In search of Lorna Doone!
Lorna Doone… a classic novel by R. D. Blackmore set in north Devon at an imaginary location called Doone Valley, but based on the real Exe Lyne Valley and the little village of Oare on Exmoor I don’t know if the novel is much read now, not many people I speak to seem to have even heard of it, and yet it was one of the mainstays of English literature.
The novel, as you may guess is the story of a beautiful young woman called Lorna Doone. She is the supposed granddaughter of the evil Sir Ensor Doone, and destined to marry Carver Doone; however she and Jan (John) Ridd, the hero, meet and fall in love. The Doones are outlaws living in an isolated valley, and they were responsible for the murder of Jan’s father, so the romance is fraught with danger and difficulty. All is set to end happily after the defeat of the Doones and Lorna and Jan are married in Oare church….
However the wicked Carver wrecks revenge by shooting Lorna through a side window of the church. Jan leaves his bride and pursues carver and an almighty struggle ensues; Jan prevails and the last sight of Carver is him sinking, mortally wounded into a black bog.
Our family holiday this year is very near Exmoor so my beloved and I set off to view the real Oare church where the fictional Lorna was married to her Jan Ridd. It is a tiny little church, set in the most gorgeous countryside; it is no longer used as a church, I daresay there are not enough parishoners, but it is still a consecrated place. It was beautifully decorated for Easter and the box pews looked welcoming to anyone wishing to reflect for a moment.
After a lovely day out we hurried back to our holiday cottage because it was our turn to cook! With twenty-two cousins to feed we were a little anxious that there might not be enough… we cooked two sorts of tagine – lamb and chicken, with rice or couscous , tabbouleh and salad… and of course there was plenty to feed the hungry family as we recounted our days adventures to each other.