Edition 137 - April 2012
Artwork: Nigel Mason
Children and schoolteacher, stomp round the maypole,
Do not forget how to unwind the ribbons.
From Festival by Patricia Beer
The clocks have gone forward and the lovely light evenings are getting longer. We are at another April Fools' Day, or All Fools' Day and although it is not a national holiday, it is widely recognised and celebrated as a day when people play hoaxes and other practical jokes - have you ever noticed the BMW advertisements which appear on that day? The earliest recorded connection between the 1st April and foolishness can be found in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales .
It was good to hear from so many mail readers renewing their subscriptions and their generous donations were most welcome. It was also lovely to hear from Reg Ley, at school with Ron Toms and the only other survivor of the Home Guard featured in the December issue.
I always thank the contributors, especially the regulars and our artists in residence, and do so again for this issue. Some articles are numbered and as such indicate their longevity, but I should like to pay particular tribute to the un-numbered writers and those who report on their groups, etc.
Mary Tucker has kept us up to date on church matters since 1995, a total of 104 reports! Sue and Simon have been describing our weather since 1998. Crosswords have been compiled, with a few exceptions, by Brian Wright and Dave Beagley and Tony B's been amusing us with facts and fantasies over 81 issues. We've been kept up to date on what is happening at the School by Headteachers past and presently by
Sue Carey and a warm welcome to Chris Steed and his letter after a short break since Keith retired.
The Wine Circle tastings have been described by Tom, Tony and now Judith, and Manor Hall Matters by John Hood, Bob Hobson and now Colin on his second stint! And last but not least, our nonagenarians Trev and Walter who have serenaded us in words and intrigued us with fascinating facts for the last four years. Thank you all. It's your input that makes our Newsletter, as so many people say, special and the best they've read!
Long may that continue and I'll be looking forward to hearing from you, and new contributors, as soon as possible by the 8th May at the latest for the June issue.
There are lots of events planned for the coming weeks so do make a note of them and every effort to join in.
Finally, a warm welcome to all newcomers and get better soon wishes to those currently not feeling at their best.
Judie - Ed
REPORT FROM THE PARISH COUNCIL
The Parish Council now has only one vacancy following the co-option of Lee Lethaby and Steve Hill of Mill Park.If you would like to be considered to fill this vacancy, please contact the Clerk, Sue Squire, on  710526 or e-mail her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Active Villages project is gaining momentum with involvement from the School and Manor Hall Committee.
Commemorative Diamond Jubilee Mugs will be presented to children under the age of 16 years on the 2nd June 2012.Parents and carers of eligible children are invited to give their names to the Clerk, as above.
Ahead of the March meeting, more than a couple of dozen parishioners met to discuss plans for celebrating the Queens Diamond Jubilee and a Committee was formed.A donation of £200 will be made by the Parish Council to help towards the cost of the planned events.
Brief questionnaires will be circulated around the village regarding Parish Plans which will give all residents the opportunity to have their say.
Tenders for cleaning the public toilets are invited and details are available from the Clerk, as above.
The April meeting of the Parish Council will be preceded by the Annual Parish Meeting.
ST. PETERS CHURCH
A reminder that Sung Eucharist is now on the 2nd and 4th Sundays in the month, with a Village Service on the 1st and Songs of Praise on the 3rd, all starting at 11.00 a.m. When there is a 5th Sunday in the month, a joint service will be held in one of the churches in the North Devon Coast Team.
On the 29th January a Team Service took place here in Berrynarbor.It was a very uplifting service with over 60 present and was led by Rector Chris with Vicar Yvonne, Revd. George and Reader Chris James all taking part.Afterwards a bring-and-share lunch was enjoyed in the Manor Hall and farewells said to Chris James and his wife June.The next Team Service will be on the 29th April in Lynmouth.
April will start with a special service on Sunday 1st.It will be Palm Sunday and will be celebrated with rousing hymns and the distribution of palm crosses.In the afternoon at 4.00 p.m. there will be a Confirmation Service in Combe Martin church to which everyone is invited to come along and support the candidates from all over the Shirwell Deanery.
The church will be decorated for Easter from late Friday and donations towards the cost of flowers will be most welcome.Please give to Sue Neale [Tel: 883893].
During Lent, tins of food are being collected to be given to the Freedom Centre in Barnstaple. Please hand in by Easter there will be a box at the back of the church on Sundays.Continuing with charity giving, Christian Aid week begins on 13th May and envelopes will be delivered round the village. If you are out at the time, please return your envelope to the Community Shop.Eastertide will end with Ascension Day on Thursday, 17th May and Pentecost [Whit Sunday] will be celebrated with Holy Communion on Sunday,
27th May at 11.00 a.m.
Friendship Lunches at The Globe will be on Wednesdays 25th April and 23rd May, 12.00 noon onwards.
Do come and join us.
LETTER FROM REV. CHRIS
As I write, everywhere nature is waking up.The festival of flowers has begun its annual pageant and daffodils fill every grove at least thats how it is in my garden.Wait till April really gets going. Nature really will have woken to humming life and glorious technicolour. The seasons get demarcated in my garden by colour.April is the yellow month!
Its like that with a faith that centres on the events of the first Good Friday and Easter. God raised him up and life came bursting out more irresistible than any flower, more irrepressible than any plant. Jesus could not remain in the tomb for long. He broke through.We know all too keenly that life does that in our gardens but not with people. Even with the promise of resurrection and the life eternal, the death of loved ones haunts us profoundly. Human or animal life does not return not to this world. Yet with Jesus it was different. He was full of divine life.God raised him up and his soul and body came back, restored not to a temporary state in which death has been suspended but to an eternal power in which he would never die again. This is Easter- it means rising!
The evidence for the resurrection is a lot stronger than you might think. This is not the tooth fairy.Do you realise that at one stroke, the authorities could have stopped the new Christian movement in its tracks? They could have produced the body! That would have put an end to this nonsense about Jesus coming back to life.But they didnt and they couldnt. The tomb was empty. This was a crime scene and the body of evidence had disappeared. Who moved the stone? No one ever visited the tomb and made it a shrine of pilgrimage. The tomb completely fades out of the story.If the authorities never produced the body of Jesus, neither did his followers. Even when intense persecution threatened, the first Christians kept on insisting that Jesus had returned from death and that they were eye-witnesses.
For over nine centuries, the church in Berrynarbor has been proclaiming and witnessing to this message, especially at Easter. That makes over 900 Easters!900 times, bells, readings, chants and hymns have been alive this time of year with a message of joy and hope.
Heres a thought.If any archaeologist should ever be able to find the tomb of Jesus beyond doubt, the local church here would have to pack up and go home!They wont, of course, but the resurrection is so central to Christian faith that take it away and it all collapses.Jesus rose again and this incredible fact means that on offer is complete forgiveness, the chance to wipe the slate clean, peace, strength and Gods very live presence and hope for the future.
By all means discuss and debate with me what an Easter faith means. Or come along to a special meditation on Good Friday at 2.00 to 3.00 p.m. to mark the last hour of Jesus on the cross, or on Easter Sunday morning at 11.00 a.m.
