Posts from category "Pyworthy Blog"

Article from Caroline Mudie on Wimbledon

Pyworthy History Group

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can resume our meetings as planned but in the meantime another offering to keep us going!

10 Facts about the Wimbledon Tennis Championships you may not know!

Following on from my sports theme from last month, this month I thought I would bring you something about another world-renowned sports event that has been cancelled this year due to the ongoing situation with the Coronavirus pandemic.   The 134th Wimbledon Tennis Championship’s, which should have been held this year 2020, will now be held next summer instead. So for those of you who will miss the sound of rackets hitting balls, the roar of the crowd and the sight of strawberries and cream being consumed in huge quantities, here is a little something to keep you satisfied until next year!

Facts about the tennis championships at Wimbledon that you may not know.

  1. The All England Club started its journey to world renown not as a Tennis Club but as a Croquet Club in Worple Road, Wimbledon.  Believed to be more of a money spinner, and the need for a pony drawn roller for the croquet lawn, tennis made its debut and rapidly grew in such popularity that the Club eventually became most famous for its tennis tournaments.   It was not until 1922 that the club moved to the present site in Church Road.
  2. Amid the many immaculate grass tennis courts at Wimbledon there is still a Croquet Lawn today, a nod to the history of the club. For a short time, the Club dropped the word Croquet from its title but restored it again in 1899.
  3. The inaugural Tennis Championship was held at the club in 1877. About 200 spectators paid a 1/- (a shilling) to watch the only final, the gentlemen’s singles, won by Spencer Gore a rackets player who honed his skills whist studying at the prestigious Harrow School. The winner received a 25-guinea trophy.
  4. One famous player in the early years was a young American called Dick Williams. Whilst being an entertaining and flamboyant player, Williams had quite a remarkable claim to fame. As well as being a decorated war hero, he was also a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Williams had been in the water so long following the sinking that he could barely feel his legs and was warned by a Doctor on the rescue ship Carpathia that his legs may have to be amputated. Williams was having none of it and reportedly walked the decks of the Carpathia to help the circulation return to his limbs.   He went on to win the Gentlemen’s Doubles in 1920 with fellow American Chuck Garland.
  5. King George V1 had been a competitor in the Gentlemen’s Doubles in 1926. Playing with his mentor Sir Louis Greig, the future king and his partner were easily outplayed by opponents Gore and Barrett. However, the Duke of York remains the only Royal to ever take part in the Championships.
  6. 1937 was a momentous year for the club. It was the first time the Championships were televised.   Broadcast for the previous 10 years had been on the radio and people were not convinced the TV broadcasts would be at all popular. Little did they know!
  7. During World War 2 the club cancelled the championships and its grounds became the home to a small farm.   Rabbits, pigs and hens then inhabited the grassy courts.  
  8. On 11 October 1940 the club became victim to German bombing and part of Centre Court was destroyed.   In fact, repairs to the stadium did not take place until 1949 due to post war rationing. Since those days Centre Court has changed beyond recognition!
  9. Amazingly prize money has only been awarded to winners since 1968, the year that professional tennis players could take part. In that year, the winner of the men’s singles won a mere £2000, and the ladies £750.   In 2017 winners of both the men’s and the ladies the singles received an incredible £2.2million each for their trouble!
  10. In 2017 fans consumed 33 tons of strawberries and 2,200 gallons of cream! What is going to happen to all those strawberries this year one wonders? Hopefully preserved as ‘Wimbledon 2020 Conserve’!

To find out more visit,_Wimbledon

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John Weighell’s observations (October 11th 2017)
The great Hall built in the original house is one room, open to the roof which was slated when first built, an indication of it being a high-status house. Originally the Hall was one room with a central fireplace with no chimney, smoke from the fire rising and then percolating through the roof, it’s hard to imagine what it was like living in a house with the constant reek of wood smoke and quite a leap of imagination is needed to envision a family and servants sharing one space with no privacy

A chimney was added to the room probably in the 17th century and at this time as the smoke no longer rose centrally in the room part of the room had a floor added to create a chamber over with privacy for the master and mistress.

The original joinery work is of a high standard with lovely detailing, all done without power tools and using blacksmith made tools that would require a lot of skill to use and time to sharpen and maintain. Whoever did the work certainly was a “good hand”, the rafters, purlins, door frames and doors are all a delight to see and we must remember all done, as we say in these parts “by t’rack o’th’eye".   J.W.
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Diane Soall, Secretary (October 11th 2017)
This month found the History Group members and a few extra non-members travelling in convoy down to Yeolmbridge in Launceston to visit Cullacott Farmhouse.   We were given a thorough and interesting tour of the farmhouse by owners John and Mary Cole whose extensive knowledge about this wonderful building kept us all enthralled.  John and Mary Cole have been running their holiday cottages on their beautiful farm in North Cornwall since 1997.

Cullacott Farmhouse is a Grade 1 listed Medieval Hall House built in the style of a Devon Longhouse with a great number of its original features still surviving.  It is located close to the Devon and Cornwall borders in the parish of Werrington, and is surrounded by outstanding views. It has been in the family for over 100 years. Five generations of their family have lived at Cullacott. John and Mary Mann, the first generation, arrived from West Cornwall in 1910.

