Edition 165 - December 2016

Artwork: Nigel Mason

Artwork: Judie Weedon


Here we are in December again with Christmas only days away. Are you ready or will you, like me, panic to get everything ready in time?

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 also go to everyone currently feeling under the weather.

Talking of which, we've had some lovely sunny autumn days and the autumn hues of the trees have been beautiful.

As well as thanking everyone who has contributed to this bumper issue and throughout the year, I must thank Maureen and Pat for the donation from their Coffee Morning and Gary for the donations from the sale of his book. Stuck for ideas for presents? How about Gary's A Potted History of Berrynarbor or one of Tom Bartlett's Postcard View Books?

My special thanks to Nigel, who in spite of current problems [see his article, page 18], has enhanced this issue with his wintry weather covers, and Debbie for the border for the Christmas Messages, which will again boost the funds of both the Newsletter and the Manor Hall.

And so to the new year and the February issue. Items will be welcome as early as possible but by Wednesday, 11th January, at the latest please. Thank you.

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

Judie - Ed




After the somewhat mediocre summer we felt that September and October were an improvement.

We were away for a fortnight in September so cannot break down the figures into daily ones but overall September was a warm month peaking at 25.9 DegC on the 7th. In some parts of the country September broke records for the highest temperature but we recorded 27.6 DegC in 2003. The rainfall total at 113mm was a bit above average, it was the highest monthly total since 2008 and considerably more than the 11mm in 2014. Wind speeds were about average with a top speed of 32mph on the 3rd. and 19.66 hours of sunshine were recorded which was also fairly average.

October has been quite a first-class month, notably it was the driest October that we have recorded since 1994 with a total of only 41.6mm of rain which fell over six days. For the rest of the month there was no recordable rainfall - the highest October rainfall we have recorded was 352mm in 2000. This brought the total rainfall for the year to date to 865.2mm. At the moment we are on course for a fairly dry year but this could all change! It was a very settled month with no extremes and although we recorded no particularly high temperatures during the month, due to the predominately light winds and dry conditions the days were very pleasant. The 82.59 hours of sunshine recorded was up on most previous years. Early morning temperatures were quite cool with a low of 3 DegC on the 22nd. The maximum temperature for the month was 18.4 Deg on the 24th. As you might have guessed, the barometer has been constantly high with one exception, on the 15th it dropped to 1002mbs.

Simon and Sue



Artwork: Helen Armstead


After what seems such a long time, and at a special joint service, we, in both Berrynarbor and Combe Martin, had the greatest pleasure in attending the Installation of our new Vicar, the Rev. Michael Rogers, in St. Peter's Church on Sunday 23rd October. The service was led by our Archdeacon, Rev. Mark Butchers. The event was very well attended by parishioners from both communities. Whilst this service was predominantly for Berrynarbor and Combe Martin, we must not forget that St. Phillip and St James, Ilfracombe [perhaps better known as Pip and Jim's!] will be welcomed and linked to both our parishes. Rev. Michael will now be responsible for all three churches in the years ahead. Suitable refreshments were served following this important service.

We now look forward to the Licencing and Installation of Rev. Bill Cole, supported by Michael Rogers in St Peter's Church Combe Martin on Monday 5th December at 7.30 p.m. Bill will take on the role of House for Duty Priest in support of Michael Rogers to cover both Berrynarbor and Combe Martin parishes. This important service will be led by the Lord Bishop of Exeter.

Following the success of the Flower Festival entitled Anniversaries 2016, a fabulous Concert featuring the Chivenor Military Wives, together with the Berrynarbor and School Choirs, was held on 4th November. The church was packed to capacity, just over 200, and an evening of superb singing was enjoyed by all. There were 28 Chivenor ladies, 18 Berrynarbor Choir members and 13 wonderful Berrynarbor School children who sang their hearts out. The finale, at the Chivenor Military Wives' request, featured all three choirs singing my arrangement of Joshua fit the battle of Jericho, with rapturous applause from the audience.

It must be recorded that Judith Adam was responsible for organising the evening with support from her husband Geoff, and much credit must go to them for staging this wonderful Concert.

Bouquets were presented to Judith and conductor Rachel Smith by Sue Neale, and to pianist Sue Trick by Berrynarbor School conductor Christina Barrow. Special commemorative medals were presented to all 13 schoolchildren by members of the Chivenor Military Wives Choir and all featured in a photoshoot at the end of the Concert.

From a personal point of view, it was such a pleasure to work with Rachel in rehearsing together the finale with the Military Wives at their base in Chivenor, and likewise with both Berrynarbor Choirs who have worked so hard over the last few months. A final thanks to Dot Stairmand who expertly conducted three of our choir pieces at very short notice due to our regular conductor and alto vocalist, Bish Muir being regretfully unable to attend. Also, a personal thank you to Christina Barrow who conducted the Children's Choir.

A special thank you to the bell ringers who not only rang for us, but also helped to transport chairs from the Manor Hall to and from the church before and after the concert. Superb refreshments were organised in the Manor Hall following the Concert by Wendy Applegate and her team.

What a wonderful evening to remember and a huge thankyou to all who attended the concert, which will raise much needed funds for the repair of the Manor Hall and Church roofs. I'm sure I've forgotten to mention many other people who also helped on the night - but many thanks anyway!

Remembrance Sunday will have passed by the time this edition of the Newsletter goes to print, and we hope that many in the village will have supported this important service in remembrance of all servicemen and women who died during two World Wars.

There may be some minor changes to church services over the Christmas season, so please do check the posters at the lych gate and village shop for up to date information.

The annual Christmas Carol Service, followed by mulled wine and mince pies, will take place on Wednesday, 21st December, at 6.30 p.m.

There will be the usual Christmas Eve Holy Communion Service on Saturday, 24th December, commencing at 9.30 p.m. A short Family Service will be held on Christmas Day at 11.00 a.m.

There will be no Friendship Lunch in December but there will be a Friendship Lunch on the last Wednesday in January 2017.

Stuart Neale




The children have enjoyed learning about the season, playing in the autumn leaves, going on a nature walk, carving pumpkins, making soup and pumpkin muffins. We also helped the ladies from Berry in Bloom and Best Kept Village to plant spring bulbs in the containers outside the Manor Hall. The children have already been watching them closely and anticipate their beautiful arrival in spring.

We held our AGM on the 3rd October. Geoff Barrett, Amber Graham, Jo Williams and Nicola Draper all stepped down from their positions and we wish to thank them for all their voluntary time, work and contribution in supporting and running the Pre-school.

Jenny Beer has also stepped down at Treasurer and we seek someone to fill the post. Unfortunately, without a Treasurer the Pre-school is not allowed to remain open. This role needs to be filled either by a parent or trusted member of the community, willing to donate just a few hours of their time to this voluntary position. None of us want the Pre-school to close, of course, so if you can spare a small amount of your time, please do get in touch.

Tim Stedeford has taken on the role of Chairperson and is looking forward to working with the rest of the new Committee to ensure our unique and much love Pre-school continues to run and provide the happy child-care the children enjoy so much.