P.S.While we are on dates, here is a big whoops! I was inaccurate in the February Newsletter regarding Bishop John Jewell, the local boy.This year is the 450th anniversary of a major book he wrote in defence of the Church of England and the moderate position it had come to.It was called The Apology.2012 is not the 500th anniversary of his birth for John Jewell was born in 1522. What a mistake for a historian to make!
MANOR HALL MATTERS
It's that time of year again for Financial Matters for 2011/2012 to be tidied up ready for Audit Sign-Off and ready for presentation at the upcoming AGM to be held on Wednesday, 2nd May at 7.30 p.m.
Recently, the Hall affairs have been run by a Team of 8 Committee Members, probably the lowest membership on Committee for a number of years, and we should dearly love to see another 3 or 4 people coming forward to join the Team, to bring fresh ideas and new added support. To find out more about what's involved, please don't hesitate to contact anyone on the Committee - you can find their names and contact numbers on the Notice Board inside the Hall . . . then make it known that you're ready 'n willing to help and available for election at the AGM.
But whether you are seeking to join the Committee, or simply reflecting your appreciation of the benefits of the Manor Hall as one of its users or supporters, we'd love to see you at AGM, please put the 2nd May date in your diary now!
With the Diamond Jubilee in early June now fast approaching, you should be aware that the Hall Calendar has been blocked out for that weekend in order to give the Village the resource of an all-weather venue option for a party or whatever other function or activity is chosen by you as Berrynarbor's Celebration. Hopefully, between the time of writing this and the publication of the Newsletter, there may already be some embryonic plans in place for an event of some sort.
If there's to be a Jubilee Celebration of 60 years, then there's also a case for Berrynarbor Villagers to smile a bit and remember that 2012 marks 65 years of the Village having the Manor Hall as a central resource and meeting point following its purchase from the Bassett's Watermouth Estate back in 1947.
Another Manor Hall date-for-the-diary is Tuesday 21st August The Berry Revels 2012!
WEATHER OR NOT
After a very windy start to the year with winds forecast up to storm force on the 2nd/3rd January and again on the 4th/5th [here it gusted up to 41 knots which was the strongest wind we have recorded in any month since January 2007], the weather settled down to being mild and damp.It wasnt until the 13th that we had any frost and for the first time this winter the temperature dropped below freezing with a minimum for the month of -1.6 Deg C on the 16th before recovering and becoming mild again.The temperatures were fairly consistent through the month reaching double figures on 23 days with a maximum of 11.9 Deg C on the 12th.The last few days turned more seasonal with the first snow on high ground on the 29th/30th.Here we had 19mm [3/4 "] of rain.The total for the month was 124mm [5"] which was a bit below average.The sunshine record of 13.56 hours was probably about average, the figures having ranged from 7.2 hours 20.51 hours for the month.
At the beginning of February the weather turned colder with overnight temperatures dropping to -5.8 Deg C and -5.1 Deg C between the 2nd and 4th, these were the lowest temperatures we recorded for the month.On the 4th, heavy snow was forecast for much of the country but here the temperature rose all day and by 10.00 p.m. it was up to 7.7 Deg C so we had rain which amounted to 9mm [3/8"].We were away from the middle of February until the 7th March so our figures include up to this date.We understand that while we were away, you had some lovely spring weather, borne out by the 40.82 hours of sunshine, the second highest recorded in a February. The total rainfall up to the 7th was only 53mm [2 1/16"] which was fairly low for February although we have noticed that the rainfall in February has generally been a lot less in the last few years.The maximum gust of wind was 29 knots on the 18th and there was a wind chill of 12 Deg C on the 1st.
We've come home to the daffodils and primroses out and some spring-like weather hopefully winter is on its way out.
Simon and Sue
As part of the cultural Olympiad, running in conjunction with the sporting events, Woolsack [www.woolsack.org] has asked crafters to produce cushions made from British wool. These cushions, to be made by the end of March and can be knitted, woven or felted, will be given to all participating athletes a little something of Britain to take home as a memento.
The North Devon Spinners, who meet twice a month at the Manor Hall, have been busy producing cushions, especially Kath Arscott who, despite having broken her leg, was able to attend the Spinners recent annual meeting.
And talking of knitting, the Craft Group and friends set to on the 27th February and knitted strips for the North Devon Hospice, enjoying tea and cakes and biscuits and a good natter together. £200 and a box of many colourful strips has been handed over to Ali at the Hospice.
The group meets every Monday afternoon in the Manor Hall from 1.30 p.m. and everyone is welcome to come along and work on their own personal craft, be it knitting, embroidery, beading, painting, etc.
MEAN FEET PEOPLE JUICE
Mean Feet Dance will perform People Juice, a community dance project in Berrynarbor on Sunday, 29th April, at 3.00 p.m.
This promenade performance, which thanks to Beaford Arts for securing an Award for All grant, means that the children from the school will be taking part in a number of workshops, discovering that anyone can dance!Viv Gordon, Art Director of Mean Feet, will be working with the Pre-School, Mother and Toddler group and the shop volunteers to create a merry dance that will lead you, the spectators, around the village at 3.00 p.m., culminating in a great big tea party sometime after 4.00 p.m.
As the performance will be moving through the village, Beaford has applied for some road closures [2.00-6.00 p.m.] to ensure everyones safety. It would be appreciated if you could move your vehicle from the Manor Hall car park and the area to the rear of the Globe to the village car park. Should you live in Birdswell Lane and you are not attending the performance, though we hope you will be, it is suggested you also park in the village car park. Steve Hill of Mill Park and Chris and Barbara Gubb of South Lee have also very kindly thrown open their premises to provide extra car parking space outside the road closure areas. This is a one off, never to be repeated event brought to you by Berry's very own Royal Ballet Corps! Do come along and support them. Why not a make a real family day of it with a roast lunch in The Globe beforehand and then wander out and wonder as the fun and madness unfolds. Wrap up warm to follow the dancers around the village and then pile into the Manor Hall for a celebratory tea afterwards. If you would like to join in with the dancing or could be involved in any way by making cakes or serving tea, please call me on 01271-882675.
COMING AND GOINGS
The comings and goings, to and from the village, were for many years and until quite recently, a regular feature of the Newsletter, and this way of keeping in touch has been missed.Perhaps with YOUR help it could be revived?
So that we can welcome you, may we suggest that newcomers either write a short piece about themselves and pop it in to the Shop or Chicane, e-mail email@example.com or speak to me personally on 883544. Equally, if you are leaving, by doing the same, our good wishes could go with you.
P.S. If you know coming or going applies to your neighbours, please give them a nudge to get in touch!
Dr. Doran, in his 1850 History of Court Fools gives a completely exhaustive account of licensed and unlicensed court fools, jesters and mirth men throughout the ages.The following brief selection is just a few.
Jester to George I, was not only a fun-maker but also a ghostly adviser of the Hanoverian.
The fun-maker and jester to Pope Gregory XVI.
Physician to Henry VIII and his unlicensed fool.
Fool to Louis XIV, the last licensed fool in France.
ROSENFool to Emperor Maximilian I
Joculator to William the Conqueror who gave him 3 towns and 5 caracutes in Gloucestershire.A caracute is an area of land that a plough team of 8 oxen could till in a single annual season.
Jester to the court of Mary Queen of Scots.
Cardinal Wolseys jester whom he made a present of this wise fool to Henry VIII who returned word that the gift was a most acceptable one.
