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Full text of "Book of the west"

INDIANA 

UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 



■^"^ 4 



'■^ >■ 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2009 with funding from 

Indiana University 



http://www.archive.org/details/bookofwest01bari 



A BOOK OF THE WEST 

VOL. I. 

DEVON 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

LIFE OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE 

THE TRAGEDY OF THE CESARS 

THE DESERT OF SOUTHERN FRANCE 

STRANGE SURVIVALS 

SONGS OF THE WEST 

A GARLAND OF COUNTRY SONG 

OLD COUNTRY LIFE 

YORKSHIRE ODDITIES 

FREAKS OF FANATICISM 

A BOOK OF FAIRY TALES 

OLD ENGLISH FAIRY TALES 

A BOOK OF NURSERY SONGS 

AN OLD ENGLISH HOME 

THE VICAR OF MORWENSTOW 

THE CROCK OF GOLD 




^^IH ^Y^ 







i 




SWEET HAY-MAKEKS 



A 

BOOK OF THE WEST 

BEING AN INTRODUCTION 
TO DEVON AND CORNWALL 

BY S. BARING-GOULD 

VOL. I. 

DEVON 



WITH THIRTY-FIVE ILLUSTRATIONS 



r 

NEW YORK : NEW AMSTERDAM BOOK CO. 

LONDON: METHUEN & CO. 

1900 

or 









^^«4-^r •J' . - ^^ 



iNDiAMA UNlVEgSlTY LIBRARY 



PREFACE 



T N this " Book of the West " I have not sought to 
-^ say all that might be said relative to Devon and 
Cornwall ; nor have I attempted to make of it a 
guide-book. I have rather endeavoured to convey 
to the visitor to our western peninsula a general 
idea of what is interesting, and what ought to attract 
his attention. The book is not intended to super- 
sede guide-books, but to prepare the mind to use 
these latter with discretion. 

In dealing with the history of the counties and of 
the towns, it would have swelled the volumes unduly 
to have gone systematically through their story from 
the beginning to the present ; it would, moreover, 
have made the book heavy reading, as well as heavy 
to carry. I have chosen, therefore, to pick out some 
incident, or some biography connected with the 
several towns described, and have limited myself 
thereto. 

My object then must not be misunderstood, and 
my book harshly judged accordingly. There are 



vi PREFACE 

ten thousand omissions, but I venture to think a 
good many things have been admitted which will 
not be found in guide-books, but which it is well for 
the visitor to know, if he has a quick intelligence and 
eyes open to observe. 

In the Cornish volume I have given rather fully 
the stories of the saints who have impressed their 
names indelibly on the land. It has seemed to 
me absurd to travel in Cornwall and have these 
names in the mouth, and let them remain nuda 
noniina. 

They have a history, and that is intimately asso- 
ciated with the beginnings of that of Cornwall. But 
their history has not been studied, and in books 
concerning Cornwall most of the statements about 
them are wholly false. 

I have not entered into any critical discussion 
concerning moot points. I have left that for my 
" Catalogue of the Cornish Saints " that is being 
issued in the Journal of the Royal histitiition of 
Cornwall, 

There are places that might have been described 
more fully, others that have been passed over with- 
out notice. This has been due to no disregard for 
them on my part, but to a dread of making the 
volumes too bulky and cumbrous. 

Finally, I owe a debt of gratitude to many kind 



PREFACE vil 

friends who have assisted me with their local know- 
ledge, as Mrs. Troup, of Offwell House, Honiton ; 
the Rev. J. B. Hughes, for some time Head Master 
of Blundell's School, Tiverton, and now Vicar of 
Staverton ; Mr. R. Burnard, of Huckaby House, 
Dartmoor, and Hillsborough, Plymouth, my alter 
ego in all that concerns Dartmoor ; Mr. J. D. Enys, 
whose knowledge of things Cornish is encyclopaedic ; 
Messrs. Amery, of Druid, Ashburton ; Mr. J. D. 
Prickman, of Okehampton ; and many others. 

S. BARING-GOULD 

Lew Trenchard House, Devon 
June, 1899 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 

I. The Western Folk . 


. 


II. 


Villages and Churches 


III. 


HONITON 


IV. 


A Landslip 




V. 


Exeter 




VI. 


Crediton 




VII. 


Tiverton 




VIII. 


Barnstaple . 




IX. 


Bideford 




X. 


Dartmoor and its Antiquities 


XI. 


Dartmoor : Its Tenants 


XII. 


Okehampton . 


XIII. 


Moreton Hampstead 




XIV. 


ASHBURTON 




XV. 


Tavistock 




XVI. 


Torquay 




XVII. 


TOTNES 




CVIII. 


Dartmouth . 




XIX. 


KiNGSBRIDGE . 




XX. 


Plymouth 





PAGE 
I 

30 

43 
60 
68 
79 

lOI 

122 

134 
155 
176 
208 
22 15 
248 
266 
289 
310 

323 
337 
352 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



Sweet Hay-makers 

From a photograph by Mr. Chenhall, Tavistock. 

Clovelly Fishermen 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

Sheepstor 

From a painting by A. B. Collier, Esq. 

HoLNE Pulpit and Screen . 

From a photograph by J. Amery, Esq. 

HoNiTON Lace 

From specimens kindly lent by Miss Herbert, Exeter, and 
Mrs. Fowler, Honiton. Photographed by the Rev, 
F. Partridge. 

High Street, Exeter 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

A Cob Cottage, Sheepwash 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

East Window, Crediton Church, before 
" Restoration " . 

From a sketch by F. Bligh Bond, Esq. 

Tiverton ... 

From a photograph by Mr. Mudford, Tiverton. 

Queen Anne's Walk, Barnstaple 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

Chapel Rock, Ilfracombe . 

From a photograph by Wellington and Ward, Elstree. 

Hartland Smithy . 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

Clovelly 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

Staple Tor 

From a photograph by James Shortridge, Esq. 

RippoN Tor Logan Stone . 

From a photograph by J. Amery; Esq. 



Frontispiece 
To face page i6 
30 
38 
51 

68 
80 

S2 
lOI 
122 
128 
134 

160 



Xll 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



Broadun Pounds . 

Barrow on Chagford Common 

Drawn by R. H. Worth, Esq. 

Lakehead Kistvaen 

From a photograph by R. Burnard, Esq. 

Urn from Kistvaen 

Drawn by R. H. Worth, Esq. 

Vixen Tor 

From a painting by A. B. Collier, Esq. 

Lower Tarr 

From a photograph by J. Amery, Esq. 

Tavy Cleave 

From a painting by A. B. Collier, Esq. 

Taw Marsh 

From a painting by A. B. Collier, Esq. 

Yes Tor 

From a painting by A. B. Collier, Esq. 

The Calculating Boy 

From a miniature in the possession of Miss Bidder. 

Grimspound 

From a plan by R. H. Worth, Esq. 

J. Dunning, Lord Ashburton 

From a painting by Sir J. Reynolds. 

Old Oak Carving, Ashburton 

From a photograph by J. Amery, Esq. 

Brent Tor 

From a painting by A. B. Collier, Esq. 

On the Dart 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

Dartmouth Castle 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

Grammar School, Plympton 

From a drawing by F. Bligh Bond, Esq. 

In Plympton 

From a drawing by F. Bligh Bond, Esq. 

Sutton Pool 

From a photograph by the Rev. F. Partridge. 

Alms-houses, S. Germans 

From a drawing by F. Bligh Bond, Esq. 



To face 


page 


165 






166 






168 






172 






176 






182 






197 

208 



212 

232 

239 
252 

258 
266 
310 
323 

354 
354 
358 
366 



DEVON 

CHAPTER I. 
THE WESTERN FOLK 

Ethnology of the Western Folk — The earliest men — The Ivernian race 
— The arrival of the Britons— Mixture of races in Ireland— The 
Attacottic revolt — The Dumnonii — The Scottic invasion of 
Dumnonia — The story of the Slave of the Haft — Athelstan drives 
the Britons across the Tamar — Growth of towns— The yeomen 
represent the Saxon element — The peasantry the earlier races — 
The Devonshire dialect — Courtesy — Use of Christian names — 
Love of funerals — Good looks among the girls — Dislike of 
* * Foreigners " — The Cornish people — Mr. Havelock Ellis on 
them — The types — A Cornish girl — Religion — The unpardonable 
sin — Folk-music — Difference between that of Devon and Corn- 
wall and that of Somersetshire. 

IT is commonly supposed that the bulk of the 
Devonshire people are Saxons, and that the 
Cornish are almost pure Celts. 

In my opinion neither supposition is correct. 
Let us see who were the primitive occupants of the 
Dumnonian peninsula. In the first place there were 
the men who left their rude flint tools in the Brixham 
and Kent's caverns, the same people who have de- 
posited such vast accumulations in the lime and chalk 
caves and shelters of the V^zere and Dordogne. Their 
B 



2 THE WESTERN FOLK 

remains are not so abundant with us as there, because 
our conditions are not as favourable for their preserva- 
tion ; and yet in the Drift we do find an enormous 
number of their tools, though not in situ, with their 
hearths, as in France ; yet sufficient to show that 
either they were very numerous, or what is more 
probable, that the time during which they existed 
was long. 

This people did not melt off the face of the earth 
like snow. They remained on it. 

We know that they were tall, that they had gentle 
faces — the structure of their skulls shows this ; and 
from the sketches they have left of themselves, we 
conclude that they had straight hair, and from their 
skeletons we learn that they were tall. 

M. Massenat, the most experienced hunter after 
their remains, was sitting talking with me one even- 
ing at Brives about their relics. He had just received 
a volume of the transactions of the Smithsonian 
Institute that contained photographs of Esquimaux 
implements. He indicated one, and asked me to 
translate to him the passage relative to its use. 
" Wonderful ! " said he. " I have found this tool 
repeatedly in our rock-shelters, and have never known 
its purport. It is a remarkable fact, that to under- 
stand our reindeer hunters of the Vezere we must 
question the Esquimaux of the Polar region. I 
firmly hold that they were the same race." 

A gentle, intelligent, artistic, unwarlike people got 
pressed into corners by more energetic, military, and 
aggressive races. And, accustomed to the reindeer, 
some doubtless migrated North with their favourite 



ETHNOLOGY 3 

beasts, and in a severer climate became somewhat 
stunted. 

It is possible — I do not say that it is more than 
possible — that the dark men and women found about 
Land's End, tall and handsome, found also in the 
Western Isles of Scotland and in West Ireland, may 
be the last relics of this infusion of blood. 

But next to this doubtful element comes one of 
which no doubt at all exists. The whole of England, 
as of France, and as of Spain, was at one time held 
by a dusky, short-built race, which is variously called 
Iberian, Ivernian, and Silurian, of which the Basque 
is the representative so far as that he still speaks 
a very corrupted form of the original tongue. In 
France successive waves of Gaul, Visigoth, and Frank 
have swept over the land and have dominated it. But 
the fair hair and blue eyes and the clear skin of the 
conquering races have been submerged by the rising 
and overflow of the dusky blood of the original 
population. The Berber, the Kabyle are of the same 
race ; dress one of them in a blue blouse, and put 
a peaked cap on his head, and he would pass for 
a French peasant. 

The Welsh have everywhere adopted the Cymric 
tongue, they hug themselves in the belief that they 
are pure descendants of the ancient Britons, but in 
fact they are rather Silurians than Celts. Their build, 
their coloration, are not Celtic. In the fifth century 
Cambria was invaded from Strathclyde by the sons 
of Cunedda ; fair-haired, white-skinned Britons, they 
conquered the North and penetrated a certain way 
South; but the South was already occupied by a 



4 THE WESTERN FOLK 

body of invading Irish. When pressed by the 
Saxons, then the retreating Britons poured into 
Wales ; but the substratum of the population was 
alien in tongue and in blood and in religion. 

It was the same in Dumnonia — Devon and Corn- 
wall. It was occupied at some unknown time, perhaps 
four centuries before Christ, by the Britons, who be- 
came lords and masters, but the original people did 
not disappear, they became their " hewers of wood 
and drawers of water." 

Then came the great scourge of the Saxon invasion. 
Devon remained as a place of refuge for the Britons 
who fled before the weapons of these barbarians, till 
happily the Saxons accepted Christianity, when their 
methods became less ferocious. They did not exter- 
minate the subject people. But what had more to do 
with the mitigation of their cruelty than their Christi- 
anity, was that they had ceased to be mere wandering 
hordes, and had become colonists. As such they 
needed serfs. They were not themselves experienced 
agriculturalists, and they suffered the original popula- 
tion to remain in the land — the dusky Ivernians as 
serfs, and the freemen, the conquered Britons, were 
turned into tenant farmers. 

This is precisely what took place in Ireland. The 
conquering Gadhaels or Milesians, always spoken of 
as golden-haired, tall and white-skinned, had subdued 
the former races, the Firbolgs and others, and had 
welded them into one people whom they called the 
Aithech Tuatha, i.e. the Rentpaying Tribes ; the 
Classic writers rendered this Attacotti. 

In the first two centuries of our era there ensued 



THE DUMNONII 5 

an incessant struggle between the tenant farmers and 
the lords ; the former rose in at least two great revolu- 
tions, which shows that they had by no means been 
exterminated, and whole bodies of them, rather than 
be crushed into submission and ground down by hard 
rents, left Ireland, some as mercenaries, others, perhaps, 
to fall on the coasts of Wales, Devon, and Brittany, 
and effect settlements there. 

When brought into complete subjugation in 
Ireland, the Gadhelic chiefs planted their duns 
throughout the country in such a manner as to 
form chains, by which they could communicate with 
one another at the least token of a revival of dis- 
content; and they distributed the subject tribes 
throughout the island in such a manner as to keep 
them under supervision, and to break up their clans. 
As Professor Sullivan very truly says, " The Irish 
tenants of to-day are composed of the descendants 
of Firbolgs and other British and Belgic races ; 
Milesians, . . . Gauls, Norwegians, Anglo-Saxons, 
Anglo-Normans, and English, each successive 
dominant race having driven part at least of its 
predecessors in power into the rent-paying and 
labouring ranks beneath them, or gradually falling 
into them themselves, to be there absorbed. This 
is a fact which should be remembered by those who 
theorise over the qualities of the 'pure Celts/ who- 
ever they may be.""* 

The Dumnonii, whose city or fortress was at 
Exeter, were an important people. They occupied 

• Introduction to O'CURRY (E.), Manners and Customs of the 
Ancient Irish, 1873, I. xxiv. 



6 THE WESTERN FOLK 

the whole of the peninsula from the river Parret to 
Land's End. East of the Tamar was Dyfnaint, the 
Deep Vales ; west of it Corneu, the horn of Britain. 

The Dumnonii are thought to have invaded and 
occupied this territory about four centuries before the 
Christian era. The language of the previous dusky 
race was agglutinative, like that of the Tartars and 
Basques, that is to say, they did not inflect their 
substantives. Although there has been a vast influx 
of other blood, with fair hair and white complexions, 
the earlier type may still be found in both Devon 
and Cornwall. 

Then came the Roman invasion ; this affected our 
Dumnonian peninsula very slightly ; Cornwall hardly 
at all. When that came to an end, a large portion 
of Britain had fallen under the sway of the Picts, 
Saxons, and Scots. By Scots are meant the Irish, 
who after their invasion of Alba gave the present 
name to Scotland. But it must be distinctly under- 
stood that the only Scots known in the first ten or 
eleven centuries, to writers on British affairs, were 
Irish. 

In alliance with the Picts and Saxons, Niall of the 
Nine Hostages poured down on Britain and exacted 
tribute from the conquered people. In 388 he 
carried his arms further and plundered Brittany. 
In 396 the Irish supremacy was resisted by Stilicho, 
and for a while shaken ; it was reimposed in 400. 
In 405, Niall invaded Gaul, and was assassinated 
there on the shores of the English Channel. 

In 406 Stilicho a second time endeavoured to repel 
the Hiberno-Pictic allies, but, unable to do much by 



THE SLAVE OF THE HAFT 7 

force of arms, entered into terms with them, for Gildas 
speaks of the Romans as making confederates of Irish. 
Doubtless Stilicho surrendered to them their hold 
over and the tribute from the western part of Britain. 
And now I must tell a funny story connected with 
the introduction of lap-dogs into Ireland. It comes 
to us on the authority of Cormac, king-bishop of 
Cashel, who died in 903, and who wrote a glossary 
of old Irish words becoming obsolete even in his 
day. 

" The slave of the Haft," says he, " was the name 
of the first lap-dog that was known in Erin. Cairbre 
Muse was the man who first brought it there out of 
Britain. At that time the power of the Gadhaels 
(Scots or Irish) was great over the Britons ; they had 
divided Albion among them into farms, and each 
of them had a neighbour and friend among the 
people." Then he goes on to say how that they 
established fortresses through the land, and founded 
one at Glastonbury. " One of those divisions of 
land is Dun Map Lethan, in the country of the 
Britons of Cornwall." This lasted to A.D. 380. 

Now Cairbre was wont to pass to and fro between 
Britain and Ireland. 

At this time lap-dogs were great rarities, and were 
highly prized. None had hitherto reached Ireland. 
And Cairbre was desirous of introducing one there 
when he went to visit his friends. But the possessors 
of lap-dogs would on no account part with their 
treasures. 

Now it happened that Cairbre had a valuable 
knife, with the handle gold-inlaid. One night he 



8 THE WESTERN FOLK 

rubbed the haft over with bacon fat, and placed 
it before the kennel of the lap-dog belonging to 
a friend. The dog gnawed at the handle and sadly 
disfigured it. 

Next morning Cairbre made a great outcry over 
his precious knife, and showed his British host how 
that the dog had disfigured it. The Briton apolo- 
gised, but Cairbre promptly replied, " My good friend, 
are you aware of the law that 'the transgressor is 
forfeit for his transgression?' Accordingly I put in 
a legal claim to the dog." Thus he became its 
owner, and gave it the name of Mogh-Eimh, or the 
Slave of the Haft. 

The dog was a bitch, and was with young when 

Cairbre carried her over to Ireland. The news that 

the wonderful little beast had arrived spread far and 

wide, and the king of Munster and the chief king, 

Cormac Mac Airt (227-266) both laid claim to it; 

the only way in which Cairbre could satisfy them 

was to give each a pup when his lap-dog had littered. 

So general was the amazement over the smallness 

and the beauty of the original dog, that some verses 

were made on it, which have been preserved to this 

day. 

" Sweet was your drink in the house of Ailil (King of Munster) ! 
Sweet was your meat in the house of Cormac ! 
Fair was your bread in the house of Cairbre ! 
O doggie, Slave of the Hilt ! " 

It was probably during the Irish domination that 
a large portion of North Devon and East Cornwall 
was colonised from the Emerald Isle. 

But to return to the Saxon conquest. When 



SAXON RULE 9 

Athelstan drove the Britons out of Exeter and made 
the Tamar their Hmit, it is not to be supposed that 
he devastated and depopulated Devon ; what he did 
was to destroy the tribal organisation throughout 
Devon, banish the princes and subjugate the people 
to Saxon rule. 

The Saxon colonists planted themselves in "Stokes" 
mostly in the valleys. The Celts had never been 
anything of a town-building people ; they had lived 
scattered over the land in their treffs and boths, and 
only the retainers of a chieftain had dwelt around his 
dun. 

But with the Saxons, the fact that they lived as 
a few surrounded by an alien population that in no 
way loved them, obliged them to huddle together 
in their "Stokes." Thus towns sprang into existence, 
and bear Saxon names. 

It is probable that the yeomen of the land at 
the present day represent the Saxon ; and most 
assuredly in the great body of the agricultural 
labourers, the miners, and artisans, we have mainly 
a mixture of British and Ivernian blood. 

Throughout the Middle Ages, and indeed till this 
present century, there can have been no easy, if 
possible, passage out of the labouring community 
into that of the yeoman class — hardly into that of 
tenant farmer ; whereas the yeomen and the trades- 
men, wool merchants and the like, were incessantly 
feeding the class of armigeres, squires ; and their 
descendants supplied the nobility with accretions. 

There is, perhaps, in the east of Devon a pre- 
ponderating element of Saxon, but I have observed 



lo THE WESTERN FOLK 

in the Seaton and Axmlnster district so much of the 
dark hair and eye, that I believe there is less than 
is supposed, and that there is a very large under- 
stratum of the earlier Silurian. Perhaps in North 
Devon there may be more of the Saxon. West 
of Okehampton there is really not much difference 
between the Devonian and the Cornishman, but of 
this more presently. 

It is remarkable that the Devonshire dialect 
prevails in Cornwall above a diagonal line drawn 
from Padstow to Saltash, on the Tamar ; west 
of this and below it the dialect is different. This 
is probably due to the Cornish tongue having been 
abandoned in the west and south long subsequent 
to its disappearance in the north-east. But this 
line also marks the limits of an Irish-Gwentian 
occupation. 

The dialect is fast dying out, but the intonation 
of the voice will remain long after peculiar words 
have ceased to be employed. 

The "z" has a sound found nowhere else, due to the 
manner in which the tongue is turned up to the 
palate for the production of the sound; "ou" and 
"oo" in such words as "you" and "moon" is precisely 
that of the French u in " lune." 

Gender is entirely disregarded ; a cow is a " he," 
who runs dry, and of a cock it is said " her crows in 
the morn." But then the male rooster is never a 
cock, but a stag. 

The late Mr. Arnold, inspector of schools, was 
much troubled about the dialect when he came into 
the county. One day, when examining the school 



DIALECT II 

at Kelly, he found the children whom he was question- 
ing very inattentive. 

" What is the matter with you ? " he asked testily. 

" Plaaze, zur, us be a veared of the apple-drayne." 

In fact, a wasp was playing in and out among 
their heavily oiled locks. 

"Apple-drayne!" exclaimed Mr. Arnold. "Good 
gracious ! You children do not seem to know the 
names of common objects. What is that bird yonder 
seated on the wall ? " And he pointed out of the 
window at a cock. 

" Plaaze, zur, her 's a stag." 

" I thought as much. You do not know the differ- 
ence between a biped and a quadruped." 

I was present one day at the examination of a 
National School by H.M. Inspector. 

" Children," said he, " what form is that ? " 

"A dodecahedron." 

"And that?" 

"An isosceles triangle." 

"And what is the highest peak in Africa?" 

" Kilima Ndjaro." 

"Its height?" 

" Twenty thousand feet." 

" And what are the rivers that drain Siberia ? " 

" The Obi, the Yenesei, and the Lena." 

Now in going to the school I had plucked a little 
bunch of speedwell, and I said to the inspector, 
"Would you mind inquiring of the children the 
name of this plant?" 

" What is this plant ? " he demanded. 

Not a child knew. 



12 THE WESTERN FOLK 

"What is the river that flows through your valley?" 

Not a child knew. 

"What is the name of the highest peak of Dart- 
moor you see yonder ? " 

Not a child knew. 

And this is the rubbish in place of education that 
at great cost is given to our children. 

Education they do not get ; stuffing they do. 

They acquire a number of new words, which they 
do not understand and which they persistently mis- 
pronounce. 

"Aw my ! isn't it hot } The prepositions be runin' 
all hover me." 

"Ay! yii'm no schollard! I be breakin' out wi' 
presbeterians." 

The " oo " when followed by an " r " has the sound 
" o " converted into " oa " ; thus " door " becomes 
« doar." 

"Eau" takes the sound of the modified German 
" u " ; thus " beauty " is pronounced " blity." 

" Fe " and " g " take " y " to prolong and emphasise 
them ; thus " fever " becomes " fey ver," and " meat " 
is pronounced " mayte." 

"F" is frequently converted into "v"; "old father" 
is "ole vayther." But on the other hand "v" is often 
changed to " f," as " view " into " fii." 

The vowel "a" is always pronounced long; "landed" 
is "landed," "plant" is "plant." "H" is frequently 
changed into " y " ; " heat " is spoken of as " yett," 
" Heathfield " becomes " Yaffel," and " hall " is " yall." 

" I " is interjected to give greater force, and " e " is 
sounded as " a " ; " flesh " is pronounced " flaish." 



DIALECT 13 

" S " is pronounced "z," as in examples already given. 
" O " has an " ou " sound in certain positions, as 
" going," which is rendered " gou-en." " S " in the 
third person singular of a verb is "th," as "he 
grows," " a grawth," " she does " is " her diith." 

Here is a form of the future perfect : " I shall 'ave 
a-bin an* gone vur tu dii it." 

There is a decided tendency to soften harsh 
syllabic conjunctions. Thus Blackbrook is Blacka- 
brook, and Matford is Mattaford ; this is the Celtic 
interjected y and ty. 

This is hardly a place for giving a list of peculiar 
words ; they may be found in Mrs. Hewett's book, 
referred to at the end of this chapter, and collected 
by the committee on Devonshire provincialisms in 
the Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 

As a specimen of the dialect I will give a couple 
of verses of a popular folk song. 

" The giigii es a purty burd, 

'Er zingeth as er vlieth ; 
'Er bring'th glide tidin's, 

'Er tell'th naw lies ; 
'Er zucketh swate vlowers 

Tu kaype 'er voice clear, 
An' whan 'er zingeth giigii 

Tha zummer draeth near. 

" Naw all yu vair maidens 

Wheriver yii be, 
Your 'earts dii nat 'ang 'em 

On a zicamore tree. 
The layfe it will wither, 

The mores (roots) will decay ; 
Ah me, I be waistin' 

An' vaydin' away." 



14 THE WESTERN FOLK 

The Devonian and Cornishman will be found by 
the visitor to be courteous and hospitable. There 
is no roughness of manner where unspoiled by 
periodic influx of strangers ; he is kindly, tender- 
hearted, and somewhat suspicious. There is a lack 
of firmness of purpose such as characterises the 
Scotchman ; and a lively imagination may explain 
a slackness in adhesion to the truth. He is prone 
to see things as he would like them to be rather 
than as they are. On the road passers-by always 
salute and have a bit of a yarn, even though per- 
sonally unacquainted ; and to go by in the dark 
without a greeting is a serious default in good 
manners. A very marked trait especially noticeable 
in the Cornish is their independence. Far more in- 
timately than the inhabitants of any other part 
of England, they are democrats. This they share 
with the Welsh; and, like the Welsh, though 
politically they are Radicals, are inherently the most 
conservative of people. 

It is a peculiarity among them to address one 
another by the Christian name, or to speak of a man 
by the Christian name along with the surname, should 
there be need to distinguish him from another. The 
term "Mr." is rarely employed. A gentleman is 
" Squire So-and-so," but not a mister ; and the trade 
is often prefixed to the name, as Millard Horn, or 
Pass'n John, or Cap'n Zackie. 

There is no form of enjoyment more relished by 
a West Country man or woman than a "buryin'." 
Business occupations are cast aside when there is 
to be a funeral. The pomp and circumstance of woe 



LOVE OF FUNERALS 15 

exercise an extraordinary fascination on the Western 
mind, and that which concerns the moribund person 
at the last is not how to prepare the soul for the 
great change, but how to contrive to have a " proper 
grand buryin'." " Get away, you rascal ! " was the 
address of an irate urchin to another, " if you gie' 
me more o' your saace you shan't come to my 
buryin'." " Us 'as enjoyed ourselves bravely," says 
a mourner, wiping the crumbs from his beard and 
the whiskey -drops from his lips ; and no greater 
satisfaction could be given to the mourners than 
this announcement. 

On the other hand a wedding wakes comparatively 
little interest ; the parents rarely attend. 

The looks of Devonshire and Cornish lasses are pro- 
verbial. This is not due to complexion alone, which 
is cream and roses, but to the well-proportioned 
limbs, the litheness of form, uprightness of carriage, 
and to the good moulding of the features. The 
mouth and chin are always well shaped, and the nose 
is straight ; in shape the faces are a long oval. 

I am not sure that West Country women ever 
forget that they were once comely. An old woman 
of seventy-five was brought forward to be photo- 
graphed by an amateur : no words of address could 
induce her to speak till the operation was completed ; 
then she put her finger into her mouth : " You 
wouldn't ha' me took wi' my cheeks failed in? I 
just stuffed the Western Marnin^ News into my 
mouth to fill'n out." 

Although both in Devon and Cornwall there is 
great independence and a total absence of that 



i6 THE WESTERN FOLK 

servility of manner which one meets with in other 
parts of England, it would be a vast mistake to 
suppose that a West Country man is disrespectful to 
those who are his superiors — if he has reason to 
recognise their superiority ; but he does not like a 
"foreigner," especially one from the North Country. 
He does not relish his manner, and this causes mis- 
understanding and mutual dislike. He is pleased to 
have as his pass'n, as his squire, as a resident in his 
neighbourhood, a man whom he knows all about, 
as to who were his father and his grandfather, as also 
whence he hails. A clergyman who comes from a 
town, or from any other part of England, has to learn 
to understand the people before they will at all take 
to him. " I have been here five years," said a rector 
one day to me, a man transferred from far, "and I 
don't understand the people yet, and until I under- 
stand them I am quite certain to be miscomprehended 
by them." 

The West Country man must be met and addressed 
as an equal. He resents the slightest token of 
approach de haut en bas^ but he never presumes ; 
he is always respectful and knows his place ; he 
values himself, and demands, and quite rightly, that 
you shall show that you value him. 

The other day a bicyclist was spinning down the 
road to Moreton Hampstead. Not knowing quite 
where he was, and night approaching, he drew up 
where he saw an old farmer leaning on a gate. 

" I say, you Johnnie, where am I ? I want a bed." 

"You'm fourteen miles from Wonford Asylum," 
was the quiet response, "and fourteen from Newton 



CORNISH PEOPLE 17 

Work'us, and fourteen from Prlncetown Prison, and I 
reckon you could find quarters in any o' they — and 
suitable." 