Records date from the 14th Century when it was originally part of the huge swathes of land owned by Tavistock Abbey. In 1538, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it was given, with other properties, to John Russell who became the 1st Duke of Bedford. Many properties including Cullacott, were sold on and by 1620 the Werrington lands were owned by Sir Francis Drake, nephew of the famous Elizabethan sailor of the same name.

The "modern extension" was built in 1579 at the time of the great Elizabethan re-build, providing grander accommodation for the evolving needs of the family of the day. It provided a retiring parlour, bed chambers and the ultimate in sanitation at the time - a garderobe. The property has evolved through the centuries with little alteration leaving an almost complete medieval house.                       

Richard, Mary and John’s son, and his wife Tanya run an outside events and catering business providing marquees for weddings and other functions such as hog roasts, barbecues and outside mobile bars. Cullacott itself can be used as a wedding or party reception venue using Richard and Tanya's expertise.

At the end of our tour we were treated to a most welcome “Cream Tea” with Devon splits, lemon drizzle cake and fruit buns being just a few of the goodies all home-cooked by Mary and her daughter.

I know all our members and non-members really enjoyed this visit and it is one to be fully recommended.
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John McDougall (20th June 2017)
Members and friends of the group recently visited Dartington Crystal factory in Torrington. It is the only working handmade crystal factory remaining in the UK. In the visitor centre there are display cases showing the timeline of nearly 50 years of Dartington Glass, from its start in Dartington up to date.  There is also a very informative short video of the beginnings of crystal making up to the move to Torrington.  On the start of the 'go - as - you - please'  tour of the factory there is an engraver to watch.  We saw him setting up to engrave a horse's head using a very light touch of the stylus.  The display of engraved glass is impressive.  Then we went on to the factory floor where we saw the molten glass drawn from the furnace, blown into moulds, teased out to form a stem and finally a fresh blob of molten glass added to form the foot of the drinking glass.  Each one took less than two minutes, I reckon.  Each person has their own task in the production we saw and they change every two hours to another number.  Various styles of glass were being made at the same time by different teams.  A lot of the staff have spent most of their working lives in this industry.  The furnaces to make the glass are on all the time 24/7.  After the glass has been annealing - allowing it to cool slowly - it is checked.  Flawed glass goes back in to the furnace.  Perfect specimens get  'named' by sand blasting - even 'M & S' was one of the names available.  Then packed up for storage and delivery or for sale in the shop.  Dartington Crystal also own Royal Brierley Crystal and Caithness Glass.  All of these brands are available in the shop, at discounted prices.  It was a wonderful tour.
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Diane Soall, Secretary (17th May 2017)

Diane Soall, Secretary

2017-05-17 17:13:00

A short account of Father Chris Penn's talk "Before the Cloth".

Rev. Fr. Christopher Penn. Priest in Charge of

St. Peter and St. Paul, Holsworthy

St. Petroc, Hollacombe

St. Swithun, Pyworthy

St. Pancras, Pancrasweek

St. Bridget, Bridgerule


The History Group had a really interesting and amusing talk by Father Chris this month about his life before he became a Priest.  He had many amusing tales to tell about his extensive time spent in the farming industry and his intention is to write a book about his life.   I can assure you this will be worth waiting for.   Father Chris will be leaving Holsworthy Benefice in January, to take up a position as Rector of two parishes in the diocese of Hereford.

This month’s event was once again held in The Molesworth Arms, so thank you Kit and Monique for allowing us to use the dining room and for the very tasty nibbles at the end of our meeting.

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John Burnard, Our Chairman (17th May 2017)
For our April meeting we welcomed Mr Terry Faull from North Petherwin. He gave a slide show and talk at the Molesworth Arms entitled The History of The Forgotten Garden and The Holy Well of Lewtrenchard.

He told us that the earliest information of a Holy Well at Lewtrenchard is an entry made in the parish register for 1830 by the then curate Caddy Thomas.

He wrote that the Holy Well behind the church has been re-erected and formerly its water was used for baptisms at the font.

In 1872 Sabine Barring-Gould inherited the Lew estate. He then came back to Lewtrenchard and took on the living as rector. Soon after the well was knocked over during tree felling and buried.

In early 2006 Terry Faull gave a talk to the local history society, Lewdown Past, which included how he had attempted to find the Holy Well but to no avail.

He and a few others struggled though the undergrowth of the Glen behind the church to try and trace the well, they did not find it but did find traces of an old garden and various water features such as ponds and waterfalls.

It is understood that The Glen came about as a result of quarrying the stone to build the former rectory, now the Lewtrenchard Hotel.

Sabine was a complicated man, he was credited with writing the Hymn Onward Christian Soldiers but he had no time for the Methodists who were a strong force at the time. How he would have felt today when this hymn is being sung by Methodists and others all over the world I shudder to think.

He also wrote over one hundred books ranging from novels to two biographies.

He planted the garden in 1913 and rebuilt the well, as a record in his Family Bible stated, “Built Holy Well in The Glen”.  This would tie in with the Garden being created at the same time.

Sabine made the garden so that his wife Grace, who suffered from arthritis could take more exercise to try and help her condition.