Court jester at Hampton Court to Henry VIII .
Henry VIII with his three children and Will Somers
Fool of Czarina Elizabeth of Russia. mother of Peter II.A stolid brute, fond of practical jokes.
CITIZEN SCIENCE" with the BTOs GARDEN BIRDWATCH
You probably have a bird table and a bird bath and regularly put out peanuts and seeds.Your garden probably also includes the sorts of flowers and shrubs which attract birds, butterflies and bees.
In January you may have joined in the RSPBs annual Big Garden Birdwatch.A lot of people do and participants increase each year.
But did you know that as well as the RSPBs bird count once a year, the British Trust for Ornithology organises a garden bird survey all the year round?
Participants record the birds, butterflies and wild creatures which visit their garden each week and submit these records to the BTO once a quarter or enter the information online.
Gardens are important wild life havens, providing food and shelter, and the data gathered from Garden Birdwatchers is useful in helping towards the conservation and understanding of nature.
I joined the survey in 1995 and can thoroughly recommend it.Ive found it interesting and enlightening not just counting birds but observing their behaviour too and its nice to know that the records of the birds and animals which come to your garden have contributed to a national database.
There is a membership subscription to cover costs.A magazine is included four times a year and new members receive a copy of the book Garden Birds and Wildlife.
If youd like more details the Garden Birdwatch Team at BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU [or e-mail gbw@bto;.org] would be happy to hear from you.
A GOOD READ AWAITS YOU AT THE VILLAGE SHOP
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
For some weeks a copy of Brooklyn by Colm Toibin has languished among the second-hand books for sale at the village shop.Im surprised it has not been snapped up.
Set partly in rural Ireland and partly in New York in the 1950s, Brooklyn was the winner of the 2009 Costa Novel Award.
Ellis Lacey lives with her widowed mother and older sister Rose and since leaving school has had difficulty in finding full time employment.One day her sister engineers a meeting with a priest who has returned from New York, for a holiday in Ireland.He suggests Ellis goes to Brooklyn where he would be able to arrange work and lodgings for her.
Ellis is surprised at how readily her mother and sister agree to this plan.Events move rapidly and she soon finds herself enduring a lonely and gruelling journey by sea to America.
The book gives an insight into life in a small town in Ireland at that time and of the Irish and Italian communities of Brooklyn.
There are dilemmas of loyalty and duty and difficult decisions to be made and towards the end, a scene between the girl and her mother, so poignant, of such restraint and control; all the sadder for what is not expressed, that just to think of it brings a lump to my throat and a heavy heart.And its not often a book does that.
TRACING FAMILIES IN BERRYNARBOR
A Letter to the Editor
I came across the Berrynarbor News website through a search of Dummett Berrynarbor on a search engine. Through research into my family tree I have found many of my ancestors lived in Berrynarbor and have found some fascinating information reading through all of the newsletters available online.
Stanley James Dummett, my grandfather, was born in Berrynarbor (1901-1968; and later moved to Barnstaple where the family have stayed) to James Dummett (1867-1918) and Louisa Blanch Dummett (formerly Leworthy; 1880-1957). In various editions of the newsletters I have found information relating to the Dummett family. Through information from the censuses and family knowledge I found 7 of my grandfathers siblings; Charles Henry (1897 1975; married Emily Fisher), John (also known as Jack; 1899 1980; married Annie Lancey), Sidney (1904-1948; married Blanche Bowden - the story about Blanche in Edition No. 127 was very interesting), Gordon (1906-1992; married Doris Leslie; known to have moved to Bristol), Doris Hilda (1908-1978; married Stan Harding), Lionel (1910-1986; married Phyllis Watkins; I found her memoriam in edition No.105, Lionel was referred to as one of the Dummett brothers, so seems they were well known in the area!), and Leonard (1912-1998; married Alice Crompton).
I found the picture of Leonards wedding to Alice in your last edition.In the picture one bridesmaid is named as Doreen Spear (Lens sister) who I had not previously found in my research. This discovery led me to search the entire collection of your newsletters available online for any other information on the Dummett family. I found in issue No. 107 information of another sister Vera Dummett (1917-1959; married Gordon Newton), Doreen was again mentioned, and I read that they lived with their mother Louisa along with their husbands. This story also mentioned that there were 11 children overall (so I still have one unknown Dummett left to find!). James Dummett, the father died in 1918 during the Spanish flu outbreak and in my research I found that Doreen Spear was born Elsie Doreen Dummett in 1921 - obviously a few years after James died!
I should like to know if anyone has any more information/pictures or memories of the Dummett family in Berrynarbor, and also any clarifications on the information I have found: are the siblings names correct; is the information on Elsie Doreen correct and if so was it known that she had a different father; and who is the missing sibling?
I do know that James Dummett was born and raised in Marwood and his father Robert and previous generations came from Braunton, and James and Louisa married in 1896. In issue No. 120 I discovered the brilliant story about Betsy Leworthy (who was Louisas mother) and her donkeys. Betsy Willis (1839-1912) married John Leworthy (1841-1915) in 1860 and they also came from Berrynarbor. There is a mention in your story of the only known child Alfred Richard Leworthy (1866-1953; married Annie), along with Louisa I have also found; John Willis Leworthy (1860-1889; married Mary), William Henry (1864-1947; married Eliza), Thomas (1870-1918; perhaps also died of Spanish flu?), and Clara Jane (1874-1905; married Willie Dennis). I have found that John and his father Thomas were both blacksmiths, Betsys father was William Willis (1801-1864, born in Combe Martin) and mother was Alice Hicks and her previous generations all from Berrynarbor.
I also wonder if there is any other information on the Leworthy family in Berrynarbor.
I should love to hear from anyone who can help clarify the above, and would greatly appreciate any new information.
Mrs Karen Goodwill - Barnstaple
CHOCOLATE PUDDLE PUDDING
I renamed the following recipe to the above title when I came across it while I was thumbing through my food processor recipe book. I was intrigued and couldnt see for the life of me how on earth this recipe was going to work. I'm usually up for a challenge so I gave it a go. Its amazing, light [although it looks anything but], perfect for a cold day and impressing guests.
The ingredients can all be found in our wonderful shop.
100g (4ozs) self-raising flour
100g (4ozs) soft margarine
100g (4ozs) dark brown sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp cocoa375ml ( 3/4 pint) boiling water
Put all the pudding ingredients into the bowl and process until well blended. Spoon into a greased 1 litre [2 pints] ovenproof dish and smooth with the back of a spoon.
Sauce ingredients Blend the sugars and cocoa with a fork and sprinkle over the pudding mixture.Gently pour on the boiling water, in a circular movement. [I can hear you saying What?!! How on earth does that work?"Believe me, hang in there, it does.]
Place the dish on a baking sheet in the oven for 35-40 minutes at 180 Deg C, 350 Deg F, Gas Mark 4.
Serve from the dish; dont try to turn the pudding out as the sauce has sunk to the bottom.
Yummy with ice-cream.Enjoy!
Kath Hely - Rockton Cottage
RURAL REFLECTIONS - 53
Buzzards are usually observed in pairs.The jay on the other hand is a solitary bird most of the time.Yet for other birds being part of the gang is the preferred lifestyle.
