Edition 192 - June 2021

Artwork: Paul Swailes

Artwork: Judie Weedon


By the time you read this it's impossible to think that we'll be just a few weeks short of mid-summer and the longest day - where have the months gone? April was beautiful but with a sneaky cold wind and cold nights, leaving its showers to dampen us in May, and what showers!

We welcome newcomers to the village and say sad farewells to those leaving, we wish everyone happiness in their new homes. And for those not up to feeling as bright as they might, please get well soon.

I thank Paul for his lovely cover and many illustrations in this issue, and for his support and dedication to our Newsletter, illustrating every issue since No. 7 in August 1990 - 30 years in all! Thank you, too, Debbie for your continued support and your illustrations in this and very many issues.

Other long-term support is also much appreciated. Thanks to Pam we have learnt about 93 incredible Movers and Shakers and Tom has shared his postcard collection with us in 191 views, just one short of in every issue. How many of Wendy's 96 mouth-watering recipes have you baked - try the latest white chocolate and rose gateau - or reflected with Steve 99 times? Sadly, not his 100th this issue as he has been unwell - get well soon, Steve, and the ton next time! The weather " that wonderful topic of conversation " has been wet and windy, hot and cold, sunny and frost, as reported for us on 132 occasions by Simon. And we mustn't forget Tony, our nonagenarian who has reminisced since just before 2000.

Sincerest thanks to you all, without your support and contributions, the Newsletter would be much poorer. But I must also thank everyone who contributes and has contributed with interesting articles and those who report on the happenings of the church, the shop and other groups.

But, no slacking please! Items and articles for the August issue, as the Newsletter starts its 33rd year, are welcome as soon as possible please and by Friday, 9th July, at the latest - thanks.

Although life is easing and events and activities starting up again, please check that the details given are still relevant.

Stay safe and enjoy the summer and longer evenings.

Judie - Ed


Artwork: Paul Swailes


Opening Up - As the country gingerly pulls back the curtains and starts to venture out again, as the pandemic lockdown rules relax a little, so our Village Shop is extending its current opening hours. From the first week in June the shop will be open from 08.30 to 13.00 and 14.00 to 16.30. We know that is an earlier closing time than normal, but as long as this pandemic exists, we'll need to carry out a deep and thorough clean at the end of each day to ensure the continuing safety of our customers and staff. This will be especially important as we anticipate that with the coming of glorious summer weather [please!] we'll have many, many visitors to our beautiful village. Customers will still be required to wear masks and the number of people in the shop at any one time will still be restricted.

New Look, New Items - In case you're paying a first visit in a while you will notice that we have changed the layout of the shop which we believe will make things easier to find. We are stocking some new items such as fob batteries for all your remote devices - just £1 - and in anticipation of the wonderful sunny weather coming our way, we now stock thirst quenching Ben Shaw's soft drinks [dandelion & burdock, cloudy lemonade and bitter shandy all at just 59p] as well as Boost sport orange and sport cherry. New in, we have Green's delicious zesty lemon pie filling and by popular request we now stock Gales' lemon curd [pass that toast!].

You Can Bank on Us - It surprised us to learn that some people are going to Tesco's just to use their cash machine. The good news is you can do all that and much more at your own village Post Office. Here you can get cash out, pay cash in, check your balance and pay in cheques using a paying in slip and a bank envelope, which we hold for most UK banks. You can also pay your bills, top up your telephone cards, electric keys and gas meter cards.

You can play the health lottery. This is not a national lottery but 12 society lotteries each one representing several local authority areas. Each will raise money for health-related good causes within their respective areas. Each local society takes turns in participating in the draw so every area in England, Scotland and Wales gets an appropriate share on the money raised. £1 a ticket for the chance to win £100k.

Good Luck Annie - We have said goodbye and thank you to Annie Smith on her retirement after being a stalwart of the shop for the past few years. We'll miss her but wish her every happiness in her retirement. We are pleased to welcome Jackie Chaplin who joins our staff. She is a friendly and enthusiastic staff member, passionate about our shop. Please say hello to Jackie next time you are in.



March and April

How quickly two months go by, particularly with the lovely dry sunny weather we have enjoyed this April.

The first day of March started off with 4/8ths cloud cover, dry and a hint of ground frost on the lawns before reaching 10.6˚C by 1400hrs. The wind was gentle [max 11mph] from the North with no rain; the barometer was reading 1032.3mbars falling slowly and the sun managed to shine for 4.18 hours.

This pattern continued until the 10th when the temperature went up and the rain came down depositing 24.2mm which turned out to be the wettest day of the month. On the twelfth we had hail and thunder overnight. The weather continued to be very mixed until it improved for the last three days.

Looking at the figures, the maximum temperature was 22.8˚C on the 30th [average 16.92˚C] and a low on the 6th of -3.1˚C [average -1.01˚C]. The maximum wind speed was 45mph from the SSW on the 10th [average 37.21mph] and the wind chill factor was lowest on the 6th at -2.9˚C [average -5.2˚C]. Total rainfall for the month was 66.4mm [average 86.13mm]. The barometer reached a high of 1036.4mbars on the 17th and a low of 991.6mbars on the 11th. Total sunshine hours were 86.82 [average 89.77] and the sunniest day was the 24th with 5.83 hours. Humidity ranged between 95% on the 17th and 42% on the 30th. Looking at the month, we did see the temperatures went well outside the averages.

April started with 7/8ths thin cloud and dry. The temperature was only 7.5˚C at 0700hrs and rose to 15.7˚C by 1500hrs. Maximum wind speed 14mph from the NNW and no rain in the gauge. The barometer started off at 1018.7mbars and rose steadily to 1026.3mbars by the end of the day, the total sunshine for the day was 6.38 hours.

The rest of April continued to be quite cool with early morning light frost on eleven occasions. The minimum temperature was -0.80˚C on the 16th [average 0.68˚C] and the highest was on the 23rd at 20.00˚C [average 20.54˚C]. The wind was generally light with the highest speed on the 2nd at 21mph from the North [average 32.74mph] although the winds were light it felt nippy if you were outside early in the mornings; on the 16th the wind chill factor was -0.5˚C [average 0.68˚C]. The month was extremely dry with only 6 days of recorded precipitation, the wettest day was the 28th with 3.2mm Total rainfall for the month was 6.0mm [average 68.34mm].

Morning Sunshine on Lee Hills - Photo: Simon Kemp

Looking back through my records, this was the driest month since my records started in 1994; the nearest was April 2007 when we had 7.0mm. Total rain so far for the year 321.0 mm. The barometer was mainly high [this is above 1013.25mbars] reaching a high of 1033.7mbars on the 3rd and the 11th, lowest on the 28th at 1004.8mbars. The sun worked overtime through the month with the sunniest day on the 22nd 7.54 hours and a total for the month 165.45 hours (average 138.40) Humidity ranged from a high on the 13th & 14th of 93% and a low of 28% on the 23rd.

I hope we have a good summer where we can enjoy the easing of lock down, whether on holiday or at home. By the time you read this article, glow worms [Lampyris Noctiluca] should be active? I have not seen any in this area for several years, they were a regular sighting around the village 30 or 40 years ago, where have they all gone?