The children are now preparing for Christmas and are looking forward to putting on a small performance of Christmas songs and music, as well as getting very creative making seasonal crafts, gifts and cards.

And so from all the staff, the children and the Committee, we should like to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Our opening times are flexible from 8.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. with a range of sessions to meet your needs. We are Ofsted registered and in receipt of the 2together scheme and Early Years Entitlement. We provide care and education for young children between the ages of 2 and 5.

Please visit us or call 07807 093644 or e-mail preschoolberrynarbor@gmail.com for further information.



Congratulations Gary on writing the above book. I found it most amusing, especially the tale of you at Pink Heather.

Being married to Grippsey for ten years, it brought back so many memories of the lads and Farmer Will in The Globe. Grippsey was definitely in the Merchant Navy - I saw his Seaman's Record Book listing the ships he sailed on, as steward, mostly out of Avonmouth to far flung countries, a lot of the time carrying bananas!

How time flies as it was thirty years ago in October that Gripps died.

Sheila Read [Songhurst] - Shamwick



Dear Ed

Please may Alex and I, through the Newsletter, thank friends who have helped so much in speeding up my recovery from the knee operation by phoning, bringing or sending cards, fruit and flowers and popping in for a chat?

Tony has been my mentor having had a similar operation two weeks earlier, and I am very grateful to him. We send special thanks to Janet who has been a true friend having supplied us with delicious suppers, puddings and cakes. What a lovely village we all live in.

Thank you everyone.



Combe Coastal Practice

Please come to the surgery for your flu vaccination.

We offer this vaccination to the following groups:

  • Patients aged 65 or over

or Patients aged who are under 65 with any of the following problems:

  • Asthma or another chronic chest complaint,
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Neurological Disease
  • A pregnant woman. a carer,
  • If you suffer from a serious illness and have a reduced ability to fight infection.

Please ring the surgery numbers below to arrange your appointment.

Ilfracombe: 01271 863119 or 863840 Combe Martin: 01271 882406 Woolacombe: 01271 870276



See What You Missed!

For anyone who failed to visit the Craft and Art exhibition, which was held to raise much needed funds for our Manor Hall, I can only say that you missed a real treat.

Nearly 30 individuals, mainly ladies of course, put together a superb display of close on 200 items, showing a variety of skills and talents, ranging from painting to collage, needlework to cross-stitch, upholstery to spinning and weaving, not to forget flower arranging, photograph and much more.

The entrance fee included endless tea or coffee plus a generous helping of cakes, all donated by the participants, and many home-made.

A note of thanks should go to the organisers and helpers for the considerable effort put into this village event.

Although the number of visitors was a little disappointing, the sum of £450 was raised for the Manor Hall fund. All who attended expressed their delight at the displays, their appreciation of the food and drink, and their

amazement at the wealth of talent to be found in our village. Perhaps next time more villagers could attend, and, along with visitors to the area, enjoy the skills of their fellow villagers and support the Manor Hall which is such an asset to our village. The photographs give you a taste of what was on show.

Brian Franks



Artwork: Paul Swailes

Work to the Hall and New Charity Structure

There has been some progress regarding the current two items of work facing the Committee, but it may be a while before they are fully resolved. We now have tenders back for the planned work to the manor house wing roof, but these are more expensive than we had estimated and at the time of writing we await the tender report before we can move forward. So, unfortunately, we cannot yet advise the Men's Institute when the work will be on site. Although the work will take place inside the roof space above, the ceiling below will need to be supported for safety reasons.

We can, however, advise that our new Charitable Incorporated Organisation is close to going live - our solicitors are now drafting the vesting deed required to move goods and chattels, money and the title to the Hall and Parish Room over to the new charity, so this long process is nearly at an end.

Fund Raising - Our thanks for the events held in October and November

Our thanks go to those who organised and helped out with two big events this autumn. Firstly we should like to thank Judie Weedon and the Craft and Art Group who put on an impressive display of work in the Hall during the last week of October. This raised £450 for the Hall and is much appreciated.

Many villagers will have attended the Military Wives Choir event held in the church on 4th November, which was also a fund-raising event for both the Manor Hall and the Church. More on this is being said elsewhere in this newsletter, but we wish to thank Judith Adam for her initiative in getting this event off the ground and pulling together the volunteers who are so important in making village events work. We should also like to thank Stuart Neale for organising the church and the choirs. It seems to have been a most enjoyable and moving evening, and a memorable shared experience for all those who were there. The event raised just over £2,400 after expenses, which has been shared equally between the Hall and the Church.

Both events have therefore made major contributions to our funds.

Manor Hall Management Committee




The Parish Council received a very interesting presentation at its October meeting on Community Energy and Hydro resource within the parish. The concept of Community Renewable Energy and whether or not it would be appropriate for the Parish is something the Parish Council will be investigating further. There is funding available, which we hope to be able to secure, to produce a feasibility study. We know there is a lot of hydro resource within the parish and the study will help to identify whether or not this could be utilised for a scheme. The feasibility study will also be used to ascertain whether or not there is community support, if there are suitable sites available and would a scheme be technically and financially viable?

An offer from Communities Prepared of free support to increase the communities' resilience has been made to the Parish Council. Communities Prepared is a partnership, between Cornwall Community Flood Forum (CCFF), Groundwork South and Cornwall College, supported by the Environment Agency, Devon County Council and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. This project has the capacity to:

  Work with communities to assess the risks in their local environment

  Help communities complete a community emergency plan and exercise it or review your existing plan

  Give support to recruit volunteers

  Fund equipment to support resilience activities

  Run presentations about preparing for emergencies like flooding to local groups, businesses and schools

  Signpost communities to information on insurance for Flood Wardens

In addition, this project has developed a series of community resilience training modules. We cover six key topics in the training, each with a focus on flood resilience:


  Understanding Flood Risk

  Flood Risk Awareness

  Emergency Response

  Personal Protective Equipment

  Role Profiles

  Use of Sandbags

Councillors Mrs. Fairchild and Mrs. Beer have shown a keen interest in this area which will be progress in partnership with Communities Prepared.

For those of you that are not aware the Your Future Care Consultation is now open for comment. If you have not seen the consultation document please contact the Devon CCG on 01392 267642 for a copy.

The Parish Council wish to thank Chris Wassall for his donation towards the playing field equipment.

The Parish Council would like to contribute in some way to the festivities of the Parish and is considering how it could add value to those arrangements already in place for Christmas 2017. If you have any suggestions please do let us know.




Some years ago, returning from Dulverton, we were stopped at Spire Cross and told the road ahead, across Winsford Hill, was closed. We retreated to moorland above the Caractacus Stone and as we poured our flask of coffee saw a vehicle coming down Winsford Hill, closely followed by another and another. The road must have reopened.

We the noticed that all the vehicles in the long convoy were vans. They represented all the utilities, water, gas, etc. and various trades.

When they reached the junction at Spire Cross they all turned around and went back up the hill the way they had come.

We speculated that it could be some sort of Civil Defence exercise. The man who had prevented us from going up Winsford Hill, though courteous and not in uniform, had conveyed the impression nevertheless that he expected to be obeyed and would not welcome questions as to why the road was closed.

