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Appledore, the Richmond Dock 1923
Appledore, the Richmond Dock 1923.  (Neg. 75148)   Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2008. http://www.francisfrith.com
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
Barnstaple - Photo of Pilton Village c1940
Photo of Pilton West, the Village c1940, ref. P52001 Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
Alwington, Portledge House 1907
Alwington, Portledge House 1907.  (Neg. 59291)   Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2008. http://www.francisfrith.com
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
Bideford, Bridge 1890
Bideford, Bridge 1890.  (Neg. 24792)   Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2008. http://www.francisfrith.com
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
Bucks Mills, & Clovelly Bay 1930
Bucks Mills, and Clovelly Bay 1930.  (Neg. 83483)   Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2008. http://www.francisfrith.com
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
Clovelly, Post Office, transfer of mail 1936
Clovelly, Post Office, transfer of mail 1936.  (Neg. 87551)   Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2008. http://www.francisfrith.com
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
Hartland, Quay c1871
Hartland, Quay c1871.  (Neg. 5931)   Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2008. http://www.francisfrith.com
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
Woolsery, the Farmers Arms and Post Office c1960
Woolsery, the Farmers Arms and Post Office c1960.  (Neg. W608012)   Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2008. http://www.francisfrith.com
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.
If you want to unlock some of the history of North Devon or are researching your family tree we hope you find the links here helpful. If you are an expat or and want a photographic record of where you or your relatives were born, where you grew up or memories of old school days, there are some fascinating antique photographs and maps of many locations in and around Bideford and Barnstaple, North Devon. The links provided including UK Census records, Military Records, Parish and Probate Records will help you with your family history quest or if you would like to purchase historical photographs and maps of the United Kingdom's towns and villages including Abbotsham, Alwington, Appledore, Barnstaple, Bideford, Buck's Mills, Clovelly, Croyde, Georgeham, Hartland, Holsworthy, Ilfracombe, Instow, Littleham, Lundy Island, Lynmouth, Lynton, Northam, Mortehoe, Parkham, Saunton, South Molton, Torrington, Watermouth, Weare Gifford, Westward Ho!, Woolacombe, Woolsery. North Devon has many local historians so we are lucky that there are many books to buy online or available free your local library. The North Devon Focus Picture Tour includes links to town and village profiles including some local historical information but please contact us if you would like a photograph of a particular location, Church, Church Yard or memorial stone. We welcome any contributions to this feature and if you are a member of a North Devon historical society and would like a link to your web site please contact us. If you want to search for historical photos and maps of Bideford Click here
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MEMORIES OF AN EVACUEE IN FAIRY CROSS By Linda Le Merle, née Wolfinden I was recently sent this delightful childhood account by Linda Le Merle about her stay in Fairy Cross as an evacuee in 1944, during the Second World War. These are the recollections of her time in Bideford and in particular, the countryside Parish of Alwington and the hamlet of Ford and Fairy Cross. These are a little girl's "Snapshots in an Album" and we would love to hear from anyone who might be able to fill in the gaps or who recognises the people and places mentioned. Please read Linda's recollections here, If you do recognise any of the names and places do contact us
1914-1918 Woolsery and Bucks Remember This book is a tribute to those young men from Woolsery and District in North Devon, who suddenly found themselves thrust, either by bravely volunteering or by being conscripted, into the horrors of the First World War. It was a far cry from their peaceful, but hard, rural life. Their stories are now recorded forever. They were heroes, one and all. Some would return to the bosoms of their families, but there were some who never made it back to their homeland and loved ones, and rest forever young in those foreign fields.In the famous words from the poem by Robert Laurence Binyon: "We will remember them" - Jane Cann and John Crossman Also available at Woolsery Post Office Stores
North Devon Author Liz Shakespeare
Author, Liz Shakespeare was born in Devon and the family stories she grew up with and the sense of being deeply rooted in the area have, she feels, influenced her writing. She draws her inspiration from the North Devon countryside, from the strong historical identity of the area and the sense of past lives that can be experienced in any long-inhabited area. She is interested in social history and particularly in the lives of the less advantaged. Reviews and details of Liz's books including The Turning of the Tide, Fever: A Story from a Devon Churchyard, The Memory Be Green: An Oral History of a Devon Village can be seen at www.lizshakespeare.co.uk
