Battle's Over

This year marks 100 years since the 1918 Armistice, and the Parish Council joined the Battle's Over event to pay tribute to those who were killed or wounded on the battlefield and on the home front. The council worked with numerous local groups and volunteers to facilitate a Remembrance Day Procession from the Victory Hall to St Andrew's Church for the Remembrance Service.

In the afternoon, an exhibition and cafe were set up in the Victory Hall to raise money for a new heating system for the hall, which was built to commemorate The Great War. The event raised £500, and the council is so grateful to everyone who helped with this event including the Local History Group.

Cosdon Beacon was lit at 7pm on Sunday 11th November as part of the Battle's Over commemorative event. A local trumpeter played The Last Post from 6.55pm before the beacon was lit. We were very pleased to be able to stream the event so that those at home could enjoy it too. It can be found on Facebook or viewed below. The Last Post can be heard from 1.50.


Lighting the Beacon

Queen's 90th Birthday 2016

Cosdon Beacon was lit at 8.30pm on Thursday 21st April as part of the Queen's 90th Birthday festivities.

Below is a historical summary of the lighting of Cosdon Beacon, compiled by the South Tawton Local History Group. For information about the Group's activities please contact Nick Atkinson ( ) or Hugh Norman (

Cosdon Beacon Fires – a historical summary

Cosdon hill is one of eight locations on Dartmoor historically named ‘Beacon’ where signal fires were once lit and where more latterly celebration bonfires have marked important occasions. Although doubtless not the first, it is very probable that a beacon was lit on Cosdon to warn of the advancing Spanish Armada in 1588, and fires have been intermittently ignited for various reasons ever since, the most recent being to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II on June 4th 2012.

Whilst records are scant (see below) we are fortunate to have very detailed accounts of two beacon bonfires, those marking the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, and the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. The Parish Magazine of June 1911 reports ‘a noble pile’, built in a day and a half with over 26 loads of fuel, and crowned with the top of a fir tree surmounted by a Union Jack. The occasion was marred by appalling weather, and more than 200 people who had assembled on the hill at 10pm soon became drenched to the skin. The signal rocket five minutes ahead of the lighting of the fire could not be seen ‘so thick was the weather’, and apart from occasional glimpses of a neighbouring fire on Watchet Hill, Belstone, no other fire could be seen across the County. The King’s health was drunk (no mention of the Queen) and at about 11pm the spectators, being too cold and wet to stay, set off homewards. Some made the descent directly despite it being impossible to light all but a few of the torches that had been set out to mark the path. Others ‘led by men well used to the moor’ found themselves in Taw Marsh and Cheriton Coombe and only reached home many hours later. Those that struggled down in time joined a large number of village folk who were attending a Dance in the Schoolroom which continued merrily until 4 o’clock in the morning.

Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Fire is recorded in Emmie Varwell’s ‘Throwleigh – the Story of a Dartmoor Village’ wherein can be found the 22 verse dialect poem of George Endacott of Ffroggy Mill. This too recounts an epic tale of a colosil vire, many a cup of gin, guards to stop zum mischevious swine lite it up before twiz time, a burnd ladder, a buteful rocket, a lost dog and a fall in a bog, and a vuz vire to lite us hom lit after us sarched er peckets en vound a mach. The poem concludes with a verse which we might echo tonight :

“Now may our good Queen’s life be made

To last out another decade,

Then err honours shall be higher,

And us will try to make a beter vire”

Intriguingly Emmie Varwell mentions whispers of a further ‘final verse’ which was never printed. It was thought to contain sad reflection on a ‘curtain lecture’ (a private reprimand given by a wife to her husband) said to have followed the merry evening and subsequently discreetly suppressed!

More prosaically, to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee on June 4th 2012 some 100 people from the Parish and around walked to the hill top where at 10pm a fire was lit, coordinated with a replica beacon fire ignited in South Zeal Recreation Ground. The weather was cloudy but dry, fireworks were set off, and across Devon some 20 or more similar celebratory beacons could be seen in the view. Then, as on April 21st 2016, Cosdon’s Beacon was lit by Bryan Woolland. Sixty years earlier Bryan’s grandfather, Sam Kelly, had organised the Coronation beacon fire on Ramsley Common and pleasingly the family tradition lives on!

Beating The Bounds

The Beating of the Bounds is an ancient custom still observed by some parishes, including South Tawton, and dates back to before the Norman Conquest. When maps were rare, it was useful to walk around the parish and note the parish boundary. In South Tawton, the Beating of the Bounds is held every 7 years and it is a great opportunity for the community to gather together and walk the boundary. The 2015 Beating the Bounds was held on Sunday 6th September and had a turnout of over 200. We are extremely grateful to all those who volunteered to make it such a wonderful day. The next Beating the Bounds will be held in 2022 and we are looking forward to it already!

Street Parties

In recent years, street parties have been held in 2016 to mark the Queen's 90th Birthday and to mark the Royal Wedding of William and Catherine.