Lympstone of old: hens and stray cattle topped council agenda

13:56 25 November 2011




So many people wouldn’t have bothered to have taken this week’s photo, but I’m very glad they did.

The photo was recently given to the Lympstone History Society by Dr & Mrs Laney, taken in the 1960s, showing Meadowgate on the left and the rear of Hares, Church Road on the right. The field presently holds greenhouses and tunnels from The Nursery, whilst along the lane behind Meadowgate, home of the Ware family, is found the cow shed. This building is now demolished, however ghosts of the cow shed can still be found as what appears to be the garden wall is the original building and, looking into the yard from the public lane, the original slate troughs are still in place.

The property is up for sale, so it will be interesting to see the next chaper of this farmhouse. A relative of the Wares was Mr Delahay whose hens in 1955 appeared top of the agenda of the Parish Council meeting in September that year. Discussing the activities of said hens, the council reported they were reputed to be scratching out a hedge near the bottom of Cowd’s Lane after the place has been cleaned up, with the result that the soil displaced may cause flooding of the adjacent footpath.

The next item on the agenda was a stray cow, it having spent the night in a narrow lane. Dr Gordon Flint commented: “It was a frightening thing to me, when I escorted a lady home to be conforted by this monstrous animal blocking the whole way.”

Mr Boud brought the majesty of the law into the matter. The policeman, he said, should be notified. Then he could arrest the cow and find the owner. The council thought it a good idea.

Sometimes, reading these Parish Council reports, I feel I have slipped into a scene from The Vicar of Dibley. To think these were issues worthy of Parish Council time, then reported in The Exmouth Journal , to be re-reported again some 56 years later, when Europe was heading towards the Cold War, is unbelieveably Lympstone.

Granted cattle can be dangerous at times, something which Peter Buckley of Lympstone found out on Boxing Day 1954.

Peter was working at Webber’s Farm, Woodbury, a job he had done for less than a year. He and Percy Sharland took a tractor and trailer containing feed into a field for a bull and some heifers. It was known that the bull, despite his docile reputation did not like tractors and, as the two men moved away from the vehicle, the bull suddenly charged and threw Percy unconscious to the ground.

Peter at once attacked the bull with a two pronged hay-fork before he too was knocked down. Fortunately at this moment Percy made a temporary recovery and managed to distract the attention of the bull giving Peter time to get to his feet.

The bull tried to attack Percy again but Peter held it off with the fork and the two men retreated towards the gate with Peter shielding Percy from the attacking bull until they reached safety. Percy had no recollection afterwards of what had happened, but acknowledged that he would most probably have been killed had Peter not intervened. In August 1955, Earl Fortescue, Lord Lieutenant of Devon, by command of the Queen, handed The Scroll of Her Majesty’s Commendation for Brave Conduct to Peter Nigel Buckley of Lympstone.


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