Many of the employees went to serve in the first world war and the garden became neglected.

So it was that it continued to go back to nature over the next ten decades until The Friends of Lewtrenchard became involved and the garden was restored and the Holy Well also.

The garden is situated opposite The Lewtrenchard Hotel, by the Church. Admission is free and the total site covers some five acres including woodland. There are gravel paths around the garden and a car park. Also the newly rebuilt Holy Well.

If you want a treat go and have a look for yourselves; I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Our thanks to the Molesworth Arms for hosting us and to Terry Faull for his interesting evening.
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Jackie Parrish (17th May 2017)
Tuesday 14th. February saw each member of the History Group undertaking a 'walk' around Holsworthy from the comfort of a chair in the Molesworth Arms with glass in hand!
Shawn Dymond took us on a virtual tour of the town in the 1800's by giving us a very clever presentation which involved comparing old photographs with modern ones taken at the same locations. He started at the Church showing us photos taken from the top of the tower looking in opposite directions and proceeded to North Road, Victoria Square, the Market Square, Under Street (now Fore Street), Bodmin Street and Chapel Street. Drawing on his extensive knowledge as a local historian Shawn showed us and talked in depth about specific landmarks in the town such as The Church, Park Villa, Bodmeyrick, The Workhouse (Dawfield), The Labyrinth, The Stanhope Hotel (Barclays Bank), The Wesleyan School and The Great Tree.
He was also able to tell us about some local dignitaries including Benedictus Marwood Kelly, a Holsworthy man who left money for the building of Kelly College in Tavistock, and also Governor Lachlan Mcquarie who married a Holsworthy woman before moving to Australia and giving the name of Holsworthy to a suburb of Sydney famous for its barracks.
Everyone enjoyed listening to Shawn's informative talk, and even those of us who have lived all our lives in the area learned a lot from his considerable knowledge and passion for the history of the town.
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John Weighell’s observations
The great Hall built in the original house is one room, open to the roof which was slated when first built, an indication of it being a high-status house. Originally the Hall was one room with a central fireplace with no chimney, smoke from the fire rising and then percolating through the roof, it’s hard to imagine what it was like living in a house with the constant reek of wood smoke and quite a leap of imagination is needed to envision a family and servants sharing one space with no privacy

A chimney was added to the room probably in the 17th century and at this time as the smoke no longer rose centrally in the room part of the room had a floor added to create a chamber over with privacy for the master and mistress.

The original joinery work is of a high standard with lovely detailing, all done without power tools and using blacksmith made tools that would require a lot of skill to use and time to sharpen and maintain. Whoever did the work certainly was a “good hand”, the rafters, purlins, door frames and doors are all a delight to see and we must remember all done, as we say in these parts “by t’rack o’th’eye".   J.W.
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Blogs (Historical) Page 3

Diane Soall

2014-07-19 19:12:00

This is the Blog of St Swithun's Gift Day Weekend held on 5th and 6th July 2014.


During the weekend of Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July St Swithun’s held their Gift Day Weekend Exhibitions.

This year’s exhibitionists included the Rural Arts Group, Pyworthy School, Pyworthy History Group, and showing for the first time were the ladies of the Villavin Quilting Group.  The Sunday School children also exhibited a beautiful display illustrating various stories from the Bible.   The children of Pyworthy School’s were beautiful as usual and Key Stage 1’s entries showed their impressions of cave paintings, Key Stage 2’s were about The Medievals and Key Stage 3’s entries focussed on The Tudors.

Entries from the Rural Arts Group included a myriad of subjects ranging from still life in water colours, much loved pets in oils and charcoal, an autumnal landscape in pastels and two monochrome entries showing the beautiful effects that can be obtained using just one colour.

The History Group displayed a  project portraying the part the five men from Pyworthy played in the First World War. This was thought to be an appropriate subject to commemorate the centenary year of WW1.  Our thanks go to In Remembrance' Holsworthy & District 1914-1918 for their work in preparing this project and we are pleased that they were also able to use it in St Peters Church, Holsworthy during St Peters Fair week.    

The dozens of entries from the Villavin Quilters included appliqued and quilted cushions, wall hangings depicting many different scenes, including a washing line and one embellished with gold foil.   There were Tool Wraps, Armchair Sewing Caddies, Table Runners, many bags and many more Quilts each piece a work of art.  If you fancy your hand at making a piece of work like these join the Villavin Crafts workshop and start off with something small and progress to perhaps a super king-size quilt.   For more information on their workshop visit

St Swithuns certainly took on a very industrious look and on Sunday the Patronal Service was held and donations were received from villagers. 

Cream teas were served throughout the weekend. 


Jackie Parrish

2014-07-15 21:19:00

An account of the History Group's visit to a Bee Colony owned by Chris Smith of Chilsworthy

Pyworthy Local History Group


During the afternoon of Tuesday 8th. July our group were eager to become closely acquainted with some bees at Chilsworthy. Unfortunately due to adverse weather conditions Chris Smith diverted us to 'The Stables', next to the Methodist Chapel, where he and his wife Elaine welcomed us into the lounge area where we all sat comfortably to listen to Chris give a very interesting and entertaining talk on all aspects of 'Bees and Beekeeping'. Chris is a prominent figure in both the Holsworthy and Devon Beekeepers Associations and his knowledge of the subject is extensive.