Several months later while watching television we recognised Winsford Hill and a long convoy of vans descending it. The sequence only lasted about three seconds. It was an advert for the Ford Transit. So much for conspiracy theories!



When the trees were very young, many moons ago, they used to play in the forests. When autumn approached they held a festival to celebrate the season. The full maple was most excited of all and his leaves sang over and over, a song of joy, "Summer was warm, we work in the summer! Winter is cold, we sleep in the winter."

The dormice were angry.They were trying to get to sleep."Every year!" the eldest dormouse shouted, "Every year half the trees have their festival while we are trying to get our babies to hibernate - BE QUIET ALL OF YOU!"

The rowan and larch fell quiet.The full moon maple was enjoying himself so much that couldn't resist another burst of song."SUMMER WAS WARM . . ."his leaves bellowed.

Now dormice are generally very gentle creatures, but everyone is grouchy when they are sleepy and the eldest dormouse shook her tiny fists.

"WE WORK IN THE SUMMER. . " the full moon maple continued.

The dormouse stared at the tree with a sort of death stare. "Winter is cold . . ." she continued in a smaller voice.

The dormouse lost her temper altogether and slapped the faces of all the maple tree's leaves. As she slapped each one, they turned brilliant reds, oranges and purples and stopped singing. The forest was silent and the dormice nestled into their beds.

The full moon maple kept the beautiful colours each autumn and sometimes, you can still hear him singing quietly to himself.

Caroline Bennett - Westonbirt Arboretum




What a lovely Autumn it has been, making all our outdoor learning activities so much more pleasurable. As well as the usual curriculum studies, there have been many other events and opportunities for the children to be involved in. I'll let the children tell you about some of them.

Harvest - Thank you to all the parents who attended. We had a wonderful time to appreciate Harvest and all the hard work the farmers put in. We hope the people who came liked our displays.


Big Bang Event - This was one of the best events I have ever been to. There were loads of exciting experiments; we got to make slime walk on water. We would definitely like to visit Great Torrington School for another event like this.


Journey to the Centre of the Brain - Years 5 and 6 went to a brilliant presentation called "Journey to the Centre of the Brain" - not a very catchy title! - which was performed by Make Believe Arts. This educational play, which took place in West Down Hall, told the children all the things your brain does and how they do it. There were songs to help you learn it and parts where people got to join in. What an excellent way to teach! It was performed by four people and, as you can probably tell, they all had to play several parts each, now, that's clever! Part of why we went was because our topic is Ourselves, meaning our body and what happens.


Military Wives Concert - It was a great night starting with the Military Wives Choir singing 3 songs and then Berrynarbor Village Choir sang a funny song about the opening of Ascot horse racing track. In the first half we sang a song that I had written the words to, called 'Somewhere in the World'. A lot of people thought it was quite emotional. In the interval we had some snack boxes and a welcome chat after being silent [mostly!] for when the Military Wives Choir and Berrynarbor Choir sang their songs. In the second half the Military Wives sang my favourite song of theirs 'Wherever You Are', and we sang our second song 'This Little Light of Mine', which was a cheerful contrast to our first song. Finally, to end such an amazing evening, all three choirs sang 'Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho' as the grand finale. After that, the school choir were each given a medal saying 'I sang with the Military Wives Choir'.


PS: I would like to thank everyone involved for putting on such an amazing evening.


Bonfire Night - The children in Key Stage One would like to share some of their firework pictures and acrostic poems with you.

Fireworks sparkling in the air.
In the fireworks go.
Right up in the air the fireworks sparkle.
Excited people waiting for fireworks.
What a beautiful sight.
Over the hills, the hills the fireworks go.
Rockets singing in the breeze.
Crackle in the air.
Spreading lights everywhere.

Benjamin [6]

Fireworks whizzing and popping
I like firework time.
Rockets fly up in the air.
Everyone cheers and laughs.
Whoosh! Bang! Go the fireworks.
Off we go to watch the fireworks.
Rockets zooming and whizzing.
Skies full of colour.

Rosie [6]




There have also been ongoing football club, cookery club, choir, music lessons [violin, piano, guitar and ukulele] and since the Half Term break, weekly swimming lessons. Now we are busy preparing for a Spotacular Children in Need Day, the Senior Dudes Meal and all our Christmas events. Term finishes on 16th December this year so there is a lot to pack into just a few weeks.

The children have a Christingle Service in the church on Wednesday,

7th December which will be followed by the PTFA Christmas Fair, held in the Manor Hall. There will be a variety of stalls and activities and we would love to see you there. The PTFA are currently raising funds to update the fitness trail at school.

On the theme of fundraising, a huge thank you to all who supported West Down PTFA's Raise the Roof Appeal, a total of £4,298.30 was raised. Thanks to the generosity of Cornwall Flat Roofing, the roof was repaired with plenty of funds left over to have the internal damage repaired as well as the external lights that were damaged by the thieves. Also, many thanks to Foxhunters for providing the men with amazing breakfasts each morning free of charge, and to John and Fenella for their overnight accommodation.

We should like to wish you all a happy and blessed Christmas.

Sue Carey - Headteacher



Dave Beagley

Solution in Article 24.



Many readers will be aware of the wonderful illustrations Nigel has produced for our Newsletter and will have seen the article in the North Devon Journal:

"An Ilfracombe artist has landed a lucrative publishing contract with a leading UK fine art publisher. Nigel Mason burst onto the national art scene in August last year at Washington Green's Spring Fair IN-SIGHT 2015. The nationwide campaign to find promising artists from across the UK saw Nigel exhibit his work - and go on to sell all 18 of his paintings.

Nigel subsequently became one of three artists chosen to work with Washington Green, the art publisher which counts names such as Bob Dylan and Ronnie Wood on its books."

Our belated but sincere congratulations Nigel - well done!

A Year with Washington Green

When asked to attend the promotional day at the Insight Exhibition I didn't know what to expect. When I started out as a professional artist my experiences  of previews, meet the artist and promotional events were of short lived, sparsely attended do's with little effort from gallery staff.

My experience of the Insight Exhibition was polar opposite. On arrival at the event in the ICC in Birmingham, the gallery staff were welcoming and up-beat. They had a positivity and energy that was infectious.

My work was framed and displayed to best advantage and this played a major part in the successful sales.

It was a pleasure, as well as informative, to meet the directors and founder members of WG. I learned the history of the company and an insight as to its workings, its systems and ethos. I enjoyed meeting other artists, putting faces to the names and swapping stories of the trials and tribulations of being a working artist.

The exhibition was a sell out for me, which had a positive effect on me in regards to pointing a direction for future work, promoting a professional practice and giving me a feel-good factor that has stayed with me all year.

The main aim of any artist is to continue to make art. This year with WG has enabled me to work exclusively on my painting. I have been able to develop my personal practice in terms of quality of materials, presentation of work, hitting deadlines and developing a steady studio practice. But the main effect of being financially independent as an artist is the ability to concentrate on my own work and develop finer technique, work through ideas and, most importantly, to find my own 'voice'.

