joints of meat, there was all the offal. Even the intestines were used. The small intestines were washed and turned inside out, placed in a bucket of salt water, some people traced them and fried them, known as ‘Chitterlings or Natlings, depending from which part of the country you came! Some used them for sausage skins. The filling was all the bits and pieces and offal. The large intestines - they too were washed out and left to soak for a couple of days in a bucket of salt brine, and they too were filled with the minced offal and some oatmeal or pearl barley to make ‘hogs puddings’. In the north of the country the blood from the pig was kept and used to make 'black pudding'. The pig’s feet, tail, ears and head were boiled up and turned into 'brawn'. The lower jaw was cooked separately and known as ‘Bath Chaps’. Note nothing thrown away, even the bladder was used as a football, the hairs sometimes for shaving brushes. To the right of the houses is the ‘dung heap’ where all the muck was allowed to rot down and get used too when tilling the garden. The building to your right with the triangular roof, known locally as ‘The Saxon Well’ is what was the village water supply. The cottagers have a ‘right’ to the water, and there are still those that exercise that right today. Behind you near the Old Rectory Gate, is a mounting block, used to help riders mount their horse or pony. We hope you have enjoyed this little look into our history. No such thing as electricity, all cooked meat, cheese, butter, and milk was kept in a 'meat safe' made from perforated zinc on a wooden frame. The safe was hung on the exterior of a north facing wall so that the sun never shone on it - no refrigerators! Care had to be taken to ensure that butter and pork were kept well away from each other, milk kept well away from anything that smelt strong as it would pick up the scent so easily. Also mentioned was isinglass for preserving eggs.
Any Other Business
Thanks to John Walling who has provided copies of the Princetown History Group programme.
Anthony mentioned that Ron Davis had been buried this week at Leusdon. He was married to Audrey Beer, daughter of Mr and Mrs Jimmy Beer who lived at the Forge in Ponsworthy fifty years ago or more. Ron was a poet and, at the funeral, copies of his booklet were handed out. We have been given a copy for the History Group Archives.
The New Year party will be held as usual in January. Bring & Share food and Peter has agreed to provide the ‘punch’ again.
November to March. Beginning on Monday, 25th November. East Dart History Association will be running a project recording parish history. Devon Heritage Centre, Exeter
Sunday, 6th December. The Shallowford Nativity Play will take place at Shallowford at 6.30pm.
Saturday and Sunday, 12th and 13th December. Christmas Tree display in Widecombe Church.
Tuesday, 5th January 2016. Princetown History Group. 7.30pm. Dartmoor Prison. From May to December. A talk by George Blake.
Wednesday, 6th January. There will be no Coffee Morning at Leusdon Hall in January.
Wednesday, 6th January. Widecombe History Group. New Year’s Party.
Tuesday, 2nd February. Princetown History Group. 7.30pm. The Riding for the Disabled Association, a talk by Lynn Pidgeon.
Wednesday, 3rd February. Widecombe History Group. Armageddon: How Some Newspapers reported the Outbreak of the First World War. Robert Hesketh.
Wednesday, 16th March. History Group New Year Lunch at Stover Golf Club.
The meeting closed at 9.46pm.
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