Feniton History Group 35th Meeting

The Group met in the Nog on the 8th Nov.  for a " Bring and Share Evening ".

David brought his huge files of the history of Feniton Church which is more extensive that ever! He has sourced so much detail, quite amazing, and so beautifully presented.

Jenny played us about 20mins of her picture show of the Battle of Fenny Bridges, with commentary, music and sound effects, ably assisted by George. Their heads were bent over computers for some time!

Alan read some of his funny little sayings and a poem I have found - he reads poems better that I can.

All I had to offer was a brief bit on the life of Charlotte Gouldsworthy. Charlotte was landlady at The Railway Hotel.  Brenda  

News flash.
The West Country Studies Library has now moved to the Devon Record Office on Sowton, by the Park and Ride. The Service Point for Parish Records held in the WCSL is now in the Devon Family History Society, Tree House, Unit 1, 7-9 King Street, Exeter, EX1 1BQ .  http://www.devonfhs.org.uk/

Talk by Todd Gray 12 Oct 2012 East Budleigh Church

Todd gave a very interesting talk, based on the research for his new book "Devon's Ancient Bench Ends"

Sadly as the years have passed the meaning and purpose of the carvings have been lost, but some depict a trade like cloth, wool and a cook with the little spit dog.

Church records  in Devon can give an insight into the carvings and they are thought to be the best in the UK.

Traditional seating plans are unique to each parish, it is a myth that no there were not seats in the churches as research shows the upgrading taking place across the county over the years.

East Budleigh pews can be dated back to early the 1530s, then in about 1600  box pews came into use, they even had curtains, so that the congregation could only bee seen by the vicar from his high pulpit! Then they    evolved back to being equal open pews.

Harry Hems carver (http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/em/_people/hems.php)  also the Pinn Sisters were prominent carvers in the 1800s.

Village art traditions  influenced the carvers themes. In East Budleigh the Red Indian pew, or leaf head is unique. The carvings are found to be  unique to areas of the County, with some influences from Somerset and Cornwall. Also you can see Demons and folklore figures in the carvings.

Following the talk I am sure many will be looking at the Devon Pews with a renewed interest.

Feniton History Group 34th Meeting

Feniton History Group held the 34th meeting at Feniton Church on 11th Oct. 2012
Sadly due to the poor weather only ten people came for a talk given by Chris Wakefield from Ottery St Mary.

I would like to thank Chris and our Group members for their help in making the evening a success. A total of £52 will be passed to Feniton Church.
Using excellent maps and graphics Chris explained his research using a wonderful document dated 1061 detailing the Ottery St Mary boundary of the time. 

The talk looked at how you can read the landscape using old maps and visual features, how the boundaries followed ancient hedgerows and rivers, it was interesting to see how the River Otter has changed course. The River Tale too has changed leading to Sir John Kennaway having concern over the Feniton / Talaton parish line.

Mentioned by John Leland in his tour of East Devon in 1542, we find the following:

“A(bout) 5 Miles farther (from Clyst St Mary Bridge) I passid by a forde over a Riveret caullid Tale, that a mile dim. lower above S. Mari Oterey Toun goith into Oterey Water. Ther is a Bridge of Stone by the Ford of Tale, From this Ford of Tale I rode about 2. Miles farher to Veniton Bridge, where Oterey Water is devidid into 4. Armes by Pollicy to serve Grist and Tukking Milles.  Apon 3. of these Streames I roode by fair Stone Bridges. The First Arme of the 4. was on the lefte, and had no Bridge that I markid. On the North side of the first Bridge was a Chapelle now prophanid. [spelling as written]

Many of the long hedgerows would very old even iron age to mark land ownership, the Domesday Book

Robert Count of Mortain Domes day to Drogo Exon Domesday  shows that Feniton was worth £4 then  dropped to 40 shillings.

The old land measurements were quite variable, a Hide being equal t the amount of land an ox  could work in a day. and also enough land to maintain one family. 

 Many place names are very early Christian and Saxon meanings, the grapic showed that in 620 AD land to west is Christian and to east Saxon.

