The Archiving Project

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.

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 will be 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 was 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 were also able to use a room provided by two local residents to carry out the work as we had no permanent home of our own, although in 2014 we were given the use of the old Sunday School room at Dunstone Chapel and now the project is based there.

This project 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 have been made available online; those excluded are mainly the more recent documents (post-1915). Once we have a permanent home for the full archive, which can be opened to the public, these latter items will be viewable there.

The project is ongoing, with the History Group's own archive of material currently being digitised. Widecombe Church has also become involved with the headstone and memorial catalogue, which is also online.

For more details of the project you can view the pdf version of a presentation given in 2013 by clicking here.