One rainy afternoon I was looking to see if I could give some added value to the chore of food shopping on holiday, by turning left instead of right, to see what if anything I could find. What I found was the village of Sherford. I took a peek in the 13th century Parish church (sorry I’ve not exterior photos, it was too wet)
The parish of Sherford was part of the area that was totally evacuated, to allow troops to train for the D-Day landings. Goodness knows what it must have been like for the local population, amid great secrecy and haste, to pack up their homes, dispose of their livestock and leave the fields fallow, not knowing if and when they could return, I found the transcript of this notice, which was posted at each church’s in the parish: very poignant
TO OUR ALLIES OF THE U.S.A.
The church has stood here for several hundred years. Around it has grown a community, which has lived in these houses and tilled these fields ever since there was a church. This church, this churchyard, in which their loved ones lie at rest, these homes, these fields, are as dear to those who have left them as are the homes and graves and fields which you, our Allies, have left behind you. They hope to return one day, as you hope to return to yours, to find them waiting to welcome them home. They entrust them to your care meanwhile and pray that God’s blessing may rest upon us all.
Charles, Bishop of Exeter
The Church has ancient panels
Sadly at some stage a concrete floor has been laid, probably for structural reasons, which must have snuffed out a lot of the visible history of the building, tomb stones, tiles, worn flag stones
There were a lot of beautifully made kneelers, no two were alike as far as I could see.
Some depicted the links and ties to Exercise Tiger
A small list told of a massive loss, especially for the Weekes family. Stone and Tucker are names I’ve seen before (I’m not sure if the list is of casualties of both World Wars)
There was to be a sudden total evacuation of this quiet Devon countryside, involving 3,000 people, their possessions, farm stock and equipment. This fact was made known by the Lord Lieutentant of Devon, on 12th November 1943, at East Allington Church. Later on the same day, the message was delivered at Stokenham Church, where my father would have heard it. I’m sure that when he went home with the news, Mother and all others must have been filled with horror and disbelief, looking at their surroundings and wondering “For how long?” and “Shall we ever come back again?”.
This is the penultimate ‘Devon Holiday’ post, I’ve been back in the real world for what seems an age now, zipping here there and every where, collecting blog posts as I go, the gentle pace of a Devon holiday seems very distant already.