Artwork: Alvary Scott


Whilst we are able to hold Church Services on Sundays, the church still remains closed during the week. However, we patiently await the UK Government's announcement on Monday 17th May [followed by recommendations from the Diocese of Exeter], which hopefully will enable us to fully re-open our church in Berrynarbor to welcome villagers, parishioners and visitors alike.

Our AGM will have taken place on the same day and we all hope that the elected PCC members will now look forward to a more positive year ahead with hopefully the Covid situation, which has affected the whole nation, will diminish from these shores!

We'll continue to ensure that parishioners and visitors to the church sensibly adhere to on-going Government safety guidelines for the remainder of this year, but we must not let our guard down and ruin all the good work carried out by the NHS, care staff and many more in this country over the last 18 months.

Repairs to the church are progressing very well, and renovation to the cast iron guttering and downpipes will shortly be completed, plus repairs to the end gable adjacent to the front porch. Stained glass windows, where loose sections have been identified, have now been repaired and cleaned. The Vestry windows have also been carefully cleaned, and the huge stained-glass window in the bell ringing chamber, which has become very dirty, will soon receive its first professional clean in 20 years! NB: The height of this window is such that special scaffolding/ladders will be needed to enable safe access!

We hope that in the near future, Rev. Peter Churcher, bearing in mind improvements to his wife's health and special family commitments, will be able to return to full duties to the three churches to which he is dedicated.

It is very heartening that we have taken three wedding bookings for this year and four for next year - so we look forward, as I'm sure the couples involved will, to such an important event in their lives together.

We pray at this time for Margaret Sowerby who is undergoing chemotherapy and following a difficult time in hospital is now back at home with her husband Roger. We all hope that in the months ahead she responds well to specialist treatment and returns to her bright and happy nature that we all know and love!

Church services will be held on Sundays commencing at 11.00 a.m. and we shall ensure that more detail regarding the type of service and timings will be advertised throughout the village and in the Community Shop and Post Office in June and beyond.

Finally, we all look forward to hearing the church bells ringing again, and hope that this will be possible in July/August.

Stuart Neale


Artwork: Peter Rothwell


Hurrah - we are finally fully open again!

Whilst we've been closed, Gary our caretaker has done a sterling job making sure all is well and keeping the weeds, dust and cobwebs at bay! A big thank you to Lloyd for donating his time and tiles for the window sills - take a look when you are next in the hall - they look lovely. Thank you also to Alan and Rob for going over the paint work and giving the kitchen a fresh coat of paint.

There is a list of groups/clubs that meet in the Hall with days/time and who to contact in this Newsletter edition [thank you Ed], so please take a look to see if you might fancy joining one, and we are always open to further suggestions!

Please can we put in an early request for anyone happy to make a cake for our Fete on 22nd August. Also, items for the bottle, bric-a-brac and raffle stalls would be most welcome. Please contact us if you can help in this or any other way.

Our AGM will be held on Wednesday 21st July 2021 at 7.00 pm in the Hall and all are welcome.

Fingers crossed for a lovely warm sunny summer with no further restrictions in sight!

Julia Fairchild - Chairman [882783]
Alan Hamilton - Treasurer [07905445072




A first taste of education

At Berrynarbor Preschool we provide care and education for young children between the ages of 2 and 5. We are now taking bookings for the next academic year. If you would like to book a place for your child/children, then please call on 07932 851052 or e-mail preschoolberrynarbor@gmail.com for more information.

Our opening times are 8.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Monday to Friday. We are flexible and have a range of session times to meet your needs.

  • Morning - 8.30 a.m. or 9.00 a.m. - 12,00 noon
  • Afternoon - 12.00 noon - 3.00 or 3.30 or 4.00 p.m.
  • All Day - 8.30 or 9.00 a.m. - 3.00, 3.30 or 4.00 p.m.

We are Ofsted registered and in receipt of the 2-year-old funding and Early Years Entitlement. We are offering 30 hours free childcare to eligible families. Further information in regards to this funding can be found at 30 hours free childcare - GOV.UK {www.gov.uk}

This term we have been preparing our older children for 'big' school and we wish them all the best as they start their new learning journey at their Primary Schools.

Topic of Learning

We have focused on Our Environment - from recycling to life cycles and looking after our planet. We read the story, The Messy Magpie and also Michael Recycle to support out recycling topic. The children made items from junk to play and make learning items. We watched caterpillars develop into butterflies and covered the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We cared for tadpoles and watched them change over time before returning them to their pond to continue to develop into frogs.

We celebrated Earth Day on 22nd April exploring our world, being creative and making items from recycled materials. We also learnt a new song, Whole World in our Hands.

We intend to extend our learning to The Seaside. We'll talk about keeping safe at the beach, sun safe as well as naming some of the sea creatures found on our shore. Treasure maps will be made alongside a couple of pirate adventures.


  • Clothes Recycling - We wish to thank everyone who supported us and dropped off their unwanted clothes for our Bag2School fundraising scheme. We raised an amazing £114.00 which is brilliant.

  • Book Sale - We wish to thank Sarah Lewis for her amazing work raising £605.08 from the book sale and thank the community for their generous donations and support.

Watch this space for new fundraising event, all being well!

Best wishes from the Preschool Committee and Staff


Artwork: Debbie Rigler Cook


Congratulations and best wishes to Great-grandparents Keith and Margaret, Grandparents Matthew and Karen and new parents Becky and Matt on the arrival of their baby boy.

A warm welcome to Jaxon Milo who was born on the 2nd April, Good Friday, weighing in at just over 7lbs.



Here Here Here Here Here
Singit singit singit singit
Chup chup chup chup chup
Me an you me an you me an you
Furlough furlough furlough furlough
Do-y-doo do-y-doo do-y-doo
wheelie wheelie wheelie wheelie
Churrily churrily churrily churrily
see see see see see see
Piu piu piu piu piu
do it do it do it do it
Whee whee whee whee
Choo it Choo it Choo it choo it
Tu tu tu tu tu tu
Meeuu meeuu meeuu meeuu
Ooeeooo ooeeeoo ooeeoo ooeeoo
singit singit singit singit!

Interpreted by Virginia Evans


Illustrated by: Paul Swailes



Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Have you ever had one of those pictures of someone when wherever you are in a room, the eyes seem to be looking at you? Well, Bob and Jane Seymour had one.

Illustration by: Paul Swailes

Jane was in the garden pulling out a few weeds. Bob was in an armchair in the sitting room when he noticed Jane had left her handbag on the chair. Her handbag was open and her diary was there. "I think I'll have a look at that," he thought! [Ooops!]

He opened the diary and read, "Met Ben, he's lovely." Then he read next, "Kissed Ben and gave him a cuddle." "What's going on?" Bob thought. "Surely she is not being disloyal to me. I'll wait until she makes a mistake!"

The next day Jane said to him, "I want you to meet Ben. "My giddy aunt", thought Bob, "Whatever next?"

The next day she brought Ben home. Ben proved to be a loveable Labrador pup and as soon as he saw Bob, he jumped on his lap giving him lots of kisses on his face.

"Oh, I'm so glad I waited to know about Ben! I'm so glad I waited to find out." he thought.

Tony Beauclerk - Stowmarket

If the subject of a portrait or photograph is looking at the artist/photographer, their eyes will automatically follow that person wherever they are!



Solution in Article 24.



