100 Years Ago


As the centenary approaches we are going to see and hear a lot about the 1914-1918 war whichled to a terrible loss of life and changed major nation states for ever. But just how did those years affect our rural parish here in Devon ?

We have uncovered our own window into the past. From our archives we have opened the monthly Parish Magazine of St. Andrew’s Kenn written by the Rector throughout those years. We shall publish regular extracts to see what was happening here in Kenn a hundred years ago as reported by the Reverend Frank Vining.

We begin with extracts from the year before.

Summer 1914 St.Andrew’s Church Kenn

All across Europe the nations moved nearer to the
Great War which killed so many and brought about huge
changes in the countries involved. Here in Kenn the
Rector Rev. Frank Vining was still writing about Waifs
and Strays, Baptisms, Burials and Weddings and the
Disestablishment of the Church in Wales.
But in August 1914 the war arrived and his writings changed
dramatically. Read what he says.

The War. War, and the necessary accompaniments of
war, is a dreadful and horrible thing, but in a sin-stricken
world it is inevitable. |The present conflict has been
none of our causing but it has been thrust upon us. We
are engaged in a great effort to check the designs of a
Power that would, if it could, bring us into subjection. A
free people struggling to remain free has every right to
defend itself...The protection of Belgium is a matter to
which England is pledged. England’s honour is engaged.
If Belgium and France should be defeated it would soon
be our turn to defend ourselves and to fight for our very
existence...May God save the King, the nation and the

Material Help. A public meeting will be held in the
...Schoolroom |Kennford on Wednesday 12th
at 7.0 to appoint a Committee to collect Funds... for the benefit
of wives and families of... Regulars, Reservists and
Territorials and of the sick and wounded...We may not
be able to do so much as larger and wealthier places
 but...we shall gladly do what we can.


Winter 1913-1914

Life in our Devon villages seemed blissfully tranquil as the world moved remorselessly towards a war for the first time in history waged on a massive, industrialised scale .

 From the Rector of St. Andrew’s Kenn Rev. Frank Vining writing in the Parish magazine Price 1d                 

 Confirmation.The most important event which we are all looking forward to… is the Confirmation … We hope,then, to welcome our old friend the Bishop of Crediton, who is coming to administer the Sacrament.

 The School Children were entertained at Trehill, to Tea on October 22nd October by the kindness of Mrs. Ley…After various games…nuts and sweets were scrambled for, and every child received some little gift.

 St.Andrew’s Day…it was a great joy to see so many shewing by their presence in church that they remembered St. Andrew. This reminds me that this St.Andrew’s Day was my 20th among you all as Rector and I can heartily say “Thank God for all His goodness and loving kindness.”

 Dressmaking Class At the time of the Cooking Classes a wish was expressed that we might have some Dress Making Classes. That wish, we hope, is going to be fulfilled this year under the auspices of the County Education Committee…Preference will be given to those over 16 . Students provide their own materials.

 Rifle Club The winner of the Donegal Badge this year was Frank Holland with a score of 194 points out of a possible 200.

 Cricket Club.A whist Drive followed by a Dance, was held in support of the funds.… A most pleasant eveningwas enjoyed by nearly 100 and resulted…in £4 19s 0d for the cause.

 Parish Room.  I wonder when shall be able to build a Parish Room large enough to take us all in. I have often wanted to have a Parish Gathering and Parish Tea, but alas there is no building nearly large enough to take us all in.

 The New Year.The recent Christmas Season has been a wonderful time, and the New Year has been ushered in by the Bells from many a church tower… while the snow has been crunching beneath our feet. And the young lambs have been born in the healthy frots, as it ever always ought to be.

 Scouts.  The Kenn Valley Troop is doing a lot of good among the boys and lads.

 The Future There is never much good in expressing regret for the past unless sit leads us to do better for the future. So let us enter this New Year gladly and with great hope..Let us look cheerfully forward. Nature will move through her … round without a hint that Politics matter, or that the fuss of men is of any great moment…

 A Motto   The following is a good Motto for us all to remember   and try to practice throughout the New Year: “ Keep your temper, it is worth more to you than to anyone else “

 We will publish more from St. Andrew’s Parish Magazine following events in Kenn as Britain entered the Great War.   Ian Goodrick

Extracts from St Andrew’s Parish  Magazine  Autumn 1913

The Rector knew his Pippins

Apples The best mode of preserving Apples for spring use, I have found to be putting them in sand….I dry the sand in the heat of the summer, and late in October put down the apples in layers….the sand keeps the apples from the air, which is essential to their preservation. My Pippins in May and June are as fresh as when first picked… and look as if just separated from the twig.

