Work has been ongoing since 1991 to preserve and restore the abandoned workings at Mine Tenement. A small band of like minded volunteers initially formed two groups, Combe Martin Silver Mine Research And Preservation Society (CMSMRPS) and The Five Miners. CMSMRPS were dedicated to fund raising and building awareness of Mine Tenement, its history and preservation. The second, the Five Miners, managed the site and workings above and below ground. In 2021 CMSMRPS was dissolved due to a loss of willing committee members, and the role was taken on by the Five Miners and renamed Combe Martin Silver Mines Society (CMSMS). It is a struggle to maintain a healthy level of volunteers and up until recently the youngest of whom was 50 years of age. We have sadly lost some of our most prestigious members of late, and with them some minds of incredible passion and knowledge.
The Mine Tenement
(the believed site of Fayes Mine)
Mine Tenement has been worked throughout history, abandoned and reopened several times, the final abandonment being in the 1880’s
“The sight of Combmartin silver gladdened the heart of good Queen Bess”
Much has been written about the celebrated kings mines of Combmartin from the first recorded documentation of 1292 to the present day. Even now unknown evidence of workings are being unearthed through Archaeology at Mine Tenement. It was said that the Romans never came to this part of the country but evidence has been revealed to show that they did indeed come to the South west, evidence also that Combmartin was a hive of industry for many years with very prosperous silver mines, hemp growing, market gardening and lime kilns.
It is known that there was a fulling mill in the village but where? Could it be ‘Rack Park’ which is adjacent to mine tenements, where there was known to have been a water wheel and to have been a leat to feed one, (still visible in places). The name itself gives very strong evidence that it was indeed at ‘Rack Park’ as the wool would have been hung on racks in a field in the process of fulling.
On-going digs are in progress at mine tenement by a dedicated band of budding archaeologists to try and unearth more of the history of this fascinating village and try and answer some of the questions unanswered for many years like how did a sherd of Seville pottery end up in Combmartin when only five pieces have ever been found in the whole of the country and the American civil war rifleman tunic buttons also found in the reservoir.
The mines of Combmartin have been worked and abandoned on numerous occasions over the centuries, by different companies, all trying out the newest technology of the time to go deeper and further than the previous company, from opencast pits to steam power if it was new it came to Combmartin first such was the regard for such wealthy mines. It was said that the battles of Poitiers in 1356, Crecy in 1415 and even Agincourt were won in the shafts of Combmartin and in the 1640’s that Charles 1st clothed his army from the ‘Royal mines’ of Combmartin for the civil war, when at the time they were managed by Thomas Bushell who was in charge of the mint and Royal coinage of Combmartin. Many of these sayings have little evidence to support them, but spin a long yarn of the ongoing workings of the mines over the century’s.
Today much of the visual signs of mining have gone except where the dedicated members of CMSMRPS and now CMSMS have strove to keep as much as they can of Harris’s mine open and preserved the base of Williams engine house for future generations to learn about and study the fascinating stories and lives of the men women and children who worked there often in horrendous conditions just to put bread on their tables.