AbbPast Celebrates the New Elizabethan Era 1952 --ABBPAST



2023: Village History Coming to Life
The big historical event of the year is going to be the 'opening' of the former Wesleyan Chapel which is being purchased for the village by the Parish Council. It is being leased to the excellent Abbotskerswell Repair Workshop, but they have kindly agreed that AbbPast can have space to both highlight the history of the Chapel and to be our archive. In return we will be producing on of our occasional publications entitled "Abbotskerswell Wesleyan Chapel: The Story" which will help raise funds for the renovation of the building. 

The sketch on the right was an early version of an illustration that Abbpast commissioned from Viv Styles, the publication will feature the final version. No good, clear, close up photograph of the Chapel in its original form appears to exist which is why we took the decision to commision the painting. 

Our monthly talk commense once again on 13th February.

2022: Getting Back to Normal
In February we began our monthly meetings with speakers once again, and have a full year of talks ahead of us. Thankfully we were able to fulfil all our talks this year and get back to normal. We launched our 7th publication in the "Abbotskerswell Village History Series", entitled "People and Places" in September, with an event in the Orchard Cafe & Crafts, as always it is available free in the Cafe or the Model Stores.

2020-2021: The Covid-19 Years

For two years the pandemic curtailed the activities of AbbPast, well the meetings anyway. However, a number of activities did continue. During the first Lockdown we took the opportunity to publish a photograph from our extensive village archive each day on the 'Spotted Abbotskerswell' Facebook page. We were able to publish our latest village booklet. "The Lanes and Footpaths of Abbotskerswell, plus Orchards", with thanks to AbbFest for their grant to pay for it, which proved popular with people taking more walks to fill the days; as usual this is available in the Model Stores and The Orchard Cafe, free of charge. We were also able to help the Abbotskerswell Repair Workshop and the Abbotskerswell Parish Council with their application for a loan to purchase the village's former Weslyean Chapel, more later in the year when the sale is completed. With time to spare we have also written a seventh publication in our "Abbotskerswell Village History Series".

2019: Recollections of Abbotskerswell

The project for this year is to record the recollections of people who lived in the village. For their accounts click on the pdf link.

Fred Brimecombe's 'Thesis'       Fred_Brimblecombe's_Thesis.pdf
Fred's family were Abbotskerswell people for generations and he was born in the village in1918. He was a font of knowledge about village life and his recollections were often used in the village magazine, AbbTalk. He was persuaded to write down his memories in what he called his 'Thesis'. It was rescued after hisdeath by a neighbour, Johanna Westgate and we are very pleased to display it in our website.
Eileen Tett Remembers       Eileen_Teet_Remembers.pdf
Eileen Beer moved to Abbotskerswell in 1950 as Eileen Tett, when her father bought the group of cottages we know as Rose Cottages. There were seven cottages, although one was derelict by then. Today there are three as numbers 3-6 have been made into one. This is her account of life in Abbotkerswell in the 1950s.

Pat Honey Remembers       Patrick_Honey_Remembers.pdf
Pat moved in to Abbotskerswell with his family as a small boy in the late 1930s, being the first residents of 10 Orchard Terrace, one of the new Council Houses. He eventually left the village when he joined the RAF in 1952. This is his story of life in Abbotskerswell during those years.

Links with Other History Groups
We have recently begun working with other history groups in the area, looking for areas of common interest and ways that we can help one another. One thing we can do is to include links to their websites, which can be found below.

2018: The Abbotskerswell History Board
The third Heritage Lottery Fund grant that AbbPast has been awarded has meant that beautifully designed and printed board telling the village’s history has been erected in the historical centre of the village at the entrance to Church Path. We hope that villagers and visitors will find it informative and help them understand Abbotskerswell’s past.
2017: Replacing the Bath House Plaques
The old Parish Baths, now the Parish Rooms, once had two brass plaques to commemorate the donation of the baths to the village by Rev. Dence. However, they disappeared many years ago. Thanks to the generousity of Robert Williams from stone masons Willams & Triggs they have now been replaced with exact copies, but in granite.

In an unveiling ceremony the children from the village primary school helped Rev. Dence's grandson, Timothy Key, to allow villagers to once again remember this buildings past.
2017: Preserving the Telephone Box
One of this year's tasks is to renovate the former BT Telephone Box on Wilton Way. It was declared redundant in 2016, after having zero use for a year, and since it is destined to be the last of its kind in the village we decided to preserve it. With the help of BT, Teignbridge District Council and The Parish Council this was achieved in the Autumn. We have cleaned it up and removed all the old brackets and notices and plan to put up noticeborads that inform people about the work of AbbPast.
2015: 'Junior AbbPast' at Abbotskerswell Primary School 

Committee member and 'Abbotskerswell Village History Series' researcher Felicity House has set up a Junior AbbPast section at the village school. She has been working with the children to research and write a history of the school from its beginning in 1876. If you went to the school Felicity would love to hear from you and learn of your experiences there.

