Above: a small group of campaigners and supporters outside the Yeo Dale Hotel in Pilton, after taking down (temporarily, for refurbishment) the Banner that has been such a feature of the campaign,
The Friends of Manning's Pit
Who we are:
A group of local residents who have come together to
save these much loved fields for future generations
Manning's Pit bakes in the sun, but it is
always a delight to walk in the cooling shade of the
July in Pilton means
Green Man Day, and we had our usual stall outside
Mr Manning's old house.
We were able to tell people about the
Nomination Form we have handed in to North Devon Distric
Council, asking for Manning's
Pit to be made an Asset of Community Value.
We have also adopted a Constitution and
are up on the website.
Back in April our solicitor wrote to
Summix Ltd to inform that we would be interested in
purchasing the land. Sadly. we are still - - three
months later - waiting for a reply from them..
Satish Kumar signs our petition!
Go to the Blog
again to learn more about Satish.
Yeo Dale Hotel Banner comes down - for the moment.
May 2018We are back in the phoney war stage, which is where we were for much of the last two and a half years. But never mind, we have been here before, and we do not give up!
Let's keep the messages coming - here's one from Stratford on Avon, from John and Christine:
"We went on a river cruise, and floating along the river, watching the sawns, and people sitting on the grass in a beautiful park, with Elgar's music as the sound track on the journey, we couldn't help but think how everyone needs green spaces, flowing rivers, wildlife and tranquility, which is what our campaign is all about."
April 2018We know the battle isn't over, and we know that Summix could come back again with new plans, but we decide to enjoy the moment.
We have a party!
Here's a link to the report about it on our Blog:
The photograph below shows us watching "The Magic of Manning's Pit" on the big screen.
Planning Application 62524 has been withdrawn.On Monday March 5th Summix withdrew their planning application. We do not as yet know why they have done this, and we cannot be sure that they will not put in another one, or sell the land on to other speculators/developers.
At the same time, this is great news, and we feel we should congratulate all of our supporters in Pilton, Bradiford, Barnstaple and beyond, for making it clear how much this special place means to so many people.
The wait for news of the Planning Meeting date
Morning on February 24th is a big success.
Meanwhile, excitement builds when the weather forecast suggests that we might have snow in Manning's Pit at last.
On the final day of February we woke to a white
Ken Loach, the famous film director, has
signed our petition! That has excited everyone,
especially Pilton Cinema supporters, who gave his film
"I, Daniel Blake" a standing ovation when it was shown
in the autumn. We are so grateful to him for
We have had a fantastic response to our sudden call for extra funds - despite it being so close to Christmas - and our consultants have produced hard-hitting criticisms of Summix's latest submissions - you can read them on the Home Page..
No snow in Manning's Pit, but we had a
chilly message from Iceland:
The speculators who bought Manning's Pit have finally made their next move, and submitted more documents to North devon Council's Planning Department, mainly in regard to habitat surveys and Highways matters. Consultation has been re-opened and will now conclude on December 21st 2017 (see Home page for links to this)
Messages of support from various parts of the country,
and the world. continue arriving, and we have had an
interesting contact with the Melbourne Public Library in
Australia - three paintings by F R Lee were hanging
there in 1873 when he arrived in Melbourne on his yacht
Local artist Jill Rossey Green, whose montage was on
show at the Coffee Morning, offers prints for sale of her
work that was inspired by Manning's Pit. Go to Blog
for details: https://manningspit.wordpress.com/2017/10/24/jill-rossey-green/
Still waiting... but we had our latest Coffee Morning, which was a great success. It was good as well to make contact with people who have moved into Pilton recently. As the campaign has carried on, some of our supporters have had to move away, but the new people who move into their homes have in nearly all cases demonstrated their support as well.
Go to our Blog for more about this event:
From the jungle to the icy North... a late September
Message came from Greenland, along with photos of polar
bears as well.
We are still waiting for news....
Meanwhile, we have had more messages from abroad and other parts of the UK, go to our blog to see photographs of them (especially ones from Uganda) and the Green Man Festival.
Save Manning's Pit message written in Cassava leaves, from Uganda.
Photo taken by Acomo Lovelock, who has also walked in Manning's Pit.
We are waiting now to hear when the date of the Planning Committee will be, and as son as we have some information about this we will post it on the Blog and Facebook.
In the meantime, we will once again have a stall at the Green Man Festival, so we hope you will stop by to say hello if you come along.
This link gives more information about the Festival: http://www.piltonfestival.co.uk/index.html
We were very sad to learn that Trevor Beer has passed away. He supported our campaign because Manning's Pit was important to him, and we now have an extra reason to make sure that he did not support us in vain.
Here is a link to an article in the North Devon Gazette
And also a link to
a letter he wrote to the North Devon Journal back
General Election campaignWe are non-political and have supporters from all parties, so want to make clear that no particular party represents us in any way.
