Saturday, 28 January 2012
THE DARLING ROCK
The Darling Rock at Lympstone was once quite a stack and is still a landmark of the Estuary although time and tide have worn it to a stump no longer visible at springs. Local myth records it as once havng been big enough for sheep safely to graze upon it and no doubt once it was but certainly not in living memory. John Swete painted it in watercolour when he visited the Estuary no later than 1799 and the Darling Rock is clearly shown to be a needle remarkably much the same shape and size as when it was photographed well over a hundred years later, which is to say not big enough for even one remarkably agile mountain goat to graze upon it.
If it is true, as it is recorded, that, in 1792 the Rector of Lympstone burned Tom Paine's Rights of Man at the Darling Rock and if, as is written in that most excellent book, For Love of Williamina, "The loyal parishioners of Lympstone watched the ashes float away on the ebb tide in the direction of Revolutionary France." they must have been not so much standing on the rock as all around it.
The name, Darling Rock, appears to be ancient and consistent. It appears on William Chapple's map of the Estuary of 1743 but it could well have been so (Deorling!) called by an Anglo Saxon. The local account that it gained its name because women stood upon it waiting for their loved ones to come home and calling out 'O my darling!' to the waves and water seems to me not to carry conviction.