I keep getting
information about the Airfield that won't fit into any of the other headings
I have created! So in time honoured fashion, here is a page for all those
bits and pieces that may not directly relate to Harrowbeer, but are of
I have decided to add a page about books that have a wartime/airmen/airfield
theme in them. These are personal comments/reviews about books I have
read. Stephen Fryer
over Harrowbeer: Some time ago (2006) we had a really nice summer!
I was given a flight over Harrowbeer and was able to get some nice shots
of the airfield from the air.
Paintings found in outbuilding
under the heading of "What ever will we find next!". The
building was used as a billet (No other details yet). These paintings/murals
have been hidden for many many years. Perhaps someone knows who
painted them, and why???
These are on private property and we were given permission to view and
photograph them. They will be covered over again to protect them and
are therefore not available for viewing.
Studying the paintings
shows that the four on the side wall may be in a different 'hand'
to the two on the end wall. The musical stave visible in picture
4 plays a definite tune. Apparently this is taken from the last
movement of the Piano Trio in G Major Opus 82 by Josef Haydn and
is nicknamed 'The Gypsy Rondo'. My thanks to Andrew Wilson, B.Mus
for working that out. There are no murals on any of the other walls.
Squadrons and Airfields
all used Operation Record Books, also known as the form 540. These recorded
day to day operations of the squadron or airfield. Many have been stored in
the Public Record Office at Kew and can be read via micro-film. We have been
looking at some of them and fascinating reading they are too! We may at some
stage add some bits and pieces from them on this website. As a starter, I
found the following in the ORB of 193 Squadron. Those of us who live locally,
(and know that it occasionally rains here) appreciate the sentiment!
mist! Seagulls crawling in under the fence and Hurricanes asking for vectors
to get from hangars to flights"
Mike & Lucy
Hayes at Knightstone Tea Rooms & Restaurant have pains-takingly been
copying out the various ORBs and recreating their original look (as a
Form 540). You can view them by request at Knightstone when visiting the
found during rebuilding work on local house
"Attached is a photograph
of the basement room of a flat we have recently purchased in a house
near the airfield.
The elderly lady who we bought
the flat from told us that her daughter had done some web research on
the numbers and they turned out to relate to US airforce service personel
who seemingly were stationed at RAF Harrowbeer during the war and lived
at the house which at the time was officially a hotel but in use by
Footnote to the
above: "They will have been US Navy or US Army as the US AirForce
was not born until after the war. We know US Navy detachment was on site to
cope with any US Navy ASW or AirSea Rescue aircraft ... so we could legitimately
assume they might be US Navy ... until we know otherwise."
Jan 2008 - we have been unable to
find any further details about the above unfortunately.
became aware that during the war, there had been a 'Decoy Airfield'
laid out on the ground near the Village of Clearbrook. We don't know
who drew the map below, but it seems to be a pretty accurate representation
as some remnants have been found.
details of the decoy airfield click here
Map of Decoy Airfield
a large house alongside the airfield. It was built at the turn of the
century as a family home and taken over during the war by the government.
It was used at first as an Officers Mess and then later in the war,
as the Squadron Office of 276 Air Sea Rescue Squadron. It is currently
used as Nursing Home and has been extended considerably on one side.
I am grateful to Nancy Gordy for the turn-of-the-century pictures and
information about the house's early life.
Ravenscroft was originally
called "Hayesleigh" and Nancy writes:-
"Edwin Piper was
the builder. His brother Frederick Piper also a builder built the house
next to it. There were fairly similar.. When I met a cousin, Major John
Piper, from Yelverton, in 1982, he took me to Haylesleigh/Ravescroft
which was at that time a Holiday House.
John told me at that time that Fred designed his house, and built it
first... then Edwin copied the house..
I do know that my great-grandmother Sarah Payne Piper moved into Hayesleigh
about 1897, but died shortly afterward from cancer. My great- grandfather
Edwin later married the nurse, and at that time built a house in town,
taking the name Hayesleigh with him. I have only seen the outside of
The way I remember it, Hayesleigh became Ravenscroft...
Became a boys school
Became RAF headquarters
Became a Holiday house
Became a Nursing facility
The photo of the two women:
[ see photo
on left is Maud Lethbridge, Edwin Piper's second wife who previously
had been the nurse for Sarah Payne Piper.. The lady on the right
is Clara Piper Howard... She and her husband Will Howard took over
the house when Edwin moved out to the house in town.. Clara is the
sister of my grandmother Jessie Piper Brighouse"
Founded by Henry Frederick
Bailey in 1931 (approx). The school ran until sometime in 1941,
when (presumably) the RAF took it over during the building of the
airfield. Ravenscroft itself, together with three acres of land,
was sold to the Secretary of State for Air on the 13th October 1943,
The house was converted
into flats in the 1950s and eventually became a nursing home in
On leaving Yelverton,
Mr Bailey and his family moved to Bath where he taught at Monkton
Combe Junior School from 1942 to 1944 when he left to take up a
post at Mount House School in Tavistock. When he left there, he
bought a house in the village of Beckington, Somerset and opened
a new school - calling it Ravenscroft - which he ran until 1950.
He kept the same uniform, badge and motto that he had used at the
- then called Hayesleigh - circa 1900.
just visible on the left is Victoria Lodge, now better known as Knightstone
Tea Rooms & Restaurant. The building in the background is (we think)
Hazelcroft. This was demolished to make way for the new road layout
in the area when Harrowbeer was built. The main road today goes through
where the two ladies are standing!
from the rear - circa 1900
on the balcony are Will & Clara's. The photo was given to Nancy
by one of them, Winifred, who told her they were all ill with the measles
at the time
today (Front view)
shows how the road was driven between Ravenscroft and Knightstone (behind
the trees on the left). The front balcony has been replaced at some
stage in the past.
today (Side view)
with the second view above! The Conservatory is gone, lawns under the
car park, and the first of (several) extensions snaking away from the
back. The ornate top to the 'tower' has gone, as have the railings on
the roof and balconies.
after the War, a story started circulating that during the war,
gold bullion was smuggled out of Poland and hidden somewhere in
the grounds of Ravenscroft by 'Senior Officers'. These Officers
were killed in a plane crash shortly afterwards, taking the secret
of the gold's location with them. After the war, the house was pretty
much ripped apart by the owners who had heard the story and were
convinced it was true. As far as anyone knows, no gold has ever
I am a bit of a cynic! The fact that the Officers were mysteriously
(and conveniently!) 'killed shortly afterwards' seems a bit suspicious!
Two thoughts come to mind; either they did bury the gold and then
faked their deaths so they could make off with it, or the story
is a load of tosh!!!!
Dartmoor taken from the balcony of Ravenscroft
This is a
terrific view across Harrowbeer, taken long before it was built. The
current road is roughly where the wall and gate are. The houses then
had long 'drives' that led to the road to Crapstone just visible in
the distance. The houses at Leg O' Mutton are just visble in the right
background. Compare this with the Typhoon picture on the Photographs
I will try
and get a couple of modern views to put here in due course.
Layout - Ravenscroft Area
As per usual
when an interesting photo comes to light, we became intrigued about
how the area around Hayesleigh/Ravenscroft had changed with the
coming of the airfield. Three
large houses were demolished on this side of the airfield because
they would have been in a direct line with the end of the runway.
One can only imagine now, the upheveal that must have taken place
in those houses, when the 'Men from the Ministry' turned up.
drawn the 'new' road layout over the 1906 map so that you can see
the changes. 'Udal Torre', Hazelcroft, and one unamed house were
all demolished here. 'Victoria Lodge' is now 'Knightstone'