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A Fragment: UADM - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
A Fragment: UADM

Herefordshire is the sleepiest county in England.




Its name derives from that most unsleeping of activities, warfare: the Here Ford is the Heer ford, the army ford, the place where a body of armed men could cross the river.  And quite often did men ford the river in arms, from the days before Offa built his Dyke, even unto the days of the Civil War.  After all, Herefordshire is a county of the Welsh Marches, with all that that implied in the distant days of blood and battle.


Yet Herefordshire is now the sleepiest county in England.


Its shape upon the map is vaguely oval, like an apple, like a pear.  Celia Fiennes would have concurred:


Here we Enter into Worcestershire and ascend Manborn hills or as some term them ye English Alps, a Ridge of hills Divideing Worcestershire and Heriforshire and was formerly Esteemed the divideing England and Wales, Herriford Shropshire &. were Weltch Countys. They are at least 2 or 3 miles up and are in a Pirramidy fashion on ye top. I rode up upon ye top of one of ye highest from whence Could discern the Country above 40 miles round and noe hills but what appeared Like Burrows or Mole hills, these being so high Nothing Could Limitt ye Eye but distance. Just at ye Bottom stands Worcester town which Looks like a Large well built town of Brick and Stone – I was not in it. On the one Side of this high Ridge of hills Lies Worcester: Oxford Glocestershire &. appears in plaines, enclosures, Woods and Rivers and many Great hills tho’ to this they appeare Low: on the other Side is Herriforshire wch appears Like a Country off Gardens and Orchards the whole Country being very full of fruite trees &. it lookes like nothing else – the apple and pear trees &. are so thick even in their Corn fields and hedgerows.  


It is famous for cattle, and more famous still, perhaps, for cider and perry, for slow growth and slow speech, for full tankards and full bellies, the sleepiest county in England – as Defoe observed:


We were now on the borders of Wales, properly so call’d; for from the windows of Brampton-Castle, you have a fair prospect into the county of Radnor, which is, as it were, under its walls; nay, even this whole county of Hereford, was, if we may believe antiquity, a part of Wales, and was so esteem’d for many ages. The people of this county too, boast that they were a part of the antient Silures, who for so many ages withstood the Roman arms, and who could never be entirely conquer’d. But that’s an affair quite beyond my enquiry. I observ’d they are a diligent and laborious people, chiefly addicted to husbandry, and they boast, perhaps, not without reason, that they have the finest wool, and best hops, and the richest cyder in all Britain.


Indeed the wool about Leominster, and in the Hundred of Wigmore observ’d above, and the Golden Vale as ’tis call’d, for its richness on the banks of the river Dove, (all in this county) is the finest without exception, of any in England, the South Down wool not excepted: As for hops, they plant abundance indeed all over this county, and they are very good. And as for cyder, here it was, that several times for 20 miles together, we could get no beer or ale in their publick houses, only cyder; and that so very good, so fine, and so cheap, that we never found fault with the exchange; great quantities of this cyder are sent to London, even by land carriage tho’ so very remote, which is an evidence for the goodness of it, beyond contradiction.


One would hardly expect so pleasant, and fruitful a country as this, so near the barren mountains of Wales; but ’tis certain, that not any of our southern counties, the neighbourhood of London excepted, comes up to the fertility of this county, as Gloucester furnishes London with great quantities of cheese, so this county furnishes the same city with bacon in great quantities, and also with cyder as above.



It is the county of apples and pears, cider and perry – ‘No wonder,’ said Cobbett, observing the soil and the climate, ‘that this is a country of cider and perry’ – this, the sleepiest county in England; and it is not only a county of the Marches where England fronts Wales, and Wales, England, but is also where the last, cider-scented influence of the West County, of its Gloucestershire neighbours and their kith and kin, fades gently into the fat West Midlands.