My work with WG has included carrying out commissions for collectors, working to deadlines, attending promotional events, doing interviews for the media, writing artist statements, giving talks about my work, and signing limited editions. These activities are far removed from the refined atmosphere of the studio but are absolutely crucial in obtaining a wider understanding, and appreciation, of the artists working life. I now appreciate the symbiotic nature between the creator and the promoter of artwork.

On a personal level I have had a blast this last year! I have grown as an artist and feel welcomed amongst my fellow artists. I feel confident and optimistic about the future and I intend to work hard for the mutual benefit of everyone involved. Here's to next year!

I wrote the above in July of this year but since then unforeseen events have cast a shadow across my creative life.

Most of you will have seen the news of the fire in Exeter City centre that gutted a row of buildings, including the oldest hotel in England and an art gallery. The hotel was the Clarence and the art gallery was Castle Fine Art, a sister company to Washington Green Fine Art. I was due to give a talk  in that gallery concerning my latest paintings and the design I made for the Exeter Cathedral Christmas card. 35 of my paintings had been sent to the gallery in advance of the talk. All the paintings were lost in the fire. Directors of Washington Green are busy looking for alternative venues for the gallery and the promotion for the Cathedral Christmas card will be re-scheduled. The creative and physical effort invested in my work, however, is irretrievably lost.

The fire has caused old ghosts to re-surface. When I left home aged 17, I was determined to make my way in the world as an artist. In an effort to dissuade me of my chosen path, my father burnt all my drawings and paintings. Everything! From my first childish scrawls to my drawings from the life class. My drawings of insects and frogs found in the woods and ponds around my home, to my copies of old masters, Rembrandt, Monet and Vermeer. The drawings I made left handed as a result of a broken right wrist playing rugby. All my examination drawings that enabled me to be top of the art class every year at secondary school.

At the time that irreversible act by my father served to make me more determined to succeed in the art world. I have long since come to terms with not having early drawings that show development or remind me of how I thought and felt as a boy, but this fire has resurrected old feelings of loss that are not so easily thrown off.

No one was hurt in the fire and, thanks to the heroic efforts of the emergency services, the damage to property was kept to a minimum. It seems that not all burn scars are visible.



Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Of course, this is the question being asked at this time of year.

Firstly I'll go back to my childhood when after my father died in 1936 when I was six, my good half-brother Gerald [30 years older than me] did his best to please us at Christmas time.

For Christmas that year he took our family to stay at Newhaven, not far from Brighton, where there were some wonderful pantomimes.

These shows somehow worked with such acts as trapeze artists, conjurors, tight rope walkers and so on. There were so many acts thrown in that you almost lost the plot - wonderful days when every theatre had a full orchestra!

These pantomimes were always clean fun and very suitable for all the family. Brighton also had a skating rink where you could hire skates and rush around like mad. Although in later life I learned to do the skaters' waltz!

In 1937 the whole family were again taken away, to Seaford. This time there was a considerable snowfall. Gerald lost no time going to the local carpenter's shop and got us a toboggan made.

Seaford Head was the place we headed for next. A very good slope with the land rising towards the cliff edge, meaning the risk of going over was limited! The snow was just right and to make the day, Father Christmas was there with his sleigh. My mother, sister, Gerald and I had a wonderful time!

So now, what about Christmas this year?

Well, as each part of my family will have their own Christmas dinner, I thought instead of a Christmas dinner get-together. We shall, for a complete change, go to a Chinese restaurant where you pay just one sum and you can eat as much as you like - no doggy bags allowed though!

Oh, just one more of my memories. After the war, I decided to have a holiday Christmas in Devon. I stayed with a friend, by the name of Bob Becker, in Combe Martin. His parents had invited lots of his family to Christmas dinner and most of them had huge appetites and later they all fell asleep in the front room trying, I think, to out snore each other.

So much for me.

I wish all you good people of Berrynarbor a lovely Christmas with happy family get-togethers. I hope you will have made your own paper chains!

My best wishes to you all for a Happy and Prosperous New Year and after all the presents and get-togethers, please don't forget the real reason why we have Christmas.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



A few months ago, I was sent some photos of my father building a hay rick. These were dated 1957 - there were no bales, just hay being forked from a trailer to make the rick. The rick was then thatched and the hay would have been baled later in the winter with a static baler.

Because the hay rick could internally combust, it had to be watched constantly. If the hay had been a bit damp, it would often be charred in the centre when the rick was opened for baling. Within a couple of years, the moving baler had taken over, creating the rectangular bales that were much easier to move and stack up.

The gathering of hay required a great deal of extra labour. When the hay was ready to 'carry', men and teenage boys would come from other farms or after work to help, working until it was almost dark and the dew had started to form. Everyone would then come in for supper which with cream [of course!] and plenty of tea, chat and banter. My mother often prepared this after cooking dinner for our summer visitors.

The normal work of the farm, milking, tending the stock, etc., still had to be fitted in around the hay harvest in June/July and again in August/September with the corn harvest, but it was hard, enjoyable work.

How much it has changed today! So much more silage in huge plastic rolls and not as much hay being made, but with bigger and better machinery the job can be done by one or two men.

The old labour intensive days have gone and in my lifetime, we have lost a way of life forever.

Jill Sidebottom


Jack Sidebottom building a hay rick at Wheel Farm





In the 1950's, the Old Scholars Association of the village School ran summer dances and funfairs in the Manor Hall to raise funds to buy every child up to 15 years old in the Parish, a very nice Christmas present.


The little picture shows Muriel Richards, School Teacher, awarding Mrs. Ella Graves a lovely cabbage - her prize for winning the Mrs. Berrynarbor competition at an Old Scholars Summer Dance.

Claude Richards junior is MC having a laugh with Mr. Ward who was the judge. Those were the days!








'When a man drinks wine at dinner, he begins to be better
pleased with himself.'
- Plato

Bray Valley Wines [BVW] is a privately-owned wine importer in South Molton, run by Charlie Cotton and Peter Rollinson; they are enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Peter presented six wines that were recent stock.

Apart from the Chardonnay, a grape and white wine that many dislike, the general consensus was that the other five were either lovely or very good. If a red-wine drinker states that they think a white wine is lovely, it must be! Their Dourthe No 1 Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 from Bordeaux is £8.99.

A Galician vineyard in Spain produced our Albarino, Pazos de Lusco, Rias-Baixas, 2015. BVW retail it for £11.99, probably a bit more than you'd pay for your daily quaff, but it would be good as part of a social event. All Peter's reds were delicious in my opinion, but my white-wine drinking husband thought they were too! Valpolicella Ripasso, Classico Superiore, Cantina di Negrar, 2014, was our first and cheapest red, at £10.99. Our next, was a 2010 Graves, our dearest wine of the evening at £19.99. It was intensely fruity and would be a superb accompaniment to any red-meat dish.

We finished with a brown-red, smooth, fruity Gigondas Cuvee les Pigie, Domaine Font Sarade 2013, from the southern Rhone. It was £17.99, not cheap, but it could be regarded as a delicious investment, if you can manage to keep it in your wine-rack!

