Edition 135 - December 2011

Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook


Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
'Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Sing the ancient Christmas carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing Yule before use,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I sing of mirth and pleasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the Old Year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the New, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Singing gaily all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Trev believes the words and music for Deck the Halls was the work of Thomas Oliphant [1799-1873] and he is right. Looking on the internet, it says that it is a traditional Yuletide and New Year carol and the 'fa la la' refrains were probably played on the harp. It is Welsh in origin dating back to the Sixteenth Century. In the Eighteenth Century Mozart used the tune for a violin and piano duet and Haydn in the song 'New Year's Night'.

Originally, carols were dances and not songs and the connection with dancing is made in the English lyrics by the phrase "follow me in merry measure" as "measure" is a synonym for dance. Charles Wood arranged a version, the words from Talhaiam, translated by T. Oliphant. Oliphant died in 1873 and the first English version of 1881 is attributed to him.


Artwork: Judie Weedon


December and Christmas is only a few weeks away ... time to finish all the preparations - cakes, puddings, cards and presents. Why, if you are like me, do we always leave it to the last minute? Some resourceful folk will be out in the January sales preparing for next year!

We extend a warm welcome to all recent newcomers and hope that you will be very happy here in the village. And our best wishes go to everyone who is not feeling at their best right now and hope you'll be feeling better soon.

Once again the Christmas messages sent via the Newsletter will boost the funds of both the Manor Hall and the Newsletter - thank you. A very big thank you, too, to Debbie whose borders enhance the messages, delightful colourful coves complement Trev's Christmas songs and lovely mermaid pictures illustrate Tony's fictional tale.

There are lots of festive events planned for the coming weeks, so make a note of them on your calendars and enjoy!

Thinking beyond Christmas to 2012 - the year of our Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics - the next Newsletter will be February and items for that issue will be needed as soon as possible and by 16th January at the latest please.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed not only to this issue but throughout the last year and to all readers for your continued support.

My best wishes to you all and your families for a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Judie - Ed


Artwork: David Duncan


It was a joy to welcome so many people into church for the Harvest Festival. The service was led by Rev. Yvonne with 65 adults and 25 children present, including children from the Primary School and their parents. The choir sang John Rutter's arrangement of 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' and the school entertained us with a harvest calypso. The church was beautifully decorated and our thanks go to the arrangers and those who brought in produce and delicious jam.

After Evensong on the Wednesday, over 30 of us went over to the Manor Hall to find a tempting buffet waiting. Thank you once again to Doreen Prater who co-ordinated everything and to the many good cooks and helpers.

The School had held their Harvest Service in the afternoon and their gifts were brought over ready for the auction. The fresh produce was soon sold by the ringers and £72 was raised very quickly. In total, £120 has been sent to WaterAid. A thank you letter has been received saying our donation will be sent to Ethiopia to help provide safe water to communities there. It was decided to donate the large quantity of canned goods to the Freedom Centre in Barnstaple. This haven provides hot meals for the homeless and needy.

Two further special services have taken place. Firstly the Candle Service on Sunday afternoon 30th October to remember loved ones. This moving service was led by Rev. Chris Steed and everyone present went up to light a candle which was placed on the altar. Then Remembrance

Sunday was commemorated on the 13th November, the bell ringers ringing a muffled peal. This well-attended service was led by the Rev. George Billington and we were joined by members of the Parish Council. Wreaths were laid at the War Memorial by the Chairman and Marion Carter on behalf of St. Peter's. The names of the Fallen were read out and the Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Ivan Clarke. Afterwards we returned to our pews for the church service during which the village choir sang the emotive 'Bring Him Home', The lesson was read by Councillor Lorna Bowden. The collection of £177 will go to the Royal British Legion.

A special mention, on the Friday before the school held their own service in church, placing poems they had written by the main altar. These were read by many members of the congregation on the Sunday.

Christmas Services will be:

  • Wednesday, 21st December 6.30 p.m. Carol Service with Choir and School
  • Christmas Eve 9.30 p.m. First Communion of Christmas
  • Christmas Day 11.00 a.m. Family Communion

Collections from the Carol Service and on Christmas Eve will be donated to the Children's Hospice South West. The church will be decorated in time for the carol service and any donations towards the cost of flowers should be given to Sue Neale [Tel: 883893].

In the new year the time of services will remain at 11.00 a.m. but the pattern may be changed with Communion on the 2nd and 4th Sundays in the month, a Family Service on the 1st Sunday and a Village Service or Songs of Praise on the 3rd Sunday. On Sunday 29th January, the Group Service for North Devon Coast Team will be held in Berrynarbor. Do come along and fill the church!

There will be no Friendship Lunch at The Globe in December and the date for January has yet to be decided.

Mary Tucker

Confirmation - If anyone has yet to be confirmed who would like to, please note that in January we shall be collecting names of candidates. Names to Rev Chris please in preparation for a confirmation course to start soon for a Confirmation Service with Bishop Bob on 1st April 2012.

Pastoral Care Team - As of the beginning of January, pastoral care support will be offered in our communities. The purpose is to offer a listening ear and support to those in difficulty and need someone to talk to. It could be anxiety, loneliness or some form of loss - bereavement, relationship breakdown or unemployment that is troubling them. A group of people from our parishes have been trained to listen and are prepared to offer up to six weeks of confidential support. In the first instance contact our Co-ordinator, Carolyn Gold, on 01598 753921, who is the point of contact.

Chris Steed [883203]





It was with sadness we learnt, although she had been suffering from Parkinson's for some years and it was perhaps a happy release, that Joan had passed away peacefully on the 2nd October, only just over a year since her husband, Maurice, had died. Her funeral took place on her 90th birthday.

Joan was born in Milltown, Muddiford - a true Devon born lass. She married Maurice in 1946 at Marwood Church and they moved to Brendon where they farmed until 1958 before moving to Berrynarbor and Sloley Farm. Joan was a true farmer's wife, keeping the farm running! She enjoyed riding right up until she was 70 and painting, particularly scenes of Exmoor, was a favourite hobby.

When Maurice and Joan retired from farming, they moved into Little Oaklands, which Maurice had built and where they continued to enjoy life in the village.

A mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother, Joan will be sadly missed by her daughters Margaret and Angela and all her family and friends and our thoughts are with them at this time of sorrow.

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti [1830-1894]


Always interested and supportive of our Newsletter, it was sad to learn that Daphne had passed away suddenly but peacefully on the 7th October and our thoughts are with her family at this time. As Rev. Chris Steed said at her funeral, we are all unique, and Daphne was no exception!

A Combe Martin lass through and through, Berrynarbor came a close second for Daphne as her mother, Evelyn [nee Ley] was born here at Goosewell, later moving to Orchard House and attending our school. Evelyn's marriage to Bill Challacombe took place at St. Peter's in 1935.

After leaving school, Daphne's secretarial and administrative skills were much appreciated first at Combe Martin Secondary School and then when the local schools amalgamated, at Ilfracombe School and Community College [now Ilfracombe Arts College] where she stayed until her retirement.

Passionate about all things Combe Martin, she was a founder member and helped in the setting up of the Combe Martin Museum and for many years was on the Committee of the Combe Martin Historical Society.

Her dogs were the love of her life, closely followed by her interest in and support of Manchester United and the adventures of Rupert and his Nutwood friends.

Daphne will be sadly missed by her family and many friends and neighbours.


'A tired heart is now at peace'

We were all shocked to learn that Laurel had passed away suddenly on the 4th November, shortly after visiting the village and having suffered from ill health for some time. His funeral took place at St. Peter's on the 11th November, attended by many of his friends from the village.

A loving and much loved husband, father and grandfather, Laurel will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with Celia and all the family at this time of sorrow.


Betty and her husband Bernard, who died in September 2000, moved to Goosewell in 1986, having spent many years at Lee where Bernard managed the Lee Bay Hotel. They both had a long and very happy association with Arlington Court, working and volunteering there for well over twenty years.

