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.
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!
It’s Pilton Panto week and yet again, the Manning’s Pit Banner makes an appearance, to cheers from the audience.
Pilton Panto website
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.’
We are thrilled with today’s news – Ken Loach has signed our petition, and here are his Comments, which are so perfect:
‘People need homes – but they also need green spaces. There is no conflict between a properly planned housing programme and the preservation of historic open land. I strongly support saving Manning’s Pit for future generations to enjoy.’
Pilton Cinema has been strongly supportive of our campaign, and we know the organisers will be especially pleased with today’s news, as they love to show Ken’s films, for example. The Angels Share,and, recently, I, Daniel Blake. Sometimes they show old films, so perhaps today’s news gives us an extra reason to ask for a showing of Kes.
This article in the Macclesfield Express includes the wonderful story of Hugh Robert Hibbert’s bravery in the Crimean war (the research for the article was done by historian, Dorothy Bentley-Smith). The beautiful sword that was presented to Major Hibbert was loaned to the Museum in Macclesfield by Mark Hibbert-Hingston, his great great grandson.
Hugh Hibbert later became a Colonel. He married F R Lee’s daughter Sarah, and came to live in Broadgate House, close to Manning’s Pit. You can read more about him and his family on our website. He was also famous for becoming Mayor of Barnstaple. He must surely have been an inspiring figure in the life of young Hector Hugh Munro (Saki) who lived across the road from Broadgate House.
We started our campaign to Save Manning’s Pit in October 2015. Now here we are in January 2018, and the application still has not come before the Planning Committee. We don’t know when this will happen, but in may be soon, perhaps in February.
Meanwhile, our support continues growing. People far and wide are asking, where is Manning’s Pit? This December, we have had messages of support from Iceland and the USA (Cape Cod and Acton, Mass. Here are the newest ones, from Cape Cod, and Acton – where they have the snow we were hoping we would have in Manning’s Pit.