Tuesday, 19 September 2017

November 8th in St Paul's. Ian Graham-Jones on John Marsh


November 8th meet

The next meet of Starcross History will be on Wednesday, 8th November at 7:30pm in St Paul’s Church. No membership fee and admission is free. We have to pay for the room, so we charge £1 for tea/coffee and £1 a strip for raffle tickets. Please bring a raffle prize.
Ian Graham-Jones has kindly agreed to present an illustrated talk about John Marsh’s visits to Starcross and Dawlish. John Marsh (1752 -1828) was perhaps the most prolific English composer of his time - over 350 works. He had varied interests; from bellringing and religion to astronomy and geometry. His 37 journals are valuable sources of information on life and music in 18th -19th century England. They remained unpublished until 1998. (wiki)
Here's the full wikitext:
John Marsh (31 May 1752 – 31 October 1828) was an English gentleman, composer, diarist and writer born in Dorking, England.[1] A lawyer by training, he is known to have written at least 350 compositions, including at least 39 symphonies. While today known primarily for his music, he also had strong interest in other fields, including astronomy and philosophy, and wrote books about astronomy, music, religion, and geometry.

Life and career

Marsh lived in Dorking, Gosport, Romsey, Salisbury and Canterbury before settling in Chichester in 1787 until his death in 1828. As a concert organizer, he was responsible for the music making in the towns and cities where he worked, especially in Chichester, where he led the subscription concerts for some 35 years.
Marsh was perhaps the most prolific English composer of his time. His own catalog of compositions records over 350 works, of which he lists 39 symphonies. Of these, only the nine that Marsh had printed are extant, together with three one-movement finales.
Marsh was a man of varied interests, and his 37 volumes of journals are among the most valuable sources of information on life and music in 18th-century England. They represent one of the most important musical and social documents of the period. It remained unpublished until the first volume was published in 1998. In one passage, Marsh describes the great Handel Commemoration of 1784 in London.
Marsh's son was poet and cleric Edward Garrard Marsh.

Extant works

  • The Salisbury Symphonies
    • Symphony No. 8 [9] in G Major (1778)
    I. Allegro
    II. Andante
    III. Allegro
    • A Conversation Symphony for Two Orchestras [No. 10] in E-flat Major (1778)
    I. Allegro maestoso
    II. Andante
    III. Allegretto
    • Symphony No. 2 [12] in B-flat Major (1780)
    I. Allegro
    II. Largo 8 in a bar
    III. Allegro spirituoso
    • Symphony No. 1 [13] in B-flat Major (1781)
    I. Allegro
    II. Andante
    III. Chasse: Allegro
  • The Canterbury Symphonies
    • Symphony No. 5 [16] in E-flat Major (1783)
    I. Largo staccatto
    II. Allegro moderato
    III. Minuetto; Allegro spirituoso
    • Symphony No. 3 [17] in D Major (1784)
    I. Allegro
    II. Andante
    III. Presto
  • The Chichester Symphonies
    • Symphony No. 4 [19] in F Major (1788)
    I. Allegro
    II. Larghetto
    III. Minuetto
    IV. Allegro
    • Symphony No. 7 [24] in E-flat Major (La Chasse) (1790)
    I. Andante (The hunter’s call in the morning)
    II. Allegretto (Setting out from home; the fox discovered)
    III. Allegro (Chasse)
    • Symphony No. 6 [27] in D Major (1796)
    I. Largo maestoso; Allegro spiritoso
    II. Andante
    III. Minuetto: Allegro
    IV. Allegro scherzando
  • The Finales
    • Finale No. 3 in E-flat Major (1799)
    Andante; Allegro
    • Finale No. 1 in D Major (1800)
    • Finale No. 2 in B-flat Major (1801)
    Maestoso; Trio


  1. Brandon, Peter (2006). Sussex. London: Robert Hale. p. 224. ISBN 0-7090-6998-7.


  • The John Marsh Journals—The Life and Times of a Gentleman Composer (1752–1828) Edited, introduced and annotated by Brian Robins. Pendragon Press, Stuyvesant, NJ, 1998. ISBN 0-945193-94-7. A second volume, covering the period from June 1802 to Marsh's death on October 31, 1828, was published by Pendragon Press in July 2013. ISBN 978-1576471630.
  • "The John Marsh Journals: The Life and Times of a Gentleman Composer (1752-1828)." Music & Letters, Nov. 1999.
  • Temperley, Nicholas, "Marsh of Chichester: Gentleman, Composer, Musician, Writer 1752-1828” (review), Music and Letters - Volume 86, Number 4, 2005, at p. 633.
  • Marsh of Chichester: Gentleman, Composer, Musician, Writer 1752-1828. Ed. by Paul Foster. pp. 158. Otter Memorial Papers, 19. University College Chichester, Chichester, England, 2004. ISBN 0-948765-34-8.
  • John Marsh--Symphonies, Edited by Ian Graham-Jones
  • The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians (2000)