He related many interesting facts about the history of keeping bees going back thousands of years. We also heard about how various countries in the world 'farm' their bees and Chris told us about the Association's link with the charity 'Bees Abroad' which works with local communities to advise on a sustainable way to keep bees and produce honey. He gave us an insight into various diseases which affect bees and the varroa mite which attacks them. He went into detail about the life of the honey bee we are all familiar with and how much we as humans are reliant on their health and survival.

Chris explained about the different types of hives used and showed us a 'National' hive which is most commonly used, breaking it down into its separate parts to demonstrate how it works and the importance of each part. He also brought along a 'skep' to show us, which was used as a hive in years gone by and is still used today to gather up a swarm of bees which may have congregated in an inconvenient place! After showing us examples of beeswax and what it can be used for, he explained how the honey is extracted and we were all treated to a sample of their locally produced honey, which tempted a lot of us to purchase some immediately!

Elaine kindly provided us with further refreshments which we were able to enjoy whilst putting our questions to Chris. It was altogether a very pleasant afternoon and we hope to be able to 'visit' the bees at some time in the future when the weather permits it.

Jackie Parrish


Diane Soall

2014-07-13 15:20:00

A short article from Zoe Marshall whose grandparents married in St Swithun's Church and lived in The Villa for 50 years.

“Pyworthy – my memories  - Zoe Marshall

Pyworthy holds many special memories for me.  My grandparents –Mabel (Burrows) and Charles Gardiner lived in  Pyworthy village at The Villa for over 50 years. They lived there with my Grandmother’s parents for many years and then had my mum – Jean Gardiner (now Shipman).

They were married at St Swithins church and my grandma cleaned at the Primary school in her younger days.  During the Second World War they homed several evacuee children sometimes with their parents as well.  They stayed in touch with a few throughout their lives and as adults one of the evacuees ‘Tony’ attended both their funerals.

I remember from my childhood holidays there going to the post office to buy sweets from Mr and Mrs Cook – then from the following owners too from London who were really lovely.  I enjoyed walking through the churchyard with my Granddad and helping him in the lovely big garden which he kept immaculate. There was also the park at Pyworthy which used to have a rather big slide the biggest I’d ever seen!  I can also recall a lot of people from the village and as I got a little older attended the dances at the Village Hall.

Vera and Ted, Bill and Marg (Pooley), Mr and Mrs Bromell, Frank Gliddon the bell ringer, Mr and Mrs Caan.  Joyce and Jim Gardiner, my aunt and uncle, Kitty Slee.  Many many more not forgetting ‘Inky’ the cat who visited the Villa every day for warm milk and biscuits – he lived for over 12 years and was actually Mr and Mrs Bromell’s cat but they didn’t seem to mind! “




Mike Godfrey

2014-06-20 19:17:00

Mike's account of The History Group's visit to Bideford

Pyworthy Local History Group


On Tuesday 10th June a small group assembled on a very pleasant evening at Bideford Quay to meet up with Local Historian Peter Christie for what turned out to be a very informative and fascinating evening.  Peter has a wealth of knowledge about the buildings, inhabitants and the history of Bideford, which he imparted to us with great enthusiasm as we processed around the quayside and many of the adjacent back streets.  We found out how the quayside had originally only extended a few feet in front of today’s quayside shop fronts and had been much lower than the present level.  The quayside has been extended out 3 times, the most recent about 13 years ago.  Each time the height of the quay has been raised to compensate for the effects of narrowing the River.  We were told about the Bridge and the uneven arches thought to be down to the wealth of the particular individuals who paid for each one, although there is no absolute knowledge to confirm this.


Peter is a member of the Bideford Bridge Trust, which funded the bridge upkeep and repairs.  The money for this work came from investments, mainly buildings in Bideford, which were bequeathed to the Trust in past times by wealthy people.  Following the collapse of the two westerly bridge arches, the repair costs almost bankrupted the Trust and the Bridge was taken over by the Department of Transport.  However with true Government incompetence they didn’t take over the buildings or the income there from. This has meant that the Bridge Trust has become very wealthy and is able to fund many charitable projects, as well as develop and renovate many of its buildings within Bideford, with the aim of encouraging more people to live in the town centre to help rejuvenate Bideford.


We learnt that the road that leads North West out of the town was originally a large River tributary stretching from the red brick Art College building on the corner, right across to the Park railings on the other side.  Peter suggested that the Vikings got into the River and this tributary but that this was one of the few places where they were beaten and repelled.  At this point the quayside extended in a westerly direction from the River front with the road known as the Strand forming part of the northerly edge of Bideford.  Small roads such as Rope Walk stretch for several hundred yards into the town and were used as the name implies to make very long ropes for the sailing boats.


Bideford has a wealth of architectural interest and we were encouraged to look upward at the buildings throughout the tour to take in many interesting features that adorn the buildings and reveal clues as to their past uses, many as warehouses for the extensive quayside trade.  Bideford originally had some 52 pubs, many were side by side as were what are now the quayside fish and chip shop and the two or three buildings either side.  Nowadays there are only about 12 pubs left.


