Come gather round both old & young
Gather one and all
This book will tell our story
The best we can recall
We’ll bring photographs and memories
Blow dust from off the shelf
A legacy; old Rattery
Will forever know itself
This village has is characters
Their stories do abound
John Bickford sailed the Atlantic
Tom Hynes they did impound
One left to find his fortune
In new lands across the sea
The other’s antics stole his freedom
His home no more to see
The son of William Bovey
Claimed by the river Dart
Folks say of it’s dark waters
Every year it claims a heart
The fate of Susan Conybeare
The saddest of them all
Murdered by her own dear husband
We forever shall recall
When once the ghost of Rattery
Did haunt the village round
Only the jangling collar
Of a farmer’s faithful hound
Lettie Stookes strident organ
Led the singers in the nave
While Jim Hannaford was the last man
To be carried from bed to grave
The Palk family built Marley House
The finest in the land
They were followed by the Carews
A Devon dynasty most grand
Much later the Syon Sisters
Did make it their last home of
Their journey through the centuries
Long last, no more to roam
Throughout this ancient parish
Saxon farmsteads do abound
From Brownston up to Bulkamore
Where iron ore was found
There’s Luscombe, Hatchland, Wallaford
Torne, Hood and Beara too
Cholwell, Bozdown, Snowdon
Where in ’62 it blew
It’s a forward-thinking village
That builds a reading room
And then to raise a village hall
When the former was absumed
And they held an award ceremony
Most fittingly at that
So like Cecil Coker from his bed
To Rattery… I raise my bowler hat!
The Stories of Rattery
“Natives - Rattery”?
Listen to "Natives - Rattery" by Jim Causley
Roman Letter AD69
Antonius to his father and Lord Claudius Agrippus October AD 69
Firstly, I hope you are in good health and things go well for you, my mother and our favourite slaves.
Today, after 18 miles marching we arrived at a fortification on a hill, romantically named by the local Celtic inhabitants “fortification on a hill” or “Rathe Erse” in their language. I know, have long since abandoned hopes of the lyricism of Ovid from these bog-dwelling tribes…..
"Railway man song – In the Sidings"
Listen to "Railway man song – In the Sidings" by Jim Causley
WW1 -“Lads in their Hundreds”?
Listen to "Lad's in their Hundreds" by Jim Causley
Syon Abbey, 1936
2nd September 1936
So how goes it, being the disappointment of the family? You’ll have to be the outrageous sweet sixteen for both of us now, as I’ll wager there’ll be no chance for mischief in my new digs. Even day dreams of Clark Gable are off limits. It’s true: if I so much as picture myself as |Joan Crawford in Love on the Run I’m quite sure one of the sisters will read my mind and I’ll get extra washing up….
Listen to "Mole Catcher" by Jim Causley
Harry Jonas and mole catching
We used to get permission locally to catch moles, and farmers were glad of the service. Having trapped them they had to be skinned and later nailed on boards to dry, then sent to Horace Friend Ltd, skin merchants of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. We used to get 1/2d for ‘summers and smolls, then according to quantity, 1d and 2d respectively and very occasionally the odd one would make 3d (a windfall). Father kept, mainly for rabbiting, and he would retrieve our ball if lost. We also kept a few pets, mainly rabbits, and they used to escape and breed with the wild rabbits. With the demise of the country estates and therefore the gamekeepers, there were rabbits everywhere until 1953, when myxomatosis was introduced.
Local Resident Cecil Coker talks about american soldiers stationed in the village in WW2
Syon Abbey, 1943
Syon Abbey, 30th July 1943
Well what do you know? For years and years a bell has rung to alert us every time a man enters the abbey, then three squadron of GI’s come rolling through the premises!
Well not technically through the abbey, but under the enclosed bridge over the turnpike. The bridge connects us to our walled fruit and veg gardens on the other side. In fact the US Military has raised our little bridge because they couldn’t get all their landing craft underneath it…..
“The Village Hall”?
Residents talk about The Village Hall
Syon Abbey, Winter 1962
Syon Abbey, 14th February 1962
Well, first war in Vietnam, then mini skirts, and now the second Vatican Council have really put the cat among the pigeons!
Lady Abbess called us all into the community room to explain the changes. Religious orders are now allowed to relax their rules to accommodate to the “modern physical and psychological” conditions of their communities. Our habits can become more comfortable (oh the torture of itchy wool!), we can go outside, in fact the next procession to mark the martyrdom of St Richard Reynolds will be outside the enclosure hedge, and – drum roll – we have taken delivery of a wireless!…..
“The Snow of 1962”?
Local residents recall the snow of 1962
Syon Abbey, Spring 1963
Syon Abbey, 1st April 1963
It’s happened. We sisters have made the national headlines. Lady Abbess was posted a cutting from the Daily Express reading, “Sisters win right to keep their kitchen garden visits secret”. They are widening the A38, you see, it will be called the Devon Expressway, which conjures premonitions of our singing at Vespers being underscored by the clatter of articulated lorries and the misfiring of sportscar engings. How I cherish the peace and slowness of Rattery and its environs and pity everyone else caught in this relentless pursuit of more, more, more, now, now, now…..
“Book of Rattery”?
Listen to "Book of Rattery" by Jim Causley
Syon Abbey, Spring 1979
Syon Abbey, 3rd May 1979
There are roses in my cheeks!
Myself and the Sisters have just returned from performing our civic duty by visiting the Rattery polling station. What a spectacle we must have been striding two by two our habits flapping in the wind. The cows in the fields looked quite alarmed. It was a sparkling morning, but almost cold enough to see one’s breath. A few drivers stopped to offer us lifts but Lady Abbess cheerfully waved them on, saying we appreciated the exercise.
Well, I know the secrets of the polling booth must stay secret…..
Residents Joy and Dot sum up Rattery
Syon Abbey, Autumn 1990
Syon Abbey, 25th November 1990
My hand gets quite shakey from my Sciatica now I am 60 – fifty odd years of turning turf and digging up spuds has taken its toll on my back, though I don’t regret a Maris Piper among them – but I felt compelled to write straight away. I only hope this letter reaches you in the hospice, dear cousin, before it is too late…..