Eastcott Memorial Field lies in the centre of North Brentor village. It is an area of damp pasture land with a public space at the northern end, the ‘Pocket Park’, and the village pond at the other end, opposite Christchurch.
The field, measuring about 100m by 85m, was purchased by the Brentor Parochial Church Council (PCC) from the proceeds of two half shares in other local fields given by the late Mrs Eastcott of Windsor Cottage, Brentor, the village postmistress. Windsor Cottage was originally the village post office.
The text below, taken from an article by John Weston in Brentor News dated November 1992, sets out in detail how the Field was given for the benefit of the Brentor community and as a natural area:
The EASTCOTT MEMORIAL FIELD
It is understood that there is a suggestion circulating that the above field should be used in its entirety – mainly for the young children. It may be worth detailing the background to the Memorial Field.
In 1979 the Church was left a half interest in two fields on the outskirts of the village under the terms of the will of the late Mrs Eastcott of Windsor Cottage, a member of the Parochial Church Council and for many years the village Postmistress. She also owned the field in the centre of the village. The latter was coming up for auction together with her other property and the PCC decided to bid for it using the funds obtained from their interest in the other two fields. It was decided that the field could then be preserved from any development and kept for the benefit of the village.
The purchase was successfully accomplished, the field was drained professionally and it was decided by the PCC to name it after Mrs.Eastcott.
In July 1979 the PCC sent out a letter to some then existing 15 village organisations, asking for suggestions on how they thought that the field might be used. Many of these replied and the general consensus of opinion was that the area should be retained so far as possible as it always has been – a pasture field – but that a small area could be devoted to a play area for small children and perhaps a rest area with seating for older people. Suggestions were also invited from individuals and most of the comments followed the same kind of pattern of thinking.
Since that time, the small play area has been developed with help from voluntary local labour and grants from the Lions and the Playing Fields Association etc. More recently the Pocket Park has come into being with help from the Dartmoor National Park and a promise of grant from English Nature; this should be in use, complete with a seat donated by the Community Centre and the W.I., by the coming spring. Both developments required Planning Permission from the DNP which was anxious that the character of the Centre of the village should not be disturbed.
A small income is derived from the letting of the pasture and this goes entirely to the grass cutting in the play area so that the church derives no financial benefit from the legacy it received though, speaking for myself as a member of the PCC, former Churchwarden and Church Secretary, one hopes that the efforts made over the past few years to take into account the views expressed by the community have been appreciated.
The Village Pond
In addition to the Pocket Park grass area, in 1990 the Brentor Community Centre suggested the creation of a village pond in Eastcott Memorial Field, opposite Christchurch.
This was to be a natural wildlife pond and fundraising started in earnest to raise £500 towards the scheme. The project took advice from English Nature and Dartmoor National Park assisted by carrying out the excavation of the pond and other landscaping work. A local pond specialist, John Carter of Rowden Gardens, donated suitable plants and offered his assistance with the planting work. The work was finished by the spring of 1993 and the pond is still maintained by our local community.
In the early 2000s there must have been more discussion about the future of the field – This appeared in the October 2004 edition of Brentor News:
A vigorous exchange of views on the future of the Eastcott Memorial Field, and the associated children’s play area was facilitated by the Brentor News in 2001/02. Simon Martin, neighbouring the field, wrote in the October 2004 edition of Brentor News:
“There is no question in my mind that the Eastcott field should remain in exactly the same state as it is today. Whichever road I use to enter the village my heart always lifts at the sight of the brace of cattle, usually, I think, Charolais cross, quietly browsing in the field, and put there on a regular basis to keep the pasture down. What other sign of the delightful peace and harmony of rural Dartmoor life could you possibly wish to see in these troubled and busy times? It is also of note that common Snipe feed and roost (and nest?) in the sedge grass at the wet lower end of this field throughout the winter and spring, though you have to be quick to see and hear them in the dimpsy cold winter evenings. Do we want to disturb this habitat?”