During the evening we learnt very many interesting and surprising historical facts about Bideford, too many to mention in this article but all in all it was a very enjoyable evening and was rounded off very nicely with fish and chips on the focus of our visit the Quayside.


Mike Godfrey              


Diane Soall

2014-05-26 14:14:00

Our Group's Visit to Pyworthy Primary School

Our Group's Visit to Pyworthy Primary School

On Thursday 22nd May about a dozen or so of our group spent a very interesting afternoon being shown around Pyworthy Church of England Primary School by some of the Year 6 students.  We arrived at 2.00pm and were greeted by the Acting Head Teacher, Celia Luff who suggested that we split up into two groups to make it easier to move around the school.

Each group was shown around by two of the Year 6 pupils who explained which rooms were being used by which pupils.  They have a quite large Art room in the extension, the walls of which contained some very impressive samples of their work. One of the two main classrooms is used by Key Stage 1 students and has groups of tables around which the children work together.   They also have a very impressive Interactive whiteboard which is linked to a computer – so all the class is able to view what is on the computer.      In the similarly equipped Key Stage 2 classroom the children in years 3-6 are taught.   They also have a beautiful light and airy classroom in the conservatory which accommodates the early years’ children. 

Upstairs is a very spacious library, which had just received a new consignment of books and was in the throes of being reorganised.   Off this room is the Staff room.  

Two of our Group, Jackie Parrish and John Burnard, had both been pupils at the school and after being shown around we were all taken into one of the classrooms where the children asked our Chairman questions about what the School was like “in their day”.   Did they wear a School Uniform?  What were their favourite subjects? What were their teachers’ names? …. and many more.  They were all very attentive and extremely polite.   I think the children realised that they are a whole lot better off now than the pupils were in the early days, especially when Jackie explained that they had no central heating in the school when she was there, and that two of the older boys would have to fetch the logs and coal in from the shed to keep the fire burning in the big cast iron stoves which were in each classroom.   Jackie also explained that in contrast to the new toilets now incorporated in the school building, they had to go outside to the toilets which were non-flushing and contained sand and which had to be emptied every so often.  

After question-time, we were all taken into the art room and were served cups of tea or coffee with cake and chocolate biscuits.  For those of us who have only ever seen the school from the outside we were really surprised at how big it is and how many well equipped rooms it contains. Rather like a tardis.

We’d like to extend a really big thank you to Celia Luff, her staff and all of her students for a very enjoyable afternoon.


Diane Soall 


John Burnard

2014-05-26 10:02:00

Dr Few's talk on "What our Ancestors would have died from"

On 8th April we were fortunate to have Dr Janet Few give a talk on


She began with the sixteen hundreds and The Great Plague and diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid etc.    In the eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds one of the great killers was of course Tuberculosis and also the childhood scourges of Scarlet Fever, Diphtheria, Measles and Polio which were only brought under control in our lifetime when vaccines and antibiotics came on the scene.

This may sound like it was a dreary evening but with Dr Few’s knowledge of her subject and her sense of humour it was anything but. 


She will be coming to speak to us again in the near future on a different subject and we look forward in anticipation.

John Burnard


Janet Few is now in her fourth decade of family and community history research, specialising in the south west of England.  She is working on the community history of several North Devon parishes and is the project manager of the Clovelly Community Archive Association.  Her particular interest is in how emigration impacted upon these communities and the role of the Bible Christian church (a Methodist offshoot) in emigrants.  The topic of this lecture was the subject of her doctoral research and Janet is extending this by compiling a series of emigrant biographies for future publication.

Janet also works as an historical interpreter, spending a few days a week living in the C17th as her alter ego, `Mistress Agnes’.

Janet lectures regularly on family, community and social history within the UK and has also presented papers in Australia and New Zealand.  Recent speaking engagements include Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012.

The Guild of One Name Studies Annual Conference 2012.

Devon Family History Society Summer Day Conference 2012.

Further information can be found on her website

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Blogs (Historical) Page 2

John Burnard, Our Chairman

2016-04-01 18:30:00

John's account of the History Group's visit to Greenfield Engineering in Holsworthy

History Group March Meeting



The March meeting took the form of a guided tour around the Greenfield Engineering business at Holsworthy Industrial Estate by kind invitation of Mr Gary Burnard and Greenfield Engineering.

Gary explained that the business was begun in 1987 at Bradworthy in one industrial unit and having outgrown the premises there moved to Holsworthy Industrial Estate where they now operate two sites.

The current workforce is around seventy making it one of the larger employers in the town. Many of whom are local people who have learned their skills with the company.

Gary explained that they did not have their own brands but were able to manufacture components needed by many of the big companies around Britain and also export goods of high quality to very a high standard and work to demanding deadlines regarding delivery.

The machinery involved in their work is mind bogglingly sophisticated, also very expensive, and running into hundreds of thousands of pounds and sometimes millions! Many are imported to their high specifications.

These machines are capable of, Automated Punching, Panel Bending, Robotic Bending, Stud Insertion, Fabrication, Powder Coating etc.

Gary explained that the plans for a component would be received on a flat piece of paper and his computer technicians would draw out the final plans in 3D to very exacting tolerances.