External links

There are 2 c.d's of John Marsh's symphonies:One of the c.d.'s is Chandos 10458(64 minutes,2008).It contains 5 of his symphonies: Number 2(LaChasse-1780),Number 6(1796),Number 7(LaChasse-1790),Number 8(1778)and Conversation Symphony for 2 Orchestras(1778).It's played by the London Mozart and conducted by Matthias Bamert.The other c.d.is by The Chichester Concert conducted by Ian-Graham Jones(64 minutes,1989).It also contains 5 symphonies(Number 1,3,4,6 and A Conversation Symphony for 2 Orchestras.It was given a favorable review in Gramophone Magazine in 1989.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Music by John Marsh

Starcross History is to have a presentation, on 8th November, from Ian Graham-Jones, about the composer and diarist John Marsh. (1752 - 1828)  John Marsh visited Devon, including Dawlish and Starcross.

Here is a selection of John Marsh music: 

John Marsh - Symphony No.7 in E-flat major "La Chasse" (1790)



John Marsh - Conversation Symphony for 2 Orchestras in E-flat major (1778)

John Marsh - Symphony No.6 in D-major (1796)


John Marsh - Symphony No. 4 in F major


John Marsh (1752-1828): Voluntary No. 1 in C Major (Ménestérol)

John Marsh (1752-1828): Voluntary No. 15 in G Major (Ménestérol)



Photograph of the Royal Western Counties Hospital with a topiary swan

What a great photo.
  • Is that a swan hedge in the background?
  • Does anyone know anything about this photo please? 
  • Who did that topiary? 
  • What year was this taken? 
  • Who took this photo?

 Topiary in Starcross
Starcross once had some more topiary - there was a row of conical Yew trees along The Strand. see bottom right picture on this postcard

Greetings from Starcross. potcard. 5 views

and here's another view of them; with people in Victorian clothing.

and here's 3 Francis Frith postcards which also show the Yew trees along The Strand

and here's one of the row of conical yew trees by the Starcross siding

Kenton Past & Present meet this Wednesday

Hugh Meller will address Kenton Past and Present Society this Wednesday 20th September in the Victory Hall.
subject -  The  Country Houses of Devon
Non-members welcome
Admission £4
Hugh has written many books about  architectural history. They include The  Country Houses of Devon published by Black Dog in 2015 -  Two hardback volumes (each 303 x 213mm) complete with a slip-case. 1,204 pages in total.
ISBN 9780952434146
These books won the WG Hoskins Prize
Hugh pictured at the launch of his books, with Devon Gardens Trust Vice President Carolyn Keep.

Hugh Meller speaking at Devon History Society AGM after receiving the W G Hoskins prize for his books The Country Houses of Devon.

Poster advertising the meet with covers of the 2 books

link to The Country Houses of Devon by Hugh Meller on The Black Dog Press
This... publication describes more than 400 of Devon’s most notable country houses in lively detail. Their owners & architectural history, their estates, ancillary buildings & gardens are all included. Over 1,000 old and new photographs, drawings, maps and sketch-plans, many published for the first time, illustrate the text.
The author spent 26 years working for the National Trust in Devon, responsible for its historic buildings, and 15 years researching the houses in these two volumes. Significantly, it is the first time that the county’s more obscure country houses, as well as the better-known ones, have been comprehensively recorded.

Image of Paul Holden's review of the books The Country Houses of Devon
Paul Holden's Review of The Country Houses of Devon
link to Paul Holden's review of Country Houses in Devon

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Starcross Unearthed - The Villages in Action Show

What are the stories that make Starcross such a unique place? Who are the characters that have lived over the centuries in the village? Playwright Lucy Bell, actors Charlie Coldfield and Kirsty Cox, sculptor Peter Margerum, digital artist Kate Green plus folk musician Jim Causley have woven local stories into a fascinating evening of song, drama, interactive art, sound and archive images

The performance is on Friday, 15th September at 7pm (doors open at 6pm ) in St Paul's Church, Starcross.
Tickets from Westbank Charity Shop, or from Alison
£7 adults
£4 under 18s
£18 per family
There will be a bar and a raffle

Friday, 18 August 2017

Exmouth from Starcross before the railway

This is a reproduction of an 1850 print from the Illustrated London News. It shows 2 sailed fishing boats and 2 rowed boats on the foreshore at Starcross.  Another 2-masted sailboat lies at anchor on the Exmouth side. A few white-sailed sailing dinghies are dotted around the Exe estuary.

