Those who are no longer with us

In Martin Kemp’s  wonderful film “The Magic of Manning’s Pit” Chris Bulpett talks about the fields containing memories of those who are no longer with us.   Many of those who have contacted us during our two and a half year (so far) campaign have talked about parents or family members who had loved Manning’s Pit while they were alive.  They often say as well how much being in Manning’s Pit has helped their  grieving process.

As Chris mentioned after the showing of the film at our Party,  Jane Hare, who appeared in the film (talking about the osprey), died suddenly, not long after its first showing.  She is still greatly missed.  Lance Housley, who had also been a very good supporter of our campaign, died a few days before the party, and we have put a tribute to him on the website. You can read it here.


A “Small” Thank You Party


We had a party  Saturday night to say thank you to all those who have supported the Save Manning’s Pit campaign over the  two and a half years since it started.  Summix  have withdrawn their planning application, but they still own Manning’s Pit, and may have other plans for it, we do not know as yet.  At the same time, it seemed a good time to have a small “thank you” party. The big one will happen when we know – we hope, one day – that Manning’s Pit is safe for ever.

As small parties go, it was quite a big one, and a fantastic time was had by all of us.  Everyone enjoyed seeing Martin Kemp’s wonderful  film “The Magic of Manning’s Pit” again on a big screen, and the icing on the cake was having Brian Norman and John Norman there for “The Battle of Manning’s Pit.”  Tim Saunders recited his poem  “Ode to the Setaceous Hebrew Character” ( you can read the full poem here ) which was written following a Moth Survey in Manning’s Pit by John and Mary Breeds of the Braunton Countryside Centre.
Kate Shaw read a couple of short poems, Binsey Poplars by Gerard Manley Hopkins and The Poplar Field by William Cowper. These poems, probably written in  1879 and 1773, expressed feelings about lost countryside that are as relevant now to all of us who care about the future of Manning’s Pit..

We all enjoyed ourselves and there was a fantastic amount of food and drink – Pilton people are just so generous! It was great to meet some new people as well.  Here are some photographs, which show us us watching the films, the films and poems being introduced by our MC, Chris Bulpett, Kate Shaw reading her chosen poems, Bev Snowden and some of our fantastic team (including Cerys. Wendy, Joe, Jan and John) setting up beforehand, plus the ceremonial cutting by Christine Lovelock of the special and amazing chocolate cake made for the occasion by Jane Bulpett.  Not a crumb was left!



Great News!

Today we heard that the Planning Application for Manning’s Pit has been withdrawn! That’s a tribute to all the hard work and commitment that the community has put into opposing the application. So, to everyone who put a poster in a window, wrote a letter of objection, signed a petition, attended a march or protest, bought a cake from a coffee morning or just cheered us all on – give yourself a pat on the back.

However, delighted though we are at this news, let‘s not relax our guard just yet.


It’s too early to say whether the threat to Manning’s Pit has now totally disappeared or whether it will re-emerge in some new form. Hopefully, the situation will become clearer in the next few days. As soon as we know more we will let you know.

North Devon Gazette reports:

Dr Sandie Byrne signed our petition

Dr Sandie Byrne is an Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing and Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. She is the author of “The Unbearable Saki.” She also took part in the three hour Radio programme about Saki on Radio Four Extra.  We are especially honoured by the fact that she has signed our petition.  

Manning’s Pit is indeed the last part left of what Saki’s sister Ethel called “the countryside we loved.”  There is a blue plaque on the wall of the house in Bellaire where Saki (H H Munro) lived as a boy. They don’t do blue plaques on fields, but if they did, Manning’s Pit should have one too, for its place in the development of his imagination.

Our latest Coffee Morning

This was in Pilton Parish Hall on February 24th, and it was very successful . There is still no date for when the application will go before North Devon Council’s Planning Committee. We had thought it might be in March, but it now looks as if it cannot be until April. So there wasn’t very much to tell people but it was still good to meet up with so many supporters again – and thanks to all of you who brought cakes as well as bought them!


Henry Williamson’s son Richard and daughter in law Anne sign our petition

Yet more exciting news in regard to the petition. We are thrilled to have support from Henry Williamson’s family. Richard is a naturalist and author, like his father, and Anne has written a biography of Henry.

Richard’s mother, Ida Loetitia Hibbert, was the granddaughter of Colonel Hugh Hibbert and Sarah Catherine Hibbert, who was F R Lee’s daughter, thus linking the Williamson family to Manning’s Pit. They said this in their Comment:

As descendants of the Hibbert family of Broadgate – and Henry Williamson’s own family – and ourselves actively involved in nature conservation, we feel that this very important area should be left wild as an important lung for nature and for people to enjoy.  While appreciating that there is a need for development for housing – it is also extremely important that animals have a refuge and people a place for the mind and spirit. 

This area was of importance to the Hibberts and to Henry Williamson, who would have walked there when he visited ‘Grannie’ – Mrs. Sarah Hibbert – who was very gracious and kindly encouraging to him when he was writing Tarka the Otter.  Her daughter, Margaret Dora, married her cousin Charles Hibbert – and they lived first at Abbotsham and then at Landcross. I am sure that as a child Margaret Hibbert and her brothers and sisters played with the young ‘Saki’ who would also have wandered the area.’