When Bernard died, Betty moved to North Yorkshire to be nearer her son Bernie, but has kept in touch as a reader of our Newsletter.

It was, therefore, with sadness that we heard she had passed away and our thoughts are with Bernie and his family and her friends at Robin Hood's Bay and her family and many friends here in Ilfracombe and North Devon.

Betty's funeral will take place on the 2nd December, but there will be a short service in the Chapel at Ilfracombe Cemetery on the 19th December at 11 o'clock



Solution in Article 29.



Not being over fond of the traditional turkey, we thought this year we'd support the local farmers and treat ourselves to a prime cut of Devon Ruby Red beef.

I thought you might be interested in the following extract from 'A History of North Devon' written by the Rev. Richard Polwhele in 1797.

  • "Whether the famous breed of cattle in the North of Devon are indigenous or not, is not easy to determine. They are in many respects superior to any other breed in the kingdom, and those around South Molton, North Molton and Barnstaple excel most other in the North of Devon. These are the finest bullocks in Smithfield markets. They are a very healthy breed and easily fed. They are fleshy with small bones and they bear the best weight on the most faleable parts. They are cherry colour or bright red.
  • "Farmers chuse to breed only one colour and are as particular in the points of a bullock as those of a horse. A small defect or disproportionate horn will depreciate a bullock twenty shillings.
  • "Here breeding bullocks are the farmers chief dependence, which they generally part with at about 4 yrs old, about half fat, when the Somerset graziers come down and buy them, work them for two years or three, then fat, drive them to London.
  • "Numbers of bulls are bought at a high price and sent even to Jamaica. A heifer was bought lately for 30 guineas."

Ivan and Bill Huxtable's Red North Devons.

Sterridge Meadow Bountice Lane

Ivan and Bill Huxtable were the third generation to breed Red Devons at Woolscott, following their father Jimmy and grandfather Alfred. Bill says the Woolscott herd would be housed during the winter and fed home grown swedes, rolled barley and hay with a supplement of essential minerals. In the spring they were turned out to 'green pastures' in the Sterridge water meadows. The bullocks were sold at 2-21/2 years and the heifers at 12 months at Hatherly Market.

Sadly it is difficult to find a Devon bullock in a field in the Parish today.

Lorna and Bill

The photographs show some of the Woolscott herd in Venture Meadow, so named in the Estate Sale of the 1920's. I love the use of natural resources in the unique gate post.

These meadows, hedged with stone walls from Woolscott Quarry are a feature of the Sterridge Valley from Harpers Mill to Barn Cottage. Sadly, from neglect, they are disappearing in places. Bill says the meadows were rich in nature's herbs and were excellent for fattening bullocks.




The Gardens and Tea Room are now closed and will fully reopen on the 1st March 2012. From 1st January, annual Season Tickets will cost £25.00. Still exceptional value, after all you can visit monthly, even weekly, to see the changes in the Garden! However, if you are looking for that unusual Christmas gift, the current £22.50 is a snip!

Snowdrop and Hellebore Days will be held on the 18th & 19th, and 25th & 26th February, 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. To buy season tickets or for more information about the Gardens, please ring Patricia on [01271] 34252l8.

Breaking News: Work starts shortly on our long-awaited car and coach park - ready for 2012!!


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


Do you think Christmas is all it's cracked up to be? It may be that if you are over a certain age, nostalgia for the ghost of Christmas past brings a rush of pleasant memories but there is little cheer at the moment. Having young children around you as parents or grandparents or having a jolly good nosh is great fun and lights up our lives of course. For many people sadly, Christmas brings past or present experiences of family rifts, loneliness or the passing of someone we loved which will drain the colour from the way we see tree and tinsel. For me, although busy, there is still something special about Christmas Day and what goes with it.

Plus there is a message at the heart of Christmas we can so easily forget - often because we think we have heard it all before and familiarity brings not so much contempt as indifference. But the explosive impact of God becoming a fully paid up member of the human race and dying in our place has lost none of its ancient power for those who open themselves profoundly to it.

As I write, the world is aflame. The financial system teeters on the brink of meltdown; there are convulsions in the Middle East and demonstrations and protests in the West about greed, pensions and spending cuts. Unemployment is rising; a full throttle banking crisis is a distinct possibility and we are sliding into what they call 'moral hazard'; that there are incentives for success amongst financial institutions but no penalties for failure. Once again, judgements may have to be made about whether banks are too big to fail. There is not much hope to go round.

Against that gloomy background, consider the Christ-child, the focus of God's mission to save the world from itself. If there is anything to this Christmas message it is that here is God inserting himself into the folds of history, not as a mighty warrior righting all the wrongs, but as a baby. This intervention was too small to fail. Delicate and vulnerable though it was, what this baby came to bring could not be overcome. I thought of that because as the whole world knows, I became a grandpa this year for the first time. A tiny baby, cradled with love and fragility - how can this be any kind of answer to what is going wrong with the world. But babies grow - that's what they do! To hear some talk about Christmas and to take a glance at cards and carols, you could be forgiven for thinking that Jesus remained as a baby! Think again: the babe of Bethlehem became the man of Calvary!

So amidst all that seems a denial of hope in a world aflame, why not pop to church this Christmas, catch up with carols and special services that are being arranged? As we soak up the atmosphere though, let's not allow the cosy familiarity to deny us a chance to respond to the living God who came to relieve the heavy weights we carry inside by taking them on himself.

I wish you a warm glowing Christmas and a new year full of hope.

Rev. Chris




Genetic Fingerprinting

Genetic fingerprinting was first discovered at Leicester University in 1985.

Leicestershire Constabulary was the first police force in the world to use genetic fingerprinting for criminal detection in the case of Colin Pitchfork who appeared at Leicester Crown court in 1987, charged with the murder of two school-girls. Pitchfork became the first murderer in the world to be convicted on the evidence of genetic fingerprinting.

Christmas Stockings

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. G.K. Chesterton once said - Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?

A Great Thinker and Inventor

'Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work' -

Thomas Edison

A thought to ponder? Happy Christmas!

Royal Retreat

The Isle of Wight, almost an England in miniature, has for a long time been a retreat for troubled royals trying to get away from their cares and problems on the mainland. In the 11th century, Odo, half-brother to William the Conqueror, having been accused of treasonable acts, sought sanctuary at Carisbrooke Castle, but was caught and arrested by William himself.

In 1647, Charles I fled to the Isle of Wight hoping that the Governor, Colonel Robert ammond, wouldHammond, would assist him in getting away to France. Instead, Hammond imprisoned the King in Carisbrooke Castle. Charles tried to escape by climbing out of a window and sliding down a rope, but was caught after becoming wedged in the window bars. He was kept there until 1648 when he was taken away to await his execution at Whitehall on 30th January 1649.

Charles I's daughter, Princess Elizabeth, born in 1635, was sent to Carrisbrooke Castle by Parliament after her father's execution. She died there, of a fever, aged just 14, and was buried by the altar in the church at Newport, where her grave was marked by a simple ES. In 1865, Queen Victoria restored the grave from obscurity and erected a monument in her ancestor's memory.

Queen Victoria herself retired to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight after the death of Prince Albert and spent much of her time there. She died at Osborne House in 1901.




He Went Too Fast

On 28th January 1896, Walter Arnold of East Peckham, near Tonbridge, Kent, became the first motorist ever to be convicted of speeding. On 20th January, he was spotted by the local police constable doing 8 m.p.h. in a built-up area of Paddock Wood, where the speed limit was 2 m.p.h. The police constable, who was having his dinner at the time, selflessly abandoned his pork chop, grabbed his helmet, mounted his bicycle and gave chase. He eventually managed to overtake and flag down the felon after a breathless pursuit of some 5 miles.

