BBC Countryfile discovers Exmoor’s legendary Hope Bourne


Countryfile Discovers Exmoor’s Hope Bourne

 Well-known and colourful author and countrywoman, Hope Bourne, who died aged 91 in 2010, is featured in Countryfile on Sunday, 16th March.  Famous for living in a small caravan in a remote spot on Exmoor for over two decades, Hope attracted national attention in the way of life she followed that was almost self- sufficient.  She grew her own food, collected wood and armed with a 12 bore shotgun or a .22 rifle, shot for the pot.  In addition to helping farming friends across the moor, she earned her living as a writer, publishing four books on the Exmoor countryside and rural life, as well as writing a popular weekly column for a local newspaper. 

Wherever she went on Exmoor, Hope sketched and painted the living landscape around her, annotating many of her drawings and giving some of them to people she visited as a thank you for feeding her.  She loved Exmoor’s wildness, its solitude and beauty, changing through all the seasons, and was passionate about hill farming and hunting.

Hope was a founder subscriber to the Exmoor Society, a conservation charity set up to fight proposals for afforesting The Chains, the heart of the moorland.  She soon became a Trustee at a time when the Society was fighting against the continual loss of moorland.  She wrote regular erudite articles for the Society’s annual Exmoor Review ranging from wildlife to farming activities.  She left her whole Estate to the Exmoor Society which included a large collection of over 2000 drawings and paintings, letters, manuscripts, memorabilia and 700 books. 

With some of her financial legacy the Society has put on two exhibitions and commissioned a DVD and a book, “Eloquence through Art”.  Her lasting legacy will be part of the Exmoor Society’s archives that are about to be set up in new premises at 34 High Street, Dulverton after operating for 46 years in Parish Rooms.

Countryfile filmed with television presenter, Ellie Harrison, at two places – first at Fernyball with Exmoor Society Trustee John Burgess who knew and interviewed her, and second at Parish Rooms in Dulverton where Hope’s collection of material is housed, and Chairman Rachel Thomas shows some of the documents left to the Society.

Photos:                Countryfile at Fernyball with John Burgess & Ellie Harrison

                              Countryfile at Parish Rooms with Rachel Thomas & Ellie Harrison

Press Contact:

Rachel Thomas – 01271 375686 or the Exmoor Society Offices 01398 323335.

The Exmoor Society exists to promote and organise action for the conservation and enjoyment of the landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage of Exmoor national park. It was established in 1958 and successfully fought proposals to afforest the Chains, the central moorland of Exmoor. It has continued to campaign against adverse changes and searches for solutions and encourages people’s understanding of the park’s special qualities. It acts as an independent watchdog and champion for Exmoor’s status as a national park.


About Programme Manager

Helping people to enjoy and appreciate Exmoor National Park's moorland, and supporting those who take care of it.
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