The Widecombe Archive
Widecombe History Group and the Parish Council have a large collection of archive material stored in various locations around Widecombe. A project was launched in 2011 to digitise as much of this material as possible. Work has proceeded since then with upwards of 20 volunteers drawn from the History Group membership and we now have a website www.widecombearchive.org.uk on which to publish our material.
This project in part arose out of earlier ones, namely the production of a database of the Parish Indentures and the digitising of the tithe apportionments, the output from both of which are incorporated into this archive.
The purposes of the project are to preserve the archive for future generations and to make it more easily accessible by being online and with searchable content. Once the more sensitive documents are digitised they can be deposited with Devon Heritage Services for long-term safekeeping.
The initial task has been to catalogue and digitise the contents of the Parish Chest, a large chest containing the more important old documents of the parish. This involved scanning each page of each document and cataloguing the contents of those pages, to a greater or lesser extent. A numbering scheme had also to be devised to clearly identify each item.
Help was received to get the project started by way of grants from Widecombe Parish Council, Teignbridge District Council and Devon County Council, with help towards the cost of computers and scanning equipment. We have also been able to use a room provided by two local residents to carry out the work as we have no permanent home of our own.
This has resulted in a database of around 10,000 scanned images and upwards of 1,500 catalogue entries so far. A large proportion of these are to be made available online; those excluded are mainly the more recent documents. Once we have a permanent home for the full archive, these latter items will be viewable there.
The project is ongoing, with the History Group’s own archive of material also in line for digitising. Widecombe Church has also become involved with the headstone and memorial catalogue, which is also online.