Potato Town

on the A361 again, we find English quirkiness popping up all over the place. Potato Town, Swerford, Pomfret Castle; the names belong in an Ealing comedy. Potato Town is a single, small farmhouse with a couple of dilapidated out-buildings, of the sort which isn't supposed to exist anymore in modern England. Pomfret Castle is a classic English cottage, evidently very old. It's a little shabby, but sound.

Swerford lacks a particularly quaint name (a ford over the River Swere, what else?), but it carries a disjointed* air, its regressing parkland speaking of the collapse of some important element in Swerford's social fabric, an element replaced by an ill-fitting make-shift. Or maybe it was my imagination.

I don't know why Potato Town is so called. Its present condition suggests irony, but maybe the potato was vitally important to this area, and here was the hub of the spud world. I don't know what Pomfret Castle was, or is. Maybe the remains of some Norman defence lie hidden under its foundations, maybe it's an old inn which has retained its trading name.

(To be honest, I think I spot the link; Pomfret=Pommes Frites=fried potatoes, but I'm pretty sure that further investigation would reveal something excruciatingly boring, so let's leave it there.)

I don't know what social or economic eddy swept Swerford out of true, or even if it did. None of that matters. Sometimes, knowing too much can spoil the fun, cramp the imagination and explain an attractive mystery out of existence. We need only know that history is likely to ambush us wherever we turn in this land, that history is still going on, and it's been going on a long time.

* I later discovered that my choice of words here was more apt than I thought.

It seems that it's all Swerford's fault (or faults).

Apparently this valley wasn't carved by the River Swere. Rather, there are two geological fault lines, more or less parallel, running along the two sides of the vale. In between, the rocks have slumped - creating the Swerford Rift Valley.

So, the depression I felt in Swerford was geological, and not just my dyspepsia.

And some histories are so distant as to be indecipherable, without the use of imagination.

Glympton Glympton Rollright Rollright
© David Craig Send me a message