Hennock & Teign Village Chronicle

Published by the Hennock Village Hall Committee

300° view of Hennock from
the top of the Church Tower

© 2014 D Baker

Memories of Hennock

From the memoirs of Primrose Peacock.

All stories © Primrose Peacock.

Primrose is the elder of two girls adopted by the Rev. F.H. Peacock Vicar or Hennock from 1942 to 1953.

Old Vicarage
The Old Vicarage c.a 1950

Of course in my day there was not even TV in Hennock – until a Mrs Simmonds (sister-in-law of the Post Office lady) got a set. In 1939 the vicarage was provided with electricity.
My father “lit” the church in Thanksgiving for the end of WW2 – there is a plaque on wall. Before that cosy oil lamps.

The Big Move.

My parents moved to Hennock from Dorset on 31st December 1941 but one of two vans bringing their furniture broke down in Honiton so they had to sleep on the floor for two or three nights! My father, who was a late entrant for ordination had concluded a curacy in Parkstone and inspected two other villages before deciding Hennock, particularly the attractive house would suit us. I was seven and my sister four. We arrived a week later having been sent to stay with relatives in Exmouth, during “the move”, which was prompted by terrifying wartime air raids.
We were very excited about the house with a large garden. Grandmother told me that Devon soil was red, and everything grew well. She also said that the local people spoke a dialect, kept lots of cows and made thick cream from their milk. We began to think of Hennock as the Land of Milk and Honey to which the people of Israel journeyed. But the red soil remained a problem.
On 7th January, we were taken by train to Exeter where Father and his brother met us with a ‘new’ grey car he had been given him for his work by Dame Violet Wills of Haytor who was the church patron. It was our first car ride as previously we travelled on the backs of our parents bicycles or walked. The weather was cold with a light dusting of snow that thickened the higher we climbed out of the Teign Valley up to Hennock and drove through a large archway before stopping by green gate. Past this gate there was a cobble stone courtyard and a green door which father opened. We ran in shouting for mother. She was half way up a shallow staircase, ready to welcome us.
That day we explored the house, which was full of nooks and crannies. As it was built into a hill there were many steps. We were told the uneven walls were because of cob – a kind of mud and that the roof was thatch made from straw, silent during rain but attracted spiders, hibernating butterflies and other things we were not too sure about. The lavatory was in a little room down some steps and a long way from a fairly modern bathroom. Our bedroom looked out over the south garden and when older we used to jump out of the window over an alley-way onto grass.
The following day the snow had gone. We asked to go outside from the kitchen which had a two part door like a stable and a big porch. I explored the gardens. Rachel was frightened. There was an enormous Cedar tree where apparently a family of owls lived; three acacia trees which were made of the same wood as Noah’s Ark and a very big bay tree (shortly removed) that blocked the front garden path. The whole place was very overgrown as the last vicar had died suddenly and disliked gardening. When Mother came to look for us I was under the front windows looking at the soil in a narrow bed. It was brown, not red. Granny was a fibber! Then I saw something quite remarkable – a blue primrose! I picked it and ran to mother who was taking Rachel indoors. She was surprised too but being busy wanted to get on with her work. I pressed that flower and kept it for many years.
I then explored the rest of the garden including a large walled vegetable garden, which was in quite good order. There were many apple trees, a very big fig tree and plants I could not name. But there was also a huge pile of soil next to a building with a tin roof I was told was now the Village Hall. When the vicarage was empty public lavatories had been built at the end of the hall and the excavated soil dumped in the vicarage garden. Father was displeased but there was nothing he could do about it, so we grew buddleia bushes and hydrangeas there, but the ’dump’ was a permanent nuisance. The large doors under the arch were usually closed, but there was a “needle’s eye” gate for daily use, which was used to illustrate the Bible story about a camel! I quickly decided that I liked Hennock, it was going to be very different. There were no bombs, low flying aircraft or the need to hide in an Air Raid Shelter at night.
This was originally written circa 1954 after we had left Hennock much to my distress.)


