‘Connections’ – Lt.-Col. John Mervin Cutcliffe, C.B. (1778- 1822).

The Cutcliffes were a well-to-do North Devon family, probably descended from the fifteenth century Thomas Cutliff of Hartland. They acquired the estate of Damage Barton, near Ilfracombe in about 1505, and later Lee Manor at Lee Bay, and, amongst other properties, eventually acquired Weach Barton in Westleigh, near Bideford.

Two of John’s ancestors were of note: his grandfather, Charles Cutcliffe, was one of the first pupils of Bideford Grammar School, under the tutelage of Rev. Zachariah Mudge, and went on to become a solicitor in Bideford, but, after his father’s death, decided to take up the life of a country squire; and Charles Newall Cutcliffe, who was also a Bideford solicitor and one of the founding partners of North Devon’s first bank, which opened in 1791, under the name of ‘Cutcliffe, Roche, Gribble and Co’, but more commonly known as ‘The Old Bank’.

John, however, chose the Army for his career. He was born at Alverdiscott, near Bideford, in 1778, but resided in his early years at the family estate at Westleigh.

He had a distinguished military career.

He entered the Army in 1800, as a Cornet in the 23rd Light Dragoons. In 1801, he was made a Lieutenant, and in the same year took part in the Egyptian Campaign, which successfully cut off Napoleon’s troops in Egypt. In 1804, he was made a Captain, and from 1809 onwards, he served in Portugal and Spain in the Peninsular War, and was present at the Battle of Talevera, near Madrid. This battle was both bloody and inconclusive. The 23rd suffered serious casualties: 207 killed, wounded and missing, and 105 captured, giving them a 70% casualty rate. He was promoted to Major in 1813, and he accompanied his regiment in the campaign on the eastern coast of Spain, before taking part in the operations in the Netherlands.

Here, he was present at the Battle of Quatre Bras on the 16 June 1815, the action at Genappe on the 17 June, and then on the 18 June, he commanded the 23rd Light Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo.

According to one source, he was seriously wounded early on in the day, and on the recommendation of the Duke of Wellington, was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. A few days later, he was awarded the Turkish Order of the Crescent for his services in Egypt, and on the 22 June was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.

The most interesting aspect of his story, however, is how he came to be in command of his regiment, the 23rd, at the Battle of Waterloo.

This was originally the post of the Earl of Portarlington. However, he decided to go into nearby Brussels on the eve of the battle for some entertainment, but on his way back, found himself caught up in the traffic of troops and supplies moving towards the battlefield, on the one hand, and civilians evacuating the scene to avoid the fighting, on the other. Heavy rain fell that night, only compounding the situation, and the whole area became a quagmire.

The Earl made it back in time to take part in the battle, joining the 18th Hussars, with whom he fought valiantly, but he was unable to rejoin his own regiment, so his second-in command, John Cutcliffe, had to take his place.

The Earl was ashamed of what had happened, but in spite of a letter of support and encouragement  and the gift of a snuff box from John Cutcliffe and his fellow officers in the 23rd, the Earl drank and drugged himself to an early death soon afterwards, having been reduced to living in a hovel in London.

At the end of the war, regiments were either reduced in size or disbanded, and the 23rd Light Dragoons was one of the first to be disbanded, perhaps because of the stigma attached to this incident.

In the meantime, John had married, in April 1808, the Honorable Charlotte Talbot, daughter of Baroness Talbot de Malahide, but died without issue in 1822 at Westleigh, where he is now buried.

The Battle of Waterloo ensured that no single power would dominate continental Europe militarily for many years to come, and led to a century of relative peace in Europe. This month ,of course, marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, one of the most significant in British history.


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One hundred years ago : June 1915.

The Gazette was proud to announce that 2nd class Air Mechanic J E Prance of the Royal Flying Corps has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallant conduct and valuable service. He assisted in repairing an aeroplane, which had been forced to descend near the firing line whilst being heavily shelled. The repair was successful and the plane flew again the following morning. Newly promoted 1st class Air Mechanic Prance is the eldest of the four sons of Mr S. Prance, the Bideford Harbourmaster.

Following the death of Henry Ascott JP,the licensee of the New Inn, his executors have instructed J. J. Braddick to sell by auction a unique and extensive collection of carriages and stable paraphernalia from the ‘New Inn’ stables. Among the vehicles advertised are 6 varnished Brakes, two of them with detachable hoods, and the two largest able to carry over 20 passengers each. There are also 2 Landaus, 2 Victorias, a waggonette, 2 dog-carts, a colt-brake and various luggage carts, as well as an extensive range of harness and tack. Mr. Ascott had been the licensee from 1878 until 1914 when it was transferred to Richard G. Court. The manageress in 1915 was Miss Light.