The more ignorant purebloods and the blood-supremacists – and there is nothing more ignorant than a pureblood supremacist – had liked to imagine that, there being no exclusively Wizarding village in the Three Kingdoms save Hogsmeade, the Wizarding world lived in seclusion and isolation, perhaps in the country somewhere.  But even they knew, in their hearts, that this was silly, ill-reasoned, false.  Hogsmeade, it was true, was the only all-Wizarding village in Britain, but even in the midst of the secrecy regime, that in no wise meant that there were not Wizarding hamlets, or mixed towns, hamlets, and villages.  And although Malfoys and Longbottoms alike, for example, lived deep in the countryside, away from villages Muggle or magical, they were not typical.  OSC, as its residents rather jauntily called Ottery St Catchpole, boasted the Weasleys, Lovegoods, Fawcetts, and Diggorys, and the district as a whole had its Notts and Fawcetts as well; and as for Godric’s Hollow, what more need be said, but to note that Potters and Wrights have time out of mind had their seats there where Gryffindor once dwelt.  Even the House of Black, after all, had a town place cheek by jowl with Muggles, in London’s very heart.


Nor have Wizards avoided Muggles as much as they might, even during the years of secrecy.  It was Muggle politicians and jobbing brokers who dreamt up the South Sea Company, for instance; yet it was clearly a Slytherin who, in the midst of the Bubble that went with that popular madness, ‘showed, more completely than any other, the utter madness of the people, [by forming a company] started by an unknown adventurer, entitled “company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.” Were not the fact stated by scores of credible witnesses, it would be impossible to believe that any person could have been duped by such a project. The man of genius who essayed this bold and successful inroad upon public credulity, merely stated in his prospectus that the required capital was half a million, in five thousand shares of 100 pounds each, deposit 2 pounds per share. Each subscriber, paying his deposit, would be entitled to 100 pounds per annum per share. How this immense profit was to be obtained, he did not condescend to inform them at that time, but promised, that in a month full particulars should be duly announced, and a call made for the remaining 98 pounds of the subscription. Next morning, at nine o’clock, this great man opened an office in Cornhill. Crowds of people beset his door, and when he shut up at three o’clock, he found that no less than one thousand shares had been subscribed for, and the deposits paid. He was thus, in five hours, the winner of 2,000 pounds. He was philosopher enough to be contented with his venture, and set off the same evening for the Continent. He was never heard of again.’


The fact of the matter was that there were towns, hamlets, and villages scattered up and down the Three Kingdoms, in which Muggle and Wizard dwelt discreetly – in most cases, surreptitiously, even after the post-War liberalisation of the secrecy regime – as neighbours, with no less harmony and no worse jars than either would find in any community of their own folk.  In Dorset, for example, Witchampton and Manswood, with typically English perversity, were wholly Muggle and had ever been so, but there were mixed communities at Alton Aldhelm and Barton Pancras, at Beer Valence and Bishops Lanthorn, at Buckhorn Wipers, Caundle Herring, and Fifehead Abbas, at Forepiddle and Langton Minster and Stour Porcorum, at Wimbourne Canonicorum and at Yetbury Regis.  Not even the Home Counties were exempt – much as it strains credulity to imagine Wizards within reach of a Green Line Bus; indeed, Kent alone hosts mixed communities at Boughton Gimmel and Hoo St Walburga, Nettleton Malherbe, Shepsham Without, and Shirtinghanger, amongst others.  In Oxon, the occasional battiness of Wizards goes unnoticed amidst the daily battiness of dons and undergraduates, and there are ancient Wizarding-Muggle communities at Hatch Norton and Hookredy, St Johns Salome, Trench Eaton, and Wescott sub Witchwood, all of which are centres of the ancient Wizarding tradition of Nine-Men’s-Morris dancing.