Westward Ho! Village Green photo copyright P. Adams
Gone but not forgotten! Westward Ho! Village Green enhancement started in March 2011 with the creation of a new landscaped green with paths, seating, planting and recreational spaces. The old shelter pictured has been a haven for locals and visitors for years. Where else can you snuggle up or eat your ice cream and fish n' chips on a windy day beside the seaside! If you want to share any information about the old shelter please Contact Us
Good Listeners Required. North Devon Museum has been awarded funding from Renaissance South West the funding stream of the MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Organisation) to help volunteers capture North Devon's oral history. Although the museum collects objects associated with the history and culture of North Devon, it's also part of their work to collect the stories of local people. Julian Vayne of the Museum said: "Recording peoples stories is very important and gives us a personal account of how things have changed and let's us listen in to challenges, hopes, fears and dreams of people in our community. We're also interested in the therapeutic benefit of telling stories. For older people, especially those in hospitals and nursing homes it can really help them stay mentally active and engaged with their community. All we need now are some wonderful volunteers who'd like to be trained in gathering oral history and reminiscences work! "Anyone interested in getting involved in the project should contact Julian at the museum on 01271 346747 or via email to julian.vayne@northdevon.gov.uk
Victoria Park Bideford Oak Tree photo copyright Brett Adams
100 YEARS AND BEYOND. The centrepiece of Victoria Park in Bideford is a massive ancient Oak tree. 2005 marked the centenary of this sturdy tree which was planted as an acorn in 1905 by the youngsters of the town’s infants school, seven years before the Park opened to the public and a year before the statue of Charles Kingsley was unveiled. This splendid tree has been a colourful backdrop for hundreds of local events and generations of children have played under it's ever-budding boughs. In 1905 Albert Einstein submitted his dissertation on the Special Theory of Relativity and the Wright Brothers' third aeroplane, Wright Flyer III stayed in the air for 39 minutes! Click here to visit Wikepedia to find out other notable 1905 events (Commemorative Plaque reads: This tree was grown from an acorn by the children in the Church Infants School, Bideford AD 1905)
Taw Bridge photo copyright Brett D. Adams
Barnstaple Western Bypass and Taw Bridge opened May 23 2007. The Barnstaple Western Bypass is 2.7km long and includes one kilometre of side roads, the 409 metre-long Taw Bridge, 60 metre-long Station viaduct and two Tarka Trail Underpasses. The bridges used 38,000 tonnes of concrete and 2,000 tonnes of steel. If the steel was laid end to end it could stretch from London to 80 miles north of Edinburgh. Devon County Council Leader, Brian Greenslade opened the project at a public ceremony. Approximately 6,000 attended the Taw Bridge Family Fun Day to raise money for charity and celebrate the Downstream Bridge and Western Bypass.
Adrian Stone, of the North Molton History Society, would like to hear from anyone with information on the old corn mill located at the bottom of North Molton village on the river Mole. "The Old Mill" is now a house but the wheel is still on the side. It was converted to a house in 1975. Andrew is particularly interested in any old photographs; who lived there when it was a working mill and any interesting historical details about the building. If you can help or
know someone who can please email Adrian stone234@btinternet.com
John W.Tayor 1827 - 1906 One of the earliest references to the bells in Buckland Brewer was report by Church Goods Comissioners in 1553 who reported "Bucklande Bruer iiiibelles yn towre theire."
A new set of four bells was installed in Buckland Brewer in 1825, making apeal of six bells by William and John Taylor who had a bell foundry in Buckland Brewer. Over the course of ten years they are said to have cast 115 bells for parishes in Devon. A newspaper article in 1899 reported:
"The peal of six bells in the parish church are to be re-cast by Messrs Taylor of Loughborough. For some years the bells have not been ringable, but there was no idea of recasting them until Mr. John Taylor of Loughborough, who was born in the village, offered to do the work and to give a subscription of £50, because he wished his native place to have a peal of bells equal to any in England. The bells have been taken down this week. They are to be recast and hung on iron H frames, resting on steel girders. The present tenor weights about 12 cwt, and has the following inscription "Deo et ecclesia, W and J Taylor, Oxford, founders, T Lashbrook and S. Norman, churchwardens, 1825." This work cost £280 with a remission of the £50 as promised by John Taylor. In the old days ringers were paid to ring on public occasions and there is an intriguing record of the ringers being paid 2 shillings to ring on the occasion of the King of Prussia's birthday. In the past decade, because of remedial work being essential on the tower, the bells have been silent for periods of time. However to the delight of the village this work has now been carried out and the bells ring regularly again.