The house sparrow is one such species. Having been born and raised, fledglings will join up to form new flocks in late summer.During winter the new and existing flocks will then roost in dense shelter such as rhododendrons or hawthorn bushes.Each flock will have its own scout bird who is regularly sent out to look for food.Once located, the remaining flock soon follows; something I remember watching as a child when living in London suburbia having scattered my broken up crusts of toast across the back lawn.
Human scraps have always been a staple diet of the urban house sparrow, a factor dictated by the holes and crevices in buildings which are their preferred nesting site.The rural house sparrow meanwhile is just as happy nesting in a farm building where there is livestock whilst exploiting any arable food that can be sourced.
Although Breeding Bird Survey data indicate an increase in the house sparrow population in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the species has disappeared from other parts of Britain.Now a Red List species, it has declined in Britain by over 65% in recent years with the south and east of England most affected. Theories include leaded petrol affecting the insect population [a vital food source for young], modern buildings having fewer holes and crevices and a lack of winter food for the farmland house sparrow.
Another bird synonymous with flocks is also one of our most common, the starling.Up until the mid-nineteenth century it was relatively uncommon in Britain until, that was, Europes indigenous forests were cleared for farming. This encouraged the species further west to take advantage of the new cropped grassland, a favourite feeding habitat of the starling with a beak powerful enough to part the ground as it probes grass roots in search of invertebrates.
Such feeding grounds are not just restricted to farmland.Common and widespread in most habitats, I would often observe them probing our back lawn when we lived on the outskirts of Brighton. From a distance their plumage could appear all black but from my back window I would admire each starlings candescent green and purple shades. Yet their wonderful sheen appears to go unappreciated by some ornitholigists, perhaps because the bird is so common.It can also be regarded as irritatingly noisy, but listen momentarily and you will soon hear the mimickery of other birds or machinery.
Like the sparrow, a feeding flock will quickly form once one starling is seen pecking away more eyes to watch for predators! But they are no Bird Brain, having excellent memories for good feeding locations, once discovered it will always be under observation by at least one bird.
The feeding flock in our back garden numbered fifty or so a snippet compared to the many thousands that would amass on the dilapidated West Pier and a speck compared to the 30 million that come across the east coast of England every autumn migrating from Europe. Their arrival almost doubles our winter starling population.
We would see fewer in the summer months, a time when they prefer woodland and farmland for feeding.Both a help and a hindrance to the farmer, they can inflict great damage but will also consume large amounts of leatherjackets.
The diet of food consumed by certain species can alter over time. The long-tailed tit for example is increasingly adding peanuts to its main diet of insects; and it was whilst living in Ilfracombe that a flock would appear twice daily around 9 oclock and 6 oclock to feast on the peanut feeder. Their arrival provided an opportunity for their most delicate of pink coloured feathers on their shoulders and under parts to be admired not forgetting their long tails which are over half the length of the bird itself.
The long-tailed tits nest building is to be respected. Taking up to three weeks to construct, the nest is lined with up to 2,000 feathers, some of which are recycled from the bodies of dead birds. A mainly sedentary bird, it will move short distances form its nesting site in winter in search for food.In doing so, a family will join with other flocks until totalling around twenty. This group can often include other species of tits. Individual families are made up of parents, their offspring and any of the parents siblings who lost their own nest that year unable to go on to raise their own brood, the siblings would instead assist the parents with feeding their young.
Flocks of goldfinches meanwhile can be initially created by nesting together in a loose colony. Once the chicks have fledged, families then flock together where food is plentiful. Their diet includes thistle, teasel and dandelion seeds they are the only bird capable of reaching seeds buried deep within teasel flower heads thanks to their long, fine beak.
Unlike most other birds, goldfinches can hold food with their feet.In the past, however, it proved to be a disadvantage, the bird being caught and caged for its party trick.In order to have a drink the bird had to pull the strings of a cart full of water up a slope without letting go.They were also caged for their pleasant, canary-like, twittering song and striking plumage, in particular their bright yellow wing bars and their black, red and white striped head.
The species is increasingly using garden bird feeders, the possible result of a steady decline of food sources naturally. Where we now live we back onto farmland, one of the goldfinchs habitats, and have been fortunate to enjoy observing a flock in our garden all winter, sometimes totalling twenty three.Admiring their beautiful plumage, it is no wonder that their collective name is a charm of goldfinches.
Following my recent accident, we should like to thank all the kind people of Berrynarbor, our family, Val and Neil, Sarah and Graham, Paul and Clair, Shirley and Don and Penny.
A big thank you, too, to all the pupils at our school in Classes 1 and 2 for all their love and get well wishes sent to me.
Thank you for all the flowers, get well cards, phone calls and so many offers of help in so many ways.
The people of Berrynarbor are so caring and thoughtful and our sincere thanks to you all.
June and Gerry
OH WHAT A NIGHT
Adventures of Team 'Walkwalk.com'
Of course, I blame Yvonne.After doing a series of challenges, which included a mile swim in a mucky lake last September, followed by a 10 mile run along the Tarka trail, and a (simple) Santa Run around Barnstaple
at Christmas, she stated that she now needed another challenge to look forward to. Foolishly, I suggested the Star Trek Challenge, something we had been talking about for the last 20 years one year we even got as far as obtaining an entry form, but as Foot and Mouth developed that year, the whole event was cancelled. After Yvonne had mentioned the walk to some friends at work, she had enough support to form a team I don't know whether I intended to be part of that team when I first suggested it to her, but my name was included anyway!
The Star Trek Challenge was started 20 years ago by the Rotary Club of Ilfracombe, and basically it's a load of idiots, sorry, walkers, who trundle across Exmoor in the middle of the night, at a very silly time of the year - early March being prone to snow, ice, gales and rain - with the hope of raising lots of cash for local charities. Teams have to consist of at least 4 members, for safety reasons obviously if someone gets injured one member has to stay with them and stop them from dying of hypothermia, whilst the other pair go off in search of help. The motley crew that Yvonne managed to put together consisted of Ann and Paul, nurse Sandra, our dear friend Tim J. who assured us he knew how to use a compass so was welcomed with open arms, Yvonne, as chief instigator and leader, and myself bringing up the rear. The fact that I was nearly 20 years older than the rest didn't seem to deter them probably cos Yvonne insisted that I did lots of walking and was reasonably fit - and stupid!
So on March 3rd 2012 we all met at a field near Hawkridge on top of Exmoor. The actual organisation and work that goes into setting up the whole challenge is quite mind-boggling. So many volunteers, serving hot drinks, food, making sure we are all correctly equipped, helping to park cars [and especially helping to clear the car park in the early hours of the morning, when said field was almost waterlogged], people in caravans at various check points on the walk making sure each team reaches a certain spot in the allocated time . . . not to mention the emergency teams ready to be called out in case of accidents or, worse, people getting lost for hours. The planning beforehand is incredible, so many factors to take into consideration such as reasonable paths, places to set up the check points, safety issues, compass bearings and clues to set the list goes on and on. I think the credit should go to all the volunteers, who in my mind, work so much harder than we have to. After all, we had chosen to do the walk for FUN.
Back to our adventure now . . .
