On Tuesday 23rd August DIVAcontemporary (David Rogers and Mandy Rathbone) travelled over to Martinstown to interview two key figures in the Martinstown Community.
First of all we met the Reverend Jean Saddington, vicar not only of Martinstown but Winterbourne Steepleton, Winterbourne Abbas and Compton Valence. A very busy lady. She talked to us with great warmth and enthusiasm about the amazing community of Martinstown and the many activities that take place there. Some of these originate with the Church – for example the newly reinstated Harvest Supper – but are considered to be truly whole village events with everyone (church-going or not) contributing to their success.
Over and over again she emphasized what a thriving and supportive community it was, with so much going on and everything well supported. There are monthly Friday lunches, a group who organize outings to places of interest, the Mileaters walking group, bell ringing, a church band, a village hall which is booked 2 or 3 times each day. A thriving pub. No longer a village school sadly, but there are strong links with the school in Winterbourne Abbas. Who wouldn’t want to live in such a vibrant place?
And at the heart of it all the Winterbourne itself. It runs through the Reverend Jean’s garden and she has her own private footbridge which she crosses on her way out to to the Church or other parts of the village. She told us how she always stops there to listen to the stream and check its daily progress and temperament.
Later in the day we met two other renowned villagers – Margaret and Terry Hearing. Both are historians who have lived in the village for 50 years and Margaret has written The Book of Martinstown covering all aspects of life in the village going back many years. Before writing the book Margaret was able to talk to people whose memories of Martinstown stretched back to the early 20th century. She has recorded recollections of the Sheep Fair which used to be held on the piece of land on which their house is built. She herself remembers flocks of sheep being driven through the village and grazing in the churchyard. She regaled us with tales of horse racing, prisoner of war camps, flooding and the many village characters that she had known. It was fascinating.
Then we met her husband, Terry, who has also written several books and articles for the local magazine. He gave us one of these, the tale of The Wicked Lady of Martinstown – a shocking story which may be revealed in one of our radio podcasts!