Moats, Mills and Fish Ponds – Deborah Overton
“Local historian and archaeologist Deborah Overton spoke at a well-attended meeting at St Andrews on Tuesday 6th February 2024. Everyone was congratulated for braving the driving rain! Water was very much a topic of conversation from that point onwards.
Deborah’s talk on Mills, Moats and Fishponds was much more than a peer into local watercourses. Moats were, at one time, prevalent across the County’s landscape in significant numbers as Deborah was able to demonstrate. From aspiring noblemen to well-heeled County families there seems to have been a trend, at certain periods in history, to acquire that ultimate status symbol – a moat! Fishponds were also much more numerous than is now obvious and were favoured as a convenient source of protein. Deborah was able to show us examples of ponds that, at one stage in history, would have fed families and communities in a fashion long since forgotten. Varieties of edible freshwater fish would also make a stunning contribution to modern menus – were they ever to return to favour!
Watermills and windmills, the principles of milling and the dangers associated with their machinery were also topics that Deborah unpicked in a manner that left us in awe of engineers from the Roman period onwards. Their contribution to the local landscape is, in some cases, now completely eradicated (Pershore Mill and Grafton Flyford Mill being two examples no longer with us) whereas others are visible in part or, in the case of Shelsley Walsh (visited by the Pershore Civic Society on 5th September 2023) completely restored.
Deborah’s talk ended with questions including an interesting one on the steps that should be taken to preserve the memory of structures and former structures in the landscape where that landscape is under threat – Throckmorton being an immediate candidate!
Finally, there is the promise that Deborah may return to speak to the Civic Society about Bredon Hill at some point in the future – a prospect to which we can all look forward.”