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32563.  Sat Nov 19, 2005 5:45 am Reply with quote

A bloke told me yesterday that the word "moonraker" originated in Devizes, Wiltshire, which I thought was rather QI.

Last edited by JumpingJack on Tue Dec 13, 2005 4:34 am; edited 1 time in total

32564.  Sat Nov 19, 2005 5:50 am Reply with quote

Devizes is the highest town in Wiltshire.

The village green or rather 'town green' of Devizes is known as The Crammer, and it is here that the word 'moonraker' originated.

The Moonraker pub is just up the road from the pond.

Wadworth's Brewery (of 6X fame) is based in Devises.

32566.  Sat Nov 19, 2005 5:58 am Reply with quote

The name "Devizes" means "at the division point". Devizes is where the Diocese of Salisbury, Gloucester, and Bath and Wells meet.

The town's name is though to have stemmed from the Latin ad divisas, which means 'at the boundaries', because it grew from a point where the manors of Rowde, Cannings and Potterne once met.

32569.  Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:11 am Reply with quote

The Market Cross in Devises is famous for the legend of Ruth Pierce who, in 1753, asked God to strike her dead if she lied about a corn deal - and was struck down immediately.

32570.  Sat Nov 19, 2005 6:27 am Reply with quote

People from Wiltshire in general (not just from Devizes) take pride in being known as Moonrakers.

The story goes like this.

One moonlit night, a group of Wiltshire smugglers were transporting some casks of contraband past a pond. (One common version of the legend says that this was The Crammer in Devizes).

The donkey carrying the casks was startled and the smuggled brandy fell into the water. Grabbing some nearby hayrakes, the smugglers tried to hook them onto the casks underneath the water and pull them out. An excise man passing by on his horse saw them raking the pond, with the full moon reflected in the water. When he questioned them about their strange behaviour, their quick-witted riposte was that they were raking out the cheese they could see in the water. The exciseman laughed himself silly and told everybody about the stupid countryfolk - but he never knew that, in fact, they were the ones who had fooled him.


32646.  Sat Nov 19, 2005 11:14 am Reply with quote

Co-incidentally we had the "moonraker" thing in our quiz league on Tuesday. I personally had heard the story before, as had all my team, so I wonder if it's a little bit too well known to be genuinely QI?

32785.  Sat Nov 19, 2005 10:42 pm Reply with quote

Absolutely I wouldn't suggest it would make a question, though I have to say the story was news to me.

I'm just dillying along making lists, James, to build up a basic set of of things we might dig a bit more deeply into (or not). Getting the ball rolling and so on. A security blanket, I suppose, but I enjoy it.

And it makes a change from trying to be nice to people who can't spell and can't be bothered to Google anything for themselves...


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