And in sleepy Herefordshire, the sleepiest county in England, Wizard and Muggle lived in fair harmony in the drowsy hamlets of the sunken lanes and overgrown orchards.  At Ocle Pychard, Felton, Maund Bryan, and The Vauld, Wizards lived quietly amidst the Muggles.  At the centres of the Potter family interests in Herefordshire, where the Wizarding cider and perry came from – for who but the Potter, the maker of vessels, the eldest magician, should govern this craft? – in the Wizarding orchards, Muggles lived amicably amidst Wizards: at Stoke Grievance and Much Mickle, in the market town of Ham on Wye, at Weobring and Much Muchness, from Weobmeole to the ‘black-and-white village’ of Mage’s Pyon, its local Quidditch time known from time immemorial as the Magpyes and its civic pride boasting that the Montrose Magpies, away in Scotland far, took their name from that of the village side.


Harry had been surprised, after the War, to find how greatly his family interests had spread, from Cornwall to the Midlands (even beyond Herefordshire: for example, there were Potter properties in Salop as well, at Church Craven and High Dudgeon, from Much Warlock over to Smirkshill), although he oughn’t to have been: it certainly helped explain the Potter potteries in the Black Country, and to explain as well the lengthy intermarriages between the Blacks of that country and the West-Country-birthed Potters.  But Harry’s surprise had proceeded from his merely discovering something else he’d not known of his heritage.  Draco had been equally surprised to find Potter-Black holdings as far a-field as Hamble Turgis in Hants; Earls Froting, Bumpstead Peverel, and Steeple Wandwood in Essex; Pigginghoe, Toad Firle, and Witch Cross in East Sussex, and Crawling Down, Diddling-and-Fulking, Great Dole, Matronbower, and Upper Breeding, in West; Ayot St Godric and Much Potheredham in Herts; Cockayne Conquest and Pepperhanger in Beds; Godamning, Belcham, and Thursday Street in Surrey itself, the site of Harry’s childhood misery; Aston Mandeville, Farrowstall, Hogsbrook with Fulshaw, and Maids Marish in Bucks; Sheriffmaston, Spleenham, and Stratfield Dingley in Berks; Fawkesham Green and Sterncorn and Wycheswold in Kent; and, in ancient Cheshire, Belpas, Bentley juxta Doldrum, Cranford, Hantwich, Thrashwood, and Wrongcorn.  It made no sense to Draco, knowing what he knew of the old magics.


He knew, having been trained a pureblood of the purebloods, that Wizards and their country were bound in curious ways.  (His mother had always ignored Lucius’s wilder claims, now that he thought of it, and the Blacks had treated Grimmauld Place rather than Atrum as if it were the caput of their family, and that was odd, indeed.  Could Lucius have been wrong?)  Wizards and their country, their holdings, had a magical bond, did they not?  (Yet the Blacks, who were, after all, the next thing to royalty as Wizard-dom counted these things … had Lucius once again been lying?)


It was to Lupin that he eventually betook himself, perplexed enough to admit defeat.  And Lupin – who, in order to give Harry his inheritance in proper form, had made himself master of the Potter muniments and a rather formidable historian – was kind to Draco, and carefully did not smile when he heard Draco’s frustrated questions.


‘You forget,’ said he, mildly, ‘just who the Malfoys were, and who, the Blacks; and you forget that your Harry is a god.’


‘I – what did you say, Lupin?’


Remus laughed.  ‘Nothing to get possessive over, Draco, and nothing at all blasphemous.  I mean simply that the particular tie that the Potters have to the natural world and its magic, is one that, in the past, caused some Muggles to deify them – rather to their embarrassment, I should imagine.’


The term for the artifex who makes vessels, the figulus, can be Englished in one of two ways, and the West indifferently used both, with some regional variations in preference.  ‘Crocker’ is the more Celtic, Dumnonian, Cornish, cognate to the Welsh crochenydd.  The other form, of course, for this eldest of magicians, wielder of earth and water, kilning air and fire, is ‘Potter’, and Wizarding surnames do not derive by accident.


It is the maker of the vessels who drives the craft of cider-making, it is the potter, the crocker, who transmutes the Hesperides’s apples, the apples of Avalon, into cider, by creating the vessels that allow its fermentation and its serving.


