Widecombe Fair, 9 am to late on Tuesday Sept. 11, looks like last chance to catch a country show this summer. Parking is £20 but entry to the show is free after that. Some queuing in lines of coaches may be required but the village is well practised at it now and it shouldn’t be too bad if you go early. Rides from the carparks available.
It used to be a sheep market in the old days and there is still a breeds competition along with ferret racing and other traditional country show activities. This year one of the arena shows is a display of sheep shearing, using hand tools, by George Mudge and his son, Andrew, specialists in sheep business supplies and services from near here.
Tom Cobliana supplied by the tat trade, of course, and there is a race named after him, down one of the spectacular slopes which surround the village.
The song known as Widdicombe Fair was first recorded by a Victorian vicar of Lewtrenchard, Sabine Baring Gould, author of some great hymns, collector of folk tunes and notorious rewriter of mucky folk lyrics.
Apparently he first heard it from a Mr W Collier, a pub singer at “Woodtown, Horrabridge”, and it might have referred to Tavistock Fair. There were a dozen versions around Dartmoor and more around the country, featuring an Uncle and a Grey Mare. But there is some evidence that Uncle Tom Cobley and mates were a real crew who got lost on the moor from Chagford way in about 1810. It was Widecombe that got famous when the song got published, end of the Victorian era, and became a marching song for the Devon Regiment, a music hall favourite, an inspiration to painters and print-makers, a record made by artists including Burl Ives and, eventually, a Rambling Sid Rumpo spoof called Ganderpoke Bog which was almost as popular as the original.
Interesting developments in using St John’s Church as a venue. Inspired by the sell-out success of the concert promised by Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts, the Friends of St John’s now have, on Friday this week, a fiver-a-head talk by John Morgan on how Dartmoor folk saw the skies above them 4,000 years ago and how that influenced their trails and buildings.
They have meals with speakers scheduled for every Thursday in October and November and are planning “classic films”, first Friday of the month, starting Friday October 12, free entry but refreshments on sale. For some reason to do with licensing, their ad in The Bridge has to avoid saying what the film is but our guess is Mamma Mia, original version. Watch this space.
Pub News. The Royal Oak at Meavy is claiming the title of Country Pub of the Year in the 2018 Good Beer Guide. It is due out next week and we will have the local highlights here.
The Leaping Salmon had a great opening party and followed up with a last-minute repeat on Bank Holiday Monday, when they had a live bluegrass band, touring from America, who happened to have a spare night after appearing at Calstock.
Next Wednesday morning, September 7, 10-12, the pub will host the Tavistock U3A Chess Club: guest players welcome.
By popular demand, the London Inn has extended a series of Table Talk sessions, Tuesday evenings, hosted by the new Methodist organiser in the village, Ali Mansfield, and recorded for broadcast on Radio Walkham on Sundays, 4-6.
For your mobiles – Dartmoor Livestock Protection are encouraging everyone to have their warden’s number in their phones in case of animals in distress on the moors – 07873 587561.
For customer relations, The Shed has to hand it to a little American record shop called CD Baby, which sent the following note:
Your CD has been gently taken from our shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our world-renowned packing specialist lit a local artisan candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet.
We have placed your picture on our wall as Customer of the Year. We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back, Sigh … we miss you already.
Giddorn. But we’ll shop there again.
War Horse is on at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth. For more What’s On, check the Horrabridge Times calendar at