Feniton History Group held the 90th meeting in the Nog Inn


Feniton History Group held the 90th meeting in the Nog Inn

Attending: George, Bob, Rose, Viv, Alan, Pam, Jenny, Jackie, Brenda, Geoff, Sharon, Hugh and Bob

Francis Pile spoke to me about Long Park, it cost £22,000 to build. It was built by Mr Vincent  Frank Pile bought it off him for £2,000. George Vincent died in Exmouth in 1902.

Boundary stone: Following this being damaged by the grass cutters, Jenny and I attended the July meeting of the parish council. East Devon District Councillor Phil Twiss has given us a budget of £200 for it’s replacement. Cllr Susie Bond is meeting with EDDC as to the re siting of the stone. So very positive outcome.

Hugh has been helping George research a footballer of that name, I found this link about him: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Roulson

Geoff has been busy helping with Exeter theatre old newspapers in the Heritage Centre, he admitted to reading them, rather than sorting and filing!

Bob raised the question about cottages and the difference between houses and cottages,
found this “story” based on some fact to describe the history of the cottage:


Pam told us she has an ancestor who was a prize bare knuckle fighter.

Alan went to see the WW1 commemoration in Northenhay, said to be the oldest town park

Alan found mention of his relative James Ross, there is a headstone to commemorate James and his family in Feniton Church Yard.  There were 12 men listed called James Ross.

The Shrouds depict the enormity of loss of life in the Somme, each man a son or father, very sobering to try and take in the facts.

During the discussion that followed Bob mentioned the saying about Trench Warfare “Lions lead by donkeys”.
Many lads lied about their age when enlisting, the boy soldiers. Victor Silvester was one of these. He was born in 1900. He ran away from Ardingly College and was fighting on the Western Front at fifteen. Victor's parents suspected he had joined the army and informed the authorities in 1914 but it was not until he was wounded in 1917 that he was discovered and brought home to England.

Brenda is researching a family in 1860s, sadly their daughter died of TB and there is also   mention of bigamy, they married in Feniton!
TB or as it was known, Consumption, saw sufferers being brought to The Royal Hotel in Sidmouth for the sea air.  The afore mentioned James Ross’s brother Robert died from TB

Jenny reported on the Battle film saying it is going well. In relation to the film George and Viv modelled their costumes. They look fantastic. We welcome our new members Luke and Viv.

Next meeting in the Nog Inn on 2 August 2018. At this meeting we need to plan the following:

WW1 100 Years in November
Pam has suggested a Heritage Event
A talk or “Conversation with Peter”



Remembering William Arbery died 17th July 1918


ARBERY, William Henry

Born : Talaton (Honiton Q4/1896)
Baptised :
Parents : Henry and Ada Arbery of Grays, Colestocks.
Died : Peronne, France 7th July 1918
Buried : Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension (See notes below)..
1901 Census : Larkbeare Dairy Farm, Talaton
1911 Census : Larkbeare Dairy Farm, Talaton
Occupations : Farm worker
Address on enlisting : 11 Chestnut Avenue, Dartmouth.
Regiment : 19th Army Cyclist Corp. Formerly Wessex Division Cyclist Corp
Rank : Private
Service Number : 18950 (formerly 213 with Wessex Div)
Service Dates : 19th November 1914 to 7th July 1918
CWGC listing : Yes
Soldiers Died Listing : Yes
Devon Roll of Honour : Yes under Talaton
National Roll of the Great War : Yes
Medal Card (NA WO372) : WO372/1/30850
Service Record (NA WO363) : Yes
War Memorial : Talaton
1919 Absent Voters List :
Newspaper Listings :
Notes : He is listed in ‘Soldiers Died’. He was a Territorial in the Wessex Division Cyclist Corp (number 213) and signed his attestation papers to serve anywhere for the duration of the war on 19th November 1914. He was enlisted into the Army Cyclist Corp, 58th Divisional Cyclist Company on the same day taking service number 18950. He joined the 19th Cyclist Battalion on 1st February 1917 was posted to France on the 15th March 1917 with the battalion. He was posted as missing on 5th April 1918 during the German spring offensive. His father is later informed via the Red Cross that he was a prisoner of the Germans – he writes to the War Office regarding this on 7th May 1918. In January 1919 the Germans report that he died from pneumonia in a field hospital on 7th July 1918 while he was a POW and that he was buried in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension. An official record is received at Hanwell Cyclists Corp HQ 11th May 1919 confirming this. A further note is received there on 18th March 1920 saying the body has been exhumed and reburied. It appears he was reburied in the same cemetery as there is correspondence in the records regarding it being unnecessary to inform the next of kin.