Friday, 26 May 2017

FREE Lectures at Powderham

Lectures at Powderham

 There is no charge to attend these lectures at Powderham Castle

Powderham Castle (Daniel Maudlin 2016)

Fri 26 May, 1pm          

 'Design and the Future of Heritage Apps',
James Brocklehurst, Programme Leader, Graphic Communication,
University of Plymouth

Mon 29 May, 1pm             

'Conserving the Robert Adam Interiors at Saltram House',
Louise Ayres, House and Collections Manager,
Saltram House, Devon (National Trust)

Tues 30 May, 1pm          

'Built Heritage as Virtual Reality',
Rob Giles, Team Leader, Faculty of Business Information Technology,
University of Plymouth

Wed 31 May, 


 'The American Interior in the Eighteenth Century',
 Laura C. Keim, Penn Design, University of Pennsylvania


 'Place-Making for the Imagination: Horace Walpole and the Landscape of Strawberry Hill', Dr Marion Harney, University of Bath

Thurs 1 June, 6pm              

  Histories of the Unexpected Live:
'The Material World of Powderham: a castle, a horn, a bookcase and a chair',
James Daybell and Sam Willis, Histories of the Unexpected

Mon 5 June,


  'US Approaches to Cultural Landscapes and Conservation Planning'
   Prof Randall F. Mason, Chair in Historic Preservation, University of Pennsylvania


  'The Restoration of the Belvedere at Powderham'
   Philip Hughes, Philip Hughes Associates Building Conservation

Tues 6 June, 1pm                               

 'Heritage and Historic Buildings',
Richard Hewlings, Senior Properties Historian, Historic England (retired)

Wed 7 June, 1pm              

   'The Georgian Country House',
Richard Hewlings

Thurs 8 June, 1pm              

 'Managing a World Heritage Site in the Twenty-First Century',
Deborah Boden,
Director, Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscapes World Heritage Site

Cornerstone Heritage with Plymouth University


Cornerstone at Powderham Castle

The History department at Plymouth is currently engaged on a two-year project at Powderham Castle, Devon, in partnership with the Historic Preservation program at the University of Pennsylvania. The project has several strands including community projects, field studies - commencing in June 2017 - to investigate the historic fabric and material culture of the castle and surrounding landscape, cataloguing the castle library; producing a database of archived documents relating to the castle and Courtenay family (held in the castle and at local and national archives), and,the development of new  heritage interpretation content and platforms (including digital media).

Powderham Castle and the Courtenays are part of Devon's long history, our  project focuses on the later eighteenth century and the transformation of the castle into a Georgian country house. Both our research activities and outcomes are intended to enrich the understanding of the castle and Powderham estate for the benefit of the local community with local groups, schools and the international members of the Courtenay Society involved.
Archival work is already underway and the first field study is scheduled for June 2017 when a group of staff and students from Plymouth and UPenn will be working at Powderham.
For more information contact Daniel Maudlin or James Daybell.
programme of Cornerstone Lectures at Powderham

Saturday, 20 May 2017

HarMONICA and mouthorgan workshops

Starcross History took part in the Thankyou for the Music event today in St Paul's Church. The display of photographs and information about Starcross included a file of recently Unearthed material.

Musical workshops Monica presented were an invitation to play the glass harmonica
wineglasses filled to different levels with water

and to make&play the Comb&paper Mouthorgan

Quite a few of the grown-ups could play one. Maybe, with a bit of practice, we could have a Starcross Comb Band??

The event continues tomorrow with a Pet Service at 2:30pm followed by Cream Teas

Sunday, 14 May 2017

A Potted History of the Violet...

Violet posy
Violets used to be cultivated in Starcross. The leaves of the flower known as Butterburr were used to make posies, which were boxed and put on the trains to Covent Garden Market. All that remains of the violet industry in Starcross is the almond-scented Butterburr; abundant in the Starcross hedgebanks.
Butterburr is also known as Coltsfoot. During World War 2, the leaves were dried and smoked as a tobacco substitute. Was Butterburr more or less likely to cause cancer than tobacco? 

Starcross Butterburr hedgebank Petasites fragrans

Devon Violet Nursery at Ottery St Mary is one of the few nurseries in the country who specialise [today] in growing sweet violets. [They] also have many other gifts for sale such as hand-made Devon Violet Soaps, Bath Bombs/Salts, Violet Perfume, Essential Oils, Candles, Incense, Napkins, Glassware, Pots and associated dried grasses.

