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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Devon, Dorset and Somerset: A Colour to Every County

From "Farmer Wangle's Field Talk" (John Read, Cluster-o'-Vive, Somerset Folk Press, 1923; also published in "Wold Ways A-Gwain, Scenes from a Western Countryside", John Read, The Western Gazette, 1914):

(Farmer Wangle) 'was leaning over a gate with his eyes fixed upon a herd of Devon cattle in the field beyond. Warm splashes of Devon red on a landscape of green, with a background of misty blue: truly, a satisfying picture. And yet Farmer Wangle shook his head half regretfully.

"You midden believe it now, but I tell 'ee you'll never zee Devon beast look their best out o' Devon. You can never get the bloom on their coats elsewhere. Bring a herd o'm up here out o' Devon, and in a month or two the bloom's a-lost."

He turned to me suddenly. "D'ee know the cause o't? Why, the iron in the soil and water. Have 'ee ever noticed now how fresh and red-faced the Devon folk be? Like we do read about David. 'Tis the iron. Look now, Devon is red all droo, from one end to t'other. They wur right to take red for the county colour. Now you come therefrom into Dorset, and you'll find mostly chalk - a white county, so to speak; but as soon as ever you put your foot in Somerset you've a-left the chalk behind. A colour to every county - leastways, here in the West. Where else do 'ee find such a deep and pure green as in Somerset, except midbe along by the Stour in the Vale of Blackmore? So I should call the Somerset colour green.'

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