There is an area called Little England in Wales, seeming people from the North Devon Coast crossed the Channel to settle there.

As well has the land boundaries changing the homesteads evolved to from one large open room to portioned homes with a Buttery where  wines butts stored and from the open fire in the centre to a hearth with a chimney in the mid 1500s

Field names reflect the landscape features or trades and industry, words like Boo means by the street, a
Brake  would be marginal land

Even some areas were thought to be homes of pixies and demons, the name Beowulf  was mentioned.

One of the early land owners was Mr. Sweet Esq of  Alfington, you can use these details to speculate the name origins, perhaps   Sweethams and similar names fields were  possible was once his?

This Landscape  website can help explore this subject further:

Feniton History Group 33rd Meeting

Feniton History Group held the 33rd meeting at Feniton Church on 13th September 2012
Group members were joined by members of the public for a talk by John-Michael Kennaway entitled "The Fall and Rise of a Country Estate" Escot.

John-Michael showed a very interesting set of photos of the rise of the Estate from near dereliction to the thriving visitor attraction it is today. He also gave some detail of the early  history, the purchase from the Younge family in 1794. Sir George Younge had to sell due to debts incurred from dubious use of the public purse and the "rotten borough" of Honiton, the devastating fire in 1808, which destroyed the house, to the present day detailing the work and restoration, which of course is ongoing.  John-Michael is the 7th generation of his family to reside at Escot. 

I would like to thank John-Michael and our Group members for their help in making the evening a success. A total of £54 will be passed to Feniton Church. The Church is a perfect venue for meetings like this having the screen and projector.

Our next meeting will again be in the Church for a talk by Chris. Wakefield from Ottery St Mary Heritage on "Village Boundaries". This will be in the same format as the talk last night. 8:00 pm Thurs. 11th Oct. 2012, raffle prizes please.

David has suggested a "Bring and Share" meeting, where we pool our research and chat about our own projects. This will be  our November meeting in the Nog Inn on the 8th Nov. 2012 at 8:00 pm. 

Feniton History Group 32nd Meeting

We had a very companionable evening. Chris Saunders very kindly loaned us an Oral Project DVD on the Ottery St. Mary Brickworks. The interviewee was Mr Jeff Woodley who was manager at the works until its closure. The Group found it very interesting, Mr Woodley had wonderful old photos, he detailed the machinery and showed the method of making Sand Faced Hand Made Bricks.
One interesting fact was that the bricks used to build the 1930s houses in the area of Burnthouse Lane in Exeter. They also made roof tiles, land drains and hanging tiles.
Thank you Chris for making this available to the Group.
Now to business, Geoff's suggestion for a visit to Fursdon sounds very interesting, but as we have a full program and the house closes at the end of August, we will plan this visit for June next year. This link will tell you more:     Fursdon House.
Jenny and George are working hard on the Power Point presentation of the Battle at Fenny Mead, they are adding some very realistic sound effects!!
We confirmed details of the Escot Talk, a raffle, tea, coffee and biscuits for our next meeting on 13th Sep. We will meet in the Church at 7:00, John Michael will need the screen and a extension lead.
The October meeting on the 11th will be with Chris Wakefield in the Church on Village boundaries, arrangements the same as above.
David suggested we hold a "Bring and Share" evening to show what members are working on and to offer help and advice where needed. This will be our November meeting, 8th Nov.
We were joined in the bar by a wonderful cat called Felix, he slept happily with us throughout the evening.

Hayridge Hundred

Feniton is in Hayridge Hundred.

Hayridge hundred was originally known as Silverton Hundred – can’t find when it changed or why it was called Hayridge.

