I will be standing down as chair of the History Group in June, to allow all you young things to take the group over with fresh ideas.
Although I will, no doubt, carry on looking into local and social history, I will be marking my retirement by giving two talks before June. Both will be entitled Why Study History? Our
Attitudes to the Vulnerable through the Ages. The first will cover the prehistoric period to 1950 and the second from 1950 to date. So the talk on Tuesday 13th September is the first of these. I hope you will be able to come. It starts at 7.30pm in the Teign Valley Community Hall. There will be a break for tea etc. somewhere around the 15th Century.
On the 21st September a group of 18 members of the Teign Valley History Group visited the Pengelly Trust caves in Buckfastleigh.
The caves are a site of great interest for a number of reasons and we were given an introductory talk taking us through the history of discoveries in the caves. The geological history of the area is fascinating and the guide talked us through the history of the land formations and movement showing us how the land masses have shifted and that where we now stand on was once in the tropics.
The William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust is a charity whose origins were in 1962 when Higher Kiln Quarry at Buckfastleigh was purchased with the intention of creating a cave studies centre. The quarry contains a number of caves, one of which (Joint Mitnor Cave) contains the remains of many species such as elephant, bison and hippopotamus dating from the period between the last two major glaciations (between 120 and 80 thousand years ago). This cave is internationally recognised as a type site for this period. The organisation is named after William Pengelly who was a local man who, in the mid 19th century, excavated a number of cave sites in Devon, most notably Brixham Cave and Kents Cavern at Torquay. He was also responsible for establishing excavation methods and records that became a model for all modern archaeology.
A guided tour followed when we were able to see for ourselves the Joint-Mitnor cave with its animal bones and rock formations formed by the passage of water over the millennia. The industrial history of the site was also very interesting with the remains of huge lime kilns.
The floor of the quarry has become a wildlife-rich area with several varieties of bats which roost in the caves. The rich vegetation has created an area of temperate rainforest where mammals, amphibians and invertebrates abound. There is a shrimp in one of the caves which is not found anywhere else. The site is an S.S.I.
The visit was a fascinating introduction to the caves, many of the group had had no idea that they were there. We were very grateful to the volunteers for sharing with us their wide knowledge and their time.
It is time to renew your subs again for the History Group, and some good news - we have kept the subs at last years’ rates. That is £12 for one person for the year or £20 for a pair.
However, you will still be able to pay on the door (£4 per meeting) if you prefer.
The details for bank transfers are:
Account Name: Teign Valley History Group
Sort code: 30-84-67
Account no: 5764 5860
Please could you use your surname as a reference.
We are trying to minimise queues at the door so we would prefer you to pay by bank transfer beforehand To avoid cash transactions, please pay by card on the door. It is much easier to pay now for the year and helps us enormously.
The AGM will be held at the Teign Valley Community Hall on 12th July 2022 in the main hall at 7.15 pm & will be followed with a talk by Helen Wilson on the Penwill Sisters of Plymouth.
1) Welcome and Apologies
2) Minutes of Annual General Meeting for 2021
3) Matters arising not included below.
4) Chairman’s report
5) Treasurer’s report and to approve the accounts
6) Members will be invited to put their views & suggestions on running the Group
7) Election of Auditor
8) Election of committee members
9) Any other business
I am now back, up and almost running so would like to re-start the new Teign Valley Tales project.
This is a project in which we will collect more memories of people living in the Teign Valley to follow on the first edition in 2015.
Would you be willing to volunteer to record conversations? If we get enough there should only be between 2 and 4 recordings for each volunteer.
If so, are you able to attend an induction session to go through the working of the voice recorders and protocol which will be at Teign Valley Community Hall, Bowden Room on Wednesday, 22nd June, 6.30 - 7.30pm?
Please let me know and suggest alternative dates if not.
Do any of you have experience in using voice to text programs which I will need later on?
The time for summer shows along the valley is fast approaching!
The History Group is again joining forces with Teign Valley History Centre to have a stall at each one.
We are looking for volunteers to talk to visitors. All you need to do is share your passion for the culture of the valley including its large and interesting contribution from history to today's life here. You won't need to be there all the time unless you want to. I propose a two hour stint for each volunteer, after which you will be able to see the rest of the show.
