Heavitree quarries

I went back to Quarry Lane to photograph the cliff – its stone, reinforcements and tenacious plants.

Photos from 13 and 16 July

But when did it stop being worked? I need to investigate the history, but in the meantime the old maps provide some evidence:

  • 1801 OS Drawing – there is a Stone Quarry annotated and drawn either side of Quarry Lane; a possible quarry south of Quarry Lane rejoining Sidmouth Road, but it’s not annotated; no quarry off Woodwater Lane
  • 1832 Boundary Commission Report – a Stone Quarry annotated between Quarry Lane and Woodwater Lane, outside the Exeter boundary
  • 1868 Boundary Commission Report – quarries not marked
  • 1932 OS (surveyed 1887) – Heavitree Quarry annotated and drawn to the north of Quarry Lane, Old Quarry to the south; also another Quarry south of Quarry Lane rejoining Sidmouth Road; also Pine’s Garden and Old Quarry north of Woodwater Lane
  • 1938 Land Utilisation Survey – no annotation, shaded purple/white horizontal stripes of unknown meaning
  • 1945 OS – quarries not marked, but funny cliff markings at location of Old Quarry north of Woodwater Lane
  • 1957 OS – quarries not marked

I also googled Heavitree Quarry, and found that the Britten Drive playing field site is a County Geological Site and educational spot, and that there is a lot more information on Devon geology on the Devon County Council website.



Mythogeography is something to do with what “walkers, artists who use walking in their art, students who are discovering and studying a world of resistant and aesthetic walking, anyone who is troubled by official guides to anywhere, urbanists, geographers, site-specific performers, town planners and un-planners, urban explorers, entrepreneurs and activists who don’t want to drive to the revolution” do.

I seem to be getting myself into something akin to mythogeography, but I’m not sure. At the moment it is a fun and unfettered exploration of my local area, and the possibilities of recording it through walking, observation, writing, photography and local research – a sort of slantwise look at the present combined with local archaeogeographistory (which might be a made-up word). But this lack of sureness and fetteredness both seem to be compatible with what I’ve read of mythogeography so far.

I am remembering my 15-year-old self, who wanted to study Geography A Level alongside double-Maths and Physics instead of the obvious Chemistry combo. The options when published wouldn’t allow for it, or another student’s desire to study English. So I proposed a rejig that would make our options possible and wouldn’t affect anyone else – my first experience of arguing against something by proposing an alternative. Except that wasn’t quite the whole story. The timetable had to be rejigged too – I bet the teachers loved me for that – and I was blamed for an afternoon of triple Maths.

Years later, in a clear-out of official school-related stuff, I found an unbeknownst letter from my Mum to the head, arguing that I should be allowed to do Geography because I might one day want to work at the Met Office… which is where I was indeed working when I found the letter. Except that wasn’t the whole story either, as I didn’t have much interest in the weather bit of the A Level syllabus, and the Met Office prefers to hire mathematicians and physicists rather than geographers.

Maybe I just wanted to be a mythogeographer when I grew up.


Quarry Lane

Again, I hadn’t planned it at the beginning of the walk, but seeing the stone in the chapel made me want to walk back up Quarry Lane and look for evidence of the quarry. The red ‘cliff’ on the right side of Quarry Lane is good evidence already, but I also wanted to look in Lancaster Close and Coates Road.

Sure enough, the cliff turns a corner into Lancaster Close, and runs behind the houses for tens of yards. It makes an abrupt edge to the gardens and cuts out the morning sun. I don’t know how far south it extends.

In Coates Road, I turned right into Britten Drive, and came upon an unexpected flat green area – a playing field. At the far end was another red cliff with a lap of brambles and other scrub that made it impossible to get to. Never mind, it was still exciting to find the evidence.

I had meant to go back to Quarry Lane and photograph the exposed stone of the cliff, but found a path down to Coates Road to the north and followed that round back home.

I found the Coates Road circle one winter when Quarry Lane was treacherous with ice and blocked with a car accident. But in a car I’d never noticed anything. Mythogeography is easier when car-free.

