Issue 9

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Postcards from Devon


Devon is looking strangely green for the time of year. Usually, in August, the red soil and the gold of ripening harvests predominate but because of the heavy rainfall at the start of the season, lush trees and hedges add greatly to the natural beauty all around. After the stillness of the countryside during last year's foot-and-mouth crisis, it's great to see such a huge influx of visitors - the best summer for Devon's holiday industry for many seasons.


It's great too, to leave the crowds behind sometimes and visit the lonely places of Devon. We took this photo of Sheepstor while picnicking on Dartmoor the other day - a tiny hamlet which long ago had associations for all of the various Stentiford and Stuttaford families. Not that our ancestors would have recognised this view. Their church is still there and to the left of it, the ancient vicarage, enlarged over the years to form the present house but the background is dominated now by Burrator Reservoir - Plymouth's water supply - which today covers over 150 acres of moor land. The flooding of the valleys to create the reservoir destroyed many farms, together with the old stone cottages belonging to them  where our ancestors would have lived. Part of our family history lies beneath this water. 

Still a remote place, Sheepstor was even more isolated in days gone by. The Rev. Sabine Gould, the Devonshire historian, wrote in 1912 of his astonishment at meeting a man in the village who could remember the arrival of the first horse-drawn cart ever to be seen there. Right through to the latter part of the 19th century, when the reservoir was constructed, this place was accessed only on foot or by strings of pack horses - and then, only in good weather. Eventually, the old pack horse tracks were covered with tarmac and widened just enough to allow a single vehicle through.

It's wonderful to see so many visitors in the County but, thank goodness, these tiny roads (where reverse gear is man's best friend) seem to fill them with terror, leaving the locals free to enjoy these beautiful and quiet corners. 

Keep in touch.

Richard and Muriel 


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Service Records

Postcards from Devon


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