During the film “The Magic of Manning's Pit” there is a moment when Chris Bulpett says “these fields contain memories...of the people who've walked these fields who are no longer with us.”
These remarks had an extra resonance when the film was shown at our party on April 21st, not only for those of us who knew Jane Hare who appeared in the film and died not long after it was first shown in 2016, but also for those among us who knew Lance Housley.
Back in 2016, Lance had been one of the first people to sign our petition. If you take the link to our Petition now, you can still read the Comment he made when he signed it, as it ranks highest in the number of “Likes” among the updates. Lance sadly passed away on April 13th this year, and his funeral service was held on April 26 at St Brannock's Church in Braunton.
I first spoke to Lance when I met him in Manning's Pit, as our campaign began, and I still have a vivid mental picture of the moment when I came across him. He wore a big floppy hat, and he was standing picking blackberries from the hedge by the woods. For many of us who are a little shy, the campaign to Save Manning's Pit has been a great ice-breaker, and whatever the final outcome of our fight may be, I am glad it enabled me to break my natural reserve and speak to him.
It was good to find that he shared the strong feelings we all have about this special place, and he and his wife Alison were among our staunchest supporters. His input about the prehistoric background of the area was illuminating, and even when his health was causing problems, he and Alison were prominent among our band of helpers who walked the streets delivering leaflets, as well as attending many of our events, such as the Museum Exhibition Preview, and meetings at the Reform Inn for example.
We are all glad to know that the news that the application had been withdrawn gave him something to be cheerful about in his last weeks, and although he was aware that we have not yet won the war, his positive nature meant that he saw it as a good sign.
Our sympathies go to his
family, especially Alison and Megan. As was said in
the film, these Manning's Pit fields will always
contain memories of those who loved them, but are no
longer with us.
The photo below was taken during a wildlife and wildflower walk in Manning's Pit,
led by John and Mary Breeds, in the summer of 2016.
Lance is on the left, wearing one of his distinctive hats.
Text written by Christine Lovelock