Remembering Robert HANSFORD who was killed on this day 100 years ago 25 Set 1915

HANSFORD, Robert George, DCM. 

Born : Dulverton C1876

Baptised :

Parents : John and Emily Hansford

Married : Rebecca Fry – 16th April 1906 – St Andrews, Feniton

Died : 25th September 1915

Buried : No known grave - listed on the Loos Memorial to the missing at Dud Corner Cemetery.

1881 Census : Causeway End, Broadhembury – aged 5

1891 Census :

1901 Census :

1911 Census : Lower Elstone, Chulmleigh – aged 35

Occupations : Labourer. Farmer in 1911.

Address on enlisting :

Regiment : 8th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment

Rank : Serjeant

Service Number : 3/7458

Service Dates : 22nd June 1895 to 21st June 1907.

CWGC listing : Yes

Soldiers Died Listing :

Devon Roll of Honour : Yes under Dunkeswell

National Roll of the Great War :

Medal Card (NA WO372) : WO372/8/219636

Service Record (NA WO363) :

War Memorial : Feniton

Newspaper Listings :

Notes : He says he was exactly 19 years old when he signed his attestation papers on the 22nd June 1895 and joined the Devonshire Regiment (number 4288) giving his next of kin as his father – John Hansford of Wolford, Dunkeswell. He lists himself as a labourer who had lived at his father’s house for the last three years. He had never been an apprentice, is not married and has not been to prison. When he enlisted he was already a member of the Militia (4th Devonshire Regiment) but was taking up a full 12 year Short Service agreement (7 years with the colours, 5 years in reserve or if overseas 8 years and 4 years). He was 5’ 4” tall and weighed 123lbs, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair.

He served at home from 23rd June 1895 until 8th September 1896 when he went to India until 20th September 1899. He then served in South Africa until 18th January 1902 and was Mentioned in Despatches on two occasions for his bravery in the Second Boer War. He was presented with the Queens South Africa Medal in 1900 with clasps for Belfast, Elandslaagte and the Defence of Ladysmith; Kings South Africa Medal, 1901-2, with 2 clasps; 1914-15 Star, and the British War and Victory Medals. He most likely earned his DCM for the action at Wagon Hill. During late 1899 and early 1900 the 1st Devon’s were engaged against the Boers in the Siege of Ladysmith, in South Africa. Ladysmith is surrounded by hills and the garrison units were tasked with keeping the Boers from taking the heights to prevent Ladysmith coming in range of their artillery. On the 6th January the Boers made a determined effort to assault Caesar’s Camp and the Devon’s were tasked with preventing its capture. Wagon Point formed part of Caesars Camp and it was successfully cleared by the Devon’s during a thunderstorm. During this action a Lt Masterson won the Victoria Cross.

Robert then returned to India until 25th March 1903 when he came home and was transferred to the reserve from 27th March 1903 until his discharge on 21st June 1907. He was made a Lance Corporal on 18th January 1900 and a full Corporal on 4th January 1902. He had passed his Sergeants promotion exam on 19th December 1902.
At the start of the First World War Robert re-enlisted as a Private in the 8th Service Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. At some stage he was promoted to Sergeant the rank he had when he was killed (although he is listed as a Private in the Devon Roll of Honour). The 8th was formed at Exeter on 19th August 1914 as part of K1 (Kitcheners first volunteer army). They went to Rushmoor Camp, Aldershot (Barossa Barracks) in November 1914 as part of the 14th Division. From December 1914 they were in billets in villages south of Farnham and came back to Aldershot in March 1915. They left the 14th Division in May 1915. On the morning of July 25th 1915 they moved to Southampton for embarkation and landed at Le Havre on 26th July 1915 and were attached to 20 Brigade, 7th Division at Carvin on 4th August 1915. The 8th were later attached to the 21st Division and in late August moved to the area south of the La Bassee canal. On 24th September preparations were made for the 8th to attack positions around the villages of Hulluch, Cite St Elie and Haisnes on the 25th during the battle of Loos. It was during this battle that Robert Hansford was killed. When the 8th finally left the battlefield on the 30th September they only had 6 officers and 263 men left out of around 1000.

Feniton History Group held the 60th meeting

It was good to be back together again, thank you all for an interesting evening.
We confirmed the details of the talk by Colin Harris on the 16th Sept.
We had a discussion on how easy it is to lose saved data as things like floppy disk slots are not available on the modern computers.

Brenda is attending a seminar on schools 1844 to 1864 and asked if we have any notes that cover those years.

Jenny told us she has been working on her Notley ancestors from Cerne Abbass, one Thomas Notley went to America where he became a Judge in the 1600s.

Geoff related his work as a volunteer in the Devon Record Office. He has been cleaning and listing papers from the Payne family of Uffculm. It is a huge task and painstaking using a sponge to remove years of dust.