 Greenfield run an apprentice scheme and are keen to work with the local schools to provide work experience on the shop floor for 14 to 16 year olds.

A very interesting evening was had by all and a welcome cup of tea was provided by Mum Sandra Burnard. Many thanks to Greenfield, Gary and Sandra.

Perhaps the last word should go to one of our members who E-Mailed me this note.


I guess the impressive thing was the large investment in clever machines and technology , and the human energy it must require to do this and keep them going. It is wonderful that Holsworthy can be the location for such a not so small manufacturing company. It is a little frightening to think how short the lifetime might be of these machines as technology keeps changing.


Hats off to Greenfield.”


Mr John Burnard

2015-11-22 20:50:00

John's Blog on the talk given by Mr Mark Thomas and his appointment as a member of The Princes Council of The Duchy of Cornwall.

The meeting held at Cornerstones on 10th November was addressed by Mr Mark Thomas of Launceston.

Mr John Burnard introduced Mark and his wife Jenny.  Mark resides at Treguddick Launceston where he farms with his sons keeping pedigree South Devon Cattle and Polled Dorset Sheep. He had been a tenant farmer at Treguddick with his father from 1970 until 2012 when the family had the chance to purchase the farm. He explained that he had been a tenant not of The Duchy Estate i.e. (Prince Charles's Lands) but of another estate based in Cornwall.

A few years ago Mark and Jenny began to get invites to receptions sent out by The Duchy of Cornwall. They were a bit mystified as to why, as they were not tenants of the Duchy Estate, however as good Cornish people they went along.

After a time Mark was taken aside and asked if he would be willing to serve as a member of The Princes Council of The Duchy of Cornwall.

All became clear then as they realized that they had been being vetted.

Mark explained to us about his work and about the Estate, the land owned by the Duchy which is mostly in the south west counties extends to 54,000 hectares plus some 37,000 hectares of moorland and moorland farms on Dartmoor.

The Council is composed of nine members and Prince Charles, who chairs the meetings. Other members who sit include such people as The Duke of Westminster and others with financial expertise and from such walks of life as high ranking lawyers and solicitors.

The Duchy also owns many properties throughout the Country which are let as homes or for holiday homes.

Some of you may have seen the new town near Dorchester called Pound bury, Built by the Duchy with Prince Charles having a large input regarding the architecture.

All this is overseen by The Princes Council of The Duchy of Cornwall.

Mark gave us an informative view into a part of life that not many people are aware of, how he finds time to farm as well as the many other committees he is involved with I am not quite sure.

John Burnard


Diane Soall

2015-09-11 18:42:00

A short account of a talk given by Hilary Vivian, a freelance reporter on the Western Morning News, of her visit to India

The group were very fortunate this month to have Hilary Vivian, a freelance reporter on the Western Morning News, come and give a talk about her visit to India.    She travelled to Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Mysore, Kodaikanal and Hill Station in the South-east province and had a wide variety of photographs showing all aspects of the Indian culture highlighting the extreme differences in this culture ranging from the very poor people who live and sleep on the streets to the very rich with luxury apartments.  One thing was very evident and that was that most of the people that Hilary met were very happy about having their photographs taken.   Hilary is a keen bird fancier and had some really beautiful pictures of the birds from the areas she visited.

It was a lovely, entertaining evening, enjoyed by our group and our thanks go to Stella and John Burnard, once again, for their hospitality in hosting this event and for the lovely refreshments.



Diane Soall


John Burnard, Our Chairman

2015-07-20 18:41:00

A short blog on The Court Leat, held during St Peter's Fair Week in Holsworthy.

For the July meeting the history group attended the meeting of the Court Leat. This as usual proved to be a very entertaining evening. Subjects that were discussed were as always, a chance to poke fun in an innocent manner at the Court Leat members. If you wish to know more about the goings on of this great and serious seat of justice there is no better place to find out than the report in the Holsworthy Post of 16th July 2015.                                                                                                                   John Burnard


Diane Soall

2015-06-09 18:37:00

A short report on the History Group's Visit to Hartland Abbey, North Devon

This month our group finally paid our long awaited visit to Hartland Abbey in North Devon. There were 25 of us this time and we were lucky to have a beautiful day to make this visit.

Two of our Members, Marzi and Tony Fiske who live in Derril have known Lord and Lady Stucley for many years and we were very fortunate in having them there during our visit to take us around the Abbey and give us a very interesting account of the history of this very interesting building.

The Abbey was built in the 12th Century and remained an Augustinian monastery from 1160 to 1539 when it was finally dissolved, having survived longer than any other monastery in the country.

Henry VIII made a gift of the Abbey to the Sergeant of his wine cellar, William Abbott and Lord Stucley gave a very interesting potted history of the Abbey and its owners to the present day.

For those who have never been, the Abbey is well worth a visit.    The gardens are extremely beautiful and well maintained and there is a lovely tea-room with an extensive tasty lunch menu and very efficient staff.    I speak for us all when I say we had one of the most enjoyable visits the group has had and I am sure many of us will be returning to revisit this interesting ancestral home.    


