Feniton History Group held the 100th meeting in the Nog Inn

The Group are very sad to hear that Val is in hospital and we all send her our best wishes.

Geoff came along armed with cakes to mark our 100th meeting and also, we used the cakes to mark Alan’s Birthday, he was surprised we knew it was his birthday, his face was a picture!!

We talked through the arrangements for Todd Gray’s Book Launch, date is confirmed for Thursday 12th September at 7:30 pm. This will be put in place at the July meeting. We are not meeting in August.

We were pleased to welcome Margaret  with some Feniton related photos and paper cuttings relating to the bellringers  in 1979, 11 year old George Tibbet, Tom Virgin, 73 and the Tower Captain Les Stevens, who received a Long Service  award for Les who had worked at Feniton Court for 41 years in 1988 at Devon County Show. The other show Mrs P B E Ackland (sic) presenting the Championship trophy in the Shorthorn Class at Crewe Show in 1973.

A local historian and metal detectorist, Nigel was made welcome to the group. Good to have you on board Nigel.

A letter has been received from Graeme sending us a wonderful article dating to around the date of the Fenny Bridges Battle 1549. It is a Scabbard Chape, this was the piece of metal at the point of the scabbard to protect it. The Group thank Graeme for passing this to the Group Archive.

We are always amazed how the evenings in The Nog evolve  with random snippets coming together. This evening exceeded that. It is the 75th Commemoration of the D Day Landings, may of us have been watch the BBC programs that mark the day. I hope my notes do this justice. The personal recollections of the Group members are just humbling and heart wrenching. 

Alan recalled the American Troop trains passing through, The Heathfield Camp in Honiton, now the trading estate, billeted the US Army, much to the delight of the ladies!!! Nylons, sweets,  tined meat,  fruit and chewing gum being some of the perks!!!

The US Navy were at Dunkeswell doing submarine patrols over the south west approaches,
the planes they used were liberator bombers. Alan recalls one of  the planes failed to take off and crashed near Sheldon, loaded with fuel and depth charges. Alan and his brother Keith wet off on their bikes to see this, Brenda still has the bits from the crash that Alan ad Keith brought back.  You can still see the site as the hedge has no trees growing  there.

Cycling home from Kings School by Cadhay, Alan spotted a glider in the corn field  with an US  officer by the gate, Alan engaged him in conversation to ask why, he was told the glider needs to go back to Upottery know as Smeatharpe. An  aircraft  came and caught up the hook cable and lifted off  towing the glider back to Smetharpe. This would have bee the
5th Jun 1944. A lot of air craft towing gliders from Upottery off to the Normandy landing beaches.

RoseMarie remembers her Mum telling she would get Nits if she played on the bombed sites in Plymouth.  George  remembered taking sugar to the sweetshop for the shopkeeper to make his sweets.  Brenda’s family were living in the South East and the wonderful Christmas food parcel sent by her Grandparents in North Devon brought back memories of the farm with the smell. Margaret’s mother was hard at work scalding cream to make clotted cream for the hotels and Dellers.

Other members of the group passed on such devasting personal family tragedies; I thank them for relating their experiences that changed their lives for ever.

The meeting closed with Peter reading his poem about a Dead Russia Soldier. Thank you Peter. Peter shared his war experience and brought along his medals.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Feniton History Group held the 99th Meeting in the Nog Inn

Thank you all for a wide ranging and lively discussion.

We spoke about the harsh attitude to dissenters during the war, men many of whom have seen the most terrible sights and, today, would be said to have traumatic distress syndrome.

Peter lost his wife 2 years ago after 70 years  together. He wants to help the communities which have helped him over the years. He had hoped to make a big gesture like doing a skydive,  or rowing the English Channel, but ill health prevents him. Sharon Cleal  will do the skydive on his behalf for Hospice Care. Look out for the sponsor forms!!   Peter is still doing a Marathon, that is to write 26  poems, 1 poem for each mile in a Marathon!! Peter is an amazing man to talk to, thank you for coming to our meetings and sharing you life and thoughts with us.

Brenda related that the sad death of Mrs. Rita Down of Sherwood Farm coincidences with the death of Mr Cruwys who died 100 years ago to the day, he farmed Sherwood too.

Brenda tells us that she and Val Jones are needing to recruit help with publishing the Feniton Parish magazine each month. So please make contact with Brenda if you can help. Her details are on the Magazine.

