Sparnham House, 36 West Street - a Memory of Ashburton.
I was living in Sparnham House in 1960, but don't recall the umber mine you mention, though my father (Brian Baker) did say there had been one, once. Outside Sparnham there used to be a tap which was supplied by a natural spring and during the long winter of 1963 it was, at times, the only piece of plumbing that wasn't frozen. There was a tunnel under the garden which I was never allowed to explore; I always assumed it was something to do with this spring, but perhaps it was the umber mine? My father died when I was nine, and we moved away from Ashburton shortly afterwards, so that tunnel has always been a tantalising mystery to me.
The house had been a coaching inn many years before. When my father bought it there were evidently huge numbers of old bottles in the back garden. He levelled the heap and planted a lawn on top, so there's probably an interesting experience awaiting anyone who cares to dig a few holes!
A memory shared byon Dec 12th, 2006.
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