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One would probably not associate Dartmoor with raspberries and to be truthful it has only just squeezed into this section, but believe it or not there is a reference to a ‘raspberry garden’. High on the northern fen nestled at just over 1,700 ft (524m) is a small hollow that was known to the old moormen as ‘The Raspberry Garden’. The hollow is at the head of the large basin of Watern Combe where the Walla Brook rises. Even though it’s situated in such a bleak spot the small hollow is surprisingly sheltered from the elements. The reason it is called ‘The Raspberry Garden’ is that is supposed that farmer Brock of nearby Teignhead farm once cultivated raspberry canes here sometime in the early 1900’s. The topographical map below shows just how remote the raspberry garden was:

It is said that he had a passion for raspberries and so hence the raspberry canes but the question must be asked as to why grow them so far out into the moor when there was a perfectly good garden beside the farmhouse?

James Brock took up the tenancy of Teignhead farm in 1897. For about a year he lived and farmed as a bachelor farmer but the lady he was leasing the farm from, Mrs. Lamb, decided he should have a wife and so advertised for one. After a series of applications Mrs. Lamb chose one and the couple were married. Mrs. Brock has been described as ” a large raw-boned Scotswoman of physical strength beyond that of her husband.” It was not long before the Brock’s started serving Devon teas to the visitors that were returning from their guided walks to Cranmere Pool which considering the remoteness’ of the farm is amazing. Dear old Mrs. Brock was not what one could call ‘house proud’, it is rumoured that one of the kitchen draws was home to a ferret and that she was known to have served teas to guests whilst a pig was lying under the table. It is also noted that Mr. Brock had a ‘liking for the alcohol, which may not be surprising considering his circumstances. It is also rumoured that if he dare return from a session at Princetown with even the hint of having too many, Mrs Brock would give him a good whacking. Old moormen have told stories how James would get as ‘tight as a mattress’ and be unable to walk, at which point the Princetown locals would bundle him in his cart and let the horse take him home. Luckily for him the 9 mile or so trip home would have given him chance to sleep it off by the time he was within swinging distance of ‘mather’ Brock. On second thoughts, maybe it was to escape from Mrs Brock that James decided to plant a raspberry garden so far away from the farm.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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