Views of Whimple village



This is a poignant time of year to be asking you for help.
The History Society has embarked upon a project to commemorate the centenary of the start of The Great War. We hope to open the Heritage Centre in 2014 with an exhibition of stories and pictures which illustrate the social history of Whimple when news of the war broke out. We also want to be able to tell the stories of the many Whimple people who not only went to fight in the war but also stayed behind. To do this we need help. Some people have already kindly made themselves known but we need more volunteers to help us piece it together. Can you spare some time? A few hours, one day or more - any amount.

Below are a few extracts from David Parker’s book ‘The People of Devon in the First World War’.
I hope it will encourage you to contact us.

The high summer of 1914 was like many summers before, with final preparations being made for a host of popular events on and around the Bank Holiday, Monday August 3rd. Advertisements were appearing all over the county for horse and pony shows, regattas, horticultural shows, flower shows and in Whimple the villagers were preparing to host a sports day.

On the evening of Sunday August 2nd 1914 news of the imminent prospect of war reached the village of Broadclyst. During evensong the daughter of the verger appeared in the doorway of the church with a piece of paper in her hand. The verger was a Naval Reservist, and a telegram had arrived. He got up noisily, hung his cassock on it’s peg in the tower vestry and left. By the time the congregation came out of the church he was on his way to the depot in Exeter. Throughout Devon thousands of others with military and Naval training received similar calls.

On Bank Holiday Monday, August 3rd Germany declared war on France and its armies immediately invaded Belgium and Luxemburg. On August 4th The British Government sent and ultimatum to Germany to evacuate those countries: by eleven o’clock in the evening there had been no reply and by midnight Britain was at war.

On August 7th Lord Kitchener called for a 100,000 more men to create a ‘New Army’. Despite the high numbers in Devon’s Territorial’s, local mayors were asked to stimulate more recruiting and to identify reliable recruiting contacts in all the parishes.

We have the names of over 100 Whimple men who joined The Great War and we are looking for volunteers to help research the part they played. If you would like to help please contact Sue Ayres email or
or call Sue 823082. You can also approach anyone from the History Society or pop a note in our post box which can be found outside the Heritage Centre.
Many thanks Sue Ayres Whimple History Society.

Events     *Please note that admission to the talks is £2.00 for non-members of the Society

Saturday 17th January 2013 –Wassailing

This year’s wassailing will start at the New Fountain Inn at about 6.30 p.m. for the usual ‘rehearsal’. The assembled company will then move off at about 7.00 p.m., the first wassail ceremony, which will be around the Society’s Whimple Wonder tree. The procession will then proceed up Church Road to Lower Woodhayes Orchard for the second wassail ceremony. The procession will then move back to the Square, via Dince Hill Close, where the procession will gather near the tethering stone to remember the Society’s first Chairman, John Shepherd. The procession will then continue along Town Lane and Broadclyst Road to the orchard adjacent to Knowle Cross Farm for the third and final ceremony of the evening, courtesy of Jim and Mary Chard. The last port of call will be at the Cricket club for traditional wassail refreshments. We would urge everyone to enter into the spirit of the evening by wearing traditional dress and bringing ‘instruments’ that will make sufficient noise to waken the trees and ward off the evil spirits in the apple trees. Wassailing Mugs and T-shirts will be on sale on the evening.

Further to the Wassailing..................Wassail 2017 Meeting

Present: Jim Causley, Emma Palmer, Graham Potbury, Nick Bloomfield, Ed Hitchcock, Alan Smith, John Aiton and Roger Smith

It was felt by all in attendance that last year’s wassai,l whilst a success in terms of numbers, was not as well ordered as we have come to expect. Several reasons were suggested:-
1. A lot of new wassailers.
2. A need for a clearer explanation of the mechanics and the ceremony.
3. Stewarding

After a lot of discussion the following format was agreed.
The assembly at the new Fountain Inn
1. An explanation of Health and Safety Issues related to the evening.
2. A clear explanation of the Wassailing Ceremony by the Master of the Wassail
3. A clear explanation of the expectation of wassailers by the Master of the Wassail.[Procession will always be led by the Master of the Wassail, followed by the Band and then the wassailers and stewards]
4. A mention of the food arrangements at the Cricket Pavilion.

The Wassail Ceremony
1. The Master of the Wassail will call for silence once all the wassailers have assembled.
2. The Queen/ King and the Princess/Prince recite the Wassail Poem clearly and loudly.
3. The Queen/ King will place the toast in the tree where possible or at the foot of the tree.
4. The Queen/ King and Princess/ Prince will hurl the roasted apples at the tree trunk.
5. The Master of the Wassail will lead the wassailers in three cheers.
6. The Gun Party will discharge their guns.
7. The Master of the Wassail followed by the Band will lead the wassailers around the tree singing the Wassail Song and making lots of noise.
8. The Master of the Wassail and Band will then lead the wassailers passed the Wassail Cup so that they might sample it and then lead the wassailers to the next site.

The Tethering Stone Ceremony
1. Before the Wassail ceremony the Master of the Wassail will explain the significance of this site.
2. The Gun Party will block the path outside 2, Clarence Villas, thereby avoiding issues with a local resident.
3. After the ceremony the Master of the Wassail will lead the wassailers passed the Wassail Cup which will be situated at the bridge adjacent to 1, Rectory Cottages and then on to the next site.

Additional points raised
1. A need for six stewards with high visibility jackets to marshall the increasing number of wassailers. Perhaps a note could be placed in both the Village News and the Whimple History News asking for volunteers to help with stewarding.
2. Possibly reinstate the ‘Beadle’ to lead/ assist the Queen/ King and the Princess/ Prince in their duties i.e. the recitation of the Wassail Poem and the toast and roasted apples ceremonies and be with them throughout the evening.
3. Perhaps have a ‘matinee wassail’ performance at the school orchard maybe when the pupils are picking apples. This could then set the scene for the Poster Competition to select the Princess/ Prince.
4. Jim Causley pointed out that the Dartmoor Pixie Band had not been in attendance for several years. He also thought that the food sign for the band should read ‘Jim, Emma and Musicians’

The Society would like to encourage members to have their newsletter
e-mailed to them for two reasons (i) to reduce the cost of postage and stationery and (ii) to allow members to be contacted with regard to events that are taking place at other Societies and Museums etc. If you are happy to do this could you please contact the Secretary at


Saturday 10th December
The Annual Christmas Lunch at The Cricket Club starting at 12 noon.

The September and November talks have yet to be arranged but there will be notification in the next newsletter.

Annual Subscription
Members are reminded that the yearly subscription will become due on the 1st January 2016. These remain at £17.00 per couple and the single at £10.00.


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