Afallach was a Celtic godling, ruler of Avalon, the paradisal Place of Apples, and the Celtic heaven was apple-scented and cider-washed. 


But the Potters, like Godric before them, their great founder and lord, chose the Hallows, for all their roots upon Dartmoor and Exmoor and the barren places of old paganry.  It was thence that they came into England, into Somerset and Dorset, into Gloucester and West Wilts, into Herefordshire and beyond.  They were the vessel-makers and the masters of cider-making, and they followed the apples, and the apples followed them.


Yet deep and away in the cold, cruel heart of Dartmoor, Old Dartymoor, where the stunted dwarf-trees of Wistman’s Wood shelter adders and kennel the Wisht Hounds of the Wild Hunt, the Spirit of the Moor yet lingers in the minds of men: Old Crockern, the moorland god, the very spirit of ‘wild moor’ where Golden Godric was engendered and whence the Potters sprang (and the tinning smiths with them, after).  Had the Potters remained upon the moors, perhaps their magics would have become bound up in the spirit of the place.  But they, like Great Godric their forerunner, they went into England, with the apples, with tilth and orchard, hallowed lands and deer forests all preserved, and their magic is that of the hive and the cider-press, the kiln and the grange, the stag in his forest and the grazing kine.


Like the Blacks, they were tied, not to a place, but to a vision, an ideal, and to a craft or twain.


But Draco could not have been expected to realise this.  His mother had been prevented in any hopes she had had of teaching him, when he was young, the true Black traditions.  And Lucius, the parvenu, of a collateral line brought in to take on the headship of the family, had taught him – as he had himself been taught by his appalling grandfather – rather what the Malfoys wished to believe, and to have believed, of themselves, than what they knew or ought to have known of their origins.


It was no accident that the Weasleys – in whose line the name ‘Arthur’ recurred with astounding regularity – should live in the Vale of the River Otter, in ancient Dumnonia.


It was likewise no accident that the Malfoys lived in Wiltshire.


Lucius would have had it that their living in Wiltshire – with its high concentration of country houses and peers even amongst the mere Muggles – had to do with ancient and prideful connexions, with traditions going back to Stonehenge and Avebury, to Woodhenge and Silbury Hill.




The Forest of Sarpenic was once home to Maduc the Black, and it was there that Gawain captured Lot of Orkney and forced him to accept Arthur and enter into the king’s peace.


‘After the Battle of Camlann,’ writes Giraldus Cambrensis, ‘a noblewoman called Morgan, who was the ruler and patroness of these parts as well as being a close blood-relation of King Arthur, carried him off to the island, now known as Glastonbury, so that his wounds could be cared for’; or, in his Speculum Ecclesiæ, ‘the sequel was that the body of Arthur, who had been mortally wounded, was carried off by a certain noble matron, called Morgan, who was his cousin, to the Isle of Avalon, which is now known as Glastonbury. Under Morgan’s supervision the corpse was buried in the churchyard there. As a result, the credulous Britons and their bards invented the legend that a fantastic sorceress called Morgan had removed Arthur’s body to the Isle of Avalon, so that she might cure his wounds there. According to them, once he has recovered from his wounds this strong and all-powerful King will return to rule over the Britons in the normal way. The result of all this is that they really expect him to come back….’


Just over in Hants, at Nether Wallop, is the site of the Battle of Guoluph, as recorded by Nennius, where Ambrosius Aurelianus thrashed the forces of Vortigern under the command of the younger Vitalinus.


And the Forest of Sarpenic is the Forest of Savernake, in Wilts, and between Redlynch and Downton, on the border with Hants, is the place that the Victorians prudishly renamed ‘Morgan’s Vale’, but which is and has been time out of mind ‘Morgan’s Bottom’; and the ancient forest lands of Morgan’s bottomland, with the Savernake Forest and the Wallops, form a triangle to the dawn’s side of the ancient sacred landscapes of the Henges and the Plain, and south and east of Marlborough: Merlin’s Barrow.