So after checking in, receiving, studying and mapping the route of our first section, we left the site at around 7.45 p.m. dry, warm, dark but with some moonlight filtering through the patchy cloud. After a short walk down and back up the lane, we turned into a small wood, and immediately felt the adventure was beginning. We managed to answer a few of the clues relatively easily, but what Francis Drake had got to do with a woodland path on the edge of Exmoor we never did fathom out! The first leg of our journey took just over the allocated time - put that down to inexperience, not to mention wasting time trying to work out the Francis Drake clue - and we checked in at the first caravan feeling, well, quite cocky. At each check in you handed in your answer sheet and scores are collected later which all go towards the overall result of the Trek. Once you are ready to leave, they hand you the next set of map instructions and clues, so off you go again. The section times vary between 55 minutes and 1 hour 35 minutes, so probably about 2 to 3 miles each stretch, and the times allocated are meant as a guide only, enabling the emergency services a better chance to find you if you were lost and hadn't checked in within a certain time thus giving them a smaller area to look for you if you were really, really off course. As I said before, brilliant and expert organisation.
Now there is no point in my going through the journey step by step, suffice to say we made it back to the half-way point in a respectable time and were welcomed by hot pasties and warm tea. Most groups spend about 20-30 minutes taking refreshments before adjusting rucksacks [amazing how many people offloaded unnecessary clothing into their cars] and visiting the porta-loos. Once we had all decided we were happy to carry on for another 4 hours, the same procedure as before was implemented and off we went.
The weather by now was definitely changing rain was forecast and we considered ourselves very lucky to have got this far without a soaking.
The next stretch of our walk soaked our boots it was so muddy, I reckon at least 25cm deep in parts and the suction was almost enough to drag your boots off. But, we carried on regardless, trying to ignore Pauls pleas of 'Are we there yet?' I am pretty sure it was just his sense of humour, and let's face it, a sense of humour at 2.00 a.m. on the moors, in the pitch black, is ESSENTIAL. Fortunately, it wasn't until half past two at the point when we were probably on highest ground and deepest moorland that it started raining. First a fine drizzle, turning to light rain followed by heavy rain. Yvonne, very dexterously I thought, managed to put on her waterproof trousers, but I soon gave up after deciding that trying to balance on one leg with only one boot on in the pouring rain and wind could only end up in disaster. As my trousers were already damp and we were on the homeward stretch, I decided to brave the elements and wait until we reached the meeting point, when I could change into dry attire without too much risk of injury.
One last check point, where we were told less than an hour now folks', which cheered us up no end and kept us going through the last stretches of mud, up and down dale and through a few very soggy fields. The glow from the meeting point in the near distance was a welcome sight and to see it getting larger and brighter spurred us all on. We finally reached the last check in point and duly, and happily, handed in our bedraggled form at 4 oclock in the morning.Self-congratulations all round were soon followed by hot drinks and sustenance. Just one last chore to perform, having the official team photograph taken, which, considering our soggy state, it was amazing that we all managed a beaming smile. Probably due to sheer relief that it was ALL OVER and no one would have to do anything like that again well, not until next year.
Since writing this memoir, Yvonne has done a quick calculation and it appears we have raised over £1,300 for the charity fund. So many thanks to all our sponsors.
I should like to give special thanks to Yvonne for actually organising the team, getting us in place and at the right time, complete with all the correct equipment and information, but especially Tim for his skill as a map reader without whom I am convinced we should still be stuck out there somewhere on Exmoor. Oh, and Aunt Ruby for the Mars Bars!Well done everyone - same time, same place next year?
BERRY IN BLOOM & BEST KEPT VILLAGE
This is a very busy time of the year for the blooming team, but with the lovely sunshine we have been having lately we are ready to start the years gardening and litter picking. Our first litter pick will be Sunday,
1st April, meeting at 2.00 p.m. at Bessemer Thatch. Everyone is welcome to join us and well follow the litter pick with tea and cake.This is weather dependent, so if in doubt please check with me on  882296 or 07810038659.
At the Berry in Bloom and Best Kept Village meeting held on 7th March, it was agreed to change the dates of the Gardens Open to May 20th for the Sterridge Valley and September 9th for the Village gardens. This is because of the very busy June, July and August this year with the Queens Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and all the usual village fetes. As always we are keen for any new gardens to open - they dont need to be perfect but if you have a lovely view, interesting water feature or whatever, please get in touch with me.
Well be running a Fun Quiz Night at the Manor Hall, 7.00 p.m. on Friday 20th April with Phil Bridle as Quiz Master, and with supper included for just £6.00. We shall also be manning the cake stall at the Horticultural & Craft Show Coffee Morning on Saturday 7th April, so we look forward to seeing you all there.
We hope that you will support these events as well not be getting any funding this year and must be self-supporting.
A friend of mine sent me this recipe for an unusual chocolate cake that would be lovely for an Easter tea.
Chocolate Coca Cola Cake
250gm self-raising flour
Generous pinch of bicarbonate of soda
3 heaped tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
300gm caster sugar
2 free range eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200ml Cola (use Diet Cola if you like)
For the frosting
200gm Icing sugar100gm butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pre heat the oven to 180 Deg C, Gas Mark 4.
Grease a 24cm loose-bottom cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
Sift the flour, the bicarbonate of soda, and cocoa powder in to a bowl and stir in the sugar.Stir in the beaten eggs and vanilla extract.
Put the butter in a saucepan and melt over gentle heat.Add the Cola to the melted butter and stir to mix,DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL. Stir in the milk and remove from the heat.
Quickly whisk the Cola-butter mix in to the dry ingredients. Mix gently but thoroughly.Pour the mixture in to the prepared tin and bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in to the centre comes out clean.Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.
For the frosting, cream the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and Cola together and cover the cake.
As this cake would be lovely for Easter, mini chocolate eggs would decorate it beautifully.
BERRYNARBOR WINE CIRCLE
The February Wine Circle meeting was billed as Judiths Mystery Night, and it turned out to indeed include a bit of mystery. She came up with the novel idea of presenting a blind tasting of a wine for which we had to decide what the grape was, then to compare it with wines made from the same grape but from different areas of the world.
The mystery white drew several different proposals as to what grape it was, including Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio, but was correctly identified by one table, not only the grape but to its actual region an appellation Touraine made from Sauvignon Blanc in the middle Loire region in France.The Touraine is similar to two other, but expensive wines made from Sauvignon Blanc in near-by areas - Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. The Touraine, like them is a crisp white wine, perfect with all forms of sea food, but at a much more affordable price. The Touraine Sauvignon Blanc was then compared with one from South Africa and a most unusual offering, a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from Brancott Estate, New Zealand, a first for most of the members.
The mystery red had everyone guessing, and mainly wrong! It was in fact a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Pays Doc region of France - most thought it was a Merlot from just about anywhere else in the world but France.However, once the grape variety had been revealed the next two reds were more typical of the grape with its strong blackcurrant flavours. Once again though, the difference of style from Pays Doc, France, Clare Valley Australia and Mendoza in Argentina made for very interesting tasting and comparisons.
Well done Judith, a new idea very well executed and again a most enjoyable social evening for the Berrynarbor Wine Circle.
NEWS FROM OUR COMMUNITY SHOP AND POST OFFICE
Thanks to the help of so many people, our Carnival of Veniceevening in February was voted a success. Gerry, with his lovely voice, set the scene as Gino the romantic gondolier and Stuart accompanied him dressed as one!Diane Denney from Somewhere2Travel2 brought the Carnival alive with her illustrated talk on its history and our Berrynarbor cheffesses [Wendy, Anita, Yvonne, Kath, Janet and Pam] produced a delicious three-course Italian supper.