Artwork: Peter Rothwell


They say a watched pot never boils. I certainly find that a kettle takes longer to boil when you're already running late for a meeting- or at least it seems to!

This seems to ring true as we wait for the 21st June. The want to come to the end of restrictions is palpable. It feels a bit like being a child waiting for Christmas. As annoying as having to wear masks and keep distance has been, for most of us I think we have accepted them as a necessary part of our care for our neighbours at this time.

For me though, there are two things that I have found most difficult: The first, having to think every action through in detail to make sure it complies with all the rules and keep others safe. It's extremely tiring to have to do everything consciously. And secondly, having to call or zoom friends and family rather than meeting in person. So, I look forward to the 21st June and seeing these things ease, even if that date seems to never come.

Yet, and I hate to sound like a pessimist here, none of us know what the 21st June will bring. It may be the end of lockdown, or it may not, or it may simply be a brief respite before the next pandemic. I say this not to take away hope, but rather to remind us where true hope is to be found. True hope, certain hope, and living hope can only be found in the one who is the Way, the Truth and the Life - that is Jesus.

As Hebrews 10:23 says:

"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm,
for God can be trusted to keep his promise."

And so, I look forward to the day when restrictions end and I can meet my friends indoors without mask or worries, visit my family members overnight, go outside without double-checking the regulations and that I have a mask. But my true hope lies not in these things, but rather in the God revealed in Jesus Christ - a true, certain and living hope for all that put their trust in Him.

Finally, I wish to end with a personal comment which, although not intended, I suppose fits well with the theme. This will be my last contribution to this Newsletter as your Vicar, as from 1st June my position at the church here will end. It is likely that you will still come across me as we aren't going far; my family and I shall soon be living and working in Combe Martin. It has been my joy to be able to share life with you all - the highs and the lows - and hope that I will be able to do so in the future, though in a different capacity. I have lots of wonderful memories, even over this relatively short time, that I will treasure, and have felt welcomed by you all. However, despite me moving on from this role, please remember that the church is still very much here for you, as it has been over all the years, to share with you the good news of Jesus, the hope that he brings, and to share life with you all. Vicars come and go, but God is eternally present. God willing it won't be too long until you'll be welcoming a new vicar into the village. In the meantime, I know the congregation will keep things running so that you can join them in worship every Sunday. If you do see me around, please don't hesitate to come and say 'Hi', and let me know how things are with you. And who knows? Perhaps there'll be another contribution from me one day but for now this is me signing off:

Have a wonderful summer and see you soon.

May you all know Christ Jesus; the way, the truth and the life.

Rev. Peter




me think about her when sun rises
me think about her when sun sets
me say to her how much me love her
she tell me love invent not yet

me make cave all warm and cosy
me lie bearskin on cave floor
me play song of love on bone flute
she choose cave of Tim next door

me no more go out hunt mammoth
me throw spear too short or long
me sit in cave me paint her picture
she say me got perspective wrong

me cook meal to show me love her -
diplodocus with fried beans -
she say food anachronistic
but me not know what this means

stone age mighty hard for lovers
yet rub two flints look what you get
small sparks lead to big inferno
but she say love invent not yet

Debbie Rigler Cook

Remembering Chris

This delightful poem, read at the Celebration of her Life on the 16th March, was a poem Chris cut out of the newspaper. She felt it summed up her beloved husband, Phil, which says much about her cheeky sense of humour!

Chris lived life to the full and encouraged others to do the same. She is much missed, not only by her family, but by her many friends here in the village.

It is said that the Caveman's Lament was written about 1.5 million years ago and is considered to be the world's oldest surviving poem about love.



What makes a village a special place?
Is it simply pretty houses that we call our base?
Is it the gardens that come to life each and every spring,
With the beautiful flowers and colours they bring?
Is it the church at the centre of it all?
The community shop, pub, or the manor hall?
Or is it the people, like you and me
Who ensure it's special for all to see?

A real mix of folk, young and old;
True Devonians and 'Blow-ins,' or so I am told.
Wherever we hail from Berrynarbor is now our home.
Around it's pretty roads we all like to roam.

We may be a mixture, who've come from lots of different places
Different backgrounds, different races.
But we all love this village, this very special place,
And are really very proud to call it our base.

Pam Robinson




Illustrations: Paul Swailes





I have noticed how nice the gardens are starting to look around the village and along the Sterridge Valley. Lots of colours are popping up everywhere and there are lots of familiar smells I remember from last Spring.

You humans do seem to make this gardening lark quite hard work though. It takes the Mr. a lot of huffing and puffing to get to the top of our garden. Then he uses this heavy spade to dig a hole. I have tried to help so many times but I just get into trouble. It's so ridiculous really. I can race up, down and around our garden like Lewis Hamilton in his racing car and my digging skills are phenomenal.

I try hard to leave holes in a variety of positions to save the Mr. time and energy but I get no thanks for it. On the contrary. I get told off! Can you believe it? No gratitude whatsoever!
The Mrs. is no better! She has been putting pots out all over the place. They're all very pretty - plants she gets from Jean or Max's mum, Jill. She moans a lot about watering them though as she has to get that long snake out and squirt them most evenings. Again, I could so easily help if only she would allow me to do the squirting.
Talking of squirting my favourite place is on that amazing garlic plant with the little white flowers. It's the best place; soft as Andrex and smells so good. Well why shouldn't us dogs have a nice scented toilet like you humans? The Mrs. always lights some candles from Berry Mill House in their bathroom or she has those cans that make a "shhh" noise and release a fancy smell. Makes me jump out of my skin that thing "sshing " all day long! It is funny though as it's attacked the Mr. and Mrs. before now as they've got up from the throne. Sorry, that's not an image you need to imagine! I digress . . .
Visitors to the village often stop outside our house and take photos. The Mr. thinks it's the lovely wisteria that attracts attention. The Mrs. thinks it's the flowerpot people, but, of course, we all know it's me really. My adorable looks and amazing personality draw attention. I just can't help it! Who needs fancy garden sculptures when you've got a Bailey boy? Look out for me when you're next passing and I promise I will try and come and see you over the wall.
Happy gardening Villagers!




It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking:
the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.
Latin proverb

Sadly, nothing to report other than we keep tasting wines at home; however, we are hoping that we'll be able to socialise and test-taste at The Manor Hall in October! It seems a long way off, but we've come through 14 months of dealing with lockdowns, restrictions, hearing facts and figures from the SAGE professors, and the politicians! We're still here to hear it all, thankfully!

Many businesses have closed due to this dreadful disease. Our national landscape has changed, but Berrynarbor still has its V.I.P's: i.e. very important places. Thankfully, and alphabetically, the Church, the Globe, the Manor Hall, the School and the Shop, have all survived! Once all restrictions are lifted, life will assume a new normal, but I'm sure, having survived all the above, we shall be hesitant about what we do when we socialise with a friend, friends or family.

As the vaccination programme is a success, it could be that the entire village, those eligible to consume alcohol, will have had their shot in the arm by October. We shall have a ring of confidence around us before we enter that Hall! Present or future thirst will be quenched; do join us on Wednesday 20th October at 8,00 p.m. if you wish to have an experience of the 'excellence of the wine'!

Judith Adam - Promotional Co-ordinator



North Devon Spinners

The North Devon Spinners will be staring their first session following lockdown on TUESDAY, 22ND JUNE, 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. in the Manor Hall. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday in the month.