Remembering John Melluish died 13th July 1918


MELLUISH, John


Born : Ottery St Mary c1878
Baptised :
Parents : William and Susan Melluish
Married : Mary Grace Baragwanath 28th January 1910 at Crowan, Cornwall.
Died : 13th July 1918
Buried : No known grave – listed on Karachi 1914-1918 War Memorial
1881 Census :
1891 Census :
1901 Census : Feniton – aged 22.
1911 Census : Rutts, Feniton – aged 32.
Occupations : Farm worker (1911) Publican (1915)
Address on enlisting : Alphington Inn – enlisted in Axminster
Regiment : Devonshire Regiment later 1st FS Garrison Battalion, Prince Albert’s Somerset Light Infantry
Rank : Corporal
Service Number : 5526 (DR) 275153 (SLI)
Service Dates : 15th June 1915 to 13th July 1918
CWGC listing : Yes
Soldiers Died Listing : Yes
Devon Roll of Honour :
National Roll of the Great War :
Medal Card (NA WO372) : WO372/13/207987
Service Record (NA WO363) :
War Memorial : Alphington
Newspaper Listings : Western Times, July 26th 1918.
Notes : He was the landlord of the Alphington Inn and had previously lived in Feniton at Rutts. He was 6’1” tall. He died from heat stroke while serving in India. He was a serjeant in the Devon Volunteers until 1912 having served 13 years. The SLI battalion was formed in Plymouth in January 1917 and sailed for India in February 1917. He initially signed up for home service only with the Devonshire Regiment. He had two children William Henry and Annie.

Feniton History Group held the 89th meeting in the Nog Inn.


At the meeting in June Jenny began by updating us on progress on the work being done for the forth-coming film about the Battle of Fenny Bridges. She has a group of enthusiastic workers making a banner, hats and costumes.

 Peter told about the problems he encounters in researching his German ancestors, such as reading Old German on documents.

David had been reading about old parsonages and wondering where they were as we only see and know about Georgian and Victorian residences for clergy. Where did the priests live?

Hugh is continuing to enjoy perusing old newspapers for items about Plymouth Argyle!

 Brenda, also reading old newspapers, is piecing together the story behind a bigamist marriage that took place in Feniton Church in 1862 between two strangers to the village, the bride, a Sidmouth girl, and she found in a 1855 newspaper the tale of a cook in the household of the Rector of Thorverton who was taken ill, thought to have cholera but by the time the doctor arrived had given birth to a baby.

We heard that the boundary stone in Ottery Road, so carefully planned and ceremoniously installed had been demolished by the Council worker cutting the grass.

The next meeting will be on July 5th in the Nog Inn at 8.00pm


Remembering Frederick Stiling a WW1 fallen soldier killed 6 Jun 1918

His father William, was Landlord of the Greyhound and also served during the war.

Born : Plymtree c1894
Baptised :
Parents : William and Anna Stiling
Died : 6th June 1918
Buried : Aulnoye Communal Cemetery – Grave I.A.38.
1871 Census :
1881 Census :
1891 Census :
1901 Census : Motts Lane, Plymtree – aged 7
1911 Census : Lower Tale – aged 17
Occupations : Farm Worker
Address on enlisting : Fenny Bridges. Enlisted in Exeter
Regiment : D Battery, 83rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
Rank : Gunner
Service Number : 130441
Service Dates :
CWGC listing :
Soldiers Died Listing : Yes
Devon Roll of Honour :
National Roll of the Great War :
Medal Card (NA WO372) : WO372/19/60568
Service Record (NA WO363) :
War Memorial : Ottery St Mary
Newspaper Listings :
Notes : Posted as missing.




Feniton History Group held the 88th Meeting in the Nog Inn


It is lovely to see so many attending this month’s meeting.

David introduced Peter, a speaker we have booked for an evening in the Church, date to be confirmed. Peter has a wonderful sense of humour!

Alan gave us a very interesting talk on the railway life of the Powell family and incidents that took place. A lost suit case, and cleaning out the livestock pens. His worse day on the railway was when the late train from Salisbury failed at the station, it was not meant to stop! The signals were clear for it to pass through, there was a long wait for the phone! The train was stopped for some three hours, this was 1966. He also remembers helping guide Colesworthy sheep along so they did not on the line.

Rosemarie remembers traveling through on the train, not knowing she would live here one day!

