Unforgotten Exmoor

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Unforgotten Exmoor: Volume Four

Image of book cover. Unforgotten Exmoor. Words and pictures from a vanished era. Volume Four. Oral Histories from Gerald Down, Tony Richards, Marion Graham and Lilian Moffat. Author David Ramsay. Tan-coloured book cover with a photo of a crowded scene near sheep dipping pens.

Words and Pictures from a vanished era

In this the fourth volume of Unforgotten Exmoor, four more venerable characters, all Exmoor born-and-bred, share their life stories and photographs.

Gerald Down was born in 1938. His grandfather was the stone-cracker on the roads in Brendon parish and sexton at the church where he had dug the graves and rang the bells. He also spent considerable time on the common digging turf (peat) for the family fire and Gerald remembers being sent as a boy with hot cocoa in a bottle with a sock round it to keep it warm and beetroot sandwiches for his grandfather’s lunch. Gerald’s father was the groom at Oare Manor and he had taught the owner to ride again after he’d lost both legs in the war. Gerald’s first job on leaving school was as a full-time rabbit trapper where he spent up to ten days on each farm on the trapping circuit and sent the rabbits to Dulverton station hung in special hampers to catch the ‘the rabbit express for the London markets. Gerald then became stockman and describes life on a number of extremely remote hill farms in the very centre of exmoor.

Tony Richards’ family had farmed the coastal strip of Exmoor for generations and he gives a detailed description of early farming customs and techniques including the annual sheep-shearing parties where everyone descended on each farm in succession, shearing all day, and then drinking and feasting late into the night and of how of fleeces were stored in rooms within the farmhouse itself until the following year when it was hoped they would fetch a higher price. He tells how weather forecasts were made before the days of regular reports on the wireless and tells how the common was used to supply almost every need including rushes, bracken ( or ‘fern’) and peat for the fires. At an early age he became church warden to Culbone church, so remote that even today it is only accessible on footpaths through the woods, and he gives a series descriptions of early characters and customs associated with the tiny church - the “smallest complete parish church in the country.”

Marion Graham was born in the Rockford pub which her grandparents had owned since 1919. She recalls her grandparents’ descriptions of gangs of labourers coming from their tented camps at Blackpits where they were building the Brendon road over the common, and of the arrival of electricity at the pub which was generated from a home-made water-wheel. She describes the last of the horse drawn stagecoaches which regularly stopped at the pub on the way to the Lorna Doone valley, and how her father had later moved with the times and fitted a petrol pump outside the pub as private motor cars became ever more popular. She married George Graham whose family were descended from one of the original Scottish shepherds who had come to Exmoor by ship at the end of the 1800s. They had brought with them their dogs and their flock of sheep which were driven out to Larkbarrow, perhaps the most remote farm on Exmoor, where the family started their new life. Marion’s chapter includes original photographs and extracts from letters from her husband’s side of the family describing life at Larkbarrow during this early part of Exmoor’s history.

Lilian Moffat was born during the first world war at the house of the midwife in West Porlock and grew up at Birchanger farm where her grandfather would carry thirteen children up to bed at once, clinging onto each except the baby whose nappy he gripped between his teeth. She describes the huge fireplace in which the family sat and the fire that never went out, and how a separate fire was lit actually inside the bread oven itself once a week and used for a series of different things over the following twenty four hours as the heat within slowly ebbed away. She delivered milk in panniers on a pony to the houses of West Porlock, measuring it out into people’s jugs, and she describes some of the characters living there including the family of fern-gatherers who collected ferns to be sent for the window displays of the London fishmongers. She also describes a series of activities undertaken by her whole family, including the gathering of oak bark from the trees on the steep coastal strip to be used in the Porlock tannery.

Capturing the past

Oral history is a kind of safety net, preserving details that would otherwise drop from view. The fourth volume of David Ramsay’s ‘Unforgotten Exmoor’, an anthology of the recollections of local residents supplemented by photographs from their family albums, is a perfect example of the genre: Ramsay, a tactful editor, inserts the odd helpful footnote when a reference needs glossing, but otherwise allows his subjects to speak for themselves, and their memories to open doors into a world that would otherwise have long faded into the mists.

> Read full review

Unforgotten Exmoor

If I were to tell you that here four Exmoor people reminisce about their early years, families and lives, and that this is the third volume in a series, you might be forgiven for feeling less than inspired.