For further information please contact Mrs. Barbara Jones [Chair] on [01271] 324480, e-mail 10busyfingers@talktalk.net.


The Upholstery group reconvened on the 17th May. The group meets every Monday from 9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. New members are welcome and should contact Tony Summers on [01271] 883600.

Craft and Art Groups

  • Crafters are welcome back from Monday, 21st June. Weekly get-togethers in the Manor Hall from 2.00 p.m. Everyone welcome. £2 a session to include tea/coffee and biscuits. Contact Judie on [012271] 883544 or Annie on [01271] 889002 or 0792553155.
  • The Art Group will get to work again on Tuesday, 6th July, 10.00 a.m. in the Manor Hall. The group meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday in the month and artists of all abilities are very welcome. For further information ring Judie on [01271] 883544.

Table Tennis

Players are back again on Friday Evenings, from 6.00 to 8.00 p.m. If you would like to join them either go to the Manor Hall or ring Julia on [01271] 882783 for more information.


Valerie hopes to start again soon, Wednesday mornings in the Manor Hall at 9.00 a.m. Please contact her to let her know if you will be there either by ringing [01271] 343944 or e-mail her at limetree.may@gmail.com. Newcomers very welcome.

Watercolour Painting

Watercolour painting with Ian Hudson recommenced on Thursday, 27th May, 10.00 a.m. in the Manor Hall - initially be for a 5-week term. Please ring Wendy on [01271] 883701 for further information


As the Badminton Club doesn't meet during the summer, play will start again in the autumn, on Monday evenings from 7.30 p.m. For more information, please contact Charlotte and Mickey on [01271] 88 3395.





1. Lia[i]se, 4. Saracen, 8. Van, 9. Bongo, 10. Opposed, 11. Low, 12. Coypu, 13. Desks, 15. Ali, 16. Evening, 18. Alien, 20. Rat, 21. Magenta, 22. Event.


1. Lob, 2. Annoy, 3. Evolution, 4. Snow, 5. Repudiate, 6. Cos, 7. Nodes, 12. Cream, 14. Stile, 15. Agra, 17. Egg, 19. Net.



We have been invited to decorate the Vegetable Garden Shelter as part of RHS Rosemoor's Flower Show on from 13th to 15th August. The theme is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and we are thinking of interpreting the story of The Queen of Hearts who stole the Tarts! Does anyone in the village have a mannequin we could borrow for the first two weeks of August?

The Club hopes to re-open on Tuesday, September 14th with a demonstration by Julia Harrison entitled "Flower Fusion". We meet at Brookdale Avenue Evangelical Church, commencing at 7.30 p.m. and welcome new members.

Please contact Sue Neale on [01271] 883893.



An old friend in Essex closed her letter by urging, "Enjoy North Devon. Keep walking!" Yes, how lucky we are with our dramatic coastline there for us to explore.

During the Covid year I've largely had the field paths and cliff paths to myself and not being permitted to go further afield [to burrows, marsh or estuary], have got to experience our immediate terrain, its flora and fauna, intimately.

Each field has a different atmosphere - mysterious, sinister, friendly - and I've become a connoisseur of stiles which are not really designed with short-legged, skirt-wearing septuagenarians in mind.

I've just climbed the steep hundred plus steps to Widmouth Head. Absolutely glorious! The exhilaration...


Illustartion by: Paul Swailes



"A walk done properly is an excuse to stop and look at things, to dawdle."
Simon Armitage

Simon Robert Armitage, CBE, FRSL. [26.5.1963] who was appointed Poet Laureate on 10th May 2019, is an English poet, playwright and novelist. He is also Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds

"Not all those who wander are lost."
J.R.R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE FRSL [3.2.1892-2.9.1973] was an English writer, poet, philanthropist and academic, best known as the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

"Caminar es atesorar" - To walk is to gather treasure
Spanish Saying

Book recommendations:

  • The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce




Due to the ongoing pandemic there will, unfortunately, be no Show this year, but keep your fingers crossed for next year!

Crafters and artists, what have you been doing during lockdown?

Would you like to display it? We are having an area/table at the Manor Hall Fete on the 22nd August and hope to display a selection of items that would normally be in the Show, so let's show what good crafters we have in the village. Please give names to me at the Shop.

If you are still holding any of the cups or trophies, these should be returned to me, also at the Shop - thank you.




Dear Grockles

Welcome to Devon, please enjoy your stay. Could we ask you to follow a few teeny weeny littles rules so we can enjoy your stay as well.

  • The same rule applies to dog poo in Devon as it does in your home county.
  • Be nice to the locals, we know the cider makes us a bit weird, but we are a good bunch at heart, and we have made space to make room for you.
  • Please check your vehicle owner's handbook. Your car IS fitted with a reverse gear. Please use it occasionally so we don't have to reverse for a mile and a half up a country lane.
  • We wave more often than the Queen down here. If someone gives way for you, give them a little queenie wave, it cheers us up no end.
  • Please wear reflective clothing when out cycling and walking at night. Every grockle hurt, hurts our economy.
  • Finally, please don't eat ALL the Hockings, we need their ice cream fix too.

Thank you.


Illustration by : Debbie Rigler Cook

For your information, Google's dictionary describes a Grockle as 'a holidaymaker, especially one visiting Devon or Cornwall'. However, the Cornish tend to use their own term 'Emmet', an ant, to describe the same people.



Life at the Bird Feeders and in the Nestboxes - with Tim Davis

Several years ago we bought the section of Smythen Wood that cloaks the steep slope above our house. We quickly set about making and putting up more nestboxes to add to the five already in the garden. This year the number has grown to 32, four of them now in the small nature reserve we co-own [with John and Fenella Boxall] that runs alongside the lower part of the hill up to Smythen. We feed birds [sunflower hearts and suet] year-round, such that during the autumn, winter and the approach of spring the garden supports a large number and variety of birds. Blue and Great Tits abound, with smaller numbers of Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches and Goldfinches, along with year-round territorial Marsh Tits, Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers and, usually arriving in late February or March, several pairs of Siskins which in recent years have stayed to nest in the surrounding woods. Siskins will also sit tight on the feeders, spilling seed out as they feast, often regardless of our close presence. A great joy is to watch and hear male Siskins song-flighting bat-like around the garden.

One of the garden boxes
this year occupied by Great Tits

Somewhat mystifyingly, two absentees from our regular garden guests are Greenfinches and House Sparrows. Both are present up at Smythen [Greenfinches though now in greatly reduced numbers due to the outbreak of disease that has decimated their population UK-wide] but sightings in our garden have been few and very far apart over our 20 years at Harpers Mill.

Hangers-on [though not literally!] picking up what falls onto the ground from the feeders, are Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Woodpigeons [one pair had a well-grown chick in a yew hedge in early February this year], Carrion Crows, Magpies and Jays. Pheasants too suddenly started appearing some ten years ago and now nest, with varying degrees of success, in the nearby field margins. Witnessing what just a few can do to a garden and wildlife, especially larger insects and newly emerging froglets and toadlets as they spread out around the garden, makes the mind boggle at the impact of 45 million or more released annually in the UK for recreational shooting.