With regard to the Cornish people, I can but 
reiterate what has already been said relative to the 
Western folk generally. What differences exist in 
character are not due to difference of race, but 
to that of occupation. The bulk of Cornishmen in 
the middle and west have been associated with mines 
and with the sea, and this is calculated to give to 
the character a greater independence, and also to 
confer a subtle colour, different in kind to that which 
is produced by agricultural labour. If you take a 
Yorkshireman from one side of the Calder or Aire, 
where factory life is prevalent, and one from the 
other side, where he works in the fields, you will 
find as great, if not a greater, difference than you will 
between a Devonshire and a Cornish man. Compare 
the sailors and miners on one side of the Tamar with 
those on the other, and you will find no difference at 
all. 

There will always be more independence in miners 
who travel about the world, who are now in Brazil, 
then in the African diamond-fields, next at home, 
than in the agricultural labourer, who never goes 
further than the nearest market town. The mind is 
more expanded in the one than in the other ; but in 
race all may be one, though differing in ideas, 
manners, views, speech. 

I venture now to quote freely from an article on 
Cornishmen that is written by an outsider, and which 
appeared in a review. 
C 



i8 THE WESTERN FOLK 

" The dweller in Cornwall comes in time to perceive the 
constant recurrence of various types of man. Of these, 
two at least are well marked, very common, and probably 
of great antiquity and significance. The man of the first type 
is slender, lithe, graceful, usually rather short ; the face is 
smooth and delicately outlined, without bony prominences, 
the eyebrows finely pencilled. The character is, on the 
whole, charming, volatile, vivacious, but not always reliable, 
and while quick-witted, rarely capable of notable achieve- 
ment or strenuous endeavour. It is distinctly a feminine 
type. The other type is large and solid, often with much 
crispy hair on the face and shaggy eyebrows. The arches 
over the eyes are well marked and the jaws massive ; the 
bones generally are developed in these persons, though 
they would scarcely be described as raw-boned; in its 
extreme form a face of this type has a rugged prognathous 
character which seems to belong to a lower race." 

Usually the profile is fine, with straight noses ; and 
a well-formed mouth, with oval, rather long face is 
general, the chin and mouth being small. I do not 
recall at any time meeting with the "rummagy" 
faces, with no defined shape, and ill-formed noses 
that one encounters in Scotland. 

There is a want of the strength and force such as 
is encountered in the North ; but on the other hand 
there is remarkable refinement of feature. 

I had at one time some masons and workmen 
engaged upon a structure just in front of my dining- 
room windows, and a friend from Yorkshire was 
visiting me. The men working for me were perhaps 
fine specimens, but nothing really extraordinary for 
the country. One, a tall, fair-haired, blue-eyed mason, 
my friend at once designated Lohengrin ; and he was 



THE CORNISH 19 

the typical knight of the swan — I suspect a pure 
Celt. Another was not so tall, lithe, dark, and hand- 
some. "King Arthur" was what my friend called him. 
The writer, Mr. Havelock Ellis, whom I have 
already quoted, continues : — 

" The women are solid and vigorous in appearance, with 
fully-developed breasts and hips, in marked contrast with 
the first type, but resembling women in Central and 
Western France. Indeed, the people of this type gener- 
ally recall a certain French type, grave, self-possessed, 
deliberate in movement, capable and reliable in character. 
I mention these two types because they seem to me to 
represent the two oldest races of Cornwall, or, indeed, of 
England. The first corresponds to the British neolithic 
man, who held sway in England before the so-called Celts 
arrived, and who probably belonged to the so-called Iberian 
race; in pictures of Spanish women of the best period, 
indeed, and in some parts of modern Spain, we may still 
see the same type. The second corresponds to the more 
powerful, and as his remains show, the more cultured and 
aesthetic Celt, who came from France and Belgium. . . . 
When these types of individual are combined, the results 
are often very attractive. We then meet with what is prac- 
tically a third type : large, dignified, handsome people, 
distinguished from the Anglo-Saxon not only by their 
prominent noses and well-formed chins, but also by their 
unaffected grace and refinement of manner. In many a 
little out-of-the-world Cornish farm I have met with the 
men of this type, and admired the distinction of their 
appearance and bearing, their natural instinctive courtesy, 
their kindly hospitality. It was surely of such men that 
Queen Elizabeth thought when she asserted that all 
Cornishmen are courtiers. 

" I do not wish to insist too strongly on these types which 



20 THE WESTERN FOLK 

blend into one another, and may even be found in the same 
family. The Anglo-Saxon stranger, who has yet had no 
time to distinguish them, and who comes, let us say, from 
a typically English county like Lancashire, still finds much 
that is unfamiliar in the people he meets. They strike him 
as rather a dark race, lithe in movement, and their hands 
and feet are small. Their hair has a tendency to curl, and 
their complexions, even those of the men, are often incom- 
parable. The last character is due to the extremely moist 
climate of Cornwall, swept on both sides by the sea-laden 
Atlantic. More than by this, however, the stranger accus- 
tomed to the heavy, awkward ways of the Anglo-Saxon 
clodhopper will be struck by the bright, independent intelli- 
gence and faculty of speech which he finds here. No 
disguise can cover the rusticity of the English rustic; on 
Cornish roads one may often meet a carman whose clear- 
cut face, bushy moustache, and general bearing might easily 
add distinction to Pall Mall." 

There are parts of Devon and of Cornwall where 
the dark type prevails. " A black grained man " is 
descriptive of one belonging to the Veryan district, 
and dark hair and eyes, and singular beauty are found 
about the Newlyn and St. Ives districts. The darkest 
type has been thrust into corners. In a fold of Broad- 
bury Down in Devon, in the village of Germansweek, 
the type is mainly dark ; in that of North Lew, in 
another lap of the same down, it is light. It has been 
noticed that a large patch of the dusky race has re- 
mained in Bedfordshire. 

The existence of the dark eyes and hair and fine 
profiles has been attempted to be explained by the 
fable that a Spanish vessel was wrecked now here, 
now there, from the Armada, and that the sailors 



THE CORNISH 21 

remained and married the Cornish women. I believe 
that this is purely a fable. The same attempt at 
solution of the existence of the same type in Ireland 
and in Scotland has been made, because people would 
not understand that there could be any other explana- 
tion of the phenomenon. 

I have been much struck in South Wales, on a 
market day, when observing the people, to see how 
like they were in build, and colour, and manner, and 
features to those one might encounter at a fair in 
Tavistock, Launceston, or Bodmin. 

I positively must again quote Mr. Havelock Ellis 
on the Cornish woman, partly because his descrip- 
tion is so charmingly put, but also because it is so 
incontestably true. 

"The special characters of the race are often vividly 
shown in its women. I am not aware that they have ever 
played a large part in the world, whether in life or art. But 
they are memorable enough for their own qualities. Many 
years ago, as a student in a large London hospital, I had 
under my care a young girl who came from labour of the 
lowest and least skilled order. Yet there was an instinctive 
grace and charm in all her ways and speech which distin- 
guished her utterly from the rough women of her class. I 
was puzzled then over that delightful anomaly. In after 
years, recalling her name and her appearance, I knew that 
she was Cornish, and I am puzzled no longer. I have since 
seen the same ways, the same soft, winning speech equally 
unimpaired by hard work and rude living. The Cornish 
woman possesses an adroitness and self-possession, a modu- 
lated readiness of speech, far removed from the awkward 
heartiness of the Anglo-Saxon woman, the emotional inex- 
pressiveness of the Lancashire lass whose eyes wander 



22 THE WESTERN FOLK 

around as she seeks for words, perhaps completing her 
unfinished sentence by a snap of the fingers. The Cornish 
woman — at all events while she is young and not submerged 
by the drudgery of life — exhibits a certain delightful volu- 
bility and effervescence. In this respect she has some 
affinity with the bewitching and distracting heroines of 
Thomas Hardy's novels, doubtless because the Wessex folk 
of the South Coast are akin to the Cornish. The Cornish 
girl is inconsistent without hypocrisy; she is not ashamed 
of work, but she is very fond of jaunts, and on such 
occasions she dresses herself, it would be rash to say 
with more zeal than the Anglo-Saxon maiden, but usually 
with more success. She is an assiduous chapel-goer, equally 
assiduous in flirtations when chapel is over. The pretty 
Sunday-school teacher and leader of the local Band of Hope 
cheerfully confesses as she drinks off the glass of claret you 
offer her that she is but a poor teetotaller. The Cornish 
woman will sometimes have a baby before she is legally 
married ; it is only an old custom of the county, though less 
deeply rooted than the corresponding custom in Wales."* 

The Cornish are, like the Welsh, intensely religious, 
but according to their idea religion is emotionalism 
and has hardly enough to do with morality. 

"So Mr. So-and-So is dead," in reference to a local 
preacher. " I fear he led a very loose life." 

" Ah ! perhaps so, but he was a sweet Christian." 

Here is something illustrative at once of West 
Country religion and dialect. I quote from an 
amusing paper on the " Recollections of a Parish 
Worker" in the Cornish Magazine (1898) : — 

" ' How do you like the vicar ? ' I asked. * Oh, he 's 
a lovely man,' she answered, 'and a 'ansome praicher^ 
* The New Century Review ^ April, 1897. 



RELIGION 23 

and such a voice ! But did 'ee hear how he lost un to-day ? 
Iss, I thought he would have failed all to-wance, an' that 
wad have bin a gashly job. But I prayed for un an' the 
Lord guv it back to un again, twice as loud, an' dedn't 'ee 
holler ! But 'ee dedn't convart me. I convarted meself. 
Iss a ded. I was a poor wisht bad woman. Never went 
to a place of worship. Not for thirty years a hadn't a bin. 
One day theer came word that my brother Willum was 
hurted to the mine. So I up an' went to un an' theer he 
was, all scat abroad an' laid out in scritches. He was in 
a purty stank, sure 'nuff. But all my trouble was his poor 
sowl. I felt I must get he convarted before he passed. 
I went where he was to, an' I shut home the door, an' 
I hollered an' I rassled an' I prayed to him, an' he nivver 
spoke. I got no mouth spaich out of him at awl, but I 
screeched and screeched an' prayed until I convarted 
myself! An' then I be to go to church. Iss, we awl have 
to come to it, first an* last, though I used to say for 
christenings an' marryin's an' berrin's we must go to church, 
but for praichin' an' ennytheng for tha nex' wurld give me 
the chapel ; still, I waanted to go to church an' laive every- 
body knaw I wur proper chaanged. So I pitched to put 
up my Senday go-to-mittun bonnet, an' I went. An' when 
I got theer aw ! my blessed life 'twas Harvest Thanksgivin', 
an' when I saw the flowers an' the fruit an' the vegetables 
an' the cotton wool I was halved up on end ! ' And heaved 
up on the right end she was." 

The table of Commandments is with the Cornish 
not precisely that of Moses. It skips, or treats very 
lightly, the seventh, but it comprises others not found 
in Scripture : " Thou shalt not drink any alcohol," 
and " Thou shalt not dance." 

On Old Christmas Day, in my neighbourhood, 
a great temperance meeting was held. A noted 



24 THE WESTERN FOLK 

speaker on teetotalism was present and harangued. 
A temperance address is never relished without some 
horrible example held up to scorn. Well, here it 

was. " At a certain place called , last year, as 

Christmas drew on, the Guardians met to decide 
what fare should be afforded to the paupers for 
Christmas Day. Hitherto it had been customary 
for them to be given for their dinner a glass of ale — 
a glass of ale. I repeat it — at public cost — a glass 
of ale apiece. On that occasion the Guardians 
unanimously agreed that the paupers should have 
cocoa, and not ale. Then up stood the Rector — the 
Rector, I repeat — and in a loud and angry voice 
declared : ' Gentlemen, if you will not give them 
their drop of ale, I will.' And he — he, a minister 
of the gospel or considering himself as such." — (A 
shudder and a groan.) " I tell you more — I tell you 
something infinitely worse — he sent up to the work- 
house a dozen of his old crusted port." (Cries of 
" Shame ! shame ! " and hisses.) 

That^ if you please, was the unpardonable sin. 

If we are to look anywhere for local characteristics 
in the music of the people in any particular part of 
England, we may surely expect to find them in the 
western counties of Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall. 
These three counties have hitherto been out of the 
beaten track ; they are more encompassed by the 
sea than others, and lead only to the Land's End. 

And as a matter of fact, a large proportion of the 
melodies that have been collected from the peasantry 
in this region seem to have kept their habitation, and 
so to be unknown elsewhere. 



DEVONSHIRE SONGS 25 

I take it for granted that they are, as a rule, home 
productions. The origin of folk-song has been much 
debated, and it need not be gone into now. But it 
would be vain to search for local characteristics in 
anything that has not a local origin. 

In folk-song, then, we may expect to see reflected 
the characteristics of the race from which it has 
sprung, and, as in the counties of Devon and Corn- 
wall on one side and Somersetshire on the other, 
we are brought into contact with two, at least, 
races — the British and the Saxon — we do find 
two types of melody very distinct. Of course, as 
with their dialects, so with their melodies, the dis- 
tinctions are sometimes marked, and sometimes 
merged in each other. The Devonshire melodies 
have some affinity with those of Ireland, whilst the 
Somersetshire tunes exhibit a stubborn individuality 
— a roughness, indeed, which is all their own. 

Taking first the Devonshire songs, I think one 
cannot fail to be struck with the exceeding grace 
and innate refinement which distinguish them. 
These qualities are not always perceptible in the 
performance of the songs by the untutored singers ; 
nor do the words convey, as a rule, any such im- 
pressions, but evident enough when you come to 
adjust to their proper form the music which you 
have succeeded in jotting down. It surprises you. 
You are not prepared for anything like original 
melody, or for anything gentle or tender. But the 
Devonshire songs are so. Their thought is idyllic. 
Through shady groves melodious with song, the 
somewhat indolent lover of Nature wanders forth 



26 THE WESTERN FOLK 

without any apparent object save that of " breathing 
the air," and (it must be added) of keeping an open 
eye for nymphs, one of whom seldom fails to be 
seeking the same seclusion. Mutual advances 
ensue ; no explanations are needed ; constancy is 
neither vowed nor required. The casual lovers 
meet and part, and no sequel is appended to the 
artless tale. 

Sentiment is the staple of Devonshire folk-song ; 
it is a trifle unwholesome, but it is unmistakably 
graceful and charming. Take such songs as " By 
chance it was," " The Forsaken Maiden," " The Goss- 
hawk," " Golden Furze ; " surely there is a gush of 
genuine melody and the spirit of poetry in such 
tunes. 

In some respects the folk-song of Devonshire is 
rather disappointing. There is no commemoration, 
no appreciation, of her heroes. The salt sea-breeze 
does not seem to reach inland, save to whisper in a 
wailing tone of " The Drowned Lover," or the 
hapless " Cabin Boy." Sea-songs may be in her 
ports, but they were not born there. 

Nor are the joys of the chase proclaimed with such 
robustness as elsewhere, any more than are the 
pleasures and excitements of the flowing bowl. This 
may be attributed to the same refinement of character 
of which I have spoken. 

A pastoral and peace-loving community will not 
be expected to develop any special sense of humour. 
Devonshire is by no means deficient in it, but it is of 
a quiet sort, a sly humour something allied to what 
the Scotch call " pawky," of which " Widicombe 



FOLK MELODIES 27 

Fair " is as good an example as can be had. Of 
what may be called the religious element, save in 
Christmas and Easter carols, I have never discovered 
any trace. 

The Rev. H. Feetvvood Sheppard, who has spent 
ten years in collecting the melodies of Devon and 
Cornwall, says of them, " I have found them delight- 
ful, full of charm and melody. I never weary of 
them. They are essentially poetical, but they are 
also essentially the songs of sentiment, and their one 
pervading, almost unvarying theme is — The Eternal 
Feminine." 

When we pass into Somersetshire the folk-music 
assumes quite a different character. The tenderness, 
the refinement have vanished. Judging from their 
songs, we might expect to find the Somersetshire folk 
bold, frank, noisy, independent, self-assertive ; and this 
view would be quite in keeping with their traditional 
character. In Shakespeare's time bandogs and bull 
baiting were the special delight of the country 
gentry,* and Fuller describes the natives of Taunton 
Dean as "rude, rich, and conceited." If one turn 
to the music, " Richard of Taunton Dean," or " Jan's 
Courtship," "George Riddler's Oven," and the like, 
are in entire keeping with the character of the people 
as thus depicted. There is vigour and go in their 
songs, but no sweetness ; ruggedness, no smoothness 
at all ; and it is precisely this latter quality that 
marks the Cornish and Devonshire airs. 

Take such a tune as that to which the well-known 
hunting song of Devon, "Arscott of Tetcott," is 

* See M. Drayton's Polyolbion on this. 



28 THE WESTERN FOLK 

wedded. The air is a couple of centuries older than 
the words, for the Arscott whom the song records 
died in 1788, though we can only trace the tune 
back to D'Urfey at the end of the seventeenth 
century. The music is impetuous, turbulent, excited, 
it might be the chasing the red deer on Exmoor; 
the hunt goes by with a rush like a whirlwind to 
a semi-barbarous melody, which resembles nothing 
so much as that of the spectral chase in Der 
Freischutz. 

But Somersetshire song can be tender at times, 
though not quite with the bewitching grace of 
Devonia. There is a charming air which found its 
way from the West up to London some sixty years 
ago, the original words of which are lost, but the 
tune became immensely popular under the title of 
" All round my hat," a vulgar ditty sung by all little 
vulgar boys in the streets. The tune is well worth 
preserving. It is old, and there is a kind of wail 
about it which is touching. 

But who were the composers of these folk-airs? 
In the old desks in west galleries of churches remain 
here and there piles of MS. music : anthems, and, 
above all, carols, the composition of local musicians 
unknown beyond their immediate neighbourhood, 
and now unknown even by name. 

A few years ago I was shown such a pile from 
Lifton Church. I saw another great library, as I 
may call it, that was preserved in the rack in the 
ceiling of a cottage at Sheepstor, the property 
of an old fiddler, now dead. I saw a third in 
Holne parish. I have seen stray heaps elsewhere. 



MUSIC 29 

Mr. Heath, of Redruth, published two collections 
from Cornwall and one from Devon, the latter from 
the Lifton store in part, to which I had directed his 
attention. I cannot doubt that some of the popular 
tunes that are found circulating among our old 
singers — or to be more exact, were found — were 
the composition of these ancient village musicians. 
Alas ! the American organ and the strident har- 
monium came in and routed out the venerable 
representatives of a musical past ; and the music- 
hall piece is now driving away all the sound old 
traditional melody, and the last of the ancient con- 
servators of folk-song makes his bow, and says : — 

" I be going, I reckon, full mellow, 
To lay in the churchyard my head, 
So say — God be wi' you, old fellow ! 
The last of the zingers is dead." 

Note, —For the history of Devon: Worth (R. N.), History of 
Devonshire. London, 1886. For Devonshire dialect : Hewett (S.), 
The Peasant Speech of Devon. E. Stock. London, 1892. For Devon- 
shire folk -music: Songs of the West. Methuen, London, 1895. 
(3rded.) A Garland of Country Song. Methuen. London, 1895. 

For most of what has been said above on the folk-songs of Devon I 
am indebted to the Rev. H. Fleetwood Sheppard, who has made it 
his special study. 



CHAPTER II. 

VILLAGES AND CHURCHES 

Devonshire villages not so picturesque as those of Sussex and Kent — Cob 
and stone — Slate — Thatch and whitewash — Churches mostly in the 
Perpendicular style — Characteristics of that style — Foliage in stone 
— Somerset towers — Cornish peculiarities of pinnacles — Waggon- 
headed roofs — Beer and Hatherleigh stone — Polyphant — Treatment 
of granite — Wood-work in Devon churches — Screens — How they 
have been treated by incumbents — Pulpits — Bench-ends — Norman 
fonts — Village crosses — How the Perpendicular style maintained 
itself in the West — Old mansions — Trees in Devon — Flora — The 
village revel. 

A DEVONSHIRE village does not contrast 
favourably with those in Essex, Kent, Sussex, 
and other parts of England, where brick or timber 
and plaster are the materials used, and where the 
roofs are tiled. 

But of cottages in the county there are two kinds. 
The first, always charming, is of cob^ clay, thatched. 
Such cottages are found throughout North Devon, 
and wherever the red sandstone prevails. They are 
low, with an upper storey, the windows to which are 
small, and the brown thatch is lifted above these 
peepers like a heavy, sleepy brow in a very pic- 
turesque manner. But near Dartmoor stone is em- 
ployed, and an old, imperishable granite house is 
delightful when thatched. But thatch has given way 

30 



SLATE 31 

everywhere to slate, and when the roof is slated a 
great charm is gone. There is slate and slate. The 
soft, silvery grey slate that is used in South Devon is 
pleasing, and when a house is slated down its face 
against the driving rains, and the slates are worked 
into patterns and are small, they are vastly pretty. 
But architects are paid a percentage on the outlay, 
and it is to their profit to use material from a dis- 
tance ; they insist on Welsh or Delabole slate, and 
nothing can be uglier than the pink of the former 
and the chill grey of the other — like the tint of an 
overcast sky in a March wind. 

I once invited an architect to design a residence on 
a somewhat large scale. He did so, and laid down 
that Delabole slate should be employed with bands 
of Welsh slate of the colour of beetroot. " But," 
said I, "we have slate on the estate. It costs me 
nothing but the raising and carting." 

" I dislike the colour," said he. " If you employ an 
architect, you must take the architect's opinion." 

I was silenced. The same day, in the afternoon, 
this architect and I were walking in a lane. I ex- 
claimed suddenly, " Oh, what an effect of colour ! 
Do look at those crimson dock-leaves !" 

" Let me see if I can find them," said the architect. 
" I am colour-blind, and do not know red from 
green." 

It was an incautious admission. He had forgotten 
about the slates, and so gave himself away. 

The real objection, of course, was that my own 
slates would cost me nothing. But also of course 
he did not give me that reason. 



32 VILLAGES AND CHURCHES 

Where the slate rocks are found, grauwacke and 
schist, there the cottages are very ugly — could not 
well be uglier — and new cottages and houses that are 
erected are, as a rule, eyesores. 

However, we have in Devon some very pretty 
villages and clusters of cottages, and the little group 
of roofs of thatch and glistening whitewashed walls 
about the old church, the whole backed by limes and 
beech and elm, and set in a green combe, is all that 
can be desired for quiet beauty; although, individually, 
each cottage may not be a subject for the pencil, nor 
the church itself pre-eminently picturesque. 

The churches of Devonshire belong mainly to the 
Perpendicular style ; that is to say, they were nearly 
all rebuilt between the end of the fourteenth and the 
sixteenth centuries. 

Of this style, this is what Mr. Parker says : " The 
name is derived from the arrangement of the tracery, 
which consists of perpendicular lines, and forms one 
of its most striking features. At its first appearance 
the general effect was usually bold and good ; the 
mouldings, though not equal to the best of the 
Decorated style, were well defined ; the enrichments 
effective and ample without exuberance, and the 
details delicate without extravagant minuteness. 
Subsequently it underwent a gradual debasement : 
the arches became depressed ; the mouldings im- 
poverished; the ornaments crowded, and often coarsely 
executed ; and the subordinate features confused 
from the smallness and complexity of their parts. 
A leading characteristic of the style, and one which 
prevails throughout its continuance, is the square 



CHURCH ARCHITECTURE 33 

arrangement of the mouldings over the heads of 
doorways, creating a spandrel on each side above the 
arch, which is usually ornamented with tracery, 
foliage, or a shield. The jambs of doorways are 
generally moulded, frequently with one or more small 
shafts." 

The style is one that did not allov/ of much variety 
in window tracery. The object of the adoption of 
upright panels of glass was to allow of stained figures 
in glass of angels filling the lights, as there had been 
a difficulty found in suitably filling the tracery of the 
heads of the windows with subjects when these heads 
were occupied by geometrical figures composed of 
circles and arcs intersecting. 

In the west window of Exeter Cathedral may be 
seen a capital example of "Decorated" tracery, and in 
the east window one in the " Perpendicular " style. 

Skill in glass staining and painting had become 
advanced, and the windows were made much larger 
than before, so as to admit of the introduction of 
more stained glass. 

Pointed arches struck from two centres had suc- 
ceeded round arches struck from a single centre, and 
now the arches were made four-centred. 

Foliage in carving had, under Early English treat- 
ment, been represented as just bursting, the leaves 
uncurling with the breath of spring. In the Decorated 
style the foliage is in full summer expansion, 
generally wreathed round a capital. Superb examples 
of Decorated foliage may be seen in the corbels in 
the choir at Exeter. In Perpendicular architecture 
the leaves are crisped and wrinkled with frost. 

D 



34 VILLAGES AND CHURCHES 

In Devonshire the earlier towers had spires. When 
the great wave of church building came over the 
land, after the conclusion of the Wars of the Roses, 
then no more spires were erected, but towers with 
buttresses, and battlemented and pinnacled square 
heads. In the country there are no towers that come 
up to the splendid examples in Somersetshire ; but 
that of Chittlehampton is the nearest approach to 
one of these. 

In the Somerset towers the buttresses are fre- 
quently surmounted by open-work pinnacles or small 
lanterns of elaborate tabernacle work, and the para- 
pets or battlements are of open tracery ; but in 
Devon these latter are plain with bold coping, and 
the pinnacles are well developed and solid, and not 
overloaded with ornament. Bishop's Nympton, 
South Molton, and Chittlehampton towers are 
locally described as " Length," " Strength," and 
" Beauty." 

A fine effect is produced when the turret by which 
the top of the tower is reached is planted in the 
midst of one side, usually the north ; and it is 
carried up above the tower roof There are many 
examples. I need name but Totnes and Ash- 
burton. 

A curious effect is produced among the Cornish 
towers, and those near the Tamar on the Devon side, 
of the pinnacles being cut so as to curve outwards 
and not to be upright. The effect is not pleasant, 
and the purpose is not easily discoverable ; but it 
was possibly done as being thought by this means 
to offer less resistance to the wind. 



STONE 35 

The roofs are usually "waggon-headed." The 
open timber roof, so elaborated in Norfolk, is not 
common. A magnificent example is, however, to 
be seen in Wear Gifford Hall. But cradle roofs do 
exist, and in a good many cases the waggon roofs 
are but ceiled cradle roofs. A good plain example 
of a cradle roof is in the chancel of Ipplepen, and 
a very rich one at Beaford. 

The mouldings of the timbers are often much 
enriched. A fine example is Pancras Week. The 
portion of the roof over the rood-screen is frequently 
very much more elaborately ornamented than the 
rest. An example is King's Nympton, where, how- 
ever, before the restoration, it was even more gorgeous 
than at present. The waggon roof presents immense 
advantages over the open timber roof; it is warmer; 
it is better for sound ; it is not, like the other, a make- 
shift. It carries the eye up without the harsh and 
unpleasant break from the walling to the barn-like 
timber structure overhead. 

Wherever white Beer stone or rosy Hatherleigh 
stone could be had, that was easily cut, there delicate 
moulding and tracery work was possible ; but in 
some parts of the county a suitable stone was 
lacking. In the neighbourhood of Tavistock the 
doorways and windows were cut out of Roborough 
stone, a volcanic tufa, full of pores, and so coarse that 
nothing refined could be attempted with it. Near 
Launceston, however, were the Polyphant quarries, 
the stone also volcanic, but close-grained and of a 
delicate, beautiful grey tone. This was employed 
for pillars and window tracery. The fine Decorated 



36 VILLAGES AND CHURCHES 

columns of Bratton Clovelly Church, of a soft grey 
colour, are of this stone. The run of the stone was, 
however, limited, and was thought to be exhausted. 
It was not till the Perpendicular style came in 
that an attempt was made to employ granite. The 
experiment led to curious results. The tendency 
of the style is to flimsiness, especially in the mould- 
ings ; but the obduracy of the material would not 
allow of delicate treatment, and the Perpendicular 
mouldings, especially noticeable in doorways, are often 
singularly bold and effective. A tour de force was 
effected at Launceston Church, which is elaborately 
carved throughout in granite, and in Probus tower, in 
Cornwall. For beauty in granite work Widecombe- 
in-the-Moor tower cannot be surpassed ; there the 
tower is noble and the church to which it belongs 
is mean. In using Ham Hill stone or Beer stone, 
that was extracted in blocks, the pillars, the jambs 
of doors and windows were made of several pieces 
laid in courses and cut to fit one another. But when 
the architects of Perpendicular times had to deal 
with granite there was no need for this ; they made 
their pillars and jambs in single solid blocks. A 
modern architect, bred to Caen stone or Bath oolite, 
sends down a design for a church or house to be 
erected near Dartmoor, or in Cornwall, and treats 
the granite as though it came out of the quarry in 
small blocks ; and the result is absurd. An instance 
of this blundering in treatment is the new east window 
of Lanreath Church, Cornwall, designed by such a 
" master in Israel " as Mr. Bodley. The porch door- 
way is in six stones, one for each base, one for each 



SCREENS z^ 

jamb, and two form the arch. The old windows are 
treated in a similar fashion — each jamb is a single 
stone. But Mr. Bodley has built up his new window 
of little pieces of granite one foot deep. The effect 
is bad. Unhappily, local architects are as blind to 
local characteristics as London architects are ignorant 
of them. So also, when these gentry attempt to 
design hood mouldings, or indeed any mouldings, 
for execution in granite, they cannot do it — the 
result is grotesque, mean, and paltry : they think in 
Caen stone and Bath, and to design in granite a 
man's mind must be made up in granite. 

In Cornwall there are some good building materials 
capable of ornamental treatment, more delicate than 
can be employed in granite. Such are the Pentewan 
and Catacleuse stones. The latter is gloomy in colour, 
but was used for the finest work, as the noble tomb 
of Prior Vivian, in Bodmin Church. 

As stone was an intractable material, the Devon- 
shire men who desired to decorate their churches 
directed their energies to oak carving, and filled them 
with very finely sculptured bench-ends and screens 
of the most elaborate and gorgeous description. 

