Vikings sailed up the Exe

14:36 09 December 2011

Darling Rock.

Darling Rock.


Recently Lympstone History Society was lucky enough to have Mr Derek Gore, of Exeter University, come and talk on “Vikings in Devon”.

The lecture was based on the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, which tell us of an attack upon Exeter, in 877 AD, from an over land force of mounted Vikings from Wareham and a fleet of longboats, sometimes with as many as 150 oarsmen (with 100 on and 50 resting) plus soldiers per boat, which sailed up the Exe to take the fortified city.

The sight of these longboats, seen from Cliff Field, coming up the river must have been terrifying, followed by a guilty relief as the fleet continued by. Centuries later the people of Lympstone again watched helplessly as the enemy used the river as a means of navigation, this time the German Luftwaffe as it headed towards Exeter in May 1942.

A few bullets were fired on Lympstone from passing planes but without anywhere like the damage to individuals or buildings borne elsewhere. The incident in Lympstone was not reported in the papers but that was the norm, in the hope to keep up morale.

However, Lympstone has also been a refuge in the time of war. In 2010, Simone Matalon revisited Lympstone having lived here during the Second World War. Simone Camrass (her maiden name), brother David and Mother Dora were a Jewish family who left London for the safety of East Devon and to be nearer Simone’s father Captain Isaac Camrass MBE, who was based in the south west.

The family lodged with John and Flora Pidsley, along Longmeadow Road. John was a builder and Flora the local midwife.

Simone and family stayed with the Pidsleys until 1944, when they felt it safe to move on to family in Scotland. After the war they settled in Israel, where Simone still lives.

This week’s photo is taken from Miss Ursula Perry’s collection looking towards Exminster.


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