The Molly Coombe Memorial Lecture 2020

Alex receiving "Top UK Tour Guide" at the Wanderlust World Guide Awards. Presenting the award are Wanderlust Magazine founder Lyn Hughes and Author Bill Bryson.

Due to our present situation Bishopsteignton Heritage has taken innovative steps to bring you this year’s Molly Coombe Memorial lecture. We cannot meet in person but we can meet you virtually. Alex Graeme of Unique Devon Tours is preparing a fascinating talk for us entitled ‘Tales of a Devon Tour Guide’ which will be held on October 21st at 7pm, via the Zoom platform. Participation is free of charge.

Alex is a highly experienced, multi award winning tour guide with many entertaining tales to tell so it promises to be an exciting evening for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home. We have certain limitations on numbers so we urge you to sign up to participate. If you are not familiar or comfortable with the Zoom format, we can help you with that too, just email us at [email protected]

You can sign up for the talk here: One ticket, free of charge, is all you need for one household. Your invitation to the talk will be emailed to you on the day.

We also want to use this event to launch our own zoom presence which will be a great way to meet and talk with our Researchers on a regular basis while we still cannot meet in person. We hope you will join us on the evening for a great event

The Start of our Farming Season

Ken Dawe outside Ashill Farmhouse

This month’s offering from Bishopsteignton Heritage is the first section of an audio interview , undertaken earlier this year, with Ken Dawe of Ashill Farm and The Old Walls Vineyard. In this section Ken talks about his childhood in Bishopsteignton and his family history. His grandfather Clifford Wallis, headmaster of the primary school, his own time at the school and the early years of WWII. With the transcription and photographs it is a great piece of village history recorded for posterity. Later in the month two more sections of the interview will be published, covering early farming methods and the cider and wine businesses that the Dawe family built. Later, unique video film of early photographs taken by the family will be published. Watch this space….

Ken Dawe Interview 1: Early life and Family

The Latest from BH

The Graves family on November 22nd 1917 Standing: Rosaleen, Charles, Alfred, John. Sitting: Robert, Amy, Clarissa.

The latest article to be published his week is one on Dr Rosaleen Cooper, nee Graves.

Dr Cooper was the village GP for many years, but was also a published poet, sister of the war poet Robert Graves, and sister of the artist Clarissa Graves. She came to our attention when Teignmouth Museum offered us a painting that Clarissa did, a view from her sister’s house in Bishopsteignton. She also published a book of games from an Edwardian Childhood in her late years, which was illustrated by her friend and neighbour Brenda Gilpin, whose work we have several examples of in the archive. Do let us know if your have any memories of Dr Cooper, or stories you would like to share.

Dr. Rosaleen Cooper nee Graves

We still would like your contributions also to our ‘Coming out of Lockdown’ collection so that we can document how the village has coped with the situation and the ramifications going forward.

And lastly, we hope you saw our notification of the Museum Crush; Culture 24 article that was published last week, all about Bishopsteignton Heritage and how it has developed since Molly Coombe left us her legacy all those years ago. Find it here;



Shops and Businesses

Milestone Cafe

Here at BH we would like to hear from anyone who would like to contribute to an article about how you or your family or business has dealt with lockdown, and how you are intending to continue as we start to come out of lockdown and things open up again. We want to document current history as it happens in the village. Tell us how you managed with home schooling, and how you feel about your children returning to school. How you managed to get shopping or help with other problems if you have been self isolating. How you have managed to organise your business, used online face-to-face communication or just how you have kept yourself busy and sane during this very strange time. Now that parents and grandparents can start to revisit their families, how have you dealt with social distancing and other prohibitive measures? Please let us know, by email if you can or if not by post to; Bishopsteignton Heritage Hub, Community Centre, Shute Hill, Bishopsteignton, Teignmouth TQ14 9QL. We look forward to hearing your stories.

We are also hoping to collect photographs of the shops and businesses in Bishopsteignton throughout the years. If you have any photographs in your collection that include shops, pubs or other businesses, even in the background of another event, please do get in touch. If you can scan them you can email them to us at [email protected]

If not please let us know and we will arrange to collect them at some point. Then we can scan them and return them to you. Like this picture of the Milestone Cafe, no longer there, but where was it?

The Dig For Victory Plot in May

DFV May crop

May has been busy on the Dig for Victory plot which is situated on the community plot at Michaels Field. The Ministry of Agriculture during the war years and just after issued a series of monthly guides to provide all the information needed to those who wanted to grow their own vegetables.  In 1945 the reissued series of guides were renamed ‘Allotment and Garden Guide’.  We have been trying to follow these monthly guidelines as part of our Dig for Victory project. In my last update potatoes had been planted together with preparing the soil.

With the lovely May weather there has been plenty to do on the plot and I have continued to follow the wartime’s growing guide main points which has resulted in the following:

Potatoes have been growing nicely and now are earthed up.
Onions are springing into action.
Beetroot seeds have been planted and awaiting their appearance, along with runner beans.
Planting areas have been prepared for planting winter vegetables, like kale and cabbage
Watering has been on going to ensure healthy plants.
Mulching and other devices to retain water in dry times has been ongoing.

We look forward to letting you know what happened on the allotments during the 1940s in our June update.


Bishopsteignton celebrates VE Day

Poster girl Caroline with her knitted spitfire

Against all the odds of Lockdown, BH managed to organise and stimulate a very memorable VE Day in Bishopsteignton. The original idea of involving as many as possible of the village activity groups to create their own projects for the celebrations was carried through online instead of physically. Many of our researchers and the leaders of the groups had gone into a degree of slumber due to the Lockdown, but we managed to rouse them to produce a whole raft of material including a knitted Spitfire, produced by the knitting group, which has been on display on the high pavement in Fore St., and made it onto the BBC Spotlight programme.