This year we are showing some of the photographic items from the valley belonging to the archived collection held by the History Centre.
The dates are:
Doddiscombsleigh 12.30pm -4pm 25th June
Dunsford 12-5pm 2nd July
Bridford 2-5pm 9th July
Christow 10am- 5pm 20th August
(There is no show at Hennock this year)
We would also need volunteers to help erect the gazebo and set out the display an hour before.
If you can volunteer to help our visitors become aware of our existence please let me know either by email or by calling me on 01647 253145
For more information call: 01647 253145
News from: Graham Thompson
Geoff Hodgson, one of our members , who gave an excellent talk on the Glorious Revolution last year, has published an interesting book on The Lost Kingdom which can be accessed here.
It's not about Devon but nevertheless is a worthwhile read which will widen our interest in the history of this land.
News from: Graham Thompson
In 2015 I published Teign Valley Tales, a collection of memories of folk who had lived in the Valley for a long time. It has proved very successful, and I have copies if anyone is interested. About half of those people have now died which shows how vital it is to seize the moment and collect memories like this before they are lost for ever.
I now propose to collect memories for Teign Valley Tales Two. This will be published by Teign Valley Books, and all proceeds will help finance the work of Teign Valley History Centre, whose archive is freely available to all.
I am looking for volunteers at least one from each of the smaller parishes and two from the larger ones in the Valley. There are seven parishes involved and so there should be 2 interviews to do from the smaller parishes and four from the larger ones. Speech recorders will be available, and training given.
If you would like to be involved, please let me know. As an incentive each recordist will be given a copy of the book in thanks.
Once I have gained enough volunteers I will apply for funding towards costs.
Making the decision as to when and how meetings should resume is one the committee would like you all to share in.
If meetings resume but are poorly attended they will become a financial liability and fail to be seen by many of our members who would like to hear the presentation. We have an excellent programme of local topics ready for you which is visible here. Starting physical meetings, perhaps from September, will no doubt be fine for some members but there could be others who feel uncomfortable with attending a meeting with many people in a confined space and may perceive this as a health risk.
There is of course the possibility of using an online or virtual meeting format until the risk has passed. Many of us have now become familiar with communicating with friends and family with these systems and something very similar could be used to enable our meeting to resume.
Please let us know which of the options you prefer for our next meeting in September.
A Physical meeting at the hall.
B Virtual online meeting via your electronic device.
The rate of flow for attendees into the hall at our meeting has long been an issue for some.
The changing status of physical money as a vector for Covid-19 combined with the very widespread use of electronic means of payment make beneficial changes very achievable. Your committee has made the decision to request that as many people as possible pay their subscription directly to the Group’s bank account. There are many advantages for us all in making this change, quicker entry to the hall, reduced infection risk from cash and we will all have a written record of the payments made in our bank accounts.
There could be some members who for what ever reason do not wish to make payments by this method and of course they can continue to pay by cash, cheque or maybe would prefer a standing order. It would help our management greatly if you could inform us now if you prefer not to make BACS (Bankers' Automated Clearing System) payments but prefer to pay by another method.
You will be aware that currently your subscription entitles you to one year of meetings from the time of your payment. This system has been more complex to manage and the committee has decided to make all subscriptions due on June 1st each year and expire on May 31st. The loss of meetings over the recent period has meant that annual subscriptions will need to be extended or adjusted to ensure you all receive the opportunity to attend a year of meetings. When we are sure of the date of our next meeting the treasurer will email you with payment details.
News from: Peter F. Mason
Dartmoor Local History Days are normally held at Parke in May every year.
Unfortunately because of Covid19 this year’s event had to be cancelled. One of the items that was on the agenda this year was the launch of a research project looking at Tourism on Dartmoor in the 1920s, a research project that is part of a wider project which is being organised by the Devon History Society. The DHS is co-ordinating a Devon in the 1920s project with a variety of themes including Legacy of the First World War; Growing-up; Progress and Technology; Rural Society; and Holidays and Leisure.
