Feniton History Group held the 92nd meeting in the Nog Inn


It was lovely to see so many join us for the evening. Thank you.

It was confirmed that we will put up our WW1 and WW2 display in the church for the commemoration of the 100 years since the end of WW1 over the weekend of 11th Nov. 2018. We would like to follow the service with a coffee morning or on the Saturday, this will depend on what the Church would like us to do.

Progress is being made with replacement of the boundary stone. I have submitted the quote from A. Real to Feniton PC, we await news of the DCC funding application. It is not permitted to replace the stone on the actual boundary line. It will be put by the FPC Oak Tree and plaque between Tool Gate Corner and Campfield Gate. I will investigate obtaining a QR code to be put on the stone, this will enable folk with smart phones to scan the code, this will take them to a website where the history of the boundary can be set out and read. I will also ask if the history file can be put up on the FPC website.

Something that slipped my mind at the meeting, the plans to hold a “Heritage Weekend” following the publishing of the idea on Facebook and in the parish magazine, sadly, not one response has been received, very disappointing. We may get some interest at the next meeting, I hope.

Brenda related about the Payhembury mole catcher, he was called “Gas Lamp”, this came about as  he had a carbide lamp on his bike!!Someone remembers putting carbide in the inkwells on the school desk!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbide_lamp.

The village have taken part in the filming of the 1549 battle for a production company, the producer Stefano  has been working the villagers, led by Jenny. Jenny brought along the still photos from the filming day, our villagers seem to all enjoy a good fight, hanging and drawing and quartering!!  There were murders behind the trees, the banner was magnificent, cutting of throats and a charge to the rout.  Filming took place in Ottery church in the lady chapel.

Terry told us about WW1 bomb factory explosion at Attenborough. This link gives more detail:  http://www.attenboroughchurch.org.uk/explosion.html

Sam  is working on  the archaeology of Fingle Bridge Mill. The  dig  has found the working floor. The mill  was burnt down. The mill stones are of a rough ugly stone  from France.



Geoff is working on a model of the farm mentioned in Flora Thompson’s book, “Larkrise to Candleford”. He is looking to find a set of steam ploughing engines at work. The next ploughing match I know of where steam ploughing will take place is the National Ploughing Match


Peter then rounded the evening of with his memories of life during the Second World War.

His full name is Ernest Wilhelm Peters, but his Mother called him Peter. He  was born in Stettin in East Germany, now Szczecin in Poland. He arrived in the UK as a prisoner of war in 1946 from Belgium.

Peter tells us he had a good childhood with street fights, he enjoyed  the parades and marched after the band. When Hitter came to power the school teachers disappeared, they were Jewish.

 His father was a red,  Peter  brought up to be a socialist, Germany was wonderful with the new changes. He was 12 years old when the Kristallnacht and the Progrom against the Jews, the Synagogue was burnt. Children were part of the Hitler Youth with indoctrination of laws and crafts, tree identification, military skills etc. aged 14 Peter moved on to youth branch of the air sea signals motor branch, he was riding  a BMW motorbike.
When in 1939 war was declared the children were sent  home to hear Hitler talk on radio for a 2 hour program on the  invasion of Poland. Peter was placed in the Engineering School for sea submarine be a teacher. He wore a uniform.
He was with the Battery of air craft guns, the teachers had to assemble the guns. He  taught how to use search light on the battery.
Volunteer for the forces were called up to labour service. Peter was told to report t to the infantry gunner, he arrived late and was sent up to the sergeant major. The training was hard, he  also had to help control riots and shootings in his own town.
He was with the army at the River Elbe. Soviet and American troops met here, near Torgau in Germany. In a prank Peter stole some chocolate, but it turned out to be shaving soap!!

There were four zones in Germany, Peter made  it back to Cologne and became a switch board operator. He was then posted as a medical  orderly. Fuel was very scarce. He was then sent  back to POW camp for discharge on to a Belgium war camp, no work, no food, then sent to Scotland. The camp had no wire good time playing football. Peter went to  see “White Horse Inn “ the men  chased after the “girl” actors, only to find them to be men!! Following this he was sent out to work on local farms.

Thank you all for a very interesting evening, I hope my notes are a good copy!!

Feniton History Group held the 91st meeting in the Nog Inn


Lovely to see you all. Pam has suggested we look at putting on a Heritage Weekend, it was back in September 2008 the last one was staged. It was decided to put a note in the parish magazine to see what response we get.

We confirmed we will hold an afternoon tea to commemorate the 100 years since the end of WW1. The Group will put up our display of the men from Feniton to mark both wars. Suggested date:  Sunday 11th November, unless we incorporate it into the Remembrance Day Service, having it before or afterwards?

Jenny’s contact Nigel and other like-minded people now believe the site of the 1549 Battle is in the area around Bloomfield and Skinners Ash Farm, could the name be derived from Bloodfield?  We are hoping Nigel will came and talk to us about the metal finds from that area. Smashed farm tools, bits of chain mail, Tudor buttons and a sword at found at Buckerell.

Alan mentioned that on old maps the river was bridged down by Greyhound Inn?  Over the years rivers would change course naturally, or man made diversions.

Peter recalled that boundaries in 1944 in Germany meant that there was better food in the hotel on one side of the border than the other.

Jenny tells us the work on the preparation for the Battle filming is going well. A decision is to be made on where to store the banner being made by Rosemarie’s team of needlewomen. This has taken some 300 hours of work. It would a great loss if it was not placed somewhere safe and have its purpose celebrated. The Honiton Museum is though to be an ideal location, along with a display featuring the battle. The Catholic Church don’t like the Protestant view in Jenny books!! The reason for the Battle in 1549 still rankles! 

Brenda loves looking through the old newspapers on line and came across the mention of a fire in Apr 1859. The railway workers lived in huts near the Honiton tunnel. The fire was caused by  a candle catching the curtain alight. Did they show they had their wives with them. Surely men living on their own would not hang drapes?

 In Jan 1859  there was an article about casting  an iron beam of eleven tons  successfully effected by Mr. Kerslake's foundry in the Bonhay Road on Wednesday afternoon. The casting will form a portion of the bridge, which will span the Yeovil Railway line in Longbrooke Street.

We had an interesting natter with Sam about his work with South West Archaeology. He
kindly printed out some reports relating to the village.  The depth of soil over the years varies depending on use of the land.

Rosemary asked about the Mill at Fenny Bridges. Val showed some wonderful old maps found in a relative’s effects.  

Hugh is off to the Walsall football match to see Plymouth Argyll play.

Jenny  brought along some trinkets, war time pieces, a sweet heart hanky and a little finger bible carried in  the glove, dagger brooch and an engraved 5/- silver coin.

Thank you all for such an interesting evening. Next meeting in the Nog Inn on Thursday 6th September at 8pm

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 Pyle spoke to me about Long Park, it cost £22,000 to build. It was built by Mr Vincent  Frank Pyle 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:
I found out that a cottager was a labourer who worked a small piece of land [for himself] which could be owned by him or rented or leased. The building on the land was called a cottage. I'm wondering if the piece of land was called a 'Cott' but can't find out via Google as there is an American firm called Cott and several thousand hits on their name come up first! There are a few places locally called --- Cott [ie Tytherleigh Cott]. I told Bob when he came to clean by windows last week.

Also while working last week I came across a 'Guide Book of Recording Descriptions for Archaeologists' and Cottage does not appear in the list of descriptions for buildings - so I don't think it describes a particular type of building.

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

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