The England Ipple-Pen Diary
18 November 2018
Another week passes in Ipplepen and I suppose in true British fashion I should start with the weather seeing as how it is the most talked about thing – even more than sport or politics – throughout the United Kingdom.
It has rained, heavy, drizzle and everything between with sporadic interludes of dry and even sometimes sunny intervals with the occasional high wind and it is also warm being in double digits which is extreme in November.
This week I’ve noticed the sound of the children playing at the local primary school about a mile away appears to have carried even more on the wind.
Is there any sound greater than that of children clearly enjoying themselves?
I suppose it’s an anathema to those grumpy old sods of which there will inevitably be some even in our little village of just over 2,000 people but let’s ignore them and move on.
What it raised in me was the sudden realisation that what I was hearing actually originated in the past – albeit only a fraction so – and that relative to the moment the laughter was created I was in fact in the future.
Bloody Einstein and his mc squared.
Anyway enough of this digression – Ipplepen this year has had a special anniversary namely the 700th birthday of St Andrews Church around which there was a series of events which started on the 3rd May with a service.
Now to those who know my views on all religions it will come as no surprise that I didn’t attend the service – mainly because hedging my bets I didn’t want to be struck down by a devine retribution bolt of lightening?
I remember those threats at school during Religious Instruction – a simpler time in the UK when there was no other religion than Protestant Christianity – none of this new fangled Religious Education in my days at school.
The history of the church is fascinating and is reflected not only in its past importance as the centre of the village community – closely followed by the pub – but also in its graveyard and more importantly from a historical point of view the remains of the people buried there.
It may seem morbid but an old established graveyard is a human history lesson all of its own and ours has 700 years of history.
Ipplepen has one in particular I should point out which is the grave of Bertram Fletcher Robinson who many people will have never heard of but was a friend of one Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Bertram Fletcher Robinson died in 1907 aged 36 of ‘enteric fever’ and ‘peritonitis’ and even though he was a qualified barrister his chosen profession was as an author and journalist.
This is where the story gets interesting because there was moves some years ago to exhume Bertram Fletcher Robinson amongst claims that he had actually died from being poisoned with a drug overdose – in other words claims that he had been murdered.
Needless to say the church and authorities refused the request for an exhumation.
What was the reason for the exhumation request?
You may well ask.
The claim was that it was Bertram who whilst hosting his friend Arthur at his parents home here in Ipplepen told him a story of large fierce animals that roamed across nearby Dartmoor and that this was the foundation of The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Bertram and Arthur fell out over who thought the story up and as a consequence Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was responsible for the early death of Bertram at only 36 years 153 days old.
As I said all graveyards are a history lesson full of stories which may well be apocryphal in the telling but are nevertheless worth telling.
I’m off to find more tales to tell.