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Harberton & Harbertonford 

History Society

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RECENT TALK - Tuesday January 19th 7.30 pm (Zoom)


Andy Crabb ‘From the Neolithic to Normandy: A Deep History of Mardon Down’


Andy is an archaeologist working with Dartmoor National Park and Historic England. Andy’s talk covered recent surveys of Neolithic, Bronze Age, Medieval and WW2 structures. He included discoveries at the nearby Wooston Castle Iron-Age Fort.

Andy also leads our annual guided archaeological walk and picnic.



Tuesday March 2nd 7.30 pm (Zoom)


Colin Vosper ‘The Old Saltway: From Coombe Cellars to Totnes


Colin is a retired Further Education College lecturer, who was born in Devon and has Devon family connections going back many generations. Colin’s illustrated talk focusses on the route used in the context of the salt trade from its supply from the salt marshes of the Teign estuary to the delivery of salt and other goods to the ships preparing to leave for sea at Totnes and Dartmouth. The route followed is a mix of churchways/lychways, manor boundaries and old trading or pack horse routes with very few roads. There is a link to the 16th and 17th centuries, involved in the Newfoundland fishing industry.



Tuesday May 11th 7.30pm (Zoom)


Martin Weiler and Dr Will Barrett ‘The Day we played Brazil’:

The Amazing story of Exeter City’s tour to South America in 1914.


Martin Weiler graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in History and Archaeology. An active member of the Heavitree Local History Society, he is also a Trustee of the Exeter City Football Club Museum Trust. Martin went on the club’s tour to Brazil in 2014 when a centenary match took place in the same stadium as the original game 100 years before.

Dr Will Barrett is an expert on cultural heritage, and works within the sector as a researcher, consultant, curator and film maker. His work has included collaborations with a number of museums and other cultural organisations, most notably the establishment of the Grecian Archive and Exeter City Football Club Museum trust, and the management and delivery of all outputs for series of successful projects funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Will is currently involved with our Oral History Project overseeing the making of the film about Harbertonford Woollen Mill.

The talk will cover the wider social context of this extraordinary football match and the return of the players to the imminent outbreak of World War One.



Tuesday October 5th 7.30pm (Zoom)


Dr Todd Gray: ‘Uncle Tom Cobley and Widecombe Fair and Harberton’


Todd Gray was born and grew up in New England, USA and first visited Devon on a school trip in 1973. He undertook a degree in London and then studied for a PhD at the University of Exeter and since then has been a research fellow at the university. In 1992 he became a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. In 2014, Todd was awarded the MBE for voluntary services to Devon’s history and has been involved on the committees of many local organisations.

Todd has published over 40 books, 14 of which are about Exeter. In 2018 Todd was awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City of Exeter.

Todd delivered our very first zoom talk in December 2020 on Exeter and Devon’s Cloth Trade in the 18th Century!

‘Widdicombe Fair’ has been an iconic part of Devon’s heritage, Todd’s interest in Tom Cobley began in 1995 when he happened upon an unknown version of the song and he realised then that the lyrics were much earlier than those which Sabine Baring-Gould had made famous in 1889’. Todd will talk about its long and fascinating history.



Tuesday November 16th 7.30pm (Zoom)


Sue Knox: ‘General Lawrence and his Tower - The History of the Haldon Belvedere’


Sue is a retired doctor and has also been a Red Coat Guide for the City of Exeter for 15 years. She has lived in the Teign Valley for 30 years and is now a Trustee of the Stringer Lawrence Memorial Trust which owns the Haldon Belvedere.

Sue’s illustrated talk tells the story of General Stringer Lawrence, who became known as the Father of the Indian Army, and his friendship with Robert Palk. The two men met in India while working for the East India Company. On retirement, Palk moved back to Devon (he was born in Ashburton) and spent his enormous fortune establishing a huge estate which included most of Torquay, The Teign Valley and the Haldon Hills. Lawrence spent much of his retirement staying with the Palk family in their mansion in Dunchideock. When the General died, Palk built the Belvedere as a memorial to his friend. The Tower is now owned by the Stringer Memorial Trust and is open to the public on Sundays during the summer.