Arnold appeared before magistrates at Tonbridge Police Court and was charged one shilling plus costs for the outrage. Walter Arnold, however, was undeterred and he went on to become the first man in Britain to manufacture petrol-driven motor cars. The Arnold Motor Carriage Company of East Peckham, Kent, salesmen for Benz cars since 1894, manufactured an Arnold motor, based on the Benz design, but with many innovations, in August 1896, the first petrol-driven car ever manufactured for sale in England. Called an Adam, it was also the first car in the world to have an electric self-starter.




I am about to get on the case again regarding poor digital TV reception. On my return from a trip abroad during September and October, a couple of people in the village informed me of the poor reception suffered during my absence.

In the April newsletter this year I gave an account of the situation to that date and published the letter from Peter Madry, Head of Television Technical Regulation, which contained a lot of explanation and advice and contact numbers.  For example the BBC's Television and Radio Investigation Service can be contacted on 03700 100 123 or email interferencecomplaints@bbc.co.uk.

I have found that better progress can be made in fighting a cause if it is done as a community rather than as individuals, but for this I need information. So, if you have a problem with television reception it is essential that you keep a record of date, time, duration and description of the event and which TV channels were affected, plus your name and address. Also which Freeview channels you can't receive. Keep records for the next 2 months, then pass them to me at Whitecote, 33, Pitt Hill, Berrynarbor or email t.massey44@btinternet.com My telephone number is 01271 882445. This is the evidence we need to prove our case. 

Meanwhile I'll start nagging the relative authorities again and contact neighbouring villages so we can unite further if necessary. When I have the evidence and facts from you I can go further and even contact our MP. So if you are affected by this matter, please let me know and help me do something about it.

 Jill Massey   




Not many more days to Christmas. As a friend said to me recently, "It's hardly worth putting the decorations back up in the loft these days!"

But stay! Our Shop has loads of ideas for Christmas, and soon there will be order forms for meat, fruit and vegetables, milk and cream, cakes and puddings [if you've not made your own!]. In other words, all things to take the stress out of the celebrations and leave you time to enjoy the fun.

The Post Office has a bumper time in December. If you wanted to use International Surface Mail, you're too late! But there's still time for International Airmail.

International Airmail

  • Monday5th December: Australia and New Zealand; Far East; South & Central America & Caribbean, Africa and Middle East
  • Friday 9th December: USA and Canada; Eastern Europe

For the UK

  • Monday 12th December: Western Europe
  • Wednesday 14th December: Standard parcels
  • Saturday 17th December: Second class post
  • Tuesday 20th December: First class post

If you've not sent mail by then, there are parcel force and special delivery dates - pick up the leaflet 'Delivering more' from the post office counter. For British Forces last dates, please visit www.bfpo.mod.uk.

As in past years, our Primary School pupils are entering a competition to produce a picture of 'Our Shop at Christmas' in paints, drawings or collage, to be judged again by Peter Rothwell. Hopefully there will be a photo in the North Devon Journal, and the prize winners' pictures displayed in our Shop, so do come and see them.

For Christmas and New Year opening times, please check in the shop. There are two magnificent hampers to be raffled before Christmas, so get your tickets now - a £1 each.

Anita and Deb have done a splendid job again this year, providing us with loads of interesting ways to spend money and we thank them very heartily. Thanks are also due to you, our customers, for supporting the shop. Without you, the village would be a poorer place.

We wish you all a Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year!

PP of DC



On 17th September we truly had the most memorable wedding day. We were so happy to be surrounded by all our family and friends and it made it even more special to get married in Berrynarbor, a place and community for which we have great affection. We have been overwhelmed by the support and kindness we received and thank you to all our Berrynarbor and Sterridge Valley friends for playing an important part in the day.

With wonderful memories of the wedding and celebrations, we left one beautiful place and set off for another. We started our honeymoon in a car heavily decorated with balloons, tin cans and a 'Just Married' sign, by travelling to Heathrow. After a ten hour flight, a half an hour sea plane trip and then a short boat trip, we were on a beautiful tropical island in the Maldives on the equator! We stayed in a water villa for six nights and spent our time relaxing on white coral beaches, snorkelling and diving. We saw crabs, bats, dolphins, sting rays, manta rays, lizards, turtles, octopus, clams and many pretty, colourful fish. We could quite easily stayed there longer but we had more adventures to come after a short hop across the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka.

We had hoped to see some elephants in the wild and our dream came true when we visited Minneriya Park where over 100 elephants had migrated down from the north to drink water from a centuries old tank [their name for reservoir]. We were spoilt at our luxurious hotels and our knowledgeable driver took us through spectacular scenery to visit the island's main attractions. We stopped at a spice garden and a tea plantation and saw various ruins, which helped to learn some of Sri Lanka's rich and varied history. We arranged an elephant ride, complete with getting soaked by it in the river, an experience that we'll always remember! En route there were plenty of photo opportunities and we snapped kingfishers, monkeys and temples. This was all thirsty work so the road side coconut and fruit stalls were very convenient. When purchasing a king coconut, the stall holder would open it with a few skilled swipes of a machete allowing us to drink the milk through bamboo straws.

Another highlight of the trip was a morning at Pinnawala elephant orphanage where we fed a baby elephant milk from a bottle and watched the elephants take a bath in the river.

All too soon it was time to come home, but the wedding and honeymoon will stay with us as wonderful lifetime memories.

Karen [nee Sayer] and Nick Hawke

Congratulations Karen and Nick on your marriage, we send our best wishes for your future health and happiness together and thank you for sharing your wonderful wedding and honeymoon memories.



Hope Bourne
[Movers and Shakers, August 2011]

In her article, Pam says that 'it must take a lot of moving and shaking to have one's obituary in the Daily Telegraph', but our Local Walker tells us that she was also included in Radio 4's obituary programme, which only features 4 or 5 lives each week, drawn from all over the world.

The North Devon Journal reported at the end of September that Hope had left a legacy of £28,000 to her beloved Exmoor. She was once an executive member of the Exmoor Society who say that the surprise legacy will be used to promote and protect Exmoor. They have recently published, Jael, a manuscript novel, the only one Hope wrote.

Lower Rowes - Of This and That ...
[October 2011]

The Rowe family were long settled in BerryNarbor from the time Church Records began in the 1540's. I presume they gave their name to the farm. John Willis was farming here about 1830-60. He was followed by Joseph Bowden and his wife Mary, nee Richards, from Moules Farm. They were Michael's great grandparents. William Henry Huxtable must have followed Joseph.

The 1841 Census records William Henry Huxtable aged one year, the son of Maria and William Huxtable of Berry Down - master carpenter.

Four of Joseph's sons went on to farm - William at South Lee, Samuel at Ruggaton, James at Ettiford and later Higher Rowes [sometimes known as Commons] and Joseph at Dudlands. Samuel, James and Joseph retired in the 1920's and built the properties under Rock Hill, i.e. Rockton, Wood Park and Glamis [in honour of the Queen Mother], now The Retreat.

[Would they, or Alice, recognise it now?!]

Joseph Bowden senior was born at Court Barton [Home Barton], so named because it was the home farm to The Old Court = BerryNarbor Manor. The land included the whole west side of Barton Lane down to the churchyard and the Lower Birdswell meadows down to the Mill land. Joseph's parents were John and Sarah Bowden. John's parents were Edward and Tamasin Bowden, married 1702.

The Bowden family have been farming in Berrynarbor since Church Records began. Many were Parish Clerks. Some took the name Clerk as their surname, e.g. Nichols Clerk alias Bowden. The earliest record I have found is Walter and Thomas Bodyn in the 12th Century at Upcott on our Parish boundary with Bittadon.

Lorna - for Roslyn

Berrynarbor's Shoreline
[October 2011]

In her article, Yvonne mentions her friend Jim to whom she had sent a copy of the Newsletter. So it was lovely to hear from Jim himself who writes:

There is something I should love to add to Yvonne's lovely piece on the Berrynarbor Shoreline which is that I was there with the new love of my life, Audrey. We had met late in life, in our late 40's, and were really looking forward to a special holiday far from the madness that was London at that time.