So rich and elaborate are these latter, that when 
a church has to be restored the incumbent trembles 
at the prospect of the renovation of his screen, and 
this has led to many of them being turned out and 
destroyed. South Brent screen was thus wantonly 
ejected and allowed to rot. Bridestowe was even 
worse treated : the tracery was cut in half and 
turned upside down, and plastered against deal 
boarding — to form a dwarf screen. 



38 VILLAGES AND CHURCHES 

"What will my screen cost if it be restored?" 
asked a rector of Mr. Harry Hems. 

" About four hundred pounds." 

" Four hundred pounds ! Bless me ! I think I had 
best have it removed." 

" Very well, sir, be prepared for the consequences. 
Your name will go down to posterity dyed in infamy 
and yourself steeped in obloquy." 

" You don't mean to say so ? " 

" Fact, sir, I assure you." 

That preserved the screen. 

Then, again, some faddists have a prejudice against 
them. This has caused the destruction of those in 
Davidstow and West Alvington. Others, however, 
have known how to value what is the great treasure 
in their churches entrusted to their custody, and they 
have preserved and restored them. Such are Staver- 
ton, Dartmouth, Totnes, Harberton, Wolborough. 
That there must have been in the sixteenth century 
a school of quite first-class carvers cannot be doubted, 
in face of such incomparable work as is seen in the 
pulpit and screen of Kenton. But if there was good 
work by masters there was also some poor stuff, 
formal and without individual character — such as the 
screens at Kenn and Laneast. 

The pulpits are also occasionally very rich and of 
the same date as the screens. There are noble 
examples of stone pulpits elaborately carved at 
South Molton, Bovey Tracey, Chittlehampton, and 
Harberton, and others even finer in wood, as Holne, 
Kenton, Ipplepen, Torbrian. 

Among churches which have fine bench-ends may 




HOLNE PILPIT AN'U SCREEN 



VILLAGE CROSSES 39 

be noted Braunton, Lapford, Colebrook, Horvvood, 
Broadwood Widger (dated 1529), North Lew (also 
dated), Plymtree, Lew Trenchard, Peyhembury. 

Several early fonts remain of Norman style, and 
even in some cases perhaps earlier. The finest Nor- 
man fonts are Stoke Canon, Alphington, S. Mary 
Steps (Exeter), Hartland, and Bere Ferrers. In the 
west, about the Tamar, one particular pattern of 
Norman font was reproduced repeatedly ; and it is 
found in several churches. There are a number of 
village crosses remaining, a very fine one at South 
Zeal ; also at Meavy, Mary Tavy, Staverton, Samp- 
ford Spiney, Holne, Hele, and some extremely rude 
on Dartmoor. 

There was a churchyard cross at Manaton. The 
Rev. C. Carwithen, who was rector, found that the 
people carried a coffin thrice round it, the way of 
the sun, at a funeral ; although he preached against 
the usage as superstitious, they persisted in doing so. 
One night he broke up the cross, and removed and 
concealed the fragments. It is a pity that the cross 
did not fall on and break his stupid head. 

It is interesting to observe how late the Per- 
pendicular style maintained itself in the West. At 
Plymouth is Charles Church, erected after the Res- 
toration, of late Gothic character. So also are there 
aisles to churches, erected after the Reformation, of 
debased style, but nevertheless distinctly a degenera- 
tion of the Perpendicular. 

In domestic architecture this is even more notice- 
able. Granite-mullioned windows and four-centred 
doorways under square hoods, with shields and flowers 



40 VILLAGES AND CHURCHES 

in the spandrels, continued in use till the beginning 
of the eighteenth century. 

A very large number of old mansions, belonging 
to the squirearchy of Elizabethan days, remain. The 
Devonshire gentry were very numerous, and not extra- 
ordinarily wealthy. They built with cob, and with 
oak windows, or else in stone with granite mullions, 
but neither material allowed of great splendour. A 
house in granite cost about three times as much as 
one of a like size in brick. 

The mansions are too numerous to be mentioned. 
One who is desirous of seeing old houses should provide 
himself with an inch to the mile Ordnance Survey 
map, and visit such houses as are inserted thereon 
in Old English characters. Unhappily, although this 
serves as a guide in Cornwall, the county of Devon 
has been treated in a slovenly manner, and in my 
own immediate neighbourhood, although such a fine 
example existed as Sydenham House, it remained 
unnoticed ; and the only two mansions indicated in 
Old English were a couple of ruins, uninhabited, that 
have since disappeared. Where the one-inch fails 
recourse must be had to the six-inch map. 

Devonshire villages and parks cannot show such 
magnificent trees as the Midlands and Eastern coun- 
ties. The elm grows to a considerable size on the red 
land, but the elm is much exposed to be blown over 
in a gale, especially when it has attained a great size. 
Oak abounds, but never such oak as may be seen in 
Suffolk. The fact is that when the tap-root of an 
oak tree touches rock the tree makes no progress, and 
as the rock lies near the surface almost throughout 



THE VILLAGE REVEL 41 

the county, an oak tree does not have the chance there 
that it does in the Eastern counties, where it may 
burrow for a mile in depth without touching stone. 

Moreover, situated as the county is between two 
seas, it is windblown, and the trees are disposed to 
bend away from the prevailing south-westerly and 
westerly gales. But if trees do not attain the size 
they do elsewhere, they are very numerous, and the 
county is well wooded. Its rocks and its lanes are 
the homes of the most beautiful ferns that grow with 
luxuriance, and in winter the moors are tinted rainbow 
colours with the mosses. The flora is varied with the 
soil. What thrives on the red land perishes on the cold 
clay ; the harebell, which loves the limestone, will not 
live on the granite, and does not affect the schist. 

The botanist may consult Miss Helen Saunders' 
" Botanical Notes " in the Transactions of the Devo7i- 
shire Association; Miss Chaunters' Ferny Combes; and 
the appendix to Mr. Rowe's Dartmoor, 

The village revel was till twenty years ago a great 
institution, and a happy though not harmless one. 
But it has died out, and it is now sometimes difficult 
to ascertain, and then only from old people, the days 
of the revel in the several villages. In some parishes, 
however, the clergy have endeavoured to give a better 
tone to the old revel, which was discredited by 
drunkenness and riot, and their efforts have not 
been unsuccessful. The clubs march to church on 
that day, and a service is given to them. 

One of the most curious revels was that at 
Kingsteignton, where a ram was hunted, killed, 
roasted, and eaten. The parson there once asked 



42 VILLAGES AND CHURCHES 

a lad in Sunday School, " How many Command- 
ments are there ? " " Three, sir," was the prompt 
reply ; " Easter, Whitsuntide, and the Revel." 

Another, where a sheep was devoured after having 
been roasted whole, was at Holne. At Morchard, the 
standing dish at farmhouses on Revel day was a 
" pestle pie," which consisted of a raised paste, kept 
in oval shape by means of iron hoops during the 
process of baking, being too large to be made in 
a dish. It contained all kinds of meat : a ham, a 
tongue, whole poultry and whole game, which had 
been previously cooked and well seasoned. 

The revel, held on the reveil or wake of the saint 
of the parish, was a relic of one of the earliest insti- 
tutions of the Celts. It was anciently always held 
in the cemetery, and was attended by funeral rites in 
commemoration of the dead. This was followed by 
a fair, and by a deliberative assembly of the clan, or 
subdivision of a clan, of which the cemetery was the 
tribal centre. It was the dying request of an old 
Celtic queen that her husband would institute a fair 
above her grave. 



CHAPTER III. 

HONITON 

One long street — The debatable ground — Derivation of the name — 
Configuration of the East Devon border — Axminster — The Battle 
of Brunnaburgh — S. Margaret's Hospital — Old camps — S. Michael's 
Church— Colyton — Little Chokebone — Sir George Yonge — Honiton 
lace — Pillow-lace — Modern design — Ring in the Mere — Dunkeswell. 

THIS town," said Sir William Pole in 1630, "is 
near three-quarters of a mile in length, lying 
East and West, and in the midst there is one other 
street towards the South." The description applies 
to-day, except only that the town has stretched itself 
during two hundred and eighty years to one mile 
in place of three-quarters. A quarter of a mile in 
about three centuries, which shows that Honiton is 
not a place that stands still. 

It is, in fact, a collection of country cottages that 
have run to the roadside to see the coaches from 
London go by, and to offer the passengers enter- 
tainment. 

The coach-road occupies mainly the line of the 
British highway, the Ikenild Street, a road that 
furnished the chief means of access to the West, as 
the vast marshes of the Parret made an approach to 
the peninsula from the North difficult and dangerous. 

43 



44 HONITON 

And the manner in which every prominent height 
has been fortified shows that the whole eastern 
boundary of the county has been a debated and 
fiercely contested land, into which invaders thrust 
themselves, but from which they were hurled back. 

Honiton is on the Otter (jy dwr, W. the Water) 
a name that we find farther west in the Attery, that 
flows into the Tamar. Honiton does not derive from 
" honey," flowing with milk and honey though the 
land may be, but from the Celtic hen (old), softened 
in a way general in the West into hena before a hard 
consonant. 

We have the same appellative in Hennacott, 
Honeychurch, and Honeydykes, also in Hembury, 
properly Henbury, and in Hemyock. Perhaps the old 
West Welsh name for the place was Dunhen, or 
Hennadun, which the Saxons altered into Henna- 
tun or Honeyton. 

The singular configuration of the eastern confines 
of Devon and Dorset has been ingeniously explained. 
Till 1832 the two parishes of Stockland and Dal- 
wood belonged to the county of Dorset, although 
surrounded entirely by Devon. In 710 a great battle 
was fought by Ina, King of the West Saxons, against 
Geraint, King of the Dumnonii, the West Welsh, on 
the Black Down Hills, when Geraint was defeated 
and fled. Then Ina built Taunton, and made it 
a border fortress to keep the Britons in check. 
Simultaneously, there can be little doubt, the men 
of Dorset took advantage of the situation, made an 
inroad and secured a large slice of territory, possibly 
up to the Otter. 



AXMINSTER 45 

Ina was succeeded by inert princes, or such as had 
their hands engaged elsewhere, and the Devonians 
thrust themselves forward, retook Taunton, and 
advanced their borders to where they had been 
before 710. 

It has been supposed that on this occasion they 
were unable to dispossess the Dorset men from their 
well-fortified positions at Stockland and Dalwood, 
but swept round them and captured the two camps 
of Membury and Musbury. The possession of these 
fortresses would thrust back the Dorset frontier for 
some miles to the east of the Axe. So matters 
would remain for a considerable period, such as 
allowed the boundaries to become settled ; and when 
the final subjugation of Devon took place, this tract 
to the east of the Axe remained as part of the 
lands of the Defnas, while the Dorsaetas retained 
the islet which they had so long and so successfully 
defended. It was not till eleven hundred and twenty 
years had elapsed that the Devon folk could recover 
these points.* 

Axminster was the scene of a great battle in the 
reign of Athelstan, in which five kings and seven 
earls fell. The minster, as a monastic colony, had 
been in existence before that, but Athelstan now 
endowed a college there for six priests to pray for 
the souls of those who fell in the battle. 

Now, what battle can that have been? In the 
register of Newnham Abbey is a statement made in 
the reign of Edward III., that the battle took place 

* Davidson, "The Saxon Conquest of Devonshire," in the Trans- 
actions of the Devonshire Association^ 1877. 



46 HONITON 

" at Munt S. Calyxt en Devansyr," and that it ended 
at Colecroft under Axminster. S. Calyxt is now 
Coaxdon. 

The only great battle that answers to the descrip- 
tion was that of Brunanburgh, fought in 937. 

It was fought between Athelstan and the Ethelings, 
Edmund, Elwin and Ethelwin, on one side, and Anlaf 
the Dane, from Ireland, united with Constantine, the 
Scottish king, on the other. It is this latter point 
which has made modern historians suppose that the 
conflict took place somewhere in the North. 

But, on the other hand, there are grave reasons for 
placing it at Axminster. 

First, we know of no other battle that answers the 
description. Then, during the night before it, the 
Bishop of Sherborne arrived at the head of a con- 
tingent The two younger Ethelings who fell were 
transported to Malmesbury to be buried ; clearly 
because it was the nearest great monastery. And 
it seems most improbable that Athelstan should have 
endowed Axminster that prayers might there be 
offered for those who fell in the battle, if Brunan- 
burgh were in Northumberland. The difficulty about 
Constantine may thus be solved. Constantine had 
been expelled his kingdom by Athelstan, and had 
taken refuge in Ireland. He had, indeed, been 
restored, but when he resolved on revolt, he may 
have gone to Dublin to Anlaf, and have concerted 
with him an attack on the South, where the assist- 
ance of the Britons in Devon and Cornwall might 
be reckoned on, whilst the North British would rise, 
and the Welsh descend from their mountains. 



ANLAF THE DANE 47 

The story of the battle is this, as given by William 
of Malmesbury. 

The Danes from Dublin, together with Constantine 
and a party of Scots (Irish), came by sea, and fell 
upon England. Athelstan and his brother marched 
against them. Just before the battle Anlaf, de- 
sirous of knowing the disposition of the English 
forces, entered the camp in the garb of a gleeman, 
harp in hand. He sang and played before Athelstan 
and the rest, and they did not recognise him. As 
they were pleased with his song, they gave him 
a largess of gold. He took the money, but as he 
left the camp, he put it under the earth, as it did not 
behove a king to receive hire. This was observed 
by a soldier, who at once went to Athelstan and in- 
formed him of it. The king said angrily, " Why did 
you not at once arrest him and deliver him into my 
hands?" "My lord king," answered the man, "I 
was formerly with Anlaf, and I took oath of fidelity 
to him. Had I broken that, would you have trusted 
me? Take my advice, O king, and shift your 
quarters." 

This was good advice, and Athelstan acted on it, 
but scarcely had he shifted his quarters than Werstan, 
Bishop of Sherborne, arrived, and he took up the 
ground vacated by the king. 

During the night Anlaf made an attack and broke 
through the stockade, and directed his course towards 
the king's tent. There he fell on and killed the 
bishop, and massacred the Sherborne contingent. 
The tumult roused the king, and the fight became 
general, and raged till day. Great numbers fell on 



48 HONITON 

both sides, but in the end Anlaf was defeated, and 
fled to his ships. The only trace of the name 
Brunanburgh is in Brinnacombe, under the height 
whereon traditionally the fight raged ; and Membury 
may be the place where the king was fortified. The 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle calls the place Brumby : B 
and M are permutable letters. 

Honiton has not many relics of antiquity about it. 
Repeated fires have destroyed the old houses ; the 
High Street still retains its runnel, confined within 
a conduit, with square dipping-places at frequent 
intervals. The street runs straight down hill to the 
bridge and across the Giseage, and up again on 
the road towards Exeter. The town is completely 
surrounded by toll-gates ; the tolls collected do not 
go to pay for the maintenance of the roads, but to 
defray a debt incurred by removing buildings, in- 
cluding the ancient shambles, from the middle of 
the street early in the century. This accounts for 
the street being particularly wide. 

The Dolphin, the principal inn, is supposed to 
still possess some portion of the ancient building 
once belonging to the Courtenays, whose cognisance 
is the inn sign. 

S. Margaret's Hospital is one of the points of 
interest, and is picturesquely pretty. It was intended 
as a leper hospital, but is now used as almshouses. 
It was built and endowed by Dr. Thomas Chard, 
the last abbot of Ford. 

One thing no visitor should fail to see, and that 
is the superb view from Honiton Hill. It commands 
the valley of the Otter, with the town beneath, and 



S. MICHAEL'S CHURCH 49 

the old earthworks of Hembury Fort, Buckerell Knap, 
and Dumpdon towering above. The flat -topped 
hills and the peculiar scarps are due to the forma- 
tion being greensand. These scarps may be 
observed in process of shaping at the head of every 
combe. The church of S. Paul in the town is 
modern and uninteresting. It occupies the site of 
an old chapel of All Hallows. The parish church 
is S. Michael's on the hill, and this contains points 
of interest. The fifteenth-century screen is of carved 
oak, and stretches across nave and both aisles. The 
church was formerly cruciform, but north and south 
aisles were added to nave and chancel. Probably 
it formerly had a central tower. Four carved beams 
now support the roof where the tower should be, and 
bear sculptured bosses, representing an angel, a bishop, 
a priest, and a man in armour. Two finely carved 
capitals in the chancel carry the sentence, " Pray for 
ye souls of John Takel and Jone his wyffe." They 
were liberal benefactors to the church and the town. 

The view from the churchyard is magnificent. 
On a suitable day Cosdon Beacon on Dartmoor is 
visible. A row of cypresses in the churchyard was 
transplanted from the garden of Sir James Shepperd 
(d. 1730). 

In old times the parsons of Honiton were supposed 
to have been addicted to field sports, perhaps unfairly, 
just as one hunting abbot gave a bad name to all 
the abbots of Tavistock. Barclay, in his Ship of 
Fools, says : — 

" For if any can flatter and beare a hawke on his fist, 
He shall be made parson of Honington or of Clist." 
E 



50 HONITON 

There is much deserving of visit within reach of 
Honiton, Colyton with its fine church, and the tomb 
of '' Little Chokebone," a good monument, long 
supposed to be that of Margaret, daughter of 
William, Earl of Devon, and Katherine his wife, 
seventh daughter of Edward IV., who was supposed 
to have been choked by a fish-bone in 15 12. But 
there is evidence that the lady lived long after the 
date of her presumed death. What also tells fatally 
against the identification is that the arms of 
Courtenay are impaled with the royal arms, sur- 
rounded by the bordering componee, the well-known 
token of bastardy. Now this belonged to the 
Beauforts, and the tomb is either that of Margaret 
Beaufort, wife of Thomas, first Earl of Devon, of 
that name, or else of one of their daughters. 

Of Colcombe House, the great Courtenay, and then 
the Pole seat, but a fragment remains. At Colyton is 
the Great House, a fine old building, once the residence 
of the Yonges. The last of the family, Sir George 
Yonge, was wont to say that he came in for ;^8o,ooo 
family property, received as much as his wife's 
jointure, obtained a similar sum in the Government 
offices he enjoyed, but that Honiton had " swallowed 
it all " in election expenses. And when he stood for 
the last time there, in embarrassed circumstances ; 
because he could not bribe as heavily as formerly, 
one of the burgesses spat in his face. He died in 
18 1 2, aged eighty, a pensioner in Hampton Court, 
and his body was brought down very privately to 
Colyton from fear of arrest for debt. Another old 
house is Sand, the seat of the Huyshe family. 




HONITON LACE 



HONITON LACE 51 

Honlton has become famous for its lace, although 
actually the manufacture does not take place to any 
considerable extent in the town, but in villages, as 
Beer, Branscombe, Ottery, etc. 

In the beginning of the sixteenth century Honiton 
was a centre of a flourishing trade in bone-lace, but 
how it was introduced is very uncertain. It has been 
supposed, but not proved, that Flemish refugees came 
to Honiton and introduced the art, but one does not 
quite see why they should have come so far. There 
is an inscription on a tombstone in Honiton church- 
yard to James Rodge, bone -lace seller, who died 
July 27th, 1 61 7, and bequeathed to the poor of the 
parish the benefit of a hundred pounds. A similar 
bequest was made in the same year by Mrs. Minifie, 
a lace maker, so that both lace dealer and maker 
may have carried on their business for thirty years 
before they died. 

In the latter part of James I.'s reign Honiton 
lace is frequently mentioned by contemporary writers. 
Westcote, in his View of Devon, 1620, says, " At 
Axminster you may be furnished with fine flax-thread 
there spunne. At Hemington and Bradnich with 
bone-laces now greatly in request." Acts were passed 
under Charles I. for the protection of the bone-lace 
makers, "prohibiting foreign purles, cut works, and 
bone-laces, or any commodities laced or edged there- 
with;" and these benefited especially the Devonshire 
workers, their goods being close imitations of the 
much-coveted Flemish pillow-laces. 

Pillow-lace was preceded in England, as else- 
where, by darned netting and cut-work, A fine 



52 HONITON 

example of the ancient English net embroidery may- 
be seen on the monument, in Exeter Cathedral, of 
Bishop Stafford, who died in 1398. 

The pillow was introduced in the early part of 
Elizabeth's reign, and at first coarse thread-laces of 
geometrical design were worked on to it. Plaited 
and embroidered edgings, or purles, for the ruff, 
worked in silk, gold and silver wire, or thread came 
next, and formed the staple article during the first 
half of the seventeenth century. The patterns were 
imitated from Italian cut- work and reticella, with some 
marked peculiarities of workmanship and detail, such 
as the introduction of stars, wheels, and triangles, 
which are only found on English laces. The sculptor 
of Lady Pole's monument in Colyton Church (1623), 
evidently copied the bone-lace on her cape from a 
specimen of Devonshire make, and equally character- 
istic of the ancient patterns of the county is the 
probably plaited lace on a tucker and cuffs that 
adorn the effigy of Lady Doddridge in Exeter 
Cathedral (1614). Illustrations of these interesting 
examples of early Devonshire workmanship are given 
in Mrs. Palliser's " History of Lace." * 

There is another very fine specimen in Combe 
Martin Church, the effigy of Judith Hancock (1637). 
The figure is life-size, and the dress is covered with 
point-lace and looped with points of ribbon. 

The reason of the coarseness of early lace was 
that pins were rare and fetched a high price, and 
the humble workers in cottages employed fish-bones 

* "Antique and Modern Lace," in the Queetiy 1874. The last 
chapter is devoted to Honiton Lace. 



HONITON LACE 53 

about which to twist their threads, stuck into the 
parchment in the shape of the pattern. The bobbins 
were made of " sheeps' trotters." It is now very diffi- 
cult to procure specimens of this fishbone-lace. 

The lace produced by James Rodge and his con- 
temporaries had large flowing guipure patterns, 
united by bride picotees, the latter worked in with 
the Brussels ground. Brides are the small stripes 
or connection of threads overcast with stitches which 
bind the sprigs together. The English lace-makers 
could not make this exquisite stitch with the thread 
that England produced, and the thread was brought 
from Antwerp. At the end of last century it cost 
from £^0 to £100 per pound. Old Brussels lace was 
made on pillows, while the modern Brussels is worked 
with needles. 

The visitor to Honiton, Beer, or any village 
around may see lace - making on pillows. The 
women have round or oval boards, stuffed so as to 
form a cushion, and placed on the knees of the 
worker : a piece of parchment is fixed over the pillow, 
with the pattern drawn on it ; into this the pins are 
stuck through holes marked for the purpose. Often as 
many as four hundred bobbins are employed at a time 
on a pillow. Many of the " bobbins " and " turns " to 
be seen in Devonshire cottages are very old : the 
most ancient are inlaid with silver. On some, dates 
are carved, such as 1678 or 1729. On some. Christian 
names are cut, such as John and Nicholas ; probably 
those of the sweethearts of the girls who used them. 
Jingles, or strings of glass beads, may be seen hang- 
ing to them, with a button at the end, which came 



54 HONITON 

from the waistcoat of the John or the Nicholas who 
had given the bobbin as a keepsake. What life-stories 
some of these old bobbins could tell ! * 

Children began to make lace as early as four years 
old ; indeed, unless early trained to the work their 
hands never acquire deftness. Board schools and 
compulsory education are destroying the ability to 
work as of old, as well as too often killing the desire 
for work in the hearts of the children. 

Boys and girls were formerly taught alike, and in 
some of the seaside villages fishermen took up their 
pillows for lace-making when ashore. 

Guipure a bride and scalloped-border laces in the 
Louis XIV. style were followed by laces grounded 
with Brussels vraie reseau. In the working of the 
latter, Devonshire hands were decidedly superior 
to their Continental rivals. This beautiful ground, 
which sold at the rate of a shilling the square 
inch, was either worked in on the pillow after 
the pattern had been finished, or used as a sub- 
stratum for lace strips to be sewn on. The detached 
bouquets of the Rococo period, and the Mechlin style 
of design towards the end of last century, eminently 
suited the Devon lace-workers, as dividing the labour. 
Each individual hand could be entrusted with the 
execution of a floral design, which was repeated 
mechanically. The superior finish of the Honiton 
sprigs between 1790 and 181 5 was mainly due to 
this, but it was fatal to all development of the 
artistic faculty and to general deftness. During this 
period Honiton produced the finest laces in Europe. 

* The Devon and Exeter Gazette, December 31st, 1885. 



HONITON LACE 55 

What greatly conduced to the improvement of 
Honiton lace was the arrival of Normandy refugees 
at the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1793. 
The Normans were quicker and sharper than the 
Devon workers, and they stirred them up to great 
advance in their work. They taught them to make 
trolly lace, which is worked round the pillow instead 
of on it ; and through their example the Devonshire 
women gave up the slovenly habit of working the 
ground into which they had slipped, and returned 
to the old double-threaded reseau, or ground like the 
old Flemish, the flowers worked into the ground 
with the pillow, instead of being applique. 

Honiton lace made in proper fashion with sprigs was 
formerly paid for by covering the work with shillings. 

There is a curious notice of Honiton lace in a note 
by Dr. James Yonge ; who " was again at Honiton, 
April 23rd, 1702," and witnessed the rejoicings in cele- 
bration of the coronation of Queen Anne. 

"Saw a very pretty procession of three hundred girls 
in good order, two and two march with three women 
drummers beating, and a guard of twenty young men on 
horseback. Each of the females had a white rod in her 
hand, on the top of which was a tossil made of white and 
bleu ribband (which they said was the Queen's coleurs) 
and bone-lace, the great manufacture. Then they had 
wandered about the town from ten in the morning [it was 
eight in the evening when he saw them] huzzaing every 
now and then, and then wearing their rodds. Then they 
returned at nine, and then break up very weary and 
hungary."* 

* Quoted in "Some Seventeenth Century Topography," Western 
Morning News ^ May 9th, 1876. 



56 HONITON 

Taste declined during the latter part of last 
century, and some of the designs of Honiton lace 
were truly barbarous — frying-pans, snails, drumsticks, 
and stiff flowers. But there were always some who 
did better. At the beginning of this century all 
taste was bad. Bald imitations of nature prevailed, 
without any regard to the exigencies of art. Roses 
and other flowers were worked in perspective ; it was 
thought sufficient to servilely copy nature and leave 
grouping to chance. 

Queen Adelaide had a dress made of Honiton 
lace. By her desire all the flowers were copied from 
nature, and the first letter of each spelt her name. 

Amaranth. 

Daphne. 

Eglantine. 

Lilac. 

Auricula. 

Ivy. 

Dahlia. 

Eglantine. 

The present Queen also had her wedding-dress 
of Honiton lace, and it cost a thousand pounds. 

Unhappily, design sank very low. Perhaps the 
lowest stage of degradation in design was reached 
in 1867, when a Honiton lace shawl sent to the Paris 
Exhibition from Exeter received a prize and com- 
mendation. Nothing can be conceived worse. That it 
should have been rewarded with a medal shows 
that either the judges pardoned the ineptitude in 
design for the sake of the excellence of the work, 
or else that they themselves stood on the same level 



HONITON LACE 57 

of artistic incompetence which then prevailed. Since 
then, happily, design has been more studied. There 
is still a good deal of very sorry stuff produced — 
as far as artistic design is concerned — but at the 
same time there is much faithful copying of good 
antique work. All old work is not good ; there were 
bad artists in the past, but the general taste was 
better than it is now. I was once in the shop of 
one of our foremost furniture dealers and decorators 
in town, when a young married couple came in to 
choose curtains and carpets for their new home. I 
had been talking with the head of the establishment 
about artistic furniture, and he had shown me carpets, 
curtains, and wall-papers, such as no designer in 
the fifteenth, sixteenth, or seventeenth centuries 
would have blushed to produce. The young couple 
passed all these samples by — blind to their merits, 
and pounced on and chose some atrocious stuff, bad 
in colour and bad in art. When they were gone, the 
proprietor turned to me : " You see," he said, " the 
public is still uncultivated ; we are forced to keep 
rubbish in our trade to satisfy those whose taste 
does not rise above rubbish." Now it is the same 
with regard to lace. There is badly designed lace 
as well as that which is as good as anything drawn 
by a great master in the past. Let the public eye 
be discerning to choose the good and reject the evil, 
and then the poor lace-workers will not be set to 
produce stuff that never ought to have time, labour, 
eyesight devoted to it. 

There are some trades that are hurtful to those 
employed in them. The lace-making by machinery 
at Nottingham is said to induce decline. 



58 HONITON 

The following letter I have received on \he subject 
of the Honiton lace-workers : — 

"They are most certainly not a short-lived lot — until 
within the last eight or nine years Mrs. Colley was the 
youngest worker I knew, and she is fifty-one; Mrs. 
Raymond is sixty-four. There are a good many over 
sixty, and several still at work over seventy. I have never 
had cases of decline come under my notice, and if there 
was any I must have known it. Until the fresh impetus 
was given to the trade by exhibitions, the younger 
workers stopped learning, and there was no school, so 
that the trade depended on the old ones, and all have 
to commence the work from five to seven years of age. 
I think it may fairly be assumed to be at any rate not 
injurious to health, and judging from the age to which 
they continue to work, not to the sight either." 

Thus the buyers of lace can do It with a safe 
conscience. 

There is a woman's name associated with Devon, 
who was a great landed proprietress and an heiress, 
and this was Isabella de Fortibus. She was sister 
of Baldwin, Earl of Devon, a De Redvers, and on 
his death, without issue, she inherited the splendid 
estates of the earls of Devon, and became Countess 
of Devon in her own right. She, however, also died 
without issue in 1292. 

On Farway Common, near Honiton, three parishes 
meet, and there were incessant disputes as to the 
boundary. Isabella decided it thus. She flung her 
ring into the air, and where it fell that was to be the 
point of junction for Gittisham, Farway, and Honiton. 
The spot is still called " Ring-in-the-Mere." Such 
at least is the local legend accounting for the name. 



