Ivybridge

took its name from ‘ye bridge which lieth over ye Erme, being much inclined to ivy’.

Sir William Pole, Devon historian.

Welcome to Ivybridge Uncovered

A Mill Town Heritage

The Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

The History of Ivybridge

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Ivybridge derives its name from a small bridge, which is covered with ivy, and stretches across the River Erme.

Blackberry picking

Nearly everyone who gathers blackberries selects the hedgerows, either along the highway or along some by-road or lane. However, it should be remembered that roads and hedges are artificial and not natural. They date from the time of the enclosures. Parliamentary Enclosure Acts from the mid eighteenth century onwards enclosed open fields and common land in the country, creating legal property rights that was previously considered common.

 

Native blackberries grow on a variety of soils and vary in their preference for sun or shade. In preference to the hedgerow blackberries, those who wish to gather better berries should as a rule leave the highway and seek those that grow in woods, shady places and heaths, which are as a rule much larger and more luscious with fewer seeds. These blackberries are also cleaner, free from dust and other vehicle related contaminants.

 

Observations from a blackberry forager – 1928.

Nearly everyone who gathers blackberries selects the hedgerows, either along the highway or along some by-road or lane. However, it should be remembered that roads and hedges are artificial and not natural. They date from the time of the enclosures. Parliamentary Enclosure Acts from the mid eighteenth century onwards enclosed open fields and common land in the country, creating legal property rights that was previously considered common.

 

Native blackberries grow on a variety of soils and vary in their preference for sun or shade. In preference to the hedgerow blackberries, those who wish to gather better berries should as a rule leave the highway and seek those that grow in woods, shady places and heaths, which are as a rule much larger and more luscious with fewer seeds. These blackberries are also cleaner, free from dust and other vehicle related contaminants.

 

Observations from a blackberry forager – 1928.

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aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

Lammas Day

Lammas Day was historically a time of thanksgiving, celebrating the first fruits of the corn harvest. Farmers would bake loaves of bread from the new crop and donate them to the church and the local community would attend to give thanks.

 

Nowadays we celebrate harvest festival at the end of the season, although traditionally it was on 29 September, Michaelmas Day.

 

Lammas marked a time of shifting focus from crops to livestock. It was the last day on which grass was cut for hay and  grazing could commence. It was also a time when the right to graze animals on certain fields was extended to all parishioners whether rich or poor. These fields for common use were known as Lammas Land.

Lammas Day was historically a time of thanksgiving, celebrating the first fruits of the corn harvest. Farmers would bake loaves of bread from the new crop and donate them to the church and the local community would attend to give thanks.

 

Nowadays we celebrate harvest festival at the end of the season, although traditionally it was on 29 September, Michaelmas Day.

 

Lammas marked a time of shifting focus from crops to livestock. It was the last day on which grass was cut for hay and  grazing could commence. It was also a time when the right to graze animals on certain fields was extended to all parishioners whether rich or poor. These fields for common use were known as Lammas Land.

The grain harvest is in full swing. Horses and machines circle the fields; sheaves are set up to dry; ricks are built, and even the hum of the thresher, always a significant and pleasant note, is heard on the land.

 

A lorry load of new wheat passes down the country lane en route for the mill, thus completing a year-long cycle of human endeavour.

 

Nature Jottings, Western Morning News 13 August 1937

The grain harvest is in full swing. Horses and machines circle the fields; sheaves are set up to dry; ricks are built, and even the hum of the thresher, always a significant and pleasant note, is heard on the land.

 

A lorry load of new wheat passes down the country lane en route for the mill, thus completing a year-long cycle of human endeavour.

 

Nature Jottings, Western Morning News 13 August 1937

Harvesting the cereal crops were historically carried out entirely by hand, using sickles (later bagging hooks and scythes) and was back-breaking physical work. Once cut, a second gang of workers, quite often women would follow on tying bundles into sheaves. A further gang would then pick them up and pack them into stooks. In Devon typically 10 sheaves were stacked against each other to both keep the grain heads off the ground, and allow air to flow through the stack and dry the crop. The stooks would remain in the fields for several weeks before being brought in and made into a rick. The crop could then be left and threshed at leisure. Before mechanised threshing machines existed this would have been conducted on a barn floor using flails to repeatedly hit the stalks in order to remove the grains and then maybe through a winnowing machine to separate the chaff (the outer covering).

