Special to The Express
This is a big “Hi” from Plympton – not in Mass but across the pond from Devon, England.
There are about seven Plymptons in the world – the Devon one being the oldest, and no doubt where your town got its name from.
Plympton St Maurice, to give it its full name goes back to 900 ad and today has one of the finest examples of town planning of that time. Strip gardens run down to a stream and animals would have been kept on the far side. Come the 12th century, Plympton St Maurice was busier than nearby Plymouth and was a tin assaying town, complete with castle. As a result of the wealth, lots of lovely old buildings grew up, and over time we can boast that it truly is the birthplace of British art, with a host of well-known artists born in the village, not least Sir Joshua Reynolds. John Sparke explored the Spanish main and from that voyage became the first person to describe potatoes and tobacco. World famous clock makers, scientists, physicians and politicians all trod the pavements of this small village.
And folks, we’re still going! Now we are deemed a conservation area and many of our fine houses are listed for preservation. Our main road, Fore Street, was built about 1136! We’re situated about 4 miles from Plymouth and the coast, and about the same to Dartmoor, a 400 square mile gorgeous national park complete with the special breed of “Dartmoor ponies”, thatched cottages and views that are beyond gorgeous.
We have a terrific community. In our Guildhall, built in the 1600’s, we have a pop up cinema and lots of fun events. Two pubs run a variety of entertainments as well as fine local ales. A What’s App group keep us all informed and able to offer help if needed. Every summer we have a Midsummer Festival on the Castle Green, which includes a day long lamb feast, open gardens and a music festival. The whole village gets stuck in to help and it is a lot of fun.
And like you, we need it at the moment. Our beautiful conservation area is coming under threat. A new town is being built not far away and our politicians and councils seem unable to divert traffic away from our area. Already our church has cracked windows, the original 16th century glass in some of the houses can’t cope with vibrations and the very safety of pedestrians is threatened because of excess traffic.
But never mind hey! Plymouth City council would rather spend millions on putting up a good front to celebrate the Mayflower 2020 anniversary than save the village that many of your ancestors may have come from. It’s a sad tale and I’m sure you have these battles yourself. We’re in negotiations – have been for 12 years actually – but are now getting to the point when we need to get noticed. And we might just need the good people of Plympton Massachusetts to help us – so watch this space!
Progress on our village conservation is held up because of the dreaded “V” word. We’re all in lock down – only allowed out for absolute essentials and steering clear of anyone within feet. So far we have no cases and I hope, as I write this, that you have none either. Of course it brings out the gardener in us, and seeds are being propagated in greenhouses and if it goes on much longer I reckon people will be building a still for some bootleg! Of course our seasons are a bit ahead of yours. The gardens are filled with spring blossom and there’s the cheery prospect of summer ahead.
This is the first, of what I hope may be more missives from England. We’d love to form links with you, love to hear any history you know of that the two towns might share. And we’d be tickled pink if any of you made it across here when times are easier. We would be delighted to host you. Meanwhile, keep well and if you’re interested, look us up on our website: https://www.plymptonstmaurice.com.