Tuesday, May 12, 2020

ALL ABOUT TOTNES IN SOUTH DEVON, UK - PART 1

Another one from my archives. 

Totnes is a wonderful town and when I lived not too far away I visited often.  First when my family and I had our annual vacations in South Devon, starting from the age of eight, and then later when we moved to Devon at 15, and I started meeting new friends.  
I mentioned some of its history in a previous post, and am adding on to that.  Legend has it that Totnes is where the British people had their origins.  Following the Trojan War in 1170 BC, the defeated Trojans sailed off to find a new home.  Eventually they reached an island which had supposedly been promised to their leader Brutus by the goddess Diana.  He jumped ashore onto a granite boulder (forever called The Brutus Stone) and proclaimed, "Here I stand and here I rest.  The town shall be called Totnes." According to this legend, Brutus and his followers were the first people to reach the shores of Britain, making Totnes and The Brutus Stone the place of origin of the British people.  

I found the photo above online.  In all those years that I lived in Devon and visited Totnes often, I never knew it was there, though I must have walked by it hundreds of times.  The actual stone can be found next to #51 Fore Street as you walk up to the East Gate Arch, and can easily be missed on a busy day when the walkways are crowded with shoppers and tourists.  Whenever I was there the town was always busy, and as a younger person the history of the town was unknown to me.  

I told Gregg what I had learned and his curiosity was peaked as much as mine.  In his research he learned that the Island of Britain was derived from Brutus, a Roman Counsul who conquered Spain in 138 BC.  Brutus is the great-grandson of Aeneas, a Trojan hero.  Aeneas settled in Italy after the Trojan War.  

One of the many things hubs and I have in common, is that we both enjoy history. The older I get it seems I enjoy it even more and is a favorite topic.  There are very interesting discussions when either of us finds a tidbit of history, which always makes us want to explore a little further.  

Totnes' recorded history started back as early as 907 AD when its first castle was built.  It was an important market town as mentioned in my other post, and was one of five Devonshire towns mentioned in The Doomsday Book.  It was considered one of the five wealthiest towns in Medieval and Tudor history, second only to Exeter (another city I visited often).  

The above photo shows the East Gate Arch on Totnes Fore Street.  The Gate was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1990.  The original gate dated back to the early 16th century when Totnes was a walled borough, and it was the main entrance way coming from the port.  

Its clock was installed by the town council in 1879, when they leased this part of the building from the Duke of Somerset.  Sadly the structure was destroyed, along with a couple of neighboring buildings.  That fire threated to engulf the whole town center and fire crews from all over Devon were called.  By the time the blaze was under control, all that was left of the East Gate was the stone shell.  Fortunately it was insured and recreated using as much of the traditional materials and techniques, a process which took almost two years.  
When I think of the many times I visited Totnes with my mother, father and sister, I have one memory that always pops into my head.  This was several years before I met my husband.  Being a dog friendly place, we brought our new-to-the-family Golden Labrador along with us.  My sister bought him for us to ease the pain of losing our other dog.  He was still very young and we didn't want to leave him on his own (on reflection perhaps we should have as we would have all volunteered to stay home with him if we had only known).   However, not having any foresight of what was to come and being in a very happy frame of mind, cooing over our sweet little newcomer and wanting to give him a fun experience, we went off to Totnes, to walk around and do some shopping.  

Our unfortunate incident came as we were walking up to the East Gate Arch.  As we were passing a small terrier, it attacked our little pup without provocation.  We were beyond startled, and our poor dog's nose got the worst of it as the terrier clamped down hard and wouldn't let go.  It even took its human by surprise as he had a hard time getting his terrier to let go.  Our poor pup could not stop trembling, and us along with him.  We scooped him up, got back to our car and took him straight to the vet.  Our Golden Lab had the sweetest of natures but a very long memory.  He was never comfortable around small dogs for the rest of his life, and we always had to be very careful if we ever came across one.  Who knows, perhaps the terrier as a pup may have had his own encounter with a larger dog.  We held no grievance but just like our dog, we never forgot.   

We came across the cute little dog below from our trip in 2015.  She was a happy little thing and was getting lots of attention.  It was almost as though she had a smile on her face.  

A very cute little girl was taking her cat for a walk.  We did a double take and my niece and I laughed as we saw that the 'cat' was a plush toy. Her mum was focused ahead and didn't notice as the cat bounced down the street behind her little girl.  

I thought this was a cute scene as a group of young school children made their way down the street. Most of them were carrying a bag...

and I realized later, after I had a chance to look at the photo on a larger screen, that they must have been heading to the RSPCA Charity Shop with donations.  What a super project for young children.  

When I was their age our school encouraged us to join "Friends to the Animals" which is something I enjoyed very much.  

