Beacon of Lettaford

Let’s go back to The Chapel in Dartmoor, where we enjoyed a relaxing long weekend a few weeks ago…

This modest granite-stone building, our temporary abode, started its life as a schoolroom / chapel. Sometime in 1860, the door was opened to a small number of local people who were there to attend a Sunday prayer meeting. And for the occasion to take place, there were two women who made it possible – Mrs Susan Walling, the schoolmistress, whose influence must have been a catalyst to initiate the construction of the building. And Miss.Pynseat, who funded the project and became the owner of the building.

Inside of The Chapel, there was a reference on the wall to indicate who was behind the plan…

The Landmark Trust always furnishes and decorates their properties with hints of the individual history of which each building underwent originally. The maiden in the artwork must have implied one of the aforementioned women and a lamb must have been the locals who were the recipient of those women’s goodwill.

The images of the abandoned chapel before the Trust started its restoration…

The congregation of the prayer meeting was consisted of local farmers and farm labourers and the number was once over 25 in its hay day. However, the number dwindled after the agricultural depression of the late 19th century and the departure of the funding member, Mrs.Walling, from Lettaford in 1904. Apart from a thank you note address to her by the locals, there was no record which explained the reason why Mrs.Walling left the hamlet. Could she have emigrated to Australia in search of a better life as the area around Dartmoor was never wealthy?

During the 1920’s, the number of attendance must have increased significantly, and as a result, the schoolroom / chapel was extended…

A single-storey structure made of galvanised iron and wood was attached to the existing building.

In 1943, gas-lighting was installed, and then, finally, electricity came to the chapel in 1963. Despite the modernisation, however, the number of congregation continued to decrease and it became as little as four in the late 60’s. Eventually, the decision was made in 1977 that Latteford was to be incorporated into the Exeter Methodist circuit, and the entrance to the chapel was closed until the Landmark Trust started a restoration work in 1981.

The charter of young Methodism was on the wall…

It was touching to realise that, once upon a time, this place was a centre of the community, filled with the laughter of children, hymns and Christmas carol. This small chapel must have been like a lighthouse for those who inhabited the unforgiving terrain of Dartmoor which sprawling out like ocean.

Yes, you did provide us warmth and comfort…

We said good-bye to the hedges of Lettaford…

So which property of the Landmark Trust we gonna visit next? I can hardly wait…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Dartmoor longhouse

Across a green, there was another property, owned and run by the Landmark Trust, called Sanders…

This oblong building had a long history…

Sanders is believed to be the oldest and the least modified from the original farmhouse constructed in the style of Dartmoor longhouse around Lettaford.

Dartmoor longhouse is a type of stone building which was once prevalence around the uplands of Devon, Cornwall and Wales. The most notable feature of the design is that the oblong structure was split in half, one half was occupied by humans and the rest was used to house their livestock. The benefit of living with livestock, especially cows, under a single roof was immence during the Dartmoor’s hard winter. Instead of having to venture out to the field everytime the farmers wanted to milk the cows, they could do so from the comfort of their own home.

The name Lettaford first appeared on an Assizes record in 1247 and Sanders may have been existed by then already. (An Assizes record is a record of the periodic court established by King Henry II in the 12th century). The location of the hamlet of Lettaford speaks for the origin of its name – it means “the clear ford”. The ford still flows and supplies all the water for the farmsteads.

No one know how and when the community was born in the hollow but it was likely that they found a sheltering landscape and an abundance of water supply favourable to settling in…

These sceneries probably hadn’t changed since the medieval time. How about that. I was impressed.

Bella was also setting in nicely in the comfort of hollow between Hubbie’s legs…

It’s always lovely to snuggle up to the person you love, isn’t it?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Long weekend @ The Chapel

The silence around The Chapel, another Landmark Trust property, was absolute. Apart from the occasional sound of the trees rustling in the wind and the birds chirping, it was so quiet that it felt like we were in an airless vacuum.

The time seemed to stand still at Lettaford, Devon.

After our sojourn at Martello Tower last August, which turned out to be a huge success, we decided to have another long weekend at their property. ‘How about The Chapel? It looks so cute and cozy!’ Hubbie and I peered into his iMac and read the details.

A small granite building stood next to a small stream…

Landmark Trust aquired and restored the property in 1981. As the name suggests, the building used to be a chapel where the locals had their weekly congregation during 1860 to 1977…

The interior of the property was simple but had a lovely homely feel to it…

The room also contained a kitchenette…

A roomy bathroom. I was delighted because I hated a shoebox-size one…

Beds with comfortably firm mattresses…

However, Hubbie grumbled about the bed next morning. According to him, the bedpost was touching his calves all night long and it kept him from having a decent sleep. Oh dear, being 6’5″ tall doesn’t make his life very easy, does it?

Hubbie and I were so excited to show our Bella her very first countryside. It was a great shame that she wouldn’t be able to run freely because she was still recovering. However, all the smells and the sceneries of Dartmoor would be amazing for her. Let’s hope the weather will be kind to us, I prayed before I fell asleep…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Destination Aldeburgh

Despite having his own sorrow to deal with, Hubbie did his upmost to alleviate my grief and to lighten my mood after we came back from NYC. ‘Why don’t we ask your mom to visit us? You haven’t seen her for a while, have you?’, he suggested during one weekend in early July. ‘Can we? Can she come to Suffolk with us too?’

The holiday was planned long before Mr.B’s sudden passing. We were very much looking forward to spending a coastal weekend with him because we knew in our heart that it would probably be the last holiday together. After Mr.B’s death, we fretted for days about cancelling the booking. Are we in a right frame of mind for going away and being on our own? Wouldn’t our soul searching be easier if we did it at home? Would we be able to keep our composure and to be kind to each other?

Our saviour stood next to Paddington Bear…

My mom arrived from Japan, enduring a 12 hours flight. We were so happy to see each other after having to content ourselves with chatting via Skype since last October.

Our destination Aldeburgh was 106 miles away and took us a little shy of three hours by car from London. We came off from A12 just after passing Farnham and took A1094 all the way to the little seaside town. Once we turned into High Street, we could see the thoroughfare was laden with charming shops with bunting and people in bright summer attire.

At the end of High Street, the tarmac disappeared and the road became a gravel path called Slaughden Rd. The path was uneven and time to time, we came across pot holes as large as a manhole cover. Half way down the dusty road, we found the path forked, one carried on straight on the bank and the other one descended toward River Alde.

We continued to move forward carefully and finally, we saw our true destination in the distance…

Yes, we were to stay at the Martello Tower!

A fort from the Napoleonic War era. One of the Landmark Trust’s properties for a holiday let.

None of us had ever stayed in a fort and we all were shaking with excitement!

A bridge over the fort was a bit creaky and it added the suspense in a good way.

I was given the honour of opening the door…

A key to the fort was left in a hidden safe which was looked after by the trust’s caretaker.

Strong winds were whipping us up and I became very worried if I dropped the key into the mort underneath. Even though there was no water, none of us fancied the prospect of having to wade through the thick undergrowth.

Open sesame!

The story of this amazing place and the fun we had shall be continued in my next post!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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