In the Ivybridge district harvest operations are being pushed forward vigorously. Hay shears generally were rather slight, but the crop was saved in good condition, and should the present fine weather continue for a week more comparatively little corn will remain on the ground. Wheat is abundant and of excellent quality, Barley is scarcely an average crop, but there are samples of first class quality. Oats are uneven, but in some cases very good. The crop is not equal in amount to barley. Roots are generally good, mangolds in some instances being very fine, and turnips looking well. Potatoes are remarkably good and fine, with a heavy yield. No disease has yet been reported in the neighbourhood. Apples are about half an average crop.

 

Totnes Weekly Times 23 August 1884

Harvest Time

Delving once more into ‘The Farming Year’ the recollections of former local farmer Alec Rogers, we explore the old customs and traditions which occurred around harvest time and endeavour to shed light on some of the rural terms. This was of course an important part of the farming year, a successful harvest would ensure that  there would be plenty of food for the families and their livestock through the bleak winter months.

Harvest was not confined to August and it was often far into September before the last sheaf was finally placed in the rick in the ‘mowey’. This was the place where all the corn ricks stood.

 

My uncle told me about the custom of ‘Crying the Neck’. The last sheaf of the harvest was held high and the man who raised it called

“I have ‘un, I have ‘un”. His fellows queried “What have e ? What have e ?” Came the reply “The neck, the neck.”.

 

I have never been able to discover anything of the origin or meaning of this custom.

 

Harvest suppers were great events. Indeed a well fed harvest team was a good investment on the part of the farmer. Cider flowed freely and men drank incredible quantities. Seldom was this liberality abused.“

The ‘neck’ generally refers to the last sheaf of corn of the harvest. The custom of Crying the Neck could be  considered to be an attempt to win the bragging rights over the neighbouring farmers by being the first to ‘Cry’, indicating that all of the corn had been successfully harvested.

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Whilst Alec was unable to discover much about this tradition back in the 1980s, today we have the ability to research much more widely.  A newspaper article from 1880 gives a local interpretation of the origins of this custom.

Crying the Neck is a very old custom regarding the reaping of the last bit of wheat, handed down in Cornwall from time immemorial… although I would prefer to spell the word An-nek, putting the accent strongly on the last syllable

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Now, as “Annek, Annek, Annek” is an immemorial cry, it must have been in use and sounded just as now, before the Cornish language became extinct, we must not therefore derive Annek “ a neck” from any English word, because it undoubtedly was in use by Cornishmen, when not a word of English was spoken in the county.

 

There are variations in crying An-nek; but this is how I remember it, and the sound of it, when I was a boy, more than half a century ago.

 

The reaper with his reaping hook (it was thought a shame to cut wheat with any other tool) having cut the last handful of wheat, held and waved it high over his head, as with a loud and triumphant voice he cried “I have et; I have et; I have et; on which the harvesters standing around, shouted “What hav’ee; What hav’ee; What hav’ee? And then the joyful cry “An-nek, An-nek; An-nek – Hooraa.” This is equivalent to crying “Saved; saved; saved – Hurrah.”

 

In the Archaeologia, Lloyd says, “that in the Irish language Anaic means save (thou) me.”

 

I consider “An-nek” an ancient Cornish word comparable to the Irish word “Anaic,” and that its equivalent word in English is “saved”.

 

When a Cornishman in his ancient language cries in joyful tones – An-nek, An-nek, An-nek; an Englishman should cry – Saved, Saved, Saved.

 

Plymouth, Aug 24, 1880.

It was also believed that ‘the neck’, this very last sheaf of the annual harvest, possessed special properties, namely it contained the spirit of the corn field. Having such importance, the neck was always kept and often made into a symbolic corn dolly. Originating from pagan custom, the corn dolly would ensure the continuation of a abundant and healthy crop the following year. On ‘Plough Monday’, the first Monday after Twelfth Night the sheaf or dolly would be cast into the first furrow and returned to the soil. If this failed to happen then the harvest was doomed to failure and the farmer faced a bleak winter. Plough Monday marked the return of man to his labour after the yuletide interval.

 

In Devon, the neck or dolly was often guest of honour at the harvest supper or ‘harvest home’ being placed at the head of the table before being taken into the farm house and kept safe above the mantelpiece until the following year.