You could not be more wrong. The stories told cover a wonderfully wide spread, touching on just about every aspect of Exmoor.

> Read full review

Volume Four - Compare Prices or Buy
  • Albert of Ash
  • Allen, Doreen
  • Allen, Henry (theatre manager)
    • Ethel
  • Antel, Abe
    • Gert
  • Atkins, Farrier
  • Austin, Mr (farmer)
  • Bale, John
  • Beesley, Frederick
    • Jose
    • Marion
    • Mary
  • Blathwayts
  • Bradley, Mr
  • Brian Richard’s Band
  • Burge, Alfred
    • Jack
    • Philip
  • Burgess (bakers)
  • Burgess, Philip (leather worker)
  • Butler, Denzel (band)
  • Canning, Barbara
  • Carey, Ned (stagecoach driver)
  • Chamberlain, (Brendon Barton)
  • Christmas, Carol (American GI)
  • Clare, Rev William (Culbone)
  • Clockmaker, Roger (clockmaker)
  • Colridige
  • Cook, Alfie
    • Granny
    • Lizzy
    • Mrs
    • Nath
    • Tom
  • Cooke, Herbert
  • Down, Carol
    • Gilbert
    • June
    • Mandy
    • Richard
  • Dunn, Adam (Shepherd)
    • William (Shepherd)
  • Elworthy, Grace (teacher, Countisbury)
  • Fisher, widow, Lorna Doone
  • Floyd, John
    • great Nan
  • Fortescue
  • Francis, Jessie (music hall actress)
  • French, Ada
    • Albert
    • Bert
    • Bob
    • Robert Henry
  • Friel, Anna (actress)

  • Graham, Donald Edward
    • George
    • John George
    • Margaret
    • Marion
    • Thomas (scottish shepherd)
  • Gregory, George
  • Halliday, Miss
  • Hancock, Sid (malter)
    • Tom
  • Harding, Bill
  • Harrington, Lady
  • Hastings, Rev Frederick
  • Head, Dr (Rockford Doctor)
  • Heinemann, Arthur
  • Hill, Keith (farm labourer)
  • Hitler, Adolf, guy
  • Hobbs, Eileen
  • Horrobin, James (blacksmith)
  • Howe, Grace
  • Hunt, Bill
    • Fred (post office worker)
  • Huntley (headmaster)
  • Jackson, colonel
  • Jeffries, Judge
  • Jones, Dick
  • Kilgor, Jack
  • King of the Forest
  • Knight, Frederick (owner of Exmoor)
  • Lafuente, Sante
  • Land, Jim
  • Lang, George
    • Georgina
  • Lethaby, John
  • Lock, Bill
    • Victor (Cranscombe farm)
  • Lovelace, countess
  • Luxton, Miss (teacher)
  • Lyle (Oare House)
  • Lytton, Lord

  • Madge, Graham
  • Manleys (shop, Porlock Weir)
  • May, nurse
  • McCormack Catherine (actress)
  • Merry Makers (band)
  • Moffat, Alan
    • Jean
    • Margaret
    • Marion
    • Rennie (Jim)
    • Susan
  • Moggeridge, Jack (blacksmith)
  • Molland, Farmer
  • Moore, Mardy (butcher)
  • Paine, Dr
  • Palmer, Archie
  • Parmenter, Charley (tractor driver)
  • Percival, Mr (head gardener)
  • Perkins, Clifford (butcher)
  • Pile, Blanche (Hallslake farm)
    • Farmer David
    • John
  • Pocock (Parsonage)
  • Powell, Rev Richard, Brendon
  • Pristcott, Bill
    • Tom
    • Rose
  • Ratty (film character)
  • Rawle, Mr
    • Philip
  • Red, Irving
  • Richards, Ada
    • Anne
    • Dick
    • Dudley
    • Ernest
    • George
    • Georgina
    • Helen
    • Herbert
    • Ilott
    • Jane
    • Joan
    • John
    • Lorna
    • Mary
    • Red
    • Robert
    • Sarah
    • Tom
    • Tony
    • William
  • Ridd, Helen
    • John
    • Reggie
  • Ridler
  • Roe, Rev Thomas, Brendon
  • Rook, Tom
  • Sage, John (labourer)
  • Sainsbury
  • Stacey, Isaac (labourer)
  • Stenner, Sidney (harbour master)
  • Stenners (bakers)