I have agreed to lead a project looking at Tourism on Dartmoor in the 1920s. I was due to give a presentation both at the DHS launch of the project in March and at the Dartmoor Local History Day in May. Despite these events being postponed work is continuing on the development of projects and I have begun to research Tourism on Dartmoor in the 1920s.
The purpose of this note is to seek researchers from around Dartmoor to assist with this research. I can then give further information and share a list of themes and a summary of work done to date.
Peter can be contacted direct at:
Uplands, Rectory Lane
Newton Abbot Devon, TQ13 9TE
T: 01647 277498
M: 07816 833496
You may be aware that Christow Parish Council refused our request to lease land in front of the Bowden Room at the Community Hall.
The Trust board have decided that our priority now should be to make sure our existing archive is neither lost or damaged. To that end we are looking for office space of the order of 10 sq metres (approx 110 sq feet) where we can catalogue and digitise our collection.
If you have any to offer or know where we can get some please can you let me know? We have tried Gidley Meadow but nothing suitable is available.
One of the aims of Teign Valley Museum & Archive Trust is to increase knowledge of the Teign Valley amongst its residents.
We are particularly keen to teach our children about the wonderful heritage they enjoy so we are in contact with several schools to see how we can help. At the moment I am collecting information for Dunsford School to help with their local history projects for next spring. However the subject is huge and I could do with some help. Are any of you willing to give a hand in this, please?
I am looking at trade and how it developed in Dunsford but the subjects below are also possibles.
* Why Dunsford grew up in this spot in the first place - when it became a settlement
* Where the market was for sheep etc pre and post the railway
* Teignmouth - I don't know anything about trade from here to Teignmouth then on to Newfoundland
* The impact of the railway on Dunsford
* WW2 - schools evacuated here and the numbers of evacuees etc, any stories (eg we could see Exeter on fire during the raids there)
* Any primary sources of evidence eg photos, registers, letters, films...
* Local early settlements eg iron age
Please let me know if you could do this. I am on hand to advise on how to do this if needed.
The talk on Vikings in the West scheduled for 10th March was cancelled.
It was a difficult decision but the risk of Coronavirus infection is rapidly rising. There is a case less than 10 miles away, most of our members are over 70 years, some of us care for people with a compromised immune system and it is clear that commercial firms are already cancelling non-essential group meetings. If someone were to attend the meeting and then develop infection the community would soon be overwhelmed.
I am looking to start again with our AGM and talk on the reservoirs by Sue Knox on 14th July but watch out for confirmation of this nearer the date. I am pleased to say that Derek Gore's talk has been rescheduled for Tuesday, 12th January 2021.
The Exeter: A Place in Time project is exploring the archaeology of the Roman legionary fortress, civitas capital, and medieval city of Exeter through writing up some of the major excavations carried out there in the 1970s, and re-examining collections held in Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum using cutting-edge scientific analysis. The aim of the project is to explore the development of Exeter from a Roman fortress and city, through to its emergence as a major medieval trading centre. See more here(external link). The project will be presenting its results at a major conference on Saturday 25th April 2020, at the University of Exeter's main Streatham campus. The speakers will include: • Stephen Rippon (the landscape context of Exeter) • Paul Bidwell (the Roman legionary fortress) • Neil Holbrook (the Roman town) • John Allan (the medieval town, and ceramics trade) • Mark Maltby (animal bones from Exeter – an overview) • Malene Lauritsen (animal bones from Friernhay Street, Paul Street, Queen Street and other sites) • Gundula Müldner (isotopic analysis of animal bones) • Michael Fulford (the significance of Roman Exeter) • Bob Higham (the significance of early medieval Exeter) • Chris Dyer (the significance of later medieval Exeter) Doors open at 9.30am for a 10.00am start, and the conference finishes at 5pm. The conference costs £10 (including tea/coffee, but lunch is not provided). Click here to book a place. For any enquiries please contact Stephen Rippon
News from: Graham Thompson
Have you got an iconic image that expresses the essence of the county in the 1920s?