A goodly number wore masks and the outstanding prize winners were Colin Applegate and Gilly Loosemore.
Barnstaples twinning association lent us a huge Italian flag and bunting in its colours and gentlemen appeared at just the right time to decorate the hall. Added to this were Debs rounding up some lovely raffle prizes and Pauls converting cassettes to CDs for the music. We raised £500 for the shop and additional small donations to Berry in Bloom and our Newsletter, so again, thanks to all helpers.
Easter is almost upon us.In the shop is a selection of Easter Eggs for £1.50 [a good price!], little knitted chicks for £1 which will take a small egg, Easter cards and of course Hot Cross Buns.
Do take a look at our £1 stand where items change frequently.You may be tempted with an impulse buy, but wont regret it!
Kath reiterates that she would like any seedlings, plants, cuttings, cant bear to throw aways or surplus to requirement to be handed in at the Manor Hall on Sunday 6th May for the Great Plant Sale. Beforehand, if you have spare plant pots [particularly large ones] that you can donate, please take them to the shop and if you need pots, please ask there. Tables to rent, cost £5 - same as last year, are bookable by phoning Kath on 889019. And, of course, we should like to see as many as possible at 2.00pm on the 6th, eager to buy up all the wares!
And finally, the Berrynarbor Shop Golf Tournament will take place on Friday 25th May [Tee off 1.00 p.m.]The usual format applies. Phone John Boxall for details , and do try to encourage new competitors. There will be lots of prizes and at the end of the day, theres a prize winners dinner [non players also welcome].
PP of DC
DISTANT MEMORIES OF BERRYNARBOR
First of all I have to acknowledge that I stumbled upon your magazine by accident, I was looking up a former friend and employer in England on Google, when I spotted the name Beauclerk and by clicking on it was introduced to your delightful magazine. Then again I saw the name in the letters in the October 2011 issue from Eric Hammond and Tony Beauclerk.
It was after I had read these letters that I realised I knew them both, for I too had lived in Upminster for nearly 20 years and went to school with Eric.
My link with Berrynarbor dates back to the war years of 1939-45, when I was evacuated for a short time to stay with Gerald Beauclerk and family to escape the bombing where we lived. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old and attended the village school which consisted of a large single room with a blanket dividing it into 2 class rooms. However, I was at a disadvantage in the school as they had not yet been taught long division, whereas I was ahead of them coming from near London.
During those Devon days, I experienced Gerald making and flying his model aeroplanes and my flying what was in those days called a FROG KIT plane with wound up elastic bands to keep it in the air, gliding or crashing when the power had finished. Tony had dug, what appeared to be to my young eyes, an enormous tunnel and rooms underground in the garden. I remember going underground with him and being in awe.
His sister Jean was a good artist and painted scenes on sea shells and flat stones. I was not in her world so did not have much to do with her. She wanted to be a Doctor and I have wondered over the years whether she achieved her ambition.
Gerald taught me chess and although I was only 7 years old took to it like a fish to water. We had many battles across the board, even late at night, although I believe my mother put a stop to that!Later I joined the Upminster Chess Club and so have to thank Gerald for enabling me to enjoy chess in competition for many years. Sadly, like so many things my friendship with the family vanished. I served in Gibraltar, doing my National Service in the Army, Spain and then came Canada.
I could go on but must stop as this epistle does not recall much of Berrynarbor or Ilfracombe where I used to swim in the rock pool and fish.
I thank you for putting to rest some ghosts that have haunted me in a pleasant way.
Stan Walker St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
WHERE ARE YOU NOW?
Lornas article on the Youth Club in the 70s and 80s brought a very welcome response from Kevin Robinson, also from Canada.
I remember those days with great fondness and try to keep in touch with as many of the old gang as possible: Wendy and Rachel [Fanner], Phil Desmond, Dave Sawyer, Liane [Hughes], the Chuggs of Berrydown, Dave Richards, Kim Markham, Sue and Jenny [Todd] and the Bowens.
Me? Well I emigrated to Canada and after many years in the automotive business I became a Motoring Journalist. I now write auto-related news stories and new car reviews for several publications including two local Toronto lifestyle magazines [Caledon & Orangeville Living], my own site www.carkeys.ca, and the largest automotive web content provider here in Canada, www.auto123.com.My work is published under the pen name of Kevin Crash" Corrigan [a long story, but Corrigan was my original birth name] and although the pay scale isnt quite that of Jeremy Clarkson, I enjoy the work immensely. It has enabled me to travel the world - Im off to Monterey California this week and Malaga Spain the week after - and I get to drive many of the vehicles I dreamt of as a child, I always was a tad car-crazy! I also get to boast of a different brand new vehicle parked in my driveway each week, and there are not many who can lay claim to that!
Ive made several appearances on Canadian television over the years in my role as an automotive expert, am a judge for the Canadian Car of the Year Awards, yet Im probably best known now for my car piloting escapades. In 2010, I achieved 3rd place in the coveted Targa Newfoundland Rally - a week-long high performance road rally and one of only four such events held worldwide. I believe that growing up in and around Berry provided me with more than a little assistance in achieving that result The winding road from my home at Berrydown into the village certainly helped shape my driving skills, and meeting the odd farm tractor on a blind bend did wonders for my reaction times!
Being a farm boy at heart - my family used to own Longlands Farm at Kentisbury Ford - I now live on a small acreage just north of Toronto where I keep two horses, a dog, a cat, and a pot-bellied pig called Patrick [Paddy the Pig].My sister Karen now lives in in the village and I hope to visit sometime in the summer.
I should love to hear from any of the old gang, and I thank you Lorna for reminding me of all the wonderful friends I enjoyed during my time spent in Berrynarbor. You live in a wonderful village and a place where the residents can be truly proud to call home.
Kevin [AKA Kevin Crash Corrigan] Toronto, Canada
Come on, please, lets be hearing from some of you other members of the Youth Club, even those who live locally or have parents still living in the village!It would be good to know where you are and what youve achieved.
NEWS FROM THE PRIMARY SCHOOL
As Easter is early this year we have already nearly completed the Spring Term!
The children have been busy this term taking part in various sporting activities, including Sports Hall athletics at Ilfracombe College, and an inter-schools swimming gala at Ilfracombe pool. We have a group of children going to an Orienteering Festival at Ilfracombe College next week. There are also some friendly football matches being organised between some of the local schools and we shall be playing Ilfracombe Junior School on Monday 19th March.
Thursday 1st March was World Book Day. The children and staff were encouraged to dress up as their favourite fictional character, and parents were invited to school during the morning to take part in some reading related activities. This was very well attended and enjoyed by all.
On Big Yellow Friday, a fun day to raise funds for a charity supporting children with liver disease. We shall all be dressing in yellow costumes for the day to raise awareness and money for this worthwhile cause.
Our PTA have also been busy. Their recent Curry and Quiz night, held in the Manor Hall at the end of February was a huge success, and a good time was had by all. This is a great money raiser for our school, and we would like to thank everyone who took part.
Following on from the Senior Dudes Christmas meal, Class 4 children will be preparing, cooking and serving a wonderful meal, but this time it is for their parents and takes place on Friday 16th March.