Bob also worked on  the railway for the North Eastern at Leeds in the signal box. Being the “Youth” he was not allowed to do certain tasks, but when his boss sneaked off to play cards he was left in “charge”

Jenny told us about her progress with the filming of the Fenny Bridges Battle, the ladies of Rosemarie’s sewing group are helping with the making of a banner, this will be a wonderful heirloom to keep in the village.

Another interesting point made by Jenny is that the site of the Fenny Bridges may well be on or near the Old Fenny Bridges Hotel, or Bloomfield House as it was once known, this would have been on Skinner’s Ash Farm. It has always been a mystery as  to why no  battle left overs have been found in Fenny Mead.

Hugh told us he was gutted as Plymouth Argyle were not doing very well!!

Thank you all for a lively evening,

Next meeting on Thurs. 7th Jun 8:00 in the Nog. Many thanks to Mike and Rosemarie for hosting us.


The 87th Meeting of The Feniton History Group was held in the Nog Inn


Thrilled to see so many here, and I must record that the March meeting was cancelled due to Snow! What a strange Spring this is.

I have extracted the relevant pages of the 1939 Registration for the village, available on the Find My Past website, subscription required.  This was recorded to issue ration books for WW2.

Geoff, a volunteer at South West Heritage  Trust, formerly the Devon Record Office,  has been collating Theatre records and the Papers of Lord Sidmouth more detail here from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viscount_Sidmouth

Geoff also mentioned the wonderful archive of the photographer  James Ravilious, amounting to some 78 thousand photos of Devon, its landscape and the working people on their farms and in the villages.

David shared with us his research into the Transi Tomb:

Fenton’s Transi is likely to have been carved from an emaciated live model, possibly a male prostitute and not a cadaver

If we are right in the assumption that our transi is that of the last William Malherbe (b1446- d1493) what influence could a Bishop of Winchester have had on the choice of a Malherbe tomb? Up to the time shortly before William Malherbe’s death the Bishop of Winchester was Peter Courtenay (1486-1492/3) who, prior to that was Bishop of Exeter from 1478 to1486/7.  If the Malherbe’s moved in high circles there could have been a chance they were known to each other and that Peter Courtenay, the Bishop of Exeter and subsequently the Bishop of Winchester had that influence and recommended a Southwark sculptor. Both the Malherbe and the Courtenay families stemmed from Brittany, France being the country where transi tombs were the vogue. 

I have been told that monuments such as ours would have been carved before the death on the person commemorated, in which case it would have been in the period that Peter Courtenay was Bishop of Winchester.

This can only be conjecture but despite that, an interesting twist on who our transi may commemorate.

Where does Southwark fit into the story?
The stews, (or brothels), of Southwark’s Bankside were infamous in the Middle Ages and though banned by Henry VIII in 1546, their notoriety lived on.

 Nevertheless, the women who worked in The Stews became known as “Winchester Geese” but the “Winchester Goose” was also used to describe a swelling in the groin caused by venereal disease.  

The regulations which controlled brothels, though they were regularly flaunted, it fell to the Bishops of Winchester, as Lord of the Manor, through his bailiff, steward or constables to administer and enforce the 1161 regulations at his Court Leet (a manorial court).  Most offences were punishable by a fine, another source of revenue for the Bishops.

Jenny  is working  with a film director on a production relating to the events of the Battle of Fenny Bridges, 1549.  This was followed by a discussion on what happened to the bodies after the battle. There is thought to be a  plague pit  under thr north vestry of Ottery St Marcy Church, perhaps they were burnt? Interesting discussion. The victims of the Woodbury  squirmish were buried on site, so  what happened to the Fenny bodies?

Rosemary’s Sewing group are to make five wounds battle banner for the film. 

Brenda has been looking at the 1918 Flu epidemics, a  ww1 military encampment brought it to Europe, then Scotland and down through the country. East Devon may have eased it congested lungs. The high mortality did not seem to have raised the burial numbers in Feniton 1918. The virus killed more than 50 million people, three times the number that fell in the Great War. Bovril was in short supply for the patients due to shortage of jars, it was advertised as something to make you influenza proof!

Alan has been reading a book written by Asa Briggs, a Social  History of England detailing  crops and husbandry. A very strong history of social, economic and political life in the British Isles.

George and his family, with Jenny’s skills in producing booklets, has set out his biography, also he told us about a plane crash in Poole Harbour, a note from this website: http://dorset.hampshireairfields.co.uk/dorcrash.html

Val told us about the postcards  from her relative while in France during WW1

Hugh has been researching the heat wave suffered on 30 Sept 1892, the Ref. was suffering from the heat.

It was so good to see you all after the winter hiatus. Thank you all for a lovely evening.