 A Potted History of the Violet...  
The Viola Odorata was one of the first flowering plants to be grown commercially. It was noted that they were for sale in Athens 400BC being grown in specialist Nurseries in Attica. Throughout the centuries Violets have been a favourite flower, either for their perfume which scented the rooms and floors or their medicinal qualities which are still being researched today (eg. Viola Yedoensis).Most perfumes of Violets today are synthetic of course but the perfume evokes such nostalgic memories for so many people. Dawlish in Devon was the most important centre for the cultivation of Violets in 1916 and a special train ran from Cornwall to London carrying all the flowers on their way to Covent Garden Market every day. By 1936 there was a flourishing trade from this area and flowers were sent regularly to the Queen and ladies at the Court. During the war years the land was requisitioned for the growing of food,and Violets went out of fashion, sadly never to return. Until now. A lot of the old varieties have been lost, but [the Devon Violet Nursery is] are slowly bringing back as many as [they] can into [their] catalogue every year, so [they] are doubly proud of [their] efforts to reintroduce this nostalgic little flower back into our gardens and preserve a little of our English History at the same time.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Starcross Cattle Market

Here's the Starcross Cattle Market on a Bernard Chapman postcard
This was in the days of the Starcross abattoir, which was next to the Spar Shop. The buildings were used for many years as the village youth club - "The Peacock Cookson Centre" , sponsored by the Peacock Cookson family. The buildings were sold, and the monies used towards the youth facilities in the new Starcross Pavilion.

The Peacock Cookson Centre has recently been converted into a bungalow.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

More Starcross Stories Unearthed

No admission charge. No membership. Everyone interested in Starcross history is invited. We have a raffle to cover expenses, so please bring a raffle prize

This meeting will continue to look at the stories unearthed by the Villages in Action project to unearth the history of 8 Devon villages. The Starcross research material has been given to the Villages in Action Artists, who are hard at work creating a Villages in Action happening... What will it be? What will a playwright, an actor, a visual artist and a singer-songwriter create?
A fantastic amount of material has been unearthed - but the enthusiasm to discover even more Starcross Stories won't end with this project. Villages in Action will put everything on a special website, but what else can we do? 
Could we publish ebooks aimed at the Key Stages of the National Curriculum? Should we aim for a hard copy of a book? 
Unlike an ordinary village, Starcross's history has universal appeal. We have evidence of Romans using the river. There were Roundhead v Cavalier battles fought on our shores. The remarkable Swan Boat is still within living memory, and its Victorian designer was the redoubtable Victorian; Captain George Peacock. Also within living memory is the Royal Western Counties Hospital, with its wonderful innovations for the education of idiots. Then there's the scenic Great Western railway line; still dubbed God's Wonderful Railway. And we can't forget  Brunel's Atmospheric Caper
 The online British Newspaper Archive and the Devon Heritage Centre in Sowton continue to yield more tales to augment the knowledge from some of Starcross's more senior residents, and caches of documents and photographs from places which include: Starcross School,   St Paul's Church and the village pubs.

information sought about The Wills family

The Wills family bike repair shop in Well Street

Jack Wills; bike repairer

Pennyfarthing Cottage Bike repair shop in 1900s. Note the Pennyfarthing in the hedge

Well St Starcross in 1900s

I have visited Starcross today and enjoyed wandering around the village that was once the home of my paternal grandmother who was born around 1878.

Her name was Bessie Wills and, as far as I recall, she had two sisters and two brothers - Em(Emily I am guessing), Nance, Jack and Frank.  Her brother Jack was born with what we would now call polio and for a living he repaired bicycles - hence the penny farthing which always stood at right angles to the cottage which now bears that name. (At that time the gardens for the three cottages extended to the right (where the newer house now stands) with three adjacent lavatories with wooden bench time seats at the end of the garden.

I was interested to see the bicycle still on display outside the cottage.  An adopted daughter (although possibly not formally adopted) , Floss, looked after Jack in his later years and moved to New Road after he died - in the 1950s.

Her brother Frank worked at the asylum cutting hair, I believe - he married and had a daughter Betty who was born around 1923.  The two sisters moved to Cardiff and Chepstow where they had families and my grandmother moved to Paignton where she married Alfred Gibson and had three children, one of whom died in infancy.

I wonder whether you have any more information about the Wills family - I believe her father may have worked at Mamhead House.  She used to talk of Sunday evening walks after church to see the boys in Kenton and was very affected by once seeing a black man who had drowned and was washed up at Starcross.

I had hoped to find a Wills grave in the churchyard as I am guessing many of her family would have been buried there, although they would not have had a great deal of money and therefore there may be no headstone. 

If you have any information about any of the family I would be very interested and appreciative to hear from you

Many thanks

Janet Reed (formerly Gibson)