The above information was contributed by Cyndy Ellis, Buckland Brewer

Read all about it Buy Master of my art: The Taylor bellfoundries 1784-1987 (book about the history of the Taylor family and bell-founding. Mervyn Gould of the Mercia Cinema Society told us about this book he was one of the 1st subscribers.)
Edward Capern walked between Bideford and Buckland Brewer seven days a week and having delivered his mail to the post mistress he had a while to wait before his return journey. During this time he sat at a cottage table and wrote down the lines he had composed in though on his walk. He resented have to work on the Sabbath although he enjoyed the sound of Buckland's bells and recorded his feeling in:

"The Rural Postman's Sabbath

The mellowed sounds of Sabbath bells
Fall gently on my ear,
And as they break in murmuring swells,
My heart is tuned to prayer
In Sunday garb, all neatly clad,
With joy upon each face
The dame and sire, and lass and lad,
Approach the holy place.
'Tis true in yonder sacred fane
I cannot praise my King;
Yet in the meadow and the lane
I will be worshipping."

The above information was contributed by Cyndy Ellis, Buckland Brewer.
Buy the Book Ballads and Songs by Edward Capern
Who lived at Orleigh Court?
Speke - who discovered the source of the Nile lived at Orleigh Court.
Anthony Dennys 1585-1641
Per Risdon, Wellan Dake at one time owned Orleigh and Gellanus Dacus held it in Henry II's reign. According to John Watkins, who wrote "A History of Bideford' there is evidence to support the fact that Wellan and Gellanus are the same person and that this family changed their name to Le Daneis or Dennis (Dennys). Risdon assigns the ennis family with 18 generations and Anthony Dennys followed many generations of his ancestors at Orleigh.
Anthony was 20 years old when his father, William, died in 1605. He married twice. His first wife was Eleizabeth Wyse who father was Thomas Wyse of Sydenham. Elizabeth and Anthony had three children, a son (aged 9 years in 1620) and two daughters; all predeceased him.
Anthony's second wife, Gertrude, was the daughter of Sir Bernard Grenville and sister of the famous Sir Bevil Grenville. This marriage produced 8 children although at the time of Anthony's death on 19th June 1641 as he had no heir of age. Gertrude, the youngest daughter, eventually married Nicholas Glynne of Cornwall and they lived at Orleigh although in 1661 all three sisters conveyed Orleigh to a board who held the land for charitable purposes and they sold it to John Davie a merchant from Bideford.
As an alderman and Mayor of Bideford, Anthony gave £10 and 4 alms houses for the use of the poor.
In Buckalnd Brewer Church there is a monument on the East wall, on which there are two kneeling figures. A man in hose and half armour and a lady in a black gown and hod. At their fee are children kneeling and also three infants laying down to indicate they died in infancy. The inscription says:
"To the pious memory of Anthony Dennys late of Orleigh, esqr,who first married Elizabeth, ye daughter of Thomas Wyse of Sydenham by who he had 1 sonne and 2 daughters deceased. He secondly espoused Gertrud daughter of Sir Bernard Grenville of Stow knight, by whome having plenteous issue left surviving only three daughters. He deceased June 19 Ao Di 1641 Aetat suae 56."
"Here sleeps his corps whose worth and fame shall be
A living sermon to posterity
Whose name shall outlive time;
Shall stile him loyall, loving, prudent, sage
Learning's Moecenas, wisdome's quintiscence
He sleeps, he is not dead, he liveth forever
Pale death has got is due, but he dyes never."

The above information was contributed by Cyndy Ellis, Buckland Brewer

We must thank Gordon Hickman for emailing his splendid poem "Devonshire". Although Gordon, who was born in Barnstaple, left the area while still a baby he has many happy memories of holidays in Devon and return visits to see his Grandmother who lived in Pilton. Now living in Scarborough he says his heart still lies in Devon and his delightful description of the coast and countryside illustrates this. Last year at 86 years of age he started writing verses, mainly Aphorisms and has quite a collection now. Thank you Gordon for taking the time to write.

County Motto: ' Bide your time'

Devonshire's beauty has long been veiled,
from the roving eye it's mostly hidden,
its narrow, bent lanes guard it, unassailed,
like a blushing virgin's allure, forbidden.

The beholders eye's held in a spell,
not by what's seen, but what's obscure,
a County which, as a beauty belle,
reveals very little in one overture.

Now and then there's just a glance,
like a lady's skirt caught in a breeze
it's then you catch some glorious view,
which entrances your heart and mind anew,
the Moors offer much more, perchance,
a bare midriff revealed there, to tease.