A regular visitor to the feeders this year has been a male Sparrowhawk. If its first pass at break-neck speed in search of a meal has failed, it will sit on the crossbar of the feeding station, sometimes for minutes on end, its wild glinting eyes constantly scanning the nearby bushes for a potential victim. Meanwhile an immature Buzzard is more interested in what it can pick up from the ponds, usually a frog or a toad, or at this time of year as they leave the ponds after breeding, Palmate Newts. Of late, two Grey Herons have started to drop in at the ponds. They won't find any fish but there's plenty of other wetland life in there to whet [wet?!] their appetites.

In 2020, 21 of our nestboxes were occupied, 16 by Blue Tits and 5 by Great Tits. This year the uptake has been 22 boxes, with 17 used by Blue Tits and 4 by Great Tits, and for just the second time, one pair of Nuthatches. We monitor the boxes for the British Trust for Ornithology's Nest Record Scheme, and a fully qualified bird-ringing friend comes over to ring the nestlings when they are big enough. At the time of writing, we don't yet know the outcomes for each of the boxes, but there is no doubt that the success rate, given the cold, very dry April and prolonged cool, rainy spell of mid-May will have taken a toll as adults struggled to keep chicks warm and fed. Sadly, at the time of writing, the Nuthatches have lost their four young likely due to the poor weather.

A regular task is cleaning the seed and suet feeders to prevent disease, while the clearing out and disinfecting of the nestboxes is a once-a-year job after the breeding season is over. Boxes that aren't occupied by breeding birds will more often than not be used for overnight roosting, with a consequent accumulation of droppings which need removing. Replacing old or rotting boxes is another annual task, but the actual making of the boxes provides hours of patient pleasure, especially on a gloomy, wet or windy winter's day.

A clutch of Blue Tit eggs . . .

and five Blue Tit nestlings waiting for the next meal

Photos: Tim Davis



Chairman: Adam Stanbury [01271] 882252
Councillors: Gemma Bacon, Jenny Beer, Andy Burch, Adrian Coppin, Bernadette Joyce, Jody Latham, Nic Wright
Parish Clerk: clerk@berrynarborparishcouncil.org.uk.
County Councillor: Andrea Davis
District Councillor: Joe Tucker
Snow Warden: Adrian Coppin

Chairman's Report

The year 2020/2021 will always be remembered as the year of the pandemic and Berrynarbor Parish Council has not been immune to the problems it has created. All meetings throughout the year have been conducted via zoom which has caused a few challenges, but on the whole they have been successful.

It is great to be back here this evening in the Manor Hall and I should like to thank the Manor Hall Committee for making the Hall available for us to use tonight.

Several resignations and appointments happened over the year including those stepping down, Councillors Sian Barten and Lesley Lowe. and Councillor Adrian Coppin replaced Sian Barten as Vice Chairman. Our Clerk, Victoria Woodhouse, resigned and was replaced by Sue Petters. have recruited Victoria once again. On behalf of the Council I should like to thank Sue for all her hard work from a demanding Parish Council and wish her well in her new full time job.

Although the past year has been challenging, the Council did manage to make some improvements for the Parish, notably new play equipment in both playing fields, making use of 106 Funding Grants. The fence between the recreation and dog walking fields was replaced with support funding from our District Councillor. was planted in the recreation field and a willow tunnel feature looks great in the Manor Hall play field. roundabout and the water fountain in the Square was brought back to life. Bollards have been erected at either end of the path leading to Broadsands beach to prevent general vehicle access and parking, which could hinder the emergency services accessing the area. Unfortunately, one of the bollards has recently been driven into and will need re-erecting to a higher standard.

The Rural Housing Enabler joined a zoom meeting and detailed a survey conducted of Berrynarbor parishioners' affordable housing requirements. The survey indicated a need of 2 affordable dwellings but experience shows that the need is likely to be more. It was resolved to request a drop-in session to enable individual parishioners to discuss their affordable housing needs. This would then aid the Council when considering future planning applications.

Grant funding was allocated by the Council during the year to organisations including Berrynarbor in Bloom and the Newsletter.

The Council is frustrated that the planned lease of the car park from NDDC has not yet materialised, but understand that NDDC have likely been busy elsewhere during the pandemic. We continue to press them to conclude the deal.

Parking is a real problem in the village and representations have been received from concerned parishioners who need parking spaces. This issue has been discussed in depth over the year without solution. Such solutions are not obvious, but efforts will be made to try and ease the situation going forward.

Throughout the Covid period, NDDC have witnessed a massive increase of unlawful development and their enforcement team have been extremely busy dealing with this problem. Berrynarbor Parish has witnessed several complaints of alleged breaches of planning law and these are currently being investigated by NDDC.

Hopefully we have now turned the corner of the pandemic and our Council can return to some normality and we look forward to serving the community over the next year.

On behalf of the Council, I should like to thank all parishioners for their support, especially those who have taken the time to write and join the zoom meetings over the past year. I should like to thank our Councillors, past and present, and in particular those who have worked tirelessly over the past very difficult year to support our wonderful parish and all those who live within it.

Adam Stanbury - Chairman

Parish Council meetings are held on the second Tuesday in the month at 7.00 p.m. in the Manor Hall. The next two meetings will be held on the 8th June and the 13th July. Everyone is welcome but please note that masks are necessary.

The first item on the agenda for each meeting is Public Participation where members of the public can make representations. Items will be heard, but decisions cannot be made during this part of the meeting and will be discussed later. Representations are limited to three minutes, in line with Devon County and North Devon Councils.


Artwork: Harry Weedon


Following about six weeks of extremely dry and cold weather, sadly, the spring bedding was a bit disappointing and soon over. Also. the summer bedding being brought on by Andy and Gill in their poly tunnel, by Alan in his greenhouse, and the hanging basket plants being grown by Dan and Oli and team, have also been held back by the extremely cold nights.

No doubt the weather now warming up a bit will mean we can have our usual bright summer displays but we shall probably have to wait a week or so longer than usual for the plants to catch up. It's very exciting this year as we are having everything grown by people who live in Berrynarbor, all very local and I'm sure the judges will approve.

This year the date for judging the South/West in Bloom Competition is Tuesday 6th July. We have just two hours to show the judges the work we have been doing around the village and for them to meet the good people who have been doing it. Once again, we are going for GOLD.

You might see our team busy around the village and if you want to join us or know more about us, please contact me on 07436811657.

Wendy Applegate


Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Artwork: Angela Bartlett

Wendy Applegate



The last Tale ended in the summer 1981. Subsequent to that, we felt that we should come back to the UK and in that December, I resigned from my job in Letterkenny.  Courtaulds were beginning to contract and they had no suitable jobs to offer me in the UK.

Some of you will have read 'How we found Berrynarbor' and bought 30 Pitt Hill, [now Duckypool Cottage].   We had kept it while we were in Ireland and so it was our base when we returned to the UK.  We were again very lucky to find that Middle Lee Farm was on the market, and were able to buy it. It was no longer a working farm [just as well, because I don't know a bee from a bull's foot!], but it had been converted, some 10 years earlier, into farmhouse accommodation with four self-catering apartments.  Pam had trained originally in Home Economics, and I had become adequate at DIY. We had both been successful managers of one sort or another, so we reckoned that we could manage the business. So it turned out, and in the ten years we were there we converted two more self-catering properties. Pam joined the West Country Tourist Board as an Inspector, and I joined what was then The Small Firms' Service as a business advisor. That later became Business Link.