Having driven down after the London bombings, the very first thing we saw from the beach were the dolphins. We were then treated to kestrels, buzzards, peregrine falcons, stunning views of Little Hangman from Yvonne's garden, glorious sunrises and then on the 21st July, the most stunning sunset which we sat and watched while sipping a very nice glass of chilled white wine. I just couldn't help myself, I dropped on one knee and proposed! Thankfully she was kind enough to accept and we have had a wonderful life together.

So, Berrynarbor and Yvonne have played a major life changing role in our lives and we shall never forget that fabulous two weeks spent at Rope's End. We shall also never forget that we made friends with one of the nicest people one could ever wish to meet. Thank you Yvonne!

Yvonne must be unique in that there cannot be too many people who have had relative strangers propose marriage in their garden!

The photograph of the sunset still hangs on our wall for all to see.

Jim [Rutter]


Sheep in the Sterridge Valley
[April 2011]

The Photograph of the flock of sheep being driven up the Sterridge Valley shows Lyster Bowden and his sister Marjory [Hobbs]. Lyster was James Bowden's son and he farmed at Sloley and Higher Rowes. The photo was probably taken during the War, 1939-45. As Marjory's husband George was serving in the Army, she worked with her brother on the farms

Had the flock been 5 x larger, it would have been Denzil Rice bringing them home to Stowford from winter grazing at the golf course. They always rode ponies.

Farmer Fenbury
[October 2011]

Tony Beauclerk's stories, often set in Berrynarbor and roundabout, should be taken with a pinch of salt! The characters are usually fictional but some of the events may have actually happened!

The mention of spells and strange happenings brought a family story to mind for Lorna. In her Berry Capers [June 2009], Marlene mentions a Tilly Delbridge. Lorna tells us that Tilly lived at Rectory Cottage when her grandfather was a young man. She was gifted with healing skills and people would go to her with their ailments. Whether she was 'hands on' is not known, but she did supply homemade herbal balms and medicines.

Lorna Bowden

Alice and Len
[August 2011]

In the August issue we said a sad farewell to Alice. This photograph of her wedding to Len at Combe Martin church in 1948 shows the happy couple with Best Man Bob Richards and bridesmaid Doreen Spear [left], Len's sister. But who is the other bridesmaid?


Lorna Bowden




The long awaited heat wave arrived at the end of September when the temperature soared to 25 Deg C on the 29th, which made it one of the warmest days of the year although it was not unusual for the month. The lowest temperature was 7.8 Deg C. It was a windy month with strong winds or gale warnings on many days and we recorded a maximum wind gust of 32 knots on the 12th. The total rain for the month was 112 mm [41/2"] which made it one of our wettest Septembers; correspondingly, the sunshine hours of 108.19 were down on the average.

We enjoyed a mixed bag of weather in October starting with the continuation of the heat wave with a maximum temperature for the month of 25.5 Deg C on the 1st, which was the second highest temperature for the year behind 26.9 Deg C in June. On the 3rd the weather broke in the middle of the day and a period of damp, drizzly weather set in until the middle of the month when the temperature dropped away with overnight lows in single figures. The minimum temperature was 4.1 Deg C at 0330 on the 29th. The total rain for the month was 119mm [4 3/4"], on the low side for the month. We were fortunate on the 29th when there was flooding in Cornwall that we only had 8mm [5/16"] but on the 31st it started to rain about 7.00 p.m. and in two hours we recorded 18mm [3/4"]. The strongest gust of wind was 28 knots here in the Valley on the 17th. The sunshine hours of 66.94 were among the highest that had been recorded for an October. So far we haven't heard of any warnings of imminent severe weather - we'll just keep our fingers crossed!

Happy Christmas to you all. Will it be a white one?

Simon and Sue



The Men's Institute held their Annual Presentation Dinner at The Globe at the end of October - an event enjoyed by everyone present. Special thanks to the Globe management and staff. The Chairman, Tony Summers, presented prizes to the following Snooker players:

WinnerRunner Up
Handicap SinglesKevin BrooksJim Constantine
Winter LeagueGerry MarangoneBob Hobson
Scratch SinglesKevin BrooksTony Summers
DoublesGreg Clarke/Brian DraperKeith Walls/Jim Constantine
Summer LeagueBrian DraperKevin Brooks
Highest BreakGerry Marangone [27]
4 CompPhil Brown/Maurice Draper/Greg Clarke/Jim Constantine
2 CompIvan Clarke/Kevin Brooks

John Huxtable - President

Congratulations and best wishes to John who has been a member of the Institute for 60 years!


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Another Story for the Young and Young at Heart

You may remember our mermaid Marina who with her friend Peter, the Devon Pixie, rescued a locket from the waters of Combe Martin and returned it to an old lady on her birthday.

Well, Marina was sitting at the water's edge at Broadsands when up popped her friend Mary, another mermaid.

"Hello Mary, I haven't seen you for a long time, where have you been?" chirped Marina.

"Well, I've relatives at Swansea so I've been spending a lot of time over there," replied Mary. "Anyway, I've something to tell you. I called in at King Neptune's Castle - you know, near Lundy Island. He still looks the same, with his long white beard and that long coat made of seaweed and feathers. He was a bit upset and asked if you would go and see him as he felt you might be able to help him."

"I wonder what?" questioned Marina.

The next day she began her long swim to King Neptune's castle. She knew it was a long swim and wondered if she would ever get there. There was no need for her to worry, King Neptune had arranged for seals and dolphins to give her a ride on their backs at intervals along the journey.

In no time at all Marina arrived at the castle, was invited in and was soon talking to the King. "It was those wretched jelly fish, they stole the golden limpet from the top of my throne." he told Marina, "I would like you please to try to get it back. I am asking you because I know you can swim very deep down."

Marina looked puzzled. "Tell me more," she said. "The jelly fish swam a long way until they accidently dropped the limpet into a deep and large hole in the sea bed just off Heddon's Mouth. It is said that submarines used to lurk there at times, but I don't know if that is true. Do you think you can help me?"

"If I can have the help of the seals and dolphins again please." "Of course you can and good luck!" The king smiled.

The next day Marina started her long swim. Taking rides on the backs of the seals and dolphins, and avoiding the nasty sharks, she eventually arrived at Heddon's Mouth and knew that this would be the deepest dive of her life.

Down, down she went. The water was getting darker and it was harder to breathe.

"But there," she thought, "is a tiny glimmer." She swam towards it and the glimmer got stronger. "That's it!" she said to herself and grabbed the golden limpet in her right hand. Up to the surface she went as quickly as possible.

Two seals were waiting to help her return to the King's castle. At first they kept quite near the shore, passing Hangman's beach, Combe Martin, Broadsands, Watermouth, Hele and heading out towards Lundy Island once they were near Ilfracombe.

Soon she was back at the castle and greeted by the King.

"You are a wonderful mermaid!" he exclaimed, holding the golden limpet in his hand. "It will be put back in its rightful place on the top of the throne as soon as possible. Now my dear, you must get some sleep and I will send you back to Broadsands tomorrow."

The next morning the King told Marina that she would not need the seals or dolphins as there was a special coach waiting for her. He led her down the steps of the castle and there it was. A beautiful coach studded with pearls and with ten sea horses to pull it. What a wonderful way to go home and soon she was on her way. But what a surprise when she arrived back. There was Mary and lots of their mermaid friends, together with Peter the Pixie and some of his friends.

And there on a large flat rock was a banquet for them - oysters, scallops, mussels , winkles, whelks and a seaweed which was Marina's favourite - what a welcome back!

A happier scene it would be hard to imagine.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrations by: Debbie Cook




Wine, Women... but no song!

Our 2011-12 season began in a 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', as our first presentation was in October. It was a good start, as Majestic of Barnstaple's Manager, Paul Firman, introduced us to a few of their 'Chenin Blanc and New Wave Spain' wines.