Before the election, each candidate gave us a statement about their position on Manning's Pit, which can be seen here.
We were pleased that they all gave us statements of support.
May 2017The Exhibition continues until May 20th.
We are now waiting to find out when the application to build on Manning's Pit will come before the North Devon Council Planning Committee.
Exhibition at North Devon Museum
This Exhibition is about the cultural and historical significance of Manning's Pit, and includes works by the eminent Victorian artist Frederick Richard Lee, the story of Benjamin Manning with exhibits including his signature on the Deeds of his house, connections to Saki, the famous short story writer, and Henry Williamson (Tarka the Otter. exhibits from more recent times include a stunning painting by Mark Manning (also known as Zodiac Mindwarp.)
Consultation Period closed March 16th.
You can see our consultants reports on the Home Page.
The response from local people was tremendous, over 250 letters of objection were received, and can read on the Council website.
More information here:
March 2nd Town Council Meeting
Two Reports on our Blog:
The phoney war is over, the application is in. Perhaps
it is Round One to us, and the speculators who bought
the Manning's Pit fields have been intimidated by
the enormous level of public resistance to the plans
displayed in their Exhibition last year. From an
original suggestion of 138 houses they have now put in
plans for 41.
Make no mistake, though, these plans would mean the
destruction of Manning's Pit. They strike at the heart
of this magical place that we all love so much, they
would drive a road right though the buttercup fields
that delight us all each spring, carve out earth from
the slopes and change the very shape of the field, where
generations of Pilton and Bradiford residents have
walked and played.
How appropriate it is that in the week that the plans are made public, our Save Manning's Pit Banner is playing a prominent part in the popular Pilton Pantomime. Manning's Pit is our Hampstead Heath, our Primrose Hill, our Central Park, our special place, and we will do everything in our power to keep it safe.
Go to our Planning
Application page to find out how to object to
We are thrilled to have received a message of support
from Michael Morpugo, the former Children's Laureate,
founder of "Farms
for City Children", and writer of "War
Horse" and many other wonderful Children's books.
He said, in a card received this week, that he
supports our " brave and important effort to stem the
tide of intrusion into our precious places." John
Norman and Harold Murch, who both played in the
Manning's Pit fields back in the late 1940s and early
1950s, visited Michael Morpugo recently. Harold
Murch has connections with the Farms for City Children
(he has taken children from Birmingham down to the
farm.) John is of course one of the stars in our film
"The Magic of Manning's Pit." Their visit inspired
us to write to Michael Morpugo, and we are delighted to
have his reply, to add Literary support to the support
we have had already from environmentalists James
Lovelock and Jonathon Porritt and - locally - Trevor
We like to feel that we can call Manning's Pit "Fields
for Town Children" because that is what they are - a
place where children in our town can play in real
countryside and be in touch with their rural
heritage. Manning's Pit also has important
Literary links because of the fact that Saki, the world
famous Short Story writer, grew up within sight of
Interestingly, there is another kind of Artistic and
Literary link to Manning's Pit through the daughter of
the famous Victorian artist Frederick Richard Lee. He
lived in Broadgate House, which was just across the road
from Saki's house, and his daughter became friendly in
later life with Henry Williamson (Tarka The Otter.) He
dedicated one of his books, The Village Book, to her.
The Second Manning's Pit Art
North Devon Journal April 7th 2016
Supporter Clare waves a Save Manning's Pit flag on the Arctic ice. See more of her photos of the Arctic here, including polar bears - a real danger while picking up plastic rubbish on the ice.
On her return, another Manning's Pit supporter baked this in her honour.
The Manning's Pit banner goes on its travels, seen at Tate Modern, Trafalgar Square, the houses of Parliament and Exmouth Rugby Ground
Save Manning's Pit messages come to our Facebook Page from Croyde, then Exmouth for the Rugby, North East Scotland , a class of children in Bangkok make a "Save Manning's Pit" banner, a message from the Falkland Islands and the latest message comes from Dubai
As news of the film, petition and posters spread, people from further away began to send us messages too. It was notable how many people who signed the petition lived in other parts of the country or abroad, but said they had played in Manning's Pit as children. They cared enough about it still to write to us.
Peter Heaton Jones MP and Environment Agency Chief Alan Burrows visit Manning's Pit, report includes a video of Peter Heaton Jones and Christine Lovelock (Friends of Manning's Pit) speaking about Manning's Pit..
Save Manning's Pit
Posters/Signs and Banners
| click here to see more
The Phoney War is over - The Second Battle of Manning's Pit begins.
We finally discovered who the new owners are, property speculators with head office based in London, called Summix Ltd.
