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AGM postponed

Posted in Events on Friday 20th March 2020 at 11:19am

Given current advice regarding the ongoing coronavirus situation, the Executive Committee have decided that the forthcoming AGM and talk by Eamon Crowe, due to be held in Chagford on 18th April, should be postponed. We will endeavour to rearrange the event for a later date, should the situation improve in the summer.

I am sorry that we have had to postpone this important annual event in our calendar, especially as we were all looking forward to hearing from Eamon Crowe, as well as presenting this year’s Dartmoor Society Award to our very own Dr Tom Greeves. But we trust you will understand why it has been necessary given the current situation.

As an Executive Committee, we are currently investigating other means of conducting AGM business to permit the continued smooth running of the Society, should it prove impossible to re-schedule the meeting this summer. We will, of course, let you know the details in due course.

If you have already booked for another future event, you will be advised by email, letter or telephone nearer the date if there are any changes.

Please also keep an eye on this website for updates on any other planned events before booking.

Alan Endacott MA
Acting Chairman, The Dartmoor Society

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Higher Shilstone Talk

Higher Shilstone Talk

Higher Shilstone - Memories of a Medieval Farmstead on Dartmoor

Posted in Events on Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 11:11pm

On the afternoon of Saturday 15th February, 55 attendees struggled through some very difficult weather conditions created by storm “Dennis” to Manaton Parish Hall to hear Chris Chapman’s excellent talk on “Higher Shilstone”, which was a film screening on the potential selling of this architecturally important Medieval Farmstead.

With the film itself, Chris does a superb job of engaging the audience from the very start, where in 1974 its newly found owner Rita Webber, who had been living in Throwleigh, suddenly finds herself the owner of Shilstone Farm after her parents have died.

Chris, who was living locally himself at the time, recalls seeing Rita moving all her belongings on a day in August using a tractor and trailer from her Council house in the village up to the Farm.

Due to her financial situation, Rita is forced to sell the Farm, and the story develops from there. This is a truly fascinating film and Chris handles the story with great sensitivity.

After the film, we all tucked into delicious light refreshments provided by the Executive Committee and then Chris presented some of his extensive Throwleigh archive of old photographs and gave us an illustrated talk showing many images of rare and landmark situations, and occasions, and of the local people who lived in the Throwleigh area in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Despite the travel conditions everyone agreed that it had been a wonderful afternoon where we all felt that we had been totally transported back in time and had been given a rare insight into traditional Dartmoor life.

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Proposed Bid for "Beeching Reversal Fund" - Comments Needed by Friday 28th February

Posted in Responses/Comments on Tuesday 25th February 2020 at 11:01pm

Dartmoor Society member Tony Hill writes:

“Just in case you haven’t already seen, the Government has given more details of the process for bidding for the £500 million “Beeching Reversal Fund” which is intended to fund studies to investigate which lines it is worth reopening.

The process is to be initiated by MPs and the deadlines are pretty tight. The first call is for expressions of interest for the “Ideas Fund” by Friday 28th February, with at least one more round to follow.

Devon County Council has already announced that they are to bid for money to help finish the plans to reopen Bere Alston to Tavistock. That’s a different part of the fund – the “Accelerating Existing Proposals” bit.

A group has been set up by rail journalist Andy Roden with the aim of putting the whole Northern Route forward for consideration – Bere Alston to Meldon Quarry inclusive.

Geoffrey Cox is the key to getting a bid in. He has to at least submit the expression of interest.

Dartmoor Society members living in the area within the reinstated through route (closed on 6/5/1968) would serve, particularly those in West Devon who are interested in this project, are invited to email Geoffrey Cox about the fund and propose that he will make sure that not just Bere Alston to Tavistock but the whole Northern Route is fully considered.”

Geoffrey Cox’s email address is: tellgeoffrey@geoffreycox.co.uk.

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Dartmoor Society Research Lecture 2019

Dartmoor Society Research Lecture 2019

Dartmoor Society Research Lecture 2019

Posted in Events on Wednesday 18th December 2019 at 10:32pm

It was a record breaker when 100 people congregated in the upstairs function room of the Dolphin Hotel Bovey Tracey on the 15th November to hear the findings of Dr Paul Lunt Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Plymouth University and Dru Butterfield from the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust (DPHT).

The research has taken place on the land leased from Forestry England by the DPHT in the areas of Bellever Tor and Laughter Tor near Postbridge.

Dru gave her introduction and explained about the history of the Trust and she highlighted the fact that the findings had been a major team effort.

Paul Lunt then presented his findings based on a study that involves strategically positioned salt blocks being used to attract ponies to targeted areas of Molinia dominated moorland where other management strategies are not sustainable.

The Dartmoor Society is proud to announce that a Natural England ecologist has said “The results of this trial provide good evidence of the positive impact of pony grazing on Molinia”.

The study has now been shared with Defra and it will form part of the body of evidence that will help to shape the future Environmental Land Management System (ELMS).