Majestic Wine Warehouse is the 'UK's biggest and best retailer specialising in sales of wine by the mixed case'. They were founded in 1980 and now have over 160 stores throughout the Kingdom. 2011 has been a bumper year for them as they collected the overall Merchant of the Year award at the International Wine Challenge, as well as receiving the Decanter High Street Chain of the Year. As a company, I suspect that they would expect all of their staff to know more than their main competitors, i.e. the supermarkets, as suppliers like Taylors, of Port fame, do tastings' trips in order to educate Majestic staff.

All wine prices were 'subject to buying 2 bottles of the same wine as part of a mixed case of 6'. Our first was the cheapest at £9.99 and our last was the dearest at £14.99.

The evening's tastings began, typically, with a white, a 2009 Vouvray from the Loire, which, if kept in optimum conditions, could be served up in 2031! Oher Chenin wines were from the famous South African wine-growing region of Stellenbosch, with the final sampling of the evening again from the Loire, but this was a dessert wine.

The Spanish selection was intense... complex and structured, reds, with colours of blackcurrants or blackberries, plums and cherries: a liquid fruit bowl! They were 'rich' too and would have made great mates with 'game, charcuterie' or 'cow'!

South Africa: stunning scenery sits under blue skies and hot sunshine. It's hardly surprising that the climate of this big country makes it a well-known wine producer, but it is its Western Cape that is the place for its vineyards. These cluster around Cape Town and its beautiful coastline and head north beyond Lambert's Bay and south and east ending at Plettenberg Bay.

Together, Tony Summers with Majestic's help produced three whites and three reds for our November meeting. The Bellingham Homestead, close to Fransschhoek regarded as the dining capital of South Africa, was built in 1693. It is a National Monument and the home of Bellingham Wines. They provided our first and last: a white Viognier and a red Pinotage. The white was fruity but regarded by some as 'wincey', but their red Bush Vine had sediment, a sign of quality and was regarded as excellent.

Rustenberg is another late 17th century estate; we sampled one of their 'hand-picked' whites. Only one member present had heard of the Roussanne grape, perhaps unsurprising, as it has been stated that it 'ought to be extinct'! Its yields are irregular; it has little resistance to mildew and rot and is easily damaged by wind and drought. It was 14.5%, high for a white, but it was good that its producers couldn't hear our verdict: not worth £13.99!

Prices for our evening's selection began at £6.99 for a Porcupine Ridge red and the £13.99 was our dearest. Six wines: a small sample from South Africa's wine region, but they provided another interesting, convivial evening.

Our December meeting is our Christmas gathering, where the tables groan under buffet food and it's all washed down with another six wines. As seating and feeding have to be organised for this gathering, if you would like to join the Circle on Wednesday December 14th, please contact Tony Summers, 883600, or Jill McCrae on 882121beforehand.

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator


Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook


Local resident Joyce Clay, from Lee Lodge, celebrated her 100th birthday in style at the beginning of November, inviting over 100 guests to join her at the Woolacombe Bay Hotel for a splendid buffet lunch.

Organised by her eldest son, Bob, this was the largest gathering of the family to take place in years, and spanned four generations. Joyce's daughter, Vanessa, flew in from South Africa, accompanied by her eldest son, and other family members travelled from France and other parts of the UK to be there to celebrate with her. Scores of local friends and carers swelled the numbers.

Although less mobile than she was, Joyce enjoys getting out, regularly playing bridge and attending lunch club, as well as keeping in touch as best as she can with the many friends she has made in over thirty years of living in the area.

The gathering all but filled the splendidly decorated ballroom at the Woolacombe Bay, and the informal arrangements enabled everyone to have at least a brief word with Joyce while enjoying delicious food and good company. Surrounded by her many gifts and cards (including one prominent one from Buckingham Palace!) and a continual huddle of well-wishers at her side, Joyce seemed utterly thrilled by the whole experience.

After cutting a huge cake with 100 candles (blown out for her by her great-grandchildren) while everyone sang "Happy Birthday!", Joyce thanked everyone for coming and making it all so wonderful for her.

And we all send you our congratulations, Joyce, very best wishes and many happy returns.





We have had a busy Autumn Term. Our Wild Night Out proved to be a very soggy one; however, the children still managed to have a great time. The whole school are currently taking part in swimming on Monday mornings.

We have just completed our Inspire Mornings when parents or carers are able to spend the morning alongside their child. We have received positive feedback and are looking forward to holding more in the Summer Term.

Our Christingle Service will be held on Thursday, 1st December, at the Church. Family and friends are very welcome. The service starts at 2.15 p.m. Classes 1 and 2 will be performing their Nativity on Thursday, 8th December and again family and friends are welcome at the Church at 10.00 a.m.

Our Annual Senior Dudes meal will be taking place on Monday, 12th December. This is open to the grandparents of the children and the older members of the community. There will be a sheet in the Shop and Post Office for those wanting to attend to sign.

Finally, our Christmas Carol Service will be held on Friday, 16th December at 2.00 p.m. We hope that you will be able to join us for this celebration.

We should like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all at Berrynarbor Primary School.

Su Carey - Headteacher





The Budget for 2012/13 has been set with the Precept being unaltered.  Tenders for work on Parish Council assets around the village have been awarded to Gary Songhurst, Terry Squire and Chris Townsend.

Parish Councillors have sent a letter of no confidence in the Planning Department of North Devon Council.  As a result, District Councillor Mrs Julia Clark has arranged a meeting between Councillors and Mike Kelly, Planning Manager and Bob Pedlar, Senior Planning Officer, to discuss a number of issues with which Councillors are concerned.

Berrynarbor is one of 11 villages to be selected for the Pilot Phase to participate in the Devon Active Villages programme.  The Co-ordinator is attending the December Meeting to give more details and parishioners will be very welcome to come along and hear more for themselves.   Each village in the pilot has the opportunity to receive up to £3,500 of funding to deliver a variety of sports opportunities for the community which Councillors have welcomed.

Councillor Clive Richards has been appointed as the Parish Snow Warden under Devon County Council's Snow Warden Scheme.   He has received training and as a result the Parish will get 5 tonne of grit salt to help keep the roads clear.  At the November Parish Council Meeting, Councillors agreed to purchase additional salt which Clive will bag up for purchase by parishioners for use at their properties.   Please look out for signs giving more details. The grit salt provided by Devon County Council is to ensure the highways are kept as clear as possible and not for individual drives and pathways.  

The Police ask people to keep their eyes open for any suspicious behaviour and to report this immediately on the new 101 Police number, or 999 if the matter is urgent.   Metal thefts are occurring, as are quad bikes from farms and with the run up to Christmas coupled with the dark evenings, it is important that properties, sheds, garages and vehicles are secured with nothing on display to attract the attention of a thief.

The Parish Councillors and Clerk would like to take this opportunity of wishing everyone a Happy Christmas with peace, health and happiness in 2012.

Sue Squire - Parish Clerk [Tel: 01598 710526]

101 is the number to call when you want to contact your local police, call it when the matter is less urgent than a 999 call. 101 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and replaces 08452 777444. You should continue to call 999 when it is an emergency, when a crime is in progress or if there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened. Calls will cost 15p per call, no matter what time of day or how long the call, and will be answered by call handlers in the control room of the local police force.


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Berrynarbor Home Guard

During the last war, 1939-1945, Berrynarbor had a very strong Home Guard Contingent and this postcard picture was taken some time between 1940 and 1945. As can be seen, there are 38 members present for this picture taken outside the Manor Hall and fortunately I took their names down many years ago. I do, however, accept that it is possible there could be mistakes and should welcome any known corrections.

