Charlie Laycock (1879-1943) was an interesting Moretonhampstead character. His family came from Yorkshire but his parents moved to Newton Abbot. Charlie was educated at Merton College, Oxford, and was a great collector of folk music and folk-lore, and also a skilful musician and folk singer himself. He collected musical instruments, especially keyboard stringed instruments, such as the harpsichord, spinet and clavichord, on which he used to entertain his wide circle of friends. He also collected articles used in old farmhouses such as farm kitchen and dairy equipment, and contributed to scholarly journals on a wide range of topics. He lived at Mearsdon Manor in Cross Street from 1910 until his death in 1943, and enlarged the house considerably at the back to accommodate his collections, which were given to the Torquay Museum on his death. They are now displayed in a purpose-built gallery in the museum, which shows the interior of the type of Dartmoor farmhouse which was becoming history when he started collecting. He is buried in St Andrews churchyard (grave MG05).
1943, Obituary of Charlie Laycock, Trans Devon. Assoc. 75, 19-20
Charles Hey Laycock, B.A., was born in 1879, and was the only son of William Laycock, J.P., of Wolborough Hill, Newton Abbot. He was educated at Newton College, and Merton College, Oxford.
He joined the Devonshire Association in 1905, and became one of the best-known members, partly as a student and expositor of the county dialect and folk-lore, and partly for his social qualities. He contributed papers to the Transactions on folk-music, wasps, and local wit and humour, and edited the Reports on Verbal Provincialisms from 1929 and that on Folklore from 1938, till his death. He joined the Council in 1909.
Mr Laycock was widely known for his skill in music, and at his house at Moretonhampstead made a fine collection of keyboard stringed instruments. It was a delight to hear him play the harpsichord, spinet and clavichord, and to sing the old tunes he knew so well. In this house was a collection of articles used in farmhouses of the old times, which he had made during many years with great discrimination and knowledge; he had given many such things to the Torquay Natural History Society, which exhibits them in the museum.
He was one of the few people of these times who have seen a will-o-the-wisp; his experience is recounted in Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. He was a botanist, a philatelist, a raconteur of a high order, a gardener, a musician, and a most delightful companion. He was unmarried, and died suddenly, regretted by all his many friends, on 28th March 1943. The Association has been considerably benefited under the terms of his will.