2014: World War 1 with Abbotskerswell Primary School
During the year Peter Wade and Felicity House visited the School a number of times to help the pupils with their project work on WW1. This involved supporting them with the family trees that they were creating which would enable them to find their relatives who were alive at the time of the war. A talk was given to place Abbotskerswell in its context during the war period and also told the story of the Cornish family. Jessica was a local girl who married Albert who was killed during the early months of the war.

2013: Working with Abbotskerswell Primary School

In January 2013 Mr Tim Hughes joined the village school as acting Headmaster and introduced a ‘House’ system for the pupils based on local history; he choose Priory, St Mary, Carsewell and Henley. Following an article in AbbTalk members of AbbPast approached the school an offered their help with providing information on the Houses, which was gratefully accepted.

The Introductory Talk
In April Peter Wade and Felicity House were invited to give an illustrated talk to the whole school providing an outline history of each House as a beginning of a research project for the pupils. Priory were shown pictures of the buildings and the nuns at work; St Mary had an explanation of the importance the church in village history and the impact of the Hare family to the House; to Carsewell the explanation of the village name was the beginning of importance of water to the choice of the valley for a settlement; and Henley were shown how that family began a cider making business that would be part of the village for nearly 200 years.

The ‘House’ Walks

On a sunny day a few weeks later Peter Wade took each House on a walk lasting an hour that showed their Houses place in the village’s history. Priory House were grateful that The Priory agreed to allow us to walk the grounds and visit the Chapel and Chapter House which allowed the children to see The Priory in all its glory. Nick Nicholson joined the walk and provided an additional commentary for the pupils. It was explained how the nuns of the St Augustinian order arrived in Abbotskerswell in the C19th and how they lived until The Priory’s closure in the 1980s. The House were also shown the old Wesleyan and Baptist Chapels in the village.

Next was the turn of Henley to be shown Mallands House where the Henley family lived from the 1840s until the 1970s, which reflects the importance to the village of the family and its business. The cyder works (now an industrial estate) was shown to the children with various buildings showing how the works developed. The House was also introduced to another important C19th family, the Creeds, by being shown the Manor House and the former Manor Farm; the Creeds also owned Whiddon House at that time.

The third walk of the morning was for St Mary House, so it was off to the church for most of the walk. We began with a look at the lychgate, claimed to be the oldest wooden one of its type in England, with an explanation of its original use for burial services. Then onto the church with a look at the outside and the differences in the building caused by the changes over time. Inside the House were shown the church’s layout, the memorials and its ‘treasure’ the statue of Mary. The importance of the Hare family was explained and outside again Court Grange was shown to the pupils. The girls were shown how to curtsey to Mrs Hare, and the boys tugged their forelocks! It was then back for lunch via Court Farm and Church House with explanations of how they fit into the story of St Mary House.

The afternoon walk was for Carsewell House which began with a study of two old buildings, the old Post Office and Town Cottages. The pupils were shown how the houses were originally open plan and then had first floor rooms added later, the Mote Cottages showed this well too. Then it was on to Ladywell and an explanation of the importance of water to the village’s settlement and why villages had holy springs. The importance of the first ‘council houses’ at Barnfield was explained to the House, in providing proper housing for the workers to replace the old thatched cottages. At the bottom of Wilton Way the children had to imagine a world with no houses there just a wet area with the cress beds. It was back to school via the Court Farm and Church House.

The ‘House’ Afternoons
Peter and Felicity also supported the teachers in three working afternoons with the children, who produced displays on their houses.

2012: AbbPast Celebrates the New Elizabethan Era 1952-2012

AbbPast joined the village's Jubilee celebrations with two events reflecting the changes during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. 

The Display
We created a display of historical material showing village life in the last 60 years. This featured a DVD of the coronation, since Archbishop Romsey who crowned Elizabeth, was the Great Uncle of a village member, an audio-visual display of photographs reflecting the 60 years and an amazing collection of memorabilia of various jubilees and royal events. We were also pleased to unveil our new AbbPast banner which will help us advertise our work and the launch of our AbbPast website,




The 'Diamond Jubilee Village Trail'                      Coronation Memorabilia

The Village Trail
On the Sunday afternoon we released our tribute, and lasting contribution,to the Queen's Jubilee: the "Diamond Jubilee Village Trail". This will be available, free of charge, from The Model Stores, Babbinis Tea Rooms, The Butcher's Arms and the Court Farm Inn. To launch the Trail AbbPast member Peter Wade led a guided walk of the Trail. We would like to thank Derek Bellotti and Kingfisher Print for their generous help in producing The Trail.