An interesting old paperback on our bookshelf is the 1956 second edition of Eric Delderfield’s travelogue ‘Exmoor Wanderings’. It’s a grand old read written in a style very much of its time nonetheless it takes the reader on a journey back to a place long gone. Tales abound with plenty of references to Porlock / Dunster / Dulverton / Lynmouth as well as mentions of many other smaller communites from medieval times right up to the 1950s. Page 88 caught my eye….a short story about a fortune found from what must have been an all too common occurance..
’Carhampton is not the kind of place one would associate with buried treasure but this was in fact the case in 1559. The treasure came to light when the wife of a husbandman was digging a grave in which to bury her stillborn child. Suddenly her spade struck something and from it poured a great quantity of gold coins. She gave
one or two coins to two female friends who were with her…she put the rest in a wooden dish to await her husbands homecoming. Naturally the find was talked about and in due course came to the notice of Thomas Luttrell who immediately laid claim to the treasure as the owner of the Hundred of Carhampton. The Queens Treasurer also stepped in and tedious legal proceedings commenced.
In the evidence it was stated that the coins consisted of Old Nobles, Half Old Nobles and Quarter Old Nobles of the reign of Edward lV. The original worth of a Noble was 6/9 but at the time of discovery they were worth double so the value of the find amounted to £107 10s 0d. which was a considerable sum particularly for a poor woman..
Thomas Luttrell satisfied himself with £100 but it would seem that the finder was not even allowed to keep the small change for in May 1560 the balance of £7 10s was handed over to Sir Thomas Parry the Queens treasurer of the Royal Household. The litigation dragged on and eventually in 1564 (5 years after the discovery) the case was heard at Chard Assizes…unfortunately no record of the final judgment exists’
Here the story abruptly ends so we’re left to wonder if anyone lived happily ever after. Agnes Ellesworth (she who found the treasure) and husband Richard (an elder of Timberscombe) were the unfortunate parents of the stillborn infant. Thomas Luttrell died a few years after the saga in 1571.
Although it might be strange to say but having been at the House for nearly 7 years we’re only now just starting to more appreciate the garden…thanks go to the lockdown for giving us the time to spend and realise the fact. Our garden is mature or ‘established’ which is double-speak for old and ignored. We have apple trees with trunk holes so big you can see next week yet every year they still manage to produce an annual crop albeit not of the quality they once probably did.
Previous owners of the house would have made their contribution to the planting of various trees, plants and shrubs over the past 100 years. A glorious Dogwood an impressive Eucalyptus and a selection of tall trees go cheek by jowl next to an old dump of dead and rotting tree trunks which all play their part in forming a small wilding area that’s been left to it’s own devices…and in our neglectful absence it’s been having a beano. The area has become less wilding and more jungle…many self-setters (mostly home oaks) large leaf dockweeds and ferns all compete for space or sunlight or both.
During our garden wanderings looking into dark corners we came up with a brilliant idea…why don’t we regain some control by getting to the bottom of the jungle dump and clearing it out…and with the clearing out would go whatever those strange irregular shrubs are growing out of it. So one recent sunny day with nothing to do except be locked down, we crept up and attacked the rotting mound with shovels and implements…the blood the sweat the tears…that was the start of it. Victory is not yet ours…the garden fights back with brambles and ivy.