Chrissie Green farming in Normandy with husband Tim

21 September 2001

Chrissie Green farming in Normandy with husband Tim

Some years ago we made the discovery that there was more of a connection between Vimer and Cheshire than simply that us Greens had come from one and moved to the other.

Through the curiosity of an Australian called Tucket looking back into the archives and discovering that his name was derived from "de Touchet", he came across our landladys brother, Richard de Touchet in Paris (by ringing all the "de Touchets in the telephone directory). Together they continued their research which led them to Cheshire.

Members of the family had gone across to Britain with William the Conqueror and at one time became landowners of a large area of Tims home town of Cheshire. In a church at Tattenhall there is a stained glass window showing the same coat of arms as we have on our fireback in the lounge. We have thought that perhaps there is some French blood in Tim from a far and distant connection – who knows? But all this has come to mind again recently with a local exhibition in town. The Vimoutiers Historical Society, whose president is an old school friend of Mrs Dufresne, has been showing the history of Vimoutiers over the past 1000 years. We discovered that, while the French were "lording it" in Cheshire around 1400, the English were over here during the Hundred Years War, building a medieval hill fort which, but for the trees, we would still be able to see today from our kitchen window.

Part of the exhibition goes into great detail about the construction of "colombiers" pigeon houses, a big feature of the "lords" with thousands of pigeons, pigeon muck being part of the dowry (average consumption would have been 50kg of grain a head a year). This was at a time when the Pays dAuge (Valley of the Trough) was an arable area, and not at all grassland as we see today. Tim was not so impressed by the pigeon muck dowry aspect. He couldnt wait for Jacques to get back from his holiday with his rifle to shoot feral pigeons as we have not only been inundated as usual by martins and swallows, but pigeons have taken a liking to our grain store building and are making a terrible mess on the feed. Imagine the damage that was done in the past when a pigeon house, supporting from 500 to 2000 couples, housed the birds at night, but they were all set free during the day, and it was strictly forbidden for the peasants to capture, hurt or kill them. All they could do was make vain attempts at placing scarecrows about to save their precious corn from clouds of voracious birds.

As members of the historical society, we have visited some super places, and there are lots of outstanding examples of these old "colombiers" in the area, though thankfully now they are empty.

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