We also involved the WI, the Lunch Club, Singing for Fun, Digging for Victory, articles about nursing in WWII and the Battle of Britain.

We decided to produce a series of Countdown articles on the website to lead up to VE Day itself, highlighting the fun and party aspects of the occasion as well as the more serious stories. They included Music, Food, Dancing, Dressing Up, Heroes, Evacuees and Women at War. This last category proved extremely enlightening when one of our researchers sent us a photograph of her 98-year-old mother, who lives in the village, in WAAF uniform in WWII, along with the story of her work during wartime. The Heritage Lottery Fund office had sent out an email enquiring what various organisations were intending to do, if anything, on VE Day, and I replied with our plans. They then looked at the Women at War article and asked if they could use it for their national publicity, which they duly did. So our very own Mary Overill became their poster girl for VE Day as well as ours. This also stimulated various members of the community to come forward with photographs and stories of friends and family connected to the village, who were also part of the war effort, which is exactly what we are trying to achieve.

As well as the articles we encouraged the village to dress up and party in their gardens. To provide a soundtrack to the afternoon and so that the speeches could be heard around the village, Jason McMurray organised a total of 24 PA systems to be set up in the gardens of their owners with coverage for pretty much the entire village. The soundtrack consisted of 2 hours of music of the period, official speeches from the day and the Toast to the Nation’s Heroes, as well as other specific speeches designated by the Veterans’ Charities. All finished with a soundtrack of ‘We’ll meet Again’ and ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ for people to sing along to. The effect was phenomenal and everyone came out to promenade and enjoy the day. A gallery of photographs and videos is now displayed on the website.

VE Day Celebrations 2020

Lock Down News

Our Beautiful River Teign

So, how is the Lock Down affecting you? We at BH have unfortunately had to postpone our VE Day programme for the time being, but hopefully, later in the summer, we can resurrect some of the events and party like it’s 1945!

Meanwhile we have started a new page on the site , a COVID 19 page designed to document the day to day movements of people in this wonderful village. Any ideas you have to help people pass the time, and any comments you have on how things are progressing, please check in each day to see the latest official news, and to leave comments yourself. This is our way of chronicling history as it happens in Bishopsteignton.

We are also ramping up the articles going online, so keep your eyes peeled for lots of interesting historical stories to keep you entertained. We are still producing our series of WWII related stories in line with our programme for this year. Don’t forget, if you have an idea for an article or any information you would like to impart, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We may not be able to meet with you face to face, but we still have access to the archive, and we can communicate electronically and help you tell your story.

Stay safe and keep in touch!

COVID19 cancellation

Unfortunately, due to the current crisis we have been forced to cancel the Jam and Jerusalem talk by the W.I. on Wed 25th March. We hope to bring you this and lots of other events later in the year, when this crisis has passed. We were due to have our programme of events for the VE Day celebrations delivered to every household this week, but now everything has had to go into abeyance. We are hoping we can postpone these events until the Autumn, as soon as we get the ‘All Clear!” Meanwhile keep watching the website for fun things to do and interesting articles on aspects of WWII. Keep Calm and Carry On!

The Story So Far March 2020

DIG for VICTORY poster

Following a second programme meeting with various representatives of village interest groups, lots of events and projects have been agreed on and the printed programme content is almost completed. Events start in March and continue through to December, although some are not finalised  we will keep everyone posted throughout the year. We have sorted out what we hope to be helping to organise during the pivotal week in May 4th – 10th, in conjunction with the various groups and venues in the village. The programme is very exciting and includes a street party, a village fete and a period dance, all in the spirit of the 1940s. A printed copy of the programme should be landing on everyone’s doormat, courtesy of the Bishopsteignton Scout Group, very soon.

Meanwhile we are holding an open meeting at the Ring of Bells on March 16th at 7pm, to encourage volunteers to sign up for the many and varied tasks involved in the organisation of the Village Street Party on May 10th, and the various other events. There are a great bunch of volunteers in this village who are always happy to help so we hope to see as many of you as possible on that evening. If you would like to help but cant make it please get in touch with us.

The first event on our year’s programme is on March 14th with the Inaugural Community Allotment Open Day ‘DIG FOR VICTORY’ project, from 11am-12.30. The project will involve setting up part of the Community  Allotment as a working DIG FOR VICTORY plot where the gardeners and volunteers  will use it as it would have been at the time and use the 1940s Government’s month by month propaganda leaflets to grow all that veg that fed Britain during the war years. Anyone in the village who would like to help will be welcome to go along and get digging!

So look out for you VE Day programme and come along and join in the fun!


Great News!

Great news here at BH! We have had a successful result in our Heritage Lottery Fund bid for our VE Day programme. We can now plough ahead with our proposed year of events, talks, displays, workshops etc. Hopefully we can produce a programme by the end of February to publicise what we are hoping to achieve in the village this coming year.

Many volunteers have come forward with amazing suggestions for research and events like meals, music, films, gardening, dance, dressmaking, knitting and much more, all on a wartime theme. We are still looking for ideas and projects and, to that end, are holding another meeting on Friday Feb 7th, from 10 until 2pm at the HUB, for anyone who would like to join in. Come along and meet other people with great ideas. If you can’t make it please contact us and come and meet us on another day. This is going to be a very busy and exciting year for us, and for the Village of Bishopsteignton. So its full steam ahead for VE 2020!