A Bit of Old Dulverton. . Photograph by Catherine W. Barnes Ward. [This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]

Of Dulverton town, as distinct from its environs, it is impossible to say much. . . . Here, it will be remembered, dwelt Master Reuben Huckaback, John Ridd's maternal uncle, who, when bound on the back of the frightened mountain pony, described himself as "an honest hosier and draper, serge and long-cloth warehouseman, at the sign of the Gartered Kitten, in the loyal town of Dulverton." Huckaback, I am disposed to think, was Blackmore's creation, the name in itself being suspicious. What is Huckaback? Nuttall defines it as "a kind of linen with raised figures on it, used for tablecloths and towels" — the sort of thing that a shopkeeper in Uncle Ben's line would be likely to sell. Blackmore, no doubt, somewhat exaggerates the commercial advantages of Dulverton, but in the good old days, tradesmen managed to subsist very comfortably, and even to retire on a competence. The premises now occupied by Mr Bayley were probably those Mr Blackmore had in his eye, though their spick-and-span appearance does not suggest anything venerable. The proprietor, however, has good warrant for ascribing a decent antiquity to the house, whose traditional sign is the Vine, not the Gartered Kitten. That it may have been partially remodelled or reconstructed since the seventeenth century, is readily granted, as being in the nature of things, but, having been the head shop at Dulverton time out of mind, it is, at all events, in the apostolic succession. — Snell, 104-105 [GPL].

References

Blackmore, R. D. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor. New York: Clarke, Given and Hooper, 1890. [e-text of this edition at Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library

Snell, F. J. The Blackmore Country. London: Adm and Charles Black, 1911.


Victorian Overview

Last updated 13 May 2006