It was also believed that ‘the neck’, this very last sheaf of the annual harvest, possessed special properties, namely it contained the spirit of the corn field. Having such importance, the neck was always kept and often made into a symbolic corn dolly. Originating from pagan custom, the corn dolly would ensure the continuation of a abundant and healthy crop the following year. On ‘Plough Monday’, the first Monday after Twelfth Night the sheaf or dolly would be cast into the first furrow and returned to the soil. If this failed to happen then the harvest was doomed to failure and the farmer faced a bleak winter. Plough Monday marked the return of man to his labour after the yuletide interval.

 

In Devon, the neck or dolly was often guest of honour at the harvest supper or ‘harvest home’ being placed at the head of the table before being taken into the farm house and kept safe above the mantelpiece until the following year.

A Mowey

is the name given to a secure plot on the farm where the livestock are unable to gain access to and is more associated with hay ricks. Before tractors were used, men leading a horse and rake would sweep up the cut hay into neat rows. The hay would then be gathered up, loaded into carts and taken to the rick. The trick apparently was to place twice as much hay in the corners of the rick to ensure it did not sag and fall over, requiring great skill and manual dexterity.

Harvest Home

After all the toil on the land, often in the searing heat of the summer sun, the farmer and all of his workers were treated to a celebratory feast.

 

There are numerous tales of the  farm workers adjourning to the farmer’s barn or kitchen for a hearty meal of beef, bacon and ham, large wedges of cheese, huge brown loaves and lumps of butter all washed down with a liberal supply of ale and more commonly in Devon, cider!

Stoneware flagons are traditional vessels for taking cider out into the fields.

The gathering and subsequent feast was not always restricted to the farm workers and certainly in earlier times it was open to everyone in the parish and was referred to as ‘Harvest Home’. Villages were decorated with flowers and foliage, and dancing and merriment was in abundance.

Last month we included this photograph on the homepage for anyone to guess the precise activity. What we can see is a field of oats being harvested during the 1950s. A tractor pulls an implement called a binder which ties the cut oats into sheaves which are then deposited on the ground to be collected up later.

Photograph courtesy of Robert Rowland.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PHOTOGRAPHS OF HARVEST TIME? WE WOULD LOVE TO SEE THEM!

SEND YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS TO US AT: INFO@IVYBRIDGE-HERITAGE .ORG

Last month we included this photograph on the homepage for anyone to guess the precise activity. What we can see is a field of oats being harvested during the 1950s. A tractor pulls an implement called a binder which ties the cut oats into sheaves which are then deposited on the ground to be collected up later.

Photograph courtesy of Robert Rowland.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PHOTOGRAPHS OF HARVEST TIME? WE WOULD LOVE TO SEE THEM!

SEND YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS TO US AT: INFO@IVYBRIDGE-HERITAGE .ORG

NEXT MONTH

We take a look back at Ivybridge during the late nineteenth century when keen photographer, Robert Morris, who lived at Nirvana on Blachford Road, welcomed Torbay Camera Club (of which he was a member) for a day’s photography in Ivybridge and the surrounding district.

 

Around this time in history hawkers or pedlars (street vendors) made themselves a nuisance in the village. Arriving at the local railway station, they congregated on Station Road endeavouring to sell their wares to the local community.

 

Street lighting was in its infancy. Coal gas was used but the gas main did not cover the whole of the village. This led Mr Morris to make a request to have it extended to cover his property. He, like many living close to the paper mill, also had to endure the sometimes unpleasant smells emanating from the chimney stack, the result of boiling rags for the paper making process. Robert Morris would once again resort to pen and paper to write to the owners of the mill to complain!

We take a look back at Ivybridge during the late nineteenth century when keen photographer, Robert Morris, who lived at Nirvana on Blachford Road, welcomed Torbay Camera Club (of which he was a member) for a day’s photography in Ivybridge and the surrounding district.

 

Around this time in history hawkers or pedlars (street vendors) made themselves a nuisance in the village. Arriving at the local railway station, they congregated on Station Road endeavouring to sell their wares to the local community.

 

Street lighting was in its infancy. Coal gas was used but the gas main did not cover the whole of the village. This led Mr Morris to make a request to have it extended to cover his property. He, like many living close to the paper mill, also had to endure the sometimes unpleasant smells emanating from the chimney stack, the result of boiling rags for the paper making process. Robert Morris would once again resort to pen and paper to write to the owners of the mill to complain!

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