The event was topped off by an excellent buffet produced by Robert and his team at the Dolphin Hotel.

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Dartmoor Society Debate 2019

Dartmoor Society Debate 2019

Dartmoor Society Debate 2019

Posted in Events on Monday 28th October 2019 at 11:03pm

Eight excellent speakers which included scientists, conservationists and wildlife experts, as well as 150 attendees, created the ingredients for our excellent annual all-day Dartmoor Society Debate at Ashburton Arts Centre on Saturday 12th October.

The main objective of the day was to highlight the plight of endangered species of birds on Dartmoor. Sadly, breeds such as Curlew, Lapwing and Ring Ouzel are all on the brink of being lost altogether.

On balance, thankfully by encouraging a more widespread suitable environment, numbers of some breeds such as Snipe, Dunlin and Grasshopper Warblers were identified as gradually increasing.

Our Chair was Ali Kohler who is Director of Conservation and Communities at the DNPA and she did a sterling job of keeping all the speakers within their time frames as well as introducing both public question and answer sessions.

Everyone agreed it had been a fabulous day, packed full of information and one that had encouraged much dialogue and many thought provoking ideas as well as creating a perfect social occasion during lunchtime and breaks.

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William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust Visit

William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust Visit

William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust Visit

Posted in Events on Tuesday 1st October 2019 at 10:37pm

28 eager Dartmoor Society members convened in the car park of the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust on 18th September.

Our host was Sheila Philips who is the Education Officer at the Trust. Sheila showed us plenty of evidence of volcanic disruption and the caves themselves are surrounded by several disused quarries.

In total there are five and a half kilometres of cave networks at the site and Sheila showed us the entrance to Bakers Pit Cave, then Reeds Cave and finally we explored the inside of the exquisite Joint Mitnor Cave.

During our fascinating tour we walked uphill and along a lane to the remains of the old Buckfastleigh Church named Holy Trinity Church which was devastated by fire on the 21st July 1992.

The whole area is frequented by bats and ongoing studies are taking place on the Greater Horseshoe, Lesser Horseshoe and Pipistrelle species.

At the end of the evening our members explored the recently developed Pengelly Cave Studies Trust Museum and had the opportunity to purchase some interesting literature.

What an amazing event this was.

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Widecombe Fair 2019

Widecombe Fair 2019

Widecombe Fair 2019

Posted in Events on Tuesday 1st October 2019 at 10:34pm

On Tuesday 10th September the Dartmoor Society attended Widecombe Fair.

Our stand was very near the show ring so we had a “birds’ eye view” – not that there was a lot of time to study events because we were very busy selling our 2019 Christmas Cards and next year’s calendar as well as plenty of merchandise and loads of second hand books and maps.

Sincere thanks to everyone who visited our stand and supported us.

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Moorlands Farm Visit

Moorlands Farm Visit

Moorlands Farm Visit

Posted in Events on Monday 2nd September 2019 at 10:01pm

It was a clear, sunny afternoon on Monday 12th August and after all the recent rain we had been experiencing we were all highly delighted to be able to enjoy superb visibility on our visit to Moorlands Farm.

Our hosts were Layland and Gill Branfield and we were even more delighted when Layland suggested that our tour was to start at the Prince Hall Farm buildings which are now sadly in quite a sorry state but still made a very useful contribution to Layland and Gill’s story on Dartmoor.

After hearing their early farming life history, we set off on to the open moor where there were a number of highlights including some spectacular moorland views of nearby Tors such as Bellever and Skir Hill.

We also saw clear evidence of remains relating to the unique First World War aerial ropeway that moved logs and timber from the Brimpts Plantation to the railway at Princetown, as well as 4,000-year-old archaeology consisting of reaves, and four hut circles.

The whole afternoon was rounded off in Layland and Gill’s beautifully positioned garden where we tucked into delicious home-made cakes and copious amounts of tea and coffee.

It had been a thoroughly enlightening and most interesting afternoon.

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Dartmoor Society Barbecue at Langaford Farm

Dartmoor Society Barbecue at Langaford Farm

Dartmoor Society Barbecue at Langaford Farm

Posted in Events on Thursday 8th August 2019 at 9:19pm

36 Members braved some very wet conditions on Friday 19th July to attend the Dartmoor Society Annual Barbecue, held at Langaford Farm.

Fortunately, ten minutes after everyone arrived, the clouds parted and the rain stopped so it was agreed that this would be the ideal moment for Meghan Lowe, Community Engagement Officer at the Butterfly Conservation Trust to lead our walk with a Butterfly and Moth theme.

Thankfully a whole range of butterflies and local wildlife seized the moment, and all popped their heads out including baby frogs and we also saw some very elaborate Funnel Web Spider’s webs enhanced by the raindrops glistening on them.

Even the Langaford Trust Ponies wanted to get in on the act by being very inquisitive and sauntering up for a friendly nuzzle.

After nearly an hour of studying the wildlife in our beautiful tranquil surroundings we headed back to the barn and tucked into sausages and beef burgers made freshly for the event by T G Lang “Dartmoor Butchers” from Ashburton complimented with salads, quiches and yummy desserts prepared by the Executive Committee, quaffed down by our Members’ own favourite choice of “Tipple”.

A very good evening was had by all.

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Themed Talk on the Pinwill Sisters

Themed Talk on the Pinwill Sisters

Themed Talk on the Pinwill Sisters

Posted in Events on Tuesday 25th June 2019 at 10:11pm

The weather at the start of the afternoon of Friday 14th June was not very promising and it is true to say that for the last three weeks or so prior to this event it had been unseasonably wet. However it still didn’t put off 43 of our Members turning up for a real treat of a visit.

Richard Bayly, Church Warden at St Leonards, Sheepstor Church kindly provided us with tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival.

Dr Helen Wilson then gave a talk on the life and work of the Pinwill Sisters and in particular Violet Pinwill’s extensive catalogue, with carving created by her and her Sisters in an amazing 185 Churches, primarily located throughout Devon and Cornwall.

After Helen’s excellent presentation we moved on to Yelverton to St Paul’s where Richard Byrn is the Church Warden. At this Church Helen covered off some of the history of the Church as well as explaining about the various pieces of carving.

We then climbed the narrow, spiral, stone steps to the summit of the 65 foot high tower where at the top we were embraced in brilliant sunshine enabling us to take in the stunning Dartmoor views.

A thoroughly enjoyable event appreciated by all attendees.

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Burnicombe Wood Visit

Burnicombe Wood Visit

Burnicombe Wood Visit

Posted in Events on Monday 27th May 2019 at 9:31pm

The conditions on the morning of Monday 13th May 2019 were perfect. As we made our approach along what can only be described as very rural tracks, the crystal clear views across Dartmoor from a perspective that was totally new to us gave everyone a glimmer of the delights that was to await us.

On arrival our hosts John and Clare Williamson and their keen helper Jordan who had been studying conservation at Bangor University could not have given us a warmer welcome.

Burnicombe Wood consists of 10 acres of specified ancient woodland and their main focus revolves around conservation and preservation, ensuring that they protect the fantastic habitat and either use or sell whatever they produce. These items consist of hazel hurdles, bags of charcoal and by adding charcoal to manure they are able to create a hygroscopic fertiliser which John and Clare also sell.

We truly felt privileged whilst enjoying walking their land, and could not help but admire the spectacular flora and fauna which included a thick carpet of bluebells. The quality of this visit was extremely special and created an unforgettable event for all of us

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Tom Greeves with Tin Ingot
Chris Chapman

Lis Greeves presented with flowers by Peter Beacham
Chris Chapman

Tin Ingot

Powdermills Pottery Plate

Tom Greeves steps down as Chairman of The Dartmoor Society after 21 years

Posted in Press Releases on Sunday 28th April 2019 at 10:03pm

After 21 years at the helm, founder and chairman of the Dartmoor Society Tom Greeves presided over his last Dartmoor Society AGM at Scorriton Village Hall on 13th April. Members and well-wishers gathered for a heartfelt farewell to both Tom and his wife Lis.

Peter Beacham OBE, President of the Dartmoor Society, presented Tom with a specially commissioned Tin Ingot made from Devon and Cornwall tin mounted on locally harvested spalted Beech; and a Platter that had been commissioned from local potter Joss Hibbs using Dartmoor clays and glazes.

In a letter of thanks Tom wrote, ‘I am thrilled to have both...as they reflect so much of my connection with, and interests in Dartmoor – prehistory, tinworking, craft skills and the Dartmoor Society itself’.

No mention of Tom would be complete without reference to his wife Lis who is held in great esteem by the committee and members for her knowledge and enthusiasm for Dartmoor and her huge contribution to the smooth running of the Dartmoor Society. She will be very genuinely missed.

After 21 busy and successful years Tom and Lis leave a permanent legacy. From the outset, the Dartmoor Society has been an independent voice for all those who live on Dartmoor, or are inspired by it. Its founding principles have been to encourage debate, foster research and share knowledge about issues central to Dartmoor.

The Dartmoor Resonance Music Festival in June 2018 spearheaded by Tom, is an example of the Dartmoor Society’s cultural contribution to the life of Dartmoor. Events and research such as the Gidleigh Common Day and resulting report in July 2018, attest to the wider involvement of the Dartmoor Society in current issues and debates.

Tom’s lifelong interest, understanding and love of Dartmoor has informed and guided the Dartmoor Society over the past 21 years. President Peter Beecham summed up his leaving as ‘one of life’s great moments’ and certainly the Dartmoor Society acknowledges with sincere gratitude the firm foundations that have been laid and the achievements gained, under his guidance, since its inception in 1998.

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