From left to right we have:

  • Back Row:

    Reg Huxtable, Fred Ley, Ron Toms, Fred Spear, Fred Huxtable, Gordon Newton, Alf Leworthy, Alf Brooks, Jack Jewell, ? Osborne, Bert Kiff and Bob Lanston

  • Second Row:

    Reg Ley, John Howells, Lewis Smith, Albert Richards, Ivor Richards, Eddie Priest, Leonard Dummett, John Vallance, Gerald Beauclerk, Dick Floyd and Percy Altree

  • Third Row:

    Brian Richards, Stan Harding, Parky Smith, Sid Dummett, Sgt. Newman, Commander Peacher, Claude Richards [Senior], Bob Richards, Percy Thorne and Gordon Bowen

  • Front Row:

    Claude Richards, Steve Brookman, Jim Floyde, Ken Huxtable and Lionel Dummett

I covered this subject back in October 1996 [Newsletter No. 44] when I showed a picture of the Contingent circa 1940 when they only numbered 29 members. Sadly, as I write this article on the 11th November, and having visited Ron Toms at South Lee Lodge, I am able to report that of all 39 members shown, only Ron, Reg Ley and John Howells remain with us at this time.

Ron was able to tell me that the picture was taken around 1944. He said that once a week, having finished his farm work, he would meet up at around 7 o'clock with five other Berrynarbor Home Guard members to be taken to what was the Kingston Hall, Combe Martin, owned by Percy Norman. As well as being in their uniform, they would have loaded rifles and take sandwiches with them for an almost 12 hour overnight stint 'guarding' Combe Martin. In pairs they would take turns marching up through Combe Martin to beyond the London Inn before returning to the Kingston Hall. In between such stints they would grab a few hours' sleep. Around 6.30 a.m., all six members would walk back down to somewhere near the Royal Marine at Seaside before being driven back to Berrynarbor.

During their time in Combe Martin they would often hear enemy 'planes going over to Swansea where they would drop their bombs before returning to France where the Germans had their airfields'. Ron says that the most memorable occasion was when there was a large gorse fire between Holdstone Down and Great Hangman when the entire contingent had to walk all the way up to the source of the fire and attempt to put it out with the fire beaters they had carried up with them. Having worked all night long, they would again have to walk back to Seaside before being driven back to Berrynarbor. Sometimes they would be driven up to Berry Down and dropped off when they were expected to walk down in the direction of Sandy Cover going across the fields rather than using the roads! Once a month, there would be a Sunday Parade around the village in full kit and carrying their rifles on their shoulders.

My thanks to Ron and if there is anyone who can give me further information, I should be very grateful to hear from you.

Tom Bartlett
Tower Cottage, November 2011



"If you want the rainbow you've got to put up with the rain."

Dolly Parton



Sponsored by:

Westerly Barnstaple

Raising money for the North
Devon Hospice

For more information or to register, please telephone [01271] 344248

Light Up a Life Service

  • Combe Martin Methodist Church, Sunday 4th December, 6.30 p.m.
  • Ilfracombe, Holy Trinity, Sunday 4th December, 6.00 p.m.

Events Diary 2012:

  • Knit-In - 23rd February
  • The Big Breakfast - 16th-18th March
  • Nightwalk - 19th May
  • North Devon Marathon - 24th June
  • Extreme Events: Throughout 2012

Have you visited our Occasion Wear Boutique in Barnstaple yet? If not, you are missing out on all sorts of beautiful clothes, available at a snip of the original cost! Many of the clothes are designer or high quality labels, the perfect opportunity to pick up a really smart outfit at a fraction of the price, together with accessories including hats, shoes and jewellery, whilst helping to support the work of the Hospice.




1st Primary School: Christingle, 2.15 p.m. St. Peter's Church
3rd St. Thomas' Church, Kentisbury: The Exmoor Carollers, 7.00 p.m.
8th Primary School: Nativity, St. Peter's Church, 10.00 a.m.
12th Primary School: Senior Dudes Christmas Meal
13th Parish Council Meeting, 7.00 p.m., Penn Curzon Room
14th Mobile Library in Village from 10.45 a.m. Wine Circle, Manor Hall, 8.00 p.m. Christmas Gathering
16th Primary School: Carol Service, St. Peter's Church, 2.00 p.m.
Primary School & College: End of Autumn Term
17th Christmas Coffee Morning & Card Distribution, Manor Hall, 10.30 am
18th Community Carol Singing, The Square, 6.00 p.m.
19th Combe Martin Museum: Closed to 30th January 2012
21st St. Peter's Church: Carol Service, 6.30 p.m
24th St. Peter's Church: First Communion of Christmas, 9.30 p.m.
25th CHRISTMAS DAY St. Peter's Church: Family Communion, 11 a.m.
26th Boxing Day
31st New Year's Eve
1st New Year's Day
4th Primary School & College: Start of Spring Term
10th Parish Council Meeting, 7.00 p.m., Penn Curzon Room
18th Wine Circle, Manor Hall, 8.00 p.m.
29th St. Peter's Church: Group Service for North Devon Coast Team

Manor Hall Diary:

MondaysUpholstery, 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.
Craft Group, 1.30 p.m. onwards
Badminton, 7.30 p.m.
Tuesdays2nd & 4th in month: N.D.Spinners
Yoga, 7.00 p.m.
WednesdaysPilates Body Workout, 9.00 a.m.
ThursdaysTai Chi, Manor Hall, 11.00 a.m.
FridaysTerm time only: Toddlers Soft Play and Activity
Penn Curzon RoomTerm time only: Monday - Friday Mornings: Berrynarbor Pre-School

Mobile Library:
(Assistant - Jacqui Mackenzie)

10.45 - 11.30 a.m.Village Shop
11.45 - 12.15 p.m.Sterridge Valley




Artwork: Peter Rothwell


We're pleased  to report that Natalie Stanbury is set to join our Committee and represent the interests of the much younger generation in Berrynarbor - both the Pre-School [our major User Group, now taking seven half-day sessions each term week] and also the Toddlers. Also, to report that our decorating work in the rear passages and toilet areas to the left of the stage are now complete after week-end working to minimise any disruptions.

We should now like to see the Bassett Room area freshened with a lick of paint and believe that this might be possible in the New Year with a small team of volunteers giving perhaps a couple of 3 hour time slots . . . if anyone has time and is interested in helping, then please let us know.

By popular request, we shall be offering a Christmas Card Distribution service again this December, and with the help of our friends in the Shop, we'll see where we might best site the Collection Box. This will be available up until Friday 16th December. Please, please be generous with your donations again, which we plan to channel into a Roof Restoration fund, with added support from Parish Council and grant possibilities from other sources.

A village get-together in the Hall at Christmas has been a regular feature in our calendar, and 2011 is to be no exception. Put Saturday morning.. December 17th in the diary for a Coffee Morning in the Hall and come along at 10.30 a.m. to meet friends, sing carols, win raffle prizes and more!!  Please put all your Christmas Cards for the Village Distribution in the box well in advance of this date , so 99.9% of "sorting" can be done ahead of Coffee Morning. There will be no charge for this event, but generous donations are always welcome! 

Looking ahead to next year, like us, you'll be aware that 2012 is both Olympic Year, and also our Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Currently to our knowledge, there are no plans in place for Village Celebrations for one or other or both events, but we should be happy to make the Hall available for a first planning meeting if anyone is interested in kick-starting a Jubilee Event or an Olympic 2012 Activity. Let us know!

Best Wishes and Seasonal Greetings to All

Colin Trinder and Your Manor Hall Committee



[Born 260/280; died 6 December 343]

Patron Saint of children, students, sailors and voyagers, innocent prisoners, cities [including Liverpool and Aberdeen] Russia and several European countries

If you have visited Turkey's southern shores, you may have been to Demre [formerly Myra] in Anatolia. This used to be part of Greece, was home to St Nicholas and where he became bishop of the church, without first practising as deacon or priest . . but more of that later.

People sometimes think that ancient saints are the stuff of legends and imagination, but St Nicholas was very much a real person.

