Lorna Doone revisited

Oare Church

Oare Church lies in a secluded valley just inland from the North Devon/Somerset coast. I reached it by way of a tramp across Exmoor covering some 9 miles (it should have been 8 but I got a bit lost on the way over the moor with its multitude of criss-crossing tracks) and 3 slogs up the sides of steep valleys cut by the fast-flowing rivers which also divide the moor and 2 scrambles down slippery tracks to return to lower altitude.

Needless to say, this being the height of the English Summer, it rained off and on the whole four hours of the walk. True, there was a variety of rain: hard, driving downpours which stung as it was flung horizontally in my face by the wind; the persistent, insinuating drizzle that somehow permeates through your clothes, even those guaranteed to be waterproof for your lifetime and that of your children’s children; and the soft, pattering kind which drives you mad by stopping and starting so you’re always one step behind – either you have just spent ten minutes dragging on the waterproofs only for it to stop, or else it restarts within moments of you having stripped off the waterproofs for a better view and to be less encumbered as you wade through the sea of heather.

But I finally reached my destination by way of the Badgworthy stream valley in which much of the action of R.D. Blackmore’s novel Lorna Doone takes place. Here I found the little village church at Oare in which Lorna is shot by her would be suitor, the terrifying Carver Doone, who fires at her through a window of the church as she is about to be married to her true love John Ridd.

For the record – the window is the one you can see in the lower middle section of the church in the above photo.

Oare Church Carver Doone window

And this is the window from the inside and the view towards the alter end where Lorna would have been standing for the ceremony.

Oare Church interior




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