'One not only drinks the wine, one smells it, observes it,
tastes it, sips it and - one talks about it.'
- King Edward VII

Geoff and I joined the Circle in October 2007 and haven't encountered a Members' Choices evening before, so we were intrigued! Six couples, per table, provided and presented a bottle of wine, continuing our usual six tastings per person. Three people presented their choices at any one time, but three tables of members added atmosphere and plenty of additional vocal noise!

Suppliers for our wines were the new Asda's in Barnstaple, Bray Valley Wines, South Molton, Majestic and Sainsbury's in Barnstaple and our village shop. We began with a 100% Pinot Gris, from New Zealand, at £9.99, chosen by the ever-knowledgeable Peter, from Bray Valley.

Tony's Muscadet, Chateau La Bidiere, is from the Loire, via Asda's. It was a good buy at £5.99 only.

Matching wine with food is beneficial as some wines appear to improve with an appropriate partner. Gewurtztraminer, a pink-skinned grape variety, is quintessentially Alsatian, eastern France, and complements spicy or exotic food. It was £8.00.

Kath provided a Chianti Reserva, a young Sangiovese, made by the Piccini family, wine producers in Tuscany since 1882, from Sainsbury's at £8.50.

We are fortunate in this village to have a shop; we are also fortunate as it stocks drinkable and reasonably-priced wine rather than wine for the pot only! Their Running Duck Pinotage, £7.98, was a great choice. It is, according to Debbie, very popular with the young mum's in the village, because the lack of sulphites means a lack of hangovers! As a red-wine drinker, I'm glad it was included; others were impressed with it too.

Californian Zinfandel, probably, doesn't have the best reputation in the world, but, perhaps it's one of those 'Marmite moments'! Having sampled Phil's Choice from Majestic says that it would be good 'by itself, with flavourful duck dishes or a cheese platter.' I think it would be good with any red-meat dish as well. Currently, it could be yours for £7.99 a bottle, instead of £11.99.

Our wines proved that gone are the days when you could produce a fiver to buy a respectable bottle of wine, and get change, but nothing stays the same. They also proved that you don't have to spend a fortune to taste an acceptable glass of wine either.

Judith Adam

Future Meetings

  • 14th December: Christmas Special
  • 18th January: Call My Wine Bluff
  • 15th February: Danube and Rhine Wines



My name is Rachel Luckham. I am a local Berrynarbor girl and have recently passed the prestigious Royal Navy Physical Training Instructors Course, a gruelling 26 week course, and took part in the Passing Out Parade on the 11th November.

Whilst on the course, I volunteered to fundraise for Help for Heroes and will now be trekking through the Burmese jungle and farmland with injured personnel in February 2017. Help for Heroes is a fantastic charity that helps injured service personnel and their families.

If you would like to sponsor me in my efforts or just find out more about my fundraising, please visit my just giving page below. Every penny makes a pound and every pound makes a difference!

Thank you.



Congratulations Rachel on your achievement and lots of luck for your February venture. Hopefully readers will sponsor you and we'll be trekking with you.

Members of the qualifying Leading Physical Trainers Qualifying Course 62. Rachel is 3rd from left in the middle row.



Artwork: Helen Weedon


In my previous article I made reference to a form of therapy that I use in my work to help people with mental health problems. Now mainstream and, to some perhaps just the latest craze, Mindfulness has become an effective technique; and if those who are cynical require evidence then just speak to the people who attend the eight week course I help to run.

The example I use for 'living in the present moment', the basis of Mindfulness, was a sycamore leaf in the midst of its autumnal decay and how, having brought it home from a walk, I spent time studying it. To some this may seem a futile exercise but not when put into context. For I had received a telephone call from a friend the previous evening who had got himself into a right pickle - so much so I spent all of the walk the next morning brooding over his predicament. But for what purpose? After all, no end of worrying on my part was going to conjure up the right ploughman's, figuratively speaking, to complement his pickle. More important, however, was that my fretting led me to miss out on the beautiful autumnal colours around me - in other words appreciating the present moment. I was therefore fortunate that the sycamore leaf caught my eye.

But what if I had not been able to go for a walk? What if say, I had become poorly overnight? More than likely I would have chosen to browse through a book, rural in its theme and defined by pictures, ideally scenes from Exmoor. Not that I have always been this way. There was a time when these pages would have been worthy of a mere glance. But nowadays, just as the sycamore leaf received my undivided consideration, so the leaf of a page with a countryside view merits my time to the extent that I can spend an afternoon on this type of book without feeling guilty or regarding the time spent as unproductive.

Only this morning I was sifting through the pages of such a book, looking for any one picture that might catch my attention. The page at which I stopped had a caption beneath that emphasised the scene's three key components: the River Barle swollen and rapidly flowing from overnight rain; a dense woodland stretching from the far bank upon which a sunbeam streamed onto a handful of trees and enriched their golden colours; and the striking silhouette of a thick tree trunk in the foreground. Facts registered, time then to turn the page. Or maybe not. Instead, time to consider the finer details.

I initially espied a carpet of pale brown leaves straddling the near bank, so many I could almost smell the potent decaying aroma they emit en-masse. Just visible within the trunk were two large crevices, the higher one boasting deep green foliage stretching claw like into the early morning air. Moss suffocated the nearside bank from which two trees rose to embrace dappled sunlight. Here and there, jagged rocks jutted from the ground to form an uneven and rugged pathway beside the river. The picture denoted a starvation of sunlight in recent times upon the trees in the foreground, bereft of their leaves and once again baring their winter coats; and this in shocking contrast to the density of golden-brown trees beyond the river where high trees permitted glimpses of a pale blue sky upon the print. A mere peep too of a mossy island in the middle of the river which in calmer waters would have disclosed a more hospitable show. I could go on.

However, it is this very going on that can be dispensed not only to service users in emotional crisis but to all of us; and the subject matter can be anything. In cases where I am taking a duty call at work it could be asking someone to describe their feelings, emotionally or physically, at that very moment; or tell me what they can see, hear or smell in as much detail as they can. If they are in a room it may be a picture, any fabrics, decorative pieces or an ornament which if it is close by they could hold it and describe how it feels - even better whilst stroking a pet! Alternatively, it may be what they can see out of a window. A garden plant, a tree or shrub, any wildlife, the sky or even just traffic and people passing by. Put simply, living in the moment rather than concerning themselves with the past or future.

