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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Photo Walk to Sherford

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas SEPTEMBER. 23, 2020

This is a walk from a creek off the Kingsbridge Ria up to Sherford. Commonly referred to as Kingsbridge Estuary it is not an Estuary but a Ria. A Ria is a flooded river valley, usually narrow and long, while an estuary is the tidal mouth of a large river, usually very wide and flat.

The walk starts at sea level and rises to 41 metres or 135 feet above sea level and parts are quite steep as you go up and down a few times on the way too. OK, I know it's not Everest.

It is mostly high hedgerows and farmland views on the way up to the village. Kenedon is a manor listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Chenigedone, later a seat of the Hals family. The mansion house is today represented by a small 16th c. farmhouse known as Keynedon, about 1 mile south of the village of Sherford. This is the farmland of that old manor.

At the moment the hedgerows are speckled with Convolvulus. Also called Bindweed or Morning Glory. The bee was a happy accident.

Weathered wood and weathered stone seem to end up with similar textures and colours.

Road side stall selling preserves for charity. The honesty box encouragingly untouched despite containing plenty of ready money. I haven't tried it, but have it on good authority that the jam is very good. I had gone out without money and I also make my own preserves and therefore already have cupboards full.

This stone is the ubiquitous material for building around here, commonly without mortar as seen here.

Mail collection box bearing the insignia of Queen Elizabeth the second and the makers name, W.T. ALLEN & Co LONDON. And below, mail delivery van kicking up a cloud of dust.

St Martin's church at Sherford. The tiny village has ties going back to King Canute, who, in 1018 gifted the Royal Estate of Chillington, spanning from the River Dart to the Kingsbridge Estuary, including the manors of Sherford, to his sister-in-law, Countess Gytha on her marriage to the Saxon Earl Godwin. She was a mother to both King Harold who was killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and Queen Edith, the wife of Edward the Confessor.

After the Norman Conquest all her estates were confiscated and William I endowed Gytha’s lands including the church she had founded, St. Olave’s in Exeter to Battle Abbey, Hastings. This had been founded as a penance for the bloodshed of the Battle of 1066 by William himself. There's nothing like a guilty conscience.

It’s believed there was a church in Sherford during the Saxon period but the first documentary evidence dates back to 1288 pertaining to tax returns paid to Pope Nicholas. The Church was dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours in 1457 but it’s possible that an earlier church was also dedicated to the saint in a nod to its link with Battle Abbey.

The church is famous for it's carved wooden interior, unfortunately closed at the moment due to the pandemic. I will do a post about the interior at a later date.

Leap forward four centuries and sleepy little Sherford village was caught up in another tumultuous event – World War II. It was one of many villages commandeered in the December of 1943 as part of a specialised training area for more than 15,000 American troops preparing for the D-day Normandy landings.

The villagers were given just six weeks notice to move their belongings and livestock away from the area. A total of 3000 people over an area of 30,000 acres were evacuated from the South Hams region. The Sherford villagers were able to return to their homes a few months after the successful Normandy Landings in June 1944.

This bench covered in lichen sits at the front of the church. I don't think I have ever seen one so covered.


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