He was the only son of wealthy Christian parents who lived under Greek rule in Asia Minor. Born towards the end of the 3rd Century in Patara, a village just 40 miles west of Demre, he had a good education and from his parents learnt to be kind to all people. Sadly they died from an epidemic whilst he was still young, and his uncle, an abbot, continued to bring him up.

How he became bishop of the Myra church may be a legend, but it is said that when the old bishop died, the church dignitaries met for several days to decide who should succeed him. Whilst praying, they heard a voice saying, "Elect as your bishop the first person to enter the church tomorrow". The elders stayed there all night and their prayers were answered, St Nicholas was that first person and in some bewilderment he became bishop. It may be that his uncle 'fast tracked' him through deaconry and priesthood, but certainly he never practised in either profession.

He was already much loved because of his kindness and generosity. When he was quite young, on the anniversary of Jesus's birth, he would don a brown hooded cassock and distribute golden apples, toys and food to children and the poor. For years no one knew who the giver was, until one night the village watchman caught a man in a brown cassock with a sack over his shoulder wandering stealthily around the streets. He was unmasked and St Nicholas, their bishop, was revealed. And so the tradition of Santa Claus began. He would have been startled to know what he had started.

The English of course still use Jesus's birthday to give gifts, although in certain parts of the country - Canterbury in particular - festivals are held on 6th December. This is the day that St Nicholas died and in many countries around the world it is the day of gift giving - leaving Christmas free to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

If you look up www.stnicholascenter.org and then Around the World it is fascinating to read of different celebrations. I shall just pick on four:

In Belgium it is a season for children. In Flanders, St Nicholas [Sinterklaas] arrives in the evening of 5th December, in a sleigh pulled by a horse, so children put their shoes or a small basket by the hearth [he may come down the chimney!] or by the door together with hay, water, carrots or turnips and a sugar lump for the horse and a glass of wine for the saint. In the morning they will find saint-shaped biscuits, oranges, marzipan and toys. Treats are for sharing not hoarding. A naughty child [none in Belgium!] would receive twigs.

In Holland, that same evening is a celebration for the whole family. Here the fun is not the gift, but the surprise way of giving it. It may be hidden in a potato or sock, or be small in a huge parcel. The children wait with bated breath for a knock on the door. A black-gloved hand appears and tosses in candies, resulting in a scramble to gather up the treats. There is also a bag of gifts.

In Croatia, St Nicholas [Sveti Nikola] comes on 6th December. The night before children polish their shoes until they gleam then leave them on the windowsill. Good children's shoes are filled with sweets, fruit and presents; bad children get gold twigs - the naughtier they are the bigger the twig! Every child gets a twig as a warning!

Italy not only celebrates the 6th December when San Nikola piles plates with sweets and chocolates, but also celebrates the 1087 arrival of the remains of San Nikola in Bari. When the Turks conquered Asia Minor, Christians feared that they would no longer be able to go to Myra on pilgrimage to the tomb of San Nikola, so Italian sailors spirited away most of the relics. A huge church was built to house them in Bari, Puglia. They did not take all the bones, some are now displayed in Antalya Museum. The Turkish Government has been asking for many years for their return and although Italy has agreed, they are still in Bari.

Over the years, many stories and legends have been told about St Nicholas and his good deeds and miracles. One of these concerns the poor man with three daughters who needed dowries to marry. In no way could he afford this, yet on three separate occasions, a bag of gold was thrown through the open window and landed on shoes or stockings left to dry in front of the fire - hence the Christmas stockings! Other stories relate to his calming seas and blessing ships, providing food during famine in Myra, saving innocent children and many more good deeds.

If you go on holiday on this lovely coastline, it is well worth diverting to Demre. There is a beautiful bronze statue of St Nicholas with a bag of 'goodies' over his shoulder and children clustered around his legs.

When we saw the church some years ago, it was being excavated yet again. Built in the 6th Century, it was destroyed in the 7th and 9th, restored in the 11th until buried by sand and silt as the riverbed shifted. Russian Tsar Nikola sponsored its restoration in the mid-1800's but it was buried again by 1903. In the mid 1950's, Turkey realised that it had the beginnings of 'Santa Claus' fame and once again the church has been unearthed. It is now in a vulnerable position because it is several feet underground level. For many years in this Muslim country, a Christian service was allowed on 6th December. It was cancelled in 2002-2006, granted again in 2007 but in January 2008 the church was renamed the Father Christmas Museum [Noel Baba Mozes]. All is not lost, however. In December 2009 permission was granted to hold a service conducted by Russian Orthodox priests and this year on 22nd May a service was held to mark the movement of the relics to Bari.

It is interesting that in mainly Muslim Turkey the western idea of giving gifts has grown. St Nicholas still exerts an influence so many years after his death. One wonders how he would have reacted to giving a boost to Turkish tourism and the economy!

PP of DC




Once again we'll be carol singing, this year on Sunday, 18th December.

Come and join Phil and Tony who will be accompanying and leading the singing. Meet in The Square at 6.00 o'clock to sing all those old familiar and favourite carols, lubricate your voices with mulled wine and enjoy warm mince pies.

There will then by time to go to the Christmas Quiz at The Globe.



As I lived in Berrynarbor for the majority of my childhood, and still have family and friends there, I am always interested in reading Mum's copy of the newsletter when we go as a family to stay.

We are a keen walking family (including Thomas, aged 8 and Jack and Oliver, 3 year old twins) and so were very interested in the article 'Good day at Black Church Rock [Local Walk 127]' in the August newsletter. As this was an area that we hadn't been to before, the article gave us the inspiration to explore this part of the coastline.

We drove to the National Trust car park at Brownsham and set off through the woods and up onto the cliffs on the far side of the valley. It was a beautiful day and the views along the coastline were incredible. There was quite a climb down the valley and up the other side but we could soon see the beach - our spot for lunch. The children were all very interested in the long abandoned lime kilns and cottages as well as the prospect of exploring the beach and all the rock pools!



After lunch in the sunshine Thomas and his Dad went along the coast line to explore and the twins and I stayed to build 'boats' from the beach pebbles. We battled pirates whilst watching some brave children venturing into the sea itself, before rushing to the shelter of a small cave as the rain came down. When the adventurers returned we all went to explore the amazing rock arch - now accessible as the tide had gone out. It was a slippery and rather wet expedition, but we were all amazed at how big the arch was when we got up close to it. After a couple of hours on the beach we headed back up the way we had come and then took a more direct route back to the car along the near side of the valley.

As the article mentioned, this was certainly a hidden gem along the coastline. The walk itself was a little challenging at times, but the views were certainly worth it. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

Becky Green - nee Delve, once of Bessemer Thatch


WALK - 129


This month I am abandoning the moor and the marsh; the coast path and the river bank and going instead for a walk around a building! A very special building by one of the greatest architects of the Arts and Crafts movement, Charles Francis Annesley Voysey 1857-1941.

A Lady's Nobel Gift

The former Winsford Cottage Hospital at Halwill Junction near Beaworthy [a few miles south-east of Holsworthy] is a rare example of Voysey's work in Devon.

Built in 1899, in memory of her husband George, it was the inspiration of Maria Webb-Medley whose country estate was in the neighbourhood. She was the daughter of a Victorian artist and illustrator of children's books, Henry Selous, celebrated in his day but now largely forgotten.

In 1900 in a report about the new hospital, the Western Morning News dubbed it 'A Lady's Noble Gift'. A hundred years later the hospital closed and in 1999 the Winsford Trust was set up to secure ownership of the building, recognising its architectural importance - it is Grade 2 Listed - the Trust's stated mission was 'to ensure that this distinctive building is fully restored; remains in public ownership and provides a base for activities that will enrich the local people and a wider audience.'

When this year a series of open days was held to allow the public to view the former cottage hospital, we jumped at the opportunity having wandered around the outside of the empty and abandoned building about twelve years ago, soon after it had ceased to be a hospital.

