Views of Whimple village

 

Who are we?

We are an enthusiastic group of volunteers caring about Whimple's past, archiving today's information for historians of the future and committed to researching, recording and making available to anyone, information relating to the history of the village of Whimple, its people, customs, traditions, skills and trades. The Society opened its Heritage Centre in May 2003 where it has many thousands of photographs and artefacts connected with village life over the past 150 years

How did it all start?

There were two items that probably precipitated the formation of the Whimple History Society:-
1. In the summer of 1989. Mr. Radford, from Exeter, visited the village and brought with him a child's needlework sampler. The sampler had been worked by Mary Arm Pollard Harris in 1806when she was 12 years old. Mr. Radford believed that it originated from Whimple and wanted to donate it to any organisation in the village so that it might be displayed for all to see. The sampler was allegedly made at E. Lillycrap's School in the year 1806.
At this time there was an Art Shop in the village where the sampler remained until an organisation could be found to satisfy the wishes of Mr. Radford.
2. Earlier in 1978, the Whimple Parish Chest was instigated. A large metal chest into which photographs and documents were placed that related to the village. By 1989 the contents of the chest had increased almost beyond its capacity.
Around this time two like minded people Mrs. Daphne Rastall, who was one of the custodians of the village chest, and Mr. John Shepherd joined forces to formulate the idea of a History Society. The first meeting of interested parties, ten people, took place at Straightway Head House on 27th September 1989. The meeting agreed in principle to form the Whimple History Society. The object of the Society was 'to obtain and retain information relating to any aspect of the village history for the benefit of anyone interested'. Consequently, Mr. Radford"s gift was the first one given to the Society. Within a very short space of time numerous documents, photographs, artefacts etc came flooding in, when the formation of the Society became public knowledge. By 1993 the membership of the Society had grown to 40 and it had risen to 60 by 1996. Today the membership stands at almost 200.
In 1995 it was decided that the Society should commence looking for suitable premises to house all the Society's records etc. Fund raising for a Heritage Centre began in earnest. A separate Building Fund was set up, so that the annual programme delivered to our members was not curtailed. A wide range of activities such as Son et Lumiere shows, Auctions, Exhibitions, raffles etc were employed coupled with generous donations swelled the funds. In 1996. the Society realised that to qualify for grants etc. it would need to become a Registered Charity, so we duly became a Registered Charity (no.1051725) After many disappointments and many years of fund raising, the Society was offered the Linhay adjacent to the New Fountain Inn as well as a piece of land at the rear. The membership was in favour and the property was purchased in December 2000. Sadly the purchase coincided with the untimely death of Mr. John Shepherd, who was the Chairman, founder member and leading light of the Society.
Nevertheless, the Society continued undaunted with its fund raising efforts and in May 2003 the Heritage Centre was opened. Further fund raising and generous donations allowed the Whiteway Wing of the Centre to be opened in April 2005. More recently, the old outside asbestos store has been replaced by a new three room workshop / store.

'What' is Whimple?
It is a church, two pubs, a village shop, a hairdresser, a Post Office, and B&B accommodation. It has men of letters, numerous artisans, a builder and a brewery  -- but sadly no longer a butcher, baker or candlestick maker. It has some notables and even more characters but most importantly it possesses a fine community spirit. For more about Whimple visit the village web site at www.whimple.net

The Parish of Whimple
In Saxon times, around 600 A.D, Whimple was set up as three units. At the time of Domesday around the Church, at Cobden and at Strete Raleigh with 235 residents.

Origins of the name Whimple are believed to be from the Celtic - Gwyn = White, Pwll = pool or stream. Spelling has changed many times e.g. Wimple in Domesday Book (1085) and Whymple (1391). The population grew to 483 by 1801, to 775 by 1951 and then doubled in the next 50 years.

The 11th century Norman stone church had a tower added in the 15th century. Except for the tower it was rebuilt in 1848. From 1708 school lessons were held in the church and later in a cottage in The Square, until "Whimple National School" was built in 1848.

Coaching Inns were established in the 17th century but declined in the 1860's when the railway arrived.

For many centuries farming provided the main employment. The soil and water are ideal for apple growing and commercial cyder production started in the 19th century. Public Houses were always plentiful - in 1788 there were 9 Ale Houses!

Other major employers, until the 1980's, have been builders, farm merchants, butchers, bakers and the railway.

Where is Whimple?
It is situated in east Devon nine miles to the north-east of Exeter in south west England and lies on the Exeter - London(Waterloo) railway. For more details on the location please visit the map site

Heritage Centre Opening Times
The Heritage Centre will reopen on Saturday 5th April. It will be open every Saturday from 10.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. and every Wednesday from 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. until Saturday 25th October.

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