Jackie Parrish

2015-04-26 10:30:00


The History of Pyworthy

     On Tues 14th. April our Local History Group met at 'Court', the home of John and Penny Weighell, to be entertained by Mr. Michael Heard of Kilkhampton. He is well -known in local history circles for his enthusiasm for the history of West Devon and North Cornwall and has had a long connection with the Cornwall History Society.

     Michael gave a very interesting talk in which he 'placed' Pyworthy in different ages of history from pre-history through to the present day describing typical features of a West Devon village like Pyworthy and how it would have functioned during each historical period. He also brought maps, photographs and artefacts to illustrate aspects of his talk. We will all be looking at our village through different eyes from now on.

     Thanks to Michael for a very enjoyable evening and to John and Penny for their generous hospitality (and cake!)


Diane Soall

2015-03-16 18:55:00

A short account of the talk given by Rupert Kirkwood on his kayaking experiences around the coast of Great Britain.

Readers of the Pyworthy Post will have seen Rupert Kirkwood’s accounts of his many kayaking trips around the British Isles.  The History Group this month were fortunate in having Rupert give us a very entertaining and enthusiastic report of his trips together with some astounding photographs.  Rupert not only kayaks around the unpredictable waters of our island, he takes his kayak into every inlet and river on the way.    Last year he was even able to kayak on the largest lake in the West Country when the Somerset Levels flooded. He had some impressive photos of his attempt to break the 40 mph speed limit along one of the flooded roads onto the levels. 

Rupert’s photographs included close-ups pictures of basking sharks, dolphins, porpoises, sun-fish, seals, and a host of birds the like of which most of us only see in wildlife programmes on the television.    His enthusiasm for his sport and the wildlife he encounters is to be envied.  

Our thanks go to Rupert for a most entertaining evening.  Our thanks also go to Stella and John for hosting the evening and providing excellent refreshments.

We are hoping to invite Michael Heard along for April’s talk. This will be on 14th, venue to be announced later.  

Diane Soall  



Chairman's Blog on February's talk

2015-02-20 13:56:00

John Burnard's blog on the talk given by Captain Colin Darch about his ordeal when captured by Somali pirates.

Captured by Somali Pirates! 

The February meeting was held at Cornerstones on Tuesday 10th  our guest speaker was Captain Colin Darch from Appledore .

Captain Darch is a Master Mariner, now retired; he has spent the latter part of his working life delivering ships around various parts of the world whilst working for a Danish Company.

In 2007 he was asked to deliver two tugs from St Petersburg in Russia to the south coast of Africa.

Each boat had a crew of five including the captain, a chief engineer, and three other men.

On Captain Darch’s boat this meant him, one Irishman and three Russians who spoke very little English.

Once they were at sea the Captain asked who the cook was. They replied that no one was so he told the Russians they would have to fill the role.

When the first meal was ready it became clear that none of the Russians had a clue how to cook. Their cooking was basically to get a big pot and put it on the stove and throw in whatever they had to hand, give it a stir and leave it until it was cooked.

Not a very exiting prospect when they had thousands of miles to travel and most of it on the open sea.

On the way down the other tug had developed a fault so it had to call in to have some repairs done to it, this meant that Captain Darch had to continue the journey alone

He had been told not to venture closer than fifty miles from the Somali coast. 

When they got near to Somalia they saw a very fast skiff bearing down on them.

Our Captain took evasive action, this tugboat had six thousand horsepower engines and while it was not built for speed and could not outrun the pirates it did punch hard. Also it could manoeuvre sideways so when they got near he put the thrust motors to smack into their boat. There were about five of the pirates on board their boat armed with machine guns.

This went on for quite a time and things got a bit dangerous when they began firing over the heads of the crew on board the tug.

The men on the tug had no armoury so felt it was time to give up, the pirates came on board and told the crew that they were now in charge and would be told what to do.

They instructed Captain Darch to contact his Danish Company and tell them that they wanted a ransom for the ship and crew of 2.5 million euros.

When the Captain had a chance he checked his position and found it to be seventy miles off Somalia.

When the pirates first boarded they kept the crew in the wheelhouse and of course they had to steer and run the boat. After some time the leader said that the crew could go to their cabins and get some sleep.

When Catain Darch went down he found that that they searched his cabin and it was a real mess. Seven hundred pounds of company money was gone along with two hundred of his own, plus laptops etc and his watch.

He went back up and told the leader that he did not mind the money being gone but he did want his watch back. After a while back came the pirate leader with his watch and he gave it back to him. The pirate then said, “You should be more careful captain there are thieves on this boat.”

The pirates held the boat for a total of forty-seven days, but finaly an agreement was reached with the insurers of a ransom for 670,000 euros, a far cry from their demands at the beginning of 2.5 million euros.

As the pirates had no bank accounts the money had to be sent as cash, they did not want it sent overland as this might result in them being robbed so it was sent up from Mumbia by boat.

They then released the hostages and they were allowed to continue on their way. 

It was an interesting evening and a look into a world far removed from ours.

Our thanks go to Captain Darch for making it so interesting.


Diane Soall

2014-12-12 16:44:00

Shawn Dymond from Holsworthy Museum gave a talk on World War !.

