Preserving the heritage of Sticklepath

Laura White
Laura White

Two major events have happened in Sticklepath recently. The first was that Tom Pearse’s grey mare, Bessie, returned to the village from which she was borrowed.

She comes back every Hallowtide as part of the tradition for crowds of local children to find her and the seven ghostly riders. These are encouraged to show their repentance for their careless treatment of her on their way to Widecombe.

This year, Bessie arrived a week before the opening of a new visitor attraction and Heritage Centre based on the little St Mary’s Church.

She enjoyed her view of the displays that have been installed. The official launch of the Heritage Centre then came on Sunday, 7th November.

More than 70 people safely attended to hear Rev Steve Cook, the Rector for the Northmoor Team Ministry, Bishop Nick from Plymouth and Derek Moore from the Sticklepath Heritage Group open the displays. The audience was entertained by six local residents who have recorded an audio presentation in St Mary’s, becoming characters from points in the thousand-year history of the parish.

Visitors are invited to press the kiosk screen to hear, for example, the first Priest of the Chantry on this site speaking in 1146. Somewhat ghostly as well, in its way. Tea and cake were required afterwards, and were plentiful in the Village Hall.

The St Mary’s project has been an excellent lockdown project in the ways it has brought the community together to save an old church but also to present a history of the village; both very old and newer.

In fact, both projects are creating new history for visitors to this area of the moor and new memories for the community.

How is Bessie to be found each year? What was found during the archaeological dig in the churchyard? You’d be welcome to visit to find out…

Local Life