Time and date:

John Weighell

2017-10-11 15:34:00

John's Observations on our visit to Cullacott Old House in Werrington

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.


Diane Soall, Secretary

2017-10-11 15:30:00

Diane's Blog on our visit to Cullacott Old House, Werrington.

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.


John McDougall

2017-06-20 16:52:00

Our visit to Dartington Crystal at Torrington on Tuesday 13th June"

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.


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.


John Burnard, Our Chairman

2017-05-17 17:07:00

John's Blog of Terry Faull's talk on The Forgotten Garden of Lewtrenchard

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.


Jackie Parrish

2017-05-17 16:56:00

Jackie's Blog on Shawn Dymond's talk and slide show giving a virtual tour of Holsworthy
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. 

Diane Soall, Secretary

2017-05-17 16:47:00

A short account of Janet Few's talk on researching family history.

This month’s talk was held in The Molesworth Arms and given by The History Interpreter, Janet Few on Family History and how one goes about tracing ones family tree. Some of you will know Janet from a previous visit to our Group and also if you ever visited Torrington 1646 (which incidentally is now closed).    Janet’s talks are always informative and amusing and this one was no exception. 

Access to records has been made much easier in recent years due to the ability to search records on-line – for a fee.  Websites such as www.findmypast.co.uk and www.Ancestry.co.uk are very useful tools for searching.  If you are thinking of starting to research your family tree these websites can be accessed free of charge if you are a member of Holsworthy Library.  If you have any birth certificates of your family it makes starting your research a little easier and less expensive.   


John Burnard, Our Chairman

2017-05-17 16:39:00

John Burnard's Blog of our Visit to Bridgerule Church on 6th Septe,ber 2016

The September meeting was held on 6th September and was a visit to Bridgerule Church. Our tour was kindly led by Messrs John and Trevor Bowden who have lived, worshipped and worked on their farm next to the Church all their lives. They both had interesting stories to share with us that they had witnessed over the years.

They explained that some years ago the Church was re-roofed and the slates were re-used to pave the floor. They were small slates and were put on their edges in squares about 6 inches across,(150mm to younger people) this looked as if they would last for ever as you could not see any wear and they were 6 inches deep.

Rev Kingdon who was Rector for seventy years made many alterations to the church during his incumbency, one was to put a heavy screen behind the altar which made the window behind invisible from view.

 It was a very old window of stained glass so it was moved into the north wall where it has pride of place.

Trevor explained to us the art of bell ringing. Around the walls were a number of certificates awarded to past ringing teams, among these were some that commemorate the ringing of Grandsire Triples.

To ring Grandsire Triples on eight bells as there are in the tower at Bridgerule is a mammoth feat. It takes just under three hours to complete and consists of 5040 changes which all have be remembered by the ringers.

This was a lovely evening and thanks go to John and Trevor for an entertaining tour.


Launceston Castle visit - July

2016-07-21 15:09:00

It is the History Group's second visit to the Castle as some members missed the last tour.

Our meeting for July was held on Sunday 17th and was a visit to Launceston Castle. Eight members attended the tour which was a smaller number than usual the reason being that we visited the castle two years ago. The weather was not as kind as it could have been, as we left Pyworthy in sunshine and when we arrived at Launceston it was raining and continued to do so. However with the help of  “brollys” and coats we continued the tour. 

The Castle dates back to the Norman Conquest and is a reminder of the Earls (later Dukes) of Cornwall. Little of the castle survives, the mound or (“motte) with its stone keep, the ruined gatehouse and some lengths of stone curtain wall. The site was highly defensible in terms of eleven century warfare.

In later years it became a jail and one of its most famous prisoners was George Fox founder of the Society of Friends or Quakers. Fox was arrested in 1656 for distributing religious pamphlets in the town. He refused to remove his hat when brought before the magistrate, whereupon he was imprisoned for several months. He called the “pit into which he was put “Doomsdale” and recorded it in his journal as “a nasty stinking place”. Such were the conditions of prisons in the fifteenth century.

Despite the weather we had an interesting time.



John Burnard


Diane Soall

2016-06-28 12:06:00

Diane's account of The Pyworthy History Group's Walk and Talk around Bradworthy.

This week’s visit with the group took us to Bradworthy.  There were about a dozen in our group which included three members from the Bradworthy History Group including Daphne Nichols whose knowledge of the history of her village is extremely extensive.


Bradworthy is an excellent example of a Saxon village and has two village squares and lies some eight miles from Holsworthy.  The main square is reported to be the largest village square in the County.


Our tour started at the Church, which is dedicated to St John the Baptist.  There have been some recent repairs to the Church and whilst the builders were laying some new slate flooring they uncovered a crypt containing some perfectly preserved coffins.  They also discovered many human remains under the old flooring and these are now buried in the churchyard.  Their History Group are in the throes of indexing their gravestones and we are only too aware of how complex a job this is, especially when confronted with Devon’s famous rain.   In the churchyard is a small headstone in memory of John Cann, who, according to the inscription went through all the Peninsular War and was at Waterloo. He died in the village at the age of 101.

Bradworthy has a very imposing Memorial Hall which is situated in the centre of the village, overlooking the square which offers convenient parking. The refurbished hall and lounge bar are ideal for recreational or leisure use.  Upstairs there is a large room which the History Group use for their photographic displays and storage of their precious documents.   We were very envious of this space.  Daphne and her colleagues made us feel very welcome and at the end of our visit they kindly supplied refreshments of tea, coffee and biscuits.   We were fortunate to have spent a lovely evening, with good weather and thank Daphne and her colleagues for their time. 

Diane Soall 



2016-06-17 13:33:00

John's account of our visit to Hall, in Bishops Tawton in May.


For our May meeting we made a visit to the home of the Chichester family at Hall Bishops Tawton.

Hall is an estate of some 3000 acres, within the parish and was the former Manor of North Tawton Devon.

It was for several centuries the seat one of the Chichester family of Raleigh near Barnstaple.

The mansion house is a Grade 11 listed building of neo-Jacobean design and was built between 1844 and 1847.

by Robert Chichester and replaced an earlier building.

The manor of North Tawton was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as one of the holdings of the Bishop of Exeter.  Within this manor was the estate of Hall which the Bishop granted to his lawyer Simon de Hall,”a man very learned in the laws (who) grew so gracious with the Bishop”. 

The feudal overlord remained the Lord of the Manor until the mid-1500s. Simon de Hall died leaving no male heir and his sole-heiress was his only daughter Thomasine-de-Hall who had married Richard Chichester.

The property has now come down via the female line to the present owner.

Sadly this has meant that due to death duties etc the house has fallen into some disrepair.  We were kindly welcomed to a guided tour which had been arranged by Ms Margaret Shambrook of The Coast and Country Walkers and we had been invited to join.

Thirty six people attended being eighteen from each group. We split into two groups with Mrs Chichester taking the house group around and Mr Chichester guiding around the grounds and buildings. He explained that in its heyday there had been 14 gardeners and four walled gardens, all but one had been seeded to lawns as they could only afford one gardener and he did other jobs as well.

The servants quarters at the back of the house had been abandoned and it was sad to see the ceilings falling down.

The current owners only use some of the rooms so was partly unfurnished but it must have been lovely when it was used for society parties ect.

After the tours we were served a cream and cake tea by our hosts, complete with Devon Cut-rounds (which I had not seen for years,) in the baronial hall on a long table which sat thirty people, complete with taxidermy heads of antelope from all over Africa.

So ended a memorable day, Thanks must go to our hosts and to Margaret Shambrook and The Coast and Country Walkers.

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