David told us about his research with Roger into the River Otter area at Fenny Bridges. This research confirms the name of the Roman Road in the area:

“The Roman Road at Fenny Bridges is usually considered to be the most south westerly end of the Fosse way from Exeter to Lincoln. The Fosse Way represents the first Roman/British 'frontier' line established in the first few years of the Roman take over. 'Street Pol'(meaning the pool by the road) is a marker in the Anglo Saxon boundary clause from Ottery's 1061 Charter. It refers to quite a large pool in the river Otter located on the south of the old A30 at Fenny Bridges. It was still there in the 1840s and is recorded on Ottery's tithe map (clip attached). It had disappeared by the time of the first large scale OS maps in the 1880s although the straight bank on the southern edge of the pool is still easy to spot.”

They have also found various records detailing the bridges, floods and lack of repairs. A trust of ten men was set up to correct the problems:

Hon. William Wells Addington, Sir Edmund Lansdown Prideaux, Bart. Sir John Kennaway, John ? Oliphant Esq., William Porter Esq., Charles Gordon Esq, Edward Simcoe Drewe Esq.,William Rennell Coleridge Esq.,             Daniel Bishop Davy Esq. and Rev John Huyshe this is dated 19 Sep 1750.

Other local names are Skinner, Northcote, Wright,  Kirkham and Pring.

David also noted that the name of   the stream running through Feniton was called the Fine and the name of the village derived from this phonically as the V and F sound very similar.

I omitted to say at the meeting that Jenny and I have put together a general history of the village to be used as part of the Neighbourhood Plan. I attach my document, which may well become an aid to the writing of our village book?

Next meeting is booked in the Nog Inn on  1st October at 8pm. Looking forward to seeing you all on the 16th Sept for Colin’s talk, just some help needed with teas and the door. Thank you.

Devon Map Links

In searching for something else, we came across this really nice blog posting on your website at about the OS six-inch maps, so many thanks for this.

My real reason for writing was just to say that we have recently added all our holdings of the more detailed OS 25 inch to the mile maps of Devon (1855-1943) to our website too.

The home page for the OS 25 inch series is at: and you can search and view all the maps of Devon through a map interface at: 

There is also a list of the OS 25 inch sheets for Devon in sheet order at: 

We are in the process of georeferencing the sheets too – at present the georeferenced coverage is just for south-east England at: but we hope to cover Devon too in the next month or so.

Reasonably enough, people don’t think of visiting the National Library of Scotland website for maps of southern England, so we are always keen to alert those that might be interested in case they can help spread the word.

With kind regards,

Chris Fleet
National Library of Scotland
159 Causewayside

One Place Studies detailed report for Feniton

The full report is available here:

Society of One Place Studies Link

I want to thank the Group for all their notes and research that has made this possible.

Feniton History Group held the 59th Meeting

Another good natter over a pint. Good to see Bob after his health problems.

We looked at my notes from the talk given by Chris Wakefield, which led to us discussing the Hayridge Hundred and how it came about:

The hundred of Hayridge was the name of one of thirty two ancient administrative units of Devon, England. It was originally known as Sulfretona and this name was still used in the Geldroll of 1084 but two hundred years later it was called Harigg in the hundred Role of Edward I after the place where the hundred courts were held which is now Whorridge farm. The parishes in the hundred were: Bickleigh; Blackborough; Bradninch; Broadhembury; Cadbury; Cadeleigh; Cullompton; Feniton; Kentisbeare; Netherexe; Payhembury; Plymtree; Rewe (part); Sheldon; Silverton; Talaton; Thorverton. According to White's History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Devonshire, (1850) it "Is of an irregular figure, extending about 16 miles from east to west, and varying from 9 to 6 in breadth."

The Domesday tells us we had 5 pigs and 15 sheep, but it was suggested this meant Feniton had 5 pig keepers and 15 shepherds.

Alan raised the point about the name of the Roman road that passed along the Old A30 at Fenny Bridges, I had assumed it was the Fosse Way, but it seems I am wrong, can anyone help with the correct name?

David had brought along his laptop and was able to add to the discussion with his extensive notes.

The boundary stone is here and we look forward to erecting it after the crops are harvested and we will plan that event then.  Chris's talk raised £48, so £20 will be used to cover the VAT on the stone and I have asked David to accept the remaining £28 to cover the coat of the church for the evening.

Colin Harris has written a book on Papermaking in the Culm Valley and has offered to  do a talk on the subject. David, Colin and I will sort this out for a date in October.

I have a Timeline file, which was set up by David and extended to cover all manner of happenings in Feniton. I attach a copy for you all, please add anything you think relevant, or I have made a error, using a red font, so I can pick out the new entries and send it back to me. Thank you.

In writing up the time line I asked if we ever had a serving policeman in the parish, it seems Feniton was covered by the Broadhembury Police House at Colliton Cross. Mr. Tolman and Mr Gibbins were Special Constables. 

