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Moonraker

The legend of the Wiltshire moonrakers is well known, but while the outline of the story is well documented, filling in the details largely depends on which book you read. The story is simple, though, and its message clear.

A pair of Wiltshiremen, engaged in smuggling brandy, hide a barrel of the contraband from the excisemen in a nearby pond and when they return at some later time, in the dark, they are caught in the act of raking the barrel back to land. They immediately claim that they are trying to rake cheese - the reflection of the moon - from the pond and the excisemen, amused by the apparently simple-minded rustics, leave them to it.

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The moral of the story is that, despite their earthy accents, Wiltshire folk are not as slow-witted as some would believe and, to this day, people born in the county are proud to call themselves moonrakers.

Just when the incident took place is far from clear, particularly as smuggling is by no means restricted to any one period in history, but at least one historian has claimed it originated in the 18th century.

The site of the pond is a matter of fiercer conjecture, with any one of the many Wiltshire towns and villages which boast a pond laying claim to be the home of the original moonrakers at one time or another.

However it is generally accepted in happened in one of the Cannings Parishes and there is only one roadside dew pond out in the countryside - and it is this one which is in my garden. So I claim it as the original.

Now of course I wouldn't condone the smuggling of goods to avoid penal duties, but I'm proud to call myself a Moonraker - and as to what is at the bottom of the pond....

Comments

Our garden has a pond. Englishman's Acres has a lake!

As one of the Rothschilds, famed for nearly two centuries as financiers, who also have been a family of passionate gardeners, once said. "However small your garden is you should always have at least a quater of an cre of native woodland in it." Quite, this is mine!.

Erm, there's a pub somewhere round there called The Moonrakers isn't there ? Long time since I lived in Bath but think I was in a pub quiz there once, all minibussing out from The Old Green Tree .
Like your photos of the area by the wya, bring back memories for this expat.

Tim

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