Wednesday 23 December 2020

Fisherman's Cot in the 1950s

Some old home movie footage of the Fisherman's Cot and Bickleigh in the 1950s.

Comparing Times

This YouTube video from 2009 compares old photographs of Tiverton to modern equivalent views.

Thursday 17 December 2020

Old Tiverton Words

From the book The Peasant Speech of Devon by Tiverton resident Sarah Hewett (Principal of the Wilderness House ladies' boarding and day school in Barrington Street) in 1892:

Whipshire = Tiverton
Tradition has it that, in 'olden time,' persons found guilty of minor offences were not sent to prison as at present, but were punished by being whipped at a cart's tail through the streets. This practice was at one time so common at Tiverton, that the name of 'Whipshire' was applied to the town. An old man at the Warren, near Dawlish, told me that he 'larned cheermaking tü Kentisbeare, an' then zot up in businez tü Whipshire, but was a-foced tü layve tha place, cuz tha Latin-bwoys zot vire tü his 'ouze.'

Stid = to study
On a boy returning from Blundell's School, Tiverton, to his home at Dawkridge, his fond mother asked the gardener how he thought Master Joe was looking. The gardener looked the lad up and down, then shaking his head said:
'Well, mum, 'e dü lüke cruel wisht tü be sure, pale and pittice-like; I zim 'e 'th a stid tü ard. I rekkon 'e 'th abin keept tü tight tü tha taskis.'

Stodgers or Busters = large satisfying buns
Mr. Tom Ward, of Tiverton, some years ago was in the habit of making once a week a batch of very large buns, which he sold at one penny each. Children on going into the shop would invariably say: 'Plaize I wants a penny stodger.' Others would ask for a 'penny buster.'

Shine = fine, well dressed
The question of clothing cropped up recently before a certain Board of Guardians in this district. An old man, who said his 'matics' were so bad that he could not work, applied for outdoor relief. Rightly enough he was questioned as to the earnings of his sons; and one of the Guardians asked:
'Didn't I see one of them home a little while ago cutting a fine shine?'
'Well, sir,' was the old man s reply, 'I don t know about cutten a vine shine: 'e weer 'ome bad, and wore one of these 'ere coats wi' a cape to; but they do say down our way as how poor vokes can wear um as well as rich uns. I can't say whe'er tis true or no; I bant eddicated up to that.'
In the end the applicant got relief for a fortnight.
- Tiverton Gazette, August 25th, 1891.

Mommet or momet = a scarecrow
'A man named Morrish came along and said defendant's little girl was a "mommet." Mrs. Berry accused him of calling her (defendant) that name. He said he had not, and then she said he had called her shadow a "mommet." The male defendant came out and began to abuse them. Both were much the worse for liquor. He could not say that they were sober. Cross-examined: There was a brass band there.
'MR. WATKINS. "What was there at Halberton on Monday night?"
'WITNESS. "I don t know."
'MR. WATKINS. "What was there on Wednesday?"
'WITNESS. "Halberton and the people, I suppose." (Laughter.)
'Witness was sure defendants were "perfectly" drunk. The last witness did not speak the truth if she said they were sober.
'William Morrish, thatcher, of Halberton, said he went through the village about ten o'clock on the night in question. When near the Swan he saw five or six men listening to a row. Thomas Gray was with witness, and as they went down the road he saw something standing against the wall. It gave him a "bit of a turn" and he said, "Oh, what mommet is that?" He found that it was a child. Mrs. Berry directly after began to abuse him for calling her a "mommet."
'REV. R. B. CAREW. "What is a 'mommet'? A scarecrow?"
'MR. WATKINS. "I am equally ignorant. Perhaps witness can give a definition."
'WITNESS. "We stick it up in a cornfield to frighten the birds."
'THE CHAIRMAN. "Now we understand." (Laughter.)
- From the Tiverton Gazette, June, 1891.

