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Tea, cake and memories with Mrs Bulley and Miss Webber – March 1979.

by Nathan Hutchinson | People

The wonderful recollections of Mrs Bulley (b. 1887) and Miss Webber (b. 1889), when they were invited to have tea with John and Gillian Hepburn in March 1979.



These sound archives were a chance find from a neighbour in Littlefield, Bishopsteignton. The recordings were made in March 1979, when John and Gillian Hepburn invited Mrs Bulley and Miss Webber to tea and cake.

The Hepburns had lived near the ladies at Ashwell Corner, then later moved to 16 Littlefield, Bishopsteignton.

Part 1
Minutes – Description


1:00 – Mr Lang at Humber Farm.

2:00 – Mr Discombe at Ashwell. Talk of fetching buckets of water from the pump.

3:00 – Mrs Bulley, born in North Bovey until 18 months, then Gunn cottages until she was 13 years of age.

4:00 – Moved opposite The Commercial Inn; her mother worked at the pub and she moved next door when she married.

5:00 – Dawlish.

7:00 – Stannings and working in the quarry.

8:00 – Living conditions in the cottages.

9:00 – Miss Webber’s father was a farm labourer, she was born in Chawleigh in 1889, then moved to Morchard Bishop soon before her father died, and finally  moved to Bishopsteignton around 1915.

10:00 – Her mother was a midwife and her sister had worked in Huntley and invited her down to work. What was supposed to be 6 weeks turned into 32 years. Recalls a flamboyant Mr Carpenter and the hydro Turkish Baths.

12:00 – Talk of an accident with a threshing machine.

14:00 – Time for tea and cake and talk of happier times.


Part 2
Minutes – Description


1:00 – Mr Cummings (Comyns?) was the squire at Wood. Keyworth lived at Green.

3:00 – Left Huntley when it became an officers’ home, went to work at The Manor in N Bovey, and returned for a few years at Tapley.

4:00 – Remembers the bus to Teignmouth, from Harvey’s with a bugle boy at the back. They used to get half a day off on a Sunday every fortnight.

5:00 – Many changes through their lifetimes, everyone was happy. Now the “more people have got, the more they want”.

6:00 – They both met through one of their sisters.

9:00 – Ferndale road. Housekeeper for Mrs Germon who was 95 at the time.

10:00 – The men rode motorbikes to work at the clay pits. Her husband retired at 65 and died at 67.

12:00 – One son was killed in an accident aged 24, another lost a leg in another crash with a bus. She has three grandchildren and a great grandchild.

14:00 – Lots of Handley’s and Webber’s in Chawleigh.

16:00 – Nice cake!

Part 3
Minutes – Description


1:00 – Mrs Stoneman. Mrs Beer. Mrs Wells. Talk of the cottages and gardens.

2:00 – Remembering when Queen Victoria died. Miss Webber’s brother was in the Navy. Talk of the postal charges and the rates going up again!

4:00 – The houses were among some of the oldest in Bishopsteignton.

5:00 – A fire swept through the cottages in the early 1900’s.

6:00 – Remembers a fire at the Gourd’s garage when she was about 19.

7:00 – Dougie Gourd always wore his bus driver’s hat and works in Dawlish.

8:00 – Mrs Beard’s sister is 95. They keep active, joining several clubs.

9:00 – Daughters nearby in Kingsteignton & Torquay. Great granddaughter.

10:00 – More tea! Only two shops in the village now, there used to be seven.

11:00 –  Radway Street. Their neighbour Ken Gill was in the Army with John Hepburn. He worked for Mr Gilston  house builder. Unfriendly neighbour Keith is a decorator.


Part 4
Minutes – Description


1:00 – Baby living next door. Very snowy winter couldn’t get out of their houses, used oil lamps.

2:00 – George Gourd next door got her out from the back.

3:00 – Talk of gardens. Building work by Ken Gill. Mrs Wyatt, and Mrs Hawkins had bedroom upstairs turned into a bathroom.

8:00 – Brian Driscoll’s house. Mrs Wells. Outside WC’s. Much talk of toilets!

10:00 – Clay pits. Mrs Randal’s house. Longacre.

11:00 – Keeping pigs.

12:00 – Growing veg. No flowers!

14:00 – Beautiful views. Talk of the weather. Always football and games going on.


Mrs Bulley

Mrs Bulley was born in North Bovey, Devon in 1887. From the recording we can gather that she lived opposite the Commercial Inn after she married and her mother worked in the pub and also lived next door. One of her siblings was killed in an accident and another was injured in another accident. If you have any more information on this person please do let us know. In the 1939 Census there is a record of an Alice Bulley and a Kate Bulley living at separate addresses in the village, so she could be one of them. [1]

Miss Webber

Beatrice Elizabeth Webber was born in Chawleigh, Devon on 19 February, 1889. Her parents John (b.1855) and Phoebe (b.1867) had four more daughters, Florence (b.1891), Gertrude (b.1893), Sarah (b.1895) and Louisa (b.1900). They moved to Morchard Bishop during the early 1900’s and then moved to Bishopsteignton during WWI in 1915, where she began working at Huntley for what should have been just 6 weeks but ended up staying for 32 years. It is believed that she lived in one of the original cottages at Ashwell Corner, before later moving into the village at Radway Street. Beatrice passed away just several months after this recording was made on 7 July, 1979 in Bishopsteignton. [2]

John and Gillian Hepburn.

John Malcolm Hepburn was born in Tiverton, Devon on 13 August, 1914. From the tapes we know he served in WWII, where he also met Ken Gill. John Hepburn passed away in Teignmouth, Devon on 3 December, 1981 just two years after the recordings were made.

Gillian E Sladden was born in Hendon, London in October 1926.

John and Gillian married in Newton Abbot, in October 1977 and they lived near Mrs Bulley and Miss Webber up at Ashwell Corner. They later moved to Littlefield, Bishopsteignton. [3]

Dr. Gillian Hepburn was well known in the village and sadly passed away in 2019.


If you have any further details that you would like to add to this account of village life, please comment below or feel free to get in touch directly.







Author and transcription – Nathan Hutchinson

(apologies for errors due to audio quality, please contact us if you see any incorrect names stated above)

Audio donated by – Margaret


1/ Mrs Bulley’s family tree –

2/ Miss Webber’s family tree –

3/ Mr & Mrs Hepburn –