Marmaduke and the boot blacker…

A little bit of history.

The Dimpsey Shepherd’s Hut is based on our 500 year old farm, we’ve only been here for 4 years, but since the day we first viewed the house I’ve always felt the echoes of the past here. The whole place has a sense of serenity that only the imprint of the passage of time and generations of inhabitants can bestow.

I’m always very aware that we are just one in a succession of guardians who will love and cherish the house and surrounds. This is never more evident than when we find a relic of the past tucked away in a field or a barn somewhere. We recently found a cider jar, and at the same time, we also found a mud-encased cylinder that looked like it might be something promising.

I took it inside and have finally had the time to clean it up and found that it is a Denby jar, with a pouring lip at the top. The colours are so earthy and I am really delighted that we found it. I researched it and found out that it would either have been used for ink or for a blackener for boots and leather – how interesting and what a great piece to put in the shepherd’s hut.

Romantic Stories about Marmaduke

However, this is where the romantic-story teller in me takes hold and my mind starts connecting another bit of farm history I gleaned from the locals. Evidently, the farm was owned by a chap called Marmaduke Hustings in the late-1800’s and he was renowned for riding into town on his white stallion horse. This was at a time when the calibre of your horse was considered to indicate your standing as a gentleman.

I now like to think that we have the bottle that contained the blacking for his shiny boots and his black bridle leather. There is a horse tether ring on the barn at the front of the house, so I can imagine him striding out to meet his horse and make his splendid way into Chard.

So, if you come and stay – while you’re relaxing in the shepherd’s hut in Hither Orchard (which we have just re-planted after it was grubbed up in the 1970’s) – I wonder if you can tune in and catch the whispers of stories past as they drift past you. We’d love to hear them if you do…


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