The Church and Lych Gate

My father's Induction

Children live in their own world, mine was Hennock where I gradually acquired a knowledge of almost every stick and stone there, and spent thousands of hours exploring. In retrospect it was lonely as my parents did not socialise and had a narrow theological outlook, which contrasted with previous and subsequent incumbents. Also for the first three years it was war time, which produced an influx of evacuees from Plymouth housing estates and later an American army camp on Knighton Heath, where many of the men were black.
The first major landmark however was the Induction of my father as parish priest. Dame Violet Wills arrived in a chauffeur driven car. Bishop Curzon came with his chaplain from Exeter. But the Sunday previously had included a slight altercation.
For some special reason the church bells, silenced by the government during the war were permitted to be rung that day. So in our best clothes we walked to the church with Mother for Morning Prayer and heard the four bells. We were greeted by a gentleman wearing a black gown who had a very loud voice and was called Mr Webber. He took us to what he called “The Vicarage Pew”. It was occupied by a very stout lady. Mr Webber said “Morning Mum, ‘ere be the new vicar’s family”. There was no response. Mother was prepared to sit anywhere but Webber was not having that. In a loud voice he said “Come on now mum, you baint the vicar’s missus now, move out and let the new one in”. Mother was horrified I began to giggle so did Rachel, who told me later she was afraid she would wet her knickers!
Mrs Tobit, who had moved to a house called Greenhill to live with some people called Hickmott, got up wrathfully and moved with a large umbrella in one hand and a thick blue seat cover in the other pushing before her a huge blue hassock. We were seated one on each side of mother. I was by the aisle and looked around. The church was incredibly beautiful and quite different from those in Dorset. Each end of the pews and a beautiful pulpit were carved into lovely patterns. There was a screen with painted figures on the panels and overhead an arch in the ceiling with stars and a moon. On top of the screen stood a golden angel blowing a trumpet. Mother told me to stop gazing round and open my Prayer Book. In came the choir of six boys and four men in blue cassocks and white surplices. An old clergyman conducted the service as father was not inducted, but he read the lessons. The sermon was about the Wise Men. On the way out we met Mr. Webber again. He said he was the verger. He asked us if we liked our new home and gave Rachel and me a large pear each.
Owing to the war and the church having no black-out, Evensong took place at 3pm when oil lamps were lit, and with a coke stove made the church smell and feel warm. Rachel did not go to this. I did sometimes if Granny or someone else stayed in the house. I liked Evensong better than Morning Prayer also called Matins as the sermons were shorter.
The church was full for the Induction service, which was very long and involved opening and closing doors, ringing a handbell and other strange things. This time Rachel was sitting by the aisle and when the Bishop came in she smiled at him. He was short, bow-legged and wore gaiters. After the service he came and picked her up and kissed her saying she was the only person to smile at him when he was nervous! She always remembered that.
The Bishop and Dame Violet were invited to lunch at the vicarage but made excuses and left in their cars. Mother was disappointed as she had opened a precious tin of tongue and made a special pudding which she now felt was wasted on ‘just family’. I had worn my best shoes, which pinched my toes so it was not as happy as we hoped.

Old Vicarage
The Old Vicarage (South Side)

