Sunday, 7 November 2010

Five Days in Devon

Two highlights of my few days away - strolling through the narrow streets of Appledore, and meeting with Mandi from Bideford People to chat about Jesamiah and the Sea Witch Voyages.

photo - courtesy Bideford people

Ripples In The Sand is set in and around Appledore and Instow and the estuary of the rivers Taw and Torridge along the North Devon coast. A sand bar has always made shipping coming into the safety of the rivers hazardous, yet Bideford and Barnstaple were huge centrees of trade in the 16-1800's.

I wanted to bring Sea Witch and Jesamiah to England to make a change of scene for the novels, and decided on the Instow area because that's where my editor, Jo, lives and I'd had a chance to do a fair bit of exploring around there. Plus I could use the enigmatic Exmoor for a few scenes (and bring the famous Doone family into the story!)

When I started writing Ripples I had decided that Jesamiah would be bringing in a cargo of tobacco from Virginia, so imagine my excitement when I discovered that Bideford was the main centre for the tobacco trade in the 1700's. I couldn't believe I'd stumbled on a fact I had no previous idea of.

I also found that there are the remains of a very old chapel on Crow Point, opposite Appledore, of Celtic origin. A place of birth and fertility. The remains of a  Stone Age causeway was discovered - leading towards the Isle of Lundy, which is one those Celtic places, like Glastonbury, that has association with the dead. So - a link with birth to death. And Tiola, of course, is a midwife - birth, and midwives also laid out the dead.

So by sheer chance I had found an ideal spot that fitted perfectly with my idea for a plot.

I was to have another of those OMG hair prickling moments when I started investigating the cobbled streets of Appledore with Jo on the first full day of my Devon Break. The old Appledore streets are very "quaint". narrow, twisting and turning; a rabbit warren maze - a smugglers' haven if ever there was one.

I needed to find a suitable location to place my fictitious tavern where Jesamiah and Tiola are going to stay. I had decided on a name before I'd even started writing - either the Triple Moon or the Full Moon.

Wandering along Market Street, and studying the guide book, Jo and I came to One End Street. Named for obvious reasons. Originally it was called Cock Street, however.

Rather coyly the guide writer assumes the name was given either because a man named John Cock lived there or they held cock fights in the street. Ahem. Appledore was a sailor's port. Cock Street was not a thoroughfare (only having one entrance/exit) so any "street entertainments" would not be interrupted by passers by. Cock Street, I'm afraid, probably has a far more, um, robust - origin!

 I wandered on along Market Street reading the guide book. The present Coach and Horses Tavern was there pre 1800 - though called something different, and at that time it would have had frontage onto the river and harbour (there is a later-built row of shops and cottages there now)

Then my jaw dropped and I felt that prickle of excitement mingled with an "oo-er" moment.
There had also been a tavern in Cock Street.

I'll give you two guesses as to what it was called....

Market Street - an old photograph.
In Jesamiah's time there would only have been the left hand side buildings

... Answer:- The Full Moon.

an OMG  spine shiver moment! I had no idea when I chose that name for my fictitious tavern!