I also asked about the arrival of the telephone in the parish, Brenda has kindly sent me her notes from the council minutes:

May 1927: The Telephone Authorities were willing to install a Telephone Call office at Feniton P.O. if a guarantee of £19 for an open telephone & £25 for a closed cabinet could be found. The PC did not feel justified in guaranteeing that amount!!!! It must have been installed by September 1930: Mr. Chown reported that on 2 occasions when the Public Call Office was shut he had to wait some considerable time before the attendant answered him. He asked the Council if it were possible to get a night bell fixed outside the Office.

The parish clerk has raised the query that some of the Feniton Parish Council minute books are missing, Brenda confirmed this, I offered to check the books held by Devon Record Office, this is the reference to the holding:   4214A - Feniton Parish Council  dated 1930 - 1982.

Jo has asked about the cobbled pavement by Court Barton. It is shown in some of the old photos I have on file. We thought it would have been just that a pavement, the road would not have been cobbled. David and Brenda both confirmed that it is recorded and may not be covered.

 I went to Escot Church Open Weekend and History Display. It was fascinating.  The WW1 research caught my eye as, of course, two of the names have come up in our Feniton research, Arbery and Flay. So need to check those out. Also a name new to us from WW2 is EM Wood who has a War Grave in Escot Churchyard, but not recorded on the war memorial, Richard Powell who did the research for his book, "The Men on the Cross, the Great War in Escot and Talaton" suggests that EM Wood was a Feniton man killed in the second world war, I have no record of him, yet.

We chattered about WW2 memories, the bombing of Exeter, seeing the fires from Bitterly Cross, and Alan told us that a German plane shot up the railway station and the Railway Hotel. The bulldozing of many old buildings after the war was a great loss, but back then heritage was not in the mind of the planners who had it all demolished for the new.

VE Day, no one had any recall to a celebration in the village, but I have found a paper cutting to the contrary.

We next meet in September. I am still hoping for someone to take on the Group admin, please?

Don't forget the wedding dress event in the Church on the 16 / 17 May, Brenda has researched the History of the Wedding Dress for the event.

In July, date to be confirmed there is a talk on Stained Glass in Escot Church, which has some very high quality work.

Now I have thank Bill for the wonderful plaque to place on our displays to show who had produced the project. I am thrilled with it, wonderful craftsmanship. Bill is also carving names to place on the heraldic pews to identify the families. Fitting that we have a continuing craftsman adding to the history of the church today.


VE Day Feniton 8 May 1945

Feniton & Ottery St Mary Boundary Talk

Feniton History Group would like to thank Chris Wakefield for a very interesting and imformative evening.

Where there was water and shelter a community would perhaps make  base, as first they would have been hunter gatherers.

Some clearing by fire  for grazing animals some 5000 years  of arming in the Neolithic age followed by a
1000 years of governmental orders and the defining of  boundaries.

Arable era caused settlers, and to avoid crop damage by the grazing livestock so they had to fence to control  the animals.

Trade movement lead to the making of tracks.

 The A30 through Fenny Bridges is on the line of the Roman road.  The road was cut through a ancient bank topped with a hedge between Ash Farm and Higher Gosford. The bank runs down to the River Otter and back towards Sweethams. It is much older than the Roman road. Parts of ths bank are lost due to farmers re ordering their fields.

One of the earliest roads was the one from Woodbury to Hembury Fort.

The lords of the Manor at the time of the Domesday were absent land Lords, held in high favour by King William.

Ottery St Mary has its charter describing its settlement in 1061. Feniton borders Ottery so we too share this history from Campfield up Tower Hill and the down to the River Tale., and also at Fenny Bridges.

Devon had more pigs than anywhere else, I looked up pig breeds known to have originated in Devon and found the British Lop from Tavistock and possibly the Large Black.   

Taxation  was by hide a not very consistent measurement, so then One Hundred hides  became a judicial area called Hundreds. The Church used this framework to raise funds.

Parish boundaries developed during the C9th to  C12th.  

Sir John Kennaway was in correspondence with Talaton Parish as to the River Tale boundary being changed by the flow of the water in 1844.

Mrs Frances Rose-Troupe The Anglo-Saxon Charter of Ottery St Mary printed in the Devon Trans. 1939 Vol 71.

Maintaining roads was the responsibility of the parish, Ottery got off lightly as the two Fenny Bridges  were in the Feniton Parish!

George Herbert's (1593 - 1633) description of Rogation Sunday:

 “1. a blessing of God for the fruits of the field:
  2. Justice in the preservation of the bounds;
  3. Charitie, in living, walking and neighbourliy accompanying one another, with reconciling of differences at that time, if they be any;
 4. Mercie, in relieving the poor by a liberal distribution of largess which at that time is or oght be made. 

Long wands are shown in some photos and even they waded in the river seemly dressed in Sunday suits!!