Views of Whimple village






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.

The World War 1 exhibition will be scaled down and will focus on village life in Whimple at that time. There will be a commemorative folder telling the story of all the men on the War Memorial.
A painting of the Westcountry locomotive ‘Whimple – 34025’ will be the centre piece of a revised Railway display.
Another of the late Brian Nickolls’ models ‘The House that Moved’ has been loaned to us for the season.
Within the Heritage Centre, displays and exhibits have been refreshed. The Whiteway Gallery has under going some changes and new pictures of the factory site and the production of Whiteway's products are now exhibited. We have a new Metal Detecting display. For 2000 years travellers have past through our parish at Hand and Pen. Many artefacts have been deposited over that time and we have the pleasure of displaying some of the finds unearthed by The East Devon Metal Detecting Group.
We also have a related event happening on Tuesday 31st May at Rull Farm from 11.00 a.m. This will be a family friendly metal detecting day. Bring your children and grandchildren along and join the experts. You might be amazed at what you find, for more information call Sue Ayres on 01404 823082. Toilet facilities and refreshments will be on hand.

Recent Events
The Society has continued to flourish this year. New fund raising initiatives, Tea and Cake and Tea and Scone afternoons and the Village Day Barbecue have helped maintain our funds throughout the year. We are most grateful to all members who have helped to make these events such a financial success.
In addition we have been fortunate with donations especially from the friends of the late John Schofield. A Plane tree and plaque will planted in the Village Field in memory of John and his contributions to the Parish Council and the History Society.
The completion of a lean-to store adjacent to the wall of the Heritage Centre has freed up space in the previous store to allow us to use it as a function room for our tea and cake afternoons etc.
The Committee would also like to take this opportunity to thank all members who so kindly volunteered to help with the Stewarding of The Heritage Centre during the past season.

Friday 28th October – Auction of Pledges and Promises
The Committee is pleased to report that the Auction of Pledges and Promises again proved to be successful. The total raised was about £1,400 a remarkable effort by all those involved, considering the economic climate. The money raised will help towards the annual running cost of The Heritage Centre.

Sunday 26th November – Apple pressing.
The Society had a day where members of the Society and the village could bring their apples along to be pressed into juice by our apple press and have tea/coffee and biscuits. Plenty of apples were pressed and a lot of juice was made. A big thank you is due to Alan Smith and his team for making it such a successful event

Opening of the Heritage Centre for Christmas Shopping

Once again the Society has decided to open the Heritage Centre to allow members to do any last minute Christmas shopping from our shop on Saturday 26th November and Saturday 3rd December from 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. It will offer you a chance to buy Wassailing Mugs and T-shirts ready for January’s Wassailing in addition to many other ideas for Christmas Gifts.

Saturday 10th December – Christmas Lunch at the Whimple Cricket Club starting at 12.00 noon.
Please book now to avoid disappointment.

The Twenty-fourth Annual General Meeting was held at the Victory Hall, Whimple on Friday 18th March 2016.
There was a good attendance of nearly forty members at the meeting.
The following members were elected to hold office and serve on the Committee:
Chairman: Mr. D.S. Rastall.
Secretary: Dr. R. J. Smith.
Treasurer: Mr. M. Rovira.
Committee: Mr. J. Aiton.
Mrs. S. Ayres
Mrs. M. Burrough
Mrs. J. Discombe
Mr. G. Potbury.
Mrs. D.M. Rastall.
Mr. A. Smith
Mrs. M. Wallis

The Richard W. Webber Wing was opened on Saturday 2nd May by Mrs. M. Webber in a low key ceremony at her request. However, The Society is planning to hold a Members Cheese and Wine Social evening to officially open the Richard Webber Wing on Thursday 21st July at 7.30 p.m. to celebrate Richard’s contribution to the Whimple History Society.

Forthcoming Events

Saturday 16th January 2016
This year’s wassail was blessed with excellent weather on the night despite the prolonged spell of wet weather. Saturday night was chosen rather than the 17th to avoid any clashes with church services, this again proved popular with the revellers as about 150 people turned up to enjoy the festivities. Mr. Ed Hitchcock started the evening with all his flamboyant style, humour and gusto and then due to illness handed over his smock to understudy Mr. Nick Bloomfield who then led the procession around the orchards and executed his duties as master of ceremonies. The Queen, Miss Annabel Courtney and The Prince, Master Ben Heywood-Rose, performed their tasks with great confidence. Again, this year the Prince was chosen as a result of a competition held at the local school and through the Village News. The music was provided by Jim Causley and his friends, special thanks are also due to Jim who has always led the singing with great enthusiasm. Ceremonies were conducted at sites kindly provided by Mr. & Mrs. I. Hardcastle, Mrs. M. Burrough, and Mr. J & Miss M. Chard and as well as at the tethering stone in the Village Square where past members : Mr. R. J. Shepherd, Mr. R.W. Webber and Mrs. E.M-L. Grout were remembered for their contributions to The Whimple History Society. We were also grateful to Mrs. M. Burrough who kindly donated the cider and prepared the wassail cup that was used at all the sites, as well as the people who heated the wassail cup. Mr. Ray Horn yet again illuminated the wassail sites with his flaming torches and fires. We were also indebted to the members of the gun party under the leadership of Mr. Alan Smith for their help in awakening the trees.
The festivities continued at the Whimple Cricket Club with the traditional Wassail Supper kindly provided by Mrs. M. Wallis and her willing band of helpers. The Committee would like to express their thanks to her and her helpers for all their efforts. The Committee would also like to thank all members who provided apple cakes and soup for the feast, as well as all the people who entered into the spirit of the occasion. The supper was followed by the now traditional ‘impromptu’ folk session led by Jim Causley and a whole host of his friends. An excellent evening was had by all who attended both the procession and the supper. Thanks are also due to the Cricket Club for coping with such an influx of wassailers and to Roger and Judy Smith for decorating the Club.


Friday 28th October
Auction of Pledges and Promise in the Victory Hall starting at 7.00 p.m.

Sunday 30th October
Apple pressing from 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.

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.

The Pomona Book
We have a very old and interesting book on display in the Centre. There is a display screen showing much of the contents. However, Adam Montague has produced a most interesting write up on the book and you can read it by following this link,


The Treasurer would like to remind all members that memberships are now due. The cost is £17.00 per couple and £10.00 per single. The Committee would like to point out that the disparity in the subscriptions is traditional and has been in operation for many years, it is basically a discount to encourage couples to join the Society. At the 2014 A.G.M. a motion was passed unanimously that in 2015 the subscription for a couple should rise to £17.00 but the single subscription would remain at £10.00. Subscriptions should be sent to: The Treasurer, and placed in the Heritage Centre Post box. Cheques should be made payable to: Whimple History Society.
The Society has negotiated with the Inland Revenue to be able to reclaim Gift Aid on annual subscriptions, for those persons registered for the Gift Aid Scheme. Members who complete an Annual Tax Return are therefore asked to include relevant details of their subscription in their return. Paragraph Q15A of the Return is applicable.

Stewarding of the Heritage Centre
Stewarding 2015
The Committee would like to thank all members who helped out with the stewarding over the Centre during the previous season. Stewards will be invited to an evening of wine and nibbles at the Centre towards the end of February as a thank you to them for all their efforts throughout the last season.

Opening Times
The Heritage Centre will reopen on Saturday 2nd April 2016. 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 17th October. On Saturdays, we desperately require stewards for each of the two sessions from 9.45 a.m. to 12.45 p.m. and from 12.45 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. In recent years we have been grateful to Mr. I. Hardcastle and Mr. D. Rastall who did the stewarding on Wednesday afternoons. If you could help on Wednesdays it would give these two members a welcome break from time to time. If you can manage to fill some of the dates mentioned above, could you either phone the Centre during opening hours (tel: 01404 822499) or Mrs. J. Discombe on 01404 823614. Your support will be greatly appreciated.

Anyone can be a steward, the induction process is most painless and only lasts a few minutes. Please note that local knowledge is not a requirement for Stewarding.

Opening of the Heritage Centre for Christmas Shopping
Once again the Society has decided to open the Heritage Centre to allow members to do any last minute Christmas shopping from our shop. Opening dates/times TBA

Fund raising 2016
As most of you are aware the annual running costs for the Heritage Centre are between £2,000 and £ 3,000 per annum. In a year when we have income from the Auction we probably just about break even. However, in other years we ‘leak’ funds thereby decreasing our reserves, the Committee is looking for ideas from our members as to how we can supplement our income. Next year we are hoping to run some more activities such as afternoon teas, cake stalls etc. If you have an idea or would like to run a fund raising event for the Society we would be pleased to hear from you. We try not use membership fees to cover the cost of running the Centre.

Future programme
If any member has any suggestions for either next year’s Exhibition or any of the talks could they please contact the Secretary on 01404 822244 or the Curator on 01404822221 or e-mail the Society at

Can You Help?
The History Society is looking for someone to help out with the running of the Heritage Centre, Would you be interested in planning and helping out with the preparation of new displays? Are there subjects about the village and its history which you would like to see in the Heritage Centre? Each year we aim to have a specific new theme as well as changing some of the content of the existing displays. We need to start planning now for next year's exhibits so your assistance and imagination would be of great help to the Society. In addition our exhibits need care and attention just like anything else and if you could spare the time to help with this conservation we would be delighted to welcome you to our volunteer group. Full guidance will be given initially and help is always available from the Curator and committee members. If you would like to support your village Heritage Centre in this way please ring Alan Smith on 822977 to get more information.

New Workshop and Display Area

The building has three rooms, their purposes are as follows:-

(i) a workshop room where items can repaired/renovated and displays can be constructed.

(ii) an area for small single exhibitions or functions.

(iii) an area where rural crafts can be demonstrated. To this end we now have a small cyder press to demonstrate the art of cyder making. We also have a butter churn which has not yet been put to use.

Prizes for Raffles
Over the years members have been very generous in providing prizes for the raffles held at the Society's events throughout the year. Once more the Committee is making an appeal for prizes for the events of the next twelve months. If you have an item suitable as a prize please give it to a member of the Committee OT hand it over at the Raffle Stall at a future event.
The Society has been well provided with prizes in the past and has never had to buy any. Thank you to all who have given in the past, it is appreciated.

Junior Membership
Following the success of our joint efforts with the local Primary School with the Wassailing Princess competition and the School Exhibition it has been decided that as from the 1st January 2011 to offer free membership to local school children. In fact the local Primary School has been invited to run a competition to produce a junior membership card.

Gift Aid Scheme  -  Annual Subscription
The Society has negotiated with the Inland Revenue to be able to reclaim Gift Aid on annual subscriptions, for those persons registered for the Gift Aid Scheme. Members who complete an Annual Tax Return are therefore asked to include relevant details of their subscription in their return. Paragraph Q15 A of the Return is applicable.

Top of page