Including the New Inn there are 5 Bideford hotels which continue to advertise in the Gazette each week –

The Royal Hotel is under new management. The manageress is Miss Constable and the telephone number is Bideford 5. A charge of 6d per person is made to visitors wishing to view the famous Kingsley Suite with its panelled rooms and unique ceilings. The charge does not apply to hotel residents and those taking meals in the hotel.

The Hillgarden Hotel was situated in Mill Street. The proprietor, Mr W G Pearce, advertises a photographic dark-room for the use of guests and boasts that it is the only hotel in Bideford with a Bowling Green attached.

The Proprietor of the Kingsley Hotel on the Quay was Mr George Radford, but no proprietor is given for Tanton’s Hotel.

These and many more items of local interest are available to read at the Bideford Community Archive at the Council offices, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714


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One hundred years ago : May 1915.

At the Annual meeting of the Bideford Workhouse Guardians it was announced that 26 meetings were held during the year and only 4 of the elected Guardians had attended all meetings. Some had only been present at 10 meetings and one person had only made one attendance. The War has had an effect on the number of tramps calling overnight, falling from 80 the previous year to 37 and the numbers of men fully employed or going off to fight has caused the casual numbers to fall from 2220 to 1548.

Over the Whitsun holidays, May 22/23rd, traffic has fallen by a half. No railway excursions were run and with over 3,000 men from North Devon off to war families stayed at home.

George Boyle, Motor Cycle and Bicycle agent of Allhalland Street and Queen Street, warns of a “dearth of bicycles” due to the scarcity of raw materials and shortages of manpower.

Recruiting at Bideford is quoted as being similar to or better than other towns. 540 men have enlisted and have gone to the Devonshire Territorials who are now garrisoned in India, or to the Devon Yeomanry who are defending the east coast against possible invasion. A recruiting march was organised around North Devon which stopped overnight in Bideford. 130 men were recruited into the 6th Battalion Devonshire Regiment but more are needed. Currently there are 370 men between the ages of 18 and 38, fit or unfit, in the town. There is reluctance to volunteer, many saying that they will “Go if conscripted but not voluntarily”. Tattersill’s, the grocers in the town, had the advertisement (as shown) during May which seemed to reflect this growing unease generated by the war.

In other news:

For Sale at Pines Lane Bideford, 16 acres of luxuriant grass and farming implements together with one Guernsey cow in full milk. Offered by the Executors of the late H Arscott JP.

The town water supply is giving concern again. Supply is dwindling and Bideford Urban District councillors are debating whether to turn off the supply overnight.

Farleigh’s Stores in High Street are selling “tempting little breakfast hams” at 7d a pound. Miss A Littlejohns of York Cottage will give lessons in the new method of “Touch” typing.

Bideford & District Community Archive, Windmill Lane, Northam. Tel: 01237 471714


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Time capsules and the Port Memorial.

Saturday April 11th saw an interesting event on the Quay when the restored Port Memorial and Ornamental Gardens were re- opened by the Mayor following refurbishment.

Councillor David Howell had also organised a ceremony with the Sea Scouts to bury a time capsule containing items from local groups and organisations within the town, (including 4 years worth of Bideford Buzz on a memory stick.) The plan is that the capsule will be excavated in 30 years time and will give a snapshot of life in Bideford in 2015.

Councillor Peter Christie described the history of the Port Memorial, which commemorates how Bideford regained its port status in 1925 after losing it in 1882. This was echoed in an historical description by the Town Crier.

A rather wonderful terracotta mural has been designed and built by ceramicist Maggie Curtis, and this now forms part of the memorial. Maggie writes ;-

‘Being asked to make commemorative plaques for a public memorial is an honour, but daunting, especially when my knowledge of the history of Bideford Port was sketchy at best. However the research was fascinating; I found out why Harry Juniper called Peter’s Marland clay “pipe clay”, why, when on holiday in Portugal in 1967 at the Cascois’ Fiesta, the prize for the Greasy pole was a salt cod, and why there are so many Americans visiting the North Devon Maritime Museum in Appledore.

I decided to show Bideford’s mercantile shipping history by depicting two illustrated trade maps. Bideford’s shipbuilding industry played a crucial part in enabling Bideford’s merchants to trade, so I researched and found named Bideford-built ships throughout the history of both Tobacco and Salt Cod  and used them to represent the development of each trade and their subsidiary cargos.’