Women Divine Women

An Eulogy. I copy the following from an entry written in one of the old Accounts books of the Payments by the Overseers of our Parish in 1797. An orator holding forth in favour of women “ Women-divine Woman!  Oh!my hearers depend upon it  nothing beats a good wife.” I beg your pardon.” Replied one of the auditors  “ a bad Husband does.”

No such thing as a harvest Festival

Thanksgiving  To give thanks gives pleasure both to the Giver and the Receiver. But…strictly speaking there is really no such thing as a Harvest “Festival ”of the church.

Do a good turn every day

Boy Scouts I am pleased to know that a troop of Boy Scouts has been started in the parish…It is a good movement and has wonderfully “caught on”. ..  To help boys not to loaf about and to learn some useful and intelligent work must be a good thing. To do a good turn to somebody every day” is the living rule of the Scouts…

African Tidings

Foreign Missions This is also another very important event in the life of our parish. On that day our Prayers and Alms will be asked for the work of God’s Church in Central Africa…Fourteen of our children have been taking copies of “African Tidings” and so helping the work of the Mission.  Nothing stimulates a true interest in Foreign Missions…than reading about them…..  I also wish that someone who is interested in Foreign  |Missions would very kindly undertake to act as Parochial Secretary for the Mission.

July 1913

God Parents The custom of having God Parents at the Baptism of a child is a very ancient one. The primitive custom of the Church required only one sponsor. There is also a Rule by which parents were forbidden to act as God-parents to their own children; but this rule was modified…

The reason why parents were forbidden is because they are already responsible in the highest degree, as Christian parents for their children…the reason for having some one else to act as God-parent is to insure that in the case of the death of the parents there shall be someone who will be able to see that the child is brought to Confirmation. Do we always consider this when we bring our children to Holy Baptism ?

Presentment  Modern Church goers may not be aware that Churchwardens still have the right to present (ie report) those parishioners whose conduct, either moral or spiritual, does not meet with their approval.

Unrest and wars in the Balkans were an ominous prelude to the First World War. Meanwhile here in Kenn the Rector Frank Vining was pointing out other matters to his. parishioners.

Church Attendance  What has come over the women of our parish? I have recently remarked…with very real regret that the Women’s side of our Church is so painfully empty both in the morning and evening on Sundays. It was not always like this.

Mrs. Jeremiah Strong of Pennycombe The passing away...of our old friend and neighbour has aroused the truest sympathy and regret of all in Kenn. For nearly half a century Mr.and Mrs Strong have lived amongst us and during the whole of this time they have won the esteem and highest respect of all their friends and neighbours.

Cricket   The season for this truly English game is fast drawing to an end. But before it comes to a close I must acknowledge…the excellent way in which the Trehill Cricket Club has tried to maintain interest in the game. Thanks are due to Mr. Ley for giving the ground. Many matches have been fought but not always won. This is owing to a want of experience and training but all the same the game has given pleasure to many. We only wish many more would have tried and stuck to it.

Harvest   I know that the season has been an especially trying one for many around us, at the same time   “It is a good thing to sing the praises unto our God, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.”

June 1913

Nursing Association  It is with great pleasure that the Committee is able to record the fact that the good work continues to make satisfactory progress and the services of a well trained nurse are being thoroughly appreciated…..Nurse Cligg had proved herself a most devoted and capable nurse. Her hours on duty… both during the day and night were never stinted. She paid 1,657 nursing visits, and 348 casual visits.

A Safe  A new Fireproof Safe has been most kindly presented to the Church by Miss Short.

The Welsh Church  A letter… has been written by the Archbishops and Bishops appealing to the country…to realize…what damage the proposed Disestablishment Bill may do.

Rifle Club The result of various matches…will be of interest to many of our readers.

We have a window into rural life in Kenn a hundred years ago through the monthly writings of the Rector. We are able to follow as the World and our community entered the Great War.  ICG editor

Autumn 1914 St Andrew’s Church Kenn

The Great War had started. Suddenly the Rector is writing in the Parish Magazine with appeals, reminders and comments to local folk urging them to support our soldiers and sailors. The Home Front was beginning.

The War The tide of war continues to ebb and flow...The ignorance in some places as to what the war is about, and even where it is being fought is surprising...But now it has become a war of self preservation....we must see it through to a finish, and to a successful finish. Defeat now by Germany would mean black ruin, and possibly a state of slavery for England for years to come.

The Cry for Help. Side by side with the Patriotic Fund isthe Red Cross Society. In addition to the ordinary hospitals provided by the Government there many auxiliary Hospitals and Nursing Services. Our parishioner Mrs.Du.Buisson has...given up her time...to act as General Manager and Secretary to one, if not two, of these supplementary hospitals in Exeter.