  • Tattersall, Jean (Brendon teacher)
  • Taylor, Parson (Culbone)
  • Thomas, chaplain (Culbone)
  • Thorne, George
  • Tucker, George
  • Vowles, Alfred (photographer)
  • Voysey, Charles (architect)
  • Wade, Nathaniel (rebel commander)
  • Warner, Miss (director)
  • Webber, Jenny
  • Westcott, Bob
    • Ernest
    • Ethel
    • Farmer Tom
    • Fred
    • Robert
    • Win
  • White, Louis (steamroller driver)
  • Williamson, Henry (writer)
  • Woolacott, Jack
  • Allerford
  • American troops
  • angling
  • anti-gas work
  • apples
  • arsonist
  • artillery training
  • Ash (farm)
  • Ashley Combe
  • Ashton (farm)
  • Avoidupois weight (maths topic)
  • back kitchen
  • badger digging
  • badger hams
  • Badgerworthy cottage
  • bagpipe playing shepherds
  • bailiff's account
  • barley
  • Barter (maths topic)
  • bedding down animals
  • beer, home brewed
  • bees
  • beeswax candles
  • beetroot sandwiches
  • Beggar's Knap
  • bell ringer
  • bells, on sheep
  • bill hook
  • Birchanger (farm)
  • Black Pitts
  • Blackmoor Gate Hotel
  • blackouts
  • bladder covers
  • Blue Ball Inn
  • bootmakers
  • bottling of fruit
  • bracken, see fern
  • brandise
  • bread
  • Brendon, Barton
    • church
    • common
    • reading room
  • road
  • school
    • Two Gates
  • Bristol Channel
  • Broomstreet (farm)
  • brushwood
  • butt, three wheeled
  • butter
  • call-up
  • carol singers
  • Carpenters
  • Castle Hotel, Porlock
  • chaff cutter
  • Challacombe
  • Chapel Knapp
  • charabancs
  • chauffeur
  • Cheriton (farm)
  • Cheriton Otter Hounds
  • children, put to bed
  • church warden
  • cider
  • cigarette cards
  • coachman
  • commoners rights, bracken
    • grazing
    • rushes
    • turf
  • cooking
  • coopers
  • Coppleham Cross
  • corn drill
  • Cornham (farm)
  • Countisbury hill
  • Countisbury school
  • County Gate
  • Cranscombe (farm)
  • cream
  • Culbone, church
    • congregation
    • country club
    • locking of
    • parsonage
    • stables
    • walking to/from
  • Devon and Somerset Badger club
  • ditches
  • dolls
  • Doone valley
  • Doone huts
  • dramatics, amateur
  • drawer, used as a cradle
  • drays (sledges)
  • dresser
  • Dulverton post office
  • East Lyn river
  • Eastcott (farm)
  • electricity
  • engine house
  • estray
  • evacuee
  • Exford
  • Exmoor Forest hotel
  • Exmoor Horn sheep
  • Exmoor museum
  • faggots
  • Fare and Fret (maths topic)
  • Farley Water (farm)
  • feathers, drying off
  • Fern Cottage, West Porlock
  • fern gathering
  • ferret
  • fire hooks
  • first world war
  • fish, potting
  • flagstone floor
  • flat irons
  • fly fishing
  • flockmasters
  • Foreland Point
  • four drive shearing clipper

  • Gallon House Inn
  • gating the road
  • geese
  • gin traps
  • Glenthorne
  • goats
  • grave digger
  • gypsies
  • hailstones
  • half ‘crease
  • Halifax bomber
  • hammer, trapping
  • hams, salted
  • harbour master
  • hares
  • harvest
  • hearse
  • heat, not wasted
  • hedgehogs, baked
  • hedges
  • herrings, salted
  • hip bath
  • hives
  • Hoar Oak (cottage)
  • honey, heather
  • horse engine
  • hot water used over again
  • hurdles
  • husbands buried together
  • hutted camps
  • Ilkerton (farm)
  • ink freezing
  • Jack Russell terriers
  • jug and bottle bar
  • junket
  • Kittock
  • lambing
  • lamping
  • Land Girls (film)
  • Larkbarrow (farm)
  • lath nails
  • laver (seaweed)
  • lay preacher
  • long gun
  • long nets
  • loo, outside
  • Luccot (farm)
  • Lynbank
  • Lynmouth
  • Lynton

