Introduction to Palterton

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View of Palterton in 1910

A story of rural country folk

The main purpose of this site is to arouse an interest in the local history
of Palterton and to appreciate some of the problems that faced our ancestors.

Village history is the real history of England, since it is the history of the common man.

Village histories, although having a common basis, differ widely in character and personalities.  Each man took an active part in the government of the village, acting in rotation as churchwarden, overseer of the poor, constable and pinder.  Their reports were read and passed at the annual Vestry meeting, usually held in the parish church and attended by the inhabitants who had the right to query any item.

Two menbers of the Sowter family
                                                 George Whitworth, blacksmith, seen with fellow blacksmith Mr. Askew and Mr. Skelton in the background

Our forefathers in Palterton were mostly agricultural labourers and associated trades.  They were mostly poor, uneducated: yet through their customs, folk songs, games, proverbs, local parish and above all religious life - all dating back more than 1000 years - they were conscious of handing on the immemorial traditions of the village which their great grandchildren have almost forgotten.

The people of Palterton in yesteryear, for all their lack of education, had a 'culture' of their own: unlike the present generation who for all their media, have hardly begun to acquire one.

The result is that a large and growing section of the village is more or less consciously out of touch with the village traditions of Palterton.  Newcomers have mostly no knowledge of these traditions and show little desire to be part of the village life.

The need for forging links between the past and present has never been more obvious than at the present time.

But how do I describe Palterton? Well, it is the topography of the village that gives it an unusual character. The western part of Main Street is only developed along it's eastern side, the street and older buildings being perched on the very top of a 30 feet scarp slope overlooking the Doe Lea valley, which at this point presents a most pleasant view.  The older parts of Palterton, particularly those overlooking this scarp slope form a development unique in it's siting and has much environmental merit.

In historic landscape terms, Palterton is an important example of a vestigal medieval village where the classic Back Lane and Main Street arrangement for gaining access both to the frontage and rear yard plots is clearly visible, With strips of land lying to the rear of farmsteads and cottage sites.   An area down Carr Lane, to the right and immediately prior to Sally Gap is an area where the old field pattern is clearly visible.

A group in c1955 potato picking

A story of rural country folk


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Created 2 December 2001
Last updated: 8 January 2016