A Historic Day for Littlehempston

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On Thursday March 15th, a great cheer went up at the auction  of Higher Court Farm at the Seven Stars in Totnes, when the Littlehempston bid for Lot 7 was successful. The auctioneer commented that it wasn’t often he made so many people happy with just one sale! This land purchase provides the parish with its first community-owned open space and will help preserve this very central part of the village for future generations. And to add to the happiness, Lot 4 was bought by individual locals.

Littlehempston owes much to the small group of determined individuals who rallied the community to action so successfully, and did so much work behind the scenes.

If you missed the auction, you can experience all the excitement and tension of the Lot 7 bid, thanks to Jon Morris’s recording:


You can see a map of the various lots on page 17 of the Higher Court Farm Sales Particulars. Here are details of the prices paid and the purchasers, to the best of our knowledge:

Lot Price Purchaser
1 £348,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
2 £450,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
3 £197,000 Jacqui Hodgson
4 £45,000 Littlehempston residents
5 £94,000 To be confirmed
6 £200,000 Vision Residences (Phase Two) LLP
7 £58,000 Littlehempston community!!!
8 £285,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary
9 £90,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary
10 £202,000 A local farmer
11 £52,000 Mare and Foal Sanctuary

The village of Littlehempston in South Hams has a strong history of community spirit and purpose – we have bought our own pub, enhanced the church into a community space and now bought our own land for community use.

Murmurings started in late January 2018 when the Blacklers land in Littlehempston came up for sale, including a central pasture with orchard. When an email went out on the 19th of January asking whether it wouldn’t be worth “putting the idea out there” for the villagers to club together and buy Lot 7, it didn’t exactly take off as a priority … and not much happened until around the 19th Feb when a growing group thought it would be good to meet and discuss.

This first well attended meeting was on the 26th of February in the church where full support was given to “give it a go”. We got £30k in pledges that evening in a cardboard box so we felt emboldened!

Results of this meeting included some delegated tasks such as capture the pledges and turn them hard cash, find a purchasing entity (the Bidder) to bid on the day, think about the balance between Lot 4 and Lot 7, and start drafting an agreement for the community to agree with the Bidders that they would buy it on the village’s behalf.

There was quite a flurry of activity leading to the 2nd meeting on the 12th March with only 3 days to go until auction day. This 2nd meeting was a very focussed event where we could confirm that we had reached the guide price in hard cash, but requested more if possible. We also agreed to focus solely on Lot 7 as a community, and let village individuals go for Lot 4. We discussed the premise on which the Bidders would buy the land on behalf of the village and had Mike Dix and Nicky Oldridge stepping up to be the Bidders … things starting to come together but there was a way to go yet!

Really ramping up the tempo now in the days before the auction, the kitty reached £60k on auction day with some fabulous last minute donations, and having signed a Deed of Trust with Nicky and Mike, we were battle ready … and the rest is history!


Youth Club is Back in Action

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And there’s some great action on offer! Twenty young people turned up for the re-opening of the Youth Club led by Ash Levin. With the pews rolled back and mats on the floor, the group were kept busy with activities that stretched their minds, asked for artistic expression and practiced their physical dexterity.

Ash has loads of experience working with young people and offers an exciting mix of drama games, group challenges, physical games, acro-balancing, and (action) songs. The club is for 7 – 14 year olds, and the older ones can work with Ash as youth leaders to help run the sessions, if they want. Sessions are fortnightly on Friday from 6.15 to 7.45pm in the Community Space and cost £3.

We hope this group will grow friendships amongst the children in the parish and encourage a feeling of community. It is also a great opportunity for parents to have a regular get together in the Tally Ho. And if Ash seems a familiar face, you may have seen him at the Littlehempston Fete last year – either playing chess in the Chess Tent or as Mr Cupid on Stilts. Circus skills are another arrow to his bow.

Contact Kendal or Susie for more information. Check the Events page on this web site for dates.

A Good Year in Space

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A successful pilot of the Littlehempston Youth Club was one of the achievements of the Community Space in 2017, outlined at the recent Annual Meeting.  The Space is our “village hall” offering loads of events and activities that keep us all fit and entertained, whilst raising the money to keep our church open for all.

