James Crowden

I moved into the village in April 1986. Forge House was bought at a sealed bid auction for 47,500 which seemed a lot then but it was before things went up. It is a large house and is really two cottages in one, which means that it is suited for letting out one end, which we did for many years providing lodgings for local people. It was for many years lived in by the Churchill family who worked as blacksmiths in what is now Woodlands Garage. The forge and bellows only disappeared about four years ago. 

My own work at the time was as a casual agricultural labourer, being involved seasonally as a shepherd, sheep shearer, with work as a night shepherd on large flocks mainly around Montacute, Marlborough and Dorchester. Also I was employed as a part time cider maker, woodsman. The cider making was at Burrow Hill, Kingsbury Episcopi and involved building cheeses and pressing the apples from Oct through to Dec each year. Forestry work filled in the gaps and I worked on and off near Dinnington for a number of years. The sheep shearing took me far and wide from Shaftesbury down to Honiton and from the South coast up to the Mendips. I never employed anyone directly except on a casual basis, but often worked alongside others.

As agriculture took a nose dive. I decided to start writing and diversifying into small scale publishing, performing and did some radio and television work. This has taken off and I have now formed a small publishing company with two others from the Powerstock region. This has received a grant from South West Arts. Sadly I could not afford to live in my house, or do it up, and so I have had borrow money to upgrade it for full time letting which in the summer months brings visitors to the village, for better or worse... In the winter I always try and get a long winter lets for local people. In the meantime I stay at my father's in Lullingstone, Fore Street, or in Somerton. Being able to use the house over the last fourteen years as a base for writing has been marvelous and very productive.

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This page revised 01 May 2009