Shebbear and Buckland Filleigh
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Shebbear & Buckland Filleigh Historical Society
Annual membership of £5 with £4 concessions. Meet monthly except August and December. Meetings alternate between Shebbear & Buckland Filleigh Village halls.
The society welcomes new members and non member guests for one-off events, for further details about meetings and membership, please contact Mrs Rose Buse Secretary/Treasurer on 01409-281489. If you have ideas about a particular building or topic that you think members may find interesting, please make your ideas known.

If you contact somebody through these pages, please tell them where you got their details from.

On the 19th September 2013 the History Society met to hear a talk by Mike Welch on Genealogy. Mike has been researching genealogy since the 1970's. He now lives in Cookbury, where he is at present engaged in transcribing the ancient Church records on to computer-based system, which he has done, and published on CD, for several other villages in the area.

Mike told us how to set about establishing a Family Tree. He began with “Talk to all the older members of the family you are researching, the older the better. Ask WHO, WHEN, WHERE people were born, married, died, and any other information. Most importantly, make sure you write it all down”.

Mike went into the history of records, starting with Henry VIII ruling in 1538 that all baptisms, marriages and deaths were to be recorded, through to the Mormons and their International Genealogical Index of the 1960’s and 1970’s. He also went into some detail about internet-based search programs which provide a huge range of data, from the early census records of 1831 onwards. Finally, Mike gave some examples of the sort of “brick wall” that genealogists will come across – and how finally they can be overcome. Our thanks to Mike for a well-researched and fascinating evening.

On the 25th March 2009, the History Society heard about South Australia, and its links with Shebbear and Buckland Filleigh.    The talk, for which a considerable amount of research had clearly been done, was given by Jane Cox, Ralph Nicholson, and Ted Lott (who appeared with a wonderful Australian hat).

It was a very wide ranging talk.    There were details of the general aspects of emigration to South Australia (which unlike the its eastern and western neighbour states, was not colonised by convicts), such as Devon and Cornwall miners looking for work as their mines closed, and the missionary movement.

Then there were the links with the Bible Christians, and with Shebbear College.   For the early emigrants, the journey by ship would take four to six months and, once they were there was no telephone or email to keep in touch with home.   Not surprisingly, their chapel would be a very important home from home for them, and we saw photographs of Burra Chapel, the first to be built near Adelaide.   Its first Minister was Rev James Way, who before emigrating had founded Shebbear College.   James’ son, Samuel, who had been a pupil at the College, later became Chief Justice of South Australia.

Lastly, the story of the Browne family.   They were originally from Wiltshire, went to South Australia in 1839, and built up an immense agricultural holding (including a property called Buckland Park near Adelaide).   William James Browne was in England in 1880: seeing that Buckland House was for sale he visited it out of curiosity – and bought it!

The speakers’ combination of family connections, knowledge of South Australia, and their ability to relate it all to Buckland Filleigh and Shebbear today, provided us with a most interesting evening, and we enjoyed the many pictures and documents for us to examine. Many thanks to all three. For further reading:

On the 5th May a good contingent of members (over a dozen) took part in a guided tour of the Bideford waterfront area.   As last year, our guide was the very knowledgeable Peter Christie.

Peter, who has been a Trustee of the Bideford Bridge Trust for many years, showed us many nooks and crannies we should have missed on our own, such as the stone on the corner of High Street (which used to be the market) and the Quay, on top of which bargains were struck between sailors and traders.   The river was much wider in the old days, before the Quay was widened, and there used to be water all the way up the road beyond where Morrisons now stands.   This explains why some of the finest houses in Bideford, which were built on what was then the edge of the town with river and country views, now overlook the supermarket.

Although rain threatened all evening, we were safely in our cars on the way back to Shebbear before it arrived, and we had, as last year, a fascinating evening, thanks to Peter’s interesting and helpful guidance.

Next meeting:  a visit to Holsworthy Museum, by kind invitation of Liz Curtis, Assistant Curator, on Wednesday June 17th at 7.00pm.   We shall meet in the Square to arrange lifts at 6.30 – please see notices which will be posted.  As usual, all will be welcome (visitors £1.00).

