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I volunteered to help with the project before I knew much about it, but I was quickly sucked in. First I learned of Harry Hems and his restoration of church artefacts during the Victorian period. From this, I gathered that RAMM houses many of the items that Hems replaced and that we have little idea which of these items came from which church. Many of these artefacts came from Dartmoor churches and the Moor Stories project is seeking help from visitors and Dartmoor village communities to track down their possible origins. Hems, whilst not making exact replicas, would probably have reproduced a theme or motif from it’s original location.

My task is to scan a large collection of negatives taken by Dr TDV Swinscow that were given to the museum by the photographer’s daughter following his death in 1993. The images are of church interiors and artefacts in situ, from around the country but mostly from the South West. The detail is incredible. I have been completely captivated by the skills and craftsmanship of the artists that created these objects. These are two of my favourite so far:

Roof boss from Widecombe church

Roof boss from Widecombe church

Roof boss from South Pool church

Once all of the negatives have been scanned, Moor Stories will be able to use the images to provide examples that will help the ‘detectives’ in their quest to unlock the mystery that surrounds our Dartmoor churches…