Class 3 will be holding their Easter play in the Church on Thursday 29th March. All are welcome.
We shall again be collecting vouchers from Sainsburys and Tesco towards sports equipment for our school, and should be very grateful for any donations of vouchers.
This year saw our first team of Star Trekkers; Mrs Wellings, Mr Jones, Mrs Lucas, Mr Newell, Mrs Richards and Mrs Davies all took part and successfully completed the walk in 8.5 hours! Well done to you all!
We would all like to wish you a Happy Easter.
Sue Carey Headteacher
The 24th January was a very special day and another telegram from the Queen for Ina and Cecil [Hodkinson] who were celebrating their Platinum Wedding 70 years together, what an achievement!
Our congratulations and very best wishes to you both.
Congratulations are also in order for two new babies in the village.
Morley Barrett, a second son for Geoff and Elaine and a brother for George arrived safely on the 23rd January weighing in at 6lbs 7oz.Morley is another grandchild for Pat and Richard, and Chris and Barbara.
Just tipping the scales slightly higher at 6lbs 10oz, Eily Rose Wedlake made her debut on Friday 9th March.A daughter for Amy and Gary and a first grandchild for Angela and Richard.
A warm welcome to the two little ones and congratulations to the proud parents and grandparents.
I have just looked up the word kite in the dictionary and it says:a toy consisting of a light frame covered with a light thin material, usually in the form of an isosceles triangle.
This may have been the only idea of a kite at one time, but how things have changed. They dont even have to be in the air. On a minesweeper there was a device attached to a sweep-wire submerging it to the requisite depth when it is towed over a minefield.
My first recollection of kite flying was as a child.I would make my own.If they nose-dived, then a larger piece of rag on the tail would usually put things right.
Our family devised a kite in the size and shape of a domestic door.People said, Thatll never fly", but it did! With a heavier string and an enormous pull, it broke lose one day and we spent an hour or so hunting to find where it had landed.
But kites can be very dangerous too.In their modern form they have enormous lifting power.At Brightlingsea a man was lifted across the river and landed unhurt on the other side.
A man at Stowmarket was not as fortunate when he was lifted up and dropped.He lost his life.
Today, looking out at sea young people can be seen kite surfing.
My own experience of being lifted by a form of kite was parachuting at Looe in Cornwall.I was strapped to a form of parachute on the deck of a boat.As the boat gathered speed, the line was let out as you rose in the air.I was told, Not to worry if the line breaks, you will just float down into the water."They failed to mention the sharks and conger eels lurking down below!
Of course the wind has been used in other ways.Take, for example, windmills.Some years ago the Abraham Brothers had a nice arrangement in that one owned and operated the local windmill for grinding the grain, whilst the other ran a bakery in those days bread was oven baked.What were often mistaken for windmills on the Norfolk Broads were in fact water pumps.
Coming down your way whilst on holiday, I observed a man floating high up at Woolacombe.It was a banana-shaped craft and he was circling around for most of the afternoon.Similarly a man flew up and down near the cliffs at Cromer in Norfolk.I met him later on the pier and asked him if had to learn to fly a hang-glider or have a certificate or something.His reply was, Oh, I dont know about that, I just did it!"
Nowadays in a full circle, the windmill has returned in the form of huge wind turbines.Two hundred feet and more in height, hundreds of them can be seen on and off our shores. I dont know what the neighbours would say if I put one in my front garden!
Illustrations by Paul Swailes
Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket
FOR SALE - £250.00
Seen in a shop Bacton, Suffolk
No weaving in and out of the traffic with this motor bike!
WEST COUNTRY WALK 131
Far From the Madding Crowd at Maiden Castle
Last year in early May we were passing through Dorchester when I was surprised to see from the map how close Maiden Castle was.Only a couple of miles from the town it was worth a detour.
We walked along the track leading to the ancient monument.It loomed impressively ahead, much bigger than I had expected.
Illustration by Paul Swailes
The guide book claimed not only is it the best example of a prehistoric fortress in Britain, with enormous earthworks, but Maiden Castle is also one of the finest Iron Age hill forts in Europe.
The short turf was studded with cowslips and the air was full of linnets and skylarks.Several stonechats perched on bushes at the side of the track.I turned my head in the direction of a harsh churring sound and caught sight of the mistle thrush responsible for it.
As we reached the hill fort a bright orange butterfly; a small heath, fluttered past slowly and low to the ground.There was a view, somewhat incongruously of Prince Charles Poundbury development, looking rather like a Toytown version of how a housing estate should be.Well, at least the inhabitants of Poundbury are able to enjoy a wonderful view of Maiden Castle.
It is about three-quarters of a mile long.The Romans built a temple at the eastern end.From a distance it had appeared to be a smooth and solid mound but we found ourselves in a complex system of earthworks folding and circling about us like hills within a hill.What a feat of engineering those Ancient Britons achieved.
My companion had gone a little way ahead and was soon out of sight.When I saw him on top of an escarpment, which dropped steeply only to rear up just as steeply on the opposite side, I felt a sense of deja vu although I had never been there before.
I recognised it as the location for the scene in the film version of Thomas Hardys Far From the Madding Crowd, in which Sergeant Troy [played by Terence Stamp] impresses Bathsheba Everdene [played by Julie Christie] with his swordsmanship.
Having assured her first that the sword is blunt Troy, brilliant in brass and scarlet, shows off his prowess, charging up and down the slopes, brandishing his sword ever closer to the watching Bathsheba until finally he uses it to cut off a lock of her hair.
But you said that it was blunt and couldnt cut me!" she protested.
That was to get you to stand still, and so make sure of your safety.The risk of injuring you through your moving was too great not to force me to tell you a fib."Troy explained.
Bathsheba shuddered, I have been within an inch of my life and didnt known it!"
These were the images that popped unexpectedly into my head as we wandered about the strange landscape of Maiden Castle.
Although Bathsheba marries Sergeant Troy, the marriage is a disaster and she finally settles with the dependable shepherd Gabriel Oak.He tells her, Whenever I look up there you shall be and whenever you look up there shall I be."
I wondered what Bathsheba and Gabriel would have made of Poundbury or what their creator Thomas Hardy an architect before he found fame as a writer would have thought of it.A carbuncle on the face of his beloved Casterbridge?
OLD BERRYNARBOR NO. 136
Sandaway Caravan Park, Berrynarbor
This postcard of the Sandaway Caravan Park, Berrynarbor, was posted on the 16th August 1965 by Gwen and Ernest to friends or neighbours in Kidlington, Oxford.They say that they lost their way twice on the way down and that the weather is good and they have had to buy sun hats to protect them from the sun.[Summers past!]
At that time the Park was owned and run by the Carey family and many of the caravans were privately owned and let for one or two week periods during the summer season.
The Carey family had owned it and the Market Gardens from the early 1950s.Mrs. Careys nephews, Ernest and Bill, ran the market gardening side of the business whilst she and her niece Marjorie ran the camp site for tents and caravans.
In the mid-1960s it was sold to the Howard family and by the 1980s was being run by Alfred Taylor who later lived in the Channel Islands and had a manager running the now much improved Caravan Park.
In the early 1990s, the large business of John Fowler Holiday Parks purchased the site and are still running it today with its many facilities including a swimming pool, shop and club house.
