Feniton History Group held the 83rd Meeting in the Nog Inn

We reviewed the fascinating illustrated talk by Martin Howell, it was sad that due to the very bad weather only 9 people came. This raised £40 for the Church Fabric Fund

Our next event is the WW1 Talk with Jim Woolley from Ottery Heritage on Thursday 30th Nov in the Church at 7:30 pm.

For the culmination of the 100 years since WW1 it was decided to mark this with a Themed WW1 afternoon tea in the Church or village hall, war time cakes and music. Suggested date Saturday 10th November 2018.

George : Has been looking at the horrific events after the Monmouth Rebellion, (1685) the South West was littered the decaying bodies hung in cages from churches and at Cross Roads after being boiled in pitch.  Bitterly Cross was one such place. Between Feniton and Talaton.

This links gives the account of the time:

 We discussed child labour in the mines, mills and small boys working for chimney sweeps, Jenny related the story of a young girl who had stolen a violin case, all driven by poverty, followed by harsh sentencing in the courts.

This tells more:

George  spoke of the American grave yard and the French Prisoners of war


He also told us the Dartmoor Jail Museum was worth a visit.

I related my conversation with my grandson regarding the Devon dialect, he had not heard of regional accents,   the Cornish spoke late Anglo Saxon and had their own language, which is being revived in an effort for it not to be lost.

Bob is enjoying the garden, and told us about the  Indian service  1930/32 medal with 2 bars.  There was a Water Carrier medal. The English detachment did not get involved with the skirmishes, but if a white person involved they would shoot. His father served in India in the 1930s. Sadly, all his father’s effects were lost when his home was cleared after his death.

Jenny  has a relative of the Horsey family  of Clifton May Banks House. Sadly, with the wills destroyed in the second world war the line is not easy to follow.  

 Brenda brought along her Grandfather’s postcards from WW1, he was a Batman to an Officer. The cards are written with a pencil, only the Officers had access to ink! He was in hospital in Birmingham in July 1917, using the dates from the postmarks Brenda has worked out where in the world he was at the time of posting.

While searching the newspaper archives Brenda found some articles relating to Cecil Harris  of Bricklands now Appletrees. behind the Nog Inn.  Samuel, his father lived at Pound House in Payhembury he was a carpenter and wheelwright.  Cecil was a carriage builder. In  1928,  when the building  of council houses was proposed, he criticised the siting of the council houses because he thought it more sensible they should be near the Station where there was a mains sewer that could be used instead of the proposed site in Station Road. He also worried about flooding in front of Bricklands. He went with the nickname  “Crab Apple Face.”   His wife died in  a cycle accident.

Cecil  had the first motor garage in the area , he was offered the Vauxhall dealership, but he thought cars had no future and turned it down. Arthur, Cecil’s son was  put forward for e military medal.

Brenda attended the DFHS conference  and mentioned the Heathcote family who were keen on education and erected a school. At the conference Brenda met the author of a new book about  Thomas Fowler, an inventor from Torrington who invented a calculating machine.



 Geoff told us of a family with 22 children raised  in a bigamist marriage, the father remarried the 1st wife to legitimise the children inc a spell in Canada.

Alan has seen the item on the Spotlight news about Drowners Huts on the River Frome in Dorset, for the men  working on the  water meadows.  He asked if the small derelict shed at Fenny Bridges would have been such a building?

Alan also recalled a boundary change that meant Feniton Parish were responsible for the maintenance of the Bridge.

It was a lively and fascinating evening, thank you all.


Next meeting 8pm in the Nog Inn on 7th December 2017.

WW1 talk to mark the Rememberancetide



Feniton History Group would like to invite you to join with
Jim Wooley and Bob Neal from Ottery Heritage are coming to talk
about Jim’s book on WW1 in Ottery St Mary and surrounding villages
 in Feniton Church on Thursday 30th November 2017 at 7:30 pm

Admission £4.00 including tea /coffee.


Report on Martin Howell's Talk 19th Oct 2017

Sadly due to the stormy weather only eight visitors were able to enjoy Martin's fascinating illustrated talk, here are my rough notes taken on the night. These snippets are wonderful and worth reseraching further on the Internet or in books.

“A miscellany of little known facts about Churches.”



Ogham:  a script used in Celtic times.
 A Viking tomb, 8th C, known as a Hogs Back Tomb.
Various Saxon crosses, the one in Colyton church found after a fire and reconstructed.
The Saxon stone building pattern of Long and short work in a Saxon Crypt.
Romsey Abbey has an example a carving Dextera (Right Hand of God).
Norman font in Clyst St Lawrence Church. Old fonts would often be reused in new churches.
Norman chevrons and beak head carving on Iffley Church, Oxford
The Rose for the Virgin Mary.
The Daisy for the Virgin Mary and virginity.
The Green Man origins are unknow, but many myths surround him, thought to signify rebirth and the Spring.
Bestiality animals carved in various forms and symbols.
Sheela na gig a carved figure of an old hag showing all her nakedness  11th / 12th C.
signifying lust and evil, atropay or fallen.
Mensa table with consecration crosses.
There 2 tombs  in the UK with original saint bones, these have holes to place your head to pray or place a withered limb.
Masons and Carpenter marks. Used to show work done for their pay or aligning joints.
The Church house used as village hall and brew house for ale revels, Bridal is derived from the Bride Ale.
Sundials, round and linear
Sanctuary ring  or knob on the door, once grasped, you  40 days to arrange  for your defence.
Hunky Punks are a form of carved figure placed on the outside of churches, Hunky means to hunker down and punk is short legged
Pelican shed her blood to feed her young, she dies, but the young survive, as Christ shed his blood to save us.
Gurney stove an early heater for the church
Funeral helmets.