Interestingly Bideford has two other time capsules in place. Just at the entrance to Victoria Park is the Millennium Time Capsule, buried there in 2000. Another little book, ‘Secrets of Bideford’ (available at Bideford Library) describes the burying of art works in the fabric of the Quay when the flood defence scheme was completed.

Future generations of Bidefordians will have plenty of archive material to peruse!



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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery : May.

There are two Bank Holidays in May and lots of opportunity to eat local sustainable fish and shellfish. The long days enable the fishermen to start catching more regularly and the shellfish pots are all out now, enabling a wide variety of fish to be be available.Here is a simple fish curry that is quick to make and you can eat in a bowl outside or feed a a crowd if you have visitors for the holidays.

Thai Fish Curry


2-3 tbsp red Thai curry paste.

2.5 cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped.

50g cashew nuts.

400ml can coconut milk.

3 carrots cut in batons.

1 broccoli head, cut into florets.

20g fresh coriander, roughly chopped.

2 handfuls of spinach leaves and /or ransons (wild garlic), chopped.

250g White fish skinned and cubed –Hake or Pollack is a good local choice.


1. Put curry paste into a large pan, add the ginger and nuts and stir fry over a medium heat for 2-3mins.

2. Add coconut milk, cover and bring to the boil. Stir in the carrots, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5mins. Add the broccoli florets and simmer for a further 5 mins.

3. Cut the fillets of fish into cubes, add and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender-no more than 10 mins.

4.Take off heat and stir in the coriander and lime zest into the pan with the spinach or wild garlic.Squeeze the lime juice over and serve with boiled rice and garnishwith coriander leaves -Simple!!

There are more Summer Festivals with a Fish/Water theme. The Appledore Fish Summer School group has a stall at the Northam May Fair and the Bradworthy Arts Festival. Please come and find out about the Events and buy some fish for tea!

Felicity Sylvester.


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‘Connections’ – Herbert Ashley Asquith.

A Ship Sails up to Bideford

A ship sails up to Bideford,

Upon a western breeze,

Mast by mast, sail over sail,

She rises from the seas,

And sights the hills of Devon

And the misty English trees.

She comes from Eastern islands,

The sun is in her hold,

She bears the fruit of Jaffa,

Dates, oranges and gold;

She brings the silk of China,

And bales of Persian dyes,

And birds with sparkling feathers

And snakes with diamond eyes.

She’s gliding in the starlight

As white as any gull,

The east is gliding with her

In the shadows of her hull.

A ship sails up to Bideford,

Upon a western breeze,

With fruits of Eastern summers

She rises from the seas,

And sights the hills of Devon

And the misty English trees.

I am a native Bidefordian, and have to confess that I only came across this poem by Herbert Ashley Asquith by accident, whilst researching something completely different.

Its author was the second son of the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith (1908-1916), with whom he was often confused, and about whom not an awful lot has been written. Born in 1881, he was nicknamed ‘Beb’ by his family. He was educated at Winchester College with his brothers, then went to Oxford, where he was President of the Oxford Union, and afterwards became a lawyer, novelist and poet. In 1910, he married Cynthia Charteris, who was herself a writer. He served as Captain with the Royal Artillery in France during the First World War; several of his best poems are about the soldiers who died.

He would have had plenty of opportunity to visit Bideford during his life. His father often accepted invitations by Mrs Hamlyn to house-parties held at Clovelly Court whilst he was Prime Minister. At a later date, his younger brother, Arthur, married the inheratrix to the Clovelly Court estate, (Mrs Hamlyn having died with no direct heirs), and to which he retired at the end of the war, after a distinguished war career, and where he lived until his death in 1939.

His older brother, Raymond, was sadly killed during the First World War.

Herbert Ashley died in 1947. His father, the Prime Minister, was later made the 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith.

It is a rather fine poem; (there are others to be found on the internet.) The North Devon folk group ‘Hearts of Oak’, sadly now defunct, set it to music, where it gained a regular place in their repertoire, and can still be found on YouTube.

Chris Trigger

Part of our Connections Series.


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‘Connections’ – Thomas Arthur, VC.

Thomas Arthur VC (1835- 1902)

Thomas Arthur was one of only four North Devonians who have been awarded the Victoria Cross.