Photos from 13 and 16 July


St Loye’s Chapel

I had a quick look at the forecast first thing – scattered showers all day, but should be alright in the early afternoon. At about 3.30pm, there were patches of blue sky, so I headed out down to the ruined chapel.

It’s a pleasant little segment in Rifford Road, set in a garden surrounded with metal railings. There is a bus-stop in front, and it is very ease to miss the chapel altogether if you don’t know it is there. There is a cross close to Rifford Road, and the chapel is set back. Despite the garden, it really butts up against the houses to the right.

The weather was changeable. As I starting taking photos, it started to rain, but the shower went over quickly and the sun came out. It was almost too bright.

There’s not very much left of the chapel – most of the NE gable with quatrefoil window, the SW gable with pointed arch window, and the SE wall with three pointed arch windows. It is useful to have the camera to record stone-work. Much of the stone looks as though it came from Heavitree Quarry, but there were many other types of stone there, including a smoother red stone. Plus cement, looking like a bad repair job on the pointing.

But the camera got in the way of getting a sense of the place, how much it is overlooked, or whether there are hidden nooks.




I suddenly remembered seeing a very old OS map of Exeter in the Treasures of the British Library exhibition. Now through the miracle of Google, I know that it was the Drawing for the first edition Ordnance Survey map of Exeter. 1801 Maps OSD 40.(3)

But even more miraculously, the BL has a georeferencing project, to place OS drawings “that portray the lanscape [sic] of England and Wales before the onslaught of industrialisation made its mark” over the current landscape.

Exeter 1801 was one of the pilot maps, and it is available overlaying Google Earth, with the ability to zoom in and out and change the transparency. For example, I can easily compare the old quarry with the roads and houses that are off Quarry Lane. REALLY cool, and very excited!

And there’s another great site showing what maps are available on Visions of Britain, though without the overlay facility. Search on Exeter.


Schrödinger’s Lazarus

The story of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead is found only in John’s gospel (John 11:1-44; NRSV) Jesus heard Lazarus was ill, he dallied where he was for two days, he told the disciples Lazarus had died, he travelled to Bethany and found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, he spoke with Lazarus’ sisters Martha then Mary… “Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus … cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’”

And then I imagine there was a pause, the sort indulged in by Hollywood movie-makers, while everyone wondered whether Lazarus would come out.

In 1935, Erwin Schrödinger devised his famous thought experiment to pose the question, when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other? Schrödinger’s cat sits in a sealed box, and its life or death depends on whether a radioactive particle decays, causing a Geiger counter tube to discharge, and through a relay to release a hammer that shatters a flask of Prussic acid. There is no way of knowing the state of the system without opening the box, and hence to the outside observer the cat is both living and dead, smeared out in equal parts. Once the box is opened, the observation takes place and the system collapses into one or the other state: decayed nucleus/dead cat or undecayed nucleus/living cat. However… the cat is also an observer, and would be aware of only one state; it would remember only being alive. Hence the paradox, which has attracted many interpretations.

To Lazarus, his state of being living or dead would be known to him, albeit perhaps a bit hazily. To Jesus, also, perhaps (discuss!). But to the other outside observers, what is the effect of Jesus’ command? What were they thinking and feeling at the moment of taking away the stone?

I suppose I’m trying to draw some parallels – between Jesus’ word and the laws of quantum physics; between the binding and vivifying effect of the word and the decay of the particle; and between the faith and hope of the people of Bethany and the uncertainty of the experiment observers – as an aslant aid to understanding the meaning of faith or hope. “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8: 24b-25; NRSV).

To stretch the already-straining parallels beyond breaking point, where am I in the system: the outside observer, the cat, or the Geiger counter (from Niels Bohr’s interpretation)? Asking the question – what is it possible for me to know of God? – is to put God in the box, whereas God has already let the poor cat let out of the bag through creation and incarnation. In any case, what am I to know anything more of God? It is for me to be known by God. And though (like the Paul of Romans 7:24 but unlike the cat), I might not know sometimes whether I am dead or alive, I am hopeful that God knows I am alive and delights in that.