July Meeting: Wednesday 8th July at Buckland Filleigh Village Hall 7.30pm there will be an open meeting ALL welcome with Jane Taylor author of the Buckland Filleigh Book. Non members £1

The Shebbear and Buckland Filleigh History Society has had two recent meetings.  

On 21st May we visited Upcott Barton, on a warm, still, spring evening.   Nancy Thurley guided us round, showing us the mediaeval buildings of the old monastery, and the remains of the monks' cemetery.   We then crossed the road to see the site and remains of Upcott Mill, which was used by local farmers up till the 1960's.  

On 25th June we met in the Church Room to hear a talk by Paul Mason on the history of St Michael's church, with a show of slides.   Afterwards, we walked around the church - and some of us had an opportunity to ring the bells.  

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 23rd July.   We shall be walking around Bideford, guided by Bideford's historian Mr Peter Christie.   (Leaving Chope's car park at 7.00 pm, or meeting in Shebbear Village square at 6.30pm to arrange lifts.)

At the Society's AGM on 25th June, Chairman Ron Ackland reported a successful year.   The Society is looking for a Secretary, and if you are interested please contact Ron on 281451.

From Harvey Paulger March 2008

The last few weeks have seen plenty of activity from our Historical Society. We enjoyed a splendid event on the 24th January, entitled ‘The Rolle Canal – Bringing an Historic Waterway Back to Life’ which was presented by Adrian and Hilary Wills, founding members of the North Devon Waterways Society. The concept of a canal from Bideford to Torrington arose in the late 1700s with Denys Rolle as the prime instigator. The idea was postponed, largely as a result of Britain ’s involvement in the Napoleonic War with France . It was Denys Rolles’son, John (later Lord Rolle) who brought the idea into reality. Work started in 1823, when James Green, a prominent civil engineer initiated the cutting of the navigation. Although not authorised by an Act of Parliament, Lord Rolle’s Canal was opened for traffic in 1827, with construction costs approaching £45,000, a hefty sum for the times. By 1871, the canal in its original form no longer existed and Mark Rolle sold-off sections to make way for the arrival of the London and South West Railway.

Adrian Wills gave us a fascinating snapshot of an important piece of North Devon ’s industrial and social history and we were updated on the outstanding restoration projects currently being undertaken by volunteers of the Rolle Canal Trust. Our thanks must extend to Adrian and Hilary, and our treasurer Robert McCurrah for organising this excellent event. Other items in our calendar included an ‘Open Day’ on the 10th February, at Korna House, home of our chairman Ron Ackland. The main purpose of this event was to encourage residents of Buckland Filleigh and Shebbear parishes to bring along old photographs for copying into the extensive archives of our society. Some useful copies were made and our thanks to all those who participated.

Unfortunately, our ‘Book Evening’ clashed with several other local events and uncharacteristically for us, was poorly attended. It may well be that this potentially enthralling evening will be rescheduled for later in the year. Our thanks to John Yelland for his exemplary organisation.

The Historical Society goes from strength to strength and we look forward to some inspiring activities in the coming weeks.

From Harvey Paulger November 2007

The Shebbear & Buckland Filleigh Historical Society was privileged to be asked to make a contribution to the events of the annual Two Parishes Festival. Our offering, which ran throughout the weekend of the 28th/29th September, was held at the Church Room, Shebbear. Following the Festival theme of food and farming, we were treated to a truly superb display of old farming tools, memorabilia and country bygones from the extensive collection of Phillip Jenkinson. The items, which were displayed on the village green, had been lovingly restored and meticulously labelled. Our thanks to Phillip and the small but dedicated team of helpers for setting-up the display.

Within the Church Room itself, we viewed a stunning collection of old local photographs, maps, books and journals, all of which related to the parishes of Buckland Filleigh and Shebbear. The material ranged from early photographs of local families, weddings and celebrations, war heroes, major village events and gatherings, and familiar old buildings and local landscapes. There were some particularly good images of the vibrant local primary school and scenes of important events at Shebbear College.