A Hundred is subdivision of a English Shire first noted in the 10th century and survived as a unit of local government until the 19th century. The origin of the name is Anglo Saxon for an area comprising of around 100 geld hides (this was a basic Anglo Saxon land unit for taxation prurposes). The origin is probably Germanic meaning 100 warriors or households. One hundred geld hides approximated to about 12000 acres or 18.75 square miles. The hundreds varied in size and the makeup of the parishes in each hundred continually changed. Each hundred had its own court which met regularly every four weeks until the 13th century by which time local lords had taken them over and they gradually lost importance from the 16th century onwards. The court was made up of Tythingmen from each of the parishes or Tything groups in the hundred. They had responsibility for crimes committed by members and jurisdiction over pleas of debt and trespass. In northern counties the equivalent to a hundred was known as a Wapentake – from the Norse word for the same unit.

Notes and details of the freeholders and attendees at Hayridge Hundred courts for the 17th and 18th centuries are held in the DRO – some have been transcribed by the Friends of the Record Office and are online. [Geoff]

Feniton History Group 31st Meeting

It was good to meet up again after our beak last month.

The research and displays we staged for the Art Fund event in the village were very well received, this also means we have done some very useful property and family research for our archives. The total amount raised was well above expectation at £1,137.00.
I would like to thank the members for all their hard work in staging the event. The display depicting the Prayer Book Rebellion by Jenny is a real master piece.
During the last few months I made some notes I thought the Group would find of interest and these were discussed:
Look into the Enclosure act in relation to Feniton.
We would benefit from having copies or the fiche for the Land Tax Assessments for the village, to get them photo copied at the DRO would be very expensive at .25p per sheet, so I will enquire if we can buy the set of fiche, we do have a £25 donation from the Art Fund and £7 from the Railway CD sold at the DRO Open Day. I hope this will cover the cost.
The Parish Record Transcripts are well on the way to completion, we need permission of the Rector and Churchwardens to put them on the Internet, either on our Blog or on the Devon GENUKI website, the preferred option.
We discussed spelling and how important it is to keep an open mind when looking for place and surnames.
The Hayridge Hundred and the Peasant's Revolt Poll Tax of 1381 was another point raised, there are documents relating to this may be worth a look, if they are readable!!
We discussed the origins of the chapel at Fenny Bridges, the one intact by the old A30 was probably built  for the Wesleyan Centenary in 1839, the early chapel was thought to be in the garden of the Mill. The bodies buried at the chapel were reinterred in the churchyard in 1949.
In the Baptism Register in mentions the Salter family lived "In the corner", Geoff checked this out in the DRO and it is though this phrase was used to differentiate between the various Salter families there at the time, 1549 to 1625. Thanks Geoff.
Other topics,    "Hull" the name for the box the priest used to shelter in to take a burial in the graveyard on a wet day!
 Bones found on Woodbury Common though to be Cornish Rebels, the bones showed the men were very tall, perhaps due to good nutrition from the fish diet, then we talked about how we make assumptions on things when the full evidence is missing! 
Clerks comments in their Registers.
Origins of the name of Chelsea Farm, something to ask about.
Memories of flooding in the past. bought on no doubt by the current wet weather and floods in the area. I hope I have remembered everything! It was a very full evening.


An old picture postcard has been found showing the old part of Feniton village. In front of Court Barton and Thorn Cottage is a group of nine little boys posing with their hoops. A man stands with the boys at the entrance to Court Barton. The stamp, which would have given a clue to the date the card was sent, is missing. The card is addressed to Miss L Harris, C/O Mrs Sage at Kersbrooke, Budleigh Salterton, with this message:

Dear Lily, Just a PC to tell you that G Harris is ill again, had a fit Saturday night had only been in bed 2 minutes the Dr came out Sunday morning he says he cannot do anything for him. Me and Aunt Ellen were going to bike to Axminster Monday if this had not happened. Keep this card. Puzzle find Bert on it. Love to both from Mother xxx   Will write later.

With the help of parish registers, census returns and GRO lists it is surprising what this simple message can reveal.

Miss Lily Harris was living-in as an ‘assistant with dairy work’ with the Sage family on a farm at Kersbrook, Budleigh Salterton, in 1911 when she was 19 years old. From her baptism in 1892 in Feniton we find that her parents were Frederick and Emily Harris.

Lily’s mother Emily was from the Colyton area, one of seventeen children of farm worker Edwin Dare and his wife Anna. Emily and Fred had met when they both in service at Rull Farm, Cheriton, Payhembury. In the spring of 1892 they married and their first child Lily Maud arrived during that summer. (A romance in the farmyard?) Lily’s siblings were also baptised in Feniton church: Elsie in 1894, Daisy in 1895 while the family were living at Sherwood, and Ernest in 1899 when they had moved to Curscombe.

In 1901, when Lily was eight, she and her five year old sister Daisy were recorded staying with an Uncle and Aunt, James and Anna Salter, at Fenny Bridges. (Anna was Fred Harris’s sister) Their mother Emily had recently died and father Fred was living as a widower at Charlton, Feniton with his other children Elsie and Ernest, an elderly man Henry Tucker and his 20-year old grand-daughter Sarah Strawbridge. (Sarah seems to have been brought up by her Tucker grandparents at Cheriton). Later that year Fred and Sarah were married. They had a baby boy Albert, baptised in Feniton Church, in 1902.

By 1911 the family were living at Sweethams – Fred and Sarah with Ernest age 11, Albert age 9 and Sarah’s grandfather Henry Tucker, by now age 80. Sister Daisy was in service with the Pidsley family of auctioneers in Sidmouth

The ‘Bert’ mentioned on the postcard was very likely Albert, Lily’s young half- brother. The boys look about aged between six and 12 so it is probable that the picture was taken between 1908 and 1914. Bert may well have trundled his hoop down Green Lane to join his pals when the photographer persuaded them to pose. Could the man in the picture be the farm manager Walter Vallis who was living with the Horsford family at Court Barton in 1911? Rose Horsford, a widow, was then running the family farm. The Horsfords had been at Court Barton since the 1840s.

 So it was Mrs Sarah Harris who bought this postcard to send to her step-daughter Lily who was ‘living in’ at Kersbrook, Budleigh Salterton. ‘Keep this card’ she wrote, so it was probably newly published.

Sarah Harris had been baptised in Colyton Church in December 1880. Her parents were Frederick Strawbridge, a tin plate worker, and Sarah Ann Tucker, and they had been married in the church the previous August. Just twelve days after the baptism, baby Sarah’s mother was buried. By the next census in the spring of 1881 Fred, now a widower, was back living with his family in Colyton and his baby daughter Sarah Ann was with her grandparents Henry and Mary Tucker at Cheriton, Feniton. By late 1891 grandmother Mary had died and Grandfather Henry was left with his 11 year old grand-daughter to care for.

Sarah’s mother Sarah Ann Tucker had a younger sister Ellen who married a thatcher Frank Rowe and they settled in Payhembury. This is just up the road from Cheriton and Feniton, so she probably kept in touch with her niece Sarah, and could be the Aunt Ellen who was going to cycle with her to Axminster.

Sarah Harris’s father Fred married again and remained in Colyton. His wife Rose and daughters were working as Nottingham lace net menders in 1911.

Fred’s father Robert Harris, a farm labourer lived on as a widower at Sidbury into old age. He was the ‘G. (grandfather) Harris that Sarah described on the postcard as having a fit. The doctor ‘cannot do anything’ she wrote. Robert died in the early summer of 1913, which suggests when the card was written. So Sarah and Aunt Ellen could not ‘bike to Axminster Monday’. Were they just going for the ride? We shall never know! It would have been a long haul from Feniton and Payhembury, especially on the heavy bicycles of the day.

Sarah Ann Harris, who wrote a brief message on a card that has shed light on so much local history, died on 3rd May 1918 at Sweethams, aged just 37. Husband Fred was a ‘farm carter’. The death certificate gives the cause of death as ‘Cardiac disease, mitral regurgitation, for some years’, meaning that the patient had a faulty heart valve; one common cause in the days before antibiotics was rheumatic fever, a bacterial infection that damaged the heart. It is a wonder that Sarah had been fit enough to ride a bicycle with this condition. Also a cause of death was ‘acute gastric catarrh’ for 6 weeks. This was a form of gastritis, a nasty inflammation of the stomach lining, causing excessive vomiting and not being able to keep any food down: a truly horrible way to die. Present at the death was Lily Harris, step-daughter. Had Lily had to go home to nurse her step-mother?