We have waited since October 27th 2015 to learn what they want to do with Manning's Pit. Now we know, and it is even worse than anything we could have imagined
Framptons' plans - for the destruction of Manning's Pit
The Public Exhibition was held by Framptons (agents for the new landowners) on Monday 21st March at the Castle Centre, 25 Castle Street, Barnstaple, EX31 1DR, from 3pm - 8pm. Little did they know it was also going to be the venue for the launch of Martin Kemp's wonderful film "The Magic of Manning's Pit" - see the film embedded on the home page.
Below are some photographs from our marathon 5 hour long decoy demonstration. It was designed as a relay demonstration but some noble supporters were there the whole time.
|The Decoy Demonstration.
It was a real demonstration but one of its aims was to mislead. Framptons had no idea at all that we had hired a room in the Castle Centre, and there was about to be an alternative and far more alluring attraction in opposition to their Exhibition!
The Press and media came and took lots of photographs, at the beginning, when there were far more people, but we had no chance to take any ourselves, so a special thanks to Tony Hebblethwaite, who came at three, and later again, and took most of these photographs.
Five pm on the pavement opposite the Castle Centre, in full view of the Framptons Exhibition.
Five pm, on the pavement, two of the local people who spoke so movingly in "The Magic of Manning's Pit"
If you listen to The Voice, our local Radio station, you may have heard Chris Bulpett (left) being interviewed the next day.
And if you listen to Radio Devon you may have heard Tim Saunders, second right, speaking on Wednesday morning.
Around 6pm, or perhaps later, taken from a phone. It was getting much colder, but our supporters did not give up.
This final photograph (from his phone) was taken by Brian Greenslade, who had been away but came just in time for the last showing of the film.
|We had been worried about
whether people would be be able to cope with a five hour
long demonstration, but we shouldn't have been
anxious. Manning's Pit is a place that is special
not just because it is beautiful, not just because it has
a history and is a part of Pilton's heritage, but most of
all because so many people love it, and if standing on a
cold pavement for five hours was what was needed, they
were there for us
|North Devon MP Peter Heaton Jones meets
members of our group and walks around the fields.
North Devon Gazette Feb 3rd: MP shows support for Pilton's Manning's Pit
North Devon Journal: Feb 4th Friends of Manning's Pit get MPs support
| The news came at the end
of January - after rumours to the contrary - that the
new owners had indeed taken up the option on Manning's
Pit. It proved difficult to find out who they
The Exhibition about Manning's Pit, that was held in Pilton Parish Hall on the weekend of January 23rd and 24th, was a great success. Thank you to all of those who came, we were very pleased to meet you all.
The Exhibition included paintings and sketches of Manning's Pit and the surrounding fields by artists Tim Saunders, Zsuzsa Reynolds, Ann Beer, Margaret Reed and Christine Lovelock. There were also many photographs on Display, plus maps and information about the fields that are under threat. Another part of the Exhibition was a section on the History of Manning's Pit, and included a display of photographs from the Pilton Archive, and information Benjamin Manning himself. We are especially grateful to Margaret Reed for the time she spent researching his life for us. Thanks also to all of those who made cakes, and helped generally, whether with teas or setting up the Exhibition.
North Devon Journal report
North Devon Gazette Report
Our photographs: click on image to see all of them
Here is a link to the North Devon Journal report -
"Hundreds attend rally"
- do look at the Photo Gallery, especially photo 9, which is the one that was used in the Print version of the paper:
"Rally and March for Manning's Pit" in the centre of Barnstaple, Saturday December 19th, 2015.
A great crowd of people from Bradiford and Pilton came down to support this event, despite heavy showers, gusting winds, and all the pressures of this being the last weekend before Christmas. While rushing around we also managed to take some shaky photographs, and also to record some interviews afterwards with the attending local politicians, which are embedded below.
While we are non-political, we are grateful to have support from local politicians, some of whom came to join us yesterday. They all said they were impressed by what was described as an amazing turn out. in the circumstances (bad weather, busy time).
Our MP, Peter Heaton Jones could not come because of prior commitments, but he sent us a very helpful letter of support. We were especially pleased that Sir Nick Harvey, who was MP for North Devon for so many years, was able to come at the last minute (having been away)
Letter to North Devon Journal about Manning's Pit, from Trevor Beer, MBE.
Trevor has kindly given us permission to show the text of his letter (it isn't accessible online)
Trevor Beer's website
The link below has 18 photos of our first March:
Pilton residents show their feelings over possible development of local beauty spot -North Devon Journal, Nov 15 2015
The news in September that the Manning's Pit fields
were for sale were a shock to almost everyone in Pilton
and Bradiford. The Pilton Residents Group had been
fighting for several years to stop other building
developments, without success, and they said they could
not fight to save Manning's Pit.
An Exhibition of Manning's Pit paintings, from 2012,
before the land came under threat: