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Gerald Down

Gerald was born at Slocomslade, one of the hill farms above Brendon. His grandfather was the parish road mender; his father the groom at Oare Manor. He attended Brendon school, and his first job on leaving was as full-time rabbit trapper traveling from farm to farm on the trapping circuit with Bert French. He was then a farm labourer at Tippacott before becoming stockman at Simonsbath Barton and then Wellshead, two farms on the Fortescue estate in the centre of Exmoor. Currently working for the Lyles at Oare, Gerald married Eileen Hobbs and had four children, Carol, Richard, Janet and Mandy. His passion has always been the choosing, preparing and showing of prize Exmoor Horn sheep.

Black and white photo of an Exmoor stockman holding a chicken.

Gerald Down's chapter includes the following topics and many more:

  • father going to war and then becoming groom at Oare Manor
  • teaching colonel Jackson who’d lost both his legs to ride again
  • picking whortleberries and selling them at Watersmeet and county gate
  • cutting turf (peat) on the common
  • taking cocoa up to the common with a sock on the bottle to keep it warm
  • beetroot sandwiches
  • turf fires in the council houses in Brendon
  • rabbit trapping - ferreting, poaching, netting and lamping
  • working as stockman at Simonsbath Barton
  • sheep bells on Exmoor, dances and the local bands
  • the Exmoor Forest hotel
  • five shillings in Dick Jones’ will -
  • Sante Lafuente cutting turf and Abe Antel the Hoar Oak shepherd
  • cast as Ratty in the film ‘The Land Girls’
  • working at Wellshead
  • dogs and driving

Page sample from Gerald Down's Chapter

Volume Four - Compare Prices or Buy

Photo samples from Gerald Down's Chapter

  • Black and white photo circa late 1930s of groom to Oare Manor on horseback with his daughter.
  • Black and white photo of a gin trap with its chain and peg and a trapping hammer which was used in the setting of the traps.  Widely used used on Exmoor farms to trap rabbits until banned in the 1950s.
  • Black and white photo circa late 1930s of Exmoor farmer on a pony riding along a rough track.
  • Black and white photo circa late 1950s of prize winning Exmoor Horn ram.
  • Black and white photo of a home-made turf- or peat-cutting spade owned and used by Sante Lafuente on Exmoor.  The ‘pit-turf’ spade was used for cutting down vertically into the peat beds (as opposed to a ‘skin-turf’ spade which was used horizontally along the surface).

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  • Volume Three - Compare Prices or Buy

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