By: Blonde One

I’m after a bit of help with this blog post …

Apparently approximately 100 years ago a group was formed in Tavistock called the Gilders and Colts. This group of men would meet every Sunday to have a walk on Dartmoor, returning to the pub by 12 noon. This group had a motto ‘we are seven’, a coat of arms, an HQ and a cabinet of men who held positions of responsibility. Ceremonies were observered, fees and fines were paid, and community actions, both financial and otherwise, were performed.

What I’m wondering is: is this group still in existence? Internet searches have proved fruitless and I have not managed to find one scrap of evidence to suggest they ever existed. Yet the source of this information is as reliable as I can imagine. You might remember I recommended a book that was bought for me for Christmas: My Dartmoor by Clive Gunnell. Well, Clive Gunnell was very proud to have been invited to join the Gilders and Colts of Tavistock and describes their routines in enough detail for me to trust what he is saying.

He describes one section of a walk like this:

“an altercation breaks out between the Navigation Officer and the Wine Steward concerning the route and speed of progress, which point is settled by the Wine Steward removing his Stetson and beating the Navigation Officer around the ears with it”

A section of the end of walk tradition is described:

“at 13.00 the pasties, all home baked and carried out to the Inn are handed around – to be caught eating before this time would incur another fine. A great deal of the financial success of the Gilders can be attributed to these fines for in a spirit of low cunning the reasons for being fined are never explained until after payment. Undemocratic I agree, but the Treasurer thinks it a splendid system.”

I would love to know if this merry group of altruistic men still exist … can you help?