The shops were fun to browse around and we enjoyed window shopping for a while.  

I have more photos from Totnes, but this has been long enough for today.  Part 2 will be shared soon. 
 

Thank you for dropping by and wherever you are in the world, please stay safe and I wish you a happy day.




30 comments:

  1. I love it! Of course, I knew none of it. What a gorgeous little town! And I love that pink building at the end of the street. Hmmm..well, there are two. Maybe both pictures show the same building. Your poor puppy! I am glad he was not hurt much worse.

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    1. I should have mentioned the pink building was also the pub we had lunch. It is also a small hotel, the one at the bottom of the street. Yes our poor puppy! Traumatized for a long time to come but his nose healed quickly, and he got lots of extra love and attention. Mind you, he always had lots of extra love and attention, lol!

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  2. Such a quaint town and I was just thinking that those children nowadays are not only at school but would not be allowed to walk down the street so close to one another. it is a sadder world now that it has been. This town and photographs must bring back many memories Denise. Stay safe and have a good week.

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    1. Isn't it sad Margaret? Hard to explain to children of their tender age why it is so. Children now will grow up remembering this for the rest of their lives. Thank you and you stay safe and have a good weekend also :)

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  3. Beautiful town, so interesting ! Thank you so much for this aamazing virtual walk! Stay safe and healthy everyone ☺

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  4. It looks truly lovely.
    Your poor dog. The only dog which has ever bitten me was small and I have been wary about them ever since.
    I did smile at the cat being taken for a walk.
    Thank you - stay safe, stay well.

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    1. Thank you EC! I have had a couple of episodes with other people's dogs over the years. It does make you wary. I smiled at that cat too :) You stay safe and well also!

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  5. Hello, what a lovely town and great memories of your trip! The dog is so cute, I like the photo of the girl taking her cat for a walk. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy new week!

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    1. Thank you Eileen, he was a little cutie and I enjoyed looking at the photo of the little girl with her cat bumpety-bumping on the sidewalk :) Enjoy your day and weekend also :)

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  6. Thanks for sharing Totnes with us.

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    1. Thank you Christine, so happy you enjoyed Totnes :)

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  7. The stories of are past are not only interesting but give us more understanding of who we are.

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  8. i enjoyed every photo, it is a much different world than we have here, older buildings and narrow streets. i spent some time wondering if either of our trucks would fit down the street. i don't think so... nice memories from your trip. sorry about the pup attack which is so scary. dog fights I mean..

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    1. Hi Sandra, I doubt a lot of our trucks would not fit down the street. They would also have to fit under the arch and they would never make it. Thank you! It was very upsetting at the time but in every experience there is a learning curve.

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  9. Hi Denise,
    I have spent a lot of time in Devon, mostly the Northern parts , Woolacombe and Ilfracombe areas but have never visited Totnes, thank you for the introduction.
    Stay safe and well,
    John

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    1. Hi John, I remember going to Ilfracombe on a school trip when I was nine. We saw a musical, Naughty Marietta! I'll have to look that up to see if there is anything about it as I have long forgotten the storyline. You stay safe and well also :)

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  10. Oh, your poor dog! What a horrible thing to happen. I would have been so pissed off at the owner.

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    1. Thanks Gigi, I think we were all too worried about our pup and getting him out of there. It all happened so fast.

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  11. Denise, I very much enjoyed you sharing about Totnes! What interesting photos and great stories of your times there as well as the history. So sorry about your dog. We have learned that most animals never forget. I laughed out loud when I viewed your photo of the child walking the cat--hilarious!

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    1. Thank you Martha Ellen, so happy you enjoyed my post. They certainly don't forget, I have read several stories of various animals over the years and how they remember, people for instance. Glad that little gave you a laugh.

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  12. I'd love to walk about this charming little town. Thanks for taking us on a tour.

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    1. You're very welcome Ellen, I am happy you enjoyed the town :)

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  13. Looks like a wonderful little area, I bet they have some cool shops and such

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    1. They do, many of which we didn't have time for. Thanks Dora :)

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  14. There's always something new to learn whether about the history of our own home town or other settlements. I did not know the origins of Totnes. Very interesting. Your poor puppy! What a traumatic meeting with the other dog. I was watching television yesterday and Martin Clunes, the actor of Doc Martin fame, who knows a lot about horses and dogs said that most puppies that are born during this virus pandemic lockdown will not have opportunities to have normal walks where they can get used to and socialise with other dogs. Have a good day Denise.

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    1. Thank you Linda and that's very interesting what Martin Clunes says. You have a good day also :)

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  15. Such a lovely town, perhaps one to visit once the lockdown comes to an end!

    All the best Jan

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    1. Yes it would be lovely to get back there one day. Thanks Jan, and all the best to you too :)

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