Hatchments hung on house then moved to church, male on the left, wife on the right, black background shows the death.


Feniton History Group held the 82nd Meeting in the Nog Inn

Some of the group are busy rehearsing for the church concert, Jenny mentioned the Battle of Wiggaton, I have found this reference:

http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MDV17281&resourceID=104

There is a suggestion that local history groups will be asked to arrange an event to commemorate the 100 year end of WW1, the group suggested afternoon tea, a weekend event, a coffee morning, this would take place around the 11th Nov 2018.

George has been working on his family tree, and has come across a murder!

Bob nattered about the  L├ęgion d'honneur medal, David spoke of a General 2nd class Iron Cross owned by an acquaintance who served on the Russian Front and held  at prisoner of war  camp in Scotland, and married a local girl.

Brenda showed us her display for the school  project she has been working on with the Devon History Society, the land owners were against the children going to school as they would not keep their station in life and be cheap, or even free labour on the farms, these comments were found in the speeches given at ploughing match dinners! The non-conformist churches wanted children to be able to read the bible and supported education.

Maggie recalled the young children that went to work in the coal mines. Brenda’s research also coverers Buckerell School, one of the rectors, Edwin Coleridge, a cousin of Samuel the poet encouraged school and ran a night class.

I too have a poetical link in my own Oxfordshire family tree, Captain Simon Hatley was the seaman who shot the Albatross in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”,

David has finished transcribing the diaries written by William Channon and has some words to find the meaning of:

Polling apples, could be this hand pollinating the trees? Brushing the trees is done to stop aphids attaching to the bark.

Tied wood, is a term used for making wooden hurdles or wood sledges, or could be cord wood, a measurement of a stack of thinings from a wood. He could just have tied wood into bundles or faggots for the fire.

Seared hedge, this is term used in hedge laying where the hedge is trimmed out and the long stems cleared of twigs (seared) ready to part cut through and laid.

Furze cutting, is cutting gorse, this would be collected, dried and used on the fire.

Alan gave us his memories on Ottery St. Mary Railway Station.

Pupils going to the King’s School from Honiton would ride eight to a compartment, including a prefect to keep an eye on them. Some village children also went by train.

Alan would call into Townsend’s sweetshop in Mill Street.

Ottery had a cinema, the “Scala”, he would dash to catch the 10:33 train back to Sidmouth Junction after the film.

Alan suffered an accident while shunting wagons for Sidmouth, catching his sleeve between buffers. The goods train guard walked him from the Ottery goods yard to Ottery Hospital, here he met a young nurse and a friendship ensued.


Summer Saturday traffic came down from Waterloo, with through trains to the seaside. Seven coaches went to Exmouth and five to Sidmouth. On the return service two branch line engines would struggle on the gradient up from the Otter Valley, and on occasions a third engine went to the rescue. To remedy this, the station stop at Ottery was discontinued for the Summer trains.

The group has received a query regarding the Manor of Hayes, which seems to be part of Feniton and Talaton. With the help of Roger this is the reply I sent:

There was no “Manor House” until later when the house called Radcliffe was built on the Manor of Aunke, this is on the Clyst Hydon Road out of Talaton at the T junction signed Clyst St Lawrence and Broadclyst.

The English Heritage listing for the more modern house is found here:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1098166

There is also Young Hayes and Blue Hayes on the right of the Old A30, as you leave Rockbeare and head towards Clyst Honiton, possibly part of the same Manor.

We spoke of the Northcote family, who lived in Feniton Court, George junior, Civil Engineer was granted patents for “improvements to apparatus for scraping and cleaning boots in 1874 and for a cask measuring apparatus for quantity of liquid held in the cask granted in 1872.

Don’t forget the talk in the church with Martin Howell on Thursday 19th at 7 pm to set up,

Thank you all for a fascinating evening, we meet next on the 2nd Nov in the Nog Inn 8 pm


WW1 Centenary, 9th Oct 1917 James Ross

James ROSS 

He was in the ASC (T/21423) before joining the West Yorkshire Regt. He was a Territorial so I assume was in the ASC then. The 1st/7th Battalion WYR has the same history after 1916 as the 1st/5th Battalion.

Son of Hugh Ross, of Christow, Sidmouth Junction, Devon. He was a Rifleman in the 1st/7th Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own). Died on the 9th October   1917 age 28  and his name appears on the Tyne Cote memorial Zonnebeke, Belgium. James was declared 'missing presumed dead'. His father Hugh said he would never move again in case 'Jim' came home.


In Memory of 
Rifleman JAMES ROSS

54510, 1st/7th Bn., West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)
who died
 age 28
on 09 October 1917
Son of Hugh Ross, of Christow, Sidmouth Junction, Devon.
Remembered with honour
TYNE COT MEMORIAL


A Talk: A Miscellany about Churches




On the 19th of October at 7.30 pm there will be a talk by
Martin Horrell in
Feniton Church entitled
“A miscellany of little known facts about Churches.”
Come and find out about
Mermaids, Mason Marks, Hunky Punks and many other things that can be seen in local Churches.
Admission to include tea/coffee
£4.00
Donations will go towards the
Church Fabric Fund.


Village Life Concert