Alan told us he had read an Article in  the book “Devon” by Robin Stains a very keen local historian, it was a recollection of the prayer book rebellion memorial stone placed near the Bloody Meadow. The stone is off Cornish Granite. The stone commemorates the Battle of Fenny Bridges in 1549. There is current debate about the location of the Battlefield, some thoughts are linking the name of the old Fenny Bridges Pub to the battle the name being Bloomfield House.

RoseMarie remembered the event when the stone was placed, sadly many of the Cornish folk attending that day, did not know the words to  the Cornish Anthem “Trelawny”

George  took a walk  by the River Otter to work out how it had changed its course  over the years.

We remarked on the  BBC House History series based on a house  in Newcastle, it was very well presented by David Olusoga. Fascinating.

Geoff is helping catalogue James Ravilious’ wonderful photographs, which will put on the Internet.

 We commiserated with Hugh on the woes of Plymouth Argyle football team!

Peter rounded the evening off with a wonderful  coincidence, he met a fellow nurse, with a similar background to his own and in comparing notes they realised they came from the same town and same area, Peter being aged 93 and the nurse 39!!! They also went to the same school.

Thank you all for a wonderful evening.

Next meeting on 6th June in the Nog Inn, we thank Mike and RoseMarie for their kind hospitality. This will be our 100th meeting.

Feniton History Group held the 98th meeting in the Nog Inn

This note fron Geoff  may be of interest to you.

The Devon Record Centre (SW Heritage) the public catalogue is now updated with new items on a daily basis as against about every 3-4 months as before. And I am currently working on the subscription lists for the Exmouth and Exeter railway from 1845. 

They list everyone who subscribed to the cost of the railway [eventually becoming shares] giving their FULL name, OCCUPATION, FULL address, and how much they subscribed, and their signature. There are around 800-900 names all dating from late 1845 to early 1846 mostly from Exeter, Topsham and Exmouth. For anyone who has relatives living in Exeter, or who is studying the traders in the town its a wonderful resource. Nearly all traders in Exeter signed up so you could plot them on a street map.

We need a new Co Odinator please come forward to keep the Group going!

I formally give you all notice that I will be stepping back from
co-ordinating the History Group. My last meeting will be the
July one.

The pressure of family and farm life is not allowing me the
time or energy to continue in the role.

The group needs someone with enthusiasm to get the book
idea in place and put on a History Weekend for the village.

Best wishes,


Mr Peter Barnes' email and photos.

We have had a wonderful email from Mr. Peter Barnes who was evacuated to Feniton in the war, he stayed with Mr & Mrs Hapgood at Thorne. I copy it here along with the photos, they are lovely, thank you Peter.

Dear Christine 

Although I am not a member of the Feniton History Group I have been reading the meeting reports with much interest  

In your 44th meeting on Thurs 14th Nov 2013 in Feniton Church comment was made of  "The Acland film Showing" and included there was mention of a Mr Habgood (spelt as I understand with b and not p) being the Head Gardner of the Acland Estate. 

My mother and I went down from West London to stay with Mr Robert Habgood and his wife Catherine who were living at Thorn Cottage on the 4th September 1939 the day after war was declared being our evacuation. 

I was enrolled to attend the Primary Church School located just round the corner due to start the Autumn term within the next few days. There were only two classes being the main one for the young and the other for the very young. As I remember the main classroom was divided into separate rows of desks each row representing different ages and receiving different lessons no doubt causing many problems for the teacher whose name I now cannot remember. 

I also joined the Church Choir and I remember the Choir practice used to be up at the Vicarage on Friday nights which at the time was a very dark walk with the high hedges and the glow worms hardly helped.
I have attached a photo of Mr and Mrs Habgood at the rear of their garden taken early spring 1940 which may possibly be of interest and two others taken when passing through the Village in 1960. The gate behind Mr Habgood led down to the quite large Kitchen Garden belonging to Feniton Court. 

I do trust your History Group remains a great organisation for all the local historic information and a total success for many years to come. 

Yours sincerely, 


Peter L.Barnes

Feniton History Group held the 97th meeting in the Nog Inn

Very pleased to report that the replacement Boundary Stone is here, and it will be placed in due course. I am looking into setting up a QR code to explain the stone.

Following on from last month regarding the Art & Craft event in May. Brenda has been checking newspapers for mentions of local crafts entered in the flowers shows etc. but sadly nothing came to hand.  We had craftsman in the village, stonemasons, blacksmiths, carpenters, Mrs. Hart a woodcarver and may be lace makers. The task goes on.

David has been looking at documents in the Devon Heritage Centre and has found mention of a sexton who put a body in a reserved plot. It was a member of the same family, so the rightful plot owner raised no objection.
Other information was that the Rev Hart memorial in church caused an issue which had to be resolved by the Chancellor. It concerned part of the monument text being in Latin
and was included within the English text. The crest on the monument indicated the this particular Hart family had origins were in Ireland.

