Earlier today I headed out to a nearby area in Plymouth to find a geocache. I was under the initial impression that it would be another humdrum urban location, however, hidden within the ring of roads and the dual carriageway was a little slice of history.
The area of Widey in Plymouth is over a thousand years old, with its location noted in the Norman Domesday Book of 1086. It appears to have been developed further during the Elizabethan period, and its principle claim to fame came during the English Civil War of the 1640s when it was used as a royalist headquarters for the siege of Parliamentarian supporting Plymouth. King Charles’ nephew – Prince Maurice – was responsible for the conduct of the siege, and it is believed that the king himself resided at Widey for a short time. Brian Moseley, from the fantastic site Old Plymouth, states that Widey Court:
‘earned the right to be named a “Court” when in 1644 it was used by King Charles I, who held court here during the Civil War siege of Plymouth. It was owned at the time by Yeoman Heale. From here King Charles demanded the surrender of Plymouth.’
As was the case of many other notable homes, Widey Court was demolished in the post-war period. The local primary school now occupies this position, with its history remaining in the form of a few pillars and gates (as well as small sign).
The photographs show that this hidden history is surrounded by roads: just below is the A38 dual carriageway, to the north above it is a key road that connects the north of Plymouth to the centre, and surrounding it completely is a round-about that is in continual use. But in one way, all of this overbearing urban infrastructure only adds to the allure of the gates. A small piece of history continues to shine amongst the concrete.