  • Malmsmead
  • malt house
  • mangle
  • mangolds
  • mantrap
  • mattress, feather
  • meat, potted
  • Methodism
  • milk round
  • mill
  • Minehead
  • mineral water
  • mist
  • Monmouth Rebellion
  • moss
  • motor garage
  • murrain
  • muscovy ducks
  • mutton fat
  • myxomatosis
  • Nash View
  • Nook, the
  • oak bark
  • Oaklands sawmills
  • Oare church
    • dances
  • orchard
  • organ
  • otter hounds
  • ox ringing church bells
  • panniers on a pony
  • parchment
  • Parsonage (farm)
  • paunch (to gut)
  • peat, see turf
  • Peep Out
  • petrol pump, hand cranked
  • Pitt (farm)
  • pixie
  • plane crash
  • plough, turnover
  • plucking
  • poaching
  • pony and trap
  • Porlock, hill
    • tannery
    • vale
  • Porlock Weir Harbour
  • potatoe clamps
  • potting fish
  • preserving meat
  • primus stove
  • quarry
  • rabbit, baked
    • trapper
  • radar tracking station
  • Raeburn
  • rag rugging
  • ram pump
  • ranching on Exmoor
  • rap of wood
  • reaper, horse drawn
  • Rebate or Discount (maths topic)
  • reredos
  • rhubarb (growing at Shepherd’s Cott)
  • ribbons
  • rice pudding
  • ring worm
  • road mender
  • rocket firing practice
  • Rockford Inn, burning turfs
    • camouflage paint
    • collecting beer
    • electricity
    • opening hours
    • telephone
  • Rockford Lodge
  • Royal Oak
  • running water
  • rushes, for mattresses
    • for lighting
    • for seating
    • in plaster
    • in thatching
    • moisture absorbing
    • on floors
  • rye
  • saddle
  • sandwiches, beetroot
  • saw mills
  • Scottish shepherds
  • scythe
  • sea fog
  • Selworthy church
  • sexton
  • sheaf
  • shearing parties
  • sheep, clipping machines
    • dipping
    • Exmoor Horn
    • herding
    • lambing
    • subsidies
    • taking a lamb off
  • shepherd
  • Shepherd’s Cott
  • shooting
  • Simonsbath
  • Simonsbath Barton (farm)
  • Simonsbath road
  • Slocomslade (farm)
  • smock-coat
  • snuff
  • Sparkhayes (farm)
  • spars
  • spotted dick
  • spring clean
  • St Dubricius church, Porlock
  • stagecoach
  • Staghunters (pub)
  • stocks (for punishment)
  • stone cracker
  • stove, oil
  • straw, bed
    • pallaises
    • rope
  • suet pudding
  • swine

  • tailors
  • tanning process
  • teaching, home
  • teeth, gripping baby's nappy
  • telephone
  • television
  • terrier
  • The Anchor (pub)
  • The Ship (pub)
  • thrashing machine
  • ticks
  • tilling traps
  • tilly lamp
  • time, being brought back
  • Tippacott (farm)
  • toll road
  • traffic on A39
  • trapping circuit
  • treacle tart
  • trout, tickling
  • turf, burrows
    • house
    • pit
    • quantities required
    • rick
    • spade
    • store
  • twists (hinges)
  • tyres, rolling down a hill
  • undertaker
  • VE night
  • vegetables
  • verges
  • walking stick
  • War Ag
  • wash day
  • water wheel
  • Watersmeet
  • weather forecasts
  • Wellshead (farm)
  • West Porlock House
  • West Porlock lock-up
  • Westcott (farm)
  • whist drive
  • whooping cough
  • Whortleberries
  • Williton (farm)
  • windfalls
  • wooden legs
  • wool, branding
    • buying neighbours'
    • markers
    • rats in
    • value
  • Woolacombe
  • Wooton Courtney
  • Worthy
  • Worthy toll road
  • wounded troops
  • Yearnor (farm)
  • Yearnor crossroads
  • Yenworthy (farm)

Compare Price / Buy

  • Volume One - Compare Prices or Buy
  • Volume Two - Compare Prices or Buy
  • Volume Three - Compare Prices or Buy

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