Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the Christmas Tree

A History of the Christmas Tree (Dr Ann Pulsford)

One of the delights of December in Tavistock is the Christmas Tree Festival held in the parish Church of St Eustachius. The lights on the creatively decorated trees from Tavistock’s various community groups and businesses add a magical atmosphere to the church. They seem even more brilliant at dusk recapturing some of the magic and […]

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World War I London bus converted into a mobile pigeon loft for use in Northern France and Belgium

Wartime Avian Heroes (Dr Ann Pulsford)

During the First World War (1914- 1918) homing pigeons, Colomba livia domestica, were often the only reliable means of communication for the troops to send messages back from the Western Front. The pigeons had been co-opted by the War Office, from civilian pigeon fanciers, to form the Army Pigeon Service. The War Department produced information […]

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Dartmoor Ponies near Postbridge

History of Dartmoor Ponies (Dr Ann Pulsford)

The Dartmoor National Park is home to herds of free running ponies, which seem to express the wildness of the landscape. Their presence is a part of the attraction of Dartmoor for tourists, and today there are about one thousand ponies on the moor, although in the 1950s there were about 30,000. It is not […]

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Harpsichord

The Piano: A Brief History (Dr Ann Pulsford)

The acoustic piano is a central instrument in modern classical, jazz, blues and popular music. Although electronic keyboards are now popular, acoustic pianos are still widely used for composition, teaching and performance. Pianos are stringed instruments, but they produce sound as a result of striking the strings, rather than bowing or plucking. When a key […]

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White faced sheep and lambs

History of Dartmoor Sheep (Dr Ann Pulsford)

Sheep feature in many expressions in the English language, such as: feeling a bit sheepish, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, counting sheep, woolly thinking, cast a sheep’s eye, separate the sheep from the goats, a wolf in sheep’s clothing and mutton dressed as lamb. Black sheep were, in the […]

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Stone Dovecote in the garden at Cotehele with single resting ledge for the doves

History of Doves and Dovecotes (Dr Ann Pulsford)

The words pigeon and dove are used interchangeably, but the white domestic pigeon is generally called a dove. The pigeons we see in our gardens are wood pigeons, Columba palumbus, but those in the streets and on buildings of Tavistock are feral Columbia liva, descended from wild blue rock pigeons. Historically,these birds were kept in […]

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Old postcard from Cornwall showing a partly eaten pasty

History of Pasties (Dr Ann Pulsford)

The word ‘pasty’ came into English via old French from the Latin word ‘pasta’ meaning dough. The word pasty has now come to mean meat and vegetables cooked inside an edible pastry case, although before the C18th the dough, made from rye flour, was an inedible casing for cooking and preserving the meat. Today in […]

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