The old bridge here was last closed by floodwater in 1979 and the high water mark of 2000 came close. There was flooding along Chapel Lane in those years and in 1968. Seems like those are the worst overflows by the Walkham that living memory can recall, as opposed to flash flooding from the feeder becks.

According to riversider talk, during the recent rains, there are two main elements which can make a wet time worse. One is some blockage in the arches. The other is a maximum tide at Lopwell, high enough to come up over the weir there. So far, recently, they have not all happened at once but there have always been tense days. It would be interesting to know how many closures of the crossroads there have been in the 800 years, nearly, since the bridge was built in its current shape.

But there are no records known, although the bridge was an expensive asset and an important crossroads and somebody must have made a note somewhere if it was blocked at any time. The church was involved in maintenance, for many years and might well have owned it, but a lot of St John’s records were lost in a fire. There are still places which might be checked.

This sort of weather record is much sought after. When the Met Office talks about extreme weather, it is only going back to about 1860 on the whole.

On that basis, by the way, its computers predict peak snow in Exeter this year on January 23 and in Truro on Feb 25. Take it from there, weather buffs …

Another important element of local history which remains unresolved is the meaning of Horrabridge. It has been suggested it meant Outer Bridge in Saxon or Hoary (Grey) Bridge in Latin, or something like that. It would once have been the boundary meeting point of Whitchurch, Sampford and Buckland parishes. Possibly there was an old local chief called Horra who laid down and defended the original clapper bridge when it was West Brits v Saxons for control of the roads.

Nobody has finished off the argument with any conviction yet.



Somebody based in Manchester has caused some confusion with a poster on the railings at the Methodist Chapel, inviting comments by January 20 on the plans to update the building.

In fact no formal plan yet exists. The local Methodist council will be meeting today (Friday Jan 10) to discuss what to do next, and the public will be informed. But at this stage, they are only likely to want to go ahead on external repairs. The new shape of the interior, a much trickier decision, is still under consideration at this time, and still up for public discussion for some time yet as far as the local church is concerned. Central property office lawyers seem to have jumped the gun a bit. More explanation here next week.



Simon Calder in The Independent, who reckons to be still the only travel writer who pays his own way, compiled a helpful New Year list of destinations which already have too many visitors …


New Orleans



Komodo Island, Indonesia

Kyoto, Japan


Uluru Rock, Australia


Machu Picchu



As well as the parish council, Dartmoor Park Authority is inviting bids for funding for community projects – local histories and so on are often favoured and zero carbon is the buzz phrase of the moment. Up to £5,000 so worth a go – before January 31. Call Emma Stockley on 01626 831054 or email estockley@dartmoor.gov.uk



Devon and Cornwall Police are investigating the theft of 100 sheep from farmland in the Trerulefoot area of East Cornwall between Thursday the 2nd and Monday the 6th of January. Crime reference number CR/001799/20. Information can be passed anonymously to 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org


South West Lakes now recruiting for Activity Instructors, Leisure Assistants and Receptionists for the 2020 season at Roadford Lake (Devon), Wimbleball Lake (Exmoor) and Stithians Lake (Cornwall). To register your interest and find out more, click here



Latest entry in our blog on gardening round yer …

The garden waste collection is very handy but it’s an extravagant use of diesel, let’s face it, and here in The Shed, we try to ration our use of it a bit. One way is to follow a rough rule that we try not to lose good soil. When the hedge clippings on the road side are swept up with the gutter dust we stick em in a plastic bag with muddy roots pulled from the veg bed, a scoop of lawn cuttings, any half-made compost sitting in pots, etcetera, and a gallon of water. A few holes in the bag for worms and it sits in the bottom of the hedge or some other corner until we want it.

This New Year, preparing the vegetable plot, we were able to haul out five or six bags which had all been left for a year or two and had from them a very useable “green” mulch to give all the soil a dressing of a couple of inches. Even the holly was well rotted. Some bonfire ash, a sprinkling of blood and bone from a big plastic tub and it all looks ready for digging in.

In the old days, rural gardeners would always be brewing up a sheep’s head or something for a supplementary feed. From that we draw the lesson that pretty much any soup is useful and if we have leftover gravy, or duff soup, or dirty cooking oil, or wine lees, we pour it on a bed or in a pot. No lumps to attract mice or rats and it’s all soaked in before sundown. But what we really want is some pig shit, of course.

Find this and other gardening notes, and send us your garden feed recipes, at:

Notes From The Garden Shed: Updated weekly

About the editor 387 Articles
Editor of The Horrabridge Times.