There was a proposal to line the whole of the North wall with oak panelling, as it was only the box pew in the Northwest corner was lined.

The 2 inch lettering on the lych gate cost 12/- per dozen letters.

A drawing of the churchyard showed a drain crossing the churchyard. A letter from Redferns to the Rev hart said that no such drain exists.

A man has been out looking round the church for graffiti, he is hoping to write a book on the subject.

Geoff is still busy at Southwest Heritage, he recommends talks on Victorian trains by a Mr. Trump given at the RAMM in Exeter.

There are rumours about a Smugglers’ Path from Feniton to the coast, perhaps Branscombe. Google has not thrown up much, apart from the essay:

Also lace was often smuggled I understand.

Bob has found an Italian Medal, always enjoy hear about the medals.
Jenny has asked for help with her family history, Geoff is working on the military side and I am looking for Smithfield Farm, near West Hill, in Tipton St. John, Metcombe area, can I ask if this is known to anyone.

I will fix up an afternoon at the farm next month, we can look at family history and sort out our display boards for the Craft Weekend. Thank you all for a fascination evening.

Next meeting in the Nog Inn on Thursday 4th April 2019.

Feniton History Group held their 96th Meeting in the Nog Inn

The Friends of St Andrew’s Church have asked the Group to take part in the Arts & Craft days in the Church on the weekend of 18th / 19th May. It was agreed to accept the invitation, ideas began flowing to mount displays on the carvings in the church, blacksmiths and to look at old adverts for local craftsmen and women.

Geoff has been volunteering and the Devon Record Office for Seven years. He is working on thirty eight boxes from a deceased estate in Crediton, but looking forward to going back to the Railway files.

Sam is working on a dig at Bow, this is a Henge, classed as an ancient monument, Nothing visible  on the surface. It consists of a stone bank and ditch, it may have been  a wooden post  or stone circle.  In Scotland a “ modern circle” classed as ancient has been found https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-46946652

George has been walking along part of the Otter at Fenny Bridges. It is known that the River has moved and been reshaped by nature and man.  Nigel Scarf lived in Rosary Cottage and noticed a mound in the garden, could this be where bodies from the Battle of Fenny Bridges were buried?  David tells us there is to be a metal detecting session in the area soon. 

Brenda recalls going to the Ottery tar barrels just after she met Keith, they became caught up in the crowds and fell into a house window. Brenda tells us she has been working on her family tree, one man was a  blacksmith , he was called up during the war and sent to be in the Royal Naval Air Force based at Shoreham, sadly while away his wife died and he came home to care for their children

Peter is writing his family history.  He would like to do a tandem parachute jump or row the Atlantic, but his Doctor said no very firmly. So he decided to do a marathon of poetry in 26 days, with the proceeds going to the church, King Street Day Care  and the Exeter Leukaemia Fund. He writes from the heart and  feels the emotions.

Jenny and the battle banner will be in the church for Craft event in May. She told us about a book, entitled   The Field Guide to the English Clergy, it is very funny, Jenny read an extract about Bishop Cecil of Exeter, he was known to be somewhat eccentric. On one occasion a guest having tea with him at his home was surprised when he fed pieces of crumpets to two rats that came out of holes in the floor, and threw powdered copper sulphate on the fire to turn the flames green, remarking that he liked the colour. Once, goes another story, while robing in the vestry before a service, he held a handkerchief between his teeth, but forgot to return it to his pocket and proceeded to the altar with it still hanging from his mouth. He had been heard to complain that the Bible was "an awkward book", and while travelling around his diocese he would often ring up his wife to ask where he was, stealing bicycles to get home, they painted his bike red, but he kept taking postman’s bikes instead. 

Alan has been looking at railway history in South Somerset. Many of the towns would have been better served if the railway routes were better planned. 

 The town of Crewkerne is served by the station at Miserton, some distance away. The Salisbury to Yeovil railway had no investment but came to be a profitable to Sherborne. The Castle at Sherborne was a problem until the owner died, then his son let the railway through.

Taunton to Yeovil then to Exeter suffered from business conflict, this was the cause of the bad routes Okehampton had two stations owned by different companies.

Yeovil also has badly planned stations with Yeovil Junction and Penn Mill being somewhat outside the main town. Then of course many branch lines were lost to the cuts imposed by Beeching.

Thank you all for a fascinating evening.

We meet in The Nog Inn on Thursday 7th March at 8 pm