About 48 years later I was coming up for my 89th birthday and Pam asked me what I wanted for a treat.  I said, "I want to fly a Boeing 747", simulator of course!  She said, "That was to be your 90th treat", but I did not want to wait just in case I did not make it! 

We found a flight simulator near Brighton Airfield and booked a session.  I was asked where I wanted to fly to:  I said "Nowhere, I am only interested in taking off and landing."  After explaining the controls, the instructor switched on, and there we were, apparently sitting at the start of the main runway at Gatwick. He said, "Take off and climb at about 10 degrees until we are at about 2000 feet." Which I did. He then said, "Take a slow wide turn to the south, then on to the north." Which again I did, and there we were flying up the Thames over London.  Then he said, "You see that little grey square on the top left of the screen, that is Heathrow. Descend, line up the aircraft and land on the main runway."  I did and I am glad to say that he remembered to lower the under-carriage for me!  We were only half way up the runway, so we took off again and did two more circuits and landings before my hour of instruction was up.  I am now confident that I could fly a 747 anywhere provided that it is calm and there is no other traffic to bother about!

The Cessna

Heathrow from the simulator

Just after my 90th birthday, I realised that although I had spent some hours in control of a light aircraft, I had never done a take-off or landing.  These are the tricky bits where an error can be very serious!  I went up to Dunkerswell Airfield, this side of Honiton, where there is a flying school.  I confessed my age, told them what flying experience I had had, and asked If I could be in control of a take-off and landing.  Rather to my surprise, an instructor said that he would take us - Pam bravely came too! We three got into a Cessna and he took-off, then gave me control.  At his request, I climbed, descended, turned on to a bearing etc. When he was satisfied that I could control the aircraft he said, "The airfield is a couple of miles to the east, descend, line up and land at the near end of the runway". We did, and although his hands were never very far from the controls, it was all my doing!  As we were slowing on the runway, he said, "Open the throttle, take off, go round and land again."  We did this twice more, then the fun was over.  Back in the office, he paid me a compliment, "You did well.  My mother is 90 and she could not do that!"

I went home satisfied!  I now have a Microsoft Flight Simulator on my desk that I play with from time to time. It is much more difficult than the real thing!

Alex Parke



re you a small business thinking about developing your business technology?

Petroc Techknowledgey Transfer are recruiting eligible local businesses onto their technology research trial. Small businesses based in North Devon and Torridge are being invited to take part in the fully funded project. Businesses will be invited to undertake a detailed diagnostic survey to help understand what areas of technology can be developed to improve efficiency.

Businesses will then be invited to take part in two masterclasses from the list. Some businesses will also be offered a student placement to work on a project to implement a technology solution.

Improve your technology and help students gain an understanding of the variety of opportunities available where they live and build valuable work experience in what has been a very challenging year for everyone.

For more information:
Project Email: techknowledgey.transfer@petroc.ac.uk
Tel: 07790 987999



Recreation Field
from 12.00 noon

It is planned to have a Hog Roast [please make donations as you queue] and a Bouncy Castle and Games for the children.

Tables will be provided but please bring your own chairs, crockery, cutlery, food and drink to accompany the hog roast.

If you would like, please bring your own gazebo.

There will be Live Music from local artists, interspersed with recorded music.

Toilets will be provided on site, but no parking either in the field or on the road. If you drive to the event, please drop off and park in the Shop Car Park.

To give an idea of the numbers expected, please indicate in the book at the Shop.

Should the weather forecast be poor just ahead of the Party, it will be postponed by a week.

It is hoped that the cost of the event will be covered by generous donations, especially from those attending.

Any surplus funds will be donated to local village charities/organisations.




Over the winter I've been researching my family tree.  I was born Janet Ley and lived in South Wales during my childhood but always knew that my father's family originally came from North Devon.  Last October I visited Berrynarbor for the first time and was thrilled to find several gravestones for the Ley family in the churchyard.

There is one for William Ley [1788-1831] and his wife Mary [1785-1852]. William and Mary were parents to John Ley who married Grace Huxtable. John and Grace lived firstly in The Row* and then at Sloleys Farm.  John and Grace were my great, great grandparents.

They had seven children, William, Sarah, John, James, Thomas, George and Henry.  Sadly, Henry died when he was just six months old.  John and Grace died in 1855 and 1854 respectively, but William and his wife Elizabeth were still living on the farm in 1861 with their two children and his two youngest brothers, Thomas and George.

After this there was a split in the family and William moved to Swansea, Wales, with his brothers James and George and set up a business as a potato merchant. which is still going strong today as a fruit and veg wholesale. James was my great grandfather and his son, James Henry, set up a fruit and veg business in Llanelli. 

Thomas Ley, mentioned above, stayed in Berrynarbor.  He and his wife Mary Jane had 12 children and lived firstly at Goosewell and later at Hole Farm.  Several of his sons ended up farming too.  Frederick Ley [1890-1963] is recorded at Darracott Farm, Georgeham, Braunton and his youngest son, James, continued farming at Hole Farm.  James is the subject of an earlier article in Berrynarbor News.  

* The Row is believed to be Hagginton Hill Thomas also had a son called Thomas and it was he who built Orchard House and was the father of Vera, whose passing was given in the April issue.  Thomas would have been a cousin to my grandfather, James Henry Ley.

I hope this potted history of the Ley family is of interest.  I must have many distant cousins in North Devon!

Janet Mackay




Over eighty years ago, in Greece, sixty thousand Jews lived peacefully in Thessaloniki. It was a valued and vibrant community. Most of these Jews worked in the port. So much so that the port of Thessaloniki was even closed on Saturday, Shabbat. Great emeritus rabbis also lived and studied there. Everyone rubbed shoulders and appreciated each other.

But on the 2nd September, 1939, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II, it is on this great community that the Nazi terror will suddenly rise. On the 6th April, 1941, Hitler invaded Greece in order to secure its southern front before launching the famous Operation Barbarossa and its great offensive against Russia.

Of the 60,000 Jews in Thessaloniki, around 50,000 will be exterminated at the Birkenau concentration camp, in record time!

The massacre of the Jews of Greece was brief but intense. Very few will have the chance to make it. But among the survivors there was a family known as Bourla.

And, after the War, in 1961, a son was born into this miraculous family in the camps. His parents called him Israel- Abraham. He grew up and studied veterinary medicine in Greece. A brilliant student, Abraham got his doctorate in reproductive biotechnology at the Veterinary School of Aristotle University in Salonika.

At the age of 34, Abraham decided to move to the United States and changes his first name to Albert.

Albert was integrated into the medical industry. He progressed quickly and joined a pharmaceutical company where he became Head Manager. Albert rose through the ranks and got his appointment as CEO of this company in 2019.

Throughout the year, Albert decided to direct the efforts of the company to try to find a vaccine against a new virus [Covid] which has just struck the world. He expends great financial and technological efforts to achieve his goal.

A year later, the World Health Organisation validates his company to produce the long-awaited vaccine - his vaccine will be distributed in several countries, including Germany, which counts thousands of dead from the pandemic.

Albert Bourla, DVM, Ph.D.

