DEVONSHIRE-NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR CONNECTIONS:
A proposal for a themed excursion to Devon, APRIL 2017
The Devonshire Association (DA), a society founded in 1862 to promote subjects linked to Devon in the science, literature and the arts, is exploring the idea of hosting a two-day symposium in April 2017 in Exeter which would focus on the historic and cultural connections between Devonshire and Newfoundland. The Wessex Society of Newfoundland and others have been invited to participate. A DA steering committee has been up and is currently making plans to develop a program which envisions having presentations on a wide range of subjects including music, history and folklore, and also a half day in which Newfoundlanders & Labradorians could meet Devonians informally to explore family histories and genealogies. There would also be a reception in a historic building, probably St Nicholas’ Priory in Exeter, and a concert of shared music.
The Devonshire Association also plans to seek the interest of the Devon towns historically most involved with fishery, trade and colonization of Newfoundland – Dartmouth, Totnes, Plymouth, Teignmouth, Bideford, Topsham, Newton Abbot – in arranging exhibitions and satellite events, over perhaps a one or two week period. Coach tours could be arranged throughout the county area.
It is hoped that this would be an attractive enough event to tempt visitors from Newfoundland for a themed holiday. At present April 2017 is being considered as a good time, when Devon is already into spring and we are still emerging from winter. Nothing is yet fixed, however, and the Devonshire Association is discussing timing, venues, other participating organisations, probable costs, and sources of funding.
Meanwhile they are asking our views on the proposal. Are we interested? If so, is the timing appropriate?
We will discuss these ideas in more detail later and examine such important issues as costs. It seems possible that a group tour throughout Wessex and the West Country could be feasible which, in addition to the proposed Devonshire Association event in Exeter and South Devon, could include visits to places such as the Salisbury Plains (taking in Stonehenge and Aldershot), the New Forest of Hampshire, Bristol, Poole, Dorset and Somerset with a day or so in London to conclude.
The following is a letter to the Wessex Society received in December 2014 from Robin Wootton, President of the Devonshire Society outlining their proposal.
I am writing to all the people with whom I have already been in contact about a proposed Devonshire Association event exploring historical and cultural links between Devon and Newfoundland. This is an update on progress.
The suggestion originally came from the DA’s Music Section, and preliminary ideas have since been explored by a small informal group comprising Paul Wilson and Marilyn Tucker (musicians, with Newfoundland connections), John Allan (archaeologist, with Newfoundland interests) and myself. Bill Gilbert, who knows Paul, Marilyn and John in both capacities and was visiting them earlier this year, took part in one of our meetings.
The Association’s Executive has now taken on the initiative, and has set up a formal steering group chaired by the Vice Chairman, John Mather, with the same people plus Sadie Green, an authority on North Devon pottery and its transatlantic trade, and Julien Parsons, of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. John himself is a retired Geology professor.
The original idea has grown considerably. We now envisage the event as a longer celebration built around a two day symposium with contributions from experts an a wide range of subjects, history, dialect, folklore, music, artefacts; but also involving a half day in which Newfoundlanders and Devonians could meet more informally to explore family histories, genealogies etc. There would be also be a reception in a historic building, probably St Nicholas’ Priory in Exeter, and a concert of shared music. We hope also to interest the Devon towns historically most involved with fishery, trade and colonization in Newfoundland – Dartmouth, Totnes, Plymouth, Teignmouth, Bideford, Topsham, Newton Abbot – in arranging exhibitions and satellite events, over perhaps a one or two week period. Coach tours could be arranged. The Devonshire Association itself has a historic connection with Newfoundland. We had a Newfoundland Branch in the 1970s and 80s; and it would be nice if the old relationship could be renewed.
We are hoping that this would be an attractive enough event to tempt visitors over from Newfoundland for a themed holiday. At present we are considering April 2017 as a good time, when Devon is already into spring and Newfoundland still emerging from winter. Nothing is yet fixed, however, and we are still discussing timing, venues, other participating organisations, probable costs, and sources of funding.
We should be very glad to have your views on the proposal, and particularly on the timing.
With my very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,