Scads or Scats = passing showers
'On Friday crowds of people assembled at Cloutsham. There was a cold pressing wind and a few scats during the day. A stag harboured in Sweet Tree gave a lot of trouble ere he was forced away, continually finding substitutes in the shape of younger deer. At last he was induced to ascend Dunkerry, on the crest of which the pack was laid on, and ran their deer into the Cutcombe coverts. Here hounds got scattered on other deer, and by an accident a three-year-old was killed. The stag was lost in extensive woods, and a return and further search along the eastern slope of Dunkerry failed to yield another. So we jogged homeward.'
- Tiverton Gazette, Sept. 20th, 1889.

The Peasant Speech of Devon

Author: Sarah Hewett
Published: 1892
Provider: Google Books

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Tiverton's Mesmeric Mania

"The magnetic pass, the Mesmeric sleep" - Wellcome Collection gallery / CC-BY-SA
"The magnetic pass, the Mesmeric sleep"
Wellcome Collection Gallery / Public Domain

Tiverton was well and truly swept up in the early Victorian "Mesmeric Mania". Mesmerism (named after Franz Mesmer) was an important specialty in medicine for about 75 years from its beginnings in 1779, and continued to have some influence for another 50 years. Hundreds of books were written on the subject between 1766 and 1925, but it is almost entirely forgotten today. Mesmerism is still practised as a form of alternative medicine in some countries, but magnetic practices are not recognized as part of medical science now.

On page 165 of the 1850 volume of the specialist mesmerism journal, The Zoist, it describes a meeting in Tiverton in the Mayoralty Room on 5 October 1848, with an incredible number of very well known Tiverton names in attendance:

A MEETING was held in the Mayoralty Room of Tiverton, on Thursday, October 5th last, for the purpose of investigating many extraordinary cures effected in various diseases by Mr. Thomas Capern with mesmerism. A hundred and twenty ladies were present, and, besides them, John Heathcote Esq. M.P., S. Amory Esq., of London, F. Hole, Esq., George Coles, Esq., John Barne, Esq., H. Dunsford, Esq., A. Brewin, Esq., nearly the whole of the clergy and the dissenting ministers, and the greater part of the members of the medical profession, who had been especially invited to attend.

The Mayor, John Snell, having kindly consented to take the chair, Mr. Capern made some remarks upon various branches of mesmerism, and then introduced successively about thirty individuals, all of whom had received more or less benefit from his manipulations. Each stated in his or her own simple language the nature and extent of the disease, and the amount of improvement, or the duration of perfect cure. Among the diseases removed, and many in a space of time so incredibly short that only the direct evidence of the patients themselves could have sufficed to establish the facts, were tic douloureux, chronic rheumatism, fits, spinal affection, paralysis, and palpitation of the heart; some of the cases having been discharged as incurable from the Devon and Exeter Hospital. At the conclusion of the investigation, which lasted nearly three hours, the Rev. John Spurway moved, and the Rev. Mr. Madgin seconded, a vote of thanks to Mr. Capern, the reverend gentlemen speaking in the highest terms of the able manner in which Mr. C. had treated his subject, and also of the candour and honour of the proceeding, by which every individual case had been thus boldly subjected to the trying ordeal of a hearing in the presence of so large a number of well informed and professional gentlemen.

The entire company, a considerable portion of which consisted of ladies connected with the principal families in the neighbourhood, expressed their satisfaction by frequent bursts of applause.

We understand that Mr. Capern received a most flattering letter from Lord Palmerston, expressing the deep interest felt by his lordship in the progress of the science, and earnestly requesting a report of the proceedings connected with the meeting. Mr. Capern intends publishing all these cases, with a large number of others.

Thomas Capern did indeed go on to publish his book of 150 cases in 1851 entitled The Mighty Curative Powers of Mesmerism. It features many stories of people from Tiverton, their ailments, and their seemingly miraculous cure. GENUKI has listed out all the people referred to in the book.

The Royal Societry of Medicine library had an exhibition on mesmerism in 2017. You can read the booklet therefrom (in PDF format) where Thomas Capern gets a mention on page 37.

The Mighty Curative Powers of Mesmerism

Author: Thomas Capern
Published: 1851
Provider: Google Books

The Mighty Curative Powers of Mesmerism