Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Wessex Interlude 2

Unmitigated England appears to be getting more and more curious. First it was the blue bricked ramps in the middle of fields that we now know are 'cattle drinkers' and then this isolated chimney in the middle of a field between Piddletrenthide and Plush in Dorset. Of course the first thoughts were for a subterranean home in the style of Bilbo Baggins' Hobbiton dwelling, with the front door perhaps hidden away in the woods. And then maybe a smokery of some kind, reminiscent as it is of the little brick structures with their terracotta chimneys out on the Dungeness peninsular. But who would smoke what, way out in a damp field far from any habitation. The only other explanation put forward is that it is an escape hatch for the build-up of marsh gas emanating from a water course (there's a tiny stream in front of it). It just seems so purposeful, with its stone base and truly magnificent orange chimney pot. The field was virtually inaccessible, but on moving around it on the lane I did notice a little shallow trough filled with water on the northern elevation. So the gas ventilator idea may have some credence. And on closer inspection the chimney does look very much like a section of drainage pipe. I stopped an old man on the road, a modern day Tranter Reuben off to Casterbridge I supposed, and asked him about it. He peered over the hedge, thought for a minute and then said "I ain't got a clue boy".

14 comments:

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Looks to me like a part-finished memorial - the drainage pipe could be a socket for a cross. Not the site of a WW2 crash is it?

Peter Ashley said...

Well that's the most original explanation so far, thankyou Ten Inch.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Gosh, you do find them, don't you. It does look like a bit of drainpipe sticking out. But I want it to be a smokery, pointer to some unknown Dorset speciality. In the Czech Republic, where they live dangerously, some people have wooden smoke-houses – those, that is, who don't have a smoke-door in the chimney. The latter are popular in the countryside – an acquaintance recalled going to see about buying a house and the vendor was busying 'sticking a pig up a chimney'.

Peter Ashley said...

I've stuck a pig up a chimney, but probably in slightly different circumstances.

A F-A said...

Tch, tch. All the clues are there you know: Dorset, grass, water, chimney....it is the Ron Combo Mk1 Super Bong.

Toby Savage said...

How flattering to be called 'boy'. I was at a do last night where the average age was about 80. I felt young!! So, sonny, about this chimney.....

Emma said...

Something to do with stoats, I expect.

Peter Ashley said...

Stoats. Now you're talking.

Diplomat said...

Well - I think you've all had enough time to bollox this one up.
Snipe Trap. Modelled on a C16th design attributed to Abraham Ibotson these were really quite common before the war in rural England. The marshy meadow you describe would suit. These use a similar principal to Condor and Eagle traps employed from the Andes to the Caucasus since time began - the bird would enter the structure in search of food and would be unable to get a clear wing stretch to enable it to fly up throught he restricted neck. You should have found a small door at ground level ( usually on the east side) for harvesting the poor chaps.

Peter Ashley said...

Oh Diplo, we knew you'd know.

Brace said...

The chimney or "sunken house" is part of a hydraulic ram which was used to pump water back up the valley to the duck pond. If you had looked accross the road and up the hill you would have seen the lever used. Sorry no hobbits or elves

Peter Ashley said...

Brace, this is amazing, thankyou. Do I take it from your name that your are a Plush Local? I had the second half of a honeymoon at The Brace of Pheasants in 1969 when the pub was in the care of a retired naval officer who got the vegetation for a Pimms from the back garden with a flashlight.

Brace said...

Yes, we have been here for 2.5 years now and have had countless people ask "why is there a chimney in the field down the road?". To which the locals first response is "oh you mean the sunken house" it is also useful for naughty children, as this is where the witch lives!
We have just opened our accommodation in the last couple of weeks and our first customers also spent their honeymoon here in 1973. They sent me a copy of the bill which came to £144 for 2 weeks dinner bed and breakfast and included champagne and fillet steaks. They did ask for the same rate, but I couldn't oblige!

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Brace. Rummaging in my old scrapbooks I have now unearthed a Brace of Pheasants bill dated 10/12/69. It is for three pheasant 'dinners' and a shed load of drink and comes to £5/12/1. Trouble is, I'm wondering who the third person was on my honeymoon. Cue for an Ian McEwan novel perhaps.