Blackdown Hills

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Parish Chests

Please e-mail us with your comments. For more information about the area and the project please also see the main Blackdown Hills Rural Partnership website.

The Blackdown Hills were designated an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1991. The area covers some 350 sq km of Devon and Somerset and has a strong sense of its own identity. In part this richness of cultural heritage stems from the areas relative isolation and strong independence of the farming community. Click Here to view a map of the Blackdown Hills AONB.

In safeguarding the special character of the AONB for future generations the Blackdown Hill Rural Partnership recognises a need to raise awareness of the areas distinct identity. To record and celebrate the traditions, customs and histories of the communities.

It all began in 1995 with a project entitled “Sights and Sounds of the Blackdowns” which investigated folk art customs as well as recording reminiscences of older residents. Contemporary folk performances and a touring exhibition were the culmination of this two year project.

In 1998 an opportunity to develop this work came about through Heritage Lottery Funding under a Local Heritage Initiative Pilot. This brought together six individual parish projects under an umbrella called the “Blackdown Hills Parish Chest”. The idea was to investigate ways of safeguarding parish archives by using information technology (IT). To create a modern version of the parish chest; a place to store and safeguard important records and events in parish history.

The five parish projects, available in extract on this web site are:

A History of Otterford

The three articles contained here are extracts from a publication researched and written by Andrew Sparks and Linda Gower. They were visited at home where the images were scanned and articles copied. There is a scarcity of historical information about Otterford, being a small parish . It is the history of a scattered hill community, comprised of small farms tenanted by “men of no capital”. The three extracts cover: lime burning in the 19th century, the abundance of water mills on which the rural economy depended, and the Otterhead estate, created by “men of rank and wealth” following the break up of the Manor of Taunton Deane in the early part of the 19th century.

A Book The history of Otterford will be available in the New Year

A History of Clayhidon

A huge collection of material has been gathered together by the Clayhidon Local History Group(CLHG). There is such a wealth of material that an entire room is needed to store it. On permanent loan are the parish copies of the tithe map, tithe apportionment and enclosure awards. Members of the group visited Project COSMIC to add to work that already been started by visits to the collection by Project COSMIC workers. A site structure was developed and the images that you will see here were all scanned during these visits. In a single day members of the CLHG organised the site so that the different areas of their research are more easily identified and information about the Group itself (including their Newsletters) was included.

The Geoffrey Berry Collection

Geoffrey Berry has, over the years, built up a huge collection of photographs, letters, newspaper cuttings and articles relating to his own family history, and that of Churchstanton and its surrounds. Workers from Project COSMIC visited Geoffrey and collected as much information from him as was possible, scanning the images and getting a comment for each where known. There were several ‘Threads’ of stories that came out of the meetings with Geoffrey as well as several identifiable types of material (letters, photos, newspaper articles etc) that has been generally sorted as ‘Media’. In addition to this Geoffrey had been working over a long period of time (more than 40 years!) on a History of Churchstanton, which has formed the basis of the ‘Timeline’.

A photographic record of Yarcombe

John Driver visited local organisations in Yarcombe during 1999. With their permission he photographed them in groups using a Digital Camera, and what is available here is a relatively current record of local activity in Yarcombe. As such, it becomes a historical archive for the future.

An interpretation board of Blackboroughs mining history

Jenny Patton a local resident with the help of the Kentisbeare Parish Council has researched the history of Blackborough to create an interpretation board on the site of Blackborough Church (now demolished). The interpretation board can be viewed in full on the web site and tells of the Whetstone mining industry as well as local landmarks such as the Beacon and Blackborough House.

Luppitt Local History

This website is a brief overview of the information available in a recently published book about the parish of Luppitt, Devon, England. The book is a compilation of notes compiled by John Sage, a churchwarden in the Parish for over 50 years, and covers events in the Parish history from the time of the Domesday book to the present day

We hope you enjoy your journey into the history and culture of the Blackdown Hills.

Parks serve as the spot that brings your community and visitors together to chill and enjoy the beauty of nature while engaging in their activities, or just relaxing. A good park has room for all ages and classes, and suitable for everyone

Community Parks Blackdown Hills

Nothing adds beauty to a place better than flowers do. Natural trees and flowers can provide multiple combinations of beautiful colors that can keep people gazing and admiring. Combining the colors in the right manner makes the entire difference.

Plant Trees and Flowers Blackdown Hills

Lighting on its own creates a beautiful pattern at night that photographers spend time capturing. If you have street lights lining up along the street at night, it adds so much beauty to that street at night.

Use Appropriate Lighting Blackdown Hills

Create more, and shorter walkable and bikeable paths, connecting possibly everywhere in your community and give everyone good reasons to rather walk. Ensure each walking path is faster than the driving distance and easily accessible.

Create More walkable and Bikeable Paths Blackdown Hills