The one-storey building fronts a quiet, rural road and bears many of Voysey's hallmark features; deep roofs, gables, five broad chimneys and one tall and tapering one, long windows tucked under the eaves, a generous and welcoming porch - all typical characteristics of the domestic architecture with which he is most associated.

In fact Winsford was the only hospital he ever designed and not surprisingly the Western Morning News remarked on its 'cosy and homelike air'.

To the rear of the building two wings project - these housed the four wards - and between them a verandah, where convalescing patients could sit overlooking a south facing garden with pleasant and open views of fields and woodland with Dartmoor in the distance.

A small orchard was even provided at one end of the lawn. The fruit trees are still there today and on our first visit, when the site was not being used, we found the secluded garden had become a haven for birds; a great spotted woodpecker, a flock of gold finches and a spotted flycatcher making forays from an apple tree.

Illustrated from original drawings by: Paul Swailes

Voysey had wanted the building to be in harmony with its surroundings, to give a sense of protection 'quietness in a storm', he said. He held the conviction that no detail was too small to deserve the attention of the architect and at the Winsford Cottage Hospital this can be seen in the beauty and simplicity of his window fittings, door hinges and handles, all of which have survived very well.

A principle of Arts and Crafts designers was that form should follow function - hence the asymmetry of some of the elevations rather than forcing rooms into the rigid proportions of formal Georgian or neo-classical facades.

Voysey also designed furniture, textiles and wallpaper. Coincidentally, he was born the same year as Barnstaple born architect William Lethaby, that other great luminary of the Arts and Crafts movement and promoter of its ideals.

When we visited again in September this year, we were greeted by Perry Evans who gave us a fascinating tour of the building. The bright entrance hall has an art nouveau fireplace with glazed tiles and the floor is paved with small yellow mosaic tiles.

The operating theatre, kitchen, laundry and nurses' rooms were along the front of the building. Here there were smaller fireplaces with Voyseys' signature heart motif. We were shown the decorative air vents which incorporated animal and plant patterns. Such attention to detail. The place was light and airy and from the wards the patients looked onto the garden and farmland beyond.

Should you have the chance to visit and walk around this architectural gem in the heart of the Devon countryside, I would highly recommend it.

Sue H

[Acknowledgement and grateful thanks to Perry Evans, Development Officer at the Winsford Trust, for showing us around and for additional information.]


Artwork: Harry Weedon


The bloomers are coming to the end of a very busy gardening year. As most of you will have heard, we won a GOLD in the National R.H.S. Britain in Bloom Competition and were thrilled to be awarded this as we represented the whole of the South West in the village category. We were, however, pipped to the post by Luddenden in Yorkshire who were the overall winners.

This is the second time that Berrynarbor has won a Gold in the national competition so we really have done our best. We have had a bit of a tidy up and taken down the hanging baskets, planted a few bulbs for the spring and some little conifers and cyclamen at the war memorial.

Entering the national competitions is a lot of hard work especially administratively and we plan to have at least a year off from entering the Best Kept Village and Britain in Bloom competitions. However, if anyone feels they might like to take on this responsibility, please do make yourself known! In the meantime we'll be doing the digging, planting, litter picking, etc. and keeping the village blooming beautiful.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped us in any way in the last year and we hope to see you again next year - don't forget the tea and cakes! As usual we'll be getting together in the new year, probably in February, to make plans for the special Diamond Jubilee year - I hope to see you there.



Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Chocolate Orange and Grand Marnier Truffle Cake

It is always a good idea to have some of the Christmas preparations done early and in the freezer just ready to bring out with a flourish! This unashamedly boozy, no cook dessert is perfect.

  • 1 orange
  • 5 tblsp Grand Marnier [or Cointreau]
  • 2 Terry's dark chocolate oranges
    [separated in to segments]
  • 50g/2oz caster sugar
  • 85g/3oz unsalted butter
  • 3 free-range eggs, separated
  • 284ml pot of double cream
  • 140g/5oz Rich tea biscuits

To Serve

  • 142ml pot double cream lightly whipped
  • Grated dark chocolate or chocolate curls

Line the sides and base of a 1kg loaf tin with cling film. Squeeze the juice from the orange and mix with 3 tablespoons of the Grand Marnier. Cut away the bitter pith from the orange peel and cut it into very fine strips. Boil the strips in a covered pan with 300ml of water for 20 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and simmer without the lid until you have a sticky soft peel.

Melt the chocolate orange segments in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and egg yolks, followed by the rest of the Grand Marnier.

Whisk the egg whites until they hold their shape, and then whip the cream until softly stiff. Fold lightly in to the chocolate mixture.

Spoon 5 large tablespoons of the chocolate mix into the tin, then dip the finger biscuits in the orange and Grand Marnier mix one by one and arrange over the chocolate in the tin. Don't soak them too much or they will fall apart. Scatter over some of the sticky peel and then another 5 tablespoons of the chocolate mix. Carry on layering up the biscuits and chocolate until you have 4 layers ending with chocolate - you should only use half the peel.

Lightly cover with cling film and freeze until ready for use, freezing the remaining peel separately.

To serve, take the cake and orange peel out of the freezer no more than one hour before serving, remove the tin and peel off the cling film. Top with whipped cream. I like to pipe this on in swirls down the middle, and scatter with the orange peel and grated chocolate. Keep chilled until ready to eat.

Have a lovely Christmas



Artwork: David Duncan


Christmas Menu available from
1st to 24th December [inc.]
2 courses £12.50, 3 courses £15.50,
by Reservation ONLY.

  • Sunday 11th December: Open Mic Night Bring an instrument or use the drums/guitars provided by the House band, or sing with or without the backing of the House Band [your choice]. Join use for a fun evening to either join in or watch/sing-a-long. From 9.00 p.m.
  • Sunday 18th December: [following Carols in the Square] CHRISTMAS QUIZ - it can be pretty busy so we advise you to BOOK a table.
  • Saturday 24th December: Christmas Draw at approximately 10.30 p.m. Draw tickets now available at the bar, 25p a ticket.
  • CHRISTMAS DAY: Open for drinks 11.30 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. [closed night] Boxing Day Night: End of Year Quiz, 8.00 p.m. start [earlier than normal], We strongly advise you to book a table and arrive at 7.30 p.m. - a very busy evening.
  • Wednesday, 28th December: Games Night Teams of 4 to play 'Killer' at pool, skittles and darts. Please let us know if you are coming as we need to know in advance how many teams will be taking part. Start at 8.00 p.m.
  • NEW YEAR'S EVE: Food will be served as usual from 6.00 to 9.00 p.m. Book early if you would like a table in the dining room.

    See the New Year in in Style! Our theme this year is The Golden [Ye Olde] Globe Awards, so we invite you to celebrate with us dressed as an actor/actress [perhaps from this year's film nominations], a character from a film, or simply dressed in your finest evening wear to attend the Award ceremony as a guest. The party starts at 9.00 p.m. with live music from Sam Dowden kicking off a little later in the evening.

We should like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


The Exmoor Carollers present


on Saturday, 3rd December, at 7.00 p.m.
St. Thomas' Church, Kentisbury
Tickets £5.00 to include refreshments



Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh;
O'er the fields we go,
Laughing all the way.
Balls on Bobtails ring,
Making spirits bright;
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side.
The horse was lean and lank,
Misfortune seemed his lot,
He got in to a drifted bank
And there we got upset.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Now the ground is white,
Got it while you're young;
Take the girls tonight,
And sing this sleighing song.
Just get a bobtailed bay,
Two forty as his speed,
Hitch him to an open sleigh,
And crack! You'll take the lead.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle Bells, one of the most famous American Christmas songs, was originally written for Thanksgiving! The author and composer was a minister called James Pierpoint who composed the song in 1857 for children at his Boston Sunday School. It was so popular that it was repeated at Christmas and has been reprised ever since. The lyrics capture a traditional Christmas and the sound effects using the bells have become synonymous with the arrival of Father Christmas or Santa Claus to the delight of children of all ages!