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Old Lympstone: Darling Rock through time

16:37 26 September 2011

Children on Darling

Children on Darling's Rock


This week’s photo has been supplied by Mr Stan Parker – it’s not dated, but it maybe Edwardian, judging by the children’s clothes.

On this somewhat faded image, I counted 25 children, whereas today’s Darling Rock has eroded to such an extent that a high water marker will soon be added.

Lympstone is lucky to have had a number of local historians, photographers and artists over time to record Darling Rock – including Mrs Elizabeth Scott of Southtown House.

Elizabeth, her husband Philip and two daughters engaged in Lympstone life with the Players, and Elizabeth as president of the WI.

Along with notes from Miss Howard and help from Miss D Jackson, Mr John Hawkins and Mrs E. Browne, a booklet entitled Lympstone: A Village Story was published – again with no given date printed, but believed to be from the mid-1950s to 1960s.

On page eight is the following write-up on Darling Rock: “One of our noteable landmarks is Darling Rock, lying off the entrance to the Boat Shelter.

“The soft red sandstone is gradually being eroded by the action of the tides; at one time it was very much larger than it is today and nearer to the Cliff Field; indeed, folk now living remember sheep grazing on it.

“In 1792, the government of the day ordered the public burning of the writings of the notorious pamphleteer Tom Paine – an opponent of Burke – and tradition has it that Darling Rock was the site of the bonfire.

“In connection with this, some interesting verses were published in 1793 thanking the people of Lympstone for their loyalty to the King and Constitution.

“The present name of the rock is thought to have been given to it as a result of an incident many years ago.

“The fishing fleet was returning in dense fog and a group of anxious wives, gathered on the rock, sang songs to guide their men into safe shelter.

“On coming within earshot, one of the fishermen shouted ‘oh, my darling’ and, from that time, it was known as Darling Rock.”

A new book on Lympstone went on sale this month published by the Lympstone Historical Houses Group, with the research and words by Rosemary Smith and photos by professional photographer Harland Walshaw.

The hardback book describes Lympstone’s 93 listed properties and more. It’s on sale at Lympstone Post Office, costing £8.50.

Lympstone history society was formed in 2007 and aims to research and record Lympstone’s local and family histories for members and the future.

It has a programme of events throughout the year from winter talks to a summer visit.

These events are open to members and non members alike. Life membership is £10, with over 60s £5.

Contact Angela Coles, chairman, at


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