Our Quarterly Open Meeting last month was also our Annual General Meeting, our 16th AGM in fact, as our Chairman reminded us.    Have we really been going for 16 years?   I’m afraid so, and as we were also reminded, we are still thriving.

Our Guest Speaker for the occasion was Paul Rendell, who has given us the benefit of his vast knowledge on some aspects of Dartmoor before, and is always interesting and informative – as are his large selection of photographs about his subject – which was “Witches, hairy hands, Devils & Black Dogs” , illustrating the places and stories behind the legends and folklore that is part of the attraction of the moor.

As to the formal aspects of the Meeting, the Officers and Committee had indicated that they were willing to stand again, despite their reduced number and were re-elected en-bloc.   The Chairman informed the audience that new Committee Members would always be welcomed.    The Secretary’s Report indicated that although the total membership of the Group was satisfactory, attendance figures for our Open Meetings were disappointing as a proportion of the total membership.  The Treasurer’s Report confirmed that the finances of the Group were stable and satisfactory.

Below is a summary of the Chairman’s Report:  

The audience were thanked for attending, despite the bad weather, and Members were thanked for their continuing support for the Group, and for renewing their membership.   A few new Members joined on the night.

The Chairman said that, sadly, since the last AGM, one of our longstanding Members, Jean Rickard, had passed away. She had been a regular attendee at our Meetings, and donated a lot of material for our Archive over the years.

Our three Speakers over the last year had given us illustrated talks which were amongst the best we have heard in our 16 years of existence – ranging from the true story of Slapton Sands, Kents Cavern and the UNESCO Global Geopark and our last talk on the history of canals in the West Country with the bonus of a fascinating time-lapse film about the Panama Canal.   Our programme of Speakers for next year has already been arranged by our Secretary Derek Hore, and promises to be just as informative and entertaining.

The Chairman was pleased to remind the audience of a few things the Group had been involved with during the last year: –

In 2015 the Group was involved in the School’s 150th anniversary celebrations, and during that year (2015) and last year the Group was responsible for having all of the School’s old Record books and Registers, dating from 1864, digitally scanned  and copied onto 2 DVDs.  One set of the DVDs had been presented to the School and the other is now in the Group’s Archive.   This mammoth task was also partly funded by the Group.

The Group was also pleased to be present at and able to record the installation in Marldon Church of Mrs. Angela Gilbert as High Sheriff of Devon for 2016-2017.

In November we were able to assist Canterbury University, which is contributing a chapter about Parish Maps to a forthcoming book about Mapping and Cartography.   Although the History Group was not involved in the production of our Parish Map, the group which was set up to produce it (as a Millennium project) had long since been disbanded, but the Map and information about it had been featured on the Group’s website (marldonhistory.co.uk) ever since.   The book was due to be published in the next few months.

Also in November, the Village Hall Council agreed to provide the Group with a separate storage space within the Village Hall for the Group’s ever growing Archive material, and in May (this year) we were able to “move in”!

In March this year the Group was able to research earlier information than we already had with regard to the history of the former Almshouses (opposite the Church).    We already knew they had been built c.1850 on the site of previous almshouses, but we now know that the previous almshouses had been built c.1650, and we now know who they were built by.

In the July issue of the Parish Magazine we published an account by a Mr. Allan Gilbert, who had visited Marldon in 1932 from his home in the United States.    The account was obtained from his grandson (also on a visit to Marldon) and describes his visit to Marldon and Compton Castle, presumably curious to know whether he had any connection with the Gilbert family.   The account includes his visits to Berry Pomeroy, Marldon and the Church, and of course Compton Castle and its’ then occupants.   A very interesting account and well worth reading.   We may receive more information on this later.

The Chairman also mentioned the continued success of the Group’s DVD “The Story of Marldon”, which was launched in 2013.  To date we have sold more than 250 copies, and the Group was indebted to our “top shops” for their help in achieving that figure.  Also mentioned was the Group’s other “venture” which was even more successful in terms of copies sold.   This is our little booklet “Memories of Wartime Marldon”, written by David Best, a native of Marldon, who was a schoolboy during World War 2.   This was first published by the Group in 2008, and has sold more than 450 copies!   It is still available, from the Group or the Post Office and is priced at only £1.50.

NB from the Chairman.  If you would like any further information about any of the items above, please contact Tony Chidlow – 521419 or on tonychidlow@gmail.com.

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