Born in Abbotsham, near Bideford in 1835, to Thomas and Jane Arthur, he appears to have worked as a farm labourer for a short while for a John Beckalick at Parkham, before joining the Army at the age of 18 at Devonport for service in the Royal Regiment of Artillery. He was sent to the Royal Artillery Depot at Woolwich, where he earned the princely sum of one and three pence per day (the equivalent of 6p today) as a gunner. In November 1854, he embarked on HMS ‘Niagara’ from Liverpool, bound for the war in the Crimea.

Conditions in the Crimea were atrocious, and more men were dying from infection, fever, poor sanitation and hunger, than from deaths and injuries sustained in battle, and it was to rectify this situation that Florence Nightingale was famously sent, with 38 nurses to help her. Though she was largely based in Scutari Barracks, she did make two visits to Balaclava, where at one timeThomas was briefly hospitalised.

He was eventually stationed at Sebastopol, where the Russians were dug in at the Quarries.

The 7th Fusiliers attacked the position, and gained it, but Thomas could see that that the infantrymen were running out of ammunition. When night fell he ran, on several occasions under heavy enemy fire, with barrels of ammunition on his head, and at obvious great danger to himself,to keep the infantry supplied. He was said to have thrown the ammunition down at the soldiers’ feet, shouting “Here you are, my lads, fire away!”.

The Quarries were little more than holes in the ground in front of a fort called the Redan, the capture of which was the object of the exercise, and against which the Commander-in Chief, Lord Raglan, threw about a thousand troops, but without success. Only half survived the attack.

It was at this point that Thomas volunteered to form and lead a spiking party, to disable and sabotage the enemy guns, an extremely hazardous operation.

On other occasions, he was seen, lifting up and bringing back wounded officers and men to the trenches.

For all these acts of bravery, he was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

He left the Crimea with his Battery in February 1856, and arrived back in Woolwich in the middle of March.

Uncharacteristically, he took two separate days off without leave soon after his return. He was court-martialled and ended up serving a twenty-eight day sentence in Weedon Military Prison in Northamptonshire.

Fortunately, he was released nine days before he was ordered to march to Hyde Park, where, together with 62 other Crimean War heroes, he was awarded the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria .

The Victoria Cross was specifically created at this time to commemorate the deeds of those servicemen who had acted with valour under enemy fire, above and beyond the call of duty, and this was the first investiture of its kind. The medals were awarded in strict order of seniority of service and rank. Thomas was the twenty-third, being one of five Royal Artillery members – four officers, and Thomas.

A few days afterwards, on 6 July, he got married to Ann Goddard, from Hornstead in Berkshire.

They had eight children in all, his sixth child, Sophia being born in Bideford in 1876. This was after his retirement from the army in 1874.

He finally settled in Savernake, Wiltshire, where he died, of unknown causes, on 2 March 1902, aged 67. He is buried here in Cadley Churchyard

Proud of Thomas’s exploits and medal, many of his descendants have included the name Arthur in their sons’ name, one relative even calling her daughter Mabel Arthur!

It is well-known that Victoria Crosses are made from the gunmetal of one of two Chinese cannons, used by the Russians and captured by the British at the siege of Sebastopol.

Thomas’s own medal was purchased on 19 July 1902 for £47, purchased again at a later date by the Royal Artillery Institute, and is now displayed at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, for all to see.

Chris Trigger.


Additionally, from May’s ‘Buzz Word’ -

Thomas Arthur

Following up the extremely interesting piece by Chris Trigger about Thomas Arthur, readers might be interested to learn a bit more about the Abbotsham connection.Thomas was baptised in St Helen’s Church in the village in August 1836. His two elder sisters, Catherine and Fanny had been baptised there in March 1833, but there is no record of his parents, Jane and Thomas, having been married there, so it is probable that they moved to Abbotsham from elsewhere. Thomas’ father appears to have died before his son was born as the Parish register reords the funeral of a Thomas Arthur (s) in 1836. (all the Parish records show the family as Arthurs.) It is possible that Thomas’ mother married again later in life as a Jane Arthur (s) married a John Dinford at St. Helen’s in November 1847.

In St Helen’s Churchyard, by the foot of the cross commemorating the war dead is a small plaque dedicated to Thomas Arthur as one of the first soldiers ever to receive a VC for his valour in war. There is also a small housing development named ‘Arthur’s Lea’ in his momory.

Martin Wilson. (Abbotsham Community Archive).


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Buzz Word – April.

Verren Family.

I am a descendant of the Verren families from Bideford, living in Canberra. I am trying to contact Verren family members who may be able to help me with the following information :

Living Verren family members still in Bideford or family members buried in Bideford Cemeteries.

