Some of friends of Manning's

What Manning's Pit means to us - poems, lyrics, personal comments and memories from those who love the Manning's Pit Fields...  plus activities that have taken place in the fields.

Snowballing in Manning's Pit

 This photograph came from the Pilton Story Website.
  The link shows the full photograph with a text,
 explaining who the boys were.

A poem from the 1940's by Brian Norman

We were especially thrilled to meet Brian himself at our first Exhibition. He told us the battle took place in  about 1946, when he was a boy.
The Battle of Manning's Pit

Here is the tale of Mannings Pit

One of blood and guts and grit
When, some years ago one August night
Two Pilton boys put up a fight.
Read more:

 Martin Kemp's film (link on Home Page)
 shows Brian and John Norman together,
 reciting the poem in Manning's Pit.

Tim Saunders wrote this poem after an evening's Moth watching in Manning's Pit with John and Mary Breeds

Ode to the Setaceous Hebrew Character

Who knew
That you flew

With your pretty wings
And bristles and things

Thinking light thoughts
Among St. John’s Worts

You give us all that
And lunch for a bat

Ricky Knight, former Town Councillor (like Benjamin Manning) and leader of the North Devon Green Party for many years.
This an interview Ricky gave after our Protest March in December 2015. He describes how when he was courting his wife, they used to walk up into Manning's Pit.
The same story is told by so many couples, as in the film, The Magic of Manning's Pit.

Pilton Panto

The Manning's Pit Banner makes an appearance
in the 2017 Pilton Pantomime.
Will it appear again in 2018 ? 
Yes!  See below.

Annie Featherstone, Pilton Resident, has written this poem.

A Designated Site of Scientific Interest... The Bradiford Valley
Have the developers gone completely crazy?
Will an ecological murder be written in the script
NO,  we will save our beloved Manning's Pit!

Horseshoe bats , midges, and worms that glow,
Larvae, dragon flies and meadow blues,
Bumbles bees, tawny owls , marbled whites,
Are they really to be buried in a concrete site?

Song birds will mourn, their demise, and their passing,
The destruction of habitats, from their generations lasting,
Swallows not feeding, nesting, and breeding,
From far away lands,  lost on their returning.

Read the full poem

A.M, a local resident sent us this... she isn't the only one to voice such feelings following a loss.

When my dad died I don't know what I would have done without this walk.
I cried and talked to him out loud where no one could here me .
Twenty years we have had the pleasure of this beautiful place
 and I feel so sad for our loss.

The Football team

This photograph and text also came from the Pilton Strory website. In 1977, to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee, a Men versus Women's football match was held in Manning's Pit, by kind permission of Mrs May. After the event, a barbecue was also held, down near Manning's Pit bridge.

Anne Beer, local artist, has written this for us.

Manning's Pit

...has helped me through the thick and thin of the last ten years. It has absorbed my grief as my husband was dying, the river carried away my tears, the golden buttercups and May blossom uplifted me and the soaring buzzards gave me hope.

To study the tiniest ladybird on a twig and then in one glance to be able to span the vast horizon and see Hartland, and then look over the dunes and estuary, what magic!

Then the joy of letting the dog sniff out a new adventure, a paradise of smells and a mudfull of muck! Meeting up with others or sometimes preferring to be “solo”, lost in though around the familiar yet ever changing beaten track of hundreds of visits.

Memories. The Acorn coffee I made, elderflower cordial, comfrey ointment, blackberry rose hip and sloe jelly, Alexander seeds ground up to make pepper, and the mushrooms.

What next? Concrete sitting on top of our dreams and memories? I hope not, but I thank God for what we have enjoyed and pray for a miracle.

Anne (formerly Lovelock) Beer.

Read it in her own handwriting

Dan Reynolds, former resident of Pilton

Dan Reynolds former resident

Egg Pacing

In the 1980s, several Easter events were held in Manning's Pit , organised by the vicar.
They included egg pacing (Easter egg rolling) and an egg decorating competition.

Read more here

Bev Snowden
Pilton Resident, and her children Megan and Oli

Rainbow over Manning's Pit by Bev Snowden
A rainbow over Manning's Pit  - photo taken by Bev Snowden on a recent morning walk

Bev and her children write how they feel about Manning's Pit

"I would like to save Manning's Pit because it is exceptionally beautiful and special. We don't have any other green spaces that we can access easily in Pilton. People come from all over to enjoy it's peace and tranquility. Each time I walk there I see at least three or four other people. That's hundred of people a month who take pleasure in walking around and enjoying its fields, streams, trees and birds. Psychosocially this is so important to the people of Barnstaple and North Devon."

'Because Mannings Pit is a beautiful place where we can be free and have fun.'    Megan Snowden age 12

'I would like a path straight from my house to Manning's Pit with no cars because we love it so much and we can go swimming in the river.'
Oli Snowden age 8

John Lovelock,
Pilton Resident and son of environmental Scientist James Lovelcok

John lives close to Manning's Pit and is a member of Abbey Gateway Club which has meetings on Fridays in Barnstaple. He also attends Rose Hill Activity Centre just outside Bideford, you can see him here on their website in his favourite pink trousers in Uptime Funk.

Christine Lovelock
Pilton Resident and John's sister
Christine's reasons for caring about Manning's Pit:

"A town is more than houses, it needs green spaces where people can walk and refresh their spirits. We need housing, but the most beautiful parts of our countryside and towns need to be protected, too. This is the most accessible countryside to the North and West of Barnstaple, the one place where you can walk away from traffic noise and enjoy peace and tranquility. These fields are part of our heritage, as important to us as Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill are to Londoners. If the government relaxed planning laws in London so that those places could be built upon, what an outcry there would be!"

Read more

Sledging in Manning's Pit, 2009

Wheneve it snows, it seems as if the whole of Pilton descends on Manning's Pit.
One of the best tales we've heard is the one about the vicar, back in the 60's,
who took an old framed oil painting off his wall, and used it as a sledge because he couldn't
 find anything else more suitable.

Manning's Pit has been described as the "Cresta Run" of Pilton.

Ray Bunting, Bradiford resident

Two sets of lyrics to use as chants when we March

"Save Mannings Pit, don't develop it,”

What will we get if its sacrificed?,
Save Mannings Pit,dont develop it,
What is it worth if we pay the price?
A walkers right, a paradise,
Where will we go if its sacrificed?
A walkers right, a paradise,
Where will we go if its sacrificed?"

"We don't need more homes in Pilton,
We don't need no more of those,
No dug up countryside, we ask you,
Builders leave them fields alone, Hey builders,leave them fields alone.
All in all don't just brick up it all,
All in all don't just brick up it all."

Zsuzsa Reynolds, Pilton resident

Text of statement

Pilton Panto 2018

A resounding cheer went up each night when the Manning's Pit Banner appeared.

Pilton Panto 2018