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Parish Councils have their origins in Saxon and Norman times. Villages were ruled by the Lord of the Manor, and sometimes the villagers all met to make decisions which affected the whole community. Parish Priests, and later Schoolmasters, took on roles of leadership and by 1601 Church Vestry Meetings were given the responsibility of levying the poor rate. These were the first effective local taxes.

Over the last two centuries there have been 25 Acts of Parliament which conferred, either directly or indirectly, various powers on Parish Councils, including Gladstone's 1894 Local Government Act which created Parish Councils as the lowest tier of local government administration where the population was 300+ (villages below this number formed Parish Meetings). The records mainly consist of minutes, accounts and correspondence concerning local issues.

October 20th 1984: South Molton Gazette

"Parish Council matters are still very quite, but it is said that the Overseers will shortly call a meeting of electors to discuss the provisions of the Act, and to take the necessary steps in view of the forthcoming election".

November 10th 1884: South Molton Gazette

A lecture was given on Monday Night in the National Schoolroom by Mr Perry, of Exeter, on the subject of "Parish and District Councils". The Vicar, the Rev J.P. Benson was in the chair. The lecturer hoped that the election would not be fought on political or religious grounds, but rather that the best men would be chosen. To save the elector's the expense he hoped the villagers would be able to decide on Councillors without going to poll. The several items of the Act were duly explained. after the lecture an informal meeting of Witheridge ratepayers was held, to hear a proposal from Dr McArthur relating to the election of Parish Councillors. This was that a representative committee be formed for the purpose of choosing the men most suited to serve on the council, but the general feeling was that this would have to wait for another time, as no prior notice had been given. It was eventually agreed that a meeting should take place on Wednesday next.

December 8th 1894: South Molton Gazette

At the Witheridge Parish Meeting, from an electoral register of 205 persons, about half of this number were present, and there was a list of 19 nominees. On a show of hands the results were:-

Elworthy R - 68
Selley G.H - 63
Clotworthy Jno - 61
Leach John - 58
Gunn Chas - 48
Besley Hy - 47
Lee Wm - 45
Selley Jno - 42
Parish Chas - 40
Tidball Thos - 39

The probable date of the poll is the 18th inst, and there will be two polling stations.

PARISH COUNCIL FEBRUARY 1910: It was unanimously agreed to accept the tender of Mr Tucker at £8 15s for Street Lighting. Considering the recent fire that had taken place in the village, it was thought desirable that the exact lighting of the several water hydrants should be known, and on the proposition of Mr Gunn, seconded by Mr Churchill, it was resolved that Mr Gardner, Surveyor, be asked to point this out, with a view to having marks place on the nearest building as to their position, and the distance there from. It was thought advisable by some of the members present that some steps should be taken to procure a Fire Engine for this locality, and after a long discussion Mr Carter proposed and Mr Rogers seconded that the several Insurance Companies interested in this neighbourhood should be approached with a view to their granting a sum of money towards the expense. This was unanimously agreed to.

PARISH COUNCIL SEPTEMBER 1907: The report of the committee respecting the cleansing of the streets after Market Days was considered and also a discussion as to meeting the cost, and also whether a charge for cattle driven in should be made. This it was thought would be detrimental to the Market and the cost of collecting would leave very little for other expenses. Mr Trawin proposed that tenders be invited for cleansing and disinfecting the streets after the markets in April, June, September and November.

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PARISH COUNCIL DECEMBER 1901: Applications for allotment yardage had been received from Messrs Holcombe, Dinner, Cheney, Crook, Bennett, Leach, Greenslade, Gard, Tolley, Bulled, Carter, Leach. On the proposition of Mr Gunn, seconded by Mr Huxtable, it was unanimously decided that Lime Close should be rented for the purpose of allotments. (Lime Close is now the Parish Hall field)

April 15th 1931: Lighting - The Parish Clerk read a letter from the Exe Valley Electricity Company re the proposed electric lighting of Witheridge. The Company were prepared to make a reduction, provided the street lights were switched off at 11pm instead of midnight. The following reduction was suggested; 20 watt standards, 2s 6d, 60 watt 3s 11d, 100 watt 6s 2d. There were 16 lights in the town, which have hitherto been extinguished at 10pm. Mr Churchill considered the Company's scheme too expensive and thought that five years time they would probably have a Government supply which would be cheaper.

April 4th 1935: Application was received for the alteration of the name "Cannington Villas", as at present applied to the Witheridge council houses. It was agreed they be renamed "Merryside Villas".


1894-1897 Rev P M Benson
1897-1899 Dr E S Pollock
1899-1913 J Clotworthy
1913-1919 W Carter
1919-1926 G H Pullen
1926-1934 G H Selley
1934-1946 E Hutchings
1946-1948 B Cox
1948-1952 J Woollacott
1952-1955 W S Selley
1955-1958 Rev J A S Castlehow
1958-1963 S Stoneman
1963-1966 J M Adams
1966-1970 A J Knight
1970-1971 S Stoneman
1971-1972 Rev A Jones
1972-1982 W Stoddard
1982-1987 F Venner
1987-1993 P Miles
1993-2000 R Alleyne
2000-2002 F J Woollacott
2002- E Martin

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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