The Vicarage

The vicarage was a lovely house, although I suspect when the Church Commissionaires sold it there was substantial modernisation. Fr. Lough who stayed for about thirty-five years was the last vicar of Hennock as a single parish with Teign Village. My father was also Chaplain at Hawkmoor Sanatorium for T.B. patients. I re- visited the vicarage when it was empty following the sale to someone in Torquay, but was later told that did not complete. At that time nothing much had changed but some significant roof timber repairs were required. In our day we benefitted from major improvements that had been carried out by a former architect-vicar called Robert Medley Fulford. He built the Study over the former coach house, converted to a garage, and installed a bathroom and various extension passageways. He also erected decorative chimney pots and made other alterations. Electricity was installed in two-thirds of the house just before World-War 2. Water was heated by an antrhracite fired boiler in the kitchen. In our day the coal fired range was seldom used. We had an electric cooker but no other appliances. A cold larder was used for food storage including apples, eggs preserved in ‘waterglass’ and wood or coal used for downstairs fires. Upstairs fires were only lit if someone was really ill. Father used an electric fire in his very attractive study. Owing to its construction the house was relatively warm but also damp. I acquired arthritis as a child which in old age is seriously disabling. Water was free and came from a large tank above the house that also then supplied the village from Tottiford Reservoir. My paternal grandmother, from a wealthy family had married a curate for whom her father later erected a church somewhere near Halifax died in 1945. We inherited some very fine furniture. Some is still in my possession and looked good in Hennock Vicarage. Before that we were rather restricted. When the Hickmotts left Hennock, father attended their auction sale and for 7/6 bought a small book case which with a chair from the same house, I use it now. There were stories that the vicarage had once been a monastery, which I doubt*. Much more likely it was a small farm as there were several outbuildings (including the now village hall) Four fields were let to farmers. The School Garden and a communal allotment were all part of glebe land until the 1936 Tithe Act altered matters, it was then rented out by the incumbent. We kept poultry but previous vicars had kept pigs and other farm stock. The ground floor of the house included a very large kitchen with heavy oak beams and a concrete floor. Up to 70 children could be crammed in for a ‘magic lantern’ show or an enactment of Pilgrim’s Progress. A brick floored scullery with a large Belfast sink was adjoining and used for clothes washing although Mother eventually obtained a spin-drier. Bedding went to a laundry in Bovey. There was also an ‘old kitchen’ complete with large unused copper wood-fired boiler and a hearth when one could stand inside and look up to the sky. The strangest room in the house, just a step down from the kitchen was known as The Priest’s Room. We called it the boot room!. It had oak panelling of historic merit and a strange corner walk-in cupboard, probably for wine storage. The two front rooms, dining and drawing were fairly normal with wooden interior shutters. Upstairs there were 6 bedrooms, all kinds of passages and evidence of various alterations. Some of them had very good oak boarded floors, others were more prosaic. It was a real hide-and-seek house where one could run round in circles and up and down three staircases – ideal for children! Outside there were two “privies” unused except for tool storage and a large woodshed extension of the south wing that became a play area. Stone walls divided various parts of the garden with one in the south being used for flower growing Most of the large front lawn after ploughing and reseeding became a very popular croquet lawn. During our teenage years Rachel and I could take on most people at croquet, but our parents also played a good game. Village teenagers sometimes joined in when they heard the click of balls from behind a high wall, subsequently reduced. The vicarage like much of Hennock looked out across the Teign Valley to Haldon hill with its Belvedere Tower. The first day ‘the sky fell down’ was a morning when we looked out upstairs and saw the valley filled with white mist. It happened quite often and we got used to it. Now Hennock School is called “The School with a view” and the vicarage is a private house.

* Primrose is now aware that from c.a. 1190 to 1539 Hennock belonged to Torre Abbey and that the story is most likely true. See the section on Village History.


The School and Shop in the distance.


The majority of people living in Hennock during our time were just good Devonshire villagers. Many of them worked on either the farms or at Great Rock Mine which were ‘reserved occupations’. Therefore there were very few war deaths. Apart from the evacuee children there were hardly any ‘incomers’. Transport were one reason, employment another although there was work at Candy’s and Bovey Pottery for teenage girls. Teign Village had been built to house workers at the Teign Valley Granite Quarries so most of the men were employed there. A district nurse lived in the bottom house and a postman somewhere else. Mr. Lambshead who came up from Bovey with a bike but walked seventeen miles a day. During the war owing to blackout, most community activities were put on hold. Despite a few family squabbles there was no crime. We never saw a policeman. Later activities re-commenced but we were not allowed to join in anything secular! I became very resentful of what I considered my parents narrow mindedness and poverty. They were socially isolated although clerical friends helped. Once Rachel and I were at boarding school, mother was lonely and missed Miss Mayers our governess. Unfortunately father’s fundamental evangelical stance contrasted with the higher church theology of his predecessors. He did not help his cause by re-arranging the church interior, and adopting a dictatorial attitude. The Sunday School and a weekly Golden Star Brigade with a small band thrived. Mother ran a successful a Women’s Fellowship but some people in the village disliked Evangelicals and went elsewhere. There were a few staunch Methodists with whom good relations were maintained including the Saunders family who were builders and undertakers and the school headmaster Mr Gilbart and his wife. Major Kitson and his second wife lived at Hazelwood. He was technically the Squire but took very slight interest in the village. They had a daughter, my age called Susan, but she and a farmer’s daughter were horsey. We disliked horses for which I imagine our parents were grateful! Capt. and Mrs Bancroft-Wilson were at Longlands. She bred pug dogs and was friendly to us as children. Capt. Wilson called himself a ‘gentleman farmer’ and ran the local Home Guard. He was unpredictable. Mrs Wilding, at Bottor Gate was a keen gardener and cook who occasionally invited us to tea. Although we would sneak out and go bird’s nesting or tree climbing with village boys it was a lonely life. Natural History and cats filled my human gap. Rachel read books, had a dog and helped mother with the Sunday School, which I found boring! The Hennock population included a few “characters” Notably George Henry Hooper the vicarage gardener q.v. who was a breed apart and terribly missed when he died in his eighties There were a number of people with special interests such as Harry Gloyne who mended bicycles, Archie Cudmore the newspaper man, Nurse and her friend Miss Panrucker, Miss Simmonds Postmistress and village shopkeeper. During my walks or when sent out to deliver Parish Magazines I became acquainted with a number of very pleasant farmers. There were the Hills at Shaptor, whose older children Dick and Mary were very friendly. An adult family at Huxbear Barton sold us honey and we also met the Archers of Warmhill and the Jolls from Moorhouse who attended Evensong. Sometimes I would go and help other children stooking corn or picking up potatoes, which was compulsory during the war. Hennock was certainly safe. I never heard even rumours of child-abuse although after the war there were one of two children of mixed race referred to as ‘darkies’. Following the Education Act the school became a primary one. The older pupils were taken by bus to Newton Abbot and after a time the leaving age raised from 14 to 15 for those not at the Grammer School. Susan Kitson and a couple of others went to Stover, an independent school with horse riding facilities.

Old Hennock
The Old Part of Hennock

The Big Freeze (1947)

The 1947 Big Freeze began on 25th January, which happened to be Rachel’s ninth birthday. It ended about two months later although some snow in shady places up on Dartmoor lasted until May. We had invited a few children in for a birthday tea. When they were sent home at six o’clock it was starting to snow. It continued for several days until the village was totally cut off. The school, which Rachel attended was closed as “the lavs froze”. I should have returned to Somerset, but after several illnesses it was decided that both of us would have our tonsils removed in Bovey Hospital in the spring, but meanwhile build up strength! Fortunately good supplies of anthracite and coke had been purchased for the church and vicarage heating. The lights stayed on, telephone lines were mended and wood was plentiful. The village just got together and helped each other. Being winter Cann’s cows were in a shippon and other farmers had brought their sheep down into the rickyard. Hay, straw, turnips (mangols) and flatpoll cabbages were on hand. With effort roots vegetables could be excavated from clamps or the ground. The main problem was ‘oil’ (paraffin) which was widely used for heating and cooking. It usually came fortnightly in a tanker. No tanker, lorry or even normal tractor could get up to Hennock. The Mine Lorry could not get out so that partially shut down. The village men formed gangs and made large sledges out of corrugated roofing sheets. Using horses and their own strength they sledged down over the fields to the Teign Valley and somehow obtained supplies of oil and house coal from the railway which had been cleared. Trains ran most of the time. They had problems getting back as the hedges were hidden so the horses could fall into deep snow. Things went better the second time after tall sticks were used as markers. Another gang managed to get to Bovey by the back lane that came out near Tucker’s Garage. They returned with sacks of flour, some bread and carcasses for butchering. Everyone got some supplies, many chickens were slaughtered and the village shop ran out of baking powder, mustard and custard powder. Many years later when working in Albania and the semi-famine that followed the fall of Communism, I observed the same type of communal activity. People shared what they had, took care of the elderly or disabled and did not expect the State to automatically provide handouts. I don’t think anyone in Hennock died of cold during the big freeze but a few sick people could not get nurse help. One or two home births went ahead without problems. The big freeze was big fun for children. We went sledging in Peasacre after being forbidden to slide or sledge in Bell Lane or on roads. Mrs Wilson gave Rachel and me a sledge her then grown son Tim used to have. The village children made sledges or got their fathers to beat up tin and we had a merry time with races, snowball fights and mischief. When the thaw began heavy rain froze on everything including the trees which looked beautiful but quickly became dangerous as the weight of ice brought them down. We were forbidden to go in The Copse or stand under any tree. Our cedar tree was badly damaged and several apples trees bent but were propped up .After the tonsil event I returned to school where Rachel joined me the following September. It was towards the end of May when we saw snow under shady walls on Dartmoor. We also saw a small train making its way from Plymouth to Princetown shortly before the line closed. I cannot remember why we had gone across the moor, as apart from ‘special treat’ excursions we seldom used the car for pleasure outside the parish. But father’s work did involve some obligatory meetings in various interesting places, when if possible he took us and mother. The Archdeacon’s Visitation at Ashburton in the autumn often coincided with half term. We were dropped off in a village called Buckland-in-the-Moor where the clock on the church tower had the words “My Dear Mother” replacing numerals. Nearby were chestnut woods where we gathered nuts to be saved for roasting at Christmas or used in stuffing the turkey or goose. We visited Teignmouth where a fellow member of the Fellowship of Evangelical Clergy had an annual meeting. We went to the beach after visiting a round church. Another time this meeting took place in Cullumpton where the vicar’s wife opened the drawing room door with a flourish. Her young son was sitting on his potty! When I met him again forty years later in Albania, he denied this. Meetings in Exeter allowed for shopping time, visiting Messrs Whipples, clerical outfitters and school uniform suppliers. Newton Abbot could be reached by bus from Hennock on Wednesdays or Saturdays, the Bank was at Bovey and Shobrook the magazine printer at Mortonhampstead where there was also a primitive outdoor swimming pool. Father visited patients at Hawkmoor weekly, where there were nice woodland walks. Petrol was used carefully and some places like Blackinstone Rock later visited with bicycles.


In Church
Inside the Church.

George Henry Hooper

Shortly after we arrived in Hennock an elderly man came to the Vicarage and told my parents that his name was Hooper and he was the Vicarage gardener, and had been for fifty years. He spoke with a soft Devon burr and showed my father letters from previous clergy stating that he was reliable. He was engaged for two days a week at 10/- a day! Hooper as he was always called, commenced work at 8am sharp and finished at 5pm, having taken an hour’s rest at lunch time. One of the first jobs he was given was to excavate, with a boy helping him, a turn round space for the car opposite the garage. The earth was added to the dump. When inquisitive men asked him what he was doing he told them that the new vicar was going to extend the west wing! Hooper’s main work was in the vegetable garden which he kept in excellent order almost up to the time he died in his sleep aged about 82.He had his likes and dislikes. He refused to grow carrots but rather too many leeks. Potatoes had to be either Doomstars or Banners, no other variety would suit him. Initially he was very distrustful of chemical fertilizers but provide they were well mixed hen dung would use them. Hooper must have been married sometime in the past, as a grand-daughter from Teign Village delivered clean laundry once a week. We heard various gossip, but ignored it. One did not ask Hooper personal questions. He seemed to like children provided we were quiet and did not upset his work. Rachel was always called Little ‘un and me Red-head. For several years he presented up with beautifully carved wooden heads for our Guy Fawkes bonfires that re-commenced after the war ended. November 5th was also father’s birthday. Hooper kept his tools in pristine condition, cleaning them carefully with a small piece of wood he kept under the string that tied his cord trousers below the knee. No one was allowed to touch Hooper’s tools each of which had G.H.H. carved on the handle. He kept a large silver watch in a tin inside his jacket with his baccy pouch. When I once visited his cottage near the chapel he showed me a hard little black ball – about golf ball size. It was an orange he had obtained fifty years earlier. Behind the cottage Hooper had a garden plot where surprisingly he grew the most beautiful moss roses and some other rare type of rose. One day Hooper came to the house to sign papers connected with his pension. He put on ancient spectacles and then wrote his name in beautiful copper plate writing. He also ‘travelled’ to Chagford twice a year. We never knew why but he walked about thirteen miles there and back. He was an experienced hedge layer and got extremely agitated when some boys from the School Garden began hacking at a boundary hedge. He shouted and yelled at them and had Mr Gilbart come and calm matters down. We decided to take Hooper to Widecombe Fair, then a rural occasion and one he wanted to visit. It was our special treat just before term started. He arrived outside the garage dressed in pale grey breeches, shiny black leggings and boots a short grey tweed jacket and a blue/grey trilby hat. We sat him with a silver topped cane in the front of the car and away we went. Hooper was fairly quiet and had been asked not to smoke in the car. On arrival he soon got tired of the gymkhana which was with the long distance run the main attraction. Evading my father he visited the pub but did not over indulge. We decided to return to Hennock by another route that included Becky Falls where Hooper got very excited. We never found out why surmising it was to do with his youth. He did not get on with everyone and openly disliked Prowse the thatcher who used to come up from Canonteign with red ladders. Hooper called him a master liar. Prowse used strong language which upset mother and granny so was told to be quiet. After Hooper passed away and had a huge funeral, a man called Sam Flay, a widower from Bridford took on the garden, but he was really too old and even with a boy to help the place began to deteriorate. Sam Flay was a great talker and liked tea in the kitchen served by Armistice Weatherdon or her daughter Elizabeth Nott who helped mother with the cleaning. He died fairly soon after we left Hennock.

Church St
Church Street ca 1950
(the gate to the vicarage can be seen in the far distance)

A Magical Walk

We did a lot of waking in and around Hennock, initially with Mother when Rachel was too young to go far and used a folding push-chair. Later she and I went alone or occasionally father drove us to a picnic site and we walked from there. Later I could go out by myself or just with Rachel and in our teens we had old bicycles. Our favourite walk was “Down the Launders”. This no longer exists as Great Rock Mine closed in 1969 and the area was fenced off to prevent accidents and ‘exploring’ But during the war years and up until we left Hennock, the ”Shiny Ore Mine” was working at full stretch, with mining being a reserved occupation. Shiny Oar was pernicious – it got into everything including the skins of mine workers, lanes and tracks and anything with which it came in touch. The mine produced Micaceous Haematite, which when processed looked rather like graphite powder. It was an ingredient in the grey paint used for battleships and for rust proofing. It was mainly dug out from adits rather than shafts. During the war members of the public were prohibited from going anywhere near the actual mine site There were with guards with dogs. But there was a beautiful free walk above it. To ‘Go down the Launders’ one went the lane up behind the chapel to a large arable field at the top of the hill. Sometimes there was wheat, sometime potatoes, but a small path was left to a gate at the top of the other side. Here the path divided. Turn left and one would go down the side of the wood and over a small valley to two or three bungalows where the mine manager and some staff families lived. Taking the straight ahead path through the woods one arrived at the near mill pond. In our day some of the mine machinery was still water-powered. Beyond this pond the Launders began, with a foot path running alongside. Launders, which have also been excavated in Welsh mining areas were a wooden system like a long shallow trough for conveying water from the far stream fed pond about a mile away at a slightly higher altitude. One could walk along the path, crossing over once or twice to the far pond surrounded by woodland and passing occasional worked out adits. We were firmly told not to explore any adit – quite apart from a fear of bats they were unsafe. Some sixth sense also told me not to go to the Launders alone so I did not do so. All kinds of moss, ferns and geological specimens could be found in the launders. As I grew older and was given Natural History books for my birthday or Christmas I used them to learn botany including trees, ferns and mosses, mineralogy and other useful matters. Examples were pressed or collected for what we called a museum housed in an unused bedroom at the Vicarage. We also saw frogs and toads and of course many different birds. Sometimes we picnicked by the far pond. It was a fairy-land. A short distance past the far pond there was a gate leading to a track going up to Cherrycombe Head and passing some spoil tips where the best wild strawberries in the parish grew. From Cherrycombe Head there was a path or drang that led down past Bottor Rocks to Five Lanes emerging beside the Hazelwood gate and back to the village. This was another interesting walk. Quails lived near Bottor, where we used to have Sunday School picnics or bonfires for special celebrations, like Empire Day (24th May) when school sports were held in the field above the Vicarage known as Wilson’s field. Buns called “Ashburtons” were distributed then and also at Christmas teas in the village hall, even during rationing. Once we were old enough to have bicycles, or being obliged to take Toby the dog with us, the world expanded. We could visit Blackinstone Rock, go to Bovey, explore Knighton Heath (the US camp had gone but left ‘finds’) Teign Valley was open to us and led to Dunsford Show a summer highlight, where prizes were won in the Children’s Sports. The A38 was off limits but once we cycled to Teignmouth with mother, had a swim and toiled back!