Ironically, this vaccine which will save the lives of millions of people around the world, including many Germans, was led and pushed by a little Jew from Thessaloniki, son of Holocaust survivors from whom most of his people were exterminated by Nazi Germany.

And that is why Israel became the first country to receive the vaccine. In memory of his grandparents and his parents, who gave birth to Israel-Abraham Bourla, known today as Albert Bourla, Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer.



Artwork: Angela Bartlett


The Borrowers is a fantasy novel about a family of tiny people who live secretly in the walls and floor of a house and 'borrow' from the full-size people to survive. It is one of five written by Mary Norton, published in 1952 and featuring in several adaptations for television and film.

Kathleen Mary Pearson, known as Mary, was born on the 10th December 1903. Her father was a physician and she was raised in a Georgian house in Leighton Buzzard. Now Leighton Middle School, the house is thought to be the setting for her books.

Mary was educated at convent schools after which, for a short time, she became an actress for Lilian Baylis's Old Vic Company.

In 1927 she married Robert Charles Norton and went with him to Portugal where his family and their business were based. They had four children, two boys and two girls. One of the boys has become a printer and Microsoft executive.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, Robert joined the Navy and in 1940, Mary worked for the War Office before going with the four children to America. It was here, whilst working for the British Purchasing Commission in New York, that Mary began writing.

Her first book, The Magic Bed Knob or How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons, was published by J.M. Dent in 1943. Returning to England at the end of the War, the UK edition of the book was published in 1945. A sequel followed - Bonfires and Broomsticks - in 1947, later, in 1957, to be combined in a single volume as Bed-Knob and Broomstick. The stories were the basis for the Disney film of 1971 as Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

It was The Borrowers series, published between 1952 and 1982, that established Mary Norton as a children's writer. On the publication of the first book, she was awarded the celebrated Carnegie Medal from the Library Association; and for the 70th Anniversary of the medal in 2007, it was named as one of the top ten winning works. For so original and imaginative writer with an irresistible sense of humour, Mary was exceptionally modest and undemanding.

Following the dissolvement of her marriage to Robert, in 1970 Mary married Lionel Bonsey [1912-1989], Commander RN, an author and playwright. For several years, and taking advantage of the tax concessions to writers and artists, the couple moved to Ireland, before returning to England and settling in a home in Devon in the village of Hartland.

Lionel died in 1989 and Mary on the 29th August 1992. They are buried in the churchyard of the parish church of St. Nectan. The inscription on their headstone is from the well-known 1932 poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

Borrowers Cottage, Hartland

Lionel and Mary's grave at Hartland

In loving memory

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.


Frye was an American poet and florist, born in Ohio on the 13th November 1905, died on the 15th September 2004 in Baltimore.

Judie Weedon



1st Ilfracombe Academy & Primary School - Half Term
7th Upholstery, 9.00 a.m - 1.00 p.m. Manor Hall [and weekly]
8th Parish Council Meeting, 7.00 p.m. Manor Hall
15th Mobile Library in Village from 11.40 a.m.
22nd North Devon Spinner recommence, Manor Hall, 10.00 a.m.
27th Village After Lockdown Party, from 12.00 noon
28th Craft Group restarts, 2.00 p.m. Manor Hall [and weekly]
6th Craft ART group recommences, 10.00 a.m. Manor Hall
13th Mobile Library in Village from 11.40 a.m.
Parish Council Meeting, 7.00 p.m. Manor Hall
23rd Ilfracombe Academy & Primary School: End of Summer Term
22nd Manor Hall Fete
5th St. Peter's Church: Palm Sunday Service, 11.00 a.m.

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]
1st and 3rd: Craft Art Group, 9.30 a.m.
WednesdaysPilates Body Workout, 9.00 a.m.
Primary School p.m.
ThursdaysWatercolour Painting 10.00 a.m. [10 week terms]
Pilates, 7.00 to 8.00 p.m.
FridaysPrimary School p.m.
Penn Curzon RoomPre-School: Daily - Term time only
Morning Session: 8.30/9.00 - 12.00 p.m.
Afternoon Session: 12.00 to 3.00/3.30/4.00 p.m.
All Day: 8.30/9.00 a.m. to 3.00/3.30/4.00 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



[10 December 1815 - 27 November 1852]

Known as Ada Lovelace

Only legitimate child of Lord George Gordon Byron, mathematician and considered the first computer programmer [also with a local connection]. Read on!

Today we rely on computers, but in the middle of the twentieth century they were only just beginning to have an effect on our lives. In 1953, a century after her death, Ada Lovelace, an English aristocrat, finally gained fame for writing a programme for a computer that didn't yet exist!

At the age of 17, she had met Charles Babbage, a Cambridge Professor of Mathematics, and promising scientist and inventor, who designed an enormous calculating machine, his 'analytical engine'. He believed that this machine could only be used for numerical calculations. But Ada surmised that any concept - music, words, sounds, pictures - could be translated into numbers and operated by a machine. She felt that she was specially gifted, once saying "I believe myself to possess a most singular combination of qualities exactly fitted to make me pre-eminently a discoverer of the hidden realities of nature".

So how did she reach this achievement? She had had a rough start in life. Her mother, Anne Isabella Milbanke [known as Annabella] met Lord Byron and after he wooed her for over a year they got married in January 1815. By the end of the year she gave birth to Ada, Byron's only legitimate child. [All the rest were results of his many love affairs]. He called her Augusta after his half-sister [with whom he'd had an incestuous affair resulting in the birth of Medora Leigh - Ada's half-sister!] Lady Byron was apparently humourless and unimaginative and their relationship was very unhappy and short lived. After less than a year of marriage, his first words to his newborn daughter were "Oh! What an implement of torture have I acquired in you!" He was expecting a 'glorious boy'.

Less than a month later he told his wife that he was continuing an affair with an actress and 3 days later wrote to her telling her to find a convenient day to leave their home adding. "The child will of course accompany you". Soon after, he left England for good and never saw his daughter again. He died of a fever at the age of 36 when she was eight.

Ada's mother, a mathematical expert, determined that rigorous and logical studies for her daughter would remove the romantic ideals and moodiness of her father, so from the age of four, Ada was tutored in science and mathematics - unheard of in this age, let alone for women in the 19th century! By the age of 12, by studying birds and their flight, she came up with plans to produce a winged flying machine. She wrote to her mother that she had a scheme to make a 'horse with wings with a steam engine in the inside...to move an immense pair of wings fixed on the outside...to carry it up into the air while a person sits on its back.' Even Leonardo da Vinci hadn't got that far at that age!

Anabella's relationship with her daughter wasn't good. Ada was largely brought up by her grandmother, Judith, who doted on her. In those days, in a split marriage, English law gave fathers full custody of children. Byron wasn't interested, but in case he changed his mind, Anabella would write anxious letters to her mother asking after Ada, but with a side note telling Judith to hang onto the letters in case they were needed legally, and referring to Ada in one letter "I talk to it for your satisfaction not my own...". Poor child!

Ada was often ill, starting from the age of eight when she experienced violent headaches that obstructed her vision. When she was fourteen, she had a bout of measles that paralysed her and for nearly a year was confined to bedrest - which may have made her disability even worse. By 1831 she was able to walk without crutches. But despite - or maybe because of - these illnesses, she became skilled in mathematics and technology.

And finally, we come to why she is my choice of Mover and Shaker this month!