Naturally, one might argue that looking out of a window in the depths of winter may not be ideal advice. Think again. For contrary to the first line of the Christmas carol, the deep midwinter is not quite as bleak as it may seem. I cite as an example the weeping willow trees in Bicclescombe Park I used to see from my lounge. Stripped of leaves, their branches bore an orange glow, pale on bright days but a shocking and burnt shade when dull and becoming luminous on the darkest of days. Add driving rain and a forceful wind which violently tossed their branches and it was mesmerising. Once the storm had passed, the lane through Score Valley would beckon, its air filled with vanilla fragrance induced by the raindrops that had fallen upon the wintering flowers of heliotrope. Meanwhile the bare hedgerows were now setting me the challenge of seeking out any secluded red campion or herb Robert still in flower. An opportunity too for easier bird spotting. Climbing up to St Brannocks Road, crossing over to the Cairn followed by a further steep climb allowed a stroll along The Beard path where naked trees revealed once more the woodland floor's startling nose dive. Reaching Cairn Top, I was in time to see the winter sun send rays upon linear clouds that in turn reflected a covering of dusky pink upon the countryside. Looking to the southeast I was reminded of the breathtaking sunrise watched on the winter solstice when the frozen ground twinkled with a million stars. To the north, the welsh mountains had been beautifully draped in earlier snow. The lack of summer haze had presented me a view deep into Wales; a sight even more astounding on the morning when its coastline was still visible above a haunting low winter fog that shrouded the Channel. Nearing home I then observed a great variety of bird species upon our feeders, all of them now seeking winter fuel having cleared the shelves of their own rural pantries. Finally, back inside with a hot drink and the dogs slumbering in the heat emitted from the open fire, I admired the unique outline of each bare branch upon the London plain in the park. Make the most of the season. The rural winter's special offers will end soon; and it's therapy will not cost you a penny. Merry Christmas.

Steve McCarthy



Friday, 4th November, was a special day for Berrynarbor, as we were treated to a visit by the Chivenor Military Wives for an event that has been described by Stuart Neale, as the 'most prestigious musical event in the village'. Many knew that there had been plans afoot for nearly two years, to secure their participation in a fund-raising concert. When their music started, I sat listening to 'Amazing Grace' feeling a bit dazed, almost in disbelief that they were actually here and realising that my determination had, finally, finally, borne fruit!

Geoff and I went to a Wives concert in December 2014, at Woolhanger Manor, in aid of the Children's Hospice in Barnstaple. I realised that this well-known choir, formed in Braunton by Gareth Malone in 2011, had a schedule that was able to include local, charitable events. During their interval, I asked them if they would be able to do a concert for us in Berrynarbor as our Manor Hall was in desperate need of funds. At the time it was the only needy building, now joined by the church.

I completed an on-line application form in the following January and waited and waited and waited . . . I won't bore you with the details as to why it took so long to happen; my first Chivenor events contact moved away to Bridgwater but retained links with the choir in her official capacity even though she was coping with a serious close-family illness. Finding a mutually suitable date was a struggle too; however, it happened, eventually!

On the night, the Wives said that these local good causes are their favourite events. They much prefer to sing at these over and above attending prestigious events such as those in London.


Photo by: Geoff Adam

They described our welcome as warm; the Penn Curzon room, their dressing room, was luxury compared to some they've used and thought our organisation and planning was up there with the best. They loved seeing a packed St Peter's Church and one Wife, who lives in Pilton, told me that she had described it to her youngest and they intend to come to our Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

The audience of 200 at the sell-out concert were treated to a varied programme from the Military Wives, supported by members of the Village Choir, led by Stuart, along with children from Berrynarbor Primary School, led by their Music Teacher, Christina Barrow.

Each choir sang their own set pieces, including wartime melodies, familiar popular songs, as well as those from hit musicals; the Wives also sang their signature song 'Wherever You Are' before all three choirs performed'Joshua Fit the Battleof Jericho' as a finale.

Rachel Smith, musical director of the Military Wives described the performance of the School Choir, as 'brilliant'. All 13 children were presented with a commemorative medal, specially commissioned by Stuart, and inscribed 'I sang with the Military Wives Choir'.

Some of the Wives and the children had to go home, but a decorated Manor Hall, filled with the aroma of mulled wine, hosted a happy, noisy post-concert party for our refreshments. Relaxing and eating with us, many Wives added that they want to return to Berrynarbor; they would love to do another concert here, but in the summer, so they can see our beautiful village. Watch this space!

A total of £3,557 was raised during the evening. The balance, after costs, will be shared by the Manor Hall and St Peter's Church.

Judith Adam



We should like to say a huge Thank You to everyone who came to Fuchsia Cottage for our Coffee Morning on 14th October.

We are delighted to have raised £220 for both the Newsletter and Berry in Bloom and to have had the opportunity for everyone to raise a glass and celebrate Wendy and her Team of Berry Bloomers for winning the Gold Award. A special thank you to everyone who donated cakes and helped with the big pile of washing up!

Maureen and Pat



The heart of Exmoor: A village and its hill

With its thatched cottages and inn; ancient packhorse bridge and attractive green at its centre, Winsford is considered one of the prettiest of Exmoor's villages.

There is a total of seven bridges as the Winn Brook as well as the River Exe flows through the village. From under one of these bridges darted the lemon-yellow flash of a grey wagtail.

Nearby stands the solid, four-square house which was the birth place .in 1881 of Ernest Bevin who was Foreign Secretary from 1945 until 1951 in the post-war Labour government when he was instrumental in the formation of NATO.

Earlier in his career he had been a farm worker, founder of the Transport and General Workers' Union and was the Minister of Labour during the Second World War.

Beyond the ford over the Winn and occupying an elevated position is the church of St. Mary Magdalene with its tall ninety-foot tower, Norman font and Jacobean pulpit.

We were fortunate that our visit coincided with a lady tending the flowers who pointed out a small remnant of fourteenth century stained glass depicting the Madonna and Child and showed us a book which had been compiled with pictures and biographical details of all the parishioners who had had an involvement in the two World Wars.

She told us about one former Winsford resident, a psychologist called Doctor Meyer who, at the time of the First World War, had identified and named the condition 'shell shock' [which we now know as post-traumatic stress syndrome]. In this way he sought to save the lives of soldiers.

We left the village to climb Winsford Hill via Spire Cross where we watched a female redstart flitting among stunted hawthorns; a small, brown, inconspicuous bird until you notice its brick red tail - the start - which it moves up and down on perching.

Nearby is the Caractucus Stone, amid mauve flowered ling, tormentil and bilberry. Accounts of its age and origin vary [as does the spelling]. Some guides suggest it was erected by a local Celtic chieftain during the time when Roman power in Britain was in decline. The leaflet available in the church considers the stone to be an early monument to British Christians pushed westward by Saxon invaders in the fifth century.


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes

Winsford Hill is about a mile south-west of the village; 1,399 feet above sea level it provides a 360 degree viewpoint. On its northern flanks is a deep hollow known as The Punchbowl. By the trig. point at its summit are three Bronze Age Barrows, burial chambers called Wambarrows. Cotton grass and eyebright grew round about.

A group of ten Exmoor ponies with two foals came over the brow of the hill, frisky and lively, their manes and forelocks lifting in the breeze.

Sue H


Artwork: Harry Weedon


The autumn weather has been lovely and certainly drier than usual, but now winter is upon us. The Berry in Bloom group has almost finished all the tasks for this time of the year, just the hanging baskets to take down from the shop and centre of the village. However, at the time of writing they were still going strong as the weather has been so good.

The GOOD news is that the village has won Gold again in the R.H.S. Britain in Bloom competition. We have also been awarded a Highly-Commended Certificate from the C.P.R.E. Well done, and thank you to everyone involved.

The Coffee Morning hosted by Pat and Maureen at Fuchsia Cottage raised £220.00 shared between Berry in Bloom and the Newsletter. Again, thanks to all involved.

Throughout the year we rely on the support of the village and our next fund raising event is our Annual Fun Quiz and Supper Evening to be held in the Manor Hall on Friday, 3rd March, with Phil as our Quiz Master.

Carol Singing in the Square with mulled wine and mince pies will be on Sunday, 18th December. Normally we ask for donations of wine, but this year there has been a kind donation of wine left over from the Military Wives evening in the church - thank you Judith and Stuart and all involved in that splendid event. Hope to see you at the Quiz.

Wendy Applegate


Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Bacon and Chestnut Filo Pastry Rolls

It is always a good idea to get ahead with some of the Christmas cooking. These easy and tasty filo rolls can be made and frozen a couple of weeks before Christmas, ready to bring out with a flourish when needed.

Serves 6

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 200g/7oz bacon lardons or your favourite bacon chopped
  • 125g/or approximately 1/2 of a 240g tin of vacuum packed peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped.
  • [Freeze the remaining chestnuts in cling film and add them to your Christmas sprouts.]
  • 75g/3oz chopped dates [NOT the sugar-coated variety]
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry [I use fresh, not frozen, filo pastry from Sainsbury's as you can then freeze the finished product.]
  • Plain flour for dusting
  • Melted butter
  • Cranberry relish or sauce to serve

For the filling gently fry the chopped onion in the oil until translucent. Remove the onion to a bowl. Add the bacon to the oil left in the pan and fry until crispy. Pour off any excess oil and add the onion back to the pan along with the chopped chestnuts. Fry for a further minute and add the thyme and chopped dates. Give everything a good mix then remove the filling to a bowl and cool, then chill in the fridge.

When the filling has chilled, unwrap the filo pastry ready to use. Keep the sheets of pastry that you are not using covered with a slightly damp tea towel to stop it drying out and crumbling. Lay one sheet of filo on a lightly floured board. Brush with melted butter and fold in half with the long edges together, so you have a long shape. Repeat with the remaining 5 sheets. Keep covered with the damp tea towel. Divide the filling equally between the 6 sheets leaving a 1cm gap on either side of the filling, fold over the shorter edge to almost cover the filling, brush with melted butter and then roll each up like a spring roll.

If you are freezing the rolls to use later, open freeze them on a tray and then carefully pack in to a plastic box. Defrost and cook on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 DegC/fan 160 Deg/gas 4 or bake for 15 minutes from chilled in 2 batches. Drain on kitchen paper

Serve as a starter or snack with cranberry relish or sauce.


Happy Christmas bakers.

Wendy Applegate


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


Our Christmas Menu is now available, from 1st to 24th December. You can view it on our website www.yeoldeglobe.co.uk

Why not make a night of it and book to have a Christmas Party Dinner with family/friends/team mates on a night when we have free entertainment for you to follow your meal?


  • Saturday 10th - Live Music with Such & Vincent
  • Sunday 11th - Annual Christmas Quiz, 8.00 p.m. start. Booking advised as it usually fills up. Bonus points if everyone in your team is wearing something festive.
  • Friday 16th - Live Music with Wayne Green. This is National Christmas Jumper Day so as usual there's a prize for the best Christmas Jumper. Wayne will again be bringing along lyric sheets so that we can all join in with our favourite Christmas Songs from 'Last Christmas' to 'Fairy tale of New York', and of course our annual Cream Cracker Eating Contest will be held during Wayne's break.
  • Sunday 18th - Christmas Carols in the Village Square with mulled wine and mince pies. if wet weather this event will be held in the Function Room at the Globe.
  • Friday 23rd - Live Music with Sam Dowden.
  • Christmas Eve - Our Christmas Draw takes place after the Service in the Church at approximately 10.30 p.m.
  • Christmas Day - Bar Open 11.30 a.m. to 2.00 p.m.
  • Boxing Day - It's the End of Year Quiz. Early booking strongly advised. 8.00 p.m. start.
  • Thursday 29th - Games Night - Killer Pool, Skittles and Darts. Put your names down at the Bar.
  • New Year's Eve - Party in the Bar from 8.00 p.m. Pub is open from 6.00 p.m. as usual. Buffet served at 9.30 p.m. The theme for this year's fancy dress is Heroes & Villains.

Our next ALL YOU CAN EAT NIGHT will be on Saturday 28th January and as this is Chinese New Year we shall be doing Chinese Food. Menu available in early January.

From ALL of us here at the Globe we hope you all have a Wonderful Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Happy New Year. xxx



Artwork: Paul Swailes


We should like to wish all our Customers a very Merry Christmas
and A Happy New Year and say Thank You all for supporting us
throughout the year.

We are now taking orders for our locally grown Christmas Trees and Holly Wreaths.

Let us Take the stress out of your Christmas shop and order your Turkey and other meats, all your Fruit and Veg,

Wine and Cheeses for your cheese boards (we have a huge range of cheeses),

Breads and even the Clotted Cream for your Pudding.

Tell us what you need and we'll pack it up for you and all you need do is pick it up Friday the 23rd or Christmas Eve morning, whichever suits you.

During this season of giving, we let you take time to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life, Christmas is available at your Community Shop.

We also have a large range of Christmas cards, locally handmade glass decorations for your tree, soft cuddly toys and many more lovely gift ideas.

Christmas Open Hours

  • Christmas Eve - 8.30 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.
  • Christmas Day - Closed
  • Boxing Day - Closed
  • Tuesday - Closed
  • Wednesday - Open as usual
  • Friday - 8.30 a.m. - 1.00 p.m.
  • New Year's Day - Closed
  • Sunday - 9.00 a.m. - 11.30 a.m.

Merry Christmas to One and All


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Christmas 2016 and New Year 2017


For this issue I have chosen two Christmas and two New Year Greeting Post Cards. The first postcard was published by Raphael Tuck & Sons, chromographed in Saxony [Germany]. It shows four young girls as artwork by Frances Brundage [1854-1937] an American illustrator best known for her depictions of attractive and endearing children on postcards.

This postcard has an un-split back allowing only the address to be written on the back and has been sent to 'Miss W Creek Montebello Local'. The card has a green, King Edward VII half penny stamp with a squared thimble Ilfracombe December 1904 postmark.

The second upright view is also published by Raphael Tuck & Sons and has been photographed in Austria. It shows a charming young lady holding a well-groomed poodle.

The first New Year postcard shows a beautifully dressed young Victorian lady with a fan in front of an ornate pedestal mirror. This embossed postcard has been printed in Berlin and has a split back allowing a message as well as an address and has been published around 1905.

The second needs no explanation! Published by Miller & Laing of Glasgow under their National Series, this card has a split back with a December 21st 1905 postmark. It is interesting to note that 'This Space For Inland Colonial and certain Foreign Correspondence, is printed on the left-hand side of the card. It has been sent to 'Miss A Passmore Railway Terrace East-the-Water Bideford'.

The picture of St. Peter's lych-gate which appeared on Page 5 of the October 2016 issue of the Newsletter, was in fact taken by William Garratt and numbered 49, and as such was taken c1905. I have one such card postmarked 1907 ref:136.6.

Tom Bartlett
Tower Cottage, November 2016
e-mail: tomandinge40@gmail.com



[19th May 1744 - 17th November 1818]

German Wife of George III, introducer of the Christmas Tree to England

In December 2012 I ventured away from local 'movers' to write about Tom Smith, inventor of the Christmas cracker; in December 2014 it was the turn of Mr. Doyley and his eponymous doilies. So, in 2016, I don't hesitate to write about the lady who first introduced the beloved Christmas tree into our country: Queen Charlotte.

I'd always associated Prince Albert with its introduction, but as you will see, when he imported several spruce firs from his native Coburg, in Germany, they were already well-known to our aristocracy. It was only when periodicals such as the Illustrated London News and The Graphic highlighted the royal Christmas trees from 1845, and for the next 14 or so years, that the custom was established in ordinary homes throughout England.

An old story bases another German, Martin Luther, the religious reformer, on inventing the Christmas tree. He is said to have been walking through a pine forest near his home in Wittenburg one winter's night in 1536, when he chanced to look up and could see thousands of stars twinkling through the foliage. This inspired him to set up a candlelit fir tree in his home that Christmas to remind his children of the starry heavens and God's presence.

But the first English Christmas tree was brought in - and decorated by Queen Charlotte and her ladies-in-waiting - to Windsor Castle for Christmas 1800.

In 1761 and at the age of only 17, she became the bride of George lll, having known him for only a few hours on the day she arrived in England. Apparently he chose her because her upbringing had been in a small north German state, with no knowledge of royalty, and he quickly told her 'not to meddle' with the affairs of state, to which she gladly agreed. She spoke no English, so had to learn quickly.

From her home in Mecklenburg-Strelitz, she brought many of the customs of her childhood, including bringing in a yew branch for decoration at Christmas. Once at the Royal Court, the young Queen abandoned the idea of a private ceremony and made it a public celebration to be enjoyed by family, friends and the Royal Court.

She decorated it with the help of her ladies-in-waiting. When all the candles were alight, the whole court gathered round and sang carols. Then it was present-giving time from the bough: clothes, jewellery, toys and sweets.

In 1800, however, she created an enormous sensation. That year she planned to give a party for all the well-to-do Windsor families. She decided to bring the whole tree instead of just a bough in to Windsor Castle - and so started a habit that has lasted until today: our English Christmas tree.

She stood it in the middle of the drawing room floor and Dr. John Watkins, one of Queen Charlotte's biographers, who was present on this occasion, gives an 'on the spot' account of the tree:

    'from the branches of which hung bunches of sweetmeats, almonds, raisins in papers, fruits and toys, most tastefully arranged; the whole illuminated by small waxed candles'.

He then adds that:

    'after the company had walked round and admired the tree, each child obtained a portion of the sweets it bore, together with a toy, and then all returned home quite delighted'.

Immediately Christmas trees became a popular status symbol with the wealthy, where they were the 'stars' of childrens' parties. Any evergreen tree could be used: pines, firs, yews or box trees, and all would be lit with wax candles. [I still remember this dangerous practice as a child!] There would be baubles, trinkets and piles of presents. Some folk would set the tree on a table and surround it with a Noah's Ark or with brightly coloured animals set amongst the presents for extra amusement. It is known from family archives that by Christmas 1802, George, 2nd Lord Kenyon, bought candles for the tree that he had set up in his drawing room at Lincoln Inn Fields and in 1804, Frederick, Fifth Earl of Bristol, set up a tree for his children at his home in Suffolk. Yet it is doubtful if any of these trees created such pleasure as the first one thoughtfully presented for the children of Windsor in 1800.


And you can see why Prince Albert was only following the aristocrats' habits of the previous 45 years.

Of course, Queen Charlotte did much more than introduce Christmas trees to England during her years on the throne. For one thing, she was a Super Mum, raising 15 children, 13 of whom reached adulthood. And she believed in women being well educated and gave her daughters a good education. She was a patroness of the arts and an amateur botanist who helped expand Kew Gardens. She started many orphanages and also funded the General Lying-in Hospital in London to stop it closing. This is now known as the Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital and is renowned as a centre of excellence in maternity hospitals.

Her husband was the first of the George's to be born in England and to speak English. Sadly by 1765, he had a bout of insanity which the Queen's mother-in-law kept from her.

In 1788 she realised how sick he was and was terrified and much distressed. His illness changed her personality. Her temper was violent; she had fits of depression, and no longer wanted to appear in public. In 1810 George had a final relapse causing their oldest son to become Prince Regent [later George IV] and although she continued to care for the King and was his official guardian, for the last 8 years of her life she became quite scared of him. She died on the 17th November 1818, the second longest serving consort at 51 years and 70 days [Prince Philip holds the number one spot]. Her husband. who by now was blind, deaf, lame and insane died 14 months later aged 81, not realising that she was already dead.

There is no doubt that after Prince Albert publicised Christmas trees, they reached the 'common people', but we shouldn't forget that it was Queen Charlotte who introduced them and gave so much pleasure to children and adults alike.

A Happy Christmas to you all - but please don't decorate your tree with wax candles this - or any other - year!

PP of DC



7 Primary School: Christingle Service and Christmas Fair
13 Parish Council Meeting, 7.00 p.m. Manor Hall
14 Wine Circle - Christmas Special Manor Hall, 8.00 p.m.
16 Primary School & Ilfracombe Academy: End of Autumn Term
18 Carol Singing in the Square 6.30 p.m.
20 Mobile Library in Village from 11.40 a.m.
21 St. Peter's Church: Christmas Carol Service, 6.30 p.m.
24 St. Peter's Church: Christmas Eve Holy Communion, 9.30 p.m.
25 CHRISTMAS DAY St. Peter's Church, Family Service, 11.00 a.m.
26 Boxing Day Bank Holiday
27 Bank Holiday
31 New Year's Eve
1 New Year's Day
2 Bank Holiday
4 Primary School & Ilfracombe Academy: Start of Spring Term
10 Parish Council Meeting, Manor Hall, 7.00 p.m.
17 Mobile Library in Village from 11.40 a.m.
18 Wine Circle, Manor Hall, 8.00 p.m. Call My Wine Bluff
25 Friendship Lunch, The Globe, from 12.00 noon

Manor Hall Diary
MondaysUpholstery, 9.00 to 1.00 p.m.
Craft Group, 1.45 p.m.
Badminton, 7.30 p.m.
TuesdaysN.D. Spinners [2nd & 4th]
3rd: Craft Art Group, 9.30 a.m.
WednesdaysPilates Body Workout, 9.00 a.m. School p.m.
ThursdaysWatercolour Painting 10.00 a.m. [10 week terms]
FridaysToddlers Soft Play and Activity a.m.
Primary School p.m.
Penn Curzon RoomPre-School: Daily - Term time only
Morning Session: 8.30 - 12.00 or 1.00 p.m.
Afternoon Session: 12.00 to 3.00 or 4.00 p.m.
All Day: 8.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
Mobile Library
Village Shop: 11.40-12.10 p.m. Sterridge Valley: 12.25-12.55 p.m.

School, Pre-School and Toddler Group - Term Time only


Artwork: Nigel Mason