In total, the exhibition painted a vivid picture of a fast vanishing way of life in two comparatively remote North Devon parishes. Looking deeply into some of the oldest pictures, we see images of ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. This was a celebration of life in two very special rural communities; a wonderful collection containing the great, the good and the tragic, with everything else in between.

The exhibition was the brainchild of our Chairman Ron Ackland, who delved deep into his own archives and amassed further material from other sources, including of course, Ted Lott. I am slightly hesitant to be drawn into naming and thanking individual helpers in this column, since the event was very much a collective effort. However, certain members gave more than significant time to make the exhibition such an outstanding success. Along with Ron, I should mention Joan Curtis for organising the Buckland Filleigh display so professionally and Kate and John Yelland, with Kate exercising her keen eye for the juxtaposition of word and image.

Our next meeting took place at Buckland Filleigh Village Hall on the 13th November. The subject of the evening, ‘The Mineral Line’ was presented by the highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic George Copp, who worked for the North Devon Clay Company for many years. The Torrington to Petersmarland Railway line was inexorably linked to the clay works and George provided us with a fascinating history of the development of this important industry, which was to become one of the most significant employers in our area. His talk was infused with amusing stories of some of the key personalities and characters of the day, which made for an enjoyable and engrossing evening. Our thanks to George and his wife for their time and members for the excellent tea we enjoyed afterwards.

Our next meeting promises to be of similar high calibre. The History of the Rolle Canal and its ongoing restoration will be presented on the 24thJanuary 2008 in the Church Room, Shebbear at 7.30pm.

The Historical Society has enjoyed a busy few months. Our Annual General Meeting took place on the 30th March 2007 in the Church Room, Shebbear. There was excellent attendance, confirming the high level of interest this organisation has generated since its formation. Unfortunately, the meeting was something of a milestone with the retirement of Rose Buse as Secretary and Robert Coggins as Treasurer. We owe them both our thanks and appreciation. Rose has been instrumental in the creation of this society and we will miss her in the secretarial role. However, I am pleased to report that she will continue to attend meetings and lend us her advice and full support. Robert Coggins has been meticulous in his handling of the finances whilst also drafting our constitution.

To summarise, the position of Treasurer has been filled by Robert McCurrah and the vacancy for a Secretary has been filled by myself. In addition, the Society now has parish representatives; Jane Cox for Buckland Filleigh and Joan Curtis for Shebbear.

Following the conclusion of the AGM we were treated to an interesting presentation on the 'History of the Cottage Garden' with journalist Glen Hedland. We must thank Mike Wye for loan of his projector, and members for the excellent tea afterwards.

Our next meeting took place on the 27th April at Buckland Filleigh Village Hall. The subject of the evening 'The History of Local Passenger Transport' centred on the services of Hill's Buses, based at Stibb Cross. David Hill, nephew of the firm's founder Ken Hill, brought along his outstanding hand-built scale model of Stibb Cross as it appeared in the 1940s. In addition, there was a superb collection of old photographs, models of buses and other memorabilia. The story of Hill's Services is recorded in the book 'Half a Crown from Stibb Cross'. Interestingly, the importance of the local bus service in bygone days is encapsulated the book's first paragraph: 'This is the story of a family who helped to change the way of life in many parishes lying between Holsworthy and Bideford'. Indeed they did and Shebbear and Buckland Filleigh were two of those villages to benefit. Our thanks to David & Margaret Hill and to all the members who contributed to the fine tea.

Our next meeting will take place on the 27th June with a visit to Winkleigh Castle, in conjunction with the Langtree History Group. (See local posters for further details) It is proposed that we meet at Langtree Village Hall Car Park at 6.30pm and arrive at the Castle for about 7.00pm.