OLD MANSIONS 59 

In the neighbourhood of Honiton are the ruins 
of Dunkeswell Abbey, but they are reduced to a 
gateway only. It belongs to Mrs. Simcoe, of Walford 
Lodge, Dunkeswell, a handsome house built about the 
end of last century by General Simcoe, famous in 
the American Revolution as the commander of Sim- 
coe's Rangers. He was Governor of San Domingo at 
the time of the insurrection, and afterwards Governor- 
General of Canada. Mrs. Simcoe possesses interesting 
relics connected with him, as well as Napoleonic relics 
that belonged to her father, Lieut-General Jackson, 
aide-de-camp to Sir Hudson Lowe at St. Helena. 

Mohuns-Ottery, once a great seat of the Carews, 
was burnt down in the beginning of this century, and 
all that remains of the mansion are three arches. 
The Grange, Broadhembury, has been more fortunate ; 
it has a magnificent oak-panelled room, with ghost 
stories attached, and there are those alive who declare 
that they have seen the ghost. The church possesses, 
among other points of interest, a curious window 
with projecting corbels that represent the spirits 
of the good in happiness within, and the spirits of 
the bad without in discomfort — not to put too fine 
a point on it, as Mr. Snagsby would say. 

There are several fine fortifications, as already said : 
Dumpden, accessible only on foot, and Hembury are 
the most important. 

Books to be consulted : — 

Rogers (W. H. H.), Memorials of the West. Exeter, 1888. 

Farquharson (A.), The History of Honiton. Exeter, n.d.^ but 
1868 {scarce.) 

For the Axe Valley: PuLMAN (G. P. R.), The Book of the Axe. 
London, 1875. 



CHAPTER IV. 

A LANDSLIP 

The chalk beds on sand — The subsidence of 1839 — The great chasm- 
Present conditions — The White Cliff — Beer quarries — ^Jack Ratten- 
bury. 

THERE are a good many more curious things to 
be seen in England than is generally supposed, 
if we will but go out of the highways to look for 
them. Certainly one of the most extraordinary and 
impressive is the great landslip between the mouth 
of the Axe and Lyme Regis ; one which even 
extended further west beyond the estuary. On this 
bit of coast, where Devonshire passes into Dorset, 
the cliff scenery is very fine. The White Cliff is a 
magnificent headland that possesses the peculiarity 
of appearing to lean over preparing to slide into the 
waves, owing to the inclination of the varicoloured 
strata of which it is composed. To understand the 
phenomenon which occasioned the subsidence of a 
whole tract of coast with the alteration of the coast- 
line, something must be said of the cause of the 
catastrophe. The chalk bed striped with lines of 
glistening black flints is superposed upon a bed of 
what is locally termed fox earth, a bed of gravel or 
sand that intervenes between it and the clay beneath. 

60 



A LANDSLIP 6i 

Now the rain that falls on the chalk downs infiltrates 
and, reaching the sand and unable to sink through . 
the clay, breaks out in land springs. 

But where the chalk cliffs start sheer out of the 
sea, there the springs ooze into the sea itself, and, 
dissolving the texture of the sandy bed, resolve it 
into a quicksand, liable at the time of great floods 
to be washed out from under the superincumbent 
chalk. Should this take place, there is no help for 
it, but down the chalk bed must go. If you were 
lying on a bed, and the mattress under your feather 
bed were pulled away, you would descend, sinking 
to a depth equivalent to the thickness of the sub- 
tracted mattress. That is plain enough. 

Now all along the coast to the east of Lyme Regis 
there is an undercliff — evident tokens of a subsidence 
of this description which has taken place at some 
time. When this undercliff has been eaten up by 
the sea, and a fresh face of crag exposed, then again 
there will occur a displacement, a pulling out of the 
mattress, and down will go the chalk above with 
all the houses and fields upon it. But the sea has 
not as yet done more than nibble at this undercliff. 

It was not quite so to the west of Lyme. There 
sheer cliffs of glistening white rose above the pebbly 
shore, so abruptly and with such slight undulations, 
that several miles ensued before it was possible for 
those on the height to descend to the beach. 
Naturally, where the rain-water percolated through 
the chalk it formed no valleys with streams. 

Thus the cliffs stood — for no one knows how long 
— till the end of December, 1839. 



62 A LANDSLIP 

Previous symptoms of the approaching convulsion 
were not altogether wanting. Cracks had been ob- 
served for more than a week opening along the brow 
of the Downs, but they were not sufficiently remark- 
able to attract much attention, as such fissures are by 
no means uncommon on this bit of coast. However, 
about midnight of December 24th, the labourers of 
Mr. Chappel, the farmer who occupied Dowlands 
(about a quarter of a mile inland from the brow of 
the cliff, and over half a mile from the nearest points 
of the approaching convulsion) were returning from a 
supper given them by their employer, whereat the 
ashen faggot had been burnt according to custom, 
and were making their way to their cottages, situated 
near the cliff. Then they noticed that a crack which 
crossed their path, and which they had observed on 
their way to the Christmas Eve supper, had widened, 
and that the land beyond had sunk slightly. Never- 
theless they did not consider the matter of great 
importance, and they went to their homes and to 
bed. About four o'clock in the morning they were 
roused by their houses reeling, by the concrete floors 
bursting and gaping, and the walls being rent. They 
started from their beds in great alarm, and about six 
o'clock arrived at the farm to rouse their master ; they 
had found their escape nearly cut off, as the crack had 
widened and the land on the sea side had sunk con- 
siderably, so that they had, with their wives and 
children, to scramble up — and that with difficulty, 
and, in the darkness, with no little danger. 

Happily all escaped in time. 

During Christmas Day there was no great change ; 



A CHASM 63 

parties of the coastguard were stationed on the Downs 
throughout the ensuing night to watch what would 
happen. 

About midnight a great fissure began to form which 
ran in almost a direct line for three-quarters of a mile. 
This fissure rapidly widened to 300 feet, descending, 
as it seemed at first, into the very bowels of the earth, 
but as the sides fell in it finally was choked at a depth 
of 1 50 feet. 

One James Robertson and a companion were at 
that hour crossing the fields which then extended 
over this tract, and stumbled across a slight ridge of 
gravel, which at first they thought must have been 
made by some boys, but one of them stepping on to 
it, down sank his leg, and his companion had to pull 
him out of a yawning chasm. Next moment they 
saw that the whole surface of turf was starred and 
splitting in all directions, and they fled for their lives. 
The sound of the rending of the rocks they described 
as being much like that of the tearing of cloth or 
flannel. Two other members of the coastguard, who 
were stationed on the beach, now saw something 
begin to rise out of the sea like the back of a 
gigantic whale ; at the same time the shore of 
shingles on which they stood lifted and fell, like the 
heaving of a breast in sleep. The water was thrown 
into violent agitation, foaming and spouting, and 
great volumes of mud rushed up from below. The 
great back rose higher and ever higher, and extended 
further till at last it formed a huge reef at a little 
distance from the beach. This ridge was composed 
of the more solid matter, chert and other pebbles, 



64 A LANDSLIP 

that had been in the sand under the chalk, and which 
by the sinking of the chalk was squeezed out like so 
much dough. It remained as a reef for some years, 
but has now totally disappeared, having been carried 
away by the waves. 

As the great chasm was formed, the masses from 
the sides falling in were, as it were, mumbled and 
chewed up in the depths, and to the eyes of the 
frightened spectators sent forth flashes of light ; they 
also supposed that an intolerable stench was emitted 
from the abyss. But this was no more than the 
odours given out by the violent attrition of the 
cherty sandstone and chalk grinding against each 
other as they descended. 

Throughout the 26th the subsided masses of the 
great chasm continued sinking, and the elevated reef 
gradually rising ; but by the evening of that day 
everything had settled very nearly into the position in 
which it remains at present, although edges have since 
lost their sharpness and minor rents have been choked. 

A writer whose reminiscences have been recently 
published describes briefly the aspect of the place 
after the sinkage. 

" I rode over to see this huge landslip. The greater part 
of a farm had subsided a hundred feet or more. Hedges 
and fields, with their crops of turnips, etc., were undisturbed 
by the fall, and broken off sharply from the ground a hun- 
dred feet above. There was a rather dislocated ridge on 
the shore, which formed a sort of moraine to the slip. On 
this part were some cottages twisted about, but still holding 
together, and having their gardens and even their wells 
attached ; yet the shock of the falling mass had been so 
great as to cause the upheaval of an island off shore." 



PRESENT STATE 65 

The aspect of the landslip on the farms of Bindon, 
Dowlands, Rousdon, and Pinhay at present is full of 
interest and of picturesque beauty. Ivy has grown 
luxuriantly and mantles the crags, elder bushes have 
found the sunk masses of rock suitable to their 
requirements, and in early summer the air is strong 
with the scent of their trusses of flowers, and in 
autumn the whole subsidence is hung with thousands 
on ten thousands of shining black clusters of berries. 
Above a sea of foliage the white cliffs shoot out in 
the boldest fashion, and out of the gorge start horns, 
pinnacles of chalk of the most fantastic description. 
The whole is a labyrinth of chasms, not to be ven- 
tured into with good clothing, as the brambles grow 
in the wildest luxuriance and are clawed like the 
paws of a panther. But, oh ! what blackberries may 
be gathered there — large, sweet, luscious as mul- 
berries. Moreover, the whole sunk region is a 
paradise for birds of every description, and not a 
step can be taken that does not disturb jackdaws, 
magpies, warblers of every kind. One of the 
cottages that went down has been rebuilt with the 
old material. As already said, it descended at least 
a hundred feet with its well. The well still flows 
with water ; that, however, is not now marvellous — 
how it was that it held water previously is the extra- 
ordinary fact. 

At the extremity of the landslip the visitor will 
see that there is still movement going on, but on a 
small scale — cracks are still forming and extending 
through the turf It may be safely said that the 
landslip between the mouth of the Axe and Lyme 

F 



66 A LANDSLIP 

Regis is one of the most interesting and picturesque 
scenes to be found in England. 

There is a good deal more in the neighbourhood 
to be seen than the landslip at Rousdon and Pinhay. 
If the cliffs be explored to the west of the mouth 
of the Axe, they will be found to well repay the 
visit. The splendid crag of the White Cliff towers 
above the sea, showing the slanting beds of the 
cherty matter below the dazzling white of the chalk, 
and from their inclination giving to the whole cliff 
an appearance of lurching into the waves. Beyond 
this is Beer, a narrow cleft in the hills, in which are 
fishermen's cottages, many of them very picturesque, 
and above them rises a really excellently designed 
modern church. 

A walk up the valley leads to the famous Beer 
quarries that have been worked for centuries. This 
splendid building- stone lies below the chalk with 
flints. There are eight beds, forming a thickness 
of twelve feet four inches, resting on a hard, white, 
calcareous rock five or six feet thick, which reposes 
in turn on sandstones. There is very little waste 
from these quarries, which are carried on under- 
ground ; and all that is seen of them are the yawning 
portals in a face of white cliff. But a shout at the 
entrance will summon a workman, who will conduct 
the visitor through the labyrinth underground. The 
roof is sustained by large square pillars formed by 
portions of the workable beds left standing. 

The stone is nearly white, and chiefly composed 
of carbonate of lime, with the addition of some 
argillaceous and silicious matter, and a few scattered 



BEER e^ 

particles of green silicate of iron. When first quar- 
ried this stone is somewhat soft, and is easily worked, 
but it rapidly hardens on exposure. 

Opposite the new quarry are the mounds that 
mark the site of the old quarry, from which the 
stone was extracted for Exeter Cathedral. The 
subterranean passages there are now blocked, but 
during the time of the European war they were 
much used by smugglers, who abounded in Beer. 
The Memoirs of Jack Rattenbury, the most notorious 
of these, were published at Sidmouth in 1837, but 
are not of conspicuous interest. Beer Head has 
suffered from landslips, and is broken into spires 
of rock in consequence. 

Books on the Landslip, and on Seaton : — 

CONYBEARE and Dawson, Memoir and Views of Landslips on the 
Coast of East Devon, 1840. A very scarce work. 

Hutchinson (P. O.), Guide to the Landslip near Axnionth, Sid- 
mouth, 1840. 

Davidson (J. B.), "Seaton before the Conquest," in Transactions 
of Devonshire Association, 1885. 

MuMFORD (G. F.), Seaton, Beer, and Neighbourhood. Yeovil, n.d. 



CHAPTER V. 
EXETER 

The river Exe — Roman roads — The Saxons in Devon and Exeter — 
Saxon and British Exeter — The Battle of Gavulford — S. Boniface 
at Exeter — His persecution of Celtic missionaries — S. Sidwell — 
Bishop's seat transferred to Exeter — S. Olave's Church — The 
Cathedral — Its merits and demerits — Ottery S. Mary — Excursions 
from Exeter — Fingle Bridge — Fulford — Ecclesiological excursions. 

EXETER, the Isca Dumnoniorum of the Romans, 
was the Celtic Caer Wise ; that is to say, the 
caer or fortress on the Usk. The river-name has 
become Exe ; it derives from the Celtic word which 
signifies water, and which we have in whiskey and 
Usquebaugh, i.e. fire-water. 

The same word has become also Ock. Thus the 
Ockment River at Okehampton, a few miles down, 
becomes the Exe, at Exbourne ; and a tributary of 
the Exe is the Oke, that flows into it near Hampton. 

There have been but few Roman remains found in 
Exeter, and it can never have been an important 
settlement. Several Roman roads converge on it 
and radiate from it. 

The great Fosseway, that ran from Lincoln through 
Leicester, reached it. It struck from Honiton, 
by Rockbeare and Clyst Honiton, and shows its 

68 



ROMAN ROADS 69 

antiquity by being the bounds of Broadclyst and 
Rockbeare, Sowton and Pinhoe parishes. It entered 
Exeter by Heavitree. Another Roman road from 
Lyme Regis enters Exeter by Wonford, where it 
joins the Fosseway. This road also proclaims its 
high antiquity by being a parish boundary. From 
Exeter an ancient road ran direct for Launceston : 
it is called in places the Old Street. It branched at 
Okehampton, and a road ran thence to Stratton, in 
Cornwall. 

The Fosseway continued to Moreton Hampstead, 
and crossed Dartmoor, where it has served as the 
equator of that desolate region ; all above it is 
esteemed the northern half, all below the southern 
half of Dartmoor. Further it has not been traced. 

Another road, the Ridgeway, ran from Exeter to 
Totnes, and thence has been followed to Plympton 
Castle. 

Whether these roads proceeded far in Cornwall can- 
not now be determined. 

That these ways were possibly pre-Roman, but 
improved by the conquerors of the world, is probable. 
Hard by the roadside at Okehampton, in 1898, was 
found a hoard of the smallest Roman coins, all of 
the reign of Constantine the Great. It had probably 
formed the store of a beggar who " sat by the way- 
side begging." He hid it under a rock, and probably 
died without having removed it. About 200 coins 
were found, all dating from between A.D. 320 and 330. 

The Saxons must have crept in without violent 
invasion, across the Axe, rather than through the 
gaps in the Black Down and Exmoor — for to the 



70 EXETER 

north, as already said, the vast morasses were a 
hindrance — and have established themselves without 
violent opposition by the riversides. Their manner 
of life was unlike that of the Britons. The latter 
clung to the open highlands, their Gwents as they 
called them, clear of trees, breezy downs ; whereas 
the Saxons, accustomed to forests, made their stock- 
ades in the flat hams and ings by the rivers, in 
woi'tks and on hangers. 

Very probably the Dumnonii suffered their in- 
trusion with reluctance, but they did not venture 
on forcible resistance, lest they should bring down 
on themselves the vengeance of Wessex. 

When, however, the Saxons had established them- 
selves in sufficient numbers, they had their head- 
quarters in Exeter; but there they did not amalgamate 
with the natives. The Saxon town was quite apart 
from that occupied by the Britons, or West Welsh, as 
they called our Dumnonians. That part of Exeter 
which contains dedications to Celtic saints was the 
British town, as was also Heavitree,* with its daugh- 
ter churches of S. Sidwell and S. David ; but the 
Saxons occupied where now stands the Cathedral ; 
and each settlement was governed by its own laws. 
It was not till 823 that Egbert, by a decisive battle 
at Gavulford {Gafi a holdfast, and ffordd a road), 
established Saxon supremacy. He apparently drove 
the Devonshire Celts back along the Old Street, or 
Roman road, past Okehampton, till they made a 

* Names of places, as Heavitree, Langtree, Plymtree, take the 
"tree" from the Welsh "tref," a farm or habitation. Heavitree is 
Tre-hafod, the summer farm. 



SAXONS IN DEVON 71 

stand at Coombow {Cwni-bod^thQ habitation in a 
combe). There the hills close in on the road on 
both sides, and the way branched to Lydford. Com- 
manding both roads is Galford Down ; there the 
Britons threw up formidable entrenchments, or, 
what is more probable, occupied an earlier camp 
that remains intact to the present day. Here they 
made a desperate stand, and were defeated ; after 
which the king, Egbert, cast up a burgh beyond 
the old dun^ which gives its second name to the 
place, Burleigh, or Burgh-legh. The last relics of 
the independence of the Dumnonian kingdom dis- 
appeared after Athelstan's visit in 926 and 928. A 
relic of this visit may be seen in Rougemont Castle, 
Exeter, where the Anglo-Saxon work — notably some 
herring-bone masonry, and windows rudely fashioned 
without arches — remains. 

A Saxon school had been established in Exeter 
before A.D. 700, to which S. Boniface, or Wynfrith 
as he was then called, had been sent. He was a 
native of Crediton, then a Saxon stockaded settle- 
ment, and over the palisades, as a boy, he had looked 
with scorn and hatred at the native Britons occupying 
the country. When he was in Exeter he, in like 
manner, regarded the native Christians with loathing 
as heretics, because they did not observe Easter on 
the same day as himself, and perhaps with accentu- 
ated hate, because he knew that they had possessed 
Christian teachers and Christian privileges three 
centuries before his own people had received the 
Gospel. Perhaps also his German mind was offended 
at the freshness, vivacity, and maybe as well the 



72 EXETER 

fickleness of purpose of the native Celt. This early 
acquired aversion lasted through life, and when he 
went into Germany and settled at Mainz, to posture 
as an apostle, he was vexed to discover that Celtic 
missionaries had preceded him and had worked 
successfully among his Teutonic forefathers in their 
old homes. Thenceforth he attacked, insulted, and 
denounced them with implacable animosity, and did 
his utmost to upset their missions and supplannt 
them with his own. Virgilius, an Irishman, with a 
fellow Paddy, Sidonius, was at Salzburg, and Virgilius 
was bishop there. Boniface beat about for an excuse 
to get rid of them both. He found that the bishop, 
having discovered that one of his priests had been 
accustomed to baptise using a bad Latin formula, 
had acknowledged this man's baptisms as valid, for 
the will was present : the fault was due to ignorance 
of the Latin tongue. Boniface, hearing of this, laid 
hold of it with enthusiasm, and denounced Virgilius 
at Rome. Pope Boniface, however, took the side of 
the Irishman against his over-zealous henchman. 

Mortified at this rebuff, Boniface lay in wait to 
find another excuse for ruining Virgilius. He ascer- 
tained presently that the Irishman taught that the 
earth was round, and that there was an antipodes 
to those living in Germany. Now the Irish schools 
were the most learned in Europe, and Irish saints 
had sailed far into the west over the Atlantic : they 
had formed their own opinions concerning the shape 
of the world. Boniface wrote to the Pope to denounce 
the doctrine of Virgilius as " perverse and unjust, 
uttered against God and his own soul." 



S. SIDWELL 73 

This doctrine Pope Zacharias hastened to condemn 
as heretical.* VirgiHus had to go to Rome to justify 
his opinion before ignorant Latin ecclesiastics — with 
what results we do not know. 

Athelstan came to Exeter in 926, and drove out 
the British inhabitants. He built towers and repaired 
the old Roman walls ; he it was who founded the 
monastery of SS. Mary and Peter, afterwards to be- 
come the Cathedral ; and, we are told, he gave to 
it relics of S. Sidwell. This was a local saint, of 
whom very little is known, save that she was the 
sister of Paul, who became abbot and bishop of 
Leon, in Brittany. She had two sisters, Wulvella and 
Jutwara, called also Jutwell and Eadware. Though 
the names seem Saxon, they are corruptions of Celtic 
originals. Wulvella became an abbess at Gulval, 
near Penzance, where she entertained her brother as 
he was on his way to Armorica. Sidwell is supposed 
to have been a martyr, possibly to Saxon brutality, 
but this is very uncertain, as her story has not been 
preserved. She has as her symbols a scythe and a 
well — " canting " symbols framed from her name. 
Her brother Paul founded a church that still retains 
his name, in the British portion of Exeter. 

The bishop's seat had been at Crediton : the Saxon 

* In my Lives of the Saints^ written in 1874, I accepted M. 
Barthelemy's view, that Virgilius held that there were underground 
folk, gnomes ; but I do not hold this now, knowing more than I 
then did of the learning of the great Irish scholars, and of the 
voyages made by the Irish. The earliest gloss on the Senchtis Mor 
says, " God formed the firmament around the earth ; and the earth, 
in the form of a perfectly round ball, was fixed in the midst of the 
firmament." — I. p. 27. 



74 EXETER 

bishops did not like it. There were no walls there, 
and the Danes made piratical excursions. So Bishop 
Leofric induced Edward the Confessor to move the 
seat to Exeter, and this was done by Edward in 
person, in 1050. 

In Fore Street is an odd misshapen little church, 
S. Olave's. This was endowed by Gytha, sister of 
Sweyn, the Danish king, and wife of Earl Godwin. 
She was the mother of Harold. She is said to have 
endowed it (1053) that prayer might be offered for 
the soul of her husband, and in honour of Olaf, King 
of Norway, who had fallen in battle in 1030. As 
S. Olaf fought against the Danes, and it was through 
the machinations of Canute that he came to his end, 
it is hard to see how a Danish lady should have felt 
any enthusiasm about Olaf, who was regarded as a 
saint and martyr by the national Norwegian party, 
which was bitterly opposed to the Danish. I suspect 
that the church already existed, and was dedicated 
to S. Gwynllyw of Gwent, who at Newport was 
also converted into Olave, by the English-speaking 
colonists. Both Gwynllyw and Olaf were kings, and 
it is noticeable that S. Olave's Church is in the British 
portion of Exeter. When William the Conqueror 
arrived before the city, Gytha, who was within the 
walls, escaped and took refuge in Flanders. William 
gave the church, with her endowments, to Battle 
Abbey. But I am not writing a history of Exeter. 
For those who desire to learn its story in full, I must 
refer them to the work of Mr. Freeman. 

The Cathedral is disappointing, and that because 
it is built, not of the warm, red sandstone that 



BISHOP GRANDISSON 75 

abounds In the neighbourhood, and is very good 
building material, but of Beer stone, which is cold 
and grey. It has another defect : it is too low ; but 
this was determined by the towers. When it was 
resolved to rebuild the Cathedral, it was decided to 
preserve the Norman towers, employing them as 
transepts. This settled the business. The church 
could not be made lofty ; and on entering the western 
doors the visitor is at once disappointed. He feels 
a lack of breathing-space ; the vaulting depresses 
him. The architectural details are not to be sur- 
passed, but the whole effect is marred by the one 
mistake made at the outstart. One cannot wish that 
the towers had been removed, but one does regret that 
they were allowed to determine the height of nave and 
choir. The choir was begun by Bishop Quivil, in 
1284, when also the great and incomparably beautiful 
windows were inserted in the towers. The nave was 
finished by Bishop Grandisson, in 1369, the year of 
his death. 

Grandisson was a friendof the detestable John XXII., 
one of the Avignon Popes ; and John appointed his 
intimate to Exeter in total disregard to the rights of 
the chapter to elect. He was consecrated at Avignon. 
Hitherto almost all the bishops had been local men. 

Grandisson was a man very Romanly inclined, and 
appointed to a see that was redolent with Celtic 
reminiscences. He did not relish these. Whenever 
he had the chance of rededicating a church he en- 
deavoured to substitute a patron from the Roman 
calendar in place of the British founder. He drew 
up a Legendarium, a book of Lessons on Saints' 



76 EXETER 

Feasts to be used in the Cathedral Church, and 
ignored nearly every saint whose name was not 
approved by admission into the Latin martyrology. 

"The Church of Exeter is a remarkable case of one 
general design being carried out through more than a 
hundred years. It was fixed once for all what the new 
Saint Peter's should be like, and it grew up after one 
general pattern, but with a certain advance in detail as 
the work went westward. Bishop Grandison, when the 
church was about half built, said that when it was finished 
it would surpass in beauty all churches of its own kind 
in England and France. Whatever he meant by ^ genus 
suuni^ the prediction was safely risked. As far as outline 
and general effect goes, the Church of Exeter forms a class 
by itself." — Freeman. 

A more remarkable church than the Cathedral of 
Exeter is that of Ottery S. Mary, also built by 
Grandisson. It is, of course, not by any means so 
large. It gave, perhaps, the original type to Exeter, 
for there also the towers have been employed as 
transepts, and was begun in the Early English style. 
But there a stateliness and an originality of effect are 
reached that Exeter cannot approach. 

There the side aisles have but lancet windows, and 
a flood of light pours down through the very original 
clerestory lights. There is no east window. What 
the general effect must have been before the levels 
were wantonly altered at the " restoration " one can 
now hardly surmise. But the church, in spite of this 
and some odiously vulgar woodwork, is one of the 
most striking in England, and perhaps the boldest 
in originality of conception. 



FULFORD HOUSE ^^ 

The Guildhall, in High Street, is a good example 
of Elizabethan architecture, in bad stone. 

A beautiful excursion may be made from Exeter 
to Fingle Bridge,* on the Teign, where the river 
winds between the hills densely wooded with coppice, 
that close in on each other like the fangs of a rat-trap. 
With this may be combined Shilstone cromlech, the 
sole perfect specimen of the kind remaining in the 
county, and once but a single member in a series of 
very remarkable monuments. 

The Teign is frowned down on by several strongly 
fortified camps. Fingle should be seen when the 
hills are clothed in flowering heather, as though rasp- 
berry cream had been spilt over them. White heather 
may be picked there. 

Fulford House is a quadrangle in a sad state of 
dilapidation ; originally of Tudor architecture, but 
disfigured by bad alterations in the Prince Regent's 
days, when cockney Gothic was in vogue. In the 
house is a bad portrait of the " Royal Martyr," pre- 
sented by Charles H., and one of "Red Ruin," a 
spendthrift Fulford. In the hall is some superb 
carved panelling, early Tudor. 

Exeter may be made a centre for ecclesiological 
excursions of no ordinary interest. Dunchideock 
Church has a well-restored screen ; but by far the 
richest carved oak rood-screen in the county is that 
of Kenton, where also the pulpit is of incomparable 
beauty. The carver employed thereon was a man 
of no common talent, and the work is one of brilliant 

* Ffin — limit, ^a/— the level land, i.e. in comparison with the Dart- 
moor highlands. 



78 EXETER 

execution. There is much difference in the carving in 
the county — some is common, mechanical ; that in the 
Kenton screen and pulpit is of the very finest quality. 

In the little church of S. Mary Steps, in Exeter, 
may be seen a portion of the screen removed from 
S. Mary Major when that monstrosity was erected. 
At Plymtree the screen bears on it contemporary 
portraits of Prince Arthur (son of Henry VII.) and 
Cardinal Morton. That of Bradninch has on it paint- 
ings of the Sibyls, the Doctors of the Church, and 
the Legend of S. Francis. 

Pinhoe was the scene of a great battle with the Danes 
in 1 00 1. They had come up the Exe, and burned 
Pinhoe, Broadclyst, and some of the neighbouring 
villages. Levies in Devon and Somerset met them, 
but were defeated with great slaughter. The church 
contains a fine coloured screen with the vaulting-ribs 
and gallery. The alms-box is curious : it represents 
a serving-man supporting himself with a stick in one 
hand, the other extended soliciting alms. 

East Budleigh should be visited for its fine bench- 
ends, some very curious ; one represents a cook 
roasting a goose ; another a ship in full sail. Their 
date is 1 5 34. There is a screen, but not of first quality. 

Littleham, near Exmouth, has a good screen. 
Screens are the features of Devonshire churches : a 
church was built to contain one. Without it the 
proportions are faulty. 

Books on Exeter : — 

Freeman (E. A.), Historic Towns : Exeter. 1895. 
NoRTHY (T. J.), Popular History of Exeter. 1886, 
Jenkins (A.), History of Exeter. 1841. 



CHAPTER VI. 

CREDITON 

Red stone and red cob — Cob walls — The river Greedy — Birthplace of 
S. Boniface — See of Crediton — The Church — Kirton. serge— Apple 
orchards and cider-making — Francemass — Apple the basis of many 
jams — Song of the apple trees — The picking of apples — "Griggles" 
— Saluting the apple trees — The apple-crusher — Pomage— The 
cider-press — Apple cheese — Cider -matching — Racking — Cider for 
rheumatism — A Cornish cider song — ^John Davy — Seats near Credi- 
ton — Elizabeth BuUer and Frances Tuckfield — The Coplestone — 
The North Devon savages — Lapford — Churches round Crediton — 
Rev. S. Rowe. 

A CURIOUS, sleepy place, the houses like the 
great church built of red sandstone, where not 
of the red clay or cob. But in the latter case the 
cob is whitewashed. No house can be conceived 
more warm and cosy than that built of cob, especi- 
ally when thatched. It is warm in winter and cool 
in summer, and I have known labourers bitterly 
bewail their fate in being transferred from an old 
fifteenth or sixteenth century cob cottage into a 
newly-built stone edifice of the most approved style. 
As they said, it was like going out of warm life into 
a cold grave. 