Information on Verren family members who have moved elsewhere

Birth, Death, Marriage information, especially around or prior to  the 1797 birth of Albert and William Verren [twins] born in Bideford.

Also any information on the Verren families, who were Huguenots, and who fled from France to England during the 16th century. Any known derivatives of the Verren family name.

*I am attaching information about the Verren families given to me from a cousin. I attach relevant found Verren family information of birth and death in Bideford.

Ruth Page

Email: eaglewolfspiritdreaming@gmail.com

*Can forward this extra item to anyone with information as well as other contact details.



Bideford Hospital – last month’s front page.

The photograph shows the opening ceremony of the new Bideford and District Hospital, held on Wednesday 23rd September 1925 – the ceremony being performed by Sir William Reardon Smith, Bart.

The cost of the building was approximately £21,000 and it was built by Messrs Mardon, Ball and Co of Farnham.The foundation stone was laid in 1924 by Lord Glanely.

The persons present: – Sir William Reardon Smith – seated left of the Matron; Lord Glanely seated right of the matron.Also present Hospital staff – nurses and doctors. The Mayor – Edwin Josiah Toye, born London 1871. Having been medical officer for Northam he came to Bideford where his surgery was at Stanhope and where he practised for 40 years. He was elected to Bideford Council in 1923 and was made Mayor in 1925. His daughter, Miss Keene was his mayoress. Dr Toye died suddenly in January 1938 at the age of 66.

Mike Davy.


Bideford Stroke Support Group.

We are a small friendly group who help people whose speech has been affected by stroke.We need a new volunteer / leader to take a pro- active role in our little group. Could you spare a couple of hours on alternate Tuesday mornings.Tea and laughter are the order of the day.Give us a buzz! For more information….07713 629774

Cammie Escott.


Machu Picchu Challenge.

In August I will be going to Peru to complete the trek to Machu Picchu. I am doing this to raise funds for the new chemotherapy unit at Barnstaple hospital. However, this is a massive challenge for me and I am doing it because I have beaten cancer twice and I now want to beat my lifelong fear of heights. The trek climbs to a height of 4,200 M. It really is completely outside of my comfort zone – I used to have to close my eyes when driven over the new bridges in Bideford in Barnstaple. Thankfully I cope with them a lot better now! I have also never slept in a tent, so for the first time in my life I will be sleeping in a tent, up a mountain, with a stranger. Not something I can say I thought I would ever do!

I have to raise a lot of money to complete this challenge, but I want to let people know that I have had to pay for myself to go out there. My main fundraising event is hosting an Elvis/Rock’n’Roll night at Pier House, Westward Ho! This will take place on Friday 17th April at 8pm and tickets cost £7 from me on 07713636905. Phil Brock will be performing his amazing Elvis act which is probably the best in the West Country. If you want a great evening of entertainment I hope you feel you will be able to support me. If you are not able to be there, but would like to support me, please visit my page on www.virginmoneygiving.com/HelenFinn2

Helen Finn.


Bideford Quilt Group

Bideford Quilters meet monthly on the last Saturday of the month. We are now meeting at Northam Hall again – where we originally started.

We have had exhibitions at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum; the last one was in November/December 2013. For each of our exhibitions we have made a ‘group quilt’ which has been raffled in aid of North Devon Hospice. After a previous exhibition we had a lot of people wanting to join us so we started a second group – ‘Tarka Quilters’ which meets at Fremington Methodist Hall on the second Tuesday of the month. We have now decided to amalgamate the two groups so that members can go to either meetings.

Meetings are from 10-00 – 2.00 pm normally, and from 10.00 – 3.30 pm when we have a workshop. Sometimes we have ‘in-house’ tutors and at other times we use outside tutors to come to us.We have people of all abilities in our groups – from beginners to very experienced.

We are planning to start a ‘block a month’ where a different technique block is made each month leading to producing a sampler quilt – this is very helpful particularly for beginners.

If anyone is interested in joining us they would be very welcome – please ring Kate 01237 470846 or Steph 01237 470570 for details.


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One hundred years ago : April 1915.

Peugeot cars have now arrived in Bideford. The French manufacturer has appointed Heard Bros. as their only dealer across the entire Devon and Cornwall area. Prices range from £125 for a baby 2 seater up to £875 for a 40/50 hp car fitted with a “Suffolk” 5 seater touring body complete with all accessories. For further details telephone Bideford 70.

