THE 'ABBPAST VILLAGE HISTORY SERIES'
On Sunday 9 December we launched the fifth publication in the series; 5 The Era of World War 2 whichtells the village's story from 1930 until 1950, charting life in the village at this time as well as the stories of the men and women who served their country during this period. We chose a very public launch outside the Model Stores which was a bit wet and windy but gave us the chance to meet the villagers and present them with the latest. Many were pleased to add it to their collection of our previous publications. The pdf of the booklet is available in the Publications section of this website. As usual volume is free to villagers.
The last book in the series, 6 Abbotsleigh Priory, was launched at the monthly meeting on 11th March 2019. A large audience of invited guests, members and interested visitors were shown images of the Sisters at work and play inside the convent, many taken by one of the the Sisters around 1907. The remarkable story of Sisiter Mary Benedict is told in the publication and the audience were shown how her story unfolded by as the reserachers unearthed a long forgotten and buried account of the events.
THE HISTORY OF ABBOTSKERSWELL BOARD
On Tuesday 10 July we unveiled a board that tells the story of the village. Abbotskerswell Parish Council have been very supportive of the project and provided the land on which the board is situated; this is in the historic heart of the village next to Church Path. As Chair of the Parish Council, Wendy Grierson had the honour of unveiling the board; also present were Councillor Ann Allen, with the AbbPast Committee and members. The board was designed by Kingfisher Design & Print of Totnes, and produced by South West Colour Labs of Paignton and tells the story of the village through ages with old photographs and text.
THE ABBPAST PHOTOGRAPHIC ARCHIVE
Another part of the project is to make the amazing collection of village photographs that we have gathered available to be seen in all their glory. Consequently we are proud to announce that our AbbPast ‘Flickr’ account, that at present contains 80 of the pictures, is live. You can access this via the AbbPast website, www.abbpast.co.uk. in the page labelled The AbbPast Photographic Archive.
Photographs like this one of Town Farm in the late 1890s, from our ‘Wheeleker’ Collection, are really evocative, and those in our ‘Elliott Collection’ tell a fantastic story of village life. We thank all those who have provided us with photographs for our Archive. The Archive will continue to evolve, and you will not want to miss the amazing ‘Priory Collection’ when that is added later in the year.
THE PLAQUE UNVEILING
On 26 April 1929 Arthur Dence unveiled two plaques on the newly opened Abbotskerswell village baths. His father, Rev A T Dence of Court Grange, had paid for the installation of two enamel baths and a hot water system, so that the villagers of Abbotskerswell could have a proper bath instead of using the small zinc baths that houses had in those days. The baths were in use until 1940, by which time many of the council houses had been built and which had bathrooms.
Rev. Dence was a philanthropist who considered cleanliness to be important for the villagers. He donated Court Grange to the Sunshine Homes for Blind Children in 1929 after their home in Chorleywood was destroyed in a fire. At the ceremony, attended by the Bishop of Exeter, the brass plaques were unveiled; one commemorated the event, the other was a biblical text.
The plaques ‘disappeared’ several decades ago but AbbPast, the village history group, has had them replaced with exact replicas. It was the idea of villager Mike Williams, who arranged for the replacements which were kindly produced and donated by his son Robert. Robert’s company ‘Williams & Triggs’ are monumental stone masons in Newton Abbot, and they crafted the two replicas in granite. The former baths are now The Parish Rooms and AbbPast are very grateful to Mike and Robert Williams, and The Parish Council for making the reminder of a lost piece of village history possible.
A reinactment of the unveiling ceremony 87 years later, shown below, was organised with Rev Dence’s grandson, Tim Key, doing the honour this time.
2016 THE 'ABBPAST VILLAGE HISTORY SERIES'
Supported by the HLF our illustrated history of Abbotskerswell in four volumes is now available from the Model Stores and Orchard Cafe.
The four volumes in the series are: Industry & Commerce Book, Houses and Housing, Religion and Education and Pubs, Clubs and Governance.
Each volume was launched at a special 'Book Launch' events.
Industry & Commerce - we choose Babbinis Cafe as the venue since it began life as a Co-operative shop. The day long event attractive a good deal of interest with former shop owner Mrs Holmes being the guest of honour. On display were Mr & Mrs Holmes' salver given to them by the cricket club and the original post office post box front from 1872.
Houses & Families- this time we chose to have the launch at the Tuesday Coffee Morning in Church House, with Tim Key, Grandson of Rev. Dence, doing the honours.
Religion & Education- the launch for the third book was at the Village School, which is still housed in the original, if radically amended, 1875 Board School whose story is told in our publication. We are very greatful to the children and the staff at the school for their fantastic support with this project.
Pubs, Clubs & Governance- the last event in the Project was held at the Court Farm Inn, with support from owners Heavitree Breweries. Thanks goes to Landlady Debbie King for hosting our event.
We are trying to put together a complete set of ABBTALKS and are a number missing, can anybody help? We are missing the following editions.
105, 131, 136-7, 160, 178 – 246
Please contact any Committee member if you can help.
AUGUST 2015 COTEHELE HOUSE VISIT
The members who went on the August visit to Cotehele House were blessed with glorious weather for looking round the gardens and Cotehele Quay, with the Tamar Barge Shamrock, built in 1899 moored there. Looking around the house first, in the Great Hall was the "Look Sharp" event, where you could handle several enormous swords and battle weapons. Perspiration tarnishes and actually erodes the metal of these old artefacts, which is why now you have to wear gloves. One surprising thing was an iron arm, dating from the 17th Century, that could be bolted on to armour as an artificial lower arm, and with various studs and slots, the fingers could be locked in position allowing the wearer to hold reins or maybe even a weapon!
The House belonged to the Edgcumbe family, and from the mid 1700s they developed it as an antiquarian repository for many of their possessions, which they would then take visitors to their main seat, Mount Edgcumbe to admire.
THE ROLL OF HONOUR PROJECT NEWS
Our project is to be featured on the HLF website as an example of the kind of project that can completed with their funding.
JAN. 2016 MEMBERSHIP SCHEME
We have been reviewing the AbbPast membership and for 2016 have made a few changes. It still only costs £7 for a year's membership, saving a £1 for each meeting attended. However, we have now added a membership card containing a list of the meetings during the year and also 'The AbbPast Chronicle', our newsletter that will contain various historical pieces of information; you really must join.
NOV. 2014 DEMOLITION OF LANGFORD BRIDGE TOLL-HOUSE
At the bottom of Priory Lane where it meets the Kingskerswell Road was an old toll-house, which was built in 1765 by the Keyberry Park to Kingswear Turnpike Trust. These trusts took over poorly maintained roads, improved and the charged a fee or a toll for using the road. Our toll-house, at Langford Bridge, has been dis-used since the late 1970s and is in a poor state of repair. As part of the Kingskerswell Relief Road the road from Decoy to Kingskerswell is being widened and the toll-house demolished.
AbbPast and the Parish Council were working to try to prevent this and the PC were trying to get the toll-house listed by English Heritage; interesting the actual Langford Bridge is listed. Sadly all our efforts failed as it appeared that Teignbridge DC were determined to go ahead with the scheme at any price, and English Heritage were inept in their reviewing of the house using inaccurate old maps and failing to visit the site.
THE ROLL OF HONOUR PROJECT - UPDATE