As a taster of future events, we plan a major autumn exhibition of old photographs of Shebbear and Buckland Filleigh, together with maps, local books and journals relating to the two villages. I appeal to anyone with items of interest to contact me or your local representative (Joan or Jane) in advance. Other events in the melting pot include a talk with slides from the Beaford Photographic Archive, a presentation by the Devon Historical Records Office, a talk on the History of the Clay Industry at Petersmarland (thank you to Patricia Brinklow for supplying me with the contact details) and an evening reflecting on the life and works of the social historian and Old Shebbearian writer Ernest Martin. Ideas for future meetings are always most welcome. My number is 281922.
Harvey Paulger

On the 28th November 2006 a plough was donated to the Shebbear Community by Mr and Mrs Phillip Jenkinson of Alscott farm, Shebbear who previously had kept it in their museum. The plough was placed in Lake Sunday School above the porch so that residents of Shebbear and visitors who may visit Lake Chapel and Sunday school are able to see a plough that was made at Enford Engineering in Shebbear in the late 1800's or early 1900's by a Mr Harry Reddaway who was a local preacher in the Shebbear Bible Christian Circuit for forty four years, he died at Shebbear on the 14th May 1916 aged 69 years old, his wife Mary Ann died September 2nd 1921 and are both buried at Lake Chapel graveyard. Mr Reddaway also laid a Band of Hope block of stone in Lake Sunday School wall when it was being built. I wish to thank Mr and Mrs Jenkinson for their donation of the plough on behalf of the History society and the community of Shebbear.

The plough was cleaned and painted at Alscott Farm by Phillip Jenkinson, Ted Lott and my husband Brian Buse; the colours of red and blue make it stand out to be noticed at Lake Sunday School. I also wish to thank Terry and Trevor Hookway for their help in putting the plough where it is now and also to thank the members of the society who attended and also the residents of Shebbear who attended to see the plough put in place and to lend a hand when it was needed.

The film that was made about the Pett family in the 1930's will be shown at Shebbear College on the 2nd of March at 7.30pm, so there will be no Historical meeting in February. The A.G.M of the Historical Society will be held in the Church room on the 30th March at 7.30pm, we also hope to do something else on that night for about an hour, any suggestions please? Forward them to me or phone me on 281 489.

Rose Buse

On October the 25th 2006 there was a walk to the windmill in Petrockstowe; the weather was very wet and very windy. We had two Landrovers (supplied and driven by Nancy Thurley and Brian Buse) who took the people that didn't feel like walking up to the windmill to see the remains and the fantastic view from there, on a good day you can see Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin moor but unfortunately due to the weather we couldn't see very far. The windmill was built in 1756 and was used for grinding corn into flour and it's believed to have supplied Shebbear, Buckland Filleigh, Peters Marland and Petrockstowe, the land on which it stands now belongs to Mr and Mrs Kirk of Heanton Barton.

Mr and Mrs Kirk were very helpful to me by allowing me and two others to have a look at it before the 25th, so that I could assess whether it could be walked or not. There were 28 people at the walk. We then all went back to Peter and Vron Martin's house to have tea and coffee. I gave a talk on what I had found out at the library in Barnstaple and what Mr. Deane had so kindly written out for me and hopefully I deciphered his writing alright. I then passed around photographs that I had enlarged along with literature that I had photocopied. Also I had photocopied a receipt that Philip Jenkinson had let me have that said that he gave the date stone back to a Mr Hardwick on the 20th July 1989. Mr Hardwick said that he would return it to the windmill or put it in Petrockstowe Church, but that doesn't seem to have happened as the date stone cannot be found.

I wish to thank Peter and Vron Martin for their hospitality and to thank Philip and Jean Jenkinson, Mr Deane, Mr and Mrs Kirk and to thank Nancy and Brian for lending and driving the Landrovers. Also I would like to thank everybody who bought a plate of food on the night.

Rose Buse

Book Borrowing Resource

The Society Holds a very interesting library of donated and purchased books that can be a great source of information for people researching local villages and traditional trades. Anybody can avail themselves of this service. A small donation is requested.

Future Meetings

Plans are being made to raid the archives of Westward TV to provide an 'All our Yesterdays' evening with old photos etc.

It is planned to have a screening of the programme filmed in Shebbear about 20 years ago at the College.

Watch this space for future announcements.