The art of building with cob is nearly extinct. 
Clay is kneaded up with straw by the feet, and then 
put on the rising walls that are enclosed in a frame- 

79 



So CREDITON 

work of boards, but this latter is not always necessary 
as the clay is consistent enough to hold together, 
and all that is required is to shave it down as the wall 
rises in height. Such cob walls for garden fruit are 
incomparable. They retain the warmth of the sun 
and give it out through the night, and when pro- 
tected on top by slates or thatch will last for cen- 
turies. But let their top be exposed, and they 
dissolve in the rain and flake away with the frost. 
They have, however, their compensating disadvan- 
tage — they harbour vermin. 

Crediton takes its name from the Creedy river 
that flows near the town. The river is designated 
{Crwydr) from its straggling character, crumbling 
its banks away at every flood and changing its 
course. At a very early period the Saxons had 
succeeded in establishing a settlement here, a tun, 
and here Wynfrith, better known as S. Boniface, 
was born in 680. Willibald, a priest of Mainz who 
wrote his life, tells us that his father was a great 
householder, and of "eorl-kind," or noble birth. He 
loved his son Wynfrith above all his other children, 
and for a long time withheld his consent to his 
embracing the monastic life. During a serious ill- 
ness, however, when death seemed near at hand, he 
relented, and Wynfrith was sent to school at Exeter. 
Thence he moved to Nutschelle, where he assumed 
the name of Boniface. At the age of thirty he was 
ordained. King Ina, of the West Saxons, honoured 
him with his confidence, and he might have risen to 
a high ofiice in his native land, but other aspirations 
had taken possession of his soul. No stories were 



S. BONIFACE 8i 

listened to at his time in the Anglo-Saxon monast- 
eries with greater avidity than those connected with 
the adventurous mission of Archbishop WilHbrord 
among the heathen Frisians, and Boniface longed to 
join the noble band beyond the sea. The abbot 
opposed his design, but Boniface was obstinate, and 
with three brethren left Nutschelle for London ; there 
they took ship and landed in Frisia in 716. But the 
time was unpropitious, and he was forced to return 
to Nutschelle. 

Next year he went to Rome, and then the Pope 
urged him to establish papal authority in Germany, 
which had been converted by Celtic missionaries, 
who had their own independent ways, that were 
not at all relished at Rome. Boniface, who hated 
the Celts and all their usages, eagerly undertook 
the task, and he went into Thuringia. He did 
a double work. He converted, or attempted to 
convert, the heathen, and he ripped up and undid 
what had been done independently by the Irish 
missionaries. In his old age he resumed his attempt 
to carry the Gospel into Frisia, and was there killed, 
A.D. 755. 

A Saxon see was established at Crediton about 
909, and was given three estates in Cornwall — Poul- 
ton, Lawhitton, and Callington. The Bishop was 
charged to visit the Cornish people year by year " to 
drive away their errors," for up to that time "they 
had resisted the truth with all their might, and had 
disobeyed the Apostolic decrees," that is to say, they 
clung to their ecclesiastical independence and some 
of their peculiar customs. 
G 



82 CREDITON 

Creditor! remained the seat of the Romano-Saxon 
bishops till 1046, when Leofric got the see moved 
to Exeter, where his skin would be safer behind walls 
than in exposed Crediton. 

The church, dedicated to the Holy Cross, is a very 
stately building; the tower is transition Norman at 
the base. The rest is Perpendicular, and a fine effect 
is produced by the belt of shadow under the tower, 
with the illumined choir behind, which has large 
windows. The east window was mutilated at the 
" restoration." It was very original and delightful ; 
it has been reduced to the same commonplace pattern 
as the west window. 

Crediton was a great seat of the cloth trade, and 
many of those whose sumptuous monuments decorate 
the church owed their wealth to " Kirton serge." 
Westcote says that the "aptness and diligent in- 
dustry of the inhabitants " (in this branch of manu- 
facture) "did purchase it a pre-eminent name above 
all other towns, whereby grew this common proverb, 
' as fine as Kirton spinning ' (for we call it briefly 
Kirton), which spinning was very fine indeed, which 
to express the better to gain your belief, it is very 
true that 140 threads for woollen yarn spun in that 
town were drawn together through the eye of a 
taylor's needle, which needle and threads were for 
many years together to be seen in Watling Street, in 
London, in the shop of one Mr. Dunscombe, at ' The 
Sign of the Golden Bottle.'" 

Crediton is now a great centre of apple culture 
and cider-making. The rich red soil lends itself 
admirably to the production of delicious apples, 




""^^.^^^■'"' ^ 



CREDITON CHURCH 



CIDER 83 

It is quite a mistake to suppose that any fruit 
serves for cider. There are certain kinds that 
are vastly superior to others for this purpose, as the 
Bitter-sweet, the Fox-whelp, the Kingston Black and 
Cherry Pearmain ; but the best all round is the 
Kingston Black. 

When there is going up a general cry for legisla- 
tion to ameliorate in some way the condition of 
agriculture, it is a satisfaction to think that one act 
of Government has had a beneficial effect on the 
English farmer, if not throughout the land, at all 
events in the West of England and in other cider- 
making counties, and that act was the laying of 
heavy duty on foreign sparkling wines. Quite as 
much champagne is drunk now as was before the 
duty was increased, but unless we are very much 
mistaken some of that champagne comes from the 
apple and not from the grape. 

A story is told that a gentleman the other day 
applied to a large apple-orchard farmer in the West 
of England for a hogshead or two of his sparkling 
cider. The farmer replied that he was very sorry 
not to be able to accommodate him as in previous 
years, but a certain London firm had taken his whole 
year's " pounding." He gave the name of the firm 
and assured his customer that he could get the 
cider from that house. The gentleman applied, and 
received the answer : — 

"Sir, — We are not cider merchants. You have made 
some mistake. We are a firm of champagne-importing 
merchants from the celebrated vineyards of MM. So-and-so, 
^t So-^n(^-so," 



84 CREDITON 

Well, the money goes into English pockets, into 
those of the hardly-pressed and pinched English 
farmers. And cider is the most wholesome and 
sound of beverages. So all is well. 

There are, as may have been noticed, three cold 
nights in May — not always, but often. At Crediton, 
and throughout the apple-growing districts in North 
Devon, these are called "Francemass" or "S. Fran- 
kin's days;" they are the 19th, 20th, and 21st May. 
When a frost comes then it injures the apple blossom. 
The story relative to this frost varies slightly. Accord- 
ing to one version there was an Exeter brewer, of the 
name of Frankin, who found that cider ran his ale so 
hard that he vowed his soul to the devil on the condi- 
tion that he would send three frosty nights in May 
to annually cut off the apple blossom. The other 
version of the story is that the brewers in North 
Devon entered into a compact with the Evil One, and 
promised to put deleterious matter into their ale on 
condition that the devil should help them by killing 
the blossom of the apple trees. Accordingly, when- 
ever these May frosts come we know that his majesty 
is fulfilling his part of the contract, because the 
brewers have fulfilled theirs by adulterating their 
beer. S. Frankin, according to this version, is an 
euphemism for Satan. 

Our dear old friend, the apple, not only serves as 
a kindly assistant to help out the supply of wine, but 
also forms the basis of a good many jams. With 
some assistance it is converted into raspberry and 
plum, but no inducement will persuade it to become 
strawberry. It is certainly instructive to pass a jam 



"THE APPLE TREES" 85 

factory in October and thence inhale the fragrance of 
raspberries. 

For some twenty or thirty years the orchards were 
sadly neglected. The old trees were not replaced, 
there was no pruning, no cleaning of the trunks, the 
cattle were turned into the orchard to gnaw and 
injure the bark and break down the branches, no 
dressing was given to the roots, and the pounding 
of apples was generally abandoned. But thanks to 
the increased demand for cider — largely, no doubt, to 
be drunk as cider, also, it is more than suspected, to 
be drunk under another name — the farmers in Somer- 
setshire, Devonshire, Hereford, and Worcestershire 
have begun to cultivate apple trees, and care for 
them, as a means of revenue. 

In former days there were many more orchards 
than at present ; every gentleman's house, every 
farmhouse had its well - stocked, carefully pruned 
orchard. Beer ran cider hard, and nearly beat it 
out of the field, and overthrew the apple trees, but 
the trees are having their good times again. 

There is a curious song of " The Apple Trees " 
that was formerly sung in every West of England 
farmhouse. It was a sort of Georgic, giving complete 
instructions how apples are to be grown and cider to 
be made. It is now remembered only by very old 
men, and as it has, to the best of my knowledge, 
never appeared in print, I will quote it in full : — 

" An orchard fair, to please, 

And pleasure for your mind, sir, 
You 'd have — then plant of trees 
The goodliest you can find, sir ; 



86 CREDITON 

In bark they must be clean, 
And finely grown in root, sir, 

Well trimmed in head, I ween, 
And sturdy in the shoot, sir. 

O the jovial days when the apple trees do bear, 
We '11 drink and be merry all the gladsome year. 

" The pretty trees you plant. 
Attention now will need, sir. 
That nothing they may want, 

Which to mention I proceed, sir. 
You must not grudge a fence 

'Gainst cattle, tho 't be trouble ; 
They will repay the expense 
In measure over double. 

O the jovial days, &c. 

" To give a man great joy, 

And see his orchard thrive, sir, 
A skilful hand employ 

To use the pruning knife, sir. 
To lop each wayward limb. 

That seemeth to offend, sir ; 
Nor fail at Fall, to trim 
Until the tree's life end, sir. 

O the jovial days, &c. 

" All in the month of May, 

The trees are clothed in bloom, sir. 
As posies bright and gay, 

Both morning, night and noon, sir. 
'Tis pleasant to the sight, 

'Tis sweet unto the smell, sir, 
And if there be no blight. 
The fruit will set and swell, sir. 
O the jovial days, &c. 

" The summer oversped, 
October drawing on, sir ; 
The apples gold and red 
Are glowing in the sun, sir. 



THE APPLE TREE ij 

As the season doth advance. 

Your apples for to gather, 
I bid you catch the chance 

To pick them in fine weather. 

O the jovial days, &c. 

" When to a pummy ground, 

You squeeze out all the juice, sir, 
Then fill a cask well bound, 

And set it by for use, sir. 
O bid the cider flow 

In ploughing and in sowing, 
The healthiest drink I know 

In reaping and in mowing. 

O the jovial days, &;c." 

This fresh and quaint old song was taken down 
from an ancient sexton of over eighty near Tiverton. 

The young apple trees have a deadly enemy in 
the rabbit, which loves their sweet bark, and in 
a night will ruin half a nursery, peeling it off and 
devouring it all round. Young cattle will break over 
a hedge and do terrible mischief to an orchard of 
hopeful trees that promise to bear in another year 
or two. The bark cannot endure bruising and break- 
ing — injury to it produces that terrible scourge the 
canker. Canker is also caused by the tap-root 
running down into cold and sour soil ; and it is 
veiy customary, where this is likely, to place a slate 
or a tile immediately under the tree, so as to force 
the roots to spread laterally. Apple trees hate stand- 
ing water, and like to be on a slope, whence the 
moisture rapidly drains away. As the song says, 
the orchard apples when ripe glow " gold and red," 
and the yellow and red apples make the best cider* 



88 CREDITON 

The green apple is not approved by the old-fashioned 
cider-apple growers. The maxim laid down in the 
song, that the apples should be "the goodliest you 
can find," was not much attended to some thirty 
years ago when orchards were let down ; farmers 
thought that any trees were good enough, and that 
there was a positive advantage in selecting sour 
apples, for that then the boys would not steal them. 
It is now otherwise ; they are well aware that the 
quality of the cider depends largely on the goodness 
of the sort of apple grown. The picking of apples 
takes place on a fine windy or sunny day. The 
apples to be pounded are knocked down with a 
pole, but those for " hoarding " are carefully picked, 
as a bruise is fatal. After that the fallen apples 
have been gathered by women and children they are 
heaped up under the trees and left to completely 
ripen and be touched with frost. It is thought that 
they make better cider when they have begun to turn 
brown. Whether this be actually the case, or the 
relic of a mistaken custom of the past, the writer 
cannot say. 

All apples are not usually struck down — the small 
ones, "griggles," are left for schoolboys. It is their 
privilege to glean in the orchard, and such gleaning 
is termed " griggling." 

What the vintage is in France, and the hop-pickiag 
is in Kent and Bavaria, that the apple-picking and 
collecting is in the cider counties of England. The 
autumn sun is shining, there is a crispness in the air, 
the leaves are turned crimson and yellow, of the 
same hues as the fruit. The grass of the orchard 



CURIOUS CUSTOM 89 

is bright with crimson and gold as though it were 
studded with jewels, but the jewels are the windfalls 
from the apple trees. Men, women, and children are 
happy talking, laughing, singing snatches of songs — 
except when eating. Eat they must — eat they will 
— and the farmer does not object, for there is a limit 
to apple-eating. The apple is the most filling of all 
fruit. And yet how unlimited seems the appetite of 
the boy, especially when he gets into an orchard ! 
The grandfather of the writer of this book planted 
an orchard specially for the boys of the parish, in the 
hope that they would glut themselves therein and 
leave his cider orchard alone. It did not answer; 
they devoured all the apples in their special orchard 
and carried their ravages into his also. 

The farmer knows that the apple is tempting, and 
the apple-pickers and collectors are allowed to eat — 
within limits. But he can afford to be generous. In 
a good year how abundant is the supply on every 
tree ! How every tree resembles those that Aladdin 
saw in the enchanted world underground laden with 
topaz and ruby ! 

There was a curious custom in Devon, now com- 
pletely gone out, which consisted, on Old Christmas 
Day, in going at night into an orchard and firing 
blank charges from fowling-pieces at the apple trees. 
It was supposed that this ensured there being a good 
harvest of apples the ensuing year. In Somerset- 
shire the wassailing of the trees continued till within 
the memory of old folk. Sir Thomas Acland related 
to Mr. Brand, in 1790, that in his neighbourhood on 
Christmas Eve it was customary for the country 



90 CREDITON 

people to sing a wassail or drinking song, and drink 
the toast from the wassail-bowl to the apple trees in 
order to have a fruitful year. And Herrick alludes 
to this when he enjoins : — 

" Wassaile the trees, that they may bear 
You many a plum, and many a peare ; 
For more or lesse fruits they will bring, 
As you do give them wassailing." 

The wassail song was as follows : — 

"Old Apple tree, we are come to wassail thee, 
All for to bloom, and to bear thy flowers and fruit so free. 
Wassail ! wassail ! all round our town ; 
Our cups are white and our ale is brown. 
Our bowl is made of a good ashen tree. 
And here 's kind fellows as will drink to thee. 

Hats full, caps full, five-bushel bags full. 

Barns full, floors full, stables full, tallats full, 

And the little hole under the stairs, three times three ! 

Hip, hip, hurrah ! shout we." 

When the apples are considered fit to pound, 
which is usually in November, they are taken to the 
crusher. This consists of a large circular stone 
trough with a rim about it, and in this rolls a great 
stone wheel, set in motion formerly by a horse 
attached to a "roundabout." The great wheel re- 
volved and crushed the apples to a pulp. The 
crushing was, however, also done by the hand, in 
small quantities. There is, however, a method of 
cutting them small between rollers. The machine 
is now commonly set in motion by water. 

The pounded apple pulp is called pomage, or 



CIDER-MAKING 91 

apple-mock (mash). The apples are ground to one 
consistence, with kernels and skins. The kernels 
give flavour, and the skins colour ; or are supposed 
so to do. 

The pulp is next conveyed to the cider -press, 
where it is placed in layers, with clean straw or 
haircloths between the layers. Below is the vat ; in 
Devonshire and Cornwall commonly called the "vate." 
Above are planks with a lever beam weighted, so as 
to produce great pressure, or else they are pressed 
by means of a screw. The pressing - planks are 
locally termed the " sow." The cider now begins to 
flow. The first flow is by no means the best. 

The pulp thus squeezed is termed the "cheese." 
This is pared down, and the parings added to the 
block and again subjected to pressure. 

The cider as it flows away is received in " kieves." 
No water whatever is added to the apples. What 
comes away is the pure unadulterated juice. When, 
however, the cider has been wholly pressed out, then 
it is customary to make a hole in the " cheese " and 
pour in some water, which is left to be absorbed by 
the spongy matter. This is afterwards pressed out, 
and goes by the name of "beverage." It is not 
regarded as cider. It is sharper in taste, and is 
appreciated by workmen. 

Outside old farms is often to be seen a huge 
block of stone, with a ring at the top. This was 
the weight formerly attached to the beam. The 
pressing of the "cheese" was anciently performed 
by men pulling the wooden beam, weighted with the 
great mass of granite or other heavy substance that 



92 CREDITON 

pressed down the "sow." A later contrivance was 
a wheel with a screw, by means of which far more 
pressure could be brought on the "cheese." The 
cider that oozed out under pressure ran out of the 
trough by a lip into a flat tub called a " trin ; " or 
into the "kieve." The great scooped-out stones in 
which the apples were crushed were often of great 
size, as much as ten or even twelve feet in diameter. 
The stone that rolled in them was termed the 
"runner." Where much pains was taken with the 
cider, there the several kinds of apples were crushed 
separately, and also pressed separately. But the 
usual custom was to throw in all together into the 
" chase " or crushing basin. In a good many places 
small discarded " chases " may be seen. These were 
employed not for making cider, but cider spirit, 
which was distilled. This is indeed still manufac- 
tured in some places on the sly. In Germany it is 
largely distilled and sold as "schnaps," and very 
fiery, nasty stuff it is. The manufacturers of British 
spirits know the use of cider spirit as a base for 
some of their concoctions. 

Formerly a duty of ten shillings a barrel was 
imposed on the making of cider, but this was re- 
pealed in 1830. 

The " cheese " of the apples is of little value. It 
is given to pigs. Keepers are glad of it for the 
pheasants they rear; and made into cakes it serves 
as fuel, smouldering and giving forth a not very 
aromatic smoke. 

The juice of the apples is left in the " kieves " for 
a period that varies according to the weather and 



CIDER-MAKING 93 

the temperature, but generally is from three to four 
days. 

During this period fermentation commences, and 
all the dirt and impure matter come as a scum to 
the surface. This head is skimmed off as it forms. 
If this be not done, after a time it sinks, and spoils 
the quality of the cider. The liquid, by fermenta- 
tion, not only develops alcohol, but also cleanses 
itself The fresh, sweet cider is of a thick and muddy 
consistency. By fermentation it purifies itself, and 
becomes perfectly clear. 

The cider is now put into casks. In order to 
make sweet cider the cask is " matched." A bucket- 
ful of the new cider is put in, then brimstone is 
lighted in an old iron pot, and a match of paper or 
canvas is dipped in the melted brimstone and thrust 
into the cask through the bung-hole, which is closed. 
The fumes of sulphur fill the vessel, and when the 
barrel is afterwards filled with cider all fermentation 
is arrested. Sweet cider, if new, is often rather un- 
pleasant from the taste of the sulphurous acid. 

This may be avoided by " racking," that is to say, 
the cider when made may be turned from one hogs- 
head to another at intervals, whenever it shows signs 
of fermenting. This continuous " racking " will 
arrest the progress of fermentation as effectually 
as " matching." 

The sweet cider is in far greater demand by the 
general public than that which is " rough," but a 
West Country labourer will hardly thank you for 
the cider that will be drunk with delight by the 
cockney. He prefers it " rough," that is to say acid, 



94 CREDITON 

the rougher the better, till it almost cuts the throat 
as it passes down. 

Unless bottled, cider is difficult to preserve owing 
to the development of lactic acid. Moreover, in 
wood it turns dark in colour, and if allowed to stand 
becomes of an inky black, which is not inviting. This 
is due to having been in contact with iron. 

It is bottled from Christmas on till Easter, and 
so is sold as champagne cider ; sometimes as cham- 
pagne without the addition, we strongly suspect. 

The amount of alcohol produced by fermentation 
varies from five and a half to nine per cent. In the 
sweet sparkling cider the amount is very small, and 
it would take a great deal of it to make a man 
inebriate. 

Much difference of opinion exists as to the good 
of cider for rheumatic subjects. The sweet cider 
is of course bad, but it is certain that in the West 
of England a good many persons are able to drink 
cider who dare not touch beer — not only so, but 
believe that it is beneficial. Others, however, protest 
that they feel rheumatic pains if they touch it. 

The manufacturers of champagne cider very com- 
monly add mustard to the liquid for the purpose 
of stinging the tongue ; but apart from that, cider 
is the purest and least adulterated of all drinks. 

In conclusion I will venture to quote another West 
of England song concerning cider, only premising 
that by "sparkling" cider is not meant that which 
goes by the name in commerce, but the homely 
cask cider ; and next, that the old man who sang 
it tP the writer of this article — a Cornish tc^nner — = 



JOHN DAVY 95 

claimed (but the claim may be questioned) to have 
composed both words and melody, so that the song, 
though of country origin, is not very ancient : — 

" In a nice little village not far from the sea, 
Still lives my old uncle aged eighty and three, 
Of orchards and meadows he owns a good lot, 
Such cider as his — not another has got. 

Then fill up the jug, boys, and let it go round. 
Of drinks not the equal in England is found. 
So pass round the jug, boys, and pull at it free, 
There 's nothing like cider, sparkling cider, for me. 

" My uncle is lusty, is nimble and spry (lively), 
As ribstons his cheeks, clear as crystal his eye, 
His head snowy white, as the flowering may, 
And he drinks only cider by night and by day. 

Then fill up the jug, &c. 

" O'er the wall of the churchyard the apple trees lean 
And ripen their burdens, red, golden, and green. 
In autumn the apples among the graves lie ; 
' There I '11 sleep well,' says uncle, * when fated to die. 

Then fill up the jug, &c. 

" ' My heart as an apple, sound, juicy, has been. 

My limbs and my trunk have been sturdy and clean ; 
Uncankered I 've thriven, in heart and in head, 
So under the apple trees lay me when dead.' 

Then fill up the jug, &c." 

Near Crediton, at Greedy Bridge, was born John 
Davy, the composer of the popular song " The Bay 
of Biscay." He was baptised on Christmas Day, 
1763, at Upton Hellions, and was an illegitimate 
child ; but he was tenderly brought up by his uncle, 
a village blacksmith, who played the violoncello in 
Upton Hellions Church choir, 



96 CREDITON 

When in Crediton one day as a child with his 
uncle, he saw some soldiers at the roll-call, and was 
vastly delighted at the music of the fifes ; so much so 
that he borrowed one and very soon learned to play 
it. After that he made fifes with his penknife of 
the hollow-stalked weeds growing on the banks of 
the Greedy, locally called "bitters," and sold them 
to his playfellows. 

A year later the chimes of Crediton made such an 
impression on this precocious child, that he purloined 
twenty or thirty horseshoes from his uncle's smithy, 
and the old fellow was sadly perplexed as to what 
had become of them, till he heard a mysterious chim- 
ing from the garret, and on ascending to it, found 
that John had suspended eight of the horseshoes 
from the rafters so as to form an octave, and with 
a rod was striking them in imitation of the Crediton 
chimes. 

This story getting to the ears of the rector of the 
parish. Chancellor Carrington, he felt interested in the 
child and showed him a harpsichord, on which he 
soon learned to play. Davy also at this time applied 
himself to learn the violin. 

When Davy was eleven years old the rector intro- 
duced him to another parson, named Eastcott, who 
possessed a pianoforte, an instrument of recent intro- 
duction. With this the boy soon became familiar. 
An effort was now made by these two kindly clergy- 
men, and they placed him with Jackson, the organist 
of Exeter Cathedral, with whom he remained some 
years and completed his musical education. 

He then went to London, where he was employed 



PARKS 97 

to supply music for the songs of the operas of that 
day, and was retained as a composer by the managers 
of the Theatre Royal until infirmities, rather than 
age, rendered him incapable of exertion, and he 
died, before he was sixty-two, in penury. It was 
due only to a couple of London tradesmen, one of 
whom was a native of Crediton, that he was not 
consigned to a pauper's grave. He wrote some 
dramatic pieces for the theatre at Sadler's Wells, 
and composed the music for Holman's opera of 
What a Blunder, which was performed at the little 
theatre in the Haymarket in 1800. In the following 
year he was engaged with Moorhead in the music of 
Perouse, and with Mountain in that of The Brazen 
Mask. His last opera was Woman s Will. Some 
of his songs have obtained a firm hold, as "Just 
Like Love," " May we ne'er want a Friend," " The 
Death of Will Watch the Smuggler," which I have 
heard a village blacksmith sing, and "The Bay of 
Biscay." 

He was buried in St. Martin's churchyard, February 
28 th, 1824. 

There are some fine seats and parks near Crediton : 
Greedy Park, that of Sir H. Fergusson Davie, Bart. ; 
that of Shobrooke, the seat of Sir I. Shelly, Bart. ; 
and Downes, the property of Sir Redvers BuUer. 
This latter place takes its name from the dun which 
occupied the hill-top between the Yeo and Greedy, 
which unite below it. All traces of the old ramparts 
have, however, disappeared under cultivation. There 
is a somewhat pathetic story connected with Sho- 
brooke and Downes. The latter belonged to William 
H 



98 CREDITON 

Gould, and James Buller, of Morval, obtained it by 
marrying his eldest daughter and heiress Elizabeth, 
born in 17 1 8. The younger and only other sister, 
Frances, married John Tuckfield, of Shobrooke Park, 
then known as Little Fulford. This was in 1740, 
when she was only eighteen. The respective husbands 
quarrelled about money and politics, and forbade 
their wives to meet and speak to each other. John 
Tuckfield was member for Exeter 1747, 1754, 1760, 
when he died. The sisters were wont to walk every 
day to a certain point in the respective grounds and 
wave their handkerchiefs to each other, and they 
never met in this world again, for Elizabeth died in 
1742. 

There is not much of great interest in the neigh- 
bourhood of Crediton. Perhaps the church that 
most deserves a visit is Colebrook, with its curious 
wood carving and a fine original and late piece 
of screen - work. There is also Coplestone Cross, 
a very remarkable piece of early Celtic interlaced 
work, such as is not to be found elsewhere in 
England except in Northumbria. It is mentioned 
in a charter in 974, but it is far older than that. 
It stands at the junction of three parishes, and has 
given a name to a once noted family in the county, 
that comes into an old local rhyme, which runs : — 

" Crocker, Cruwys, and Coplestone, 
When the Conqueror came were found at home." 

But who the ancestors of these families were at the 
time of the Conquest we have no means of knowing. 
Of the few English thegns who retained their lands 



SCREENS 99 

in Devonshire after the Conquest, not one is recorded 
as holding any of the estates that later belonged to 
these families. The cross is of granite, and stands 
lo feet 6 inches high. It is, unhappily, mutilated at 
the top. 

At Nymet Rowland, near Crediton, the savages 
lived, to whom Mr. Greenwood drew attention. They 
were dispersed by becoming a prey to typhoid, when 
their hovel was torn down. The last of them, an 
old man, lived the rest of his life and died in the 
parish of Whitstone in a cask littered with straw, 
the cask chained to a post in an outhouse. I have 
given an account of them in my Old English Home, 

At Lapford is a fine screen, and the carved benches 
are deserving of attention. Lapford was for long, 
too long, the place over which " Pass'n Radford " 
brooded as an evil genius. I have told several 
stories of him in my Old Country Life, under the 
name of Hannaford. He has been sketched in Mr. 
Blackmore's Maid of Sker beside Parson Froude, of 
Knowstone. The latter has been drawn without 
excessive exaggeration. 

At Down S. Mary the screen has been admirably 
completed from a fragment by the village carpenter. 
There is a good screen at Bow. 

A good walk through pretty scenery to Dowrish, 
an ancient mansion, and once dating from King 
John's reign, but modernised in suburban villa style. 
Though there is nothing remaining of interest in 
the house, the view thence, stretching across the 
richly wooded land of the new red sandstone to 
the heights of Dartmoor, will repay the walk. For 



lOo CREDITON 

many years Crediton was the residence of the 
Rev. Samuel Rowe, the Columbus of Dartmoor. 
He laboriously explored that region, till then almost 
unvisited, and chronicled its prehistoric relics. 
Although he was hopelessly involved in the pseudo- 
antiquarianism of his period, and put everything 
prehistoric down to the Druids and Phoenicians, yet 
his researches were most valuable, and he has 
recorded the existence of many relics that have 
since disappeared. His Perambulation of Dartmoor 
was published in 1848. He had indeed been pre- 
ceded in 1832 by the Rev. Edward A. Bray, vicar 
of Tavistock, but the visits of the latter to Dartmoor 
had been confined to the immediate neighbourhood 
of the town of which he was parson. 



CHAPTER VII. 
TIVERTON 

Two-fords Town — The Seven Crosses — Numerous chapels — Tiverton 
Church — Blundell's School — Parson Russell — Washfield — Sampford 
Peverell Ghost — "Old Snow" — White Witches — Instance of evil 
done by them — The Four Quarters — Machine lace — John Heath- 
coat — CuUompton — Bampfylde Moore Carew — Bampton Pony Fair 
— The Exmoor ponies. 

TIVERTON, or, as it was originally called, 
Twyford, takes its name from being planted 
between the Exe and the Loman (Gael, liomh, 
smooth or sluggish*), which are here fordable. It 
rises picturesquely above the Exe, and the height 
when crowned with castle as well as church must 
have presented a remarkably fine group of towers. 
The main castle tower was, however, pulled down 
and left as a stump about thirty-five years ago. 

The castle was a great Courtenay stronghold, and 
occupied a site that had doubtless been previously 
fortified. There is, however, a large and strong 
earthwork, Cranmore, that occupies the height above 
Collipriest and looks down upon the town. 

