A LEGACY OF SNOWDROPS

The old ruin at Grabbishaw has not been lived in since Victorian times. One of the oldest men in the village remembers playing in it as a boy and it was an uninhabitable ruin then, a mess of cob and stones, worn down by the weather. No trace of the people who had lived there, nor even of the timbers and thatch that had roofed their dwelling.

Yet in its time it must have been a wonderful place. Shaded by two magnificent beech trees with a beautiful clear stream below that flows through the valley to join up with the Taw many miles below. The old house with its neat enclosed paddocks stood up from what was once probably an old drovers road, edged with coppiced hazel that would have made fine hurdles to enclose the animals passing through. In the shade of a mighty, centuries-old oak a fine duck pond, now overgrown with bramble and blackthorn no longer of interest to even a passing snipe or woodcock.

As time and weather have eroded what was once a fine farmstead, all that is left for future generations is a crossing of tracks and footpaths and a broken down ruin that is returning to the soil from which it was built.

Except that each year in January the first tentative snowdrops start to push through the moss and spring up on the mounds of earth and tumbledown stone walls. By mid February the whole area is bright with the dainty green and white flowers of this earliest of flowers. The snowdrops occupy every nook and cranny and fill this derelict site with their brightness and with hope of spring.

While the farmers and their families who tilled this land and tended the stock over the centuries are long since forgotten, their heirs and successors moved away to make a living elsewhere, there was left behind a legacy of snowdrops to remind us that there was once a kitchen garden here that was lovingly worked and someone’s pride and joy.