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Monthly Meetings and Activities 2010/2011

April 20th
Julian Vayne - Outreach worker for North Devon Museums

Mr Vayne explained how Exbourne Local History Group might become involved with the work on the "explorenorthdevon" website. (Now no longer available) The website was created to draw together archives from all North Devon's Museums and to enable access to these resources for as many people as possible.
Many local groups have also added their own archives and information to the site, so that they too can be shared. These archives are in the form of: photographs, documents, census data as well as video and oral history. He also gave detailed advice on issues of copyright with regards to photographs and documents in the archive as well as oral history recordings.

May 18th
Research Reports
Oral History
 - Margaret Weeks
The working group had met with Dee Gant from the Broadwoodkelly Group. She offered a wide range of advice and tips for those involved in interviewing. It was planned that 6 interviews would be completed before the Heritage Open Day in September.
Houses and Buildings History - Sue Rose
Considerable time has been spent initially discovering what materials are available. A Box of Exbourne Information held at Okehampton Library has been photographed or copied. Further data is available at Okehampton Museum, including Trades Directories. There are also lists available there. of what information is held at the Devon Records Office in Exeter. That means there are many avenues to pursue. Geoff Hodgkinson also mentioned the 'Tattershall Papers' held at the Devon Records Office. It will be possible through these to trace the ownership for example of Court Barton and Buskin. Gaye Langham and Sue have visited the West Country Studies Library and studied the 1861 and 1901 censuses of Exbourne.

June 15th
'The Post Rounds of Exbourne' - David Weeks

The postmaster's salary was based on the amount of mail and number of rounds form the post office. In 1967/8 there were 5 rounds delivering mail from Exbourne Post Office. Each round was timed as a walking round.
In those days there was huge a mount of mail and not just letters. This was especially true at Christmas. There was a 'parcel relief person to help out at Christmas. David did that, taking 4 days off school in 1958!
After 1967/8, 3 rounds were taken away in a motorisation programme.In 1971 the whole service became motorised from Okehampton and Margaret lost her job and David moved in to Okehampton.
That is a little piece of Exbourne history which all present found fascinating. David answered a number of questions. He gave details of postmen past as well as the uniforms they wore at that time. There were also many anecdotes recounted about adventures while delivering the post.
Oral History - Margaret Weeks
Good progress was made with interviews. Bill Clark, Kath Neno, Cyril Morris and Beatrice Sage have already been completed. Tony Beard has announced the news about the Exbourne Oral History project and appealed for further information.
Houses and Buildings History - Sue Rose
Variations in house names have made the research task more difficult. Tumbles - appears to have been a butcher's for at least 100 years The Downs - was a wheelwright's, belonging to the Ward family from early 19th C Ruddle House was a grocer's and baker's shop run by the Wards - near to the Lethbridge Arms.
The Bible Chapel - Geoff Hodgkinson has discovered much information about it. Exbourne Church was for a number of years Holy Trinity Church until research was done during the 19th Century, showing it had been called St Mary's, so it reverted to this former name.

July 20th Research Project Updates
Oral History - Margaret Weeks
The recordings are going as planned with future interviews planned with Ralph Glanville, Mike Brend and Basil Madge.
Houses and Buildings History - Sue Rose
Geoff Hodgkinson is studying the Bible Christian Chapel, which was built by a splinter group from the Wesleyan Methodists - the Bible Christian group. Records and resources to be further studied are held at Shebbear College as well as the Christian Bretheren Museum at John Rylands Library in Manchester.
Geoff has also had a guided tour of Guy's Bakery from Brian Bottomley. There are lots of old artefacts including a very big steam oven, manufactured by the Bristol Steam Oven Company Ltd.
Sue Rose is looking in detail at:
Post Office venues in Exbourne
Tumbles - for which she has names of occupants back to 1793
The Downs - which was a various times a wheelwright's and blacksmith's business
Gaye Langham has an interest in wells in the village. She has researched Holmeswell and Victoria Cottage. The Upper Village used to get water from Blenheim Cottage, which had to be paid for. Later on, the current bus shelter used to be the pump house for the Upper Village water supply.
Nick Kenealy is also studying the old school logbooks with a view to a future talk for the group. The logbooks date from the opening of the school.
John Bromilow - The Parish Church
John has now established the details of the name-change timing of the Parish church were given and the source information about gravestones there: The work of research will continue for some time, but an interim display will be created for the Heritage Day.

Sept 11th English Heritage Open Day
The Group organised an exhibition in conjunction with English Heritage Open Day on Saturday 11th September.
The exhibition was opened by the Mayor and Mayoress of West Devon Borough Council: Cllr and Mrs. John Hockridge.
The displays included the results of the research into the work of the Buildings Research Group as well as new photographs and artefacts of:
Exbourne Primary School,
Village Carnivals,
Exbourne People and Places,
The Red Lion,
The Bible Christian Chapel,
The Parish Church.
About 140 people attended the event, from as far afield as Appledore and Barnstaple. Several former residents returned to get a reminder of the past. During the afternoon a walking tour of the village took place when, either Gaye, Sue or Nick explained various places and points of interest.

October 19th
During this month's meeting Margaret Weeks reported further progress with the Oral History work. She has recorded an interview with June Catlin.
There is also a recording of Dave Weeks giving a talk to pupils at the primary School about his own school days there.
It has been decided to publish a booklet containing all the research on display at the English Heritage Open Day event.
The Group is lucky to have among its members Geoff Hodgkinson who has wide IT experience and skills. He brought along a mock-up and a colour cover. He explained that all the files that were exhibited on the day will be included and also a collage of photos, which will form part of the cover.
Research Topics for the coming year were agreed:
Graveyard and War Memorial - John and Gilly Bromilow
Manor House, Church House/Poor House, Census Returns and Wells - Sue Rose and Gaye Langham
Field Names - Margaret Weeks
Oral History - Margaret and Sally Kenealy
Sir Roper Lethbridge - Geoff Hodgkinson assisted by Nick Kenealy
Exbourne Primary School - Nick Kenealy
Sue Rose will also continue transcribing census information from Exbourne on to computer to make it easily searchable for specific family names.

November 16th
Early Memories of Church and Chapel - Margaret and David Weeks.

Margaret and David gave a very interesting, informative and amusing talk on their early memories of Church and Chapel, in Exbourne.

Following this came great news about The Exbourne Booklet.
Geoff Hodgkinson reported that the format for the Research Booklet was complete and he was just awaiting 2 or 3 photos to add. Then the booklet would be going to print. Several villagers suggested minor corrections to the contents.
Grateful thanks was expressed to Geoff, for all his tremendous hard work to make the booklet so impressive.


December 7th
Festive Meeting
The meeting began with the eagerly anticipated launch of the Group's research booklet - 'English Heritage Open Day - Proceedings' Volume 1. James Bird was present from The Okehampton Times to photograph the occasion for the newspaper report. Everyone was there to celebrate a really special day for the Exbourne Local History Group. A report was also planned for the North Devon Journal. Jane Stewart took photographs for this, as no reporter could attend.
The booklet is a tremendous achievement and great credit is due to all the researchers and to Geoff Hodgkinson for combining all the information from the English Heritage Day into such a superb publication.
Featuring a full colour cover section the Proceedings include material based on old buildings and the trades carried out from them during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Trades such as bread-making, running the many (at different times) post offices, cobblers, shoemakers, drapers and wheelwrights are covered in detail, together with the names and histories of the people who carried them out.
Included is the story of how the New Inn, once located in Fore Street was renamed in honour of a newly arrived Lord of the Manor in 1898. The Lethbridge Arms, named after Sir Roper Lethbridge, former Civil Servant in India and later an MP and Deputy Lieutenant of Devon, mysteriously burned down in 1930 and was replaced by the current Methodist Church. Another former religious building, the Bible Christian Chapel in High Street, is also covered in detail.
The launch was followed by:
An entertaining and thought provoking Devon Dialect Reading by Margaret Weeks followed by a 'Who's that baby?' competition which was organized by Mike Luxton, the winner being Jane Stewart.
A Bring and Share Supper, with tea, coffee and mulled wine, was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone and the evening ended with carol singing accompanied on the piano by Maureen Bayfield.

January 18th 
From Farm Worker's Son to Mayor - Dennis Bater

The guest speaker, Dennis Bater, gave an entertaining and interesting talk about his life, based on his book of the same title.
From his early life spent near Iddesleigh, through times in Monkokehampton and Hatherleigh, he gave us a fascinating insight into his life and times, including growing up close to RAF Winkleigh and his time as Hatherleigh Mayor.

February 22nd
Sir Roper Lethbridge - Geoff Hodgkinson Ben Winter and Nick Kenealy
Geoff Hodgkinson, Ben Winter and Nick Kenealy gave a very interesting and informative talk on Sir Roper Lethbridge, former Lord of the Manor of Exbourne, who spent the latter part of his life living at The Manor House in the village.

March 15th
The History of Devon Buildings - Paul Rendell ('Dartmoor Paul')
Paul is the editor of Dartmoor News. He is also a committee member of the Devonshire Association and a Conservation Officer. He also holds a degree in Local History.
He gave and interesting and informative talk illustrated with a slide show about houses from the earliest times on Dartmoor - Iron Age farms currently on Dartmoor, including some sadly no longer in existence. He also showed pictures of buildings reflecting local industries -lime kilns, peat works, a pottery, stables, engine houses of mines for tin and copper, local tramways and railways. There were 32 railway stations in and around Dartmoor, but now only three. He also mentioned that in 1850s there were 21 pubs in Okehampton, - it was safer to drink beer than the polluted water!