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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Modbury Part 4

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas SEPTEMBER. 04, 2021

Part four is the return journey back down the hill. Walking down "Back Street" as it is called. All signs warn motorists not to drive down Back Street unless you live there. It is not advisable to use it for any other reason. Not only narrow, it has steep stone walls either side and also several blind bends.

Most of this set are just architectural details that caught my eye, so not much dialogue.

The Tour of Britain cycle race comes through the area on Monday so all of our main routes will be closed for much of the day. We have chosen to remain at home and I will be wandering out on to the route in our village to see what I can see. I will try to get some photos of the race but I suspect it will be here and gone in the blink of an eye.

In 1881 the Modbury non-conformist British School and the Church of England National School united to become the Modbury Board School in a new building. The present school hall and schoolhouse were built in 1853 and are owned by the Church.

Even on foot, Back Street is so narrow that I had to stand back and let this delivery truck reverse it's way back out.

As you can see below, pedestrians including me, are "in road".

This curved wall on the left is the right angled bend in Back Street.

Coming to the end of Back Street, you find this little desirable residence, a snip at £175,000, or $242,000, sold in the few days between taking the photo and putting up this post. In fact it is listed as a building plot, not a building. It has planning permission for you to actually build your new home because this is uninhabitable. For that you get basically what you can see, this structure in the middle, a piece of land further up the street in the gap, which you cannot build on and two rights of way across the property to other properties owned by other people. Oh, and by the way, you can't knock this down you have to restore it and build within the footprint. I may go back in a year or so and see how they have got on.

I am starting to realise that curved walls on properties are quite a common thing in some of the older villages around here.

There won't be any delivery trucks getting down this one.

This appears to be a pun on the word home or holme, as holme or holm with an l in it is Norse for island. Several islands around the UK have holm in the name indicating some Viking heritage, like Steep Holm and Flat Holm in the Severn Estuary.

Part of a very large property below, slightly out of town. This is just the walled garden with it's own access door to the street. The part fronting the street is called Middle Traine which is late eighteenth to early nineteenth century, but it is part of a larger estate dating back to 1472.

Middle Traine, Modbury. This fine 1780 house has balustrades on the attractive colonnade and (intermittently) along the roof parapet.

This used to be a common sight next to front doors and predates the time when town and city streets were paved and free of mud. It is a boot scraper to remove the worst of the outside before crossing the threshold. The threshold was a wooden board across the door entrance to hold the thresh or straw that covered the floor. It helped to keep dirt outside and clean straw inside. A bride in all her finery may have had problems stepping over the threshold of her new home which may be where the tradition of the groom carrying his newly wed over the threshold originated. If you see very old photographs of towns or cities taken before there was motorised transport you may have noticed that the streets looked like ploughed fields. This was horse manure. This is why you needed a boot scraper when you got home.

In 1900, there were over 11,000 hansom cabs on the streets of London alone. There were also several thousand horse-drawn buses, each needing 12 horses per day, making a staggering total of over 50,000 horses transporting people around the city each day. To add to this, there were yet more horse-drawn carts and drays delivering goods around what was then the largest city in the world.

But this wasn’t just a British crisis: New York had a population of 100,000 horses producing around 2.5m pounds of manure a day.

To follow up on the jigsaw shop featured in my Tavistock photo walk I was really excited to find this shop. The signage makes it look like it is long established but in fact it only opened this year. Currently not online the shop offers standard sets of soldiers as well as ones made on the premises in a studio on site.

This is the Battle of Rorke's Drift, in the shop window, below.

The Battle of Rorke's Drift (1879), also known as the Defence of Rorke's Drift, was an engagement in the Anglo-Zulu War. The successful British defence of the mission station of Rorke's Drift, under the command of Lieutenants John Chard of the Royal Engineers and Gonville Bromhead, began when a large contingent of Zulu warriors broke off from their main force during the final hour of the British defeat at the day-long Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879, diverting 6 miles (9.7 km) to attack Rorke's Drift later that day and continuing into the following day.

Just over 150 British and colonial troops defended the station against attacks by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. The massive but piecemeal attacks by the Zulu on Rorke's Drift came very close to defeating the much smaller garrison, but were consistently repelled. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, along with a number of other decorations and honours.

This soldier at the front door is now doing his bit to fight the battle of Covid.

If you have got this far and seen the other parts of my Modbury photo walk you will know that I promised camels, well here they are, an army of camels.

My next photo walk is around the village of Slapton, so stay tuned.

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