An exciting new crop on the gardening page in the 6th April edition: ‘Readers are encouraged to consider planting “a garden variety of Indian corn or maize” known as sugar or sweet corn. It is quite extensively grown and eaten as a vegetable in Canada and the United States. Several local seedsmen are selling seeds of improved acclimatisation and now is the time to sow’.

Sale of Lloyds Bank premises Bideford: Messrs R Dymond & Sons are offering for sale by auction on the 8th April the freehold property situated on the corner of High Street and Allhalland Street, formerly the Devon & Cornwall Bank. The Auction took place at Tantons Hotel and in the following week’s edition of the Gazette the following report was printed. “Bidding was started by G. Boyle at £1000 and W. H. Chope bettered this by £50, and then by £50 bids each bidder bettered their offer up to a figure of £1700. Then Mr W. H. Chope offered £1725, at which point the property was withdrawn and made open to Private Treaty sale by Messrs Hole, Seldon & Ward solicitors for the vendors”.

Local residents are beginning to respond to the opening of Commons Auxiliary Hospital to receive wounded soldiers with gifts and donations including vegetables, shirts, pillows, eggs, cigarettes, cream, carpet slippers, boots, jig saw puzzles, looking glasses, jam and hymn books. Rev Dimond gave sweets.

Bideford farmers and gardeners have been asked to contribute to a national egg collection scheme to aid wounded soldiers. Across the country 130,000 eggs have been collected weekly but the organisers hope to increase this to 200,000 and Bideford is expected to play its part. Collection points have been set up at the Butchers Market at the top of Grenville Street and at the NFU offices in the High Street.

In letters to the Editor in the 13th April edition a letter from Mr. J. M. Metherell, chairman of the Bideford branch of the Devon Farmers Union, “earnestly request the farmers of Bideford District to make a generous response to the appeal.” Eggs will go to the base hospital in France for men who are returning from the Front Line.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery : April.

Seafood Savoury Pancakes.

Here is a lovely recipe from the Marshford Cookbook using local ingredients. I have used locally caught white fish; Pollack, Whiting or Ling fillets are all available this Easter.(with thanks to Marshford for allowing use of this recipe.)

To make pancakes-

Ingredients- 110g plain flour and a pinch of salt,1 large egg,

100ml milk and100 ml cold water.

Mix the salt and flour in a large bowl, beat the egg lightly and add half the milk/water. Beat until well mixed and add the rest of the milk /water. Stir to mix.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and add half the liquid. Beat lightly and then pour the rest of the liquid in, slowly beating as you go until the mixture is well incorporated. Set aside in a cold place for 2 hours.

To cook pancakes-

Use a 7in pan. Measure 2 Tablespoons of batter into a cup and when the pan is hot, pour the batter into the middle ,swirl round to coat the pan thinly.

Turn down the heat to medium and cook the pancake ; it should only take a minute, and then turn over or toss and cook on the other side.

Have 2 plates ready and place the cooked pancakes on the plate. Keep warm with a second inverted plate on top.

These are now ready for the fish filling.

Ingredients for filling-

150ml milk.

160g of Pollack, Whiting or Ling fillets.

80gms of prawns or sliced scallops or mussel meat.

3 black peppercorns,1bay leaf and a few parsley sprigs.

15g butter and 15g flour.

Salt and pepper to taste.

To finish-

15gm melted butter and a little grated cheese-Cornish yarg or mild Parkham cheddar

To make the filling-

Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and add the flour, stirring and cooking to form a roux. Add the liquid a little at a time, stirring continuously over a low heat until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and carefully fold in the cubed filleted fish and sliced scallops /mussels.

Heat the grill.

Divide the mixture between the pancakes and roll up. Place in a greased heatproof dish and brush each pancake with the melted butter, sprinkle the grated cheese over, and heat under the grill until golden. Garnish the reserved parsley leaves.

And serve.


Please let me know which fish and /or cheese you find most tasty for this dish.

For more information and Easter recipes visit www.brilliantfishonline.co.uk or for more Organic food recipes visit www.marshford.co.uk , or visit the shop at Churchill Way, Northam. EX39 1NS. Marshford Organic Foods now has a range of local-caught fish.


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From Hungarian refugee to Glorious Devon bistro owner.

It’s funny how Facebook opens up all sorts of windows and lets us see inside other people’s lives. The latest “7 facts that you may not know about me” has resulted in this article.

My mother, Julianna Ibolya Homolya, left Hungary with just me and one suitcase after the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. Mum was 24 years old and I was two. Neither of us spoke a word of English. After catching a train and walking for miles to a “safe” opening in the barbed wire fencing that was all around the border of Hungary and Austria, then spending a few nights in an Austrian farmer’s barn along with several others, we ended up initially in a refugee camp in Austria. Then we were allocated a space in England.