In 2017, the Space had an income of nearly £7,000, that included donations from the Fete, Lottery and the Bogan Trust. This income paid for a new boiler, heating, lighting, cleaning, repayment of the loans for the building works to create the Space and the Youth Club Pilot. A similar sum is generated by church activities, which covers insurance and church-related costs. Get in touch if you’d like a full Annual Report and Statement of Accounts.

A vote of thanks was passed at the meeting to Ken Wood, who started the Littlehempston Lottery, which to date has raised £4,200 for village causes. Pictured here is Space Team Chairman, James Dunn, who is doubly happy – he won first prize in the March 2018 quarterly draw and also received on behalf of the Space a donation for equipment for the new Youth Club. Thanks were given at the meeting to all who’d helped, including Kendal Tredinnick, who is stepping down from the Team.

New blood is needed, so if you’d like to join our friendly team, please get in touch – meetings are good-humoured, short, “well refreshed” and a great way to get involved in village life. Not keen on monthly meetings? Then why not offer to run a one-off event? Full support from the experienced team provided! Just get in touch for more information.

Stars abound in Space

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The stars were out in February for a fascinating exploration of the night sky guided by Dave Norman from the Torbay Astronomical Society with a great slide show provided by Alison Alexander. We stood mouths agape in the churchyard, as Dave’s laser guided us from Orion’s belt to the Seven Sisters, the faintly twinkling Pleiades, and explored the moon’s craters through the telescope. The raffle prize of a moon chart was won by children from Hemsford and home-made soup was served up in the Community Space.

Another group of stars appeared in a documentary film directed by Russ Pariseau, Holding up the Sky, about ten young women from Nepal and Africa who overcame many barriers to scale Kilimanjaro. One related that she had run away from home rather than face an arranged marriage; another felt lucky that she was sent to school because she was “too ugly” to be married. Their inspiring tales were a great way to celebrate International Women Days and the cake stall made £150 for the charity Womankind.

Littlehempston gets together to purchase Community Land

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After coming to the aid of our church and local pub, Littlehempston people are coming together to secure land that is going up for sale in the centre of our village.

In the biggest land sale for generations 122 acres (almost 50 hectares) is going to auction, following the death of farmer Lyndon Blackler, of Higher Court Farm. The land has been divided into 11 lots, some of which lie right in the centre of our picturesque village. The auction will be conducted by Rendells in 11 separate lots and is set to take place on March 15th. Click here for full details.

As well as protecting the land from possible development, we intend to place the land in a Trust for community use with a focus on nature conservation and biodiversity. Ideas include preserving an old Devon cider orchard, creating a village green and providing shared space for the use of all villagers and their children.

Littlehempston has a strong track record of community action. In 2012 we managed to protect the future of our church by adapting it to perform a dual function as a village hall, with the help of innovative pews on wheels. Then, in 2014, we formed a co-operative, bought, and then reopened our village pub, the Tally Ho. The centuries old pub is now the first community owned pub in South Devon.

Littlehempston is now applying its usual vigour to raise funds prior to the auction on 15th March, with a working group set up to investigate Community Interest Companies and Community Land Trusts.

In order to raise funds, the group is collecting money and pledges from within and beyond Littlehempston. With money rolling in, they’re feeling confident they will be able to raise the funds to bid for at least one of the lots.

Littlehempston Parish Council chair Jonathan Morris says: “This is a once in a generation opportunity to acquire land for the whole community of Littlehempston. We’ve got a great track record of pulling together as a village to protect the things we value most and this will provide a fantastic resource for the whole community to enjoy. There has been an astonishing amount of money pledged so far and each new pledge safeguards a little more of the village for future generations. Let’s hope people continue to give generously!”

If you are interested in contributing to the fund, make your cheque out to ‘Village Community Space’ and write ‘Land Littlehempston’ on the back of the cheque together with your contact details. Send your cheque to: Land Littlehempston, 2 Church Cottages, Littlehempston, Totnes, TQ9 6LY.

Alternatively you can do a bank transfer of your contribution to:
Account: Village Community Space
Sort Code: 30-98-69
Account No: 02271067

If you’d like to contribute to the fund but your money isn’t immediately available, you can make a pledge – please use this website’s contact form to get in touch and we’ll let you know how.

We’ve also set up a mailing list which you can join to be kept up to date with this campaign, ask questions, put forward ideas and contribute to the discussion. Again, use our contact form and let us know if you’d like to join the Littlehempston Land mailing list.