Later that summer of 1918 Lily married Thomas Bastin, a mason’s labourer who lived with his family at South Farm Cottages, Kersbrooke. Perhaps the ‘love to both’ on the card included Lily’s intended’ Thomas Bastin. After Sarah’s death she was free to go back to Budleigh to marry her sweetheart. Perhaps she had been waiting a few years to marry. This is the kind of sacrifice that girls were often expected to make in those days.

Written and researched by Brenda Powell. 

Feniton History Group 30th Meeting

This meeting was dominated by arranging the Art Fund Event display. The research is going well, albeit rather confusing as the census and the Street Directories very rarely gave the property address! It seems that Court Barton and the adjoining house, Thorn Cottage, were part of each other at varying times.
An interesting point is the rear of Court Barton is over part of Thorn, and this is known as a flying freehold.
Brenda has researched one of  the boys in the postcard, shown below, Bert Harris, and his family.

The message on the reverse of the card

The meeting had a debate about the failures of the modern railways!!! The evening was rounded off with Alan reading the "Devonshire Alphabet" It was enjoyed by all. Thank you Alan.
Date of the next meeting in the Nog Inn  Thurs. 12th July.

Feniton History Group 29th Meeting

Feniton History Group held the 29th meeting at the Nog Inn on the 12th Apr. 2012

Sadly this turned out to be another business meeting!

We discussed the possibility of arranging some fund raisers with a talk  by JM Kennaway on Escot, a vintage film show in the village hall with footage taken by the Aclands of village life and to invite Chris Wakefield of Ottery Heritage to do a talk on parish boundaries.

We then put our thoughts on how to help with the Art Fund Event taking place  13/14 June in Court Baton and the Church. Jenny and George will work on the Fenny Bridges Battle. David is doing a piece on the Church, and anyone who can help  with knowledge of Court Barton, using the census and maps etc.

David is consolidating the work on the pew carvings, the layout of the church is misaligned and the screen is not an original made for the church.

Brenda, Frances and John kindly went to the school and spoke to Tina Casson's class on village history, it seems notes from the punishment book were a great hit!

We are invited to meet with Lady Dionne in the church to discuss the plans for the Art Fund on Thurs. 26th Apr. at 2:00 pm, followed by tea at Court Barton.

The next meeting will be in the Nog Inn 8pm on 10th May , Please bring along snippets and thoughts for discussion.

Feniton History Group 28th Meeting

Feniton History Group held the 28th meeting at the Nog Inn on the 8th Mar. 2012

Very pleased to see so many join us for a talk and slide show given by Philippe Planel from the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Phil explained to us how the ANOB project is using the work of Peter Orlando Hutchinson to survey a then and now picture of East Devon. 

Peter Orlando Hutchinson, born in Winchester in 1810, lived his adult life in East Devon, he was a man of many talents, a tractician, author and artist who documented and painted our area giving a wonderful record to compare with the shape of the landscape today.

This web link explains things better than my note taking in the darkened room !!

Phil explained that the tithe maps are a useful tool for land analysis, we have a useful set of maps for Feniton drawn up by Geoff, I will bring these to the next meeting.

The slides Phil showed explained the very early archaeology sites found around the area, some standing stones, which may have  been moved due to the need to grow crops, a flint ring burial site on East Hill and the work to date and clear vegetation to reveal the mounds. The changes brought with the land enclosures. The team have talked to the local villagers and farmers who would remember where the old sites were. There are opportunities for volunteers on the ground or transcribing in the Devon Record Office.

There is to be a conference on this work at the Norman Lockyer Observatory on 14th April 2012
Details available from this link:

This is the link to the Characterization maps that are the result of this project.

Thank you to Phil for giving us his time to talk to us and also to Brenda and Keith for the use of the projector screen.

Also we must thank Mike and Rosemarie of the Nog Inn for making the Lounge Bar (pool room) available to us.

