A col­lec­tion of English cus­toms, cu­riosi­ties, for­got­ten sto­ries and un­usual hap­pen­ings.

This England - - Cornucopia - DAVID HUNTER


Thank-yous come in many forms: a brief, po­lite let­ter, a bunch of flow­ers, per­haps a bot­tle of wine, a re­turn in­vi­ta­tion and very oc­ca­sion­ally some­thing out of the or­di­nary. There can be few more un­usual ac­knowl­edge­ments of ser­vices ren­dered than the one re­ceived by the peo­ple of the Dart­moor vil­lage of Wide-combe-in-the Moor in 1920. And you should not sup­pose it came through the post or de­liv­ered by the lo­cal florist.

Sur­prise, sur­prise! It was a 15-inch naval shell – de­ac­ti­vated! But what had they done to de­serve this? To­day, nearly a cen­tury later, the shell still stands by Church House with a small brass plate pre­sented by the Na­tional War Sav­ings Com­mit­tee that ex­plains all. Dur­ing World War I, vil­lagers searched the wet places of the moor col­lect­ing sphag­num moss for use in the treat­ment of wounds.

An out-of-the-or­di­nary gift for an all-too-im­por­tant task.

View of Dart­moor from the church in Wide­combe-in-the-moor.

This 15" naval shell made an un­usual gift for the peo­ple of Wide­combe-in-the-moor.

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