After reading this on Facebook, Rose Arno, Bideford Buzz’s Editor, responded by telling me that she clearly remembers, as a schoolchild, knitting woollen squares for blankets for Hungarian refugees. I can happily say that not only were we, as a family, grateful for one of those blankets and indeed had it for many years, but so were all the tenants of the house that we lived in when we finally arrived in the Midlands in 1958.

So how did I get to be living in glorious Devon? It has been my dream to live in Devon for almost thirty years, along with my other dream of owning a Bistro. It has been a long and eventful journey and I have made so many friends and hopefully introduced a tiny corner of Hungary to the Devon coastline. Imagine it started with the clothes on my back, a few changes of undies and a tenacious and brave young woman. Thanks, Mum.

Here is a classic Hungarian dish for you to try, which many of you will think is Goulash, but it is in fact Pörköltt. ‘Guylas leves’, translated to ‘Goulash’, is in fact a soup – Hungarians generally have a soup before every meal and Gulyas leves used to be eaten on the Plains by herdsman, made in huge tureens, much like the cowboys in America.

Take a look at my Facebook page – Nanna’s Kitchen, Combe Martin. You will see menus and opening hours and will be able to buy sachets of the herbs and spices needed to make this dish and others, in the right quantity and using Hungarian Paprika and Hungarian Marjoram. ENJOY!

Ildi McIndoe.

‘Pörköltt’ – Paprika Casserole.

(Serves four).


500 grams diced pork, from loin of pork.

1 tablespoon oil – sunflower, rapeseed, or vegetable.

1 large onion.

1 clove garlic.

1 tin chopped tomatoes.

1 large tablespoon of sweet Hungarian Paprika.

1 heaped teaspoon of Marjoram.

Salt and pepper.


Small pot of sour cream

Finely chopped fresh parsley

A few thinly chopped sweet and sour gherkins.

Serve with chosen pasta shapes.


Finely dice onion and clove of garlic (or,for a better sauce, use a food processor or mini chopper to finely chop).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan ; add the onion and garlic and fry very gently, taking care not to overcook. It should stay translucent.

Keep it at a low heat for about ten minutes. When the onion and garlic have soaked up all the oil and are soft and golden, add the pork pieces and brown on all sides.

Add the Hungarian Paprika and Marjoram and just coat all the pork quickly. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir well to combine all the ingredients. Bring to the boil, add salt and pepper to taste.

Leave to simmer gently with a lid on for about thirty minutes. Take off the lid and test a piece of pork to see if the meat is cooked. If not, put the lid on and leave for another 10 minutes. Be patient, do not rush this point. You need the pork to fall apart when gently pressed.

If the sauce is too watery then remove the lid and cook gently until the sauce thickens to a coating sauce, as this will be served with pasta.

Serve with pasta that has a little bite, so that it still wants to soak up the sauce. Add the Pörköltt on top of the pasta and for a final authentic flourish add a tablespoon of sour cream on top and a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley.


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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery – March.

Felicity’s Sustainable Fish through the seasons.

It would be useful to consider which fish are sustainable – and why?

Here is a short list of fish available in North Devon – gurnard, dab, herring, mackerel,hake, sardines/pilchards, trout. Shellfish – cockles, mussels, & oysters. Squid and octopus. Crabs and lobsters in the summer.

These are sustainable because they are landed locally and their stocks are plentiful. How the fish is caught is important ; fish caught on hand lines and in pots is most sustainable, as they have the lowest impact on the seabed environment.

The main principles when buying and eating fish is to choose locally-caught seasonal seafood. If you have to buy in a supermarket, try to use the store that sells the most certified MSC fish – see the labels on the fish. However, it best supports the local economy if you can endeavour to buy from local stalls and suppliers. This keeps the money circulating locally. For more information and recipes visit www.brilliantfishonline.co.uk

Here is the recipe for March. Gurnard is available all year, but needs to be well-filleted because of its small pin bones. It has a good flavour and is quite firm. Its pinky red skin looks good with this sauce.

Red Gurnard with celery and walnuts

Serves 4


4 red gurnard fillets

3 celery sticks thinly sliced

2 apples chopped into small chunks

4 spring onions, chopped

25g/1oz butter

275ml/10fl oz single cream

1 tbsp French flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 tbsp chopped walnuts for decoration


Preheat oven to 230C, Gas mark 8.Butter an ovenproof dish. Place in it gurnard fillets, sprinkle with celery, apple and spring onions.