At Hensleigh, a hamlet to the west of the town, 
is a spot called "The Seven Crosses." The origin 

* The same in Loch Lomond and in Lake Leman, in the Lyme 
in Dorsetshire, and the Leam by Leamington, 

lOI 



I02 TIVERTON 

of this name is, according to a generally accepted 
tradition, as follows : — 

One day the Countess of Devon was taking her 
walk abroad in the direction of Hensleigh, when she 
met a tailor descending the hill, laden with a large 
covered maund, or basket. As he passed, she heard 
a cry from the hamper. She stayed her steps and 
inquired what he was carrying. 

" Only seven puppies that I be going to drown 
in the Exe," was his reply. 

" I want a dog," said the Countess. " Open the 
hamper." 

The tailor tried to excuse himself, but in vain. 
The Countess insisted, and, on the lid being raised, 
seven little babes were revealed. 

" Alas, my lady ! " said the tailor. " My wife gave 
birth to all seven at once, and I am poor, poor as a 
church mouse. What other could I do than rid 
myself of them? — they are all boys." 

The Countess saw that they were lovely and 
vigorous babes, and she made the tailor take them 
back to his wife, and charged herself with the cost 
of their bringing up and education. When they 
were sufficiently old she had them all sent to 
Buckfast Abbey, to be reared for the priesthood, 
and in due time they were ordained and became 
— that is, four of them — rectors of Tiverton (for 
Tiverton had four together), and the three others 
their curates. As they were all of a birth, they 
loved each other, and never disagreed ; and that 
was — so it is averred — the only instance within a 
historic period that the rectors of the four portions 



THE CHURCH 103 

of Tiverton have agreed, and have got on smoothly 
with each other and with their curates. As the seven 
hung together in life, in death they were not parted. 
All died in one day, and were buried on the spot 
where the Countess of Devon saved their lives, 
and there above their heads seven crosses were 
reared, but not one of these remains to the present 
day. 

Formerly there were in Tiverton parish eighteen 
chapels, of which the only remains are found in a 
cottage at Mere, and a restored chapel at Cove. 
Tidcombe Rectory was built by a former rector, 
named Newte, on the graveyard of one of these 
chapels, and it is pretended that none of the eldest 
sons of the Newte family have ever since come of 
age, as a punishment for this act of profanation. 

Tiverton Church, dedicated to S. Peter, represents 
three periods of architecture. In the north aisle is 
a Norman doorway, with zigzag moulding. The 
tower, a hundred feet high, is the most beautiful 
feature — Perpendicular. The nave, chancel, and 
north aisle are of early Perpendicular work ; the 
south aisle, with its Greenway chapel, dates from 
early in the sixteenth century. It was built by John 
Greenway, a rich merchant of Tiverton, and running 
round it, represented in relief, are twenty scenes from 
the life of our Lord, beginning with the Flight into 
Egypt, and ending with the Ascension. The roof of 
the south porch is also Greenway's work, and is very 
fine. He and his wife Joan are represented over the 
door kneeling in adoration. He died in 1529, but the 
chapel was built in 15 17. The exterior is covered 



I04 TIVERTON 

with lavish enrichments — representations of ships, 
wool-packs, men, and horses. Formerly this chapel 
was separated from the south aisle by a richly- 
carved, gilt and coloured screen of stone, containing 
paintings in panels. This was wantonly destroyed 
in 1830, but the fragments were happily rescued by 
the Earl of Devon and removed to Powderham. At 
the "restoration" in 1854 the rood-screen was also 
removed, but was secured by the Rev. W. Rayer, 
rector of Tidcombe Portion, who had just purchased 
the whole of the Holcombe estate from the Blewett 
family, and his son had it restored and erected in 
Holcombe Rogus Church. 

The screen was in a very worm-eaten condition, 
and its restoration was a very expensive matter. 

Blundell's Grammar School was founded in 1604, 
and was for many years the leading school of Devon- 
shire. Under Dr. Richards it contained the largest 
number of pupils, 200, ever within the walls, until 
the new buildings were erected on a suitable spot 
to the east of Tiverton, where there are now 250 
boys. 

Dr. Richards was a good teacher, but a very 
severe disciplinarian. Perhaps the most famous of 
his pupils, both as a clergyman and sportsman, was 
the late John Russell, "Parson Jack" as he was 
called. He was a great favourite as a school- 
boy, and always showed a considerable amount of 
shrewdness. With another boy, named Bovey, he 
kept a scratch pack of hounds. Having received 
a hint that this had reached the ears of Dr. Richards, 
he collected his share of the pack, and sent them 



-PARSON JACK" 105 

off to his father. The next day he was summoned 
to the master's desk. 

" Russell," said the Doctor, " I hear that you have 
some hounds. Is it true ? " 

" No, sir," answered Russell ; " I have not a dog in 
the neighbourhood." 

"You never told me a lie, so I believe you. Bovey, 
come here. You have some hounds, I understand ? " 

" Well, sir, a kw — but they are little ones." 

"Oh! you have, have you? Then I shall expel 
you." 

And expelled he was, Russell coming off scathe- 
less. I tell the following tale because it was told 
in Blundell's School of Russell, during his lifetime, 
as one of his pranks, but I mistrust it. I believe 
the story to be as old as the twelfth century ; and 
if I remember aright, it occurs in one of the French 
Fabliaux of that period. 

Dr. Richards had some very fine grapes growing 
against his garden wall, under the boys' bedroom 
windows. "Jack was as good as his master," and 
the young scamp was wont to be let down in a 
clothes-basket by night, by his mates, to the region 
of the grapes, and to return with a supply when 
hauled up. 

The Doctor noticed how rapidly his grapes dis- 
appeared, and learning from his man John the cause, 
took his place under the vine along with his gardener, 
who was ordered to lay hold of the boy in the basket 
and muffle his mouth, lest he should cry out. This 
he did when Russell descended ; and Dr. Richards 
took his place in the clothes-basket. The boys 



io6 TIVERTON 

hauled away, wondering at the accession of weight, 
but when they saw the Doctor's head level with the 
window, panic-stricken they let go their hold of the 
rope, and away went Doctor and basket to the 
bottom. 

No bones were broken, and nothing came of it, 
the Doctor being rather ashamed of the part he had 
played in the matter. 

It was said of Russell, as Napoleon said of Ashton 
Smith, that he was " le premier chasseur d'Angle- 
terre." His love for sport made him always a poor 
man. On one occasion he invited a young curate 
to breakfast with him, and preach for him. After 
breakfast two likely-looking hunters, perhaps a little 
screwy, were brought round and steadily mounted. 

" No time for going round by the road," said Parson 
Jack ; " we will ride to my church across country, and 
so save a couple of miles." 

Off they rode. The curate presently remarked, 
" How bare of trees your estate is," as they crossed 
lands belonging to Russell. "Ah!" responded the 
sportsman " the hounds eat 'em." Coming to a stiff 
gate, Russell, with his hand in his pocket, cleared it 
like a bird, but looking round, he saw the curate on 
the other side crawling over the gate, and crying out 
in piteous tones, " It won't open." 

" Not it," was the reply, " and if you can't jump 
a gate like that, I 'm sure you can't preach a sermon. 
Good-bye." 

But he was not only a mighty hunter, he was also 
an excellent parish priest and a fine preacher, though 
not always depending on his own sermons. He was 



BLUNDELL'S SCHOOL 107 

ordered to preach at one of Bishop Phillpotts' visita- 
tions. His sermon was good, and at the consequent 
dinner the Bishop complimented him in almost ex- 
aggerated terms for " his splendid sermon." Russell 
knew that the Bishop when most oily was most 
dangerous, and suspected that he had recognised the 
sermon, so, as always, ready, he said in returning 
thanks, "As to the sermon, my lord, I quite agree with 
you. I have ever considered it as one of Barrow's 
best." Needless to say, the Bishop collapsed. 

I can cap that with another anecdote. 

The late Dr. Cornish, of Ottery S. Mary, was 
pompous and patronising. A curate under him, 
recently ordained, preached his first sermon. In 
the vestry the vicar, swelling out, said, " For a be- 
ginner it was not wholly bad." " Ah, Doctor, I 
must not take any credit to myself. It is one of 
Bishop Andrews' finest discourses." Needless to say 
that Doctor Cornish's stomach went in. 

There have not been many conspicuous lights from 
Blundell's. Perhaps the most famous of them is the 
present Archbishop of Canterbury. 

The school has passed through many vicissitudes. 
By a Chancery decision in 1846 all boarders were 
swept away and the school reduced to seventeen 
boys. ;£"io,ooo were put into the lawyers' pockets 
in defending the suit, whereby the school was reduced 
well-nigh to bankruptcy. By another decision of the 
courts and at the cost of another iJ" 10,000, boarders 
were restored, and new buildings were erected. The 
old school has been altered into private dwellings. 

Near Tiverton is Washfield, where there is a very 



io8 TIVERTON 

fine Jacobean screen with the arms of James I. upon 
it, and in the north aisle those of Charles as Prince of 
Wales. It deserves a study. In this church the old 
parish orchestra still performs on Sunday, or did so 
till recently. There is here a curious church -house 
with an oriel window. 

Outside the churchyard was buried a squire of the 
parish, so wicked that he was denied a place in con- 
secrated ground. Three times were Acts of Parlia- 
ment passed to enable either sale of property or the 
management to be taken from successive squires as 
one after another was mad. Worth House has now 
passed away from the family of that name, which has 
died out in the male line. 

In 1 8 10 much public interest was excited by a 
report of spiritual manifestations at Sampford 
Peverell, five miles from Tiverton, and the Rev. 
C. Colton published an account of them. They 
consisted of the usual rappings, dealing of heavy 
blows, and the throwing about the room of heavy 
articles. That these were produced by some cunning 
servant-maid cannot be doubted. Mr. Colton, who 
vouched for the truth of the phenomena, did not 
bear a good character ; he ended his days by suicide, 
after having been "unfrocked," and his last years 
spent in gambling -houses. 

That these tricks were at one time not unfrequently 
resorted to is probable. The Germans give them as 
the work of a Poltergeist. In my own neighbour- 
hood, in or about 1852, a precisely similar exhibition 
took place. Stones, cups, pans flew about a room, 
and strange knockings were heard. Many people 



-OLD SNOW" 109 

went to witness them, and came away convinced that 
they were the work of spirits ; especially was it so 
with one yeoman, whose hat was knocked off his 
head by the spirit. My father investigated the 
matter, and came to the conclusion that the whole 
was contrived by a girl of low intelligence but of 
much cunning. It is now, with the advance of 
education, persons of a superior grade who are the 
dupes of spirit-mediums. Education will not give 
brains, but it will varnish emptiness. 

At Tiverton lived, till a few years ago, "Old 
Snow," a rather famous "white witch," to whom 
many persons had recourse, among others a farmer 
who was a churchwarden and a well-to-do man. 
I knew him well, and in 1889 believed him to be 
a doomed man, with a hacking cough, worn to a 
shred, and bent by weakness. Having consulted 
all the prominent doctors in the south of the county, 
he went in desperation to "Old Snow." What the 
white witch did to him I cannot say, but I can 
testify he was a changed man from that day, and 
is at present a robust, hale man, looking good for 
another twenty or thirty years. 

In an article I wrote on " White Witches " for the 
Daily Graphic I mentioned this case. Some days 
after I met the farmer. " Why," said he, " you have 
put me in the papers." "So I have," I answered, 
" but what I told was literally true." " True — aye," 
he said, " every bit. Old Snow cured me when the 
faculty gave me up. How he did it, neither you nor 
I know." 

The white witch is an institution that has not been 



no TIVERTON 

killed by board schools in the West, nor, as far as 
can be judged from the favour in which he is still 
regarded, is he likely to die. A witch is generally 
supposed to be the feminine of wizard, but in the 
West of England " witch " is of common gender, and 
those in highest repute are men. Their trade con- 
sists in prescribing for the sick, in informing those 
who have been " overlooked " whose evil eye has 
influenced them for ill, where lost articles are to be 
found, and how spells cast on their cattle are to 
be broken. 

A white witch is one who repudiates utterly having 
any traffic with the Evil One. His or her knowledge 
is derived from other sources — what, not specified. 
I had for many years as a tenant in one of my 
cottages a woman who was much consulted as a 
white witch. She is now dead, and her decease is 
a matter of outspoken regret. 

The village inn frequently had guests staying there 
to undergo a course of " blessing " from this woman. 
She was an ill-favoured person, with a wall-eye, and 
one eye higher in her head than the other. She was 
bent, heavy-featured, and stoutly built. A worthy 
woman, scrupulously neat in her person, and who 
kept her cottage in beautiful order. She certainly 
believed in her own powers, and as certainly per- 
formed very remarkable cures, which it was not 
possible to deny, though they might be explained. 
For instance, in the hayfield in a parish four miles 
distant as the crow flies, eight by road, a young man 
cut his leg with the scythe, and the blood spurted 
out. At once the farmer dipped the man's hand- 



WITCHCRAFT iii 

kerchief in the blood, mounted one of his men on 
a horse, and sent him galloping to the white witch, 
who took the kerchief, blessed it, and simultaneously 
four miles off as the crow flies, the blood was 
stanched. The son of the largest farmer in the 
place, a man who is worth his thousands, was suffer- 
ing from glandular ulcerations in the neck. The 
village doctor attended him and did him no good. 
He consulted the principal medical man in the 
nearest market town, also to no advantage. Time 
passed and he was no better ; he gave up consulting 
doctors, who sent him in bills and left him rather 
worse than when they began on him. At last he 
went to the white witch. Whether she " struck " his 
glands or prescribed some herbs I cannot say, but 
what I do know is that within a month the young 
man was perfectly well. 

The woman, who was my tenant, was no conscious 
impostor, of that I am convinced. What her secret 
was she would not communicate, but most earnestly 
did she deprecate any communication with evil 
spirits. Not only did the village innkeeper derive 
a certain revenue from patients lodging in his house 
to be under treatment by her, but the postmen of 
the neighbourhood also earned their crumbs by carry- 
ing kerchiefs blessed by her to sufferers within their 
districts. It was no uncommon sight to see a walking 
postman careering along with arms extended holding 
a kerchief in each hand, fluttering as he walked. 
It is held that the blessing is drawn out of the 
material if it be folded, put in a pocket, and handled 
other than most gingerly between finger and thumb. 



112 TIVERTON 

When among the educated, the cultivated classes, 
we find belief in faith-healing, and so-called 
"Christian Science," is it to be wondered at that 
in classes lower down in the scale there should be 
credulous persons who not only believe in white 
witches, but believe in their own powers as white 
witches ? 

It is the same as in the Lourdes miracles ; the 
imagination acts on the nervous system, and that 
stimulates the body to throw off disease. That is 
the true secret. 

I cannot doubt but that in many cases herbs are 
employed that have been sadly neglected ever since 
our doctors have gone in for mineral medicines. The 
latter act violently, but the herbs slowly, and, in many 
instances, more surely. 

However, in the majority of cases the white witches 
are mere impostors, and may do much harm, as in 
that I will now record, which took place three years 
ago only. I shall, for obvious reasons, not give the 
true names, nor indicate the locality. 

A cattle dealer in 1896 had a daughter, who two 
years previously had been a victim to influenza. 
This had affected her head and produced profound 
melancholy. As doctors proved unavailing, the man 
went to Exeter and consulted a white witch there. 
According to his statement the witch showed him the 
face of a neighbour, Mrs. Thomas, in a glass of 
water, and told him that his daughter was "over- 
looked" by the person he saw. The white witch 
further informed him that the individual who had 
" ill wished " his daughter passed his door every day, 



WHITE WITCHES 113 

but had hitherto never entered it, but that on the 
following Saturday she would do so. The cattle 
dealer returned home, and, sure enough, next en- 
suing Saturday Mrs. Thomas entered his house and 
asked if he would take of her a little meat she had 
to spare, as she had been killing a pig. 

Next night the Thomases' house was set on fire. 
It was thatched, and six persons slept under the 
thatch. By the merest chance Mr. Thomas woke 
in the night, and hearing a strange sound went out- 
side his house to see what was the matter, and 
found his roof in flames. He had barely time to 
rouse and bring forth his wife and family before the 
roof fell in. 

It was ascertained by the police that the thatch 
had been deliberately fired. The incendiary had 
struck two matches, which had failed, and in draw- 
ing the matches from his pocket had dropped two 
halfpenny stamps. He had climbed on to a hedge 
to effect his object, and the third match had ignited 
the thatch. But it was never ascertained who had 
done the deed. 

A few years ago I wrote the little account of 
" Devonshire White Witches " for the Daily Graphic 
already referred to. This brought down on me a 
copious shower of letters from all parts of Eng- 
land, entreating me to furnish the addresses of some 
of our white witches, as the correspondents had 
found it profitless and expensive to apply to medical 
practitioners, and they were anxious to try the cures 
of these conscious or unconscious impostors. 

Tiverton parish was ecclesiastically divided into 
I 



114 TIVERTON 

four quarters, each under an independent rector, and 
all co-equally regnant in the parish church. The 
arrangement was not happy — and led to constant 
ruffles and conflict of opinion. The condition was 
so unsatisfactory that the late Bishop of Exeter 
and present Archbishop carried an Act to alter it. 

Tiverton is a seat of machine -lace manufacture, 
introduced by Mr. John Heathcoat in 1816. 

Lace is said to have been brought into France by 
Mary de Medici from Venice ; and the making of 
this beautiful work of art rapidly spread and took 
root in the Low Countries. Refugees from Flanders 
brought it into England, when they settled at Cran- 
field, in Bedfordshire. The lace made was Brussels 
point ; the network was formed by bone bobbins on 
a pillow, which held the threads, and the sprigs were 
worked with a needle. 

The introduction of machinery told heavily on the 
commoner and coarser lace-making. 

In the reign of George II., or about a hundred and 
fifty years after the introduction of the first knitting 
machines, many additions and improvements were 
made in them, and the so-called "tickler," guided 
by mere accident, was now applied for the first time 
to the manufacture of lace. This attempt was suc- 
ceeded by a " point-net " machine, an invention that 
was nearly, but not entirely, successful. 

In 1768 a watchmaker, named Hammond, applied 
the stocking-frame to the manufacture of lace, but it 
worked slowly and without accuracy. Attempts 
were made in various parts of the kingdom to make 
fishing -nets by machinery, and a workman dis- 



NET-MAKING 115 

covered, by observing a child at play, the secret of 
the " bobbin and carriage," which was first applied 
to the manufacture of fishing -nets. It was not, 
however, till 1809 that Mr. Heathcoat patented his 
machine, which combined the discoveries of the past 
with immense improvements of his own. 

The point-net frame had been invented in the 
early years of the century. Attempts were made to 
produce a twist mesh. Heathcoat divided the warp 
threads and put them on a beam, apart from the 
transverse threads, which latter he wound upon thin 
bobbins, and arranged them so that they could pass 
around and amongst the former. 

This machine was, however, complex, having 
twenty-four motions to the series for twisting the 
mesh, and four for the pins to secure the twist when 
unravelling, but after the expiration of the patent 
it was simplified so as to require only six, with two 
motions to prevent the unravelment. 

The introduction of mechanism threatening the 
manufacture at home provoked grave riots in the 
counties of Nottingham, Derby, and Leicester, 
headed by a weaver named Ludd, who gave his 
name to the riots. The man himself was really 
insane. Troops of men went about breaking 
machines and intimidating workers in the factories. 
William Horsfall, a Marsden manufacturer, they 
murdered. This was in 181 3. Although peremptory 
punishment fell on the rioters, still insecurity to 
life and property continued for some years, and 
induced Mr. Heathcoat to transfer his frames to 
and start as a manufacturer in Tiverton in 18 16, 



ii6 TIVERTON 

and abandon his factory at Loughborough. He 
brought with him as a foreman Mr. Asher, who 
had been shot at and wounded in the back of his 
head by the rioters. This transfer was so much 
loss to Loughborough and gain to Tiverton, and 
that not temporary, but lasting, for what was begun 
in i8i6 is continued to this day in full vigour, find- 
ing employment for 1400 hands and 130 children. 
John Heathcoat's only child and daughter married 
a solicitor named Amory, and their son was made 
a baronet by Mr. Gladstone in 1874, a well-deserved 
honour, as, but for the introduction of the lace 
manufacture, Tiverton would have sunk to the 
position of a stagnant county town. 

The Exe valley below Tiverton presents pleasant 
scenery, but nothing fine. An excursion should 
be made to CuUompton in the Culm (Welsh cMly 
Gael, caol, narrow, slender) valley to see the interest- 
ing church with its fine restored screen in all the 
splendour of colour. CuUompton had the wit to pre- 
serve and cherish what Tiverton cast away. Ufifculme 
has also a screen ; near this is Bradfield House, a 
rare treasury of old oak carving. Culmstock has a 
stone screen, which has stupidly been converted 
into a reredos. 

Holcombe Rogus is a very fine specimen of an 
Elizabethan house and hall. In the church is 
some beautiful cinque-cento carved screenwork to 
the manorial pew. 

At Bickleigh was born Bampfylde Moore Carew 
in 1693. His father was the rector, and the son 
was educated at Blundell's School at Tiverton, where 



KING OF THE BEGGARS 117 

he showed considerable ability. He and other boys 
kept a pack of hounds, and as these, with Carew 
and others behind them, once gave chase to a deer 
strayed from Exmoor over standing corn, so much 
damage was done that the farmers complained. 

Bampfylde Moore Carew was too great a coward 
to wait and take his whipping. He ran away from 
school, and sheltered among some gipsies. He 
contracted such a love for their vagrant life, and 
such satisfaction in getting their applause for thefts 
that manifested low cunning, that nothing would 
induce him to abandon their mode of life and return 
to civilisation. At one time he postured as a non- 
juring parson who had been forced to leave his 
rectory, and preyed on the sympathy of the Jacobite 
gentry. Then learning from a newspaper that a 
cargo of Quakers bound for Philadelphia had been 
wrecked on the Irish coast, he disguised himself as 
a Friend, and traded on the charity of the Quakers 
by representing himself as one of those who had 
been rescued from the sea. 

He was elected King of the Beggars on the death 
of Clause Patch, who had reigned previously over 
the mendicants. At last he was arrested, tried at 
the quarter sessions at Exeter, and transported to 
Maryland, where he was sold to a planter, and as 
he tried to escape an iron collar was riveted about 
his neck. He again escaped ; this time succeeded 
in getting among the Indians, who relieved him of 
his collar. He stole a canoe from his benefactors, 
and got on board a vessel sailing for England. 
What became of him is not known, but he is thought 



ii8 TIVERTON 

to have died in obscurity in 1770, aged yj, but 
where buried is unknown. The fellow was a worth- 
less rogue, without a redeeming quality in him. 

The Bampton Fair is an institution that should 
not be passed by unsought by the visitor to North 
Devon, if he be a lover of horseflesh or a student 
of mankind. He will see there choice specimens 
alike of Exmoor ponies and of North Devon 
farmers, and will catch many a waft of the broadest 
dialect of the borders of Somerset and Devon. 

A writer in 5. P aid's Magazine^ December 12th, 
1896, says : — 

"As a dead-alive, archseologically interesting place, the 
Devon Bampton on the Exe is a more or less desirable 
centre for the angler and the hunting man, but ordinarily, 
in the eyes of the unsporting, sane person, it is a useful 
hole to strive to avoid. 

"Bampton Fair, however, is a celebration once to be 
seen by every woman or man who has eyes, ears, and nose 
for novelty. Such lowing of oxen, bleating of sheep, and 
assemblage of agrestics and congregation of ponies ! The 
side shows are naught. Who cares for gingerbread, pasties, 
cockles, fairings, tipsy yokels, trolloping hussies, and other 
attributes of Boeotia let loose? The play's the thing — 
that is, the pony exhibition. Nijni Novgorod is all very 
well — quite unique in its way ; Rugby, Barnet, and Bramp- 
ton Brian fairs are things apart. But Bampton Fair is 
absolutely sui generis. Exmoor ponies throng the streets, 
flood the pavements, overflow the houses, pervade the 
place. Wild as hawks, active and lissom as goats, cajoled 
from the moors and tactfully manoeuvred when penned, 
these indigenous quadrupeds will leap or escalade lofty 
barriers in a standing jump, or a cat-like scramble, whilst 



HORSE STEALING 119 

the very * suckers ' have to be cajoled with all the Daedalian 
adroitness with which the Irish pig has to be induced to go 
whither it would not." 

The great sale of ponies formerly took place at 
Simonsbath, but it was moved to Bampton in 1850, 
and is held on the last Thursday in October. 

" Seventy years ago," said a bailiff, " there were 
only five men and a woman and a little girl on 
Exmoor, and that little girl was my mother. She 
drew beer at Simonsbath public-house. There were 
a rough lot of customers then, I promise you." 

The moor was the property of the Crown, and it 
was leased in part to Sir Thomas Dyke Acland since 
1 8 18, and was used for the rearing of ponies and the 
summering of sheep. 

There was a good deal of horse stealing in the 
early days of this century. In spite of the severe 
laws on this sort of theft, and of the Acland brand 
of the anchor, a good many ponies were spirited 
away by the shepherds and disposed of in Wiltshire. 
The Acland breed is pure, and can only be obtained 
from the Baronet. All the rest are the result of 
crossing. Sir Thomas moved his stock away from 
Exmoor to the Winsford Hills, and left only a dozen 
mare ponies to preserve the line, when the father of 
the late Sir Frederick Knight rented 1 0,000 acres of 
the moor and added 6000 subsequently. 

"An after-dinner conversation led Mr. Knight to con- 
sider the great pony question in all its bearings. The party 
met at Sir Joseph Banks's, the eminent naturalist. They 
discussed the merits of the Dongola horse, which had been 



I20 TIVERTON 

described as an Arab of sixteen hands and peculiar to the 
regions round Nubia. Sir Joseph proposed to the party to 
get some of the breed, and accordingly Lords Headly, 
Morton, and Dundas, and Mr. Knight then and there gave 
him a joint ;£iooo cheque as a deposit for the expenses. 
The English consul in Egypt was appUed to, and in due 
course the horses and mares which he sent bore out Bruce's 
description to the letter. In addition to their height, they 
were rather Roman-nosed, with a very fine texture of skin, 
well chiselled under the jowl, and as clean-winded as all 
their race. About ten or twelve arrived, and Mr. Knight 
was so pleased with them that he bought Lord Headly's 
share. His two sires and three mares were then brought to 
Simonsbath, where he had established a stud of seven or 
eight thoroughbred mares and thirty half-breeds of the 
coaching Cleveland sort. 

"The first cross knocked out the Roman nose as com- 
pletely as the Leicester destroys the Exmoor horn, but the 
buffy stood true to its colour, and thus the type was never 
quite lost. The half Dongolas did wonderfully well with 
the West Somerset, which often came to Exmoor to draw 
for a fox, and they managed to get down the difficult hills 
so well, and crossed the brooks so close up with the 
hounds, that the vocation of the white-clad guides on 
chase days gradually fell into disuse."* 

The average height is 12J hands, and bays and 
buffy bays v^^ith mealy noses prevail ; in fact, are 
in a majority of at least three to one. 

The older ponies live all through the winter on the 
hills, and seek out sheltered spots for themselves 
during the continuance of wind and rain. These 
favourite nooks are well known to the herdsmen, 

* Condensed from "The Exmoor Ponies," by "Druid," in The 
Sporting Magazine ^ October, i860. 



EXMOOR PONIES 121 

who build up stacks of hay and straw, which are 
doled out to them in times of snow. "Still, like 
honest, hard - working labourers, the ponies never 
assemble at the wicket till they have exhausted 
every means of self-support by scratching with their 
fore-feet in the snow for the remnants of the summer 
tufts, and drag wearily behind them an ever lengthen- 
ing chain of snowballs." 

A writer in All The Year Round for May, 1866, 
says : — 

''Throughout North Devon and Somersetshire and 
wherever ponies are famed, the Exmoor breed have a 
great reputation, not without reason, for they are not 
only hardy and sure-footed, but from their earliest years 
the foals follow their dams at a gallop down the crees of 
loose stones on the steep moorland sides ; they are extra- 
ordinarily active and courageous. The writer once saw an 
Exmoor, only 44 inches high, jump out of a pound 5 feet 
6 inches in height, just touching the top bar with his hind 
feet." 

Well, let a visitor go to Bampton Fair, and see the 
pranks of these wild, beautiful creatures, and note as 
well the skill with which they are managed by the 
men experienced in dealing with them. Such a sight 
will remain in his memory, and when he gets back 
to town he will have something to talk about at 
dinner, and if he has a bit of descriptive power in 
him he will hold the ears of those who are near him 
at table. 

Note.— Harding (Lt.-Col.), The History of Tiverton. Tiverton, 
1845. 



I20 TIVERTON 

described as an Arab of sixteen hands and peculiar to the 
regions round Nubia. Sir Joseph proposed to the party to 
get some of the breed, and accordingly Lords Headly, 
Morton, and Dundas, and Mr. Knight then and there gave 
him a joint ;^iooo cheque as a deposit for the expenses. 
The English consul in Egypt was applied to, and in due 
course the horses and mares which he sent bore out Bruce's 
description to the letter. In addition to their height, they 
were rather Roman-nosed, with a very fine texture of skin, 
well chiselled under the jowl, and as clean-winded as all 
their race. About ten or twelve arrived, and Mr. Knight 
was so pleased with them that he bought Lord Headly's 
share. His two sires and three mares were then brought to 
Simonsbath, where he had established a stud of seven or 
eight thoroughbred mares and thirty half-breeds of the 
coaching Cleveland sort. 

"The first cross knocked out the Roman nose as com- 
pletely as the Leicester destroys the Exmoor horn, but the 
buffy stood true to its colour, and thus the type was never 
quite lost. The half Dongolas did wonderfully well with 
the West Somerset, which often came to Exmoor to draw 
for a fox, and they managed to get down the difficult hills 
so well, and crossed the brooks so close up with the 
hounds, that the vocation of the white-clad guides on 
chase days gradually fell into disuse."**^ 

The average height is 12 J hands, and bays and 
buffy bays with mealy noses prevail ; in fact, are 
in a majority of at least three to one. 

