The many Feniton residents who attended the public inquiry at the FlyBe Training Academy in January 2014 will recall the importance of the ancient boundary between Feniton and Ottery St Mary (https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/sometimes-youre-up-sometimes-youre-down-super-inquiry-day-8/).
The Planning Inspector cited the boundary in her appeal decision in paragraphs 110 and 111:
The ancient boundary in question dates back at least as far as the 11th century. Historically, it marked the division between Hayridge Hundred and Ottery Hundred, was the parish boundary between Feniton and Ottery St Mary, and was also a manorial boundary. Its significance derives from its association with the historic division, ownership and administration of the land, but the extent to which the boundary today remains a discernible feature with the landscape is limited. […] Nevertheless, it seems to me that the proposed construction of housing within the setting of this ancient landscape feature will have the adverse impact of further obscuring the already limited opportunity for present-day observers to appreciate its historic significance.
Chris Wakefield of Ottery Heritage Society wrote a fascinating article in the May 2014 edition of the Ottery Gazette (just after the appeal decision was announced which refused permission for Wainhomes and Strategic Land Partnership to increase massively the size of the village). In the article, Chris explains that the boundary was drawn up by charter in 1061:
The boundary description begins at Straitgate, and follows the Roman road to Fairmile then follows the Tale upstream towards the railway line. The route of the parish boundary from here to a point close to the corner of Green Lane and Ottery Road appears in the charter as follows [in translation] “From the hidden well to the Dane’s Hill and then to Heathfield Mere”. […] Dane’s Hill is now called Long Park.
Chris finishes his article by suggesting that ‘perhaps we should do something to make sure it is not forgotten again’.
Yesterday, in a ceremony introduced by Parish Councillor, Chris Gibbins, and conducted by Rev Cate, the boundary stone was unveiled.
The stone, jointly funded by Ottery Heritage Society and Feniton Parish Council, stands proudly on Ottery Road at the entrance to the Burlands as a reminder of the heritage of the village and its sense of place within the landscape.
The unveiling was followed by a walk, enjoyed by 15 hardy souls, including Cllr Roger Giles who appeared at the inquiry as an expert witness on rail transport. The walk took the road towards Colesworthy and then up over the fields to Tower Hill, from where there are spectacular views of the village.
We then continued through Colesworthy Farm (along a path which the Gibbins family allowed to be used on this one occasion as it is not a public right of way) and then paused for breath while enjoying the company of some of the Colesworthy pigs.
The walkers then returned to the station discussing the possibility of reinstating the ancient ceremony of ‘Beating the Bounds’.