Pour over single cream, cover with foil and put into oven.

Cook for 10 mins, uncover and cook for further 5 mins.

Decorate with parsley and walnuts.

Serve with broccoli and mashed potatoes sprinkled with parsley.


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One hundred years ago : March 1915.

The government have announced increased separation allowances for soldier’s families from the first of March: 12/6d for wives, 5/- for the first child, 3/6d for the second and 2/-for any subsequent children. These allowances will finish at the end of the war and will make a big difference to many local families where the breadwinner is away fighting for his country.

The first batch of wounded soldiers has been received at “Commons” Auxiliary hospital. Provision has been made for 36 patients in total. The house is situated at the left hand side of Atlantic Way and opposite Lakenham House. It was formerly the residence of the late Colonel Wilson Hoare, Commander of the Royal North Devon Hussars.

It is reported that after much negotiations Messrs Kynocks Ltd, ammunition manufacturers, intend to establish a works for the extraction from wood of acetone or cordite in its lowest state. The site is just beyond the allotments at East–the–Water and will be connected by railway sidings to the L&SW Railway and also to Barlett Bayliss timber yard who will supply the wood required.

The Licence of the Blacksmiths Arms, East–the-Water, has been transferred to the adjoining premises. The tenant is Mr Beer. Structural alterations to the New Inn have been approved and the tenant is Mr R G Court. Police sergeant Doidge said the police had no objections and the magistrates approved the changes.

Above is George Boyle’s advert this month which states the “There should be a sewing machine in every home”.


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‘Nightstop Devon’ – volunteers required.

Local charities tackle North Devon youth homelessness.

Volunteers needed to help young people at risk of homelessness

Can you help prevent homelessness?

Encompass South West, a local poverty and homelessness prevention charity, has joined forces with Community Housing Aid have expanded their ‘Nightstop Devon’ project into North Devon.

‘Nightstop Devon’ was established in 2001 and provides emergency accommodation to young people aged 16-25 who have nowhere safe to stay. Volunteer ‘hosts’ offer this emergency accommodation one night at a time to young people who find themselves homeless. Hosts have a spare room for the young person to stay in, and provide an evening meal, breakfast and a listening ear for their guest.

All volunteers receive expenses of £15 per night, full training and vetting and a member of staff is always on call.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering as a host or as a driver please contact Nightstop Devon on 01392 274853, visit www.communityha.org.uk or tweet @Nightstopdevon.

Kaye Corfe, Project Worker, said: “Nightstop is a fantastic project for young people facing homelessness and there is a real need for it in North Devon. A lot of our clients who take to sleeping rough or sofa surfing are vulnerable and may be putting themselves in real danger.

If they have somewhere safe and warm to sleep, even for one night, it can make such a difference. It shows them that society does care and that there are people willing to help them if they ask for it.”



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Felicity’s sustainable fish cookery – February.

Felicity’s Sustainable Recipes for 2015.

2015 is going to be an interesting year for sustainable food . We are planning a Fish Summer School to be run in and around the active fishing village of Appledore. We are running cookery sessions with local primary schools and preschool groups. This recipe is from the “Fish is the Dish – Fish Feed our future”, suitable for primary school aged children and their families. More family recipes on www.fishisthedish.co.uk

Kedgeree with Smoked Pollack or Mackerel (serves 4).

300/400g Smoked Pollack /2 fillets Smoked Mackerel.

25g/1tbsp butter/sunflower or groundnut oil.

I onion.

2 green cardamom pods

1tsp. tumeric and cumin, or 1 dessert spoon curry powder.

350g basmati rice.

500/600 stock.

At least 2 hardboiled eggs.

50gm spinach leaves if you like.

How to cook -

1.Preheat the oven 200C/Gas 6, or use centre shelf of the Rayburn/Aga.

2. Wrap the Pollack in foil and add crushed cardamom pod. Cook in oven for 8/10 minutes –check the fish will flake easily then it is done or remove skin from Mackerel and flake.

3. Hard boil the eggs.

4. Peel and finely slice the onion and fry in the butter/oil for 3 minutes in a large frying pan, then add the spices including the cardamom pods.

5. Add the rice and stock and boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes then take off the heat.

6. Stir in the flaked Pollock or Mackerel (add spinach, if liked) and cook for 5-10 minutes.

7. Taste and season and add the quartered hardboiled eggs.

8. Serve with fresh parsley or coriander garnish, if liked.


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