You may have seen Kate Humble's Coastal Britain whose first episode on the 19th February this year was walking on Exmoor from Porlock Weir to the Valley of the Rocks. [If you missed it, it's worth watching on youtube]. Here she introduced me to our 'star', and some considerable research! I have to admit that with neither a scientific nor mathematical mind, I'd never heard the name Ada Lovelace.

On the 8th July 1835 Ada married Lord William King [8th Baron], who had inherited his title two years earlier from his father, Peter. Ada was a descendant of the Barons Lovelace of Hurley. The title had become extinct in 1736 and when in 1838 William inherited a further title, she persuaded him to take up that name and they became Lord and Lady Lovelace. She was known as Ada Lovelace for the rest of her life.

They had 3 homes [Surrey, Ross-shire and London,] but they honeymooned at Ashley Combe near Porlock Weir. It later became their summer residence. Peter King had built it in 1799 as a hunting lodge for the princely sum of £1,300. William wanted to improve it for his new bride and undertook major renovations, possibly helped by the considerable wealth that Ada brought to the marriage.

The house was tucked into woods overlooking the Bristol Channel and built in the style of an Italian castle. William extended the house, adding an impressive clock tower in 1837.

He also created the Italian gardens. A number of terraces topped with walkways were built behind the house, accessed by spiral staircases and supported by alcoves.

The family referred to these walkways as the 'Philosophers' Walk' as it was here that Ada and Charles Babbage would discuss mathematical principles. Many trees were planted including, just before the wedding, a cedar of Lebanon. There followed 45 apple trees, cypresses, bay, Luccombe oak, and cork amongst others.

Ashley Combe had no bathrooms, [possibly because of poor water supply] and as Ada had been advised to take baths for her health, William had a bath house built for her into the cliffs on the beach where she could bathe in private. The remains of the stairs to the beach and also a small fireplace in an upper room are still visible.

If you walk from Porlock Weir towards Culbone, you come to Worthy Combe Toll Lodge [Ashley Combe was in grounds behind it] and soon pass through two tunnels. These, together with several others within the grounds, were built by Swiss engineers at the special request of Ada so that tradesmen and their vehicles were not visible to people in the house. Some had elaborate towers added, one of which is still partly visible.

Ada and William had three children: Byron, Anne Isabella and Ralph Gordon, both boys being named after their grandfather. Byron left the family home and died unmarried in 1862. After William's death in 1893, Ralph became the 2nd Lord Lovelace and with his wife, Mary, an architect, redesigned the house and gardens, with the help of fellow architect and friend, Charles Voysey.

The house stayed in the family for several generations, but was used as a children's home by Dr Barnardo's during World War ll. In 1950 it became a country club for a short time but developed a dubious reputation and was closed down after a few years. It then fell into disrepair and its owner, the 4th Earl of Lytton [still part of the family], decided to pull it down. It was demolished in 1974. A few of the terraces are still visible and an attempt is being made to renovate the remains, although the land is privately owned and used as a pheasant shoot.

Because of her fame as Byron's daughter, scandal followed Ada from birth. She enjoyed flirting and had a very relaxed attitude towards men! But her real passion, other than horses and numbers, was gambling. Starting in the 1840's the habit badly affected her finances and forced her to pawn the family diamonds. She formed a syndicate with male friends and in 1851 tried an ambitious attempt to create a mathematical formula for making huge bets. This went disastrously wrong and she once lost £3,200 betting on the wrong horse at Epsom.! She ended up thousands of pounds in debt and being blackmailed by one of the syndicates so had to confess her debts to her husband.

Ada became ill with uterine cancer and was in serious pain for many months - probably not helped by constant blood-letting. During this time, her mother who had now taken charge of who could visit her, allowed Ada's friend Charles Dickens to read part of Dombey and Son to her. Sadly, on the 30th August she confessed something to her husband that isn't known but was serious enough for him not see her again. She died on the 27th November 1852 at the age of 36, the same age as her father. At her request she was buried next to him in the Byron family vault inside the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottingham.

So, what is her legacy? Well, after Babbage was invited to a seminar in Turin to talk on his Analytical Engine, he asked Ada to translate the notes taken in French by an Italian military engineer. This she did, adding extra elaborate notes of her own which she called 'Notes'. These are important in the history of computers and are considered by many to be the first computer programme. In 1953, her notes were republished and their importance realised.

Since1998, the British Computer Society has awarded a medal in her name and in 2008 started an annual competition for women students of computer science. There is an annual conference for women undergraduates named after her and Ada Lovelace Day is an annual event in October to raise women's profile in her subjects. Even the computer centre in Porlock is named the Lovelace Centre!

In 1980, the US named their computer language ADA which was created for their Department of Defense [sic]. And Google celebrated the 197th anniversary of her birth with a doodle showing her working on a formula surrounded by images of the evolution of computers.

All this happened to the offspring of a licentious and romantic father and unimaginative and humourless mother!

PP of DC



Artwork: Angela Bartlett


Dower House 87


This month I have chosen yet another photographic postcard from my William Garratt collection of old postcards. This view is number 87, Watermouth House, which was built as a Dower House by the owners of the Watermouth Estate. It has been taken from the new road which was built following the large collapse of the main road from Ilfracombe to Combe Martin in 1919. The collapse occurred directly above Golden Cove, Berrynarbor.

The Dower House is the one to the left of the picture. It is reached by the entrance and steep incline opposite The Sawmill, together with Watermouth House Cottage, part of the right-hand building in the picture and Watermouth Cottage and Ding Dong, both nearer the road, hidden in the picture by the trees.

The name 'Dower' means that it was the widow's share of her husband's estate and the Dower House was left to Lady Bassett by her late husband.

The cleared patch to the left of Watermouth House and slightly uphill is the Kitchen Garden, and the track running in front of it was the main access to the House until after the Second War, joining the track running from Watermouth Castle to Oxen Park lane which crosses over Hagginton Hill at the bridge below Hagginton Farm. The Virginia creeper covering much of the building has mostly been removed along with the spiders living in it, but the fig tree just visible to the right of the house is still there.

Following the sale of the Watermouth Estate and over the years the properties have mostly been the family homes of members of the Annear family.

The post card has a Berrynarbor postmark dated 27th August 1929, 6.50 p.m. and has been sent to Swimbridge. The one penny red stamp with the head of George V, is also inscribed with the words Postal Union Congress London 1929.

The Ninth Postal Union Congress was opened in London on 10th May 1929 by HRH The Prince of Wales. As the formal meeting of the Universal Postal Union held every four years, the congress was attended by representatives of most of the world's major postal authorities. The two previous congresses in Madrid and Stockholm had been marked by special stamps, so by the latter half of 1927 discussions had begun within the GPO on the necessity of issuing stamps for the London Congress. Previously the GPO had only issued one commemorative set, to mark the British Empire Exhibition in 1924.

It was known that King George V had very definite views on the matter: he is reported to have told Sir Kenneth Clark, then Director of the National Gallery, shortly before his death: 'I want you to make me a promise. Never allow them to make all those funny issues of stamps like some ridiculous place like San Marino. We invented the postage stamp - all it had on was the sovereign's head and Postage and its value. That's all we want.'

My thanks to Richard Annear and Judie for their help with this article.

Tom Bartlett
Tower Cottage, May 2021