The older ponies live all through the v^inter on the 
hills, and seek out sheltered spots for themselves 
during the continuance of wind and rain. These 
favourite nooks are well known to the herdsmen, 

* Condensed from *'The Exmoor Ponies,'' by "Druid," in The 
Sporting Magazine, October, i860. 



EXMOOR PONIES 121 

who build up stacks of hay and straw, which are 
doled out to them in times of snow. "Still, like 
honest, hard - working labourers, the ponies never 
assemble at the wicket till they have exhausted 
every means of self-support by scratching with their 
fore-feet in the snow for the remnants of the summer 
tufts, and drag wearily behind them an ever lengthen- 
ing chain of snowballs." 

A writer in All The Year Round for May, 1866, 
says : — 

"Throughout North Devon and Somersetshire and 
wherever ponies are famed, the Exmoor breed have a 
great reputation, not without reason, for they are not 
only hardy and sure-footed, but from their earliest years 
the foals follow their dams at a gallop down the crees of 
loose stones on the steep moorland sides ; they are extra- 
ordinarily active and courageous. The writer once saw an 
Exmoor, only 44 inches high, jump out of a pound 5 feet 
6 inches in height, just touching the top bar with his hind 
feet." 

Well, let a visitor go to Bampton Fair, and see the 
pranks of these wild, beautiful creatures, and note as 
well the skill with which they are managed by the 
men experienced in dealing with them. Such a sight 
will remain in his memory, and when he gets back 
to town he will have something to talk about at 
dinner, and if he has a bit of descriptive power in 
him he will hold the ears of those who are near him 
at table. 

Note.— HardinCx (Lt.-CoL), The History of Tiverton. Tiverton, 
1845. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

BARNSTAPLE 

The stapol oi Branock's district — The Irish settlers — Branock badly 
received in South Wales — Situation of Barnstaple — Huguenot 
refugees — Samuel Pepys's wife — ^Jacques Fontaine — French names 
altered — Barnstaple the starting-point for llfracombe and Lynton — 
The coast road — Exmoor — Combe Martin — The Valley of Rocks 
— The Wichehalses of Lee — Brendon — S. Brendan's voyages — 
Churches near Barnstaple. 

THIS town was the stapol^ port or mart, of the 
district of Barum, Braun, or Brannock, an Irish 
saint, confessor, and son-in-law to Brychan, King of 
Brecknock, who settled at Braunton, formerly Llan- 
Brynach, then Brannock-stow. The northern cheek 
of Barnstaple Bay is formed by a peninsula, the 
centre of which is this same Braunton, where Branock 
had his monastic establishment. As intimately asso- 
ciated with this district, a few words on him may 
be allowed. 

In the fifth century the whole of North Devon 
and North-east Cornwall was invaded and occupied 
by Irish and half-Irish hordes. Irish accounts relate 
that these invasions began about 378, and continued 
till the reign of Dathi, 428. 

The Irish had made themselves masters of Breck- 
nock, where their prince, Aulac or Amalghaid, 

122 



L. 




:>.'-'- 



BRANOCK 123 

claimed the throne in virtue of his wife Marchell, 
daughter and heiress of the native Welsh king. 
Brychan, the son, succeeded him ; he had as tutor 
to his children an Irishman named Brynach or 
Branock, who was his confessor, and to whom he 
gave one of his daughters in marriage. Branock did 
not have a pleasant time of it in South Wales, and 
he migrated to North Devon, where, by some means, 
he obtained a grant of a considerable tract of country. 

His legend was extant at the time of the Re- 
formation, and Leland, Henry VHI.'s antiquary, who 
travelled in Devon and Cornwall, saw it, and says 
it was full of fables about Branock's cow, his staff, 
his well, and his serving-man, Abell. 

Unhappily, this has been lost, and all we know con- 
cerning him is from a Latin life, composed in Wales, 
that passes hurriedly over his life elsewhere and relates 
mainly what took place when he returned to South 
Wales. There he was very ill received, owing to the 
hatred entertained towards the Irish. A woman — 
the author of the life does not say as much, but 
we may suspect it, his wife — instigated a man to 
assassinate him. Brynach was wounded, but not 
killed, and he had to shift his quarters. He probably 
returned to Devon and died there. 

Braunton Church contains some fine oak carving, 
and deserves a visit. 

Barnstaple lies stretched along the bank of the 
Taw, and from the river has a prepossessing appear- 
ance. There are, however, few objects of interest in 
the town. The church of S. Peter, with a lead spire 
that leans, is interesting internally from the many 



124 BARNSTAPLE 

monuments it contains of wealthy Barnstaple mer- 
chants. 

A tall, good tower to Holy Trinity helps greatly 
to give dignity to an otherwise unattractive town, 
made pre-eminently so by the unsightliness of the 
ranges of suburban residences that line the roads 
out of it. 

But Barnstaple is important as having given shelter 
to a number of refugees at the revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes, and their descendants still live in the town, 
though under names that have become much altered. 
Among these refugees was the family of St. Michel, 
and Samuel Pepys married one of the daughters. 
The St. Michels were of good family, of Anjou, but 
a son having taken up with Huguenot religious 
notions, was disinherited, and came to England. 
There he married the daughter of Sir Francis Kings- 
mill, and had a son and daughter. He returned 
to France, but was in very indigent circumstances, 
and during an absence from home his children were 
removed to an Ursuline convent. St. Michel, how- 
ever, recovered them and fled with them and his wife 
to England, and arrived at Barnstaple, but settled 
near Bideford. How Samuel Pepys met Elizabeth 
St. Michel we do not know. He was married to her 
before the justice of peace on December ist, 1655, 
but as he always observed October loth as his 
wedding day it is probable that he, like many 
another, had been secretly married by a priest of 
the Church of England, and merely conformed to 
the law afterwards on December ist. She was fifteen 
only when Pepys married her, and the young couple 



SAMUEL PEPYS 125 

found an asylum in the family of Pepys's cousin, Sir 
Edward Montagu, afterwards Earl of Sandwich. She 
was a pretty, but a silly woman, and much inclined to 
jealousy, but indeed Sam gave her good cause for that. 

"1668-9, Jan. 12. This evening I observed my wife 
mighty dull, and I myself was not mighty fond, because 
of some hard words she did give me at noon, out of 
a jealousy at my being abroad this morning, which, God 
knows, it was upon the business of the Office unexpectedly; 
but I to bed, not thinking but she would come after me. 
But waking by and by, out of a slumber, which I usually 
fall into presently after my coming into the bed, I found 
she did not prepare to come to bed, but got fresh candles, 
and more wood for her fire ; it being mighty cold, too. At 
this being troubled, I after awhile prayed her to come to 
bed ; so, after an hour or two, she silent, and I now and 
then praying her to come to bed, she fell out into a fury, 
that I was a rogue, and false to her. I did, as I might 
truly, deny it, and mighty troubled, but all would not serve. 
At last, about one o'clock, she came to my side of the bed, 
and drew the curtains open, and with the tongs red hot at 
the ends, made as if she did design to pinch me with them, 
at which, in dismay, I rose up, and with a few words she 
laid them down ; and did by little and little, very sillily, let 
all discourse fall; and about two, but with much seeming 
difficulty, came to bed, and there lay well all night, and lay 
in bed talking together, with much pleasure, it being, I 
knew, nothing but her doubt at my going out yesterday, 
without telling her of my going, which did vex her, poor 
wretch ! last night, and I cannot blame her jealousy, though 
it do vex me to the heart." 

One of the Huguenot refugees was a pastor, Jacques 
Fontaine, who came over with Mile, de Boursaquotte, 
to whom he was affianced. 



126 BARNSTAPLE 

They were taken in and hospitably received. He 
kept a diary, which has been published. At first he 
joined the communion of the Church, but later on, 
when the Corporation placed S. Anne's Chapel at 
the disposal of the French refugees, he became their 
minister. The diary narrates his difficulties. 

"God had not conducted us to a haven there [at 
Barnstaple] to perish with hunger. The good people of 
Barnstaple were full of compassion, they took us into their 
houses, and treated us with the greatest kindness ; thus 
God raised up for us fathers and mothers in a strange land. 
I was taken into the house of a most kind and charitable 
gentleman — a Mr. Downe. He was a bachelor, of some 
forty years of age, and had an unmarried sister living with 
him ; they were kindness itself, and I was completely 
domesticated with them. My intended wife had been 
received into the house of a Mr. and Mrs. Fraine." 

Unfortunately, Miss Downe, a short, thin, sallow 
old maid, marked with small-pox, fell in love with 
the French refugee, and made advances to him 
which were unmistakable. She plainly told him that 
she thought that he and the Boursaquotte were a 
pair of fools to think of being married, when they 
had not a penny between them to bless themselves 
with ; and finally, as M. Fontaine would take no 
hints, she fairly threw herself at his head with an 
offer of her person and fortune. The minister re- 
tired in dismay, and sought his host. 

" What is to be done ? " said he. " Your sister 
has shown me the honour of offering herself to me, 
but — but I am engaged to Mile, de Boursaquotte." 

" Make yourself easy on that score," said Mr. 



THE COAST 127 

Downe. " I am enamoured of that lady, and I will 
relieve you of her." 

The result was a hasty marriage between M. 
Fontaine and Mile. Boursaquotte ; they were united 
by the vicar, in the parish church, on February 8th, 
1686, and in the register are entered as "James 
Fountain and Elizabeth Buzzacott." This latter 
name is still common in the town. 

Other Huguenot names continue equally altered. 
L'Oiseau has been translated into Bird, and Roches 
into Roach. I came across elsewhere in the parish 
registers another Huguenot family, Blanchepied, which 
has degenerated into Blampy. 

Barnstaple is the starting-point for the grand and 
almost unsurpassed coast line from Ilfracombe to 
Porlock. Other coasts may have bolder cliffs, but 
none such a combination of boldness and luxuriance 
of vegetation. It has, moreover, a great advantage — 
that a good road runs along it from Ilfracombe to 
Combe Martin. But from this point the coast is 
deserted, and the road climbs a thousand feet to the 
Trentishoe Down, then dives into the Heddon valley 
to the sweet and peaceful " Hunter's Inn," climbs 
again over moor, and makes for Lynton. The road, 
however, should be deserted, the Heddon stream 
followed to the mouth, when a good path will be 
found skirting the cliffs to Wooda Bay, a lovely 
spot ; and thence through the grounds of Lee Abbey 
to the Valley of Rocks, and Lynton. 

Lynton, and the same may be said of Wooda 
Bay, has the advantage which Ilfracombe has not, 
of having had an architect to design mansions and 



128 BARNSTAPLE 

hotels for it that are no disfigurement to the place, 
and are not a blot on the scenery. 

From Lynton the road follows the coast to Coun- 
tisbury, after which it deserts it. 

For Exmoor Mr. Blackmore's Lorna Doone is 
a good preparation, but the visitor who expects to 
find the Doone valley and the slide of the waters 
at all equal to the description given in that book 
must expect disappointment. 

To return on our traces. Combe Martin is one 
long street of not interesting or ancient houses, save 
'* The Pack of Cards," but it has a fine church, beauti- 
fully situated, with a good tower and a well preserved 
screen. Saints are painted on the panels. There are 
fine canopied niches for SS. Peter and Paul. The 
vaulting of the screen was removed in 1727. The 
parvise over the porch is good, and there are eight 
old carved bench-ends. 

There is a curious double lock to the vestry ; 
a small key has to be turned before the lock can 
be made to act under the large key. An Early 
English triplet is in the south aisle. Behind the 
brass in the wall of William Hancock, Gent., 1587, 
is his skull in a recess. 

Watermouth Castle, that was passed on the way 
to Combe Martin, is modern and unsuccessful. 
A gateway into the gardens is made up of carved 
armorial coats removed from Berrynarbor, and 
dating from 1525. The Berrynarbor Church tower 
is finer than that of Combe Martin. There is a 
good deal to interest in the church. In the Valley 
of Rocks are hut circles, but so mutilated and over- 



^'DANES' COMBE" 129 

grown with fern as not to be easily distinguishable. 
Lynton Church has been well enlarged and is very 
pleasing. It is fabled that a band of marauding 
Danes succeeded in landing at Lynmouth, ascended 
the cliffs, and were surrounded and massacred in the 
Valley of Rocks, which bears the name of "The 
Danes" or "Danes' Combe." But this is one of 
those many legends invented to explain a name ; 
the original signification has been lost. It was 
called originally Dinas^ the castle or camp. Lee 
Abbey never was an abbey. It was the seat of the 
De Wichehalse family, refugees, it is pretended, from 
the Low Countries in or about 1570. But, as a 
matter of fact, the Wichehalse family first turns up 
at Chudleigh nearly half a century before their 
reputed flight from Flanders. They were cloth mer- 
chants apparently, and one of the family, Nicholas 
Wychalse, the third son of Nicholas of Chudleigh, 
having married a wife from Pilton, settled at Barn- 
staple and died there in 1570. As merchants in the 
wool trade the Barnstaple branch did well, and married 
into some of the best county families. All the rigma- 
role about their being De Wichehalse, and being of 
noble Flemish ancestry, and of their having fled from 
Alva's persecution, may be dismissed as pure fable. 

The story goes that in the reign of Charles II. 
Sir Edward de Wichehalse was the head of the house 
and lived in splendour at Lee Abbey. He had an 
only child, a daughter, who was wooed and proved 
over -fond towards a nobleman high in the favour 
of James II. The lover proved faithless, and the 
deserted damsel threw herself from the cliffs at 
K 



I30 BARNSTAPLE 

Duty Point. The father in vain sought redress by 
petitioning the king, and when the Duke of Mon- 
mouth landed at Lyme, De Wichehalse raised levies 
and hasted to his support. After the battle of Sedge- 
moor Sir Edward returned to Lee, but emissaries of 
the king were sent to apprehend him, and when De 
Wichehalse learned that they were approaching, he 
and his family embarked in Lee Bay on board a 
small smack, intending to fly to Dutch William and 
the land whence the ancestral noble had come. The 
night, however, proved stormy, and the boat was lost 
with all on board. 

Lee " Abbey " came into the possession of the 
"De" Wichalse family in 1620; there is a monu- 
ment in Lynton Church to Hugh Wichalse, gent., 
in 1653. From the Wichalses it passed by sale to 
the family of Short. I can find no Sir Edward in 
the pedigree, as given by Colonel Vivian, so it may 
be hoped that the story is altogether baseless, as the 
fable of the noble origin of the wool merchant family. 

At Lynton is the fine mansion of Sir George 
Newnes, the publisher of Tit-Bits and many kindred 
papers, who was created a baronet by Mr. Gladstone 
for political services. 

Exmoor in some respects is finer than Dartmoor, 
in others less fine. It is finer in that it soars up out 
of the sea to its full height, whereas the land rises 
some eight hundred feet to the roots of Dartmoor. 
But Exmoor is rounded and lumpy, and has no tors. 

It served as the great barrier to the Dumnonii, 
broken only by the portal at Dulverton. The Black 
Down is its continuation. Indeed the county has 



EXMOOR 131 

a natural frontier. The height of Exmoor never 
attains the altitude of Dartmoor, and is not loftier 
than the Bodmin moors. 

The long stretches of down without rocks and 
without bad bogs render Exmoor a choice place 
for stag-hunting. 

The valleys to the south of Exmoor that are 
watered by the Yeo, the Bray, the Mole, contain 
scenery that is pleasing, but never rises to boldness. 

Exmoor is interesting as harbouring a strong body 
of the earlier dusky population that occupied the 
country before the invasion of the Celts. But the 
river names savour of the Irish settlers rather than 
of the Britons. Such are the Bray (Ir. brag, running 
water : there is a Bray in Wicklow) ; the Mole 
(Ir. malda, gentle, slow); Barle {It, fuarlack^ barlach^ 
chilly). 

But the finest Exmoor scenery is on the Somerset- 
shire side, where the hills rise boldly above the sea, 
and where rich vegetation clothes the shores of the 
Bristol Channel. From Exmoor, moreover, a grand 
view is obtained of the Welsh mountains across the 
Severn sea. One can quite understand S. Branock 
escaping from a population that looked on him with 
an evil eye, to the blue hills that rose above the sea 
not so far to the south, and easily reached in a 
summer sail — and where, moreover, the land was 
occupied by his countrymen — the Irish, as con- 
querors. 

The road to Countisbury passes remarkable earth- 
works, the Oldburrough, of uncertain, but probably 
prehistoric, date. 



132 BARNSTAPLE 

On the immediate outskirts of Exmoor is Brendon. 
The church itself is of no particular interest, beyond 
its dedication to S. Brendan, the Irish navigator, who 
spent seven years exploring the western seas for 
the Isles of the Blessed, and who may perhaps have 
reached America in the sixth century. The nar- 
rative of his voyage is, however, full of fable ; but 
the fact of his having made two exploring expedi- 
tions is fairly well authenticated. The cause of his 
undertaking the voyage was this. One day he and 
a couple of pupils, brothers, went together in a boat 
to an islet off the west coast of Ireland. Brendan 
left the younger lad with the boat, and ascended 
into the island with the elder. Presently, as the 
wind rose, the young man said to his master, " I do 
not think my brother can manage the boat alone, 
with this wind and the rising tide." 

" Be silent," said Brendan. " Do you not suppose 
I care for the boy as much as you do yourself? " 

And they went further. But the young man be- 
came more uneasy, and he again remonstrated. 
Then Brendan lost his temper and swore at him. 
" Begone — and be drowned to you ! " 

So the young man returned to the beach and found 
the boy struggling with the boat. He rushed into 
the water — and was himself swept away by a wave 
and perished. 

Now when Brendan returned and found what had 
happened, he was full of self-reproach, and hurried off 
to S. Itha, his nurse, to ask her what was to be done. 

"You will be in trouble," she said. "All his 
relatives will take this up, and it will occasion a 



CHURCHES 133 

blood feud. Make yourself scarce. Besides, you 
deserve punishment for your inconsiderate and pas- 
sionate conduct. Go to sea." 

And to sea he went in three wicker-work vessels, 
each covered with three coats of tanned hides, and 
each with a leather sail, and thirty men in each boat. 

In the immediate neighbourhood of Barnstaple is 
Pilton Church, that should be seen for its fine screen 
and curious hour-glass ; Tawstock for its Bourcher 
tombs ; Chittlehampton for its beautiful tower ; and 
Atherington for its screen, a fragment, but that 
fragment complete in every member, a superb speci- 
men. Hall, on the Taw, is the fine mansion of the 
Chichester family. 

Swymbridge Church should on no account be 
omitted. It possesses a magnificent screen, and an 
ancient pulpit with figures in niches. The modern 
reredos is bad. 

The Chichester monuments are curious, notably 
one of a youthful Chichester, whose portrait is given, 
and whom the bird of Jove is represented as carrying 
off to serve as Ganymede in heaven. 

Littleham possesses an ancient fresco of S. Swithun, 
and a rich screen and benches, that have been care- 
fully and judiciously restored. 

Note. — Books on Barnstaple are :— 

Chanter (J. R.), Sketches of some Striking Incidents in the History 
of Barnstaple. 1865. 

Chanter (J. R.), Memorials of the Church of S. Peter ^ Barnstaple. 
1887. 

Chanter (R.), Sketches of the Literary History of Barnstaple^ with 
the Diary of Philip Wyott. n,d. 



CHAPTER IX. 
BIDEFORD 

Ugly modern buildings — ' * Westward Ho ! " — Roman roads — The Tor- 
ridge — The story of King Edmund — The ravages of the sons of 
Lodbrog — Hingvar and Hubba defeated at Appledore — Brictric the 
Golden -haired — Bideford Bridge — The herriot — Sir William Coffin 
— The Newfoundland Fisheries — Sir Richard Grenville — Colonisa- 
tion of Wokohen — Captain White — The story of the life of Sir 
Richard Grenville — The Revenge — The north coast to Wellcombe — 
The Hobby Drive — Hartland — S. Nectan — The Promontory of 
Hercules — Wellcombe — Mutilation of the Church — Wear GifFord. 

BARNSTAPLE and Bideford are towns that the 
jerry-builders have done their utmost to make 
hideous with white brick villas banded with red. It 
is a curious fact, but fact it is, that a builder without 
a grain of taste, if ambitious to make one of his 
domestic monstrosities attractive, will look into the 
pattern -book of a maker of terra -cotta, and select 
the most obtrusive ridge-tiles and, above all, hip- 
knobs he can find, frizzle the spine of his roof with 
the former, clap the latter on his gable, and think 
that the product is stylish. The foliations of the 
ridge -tiles get broken after a frost, and the roof 
acquires a mangy look, but not till after the villa 
has been let as a handsome suburban residence. 
When one encounters this sort of thing, repeated 

134 



ALL NEW 135 

again and again, the heart turns sick, and the visitor 
is impatient to fly from towns thus vulgarised. 

To Bideford he comes full of thoughts of " West- 
ward Ho ! " and expects to find an Elizabethan 
flavour about the place, only to be woefully dis- 
appointed. Even the church is new ; only the 
bridge remains, and that has been menaced with 
destruction. 

Bideford has memories, but modern Bideford has 
made herself aesthetically unworthy of them. 

To begin with, the old Roman, or pre-Roman, 
road from North Cornwall passing through Stratton, 
that takes its name from the street or road, ran to 
the ford on the Torridge and passed on to Barnstaple. 

At the beginning of the ninth century the estuary 
of the Taw and Torridge [Dur^ water, and Dur-rhyd^ 
the water ford*) invited the entry into the land of 
the Northmen. 

A memorable incident in one of these incursions is 
connected with a romantic story that shall be told in 
full. 

Roger of Wendover gives the tale, founding it on 
old ballads. 

" There was, not long ago, in the kingdom of the Danes, 
a certain man named Lodbrog (Hairy-breeches), who was 
sprung from the royal race of that nation, and had by his 
wife two sons, Hingvar and Hubba. One day he took his 
hawk and went unattended in a little boat to catch small 
birds and wild-fowl on the seacoast and in the islands. 
While thus engaged he was surprised by a sudden storm, 
and carried out to sea, and after having been tossed about 

* The ford gave its distinctive appellation to the river above it. 



136 BIDEFORD 

for several days and nights, was at last carried in sore 
distress to the English coast, and landed at Redham, in 
the province of Norfolk. The people of that country by 
chance found him with his hawk, and presented him as 
a sort of Jprodigy to Edmund, king of the East Angles, 
who, for the sake of his comely person, gave him an 
honourable reception. Lodbrog abode some time in the 
court of the monarch, and as the Danish tongue is very 
Hke English, he began to relate to the king by what chance 
he had been driven to the coast of England. The accom- 
plished manners of King Edmund pleased Lodbrog, as 
well as his military discipline and the courtly manners of 
his attendants. Emulous of the like attainments, Lodbrog 
asked permission of the king to remain in his court, and 
having obtained his request, he attached himself to the 
king's huntsman, whose name was Bjorn, that he might 
with him exercise the hunter's art. But such was the skill 
of Lodbrog, that he was always successful in hunting or 
hawking, and being deservedly a favourite with the king, 
Bjorn became jealous of him, and giving way to deadly 
hatred, one day, when they were hunting together, he 
attacked him and slew him, and left his body in a thicket. 
This done, the wicked huntsman called off his dogs with 
his horn, and returned home. Now Lodbrog had reared 
a certain greyhound in King Edmund's court, which was 
very fond of him, and, as is natural, when the huntsman 
returned with his own dogs, remained watchful by his 
master's body. 

"Next day, as King Edmund sat at table, he missed 
Lodbrog from the company, and anxiously asked his attend- 
ants what had befallen him, on which Bjorn, the huntsman, 
answered that he had tarried behind in a wood, and he had 
seen no more of him. But as he was speaking, Lodbrog's 
dog came into the hall and began to wag his tail and fawn 
on all, and especially on the king, who, on seeing him, said 



THE NORSE STORY 137 

to his attendants, * Here comes Lodbrog's dog ; his master 
is not far behind.' He then began to feed the dog, hoping 
soon to see his master. But he was disappointed, for when 
the greyhound had satisfied his appetite, he returned to 
keep his accustomed watch over his master's body. After 
three days he was compelled by hunger to return to the 
king's table, and Edmund, greatly wondering, gave orders 
to follow the dog when he left the hall, and watch whither 
he went. The king's servants fulfilled his commands, and 
followed the dog till it led them to Lodbrog's lifeless body. 
On being informed of this the king was greatly disturbed, 
and directed that the body should be committed to a more 
honourable sepulchre. King Edmund then caused diligent 
inquisition to be made touching the death of Lodbrog; and 
Bjorn, the huntsman, was convicted of the crime, and by 
order of the king, the captains and wise men of his court 
passed sentence on him. The judges unanimously agreed 
that the huntsman should be put into the boat in which 
Lodbrog had come to England, and should be exposed on 
the sea without sail or oar, that it might be proved whether 
God would deliver him." 

Roger of Wendover goes on to tell how Bjorn was 
wafted across to Denmark, and there was examined 
by torture by Hubba and Hingvar, sons of Lodbrog, 
who recognised their father's boat. Bjorn, under 
torture, declared that Lodbrog had been put to death 
by Edmund, king of the East Angles. The Danes 
accordingly assembled an army and invaded East 
Anglia to avenge on Edmund the murder of their 
father. 

The Norse story does not agree with this at all. 
According to the Sagas, Ragnar Lodbrog was seized 
by iElla, king of the Northumbrians, and was thrown 



138 BIDEFORD 

into a dungeon full of serpents, in which he sang his 
dying song, the famous Krakumal. His sons, they 
say, were called Eirekr, Agnarr, Ivar, Bjorn Ironside, 
Hvitserkr, and Sigurd Worm-in-the-eye. 

Edmund encamped at the royal vill of Haeles- 
dune (Hoxne), when Hingvar and Hubba landed 
at Berwick-on-Tweed, and ravaged the country 
on their march through Northumbria. In 870 
Hingvar entered East Anglia, and was attacked 
by Edmund whilst his force was divided from that 
of Hubba. Both sides suffered severely. Hubba 
joined Hingvar at Thetford, and the united army 
fought Edmund again. His force was far out- 
numbered. He was routed, and he and Humbert, 
bishop of Elmham, were taken in a church; Humbert 
was despatched with the sword. Edmund was tied 
to a tree, and the Danes shot at him with their 
arrows, till they were tired of the sport, when he was 
decapitated, and his head flung into a thicket of the 
forest of Hoxne. 

So far we have had nothing about Bideford. But 
now we come to this parish. 

Hingvar and Hubba (Agnarr and Ivar of the Norse 
version) were provided by their sisters with an ensign 
before starting, on which, with their needles, they 
had wrought the figure of a raven, in symbol of the 
carnage that their brothers were to cause in revenge 
for the death of their father. Hingvar and Hubba 
in S66 ravaged East Anglia and Mercia ; they 
wintered in Essex, and in S6y crossed the Humber 
and took York. In 868 they devastated as far as 
Nottingham. In 870 Edmund fell. Every successive 



HISTORY 139 

year was marked by fire and slaughter. In 8y6 the 
Danes were in Exeter, and again in Syy. In the 
winter of 8yS Hubba came with twenty-three ships 
into the estuary of the Taw and Torridge with the 
raven standard, and landed at Appledore {Aweddwr, 
W. running water). Here the men of Devon were 
encamped at Kenwith,* now Henny Castle, north- 
west of Bideford, where earthworks remain to this 
day in the wood. The Danes attacked the camp, 
and were repulsed, with the loss of twelve hundred 
men and their raven banner. Hubba was also slain. 
He was buried on the shore near his ships, and a 
pile of stones was thrown up over him. The place 
bears the name of Whiblestone, or Hubbastone, but 
all traces of the cairn have disappeared, swept away 
by the encroachment of the sea. So the men of 
Devon avenged the blood of S. Edmund and of 
the men of Mercia and East Anglia. 

In the time of Edward the Confessor the manor 
of Bideford belonged to Brictric the Golden-haired. 
He was sent by the king to the court of Baldwin V., 
Count of Flanders, where Matilda, the Count's 
daughter, cast on him an eye of affection. But 
Brictric did not reciprocate, and Matilda felt all the 
rage and resentment entertained by a flouted fair. 
Her chance came at last. She was married to 
William the Bastard, who conquered England. For 
fourteen years she had waited, nursing her wrath. 
Now, at last, the opportunity had arrived for revenge. 
At her instigation Brictric was made to surrender 

* Observe the Goidelic for Cen for the Brythonic Pen. Kenwith 
is " The Head of the Wood." 



I40 BIDEFORD 

all his honours and lands, and was conveyed to 
Winchester, where he died in prison, and was 
hurriedly buried. 

William the Conqueror gave Bideford to the son 
of Hamo the Toothy, Richard de Grenville, and the 
place has never since lost its association with the 
Granville family. 

Sir Theobald Granville in the fourteenth century 
was a large benefactor to the town in assisting in 
the building of the bridge, rendered advisable by 
the great loss of life at the ford or in the ferry. It 
was, however, said to have been set on foot at the 
prompting of Richard Gurney, the parish priest, 
who dreamed two nights running that there was a 
rock below the ooze on which a pier might rest. 
But one pier did not suffice, and how to sustain 
others on mud was a puzzle. It was — so tradition 
says — solved by sinking bags of wool and laying 
the bases of the piers on these, a story not so im- 
probable as appears on the face. 

For a long time the vicars of Bideford had a 
herriot, that is, a right to the second best horse or 
cow of any parishioner who died. In 1529 this 
led to a scene. Sir William Coffin was passing 
one day by the churchyard, when, seeing a crowd 
collected, he asked the occasion, and learned that 
a corpse had been brought there to be interred, 
but that the vicar refused to read the burial service 
unless the dead man's cow were surrendered. 
But as the deceased had left no other property 
whatever, the heirs demurred. On hearing this 
Sir William sent for the priest, and reasoned with 



FISHERIES 141 

him on the impropriety of his conduct ; however, 
the vicar was obstinate and would not give way. 