I should very much welcome any more information about the site.
Tom Bartlett, Tower Cottage, March 2012
MARY JANE CHALLACOMBE
Baptised 3 March 1844 11 July 1915
Developer of Collingwood Hotel, Ilfracombe
With deep regret we announce the death of Miss Mary Jane Challacombe, of Lyncott, St Brannocks Road, Ilfracombe who passed away quite suddenly on Sunday."
That report was the Ilfracombe Chronicles farewell announcement of 17th July 1915 of a conspicuous figure in the business life of Ilfracombe.
It was with some sadness that I read of the demolition of the Collingwood Hotel in Januarys North Devon Journal, not because Id ever been in there, but it had a certain gracious style when I first knew it. Then Mary Jane Challacombes name emerged as the original owner, and I wanted to know more about this lady.
A phone call to Michael Challacombe, her great-great-nephew yielded not a lot! As he remarked, he never thought as a child to ask his grandfather about her.He knew that her parents had owned several farms at West Down during the Napoleonic Wars, and thought she might be buried in West Down Church graveyard. No such luck!On a cold wet miserable January day Alex and I scoured all graves in the church of St Calixtus [No Id not heard of him either, but he was Pope from AD 212 - 217 and then was martyred.]Anyway, our search was in vain and then Ilfracombe Museum came up trumps.Her grave was in Ilfracombes Parish Church and yes, I found it.She is buried with two of her aunts, Elizabeth and Mary Ann, as detailed on the now-weathered headstone.
But back to the beginning.Mary Jane Challacombe, second daughter of John and Ann Challacombe, was baptised in Holy Trinity Church on 3rd March 1844,Her father was listed as a Master Saddler, her mother a dairy woman.With the inheritance after her fathers death, she decided to go into property.Over the years she acquired what is now the Cider House in St Brannocks Road and built the properties on the other side of that road including Lyncott, home to the Challacombe family for many years.She had apartments at 2 Market Street, and then opened a boarding house at No 10.Around 1875, in an area called Mill Meadow [the remains of that mill has just been demolished with the hotel], a man from Newport, Monmouthshire built four terraced villas and called them
Collingwood Terrace, apparently after Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood who was Nelsons heroic second in command at the battle of Trafalgar.Three years later, Mary Jane leased the two central houses and opened them as boarding houses.Eventually she leased all four and bought numbers 2, 3 and 4.In 1889 she added a large rear extension for kitchen, dining and coffee room and more bedrooms.
The following year a new facade and extra floor were added and the Collingwood Hotel emerged as one of the best hotels in Ilfracombe. On the photo of the terrace you will see on the right bay windows at ground level and basement. Look at the photo of the hotel and ignoring the extension on the right you will see the same two bay windows, a rare part of the buildings remaining origins. The hotels main entrance was the surviving doorway of one of the original villas.Way ahead of her time, she owned the first motor car in Ilfracombe and had a garage built at the hotel for it.Having completed her project, three years later, Miss Challacombe retired. She was not interested in town affairs, but according to her obituary was an enthusiastic Liberal. She took a keen interest in the founding of the Liberal Club and was a diligent worker on the Womens Liberal Association.
She never married, it is said, because her husband would get all her money, but she had a live in male friend for many years. Could this be Dr. John Cornbill, who in the 1881 census was listed as Boarder, at 2 and 3 Collingwood Terrace, Surgeon not practising, and in the report of her death as an immediate mourner?He left a message, after a friendship of 40 years on her wreath.
It is thought this photograph is of Mary Jane Challacombe, but can anyone please confirm this?
By 1920 the Collingwood had grown to a first class hotel, boasting 120 bedrooms - only the Ilfracombe Holiday Hotel was larger with 250.Its iron fretwork was painted white not Victorian green or black - and successful years lay ahead.
Five generations later, Michael Challacombe with his wife Wilma, a much loved proprietor, ran the hotel for its last 40 years. They sold the hotel to Wetherspoons in 2007, a year before Wilma died. After surveys, Wetherspoons decided that the hotel must be pulled own as interior load-bearing walls had been knocked through over the years and the building was unsafe for reconstructing the interior.
Now after 5 years of haggling over what the replacement will contain, the grand old lady has been reduced to rubble, with many locals [including me!] photographing its demise. An Art-Deco building is planned, costing £4million. It will have 54 bedrooms and a restaurant and will be raised up to avoid flooding problems. Car parking will be to the rear. Perhaps, as the Collingwood was in its day, it will become one of the finest places to stay in Ilfracombe.
It would be good to think that Mary Jane Challacombe would approve, but at the least, she reserved a large plot that might otherwise have been built on, for a brand new 21st century hotel that according to District and Town Councillor Paul Crabb is a very important step forward in Ilfracombes on-going regeneration.
Thanks to Michael Challacombe and the Ilfracombe Museum for their information
PP of DC
The 1926 General Strike in the United Kingdom was a strike that lasted nine days, from the 4th to the 13th May.It was called by the general council of the Trades Union Congress in an unsuccessful attempt to force the Government to act to prevent wage reduction and worsening conditions for coal miners.
The Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies was a British right-wing (but non-political) movement established in 1925 to provide volunteers in the event of a general strike. During the General Strike of 1926 the OMS was taken over by the government and was used to provide vital services such as transport and communications and to maintain order in the street.These volunteers were known as Special Constables.
An agreement to end the dispute took place on the 12th May. The miners maintained resistance for a few months before being forced by their own economic needs to return to the mines.
The effect on the coal-mining industry was profound and by the late 1930s, mining had fallen by more than 1/3rd from its pre-strike 1.2 million miners, But by the outbreak of the Second World War, productivity had rebounded from 200 tons produced per miner to over 300 tons.
Richard [Dick] Richards 1878-1948 a volunteer Special Constable in 1926 and his thank you from the Government. His task was to make sure the village remained quiet and peaceful! The photo shows him sitting outside his home at 24 Henton [Hagginton] Hill.Dick, Lornas grandfather, was a forester and agricultural worker.
Description of Spring
With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale;
The nightingale with feathers now she sings;
The turtle to her make hath told her tale.
Summer is come, for every spray now springs,
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale;
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings;
The fishes float with now repaired scale
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale;
The busy bee her honey now she wings;
Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale.
And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey [1516-1547]
Welcome to Spring
O! 'tis the ravished nightingale.
Jug, jug, jug, jug, tereau, she cries,
And still her woes at midnight rise.
Brave prick song! Who is't now we hear?
None by the lark so shrill and clear;
Now at heaven's gate she claps her wings,
The morn not waking till she sings.
Hark, hark, with what a pretty throat
Poor Robin Redbreast tunes his note;
Hark how the jolly cuckoos sing
Cuckoo, to welcome in the spring!
John Lyly [?1554-1606]
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring.
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
The palm and may make country houses gay,
Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning fit;
In every street these tunes our dear do greet;
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we,to-witta-woo!
Spring, the sweet spring!
Thomas Nashe [156l7-1601]
[This poem first appeared in the April 1991 issue]
Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!
The hills tell one another, and the listening
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn'd
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
And let thy holy feet visit our clime!
Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumed garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.
O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee.
William Blake [1757-1823]
Illustrations by: Paul Swailes