Two channels run where she bathes her feet,
across fine, wide sandy bays, and little creeks,
the bays are where many surfers meet,
and holidaymakers scamper, with joyful shrieks.

Sometimes you'll catch the native twang,
"hers a proper jaab" and, "where be 'em to"?
where I was born, when the doorbell rang,
you'd hear," I'm fine me dear, and how be you"?

The milkman came with horse and gig,
and filled your jugs straight from a churn,
the baker's horse arrived, drawing shelved out rig,
followed by the grocer, and fishmonger, all in turn.

This County's a lady with beauty and charm,
an elegant hostess for holiday bliss,
no bluster nor fuss, just serenity and calm,
she'll woo and embrace you, then leave a warm kiss

© All rights reserved 2 July 2009
BLASTS FROM THE PAST... (Press release from Haunted Devon founder Byron Jackson 1/2/08)
Paranormal Investigators are hoping the noisy re-enactment of a major Civil War battle nearly 400 years ago will raise ghosts of the past in North Devon this month. Haunted Devon will investigate key sites in Torrington, famous for a bloody skirmish which led to the deaths of hundreds of men and the end of Royalist resistance in the Westcountry. On the 16th February 1646 the Parliamentarian Army, led by General Fairfax. took Torrington from Royalist control. In addition to the deaths from the initial attack, many Parliamentarian and Royalist soldiers were killed when a stray spark ignited 80 barrels of gunpowder stored in the local church. The Haunted Devon team, led by Byron Jackson, has investigated sites across the South West including Chambercome Manor, the Black Friars Distillery in Plymouth, Dartmouth Castle and Lewtrenchard Manor. Byron says "We are delighted that the people of Torrington have allowed us to investigate various locations within the town on the anniversary of the battle. There have been some strange happenings in previous years and we hope that the anniversary may serve as a catalyst for paranormal activity." The Haunted Devon team will be joined by members of The Sealed Knot re-enactment group and local Civil War historians from the Torrington 1646 museum. Both will work to provide historical verification of any paranormal findings throughout the evening.
CROMWELL RETURNS TO DEVON... The group will be working from the Cavalier Inn, Black Horse and other locations within Torrington on the evening. They bring with them, the aptly named TV medium, Gavin Cromwell who is an honorary member of the Haunted Devon team and well known local medium Eileen King. Gavin, who is currently working on his new TV series "Spirit Seekers" has been a guest medium on "Most Haunted" and has worked with a large number of soap, pop and TV celebrities. Haunted Devon is one of the largest and best equipped paranormal groups in the UK. The team specialise in the use of electronics, surveillance techniques and ambient temperature monitoring together with more traditional mediumship methods, dowsing, divination and scrying. "We have a good balance of membership beliefs and this has ensured that our findings are more acceptable to members of the public" says Byron. "We simply aim to provide the evidence in both technical and written form that supports the life after death theory." If you wish to find out the results of this investigation or wish to find out more about membership please visit: www.haunted-devon.co.uk
16th February 1646 Civil War Commemoration 2008 - Start: 2:00pm - End: 8:30pm
The Cavaliers will be leading the torchlight procession from Great Torrington School we are also organising the FREE fireworks Display from 1646. This will be viewed from South Street Carpark. Full itinerary and timings as follows
1. 14:00 Musket competition @ 1646
2. 19:00 Musket Volley and torchlight procession leaves GTS, Hatchmoor road.
3. 19:20 Musket Volley, wreath laying and proclamation in the square.
4. 19:45 Free Hot drinks in 1646 Cafe. Musketry and Fireworks viewed from South Street Car park.
5. 20:30 Retire in good order to the ale house.
Haunted Devon investigations are expected to take place from 2200 hrs at several locations in the town.

To the delight of the crowds, Community Arts Group, Flying Colours danced their way through the Bideford streets on New Year's Eve. The wind and rain held off just long enough for families and early revellers to enjoy the lively and colourful "Party Animal" Carnival Parade. Dancing to the beat of DJ Gorilla, the parade, headed by a herd of very rhythmic zebras, was followed by some exotic "Party Animals", including a big cuddly bear, gigantic puppet lions and tigers. A flashing baboon took up the rear! There was a very happy family atmosphere on Bideford Quay with the majority of children and adults in fancy dress. Bideford's first winter carnival was held last year and was so popular it has now become an annual event. In contrast to last year's white "Ice & Sea" theme this year's "Party Animals" were dressed in rich gold, red and black.
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North Devon Remembers