The next meeting will be at Colesworthy on 15th March 2:30 pm to plan the DRO table.
The next Nog Inn meeting will be on 12th April at 8 pm. 

Feniton History Group 27th Meeting

Feniton History Group held the 27th meeting at the Nog Inn on the 9th Feb. 2012
We discussed the events we are involved with:
Invite to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum 29th Feb 2012.

The Nog Inn meeting on 8th Mar 2012.   Since the meeting I have been in touch with Philippe Panel and he will be coming to talk to us.

The DRO event 17th March. We will be taking a display board to  display the railway, War Memorial, and  the church. Jenny and Allan’s books will be on display, I will ask Rosemarie if we can loan her Scrapbook. My laptop will be there to show any files folk may ask about, and anything else the Group would like to put out.

David then told us about his research of the Church and the finding of a brick structure underground at the side of the wall with Feniton Court, intriguing as to its purpose, a vault, or a septic tank!!!  The brick size is smaller than the ones made in the village in 1599!!!

The low height of the door into the side porch was discussed, could be due to cost, or the fact folk were shorter in those days. David passed around his folder of notes and the idea of publishing it was mentioned.

David asked us to follow up on who Thomas Denys was, was he  a “Sir”, it turns out he was, and more about him can be found on the internet. Thank you Maggie for doing this.

In the Church there is a memorial to the Wright family of Curscombe, I have no knowledge of them, so this something we can work on. The Wright family still in the area at Talewater.

The last unidentified coat of arms on the screen behind the pulpit is that of the Acland Family, and not Clifford as first thought. We did not think to check the Aclands as they were a later family, coming to Feniton in 1925/6.

Next Alan entertained us with his dialect snippets, teacher asks boy in class, “ If you have 50 sheep in the field and one escapes, how many would there be left? Boy speaks up, “Well maister, there be none, if they be anthin like ower sheep once one goes them all goes”.

The use of the letter “H” was discussed, some drop them, others add them. All very interesting. Many thanks Alan.

St Andrew's Church Organ

Thought this set of photos showing the dismantling of the old organ may be of interest.

Had a email from a chap researching organs and he passed on this.


Many thanks to Mr Geoffrey Cox for permission to share this with you.

Feniton History Group 26th Meeting

This was a good get together to confirm arrangements for the year ahead.

It was decided that the East Devon AONB request for help in an Orchard Survey was far too detailed and too complicated for our small group to undertake.

The meeting  gave full support  to the possibility of a Craft  and Hobbies Weekend  in the Church, but  felt it was not in our remit to organize.
The Group will be attending the Devon Record Office Open Day on 17th March 2012. Brenda, Geoff, Maggie and myself will attend, taking down one of our display boards, with each of us bringing items of our own Feniton research to display. The farm history, the Station, the Nog Inn, the pew ends, the War MIs etc.

The details of the Arts Fund Event in June was also confirmed.

It was thought to try and arrange an evening in the Church with John-Michael Kennaway talking about Escot, a date will need to be fixed for this.

David mentioned that an Organ Concert will be held in the Church on 24 Feb 2012.

It was decided to adjourn the meetings in Honiton Museum until the opening for the new season.

The business having been dealt with Brenda told us about her research into the History of the Greyhound Hotel at Fenny Bridges, the naming coming from the badge worn by the King’s Messengers, dating back to the reign of Charles II. It is said that the Inn is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but I have not found this in the online editions!

A discussion of drawing up family trees in the 21st C ensued, and how difficult this would be with the modern family groups we have today. Also how some children, although born in a marriage was not accepted by the vicar, who baptised them as base born due to the widowed father marrying his dead wife’s sister. I gave an example of this in one my own families on the Isle of Wight, and I can confirm that folk who are born and bred on the Island are “Caulkheads”. In the same way as “Devonshire Dumplings” and “Hampshire Hogs”.

David told us about the book he is reading “A Devonshire Gentleman”, relating to the Carew family, one of whom married into the Feniton Kirkham family. 

The next meeting will be in the Nog Inn on Thurs. 9th Feb 2012.