Post War

The end of World War ll brought many changes. Hennock benefitted from the Attlee government. When schooling was re-organised, there were no older boys to cultivate the School Garden. So it was rented to a farmer and ploughed using two horses named Andrew and Abdullah before potatoes were planted. The Gilbarts left, having suffered the death of two of their four children to TB. A Miss Davis took over the school. The house was sold and is now Haldon View. The introduction of the NHS obliged doctors to open a small weekly surgery in the Village Hall bottom room and someone came periodically to inspect children’s teeth and eyes. Father lost his job as Hawkmoor Chaplain (to the delight of an R.C. matron!) The NHS appointed a joint Chaplain for Hawkmoor, Bovey Tracey and Mortonhampstead. Father found some part-time writing work for a couple of evangelical magazines where he had pre-ordination connections. Council Houses built during the 1920s and 30s were modernised. All of them were provided with indoor lavatories and bathrooms. Private householders could apply for Government Grants to install electricity, sanitation and major repairs. A few cottages were pulled down in Bell Lane and replaced with modern houses. One of these was taken by a retired Admiral, his war-widowed daughter and her children who were Catholics. When the old man died, his silver topped walking stick was given to father. I have it now... Father had broken his best stick by hitting a sow that escaped from a lorry into our garden! Later the village was obliged to be connected to the mains water supply, and pay water rates. People were not happy about this but liked the improved street lighting and a new telephone box, replacing what they called the ‘ki-oski’ where pressing button B did not always return money. When out cycling we always stopped and pressed button B – sometimes luckily! Village activities recommenced, perhaps not quite on the pre-war scale as a more people had cars. Petrol rationing was lifted and a rather primitive Cinema opened in Bovey. There was a proper Gaumont in Newton Abbot. There were no flat fields in Hennock, so the Football Club used one just above Teign Village. Home matches were explained as “Us Didn’t go over to they, them combed over to we”. Whist Drives and some Square Dancing took place in the village hall, but the Girl Guides, active during the war failed to attract new younger members. This culminated in big celebrations for the 1953 Coronation, when the first TV sets arrived in Hennock. Rachel was given a pottery mug – I was too old! The London evacuees had left before we arrived, but some from Plymouth stayed in Hennock, grew up and married local people. They just preferred country life. Church activities continued. On Good Friday afternoon we walked with other children to Mr Pinkerton’s large garden at ? Higher Bowden next door to Major Kitson’s. Here we spent the afternoon picking primroses which we placed in fish paste jars and arranged along the niches in the Rood Screen in the Church. The the church was filled with flowers for the Easter services, which like Harvest Thanksgiving were the best attended of the year. In gratitude for the Victory of the Second War father organised an appeal that installed electric light in the church. Sadly however the bell frame was considered unsafe, so bells could only be tolled. When someone died a minute bell was tolled and at the end the age of his or her life. There were 82 bells for Hooper. In 1944 when she was 100 we were taken to visit Mrs Matthews with flowers and a card from Buckingham Palace. She was the mother of Mrs Grey, who later opened a fish and chip shop downstairs. Hennock people rarely stole. Two trees of usually well berried holly bordered the Pony Field, which was glebe and provided holly for the church. One year two boys cut the tops off. They sneaked off up the track leading to Rockey Fields but were observed by Charlie Morecombe, the road man, having a pipe in the hedge. He told Archie Cudmore, who told my father. When father found the boys outside the Palk Arms, and gave the older one known as Nipper a hiding with his stick. No one criticised but called them little varmints. After the War my parents became restless. They were socially isolated and father’s rigid attitudes did not make many friends although mother was greatly respected. Several attempts to move did not work out and caused me anxiety. Bishop Mortimer, a rigid Anglo-Catholic disliked Conservative Evangelicals and suggested fairly bluntly that father should move on! In those days clergy stipends were not standardised and ‘livings’ could be good or bad. Hennock was somewhere in the middle with £250.00pa and a rent & rate free house. We finally left Hennock on 6th October 1953 as father had been accepted by the Trustees of a Proprietary Chapel in Reading to become their Minister. Such places are a quirk in the C of E. Clergy hold a Diocesan licence, but are paid and housed by the individual trustees. Our house was quite appalling and I was miserable, having spent my last year in Devon doing a domestic science course at the South Devon Technical College in Torquay. I had been obliged to leave school at 16 with six good O Levels & an A-O in Art.