"Very well, then," said the knight, "stick me in 
the grave, and cover me up instead of the corpse, 
and you shall have my second best cow." 

He was proceeding to get into the grave, when 
the vicar thought prudent to yield. I suppose that 
the matter became notorious by the complaint of 
the parson, for Sir William was actually summoned 
before Parliament on a charge of violating the 
rights and privileges of the Church. But partly 
through his favour at court, and partly by his 
being able to represent the mischievous conse- 
quences of the arbitrary demand for "mortuaries," 
Parliament passed an act which put a stop to them, 
or, at all events, in favour of the poor, limited the 
extent of these claims. 

Bideford was not a place of much importance till 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth ; it started into sig- 
nificance through the Newfoundland cod-fisheries, 
which were almost entirely in the hands of the 
Barnstaple, Bideford, and Bristol men as far as 
England was concerned. 

As early as 1504 the Portuguese had begun to 
catch fish on those coasts. In 1578 England had 
fifty vessels, Portugal as many, and France and 
Spain together, a hundred and fifty, occupied in 
reaping the harvest of the sea in the North Atlantic. 
From 1698 to 1700 Bideford had twenty-eight vessels 
engaged in the fishery, whilst Barnstaple had only 
seven or eight; London sent out seventy-one, and 
Topsham thirty-four. 



142 BIDEFORD 

But the raising of Bideford into a port of import- 
ance was due mainly to the enterprise of the famous 
Elizabethan admiral, Sir Richard Grenville. 

" Sir Richard was born most probably at Stowe, the 
Cornish seat of the family, in the parish of Kilkhampton, 
in the year 1546. His father, Roger, was a captain in the 
navy, and met with a watery grave at Portsmouth, in a ship 
called the Mary Rose^ a. vessel of 600 tons, and one of the 
finest in the navy, commanded by Sir George Carew. She 
sank with all on board, July 19th, 1545, from a similar 
accident to that which happened to the Royal George near 
the same place, June 28th, 1782. Being at anchor in calm 
weather with all ports open, a sudden breeze caused the 
ship to heel over, when the water entered through the lower 
ports and sank her. Some guns recovered many years after 
are preserved in Woolwich Arsenal. Richard Granville was 
early distinguished among his companions for his enthusi- 
astic love of active exercises, and at the age of sixteen he, 
in company with several other chivalrous scions of our 
nobility, obtained a licence from Queen Elizabeth to enter 
into the service of the Emperor of Hungary against the 
Turks."* 

He was engaged in the battle of Lepanto, in 
which Don Juan of Austria, with the combined 
fleets of Christendom, destroyed the Turkish galleys. 
One can but wish that a combined fleet would once 
more try conclusions with the Turk. 

Then Richard Granville in 1569 was made Sheriff 
of Cork, but he remained in Ireland two years only. 
By his interest with Queen Elizabeth he obtained for 
Bideford a charter of incorporation, 1574. He was 
High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1578, and was then 

* Granville (R.), History of Bideford, n,d. 



RICHARD GRANVILLE 143 

knighted. But the bias of his mind was towards 
adventure at sea, and he united with his relative, Sir 
Walter Raleigh, in the exploration which led to the 
discovery of Virginia and Carolina in 1584. 

"Two ships belonging to Sir Walter's company, and in 
the command of Captain Philip Amadas and Arthur 
Barlow, brought home that important news. The mag- 
nitude and eligibility of the territory acquired by the 
Crown were on everyone's lips ; for the accounts of those 
who had been eye-witnesses of the country, its productions 
and inhabitants, hastened onwards Raleigh's preparations 
for taking possession of his newly-found dominions. As 
soon as the good news spread among the country people in 
the west, hundreds of hardy adventurers offered themselves 
as the pioneers of colonisation in that quarter. A fleet of 
seven ships, of which Sir Richard took the command, was 
got ready with all possible despatch, and when the anchor 
was weighed at Plymouth on the 9th of April, 1585, there 
were none amongst the thousands there assembled but 
shared the belief that their relatives and friends were 
departing for a land flowing with milk and honey. The 
voyage was a pleasant one, being favoured with a pros- 
perous wind, but the inveterate hostility of Sir Richard 
towards our national enemies, the Spaniards, led him to 
prolong its duration. He accordingly pursued his course 
by the roundabout way of the West India islands, and was 
rewarded by the capture of several valuable prizes during 
his cruise there. They did not reach the island of 
Wokohen, on the coast of Carolina, until the 26th of 
June, thus consuming valuable time on their passage. We 
are told they were in about 34 degrees North latitude, 
when, just as they were on the point of entering the roads, 
the admiral's ship, from some mischance or other, drove on 
a reef of rocks and went to pieces. It was fortunate that 



144 BIDEFORD 

no loss of life heightened the gloom of this inauspicious 
opening. After great exertions the men rescued the crew 
of the doomed vessel, and proceeded for the island of 
Roanoke, a little farther to the northwards. The admiral 
went at once from that island to the continent, and, on his 
landing, proceeded to see what sort of country the promised 
land was. Whilst engaged in this survey, the natives, who 
were unaccustomed to the sight of beings so different 
from themselves in colour, costume, and bearing, crowded 
around, plying them with questions by signs and gestures. 
Sir Richard appeased their inquisitiveness with the few 
trifling articles he had designed for them as presents ; but 
their appetites being rather sharpened than appeased by 
these acquisitions, one of the natives, instigated by the rest, 
entered Sir Richard's tent, and, attracted by a massive silver 
goblet belonging to that knight, without more ado walked 
off with it. The despoiled owner happened at the time to 
be employed in 'prospecting' the country, but on his return 
instantly missed the favourite piece of plate. Enraged 
at this mark of ingratitude when from his conciliatory 
kindness he had expected good faith, he adopted severe 
measures on the natives around. He soon after set sail to 
Roanoke, which all accounts concur in representing as an 
incommodious station, deficient in all the requisites for a 
good harbour, and all but uninhabited. Here, having 
founded a settlement, he left in it a company of i8o men. 
Mr. Ralph Lane, a man of experienced judgment, was elected 
governor of the infant colony, which ranked among its 
members several names not unknown to fame. Men well 
skilled in the different sciences were there, to instruct and 
improve the growing intelligence of the colony. Of these, 
Hariot, a mathematician of first-rate eminence in his day, 
is especially mentioned. Sir Richard made for home with 
the avowed intention of procuring a reinforcement suffi- 
ciently powerful to subdue and colonise the continent of 



SIR RICHARD GRANVILLE 145 

Virginia and Carolina. His good fortune led him in his 
homeward voyage to fall in with a Spanish register ship, 
almost as richly laden as the treasure ship the Cacafuego^ 
which had enriched, by its capture, his relative Sir Francis 
Drake and his crew. In this vessel, which Sir Richard 
engaged and boarded, was stowed away a cargo worth more 
than ;^5 0,000 sterling."* 

When Sir Richard Granville had retired, the colon- 
ists wasted their time in searching for gold in place 
of cultivating the soil. Consequently they were in 
a condition of starvation when Sir Francis Drake, 
touching there on his way to England, rescued them 
from their impending fate. 

"Not long after. Sir Richard Granville with three ships 
hove in sight. Ignorant of what had happened he landed 
with the confident hope of adding vigour and strength to 
the infant colony for whose welfare he had toiled and 
sacrificed; but after making the most laborious searches 
for the absentees, without obtaining any indications of their 
fate, he set sail, leaving fifteen of his crew ashore for the 
purpose of retaining possession. This handful of men 
soon became involved in hostilities with the natives, and 
were by them destroyed to the last man. However dis- 
heartening this unlooked-for succession of disasters might 
have proved to men of ordinary stamp, they only incited 
the elastic dispositions of Raleigh and Granville to more 
vigorous operations. Early, therefore, in the following year 
(1587), they fitted out three more ships, which were en- 
trusted to the command of Captain John White, a native 
of Devonshire, a man well versed in all the difficulties and 
trials attending enterprises of this nature. He brought 

* Grenvilles of Stowe^ by " A Bidefordian." 



146 BIDEFORD 

together a more numerous and determined body of adven- 
turers than had composed the former expedition under 
Lane ; but upon their arrival the same disadvantages which 
had daunted their predecessors in the colony appeared so 
forcibly before their senses that, deeming the continuous 
mass of forest and the endless savannahs of the country 
only fit for the abode of savages, they with one accord 
solicited their leader, White, to return to England and 
bring a fresh supply of articles, that their uncomfortable 
position might at least be made tolerable. He accordingly 
retraced his footsteps, arriving in this country at a time 
when the eyes of the entire nation were intent upon war- 
fare, and, receiving no encouragement from their patrons, 
the unfortunate colony in Roanoke obtained no assistance ; 
and the painful fact must be repeated, that our first settlers 
in Virginia were suffered to perish miserably by a famine or 
to fall ignominiously from the savage hatred of the tribes 
who surrounded them." 

Kingsley is vi^rong in stating that Sir Richard was 
at sea, and assisted in the destruction of the Armada ; 
at the time he was acting under orders to remain in 
Cornwall. 

Three years after, in 1591, he was in command of 
the Revenge, as Vice-Admiral of England, in which 
he achieved the glorious action off the Azores in 
which he met his death. His object was to intercept 
the richly-laden fleet of the Spaniards, on its return 
from the West Indies ; a service of the utmost im- 
portance, as thereby England stopped the sources of 
Philip's power. 

Towards the end of August, the Admiral, Lord 
Thomas Howard, with six of Her Majesty's ships 



THE ''REVENGE" 147 

and as many small vessels, was at anchor at Flores, 
when news arrived of the near approach of the great 
Spanish fleet. Many of the Englishmen were ill on 
shore, and others were filling the ships with ballast. 
Imperfectly manned and ballasted as they were, there 
was nothing for it but to make an attempt to escape 
out of the trap in which they were caught, and the 
ships slipped their cables. Sir Richard, as Vice- 
Admiral, was the last to start, delaying to do so till 
the final moment, in order to collect those of his 
sick crew who were on shore; and this delay was 
fatal. 

The two great Spanish squadrons hove in sight 
and intercepted him. However, he resolved to 
force his way through. The Spanish fleet consisted 
of fifty - three vessels. Eleven out of the twelve 
English ships had escaped. Sir Richard weighed, 
uncertain at first what to do. The Spanish fleet 
were on his weather bow, and he was advised to 
cut his mainsail, cast about, and run before the 
wind, trusting to the fleetness of his ship. But 
Sir Richard utterly refused to turn his back on the 
enemy, alleging that he would die rather than show 
that to a Spaniard. 

The wind was light. The San Philip, a huge 
high-cargoed ship of 1500 tons, hove to windward, 
took the wind out of the sails of the Revenge, and 
attempted to board her. The Spanish vessels were 
filled with soldiers: in some two hundred, in some 
five hundred, in others eight hundred. 

The San Philip had three tiers of ordnance, with 
eleven pieces on every tier. 



148 BIDEFORD 

Then, as Tennyson tells the tale : — 

" Sir Richard spoke and he laughed, and we roared a hurrah, 

and so 
The little Revenge ran on sheer into the heart of the foe, 
With her hundred fighters on deck, and her ninety sick below, 
For half of their fleet to the right, and half to the left were 

seen, 
And the little Revenge ran on thro' the long sea-lane between." 

The fight began at three o'clock in the afternoon 
and continued all that evening. The San Philip, 
having received the lower tier of the Revenge, charged 
with cross-bar shot, was to some extent disabled, 
and shifted her quarters. Repeated attempts made 
to board the English vessel were repulsed. All that 
August night the fight continued, the stars shining 
overhead, but eclipsed by the clouds of smoke from 
the cannon. Ship after ship came in upon the 
Revenge, so that she was continuously engaged with 
two mighty galleons, one on each side, and with the 
enemy boarding her on both. Before morning fifteen 
men-of-war had been engaged with her, but all in 
vain ; some had been sunk, the rest repulsed. 

" And the rest, they came aboard us, and they fought us hand 

to hand. 
For a dozen times they came with their pikes and musqeteers. 
And a dozen times we shook 'em off, as a dog that shakes 

his ears, 
When he leaps from the water to land." 

All the powder at length in the Revenge was spent, 
all her pikes were broken, forty out of her hundred 
men were killed, and a great number of the rest 
wounded. 



THE BATTLE 149 

Sir Richard, though badly hurt early in the 
battle, never forsook the deck till an hour before 
midnight, and was then shot through the body while 
his wounds were being dressed, and again in the 
head, and his surgeon was killed while attending 
on him. The masts were lying over the side, the 
rigging cut or broken, the upper work all shot in 
pieces, and the ship herself, unable to move, was 
settling slowly in the sea, the vast fleet of the 
Spaniards lying round her in a ring, like dogs round 
a dying lion and wary of approaching him in his 
last dying agony. Sir Richard, seeing it was past 
hope, having fought for fifteen hours, ordered the 
master-gunner to sink the ship; but this was a heroic 
sacrifice that the common seamen opposed. Two 
Spanish ships had gone down, above fifteen hundred 
men had been killed, and the Spanish admiral could 
not induce any of the rest of the fleet to board the 
Revenge again, as they feared lest Sir Richard should 
blow himself and them up. 

Sir Richard was lying disabled below, and too 
weak and wounded to contest with those who 
opposed the sinking of the vessel. The captain 
now entered into parley with the Spanish admiral, 
and succeeded in obtaining for conditions that all their 
lives should be saved, the crew sent to England, and 
the officers ransomed. Sir Richard was now removed 
to the ship of Don Alfonso Barsano, the Spanish 
admiral, and there died, saying in Spanish : — 

" Here die I, Richard Granville, with a joyful and quiet 
mind, for that I have ended my life as a true soldier ought 



I50 BIDEFORD 

to do that hath fought for his country, queen, religion, and 
honour: whereby my soul most joyfully departeth out of 
this body, and shall always leave behind it an everlasting 
fame of a valiant and true soldier that hath done his duty 
as he was bound to do." 



Froude well says :- 



* 



" Such was the fight at Flores in that August, 1591, with- 
out its equal in such of the annals of mankind as the thing 
which we call history has preserved to us. At the time 
England and all the world rang with it. It struck a deeper 
terror, though it was but the action of a single ship, into 
the hearts of the Spanish people, it dealt a more deadly 
blow upon their fame and naval strength, than the de- 
struction of the Armada itself, and in the direct results 
which arose from it it was scarcely less disastrous to them. 
Hardly, as it seems to us, if the most glorious actions 
which are set like jewels in the history of mankind are 
weighed one against the other in the balance, hardly will 
those three hundred Spartans, who in the summer morning 
sat combing their long hair for death in the passes of 
Thermopylae, have earned a more lofty estimate for them- 
selves than this one crew of modern Englishmen. After 
the action there ensued a tempest so terrible as was never 
seen or heard the like before. A fleet of merchantmen 
joined the armada immediately after the battle, forming in 
all one hundred and forty sail ; and of these one hundred 
and forty, only thirty-two ever saw Spanish harbour; the 
rest all foundered or were lost on the Azores. The men- 
of-war had been so shattered by shot as to be unable to 
carry sail; and the Revenge herself, disdaining to survive 
her commander, or as if to complete his own last baffled 
purpose, like Samson, buried herself and her two hundred 
prize crew under the rocks of St. Michael's." 

* Forgotten Worthies, 



CLOVELLY 151 

Bideford is the starting-point for the north coast 
of Devon, from the mouth of the Torridge to the 
Cornish border, and thence to Bude. 

The beauty of this coast is almost unrivalled, 
equalled only by that from Ilfracombe to Minehead. 

Clovelly, with the Hobby Drive, is something to 
be seen, and one's education is incomplete without it. 

And one can combine archaeology with the quest 
of beauty, if a visit to Clovelly be combined with 
one to the " Dykes," sadly mutilated by roads cut 
through the embankments. Nevertheless, sufficient 
remains of Clovelly Dykes to make it a fair re- 
presentative of a British king's Dun. Beyond 
Clovelly, somewhat spoiled by being a place of 
resort, but always maintaining much picturesqueness, 
is Hartland, the settlement of S. Nectan, reputed 
son, but probably grandson, of King Brychan of 
Brecknock. He is represented in a niche on the 
tower. His name is Irish ; Nectans were not un- 
common in the Green Isle. 

Very little is known of S. Nectan. He is said to 
have been killed, his head cut off — not improbably 
by the chief at Clovelly Dykes, who cannot have 
relished having the country overrun and appropriated 
by a horde of half Irish half Welsh adventurers. 
And this took place precisely at the time when the 
Irish grip on Britain was relaxing. 

A stone was marked with his blood where he was 
killed. He got up and carried his head to where 
now stands the church. But "they all did it." 
These Celtic saints had a remarkable faculty for not 
only losing their heads, but finding them again. 



152 BIDEFORD 

There is a grand screen painted and gilt in the 
church. 

At Hartland Point, the promontory of Hercules of 
the ancients, is a lighthouse. When the wind is from 
the west the Atlantic thunders and foams on one 
side of the headland, whilst on the other in the 
bay the sea lies glassy, and reflects the purple-red 
slaty cliffs. The point rises 300 feet out of the sea, 
and was probably at one time occupied by a cliff- 
castle. A visit to Hartland Quay reveals the most 
extraordinary contortions in the slate rock. The 
cliffs are sombre, the strata thrust up at right angles 
to the sea, and over them foam streamlets that dis- 
charge themselves into the ocean. 

Hartland Abbey was founded by Gytha, the wife 
of Earl Godwin, and mother of Harold, in honour 
of S. Nectan, who, she believed, had come to the 
assistance of her husband in a storm and saved him 
from shipwreck — as if a true Celtic saint would put 
out his little finger to help a Saxon ! But there was 
unquestionably a monastery here long before — from 
the sixth century, when S. Nectan settled on this 
wild headland. 

The large parish was at one time studded with 
chapels, but these have all disappeared, or been con- 
verted into barns. The church is two miles from the 
village of Hartland. 

A walk along the cliffs may be carried to Well- 
combe, another foundation of S. Nectan, where is his 
holy well, recently repaired. The church contains a 
screen earlier in character than is usually found. 
There were interesting bench-ends with very curious 



EXCURSIONS 153 

heads. At the " restoration " a few of the ends were 
plastered against the screen, and their unique heads 
sawn away so as to make them fit the place into 
which they were thrust, but never designed to occupy. 
Their places were taken by mean deal benches. I 
suppose as the patron, S. Nectan, lost his head, these 
chief ornaments of the church were doomed to the 
same fate. 

Wellcombe Mouth is worth a visit ; a narrow glen 
descending to the sea, which here rages against pre- 
cipitous cliffs. 

Another excursion from Bideford should be made 
to Wear Gifford, where is one of the finest oak-roofed 
halls in England. 

The mansion stands on a slope, rising gently from 
the meadows near the Torridge, yet rears itself into 
the semblance of a stronghold by a scarped terrace, 
which extends along the south front. 

Half concealed in luxuriant vegetation, on the 
right is the embattled gateway tower, still one of 
the entrances. In approaching the house we see 
two projecting gables, and between them is the 
entrance and the hall, the latter with its massive 
chimney. 

From the entrance the broad oak staircase, having 
a handsome balustrade, is ascended. The walls are 
hung with tapestry. On reaching the minstrels' gal- 
lery an excellent view is obtained of the superb roof, 
"one of the most ornate and tasteful specimens of 
Perpendicular woodwork to be met with in England. 
Every portion is carved with the spirit and stroke 
of the true artist ; and the multiplied enrichments 



154 BIDEFORD 

seen in detail from our elevated position quite sur- 
prise the spectator."* 

Elaborately carved wainscot panelling surrounds 
the walls, covering about ten feet in height. It is 
adorned with heraldic shields, and opposite the fire- 
place are the arms of Henry VII. 

This small, perfect, and beautiful specimen of an 
old English mansion was the cradle of one of the 
best of Devonshire families, the Giffards, a branch 
of which was at Brightley. The last of the Wear 
Gifford stock conveyed the estate and mansion with 
his daughter and heiress to the Fortescues. But the 
Giffard race is by no means extinct, it is now well 
represented by the Earl of Halsbury. 

■* AsHWORTH : ' ' The Ancient Manor House of Wear Gifford," in 
Trans, of the Exeter Diocesan Architect, Soc, vol. vi., 1852. 



Note. — Book on Bideford : — 

Granville (R.), History of Bideford, Bideford, 1883. 




STAPLE TOR 



CHAPTER X. 

DARTMOOR AND ITS 
ANTIQUITIES 

Geological structure of Dartmoor — Granite — ''Glitters" — Building 
with granite — The bogs — The rivers — Rock basins— Logan stones 
— Kaoline deposits — Hut circles — Cooking - stones — Pottery — 
Pounds — Grimspound — Position of women in early times — Ap- 
proximate period to which the relics belong — The cromlech — The 
kistvaen — The stone circle — The stone row — The menhir — Cairns 
— Modes of interment among the pagan Irish — Stone crosses — 
Tinners' burrows and stream works — Blowing-houses. 

THE great irregular tableland of Dartmoor, an 
upheaval of granite over a thousand feet above 
the sea, and in places attaining to above two thou- 
sand, occupies two hundred and twenty-five square 
miles of country. Of that, however, less than one 
half is the " Forest " and belongs to the Duchy of 
Cornwall. Around the forest are the commons be- 
longing to the parishes contiguous to the moor. 

The moor is almost throughout of granite. At 
the outskirts, indeed, gabbro and trap exist, that have 
been forced up at the points where the granite has 
burst through the slate, and these later uprushes of 
molten matter have greatly altered the granite in 
contact with them, and have produced an elvan. 

The most extraordinary difference in kinds and 
composition exists throughout the granitic area. 

155 



156 DARTMOOR 

Some granite is very coarse, full of what are 
locally called " horse - teeth," crystals of felspar, 
other is finely grained. Some is black with schorl, 
some, as that of Mill Tor, white as statuary marble. 
Granite was not well stirred before it was protruded 
to the surface. The constituents of granite are 
quartz, felspar, and mica ; the latter sometimes 
white, at others usually black and glistering. The 
felspar may be recognised as being a dead white. 
The black shining matter found near where are 
veins of tin, is schorl. 

It is the opinion of modern geologists that the 
granite never saw daylight till cold and consolidated, 
and that granite when in fusion and erupted to the 
surface resolves itself into trap. The pressure of 
superincumbent beds prevented perfect fusion. In 
its altered condition when perfectly fused it may 
be seen in Whit Tor, near Mary Tavy. 

But, it may be asked, what has become of the 
beds that overlay the granite? They have been 
washed away. In Exmoor we do not meet with the 
granite. It had heaved the slates, but not sufficiently 
to so dislocate them as to enable the rains and floods 
to carry them away and reveal the granite below. 
If Dartmoor granite could but have retained its 
covering matter, the region would have been indeed 
mountainous. In Shavercombe, a lateral valley of 
the upper Plym, may be seen traces of the original 
coverlet of slate, much altered by heat. 

The granite looks as though stratified, but this is 
deceptive. It is so unequally mixed that some flakes 
or layers are harder and more resistant to atmo- 



GRANITE 157 

spheric forces than are others, and where the granite 
is soft it gives way, presenting a laminated appear- 
ance. Moreover, the granite is full of joints. Where 
these joints are vertical and numerous, there the 
rocky masses break into fragments. Believer Tor is 
a good instance. This imposing mass looks as 
though, when rising out of the Flood, it had shaken 
itself, like a poodle, to dry itself, and in so doing had 
shaken itself to bits. Lustleigh Cleave is another 
instance. Every tor is surrounded by a " clitter " 
(Welsh clechir), and these clitters are due to the dis- 
integration of the granite in horizontal beds, and then 
on account of their joints horizontal and diagonal, 
falling into confused heaps. Where the joints are 
not numerous and not close together, there the rocks 
cohere and form tors. In many, as Vixen Tor and 
Mis Tor, the pseudo-bedding lines are very distinct. 
Where the soft beds are infrequent, there the granite 
forms great cake-like blocks as in Hey Tor. The 
tors are, in fact, the more solid cores as yet not over- 
thrown by natural agencies. Such a core is Bower- 
man's Nose, and around it is the "clitter" of rock 
that once encased it. 

Granite is very pervious to water, as everyone 
knows who lives in a house built of it by modern 
architect and masons. 

The ancients were not such fools as we take them 
to have been. They did condescend to consider the 
capabilities and the disadvantages of their building 
material before employing it. The " old men," when 
they constructed a wall of granite, always gave it 
two faces, and filled in with rubble between. By this 



158 DARTMOOR 

means the rain did not drive through, although they 
did not employ mortar; and the ancient tenement 
houses on the moor are dry as snuff. But the 
modern architect insists on having the walls built 
throughout with lime, in courses, and the rain enters 
by these as by aqueducts. Then, to remedy the 
evil, the whole face of the house is tarred over or 
cemented, with what result to the prospect may well 
be conceived. The granite, though pervious, is so to 
a very limited extent when compared with limestone, 
and through a granite country there are no springs 
that issue from subterranean reservoirs. All the 
rain that falls on the surface runs off superficially, 
but not all at once, for on the granite lie enormous 
beds of peat, the growth and decomposition of moor 
plants through vast ages. These beds of peat are 
like sponges ; they absorb the rain, retain it, and 
slowly give it up during the summer. In limestone 
districts the making of a river goes on within the 
bowels of the mountain, but in a granite district it 
takes place on its outside. Remove the beds of 
turf and peat, and there will be torrents after a 
shower, and then dry torrent beds. 

To north and south of the equator of the moor 
lie vast tracts of bog in which the rivers are nursed, 
and without which they could not be. No visitor 
can realise what Dartmoor really is in the economy 
of nature as the mother of the Devonshire rivers till 
he has visited either Cranmere Pool, or the ridge 
on the south, where are the meres from which 
spring the Avon, the Erme, the Yealm, and the 
Plym. 



ROCK BASINS 159 

The granite being of unequal hardness, its con- 
stituent crystals become separated by the action 
of the weather into an incoherent gravel, which in 
Cornwall is called growan. The process may be 
seen in full activity on any tor. Sometimes water 
lodges on a slab, and finding a soft spot begins to 
decompose it ; then, when this is the case, the wind 
swirls the water about, and with it the grit is spun 
round and round, and this continues the work of 
disintegration, and finally a rock basin is produced. 

Of these rock basins some fine samples exist : 
that on Caistor Rock has had to be railed round, 
to prevent sheep from falling in and being drowned. 
Mis Tor has another, the Devil's Frying-pan. There 
are plenty of them to be seen in all conditions, from 
the rude beginning to the complete bowl. 

At one time it was supposed that they were 
Druidical vessels employed for lustration, and 
archaeologists talked long and learnedly concerning 
them. But what is quite certain is that they were 
produced by Nature unassisted. 

When a hard bed of granite lies on one that is 
very soft, the latter becomes disintegrated and eaten 
completely away. The hard bed is left either bal- 
anced on one point or more, or else has its centre 
of gravity so placed as to precipitate it from its 
position. Plenty of rocks may be seen in all these 
conditions. If it should chance that a rock remains 
poised on one point, then possibly a little pressure 
at one end of the slab will set it in motion. This, 
then, is known as a logan, or rocking stone, which 
antiquaries of old pronounced to have been employed 



i6o DARTMOOR 

by the Druids as oracles, or for purpose of divination. 
All this was bred out of the phantasy of the anti- 
quaries. There is absolutely not a particle of evidence 
to show that they were supposed to be mysterious, or 
were employed in any rites, and it is also absolutely 
certain that they were formed by the hand of Nature 
alone. 

There are many logan rocks on Dartmoor. One 
is on Black Tor, near Princetown. It is instructive, 
as it not only shows the process of weathering which 
made it what it is, but it has on top of it a rock 
basin that decants by a lip over the edge of the 
stone when the latter is made to vibrate. 

The " Nutcracker " stone near Amicombe Hill 
above the West Ockment rolls in a high wind like 
a boat that is anchored. There were two very fine 
logans on Staple Tor above Merivale Bridge, but 
quarrymen wantonly destroyed the whole of one of 
the steeples, together with the finest logan on Dart- 
moor that was on it. The other remains. On Rippon 
Tor is one, another in Lustleigh Cleave. 

The felspar dissolved by the rain was carried away, 
and has been deposited in many places, filling up 
an ancient lake-bed and forming Bovey Heathfield, 
coating plains and hills with a deposit white as 
snow ; this is kaolin, and is worked as china clay 
at Lee Moor and in Shaugh. The water flowing 
from the works is like milk, and, curiously enough, 
cows relish it. 

Having got rid of the rock basins and logan stones 
as pseudo-antiques, we will now address ourselves 
to those which are genuine. 



HUT CIRCLES i6i 

Such are the menhir, the kistvaen, the so-called 
"sacred" circle, the stone rows, the hut circles, 
barrows, and cairns. All these abound on Dartmoor. 
Nowhere else in England can be seen such an extent 
of land undisturbed by cultivation, and carrying on 
its surface so many hoary monuments of a pre- 
historic population. It may be premised that all 
kinds of theories have been floated as to their pur- 
port and as to the period to which these relics belong, 
and the loudest and most positive have always been 
those who had no experience with spade and pick, 
which can alone solve the problem of their object and 
age. Systematic and persistent investigation into 
these monumental remains has been carried on for 
six years by a committee acting under the authority 
of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement 
of Science, Literature, and Art, and five reports of 
their proceedings have been already published in the 
Transactions of the Association. 

It may be said that, at all events with regard to 
the hut circles, their position in the order of civilisa- 
tion has been made out almost to a certainty, for 
something like a hundred and fifty of these have 
been carefully examined. With these accordingly 
we will begin. 

They are strewn in thousands over the surface of 
the moor, and such as remain are but the merest 
fraction of those that must have existed