Woodwater by night

I spent a day immured in the office at the computer, feeling wintry-cold while it rained and rained. By night-time, I was completely frowstie at being stuck indoors. I watched a BBC4 programme “Romancing the Stone” on modern sculpture, and as it had pretty much dried up, decided on some mythogeography. Going for walks at odd times, like 10.30pm, follows mythogeographical principles, after all.

So I took my camera, and headed out to Woodwater Lane to take photos of light on rain. At least, I didn’t have a clear idea that that was what I was going to do, but I noticed the streetlight-shine on the tarmac. It became recording images of lights on wet, my shadows, street and car lights, the darkness of puddles against the reflective tarmac. I have had my digital camera for years, and am still learning how to use it. It’s good, but not one of the posh ones, so its ISO settings are limited.

Stepping out of my front door, the night felt warm and gentle. There was very little breeze, and it was quite humid but not noticeably too muggy. The day had quietened – traffic, rain, people, birds. I saw one single person, and one couple. There were occasional cars and buses, too many to walk down the middle of the road much. I prefer tail-lights to headlights; they are less confrontational.

I went down as far as Wonford Brook, where I hung over the downstream side of the bridge trying to take photos of the disturbed water. The red guiding light from the camera reflected like sparks shooting off a fire, or wriggling red worms. The photos of the flash reflections were much less interesting, and I couldn’t capture the night-time rippling sound either.

The mindsets for attentiveness and for photography are different, so I was not so aware of sights, sounds, smells until walking back up the road. The rain was dripping in the trees. There was a faint whiff of cow/countryside/manure, then a strong whiff of cigarette, catching in my throat.

On the way home, I decided against exploring alley ways – some are lit, some are not, all are threatening. But it is not the path, darkness or light that is threatening. It is the human being who might be lurking there.



In the ‘burbs

I found this marvellous book from 1892 in the Westcountry Studies Library [now Devon Archives and Local Studies]:

The History
of the
With general particulars as to the Landowners,
Lay and Clerical, from the Conquest to the present time,
and a special notice of the Hamlyn Family.
Together with
“A Digression” on the Noble Houses of Redvers,
and of Courtenay, Earls of Devon.
Charles Worthy, Esq
(Formerly HM 82nd Regt)
Sometime Prin Assist to the late Somerset Herald,
Author of
“Devonshire Parishes,” “Practical Heraldry,” &c

Worthy, The History of the SUBURBS OF EXETER

There’s a chapter on Heavitree Parish, which covered much of the area I’m interested in. St Clare’s Chapel, Livery Dole, is slightly outside my area, but still interesting. Today I found out that it is not dedicated to St Clare at all, but to St Clarus martyr.

And now I see the book has been digitised by Google, which is helpful, but not at all like reading the real thing.


Woodwater wander

As a birthday treat, I promised myself a walk down Woodwater Lane, from home to water to wood to home again.

I walked down Quarry Lane to East Wonford Hill, in order to come at Woodwater from Salters Road, which threw up a few things of interest, e.g. the old St Loyes Hotel and current building work, and some alms houses.

It was dry-ish to start, and my camera was set to greyscale. I hadn’t really any thoughts of how to record the walk – in these notes, or taking pictures. But I started taking pictures and didn’t stop. This meant that the walk was slower than expected, so I curtailed it at the retail park, partly to get home to prepare for birthday dinner, and partly because the rain had got a lot heavier and my camera is not waterproof.

The photos were of a few things of interest, signs, ordinary objects, and became some instances of wood (material and trees) and water. So I took photos of the Wonford Brook, the big cut-out tree and rain on the slide in the playground, raindrops in a puddle, trees/shrubbery beside the road, poplars behind the water tower in the retail park, and bottled water in Tesco.

A satisfying experimentation in exploring the present day.