No, it is no accident that ties the Malfoys – long haters of various Arthurs, Weasley and otherwise – to Wiltshire.  Morgan was there, in the deeps of time, healer and simpler and potions-maker, close kinswoman to Arthur yet long his enemy, dabbler in the Dark yet healer or mourner of Arthur after the Last Battle, princess and sorceress, mistress of Avalon, a witch of great learning and power and equivocal reputation.  Morgan was there first: before Malfoy was Morgan le Fay.

13 comments or Leave a comment
serriadh From: serriadh Date: November 26th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, Arthurian legend - I'm a hopeless sucker for Arthur-stuff (and actually always more of a fan of Morgan than - at the least the later depictions of - holier-than-thou Arthur.)

And I loved the Malfoy/le Fay link. Interesting to see that even the most obvious surnames can be shown to have more backstory than one might think.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 26th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks, love.

It was that or an essay, and I liked it better as fic.

So glad that you did as well.
ellie_nor From: ellie_nor Date: November 26th, 2006 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thanks, love.

Much better as a fic. Lovely.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 26th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, thank you.

Much obliged, m'dear.

Have some perry.
ellie_nor From: ellie_nor Date: November 27th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh, thank you.

Cheers! Don't mind if I do.
eagles_rock From: eagles_rock Date: November 26th, 2006 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Superb village names; 'Wrongcorn' just made me laugh out loud. After you lambasted people who laughed at Twatford Mulliner (berks, I recall, and given the name of the town I live in, that's a hoot) I had to google for it, just to make sure if wasn't real.

Malfoy/le Fay juxtaposition - lovely. Very happy for the boy.

(And very happy to see wizarding shysters - Popular Madness and All That - prompted thoughts of 'snake oil', cola products, modern-day bizarro remedies sold in Boots... :-)

(Biodynamic wines, Wemyss - I've been reading Monty Waldin's book this week and boggling at the pseudo-Wizardry of it all. Do H or D own a vinyard at all?)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 26th, 2006 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thankee, muss.

English place names are so easy to parody. I'm particularly fond of Godamning.

I have a strong suspicion that Our Lads will be acquiring a chateau sharpish. In fact, that might be the name: Ch Sharpish. Hmmm.
themolesmother From: themolesmother Date: November 27th, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love the Malfoy/Morgan connection. She was always my favourite character in the Arthurian legends.

And your shrewd Slytherin with his "undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is". Only a Slytherin could have thought that one up!

He was philosopher enough to be contented with his venture, and set off the same evening for the Continent. He was never heard of again ...

Hmm - perhaps he went further than that. And a couple of hundred years later in the New World one of his more enterprising descendants dusted off the old scam, gave it a new coat of paint, and called it Enron.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: November 27th, 2006 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Merci, madame.

And there's a reason the Americans call them SNAKE-oil salesmen....
From: tree_and_leaf Date: November 28th, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rather lovely, and the place names are great fun. I also love the South Sea Bubble theory, it makes so much sense.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 2nd, 2006 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, thank you. On both counts.

Plausible amusement is my aim.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 30th, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, it is no accident that ties the Malfoys – long haters of various Arthurs, Weasley and otherwise – to Wiltshire. Morgan was there, in the deeps of time, healer and simpler and potions-maker, close kinswoman to Arthur yet long his enemy, dabbler in the Dark yet healer or mourner of Arthur after the Last Battle, princess and sorceress, mistress of Avalon, a witch of great learning and power and equivocal reputation. Morgan was there first: before Malfoy was Morgan le Fay.

You've just made a Draco fan very, very happy. *big smile*


PS. Your magic way with words, as well as your deep knowledge and love of Britain, never ceases to delight me.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 2nd, 2006 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Blondel! Hullo, love, fancy seeing you here!

Thank you.

You've delighted and made ME far happier.
13 comments or Leave a comment