The 'Devon in the 1920s’ project is looking for iconic images to use in publicity for the project for the next four years. Have you got in your archives any reproducible photographs or illustrations that really encapsulate the atmosphere of the 1920s? If so, and you would be willing to permit their use by ‘Devon in the 1920s’ in project publicity, please send them to project manager Julia Neville by April 30 2020.
The top three images will each win a £30 prize for the organisation from which they come.
For more information call: email@example.com
News from: Graham Thompson
Happy New Year!
We had another addition to our archive this week. Penny and Tony Clapham, who live in the old Methodist chapel in Christow were clearing out a below floor storage area when, in a dark corner at the back, they discovered the earliest records of the Rechabites in Christow, starting in 1890.
This is a fascinating collection of papers which give, inter alia, an insight into how Victorians insured against sickness before the welfare state, and the pledges they made to remain teetotal. It gives names of a number of villagers as well. This is an example of how many artefacts reside in hidden places in houses which will be lost if not recovered and preserved. We are always willing to have a look at artifacts and store them and, when the History Centre is opened, to allow access to any interested people. We are particularly short of photos of days gone by, which I could copy if you don't want to relinquish them.
On Saturday 21st September The Totnes Library Writers Group will be holding a writing festival “Write Now Totnes", in The Mansion in Totnes. We will be holding a series of workshops for established and aspiring writers. One of these workshops will be on “Researching and Writing Local History” by the local historian Peter Wade. Peter is a member of AbbPast, Abbotskerswell’s history group, and the author of seven publications on the village’s history. These can be read on the group’s website
The session will give practical advice on research techniques, look at typical sources that are available for local historians, and ways of producing local material in print. We will then have a go at writing a local study using the resource material.
The workshop will be held in The Mansion, Fore Street, Totnes, TQ9 5RP, starting at 10.00 and finishing at 11.30am. Tickets are £5.00 (Concessions £3.00) and available from Write Now Totnes: Researching and Writing Local History If places are available tickets will be sold on the day.
However, places are limited, and booking is advised.
We have now come to the end of all the Valley summer shows. We attended 5 this year and attracted a good response and several new people to our contact list. I would like to give warm thanks to all our volunteers who helped with erecting and dismantling the gazebo and displays as well as talking to all the visitors to our stand. For sometime I have thought the displays needed improving so we are inviting people to put forward suggestions as to how we can do this.
We are fortunate in having an influx of members who have the expertise to do this. Philippa Cook has offered to advise us on making the presentation child friendly. We are also aiming at making it more attractive to people who don't have local history as a primary interest. Saul Ackroyd has already given added input to committee affairs and Philippa May, who knows a lot about Ashton history, has agreed to join our committee. We welcome them. We still have one vacancy so if you feel you can commit to our functioning please contact me.
Don't forget we have a new house history group which you can join to explore history of all houses in the valley including yours. You don't need to have done this before as we offer advice at every stage. Julia Kirkland made an excellent study of Huxbear House, Trusham recently, getting back to 1187! You will have noticed that with our growing membership the Bowden Room has been rather cramped for our meetings so we will now meet in the large hall using the better amplification system that the film club use.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday, 10th September on 'Body Snatching in Devon' by Dr Peter Selley, so please let all your friends know. We will be 10 years old next spring and are discussing how we can best celebrate this. Watch this space.
I had a call from someone wanting to donate her family collection to the History Centre. Thanks go to Tracey Combes, a member, who put her in touch. This collection includes a medal awarded to Wilf Aggett for good behaviour by the Teign Valley 'Tent' of the Rechabites, a temperance organisation, and his medal for long service as a Special Constable together with lots of family old photos of family in the Valley. There is also a Bible published by the SPCK, but undated, in which the family tree has been recorded from some time ago but recording back to the birth of William Aggett born 1836 and his wife, Mary Ann born 1838. The handwriting changes after 1877 so presumably the entry was made at about that date. It carries on till 1959 and records several families.There are several other items.
The donor has strong Wills connections. It has been said that in the last century if you stood in Village Road and called for Mrs Wills 7 women would appear. These are just the sorts of artefact we are hoping to accumulate so if you have anything related to the Teign Valley then do let me know. If you want them recorded but want to hang on to them please let me come and photograph or scan them.