A List of Honour No heart in our country can fail to be touched by the bravery of our men who are serving in the front...It is right,then, that we should have a List of those who are serving us placed upon the walls of our old Parish Church.A Reminder When you hear the church bell ring out ... in the midday it is to remember to pray for our Soldiers and Sailors. Whatever you may be doing...let it be a reminder to you to stop for one moment...and say some words as these:-

“ O God, Guard and bless our Sailors and Soldiers, and give us victory and peace. Amen.


It is Spring running through to early summer. Early hopes of a quick victory were crumbling as the Germans gained the upper hand both in Europe and on the high seas where the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a U boat in breach of international rules.

Here in Kenn, the Rector Frank Vining continues his commentary on how we are responding to The War.

 “St.George for Merry England.” In the last week of April England kept St.George’s Day..St.George is the Patron Saint of our country. Did he choose England …or did England open her arms to him? St.George was the representative of the true and perfect soldier....a gallant soldier and an earnest Christian. St.George beckons all his sons and daughters.

Waifs and Strays. According to our usual custom the Alms on Whitsun Day will be given to the support of this most excellent society.

Its object is to go to rescue the little ones who are suffering from want, neglect and even actual cruelty. The result of our collections in Church came to £6 0s 4 3/4d and the contents of 26 Collecting Boxes …came to

£6 16s 8d…a total of £12  17s  03/4d.

National Egg Collection for the Wounded   In the end of April an appeal was received asking for the weekly collection of eggs in the parish. The response was immediate and in the last five weeks we have collected 600 eggs. Each week the eggs are sent …in Exeter…for distribution among the Hospitals, of which there are 5 with a total of 560 beds.

What Britain stands for.

We are standing with many others in this War for what is right. Our sons and husbands have gone forth with many other sons of our Empire,.to fight for The Right. And we must do our best to help them…but there are still many who might come but don’t come. “Your country wants you”to help and encourage those who have gone forth to fight…We cannot go with them but we can do the best we can to put them in God’s keeping.

Published by Ian Goodrick Hon.Secretary to the PCC.

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St.Andrew's on the Home Front Autumn 1915 (click on link to read)




The winter of 1916/1917 was a very cold one. After the disastrous and deadly Battle of the Somme the soldiers dug in for the coming winter. The troops on the frontline died in the depths of misery. Now the abundant shell holes were full of freezing mud and when when they fell in the soldiers drowned in the mire.


Here in Kenn the Rector Frank Vining  encouraged his parishioners top do their best to support the war effort not knowing the real price being paid on the front line. Here are some snippets from St.Andrew’s Parish Magazine.


Summer Time Before this reaches you the clocks will be put back an hour, and the usual Greenwich time will be resumed….we shall all have one hour extra in bed on Sunday morning…


Everyone has been immensely pleased with the results…There were some protests from farmers,and even those who protested very soon got accustomed to the change.


Egg Collection In August 275 eggs were given…and in September 220… Up to date 5 ,982 eggs have been sent from the Parish of Kenn to the Exeter Headquarters of the V.A.O.


Roll of Honour I am…now making out a fresh list both of those who are serving in the War and who are connected with our Parish, and those who have served and now rest.


TheWar The War has been, and is, like a dark cloud hanging over us,but it is a cloud with a silver lining: morally it has has strengthened the fibre of our nation in such a way that nothing else could.We must have fire to separate the dross from the gold…All who are worthy of the name of Christian men are taking their stand for God boldly and bravely..


A Shrine In order that we may be reminded of all…who are fighting with the King’s Forces I am about to put up in Kennford … a “ War Shrine.” The design was given me by Mr. Herbert Read, and the work has been carried out in the workshops of Mssrs Page Bros.


The little shelf at the bottom is meant to hold a few vases with flowers and it would be kind and loving … if some of the elder children would arrange to bring flowers…and put them there and remove the old and decayed ones.


The Magazine One word in conclusion about our self. I should be so glad if Subscribers would very kindly pay me what they owe. And if …just a little more towards paying for the extra cost I should say - “Thank you very much.”


War Rations  Will the individual sense of honour really reduce our usual consumption of bread, meat, or sugar?


Some people will try to conform, and will “carry on “ just as before and laugh at their neighbours. And we don’t want to wait for compulsion and visits from Inspectors…


St.George for England  His day will soon be here, Monday 23rd April, and again the question will be asked “Why do not the English people keep the Festival of their Patron Saint in the same real way that the Irish people do the Festival of St.Patrick?