Continuing with the Commemorations of the start of World War I, the History Group this month were fortunate in being able to arrange a visit from Shawn Dymond, from Holsworthy Museum who gave a talk about the project that the Museum are currently working on. The Project, ‘In remembrance’ was originally an idea simply to research the 36 men whose names appear on the Holsworthy War Memorial.  ‘In Remembrance’ now covers the 22 parishes that comprised the Holsworthy Union, the administrative area which existed at that time.

Forming the foundation of the WW1 Centenary commemorations planned by Holsworthy Museum, the project focuses on the part played by the men and women of the Holsworthy area during and after the war.

The ‘In Remembrance’ project, whose slogan is “Honouring the sacrifice, preserving the memory” was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant enabling the ideas to become a reality.  In accordance with the requirements of a Heritage Lottery Grant, projects must encourage the involvement of the local community and the dissemination of information to the wider community.  Details of how ‘In Remembrance’ will do this are contained in their leaflet on the project, a copy of which is available to see on our website: on our Diary of Events link.

Although ‘In Remembrance’ primarily focuses on those who did not return from the Great War, other aspects will consider the role women played; the experiences of those who remained at home, including those who refused to fight on the grounds of conscience; and the survivors, many of whom carried the scars of war – both emotional and physical – for the rest of their lives.

Shawn’s talk was totally enthralling, informative and thought-provoking.  It served to remind us how important it is to remember these brave people and the sacrifices they made;  and to conserve the family and local history of them and the times they lived as well as the events that helped shape the world in which we now live.     The statistical breakdown of the numbers of casualties from Holsworthy clearly indicated that not all those that died were engaged in enemy action.   Some died from illnesses such as diphtheria and influenza, others died from their wounds after returning home and some died from accidents such as drowning.  

Many thanks to Shawn and also to John and Stella Burnard for their kind hospitality in hosting this event.


John Burnard, Our Chairman

2014-11-25 11:44:00

John's blog on the talk given by Brian Wonnacott on his forty years as a Penbode Vet.

The November meeting of the group was held at the newly refurbished Bridgerule Hall on 12th Nov when the guest speaker was Mr Brian Wonnacott.

His subject was “My Forty Years at Pebode Vets” and gave us his memories of those past years leading up to his recent retirement from the practice.

Begun in the mid 1800s by the Penhale family it continued to be run by family members until after the Second World War.

Brian explained how he had joined the practice in the 1970s and how it had grown over the years to be one of the largest in England.

Also how vets now tend to specialise in Farm Work, Pets or Equine.

When he joined it was mostly large animal work and this is what he did during his time there.

He explained how things had changed over the years and how the use of vaccines had helped control certain diseases, which were now preventable.

Antibiotics had made a great difference to treatment although some had been withdrawn to prevent a build up of resistance in the human population.

He also explained how he had been involved in the B S E scare and in the 2001 Foot and Mouth Outbreak.

An experience he did not want to go through again.

Thanks were expressed on behalf of the members.


Jackie Parrish

2014-09-19 17:54:00

Jackie Parrish's Blog on Terry Faull's talk on The Agricultural Worker's Strike of 1830 and what led up to it.

On Tues. 9th. Sept. the History group met at John Burnard's home to listen to an entertaining presentation given by Terry Faull from North Petherwin. His subject was the Agricultural Workers' Strike of 1830 and what led up to it.

He began by giving us an insight into life in the countryside and in our villages prior to this.  It was very different from the images often portrayed of an idyllic country lifestyle.  Life was very hard, especially for the agricultural worker.  We learnt that every parish was responsible for its own poor people and the Churchwardens were the administrators of the 'Poor Laws'.  People would strive to keep themselves out of the Workhouse where conditions were very harsh.  Terry showed us pictures of workhouses in our local area, including the one at Holsworthy (off Trewyn Rd) which has now been turned into living accommodation and explained that a lot of them became hospitals as did  Holsworthy in the interim period.  Many of us will remember it under the name of Dawfield Hospital.

Terry explained that the agricultural workers and other poorer people needed to boost their wages in order to make ends meet.  One of the main chances for workers' wives and children to earn extra money was by hand-thrashing corn in the winter months.  He showed us pictures of very distinctive barns which were used for this purpose and of the hand-held tool used.  However the introduction of the mechanical 'thrashing machine', invented in Scotland in 1792 and used throughout Britain by 1808, meant that this work became harder to find.  This was the reason for the so called 'Swing Riots' across the country.  Devon and Cornwall were not affected as much as other parts as wages were better here and people were not so reliant on this winter working.  However some riots did occur in places as close as Exeter and Launceston.

To conclude he explained to us that as a result of these riots the Poor Laws were investigated and many village Friendly Societies sprang up.  Also as a direct result 'Primitive Methodism' was started, the forerunner to the Methodist movement as we know it today.  He was also able to tell us that in 1829 a man with the surname 'Oliver' from Pyworthy asked John Hewson, a Primitive Methodist, to come to the village to preach, and was probably the first Methodist to do so in Pyworthy.  This was an interesting local anecdote with which to end his talk.

Terry is obviously very knowledgeable when it comes to rural history and we all learnt a lot from him.  Refreshments were provided by John's wife Stella and her helper Maisie which rounded up a most pleasant evening.            

Jackie Parrish

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