Lower Town Farm
Lower Town Farm House

Seward’s Car
A Hennock story. (Abridged from Farmer’s Weekly 12th May 1989)

During the nineteen forties when petrol was rationed we used to visit Newton Abbot by bus. Wednesday was market day. On one occasion the bus was overtaken by an extraordinary large brown car with curtained windows and huge tassels in the back one. Later when I saw this vehicle parked in the cattle market I climbed onto the running board and looked inside. It was upholstered in black leather with buttons, there was a small vase in the front window and a hen crate on the rear seat. Although very dirty I could see huge brass headlights and a squeeze horn. Local people told us it belonged to a farmer called Seward at Bullaton Farm, near the Resevoirs. Father later went to pay a pastoral visit (he liked old cars) and saw Seward’s car parked under a lean-to, after encountering its owner carrying a shot-gun in the drive. We were invited to tea as a family and politely accepted the hospitality offered in a parlour that also contained a huge horn gramophone, a stuffed fox and an automaton singing bird. Subsequent gifts of cream, rabbits and boiling fowls arrived periodically. The story of the car emerged in time from people in the village. Mr Seward was a widower who lived with his son and two sisters. One did poultry, the other dairy. We were told that during the 1920s the Sewards travelled to Newton market by pony and trap, taking with them eggs, poultry and cream for sale. One day they encountered an American driving too fast on the wrong side of the road. The pony was killed and the cart smashed to bits. Seward and his father only received minor injuries but were furious. Young Seward chased the American and cornered him in the pig pens. His father equipped with a shot gun for rabbiting on the way home, told the man that he wanted his pony and trap replaced by a car similar to that the American had shipped over from Detroit for his vacation in the U.K. When pressured and offered the alternative of calling the police the man agreed as it was fairly obvious he was drunk. Later an exact replica of the American car was delivered to Bullaton Farm, and young Seward was given driving instruction. The sisters were delighted as they could now visit Newton market. The village people were less impressed. One of them commented – “This ‘ere foreigner did get they a car, a girt posh’un like ee imself ad. Proper vool he be to let they get above the squire and parson. We all did know that miserable pony was half knackered and the trap was tied up with string and wire.” The Sewards were indifferent to village comment and used the car for over twenty years for their market visits. When Seward senior passed away, it conveyed his coffin to Hennock church for the funeral. Outside, boys wrote “clean me”, and other rude slogans on the muddy sides. By the time we left the village, ‘young’ Seward was old and his driving erratic. One sister was bedridden and the other one no longer went outside. The village all knew that Seward could only drive one route and so they just took care on Wednesdays.


Primrose Age 15

A Story from Hennock - April 14 1951
Extracted from a Nature Log book competition for which I won a prize in Somerset (Guides at School) Aged 15 ½

Click here tp see a Google map of her route

This morning I went out bird’s nesting with Rachel (younger sister) and two village boys (One would have been Nipper – Alan Blackmoor).They showed us nests – robin, blackbird, wren and thrush. While crossing a ploughed field we saw the first swallow sitting on telephone wires. Earlier we had found garlic up near Bottor Rock.
This afternoon Rachel and I set out for a walk ‘up and over’ past Cherrycoombe head before we crossed forestry areas above the Teign Valley and old ’shiny ore workings’ where we found bilberries in flower and a number of beech seedlings in all stages of opening. We climbed up onto the moor and saw a kestrel’s nest. Then Rachel went home – she was tired.
I went on to Netton Farm, where a hermit lived and then took a bridle path down through the woods and moors until I arrived in the Teign Valley . I had found a chaffinch nest on the way in a disused linhay. I followed the Exeter road for about 1 ½ miles finding lots of wild flowers including wild daffs. Anemones, gorse, periwinckle, garlic and “chimney sweeps” (grass).
I then took the Franklands lane and walked about 2 miles back up to Hennock. I had noticed that the trees in the valley were coming out before those up at Hennock. It had been a lovely day and I wish every day was as beautiful.
How many young girls would walk like this now and know what they saw? Would it be safe?


Lower Town Farm
Church Street looking north

The Vicar’s Duck.

After the war ended various ‘new’ activities commenced as rationing of animal feeds was reduced. One or two families kept pigs, we obtained some Chinese Geese, who were useful grass eaters, and a couple of turkeys appeared near new houses built opposite the Post Office in an old orchard. There were three cottages just below the Palk Arms, at right angles to the road facing the rick-yard. The lady in one, commenced duck keeping. White Aylesbury’s that had access to a small pond. Father was very partial to roast duck and ordered one for his birthday on 5th November. When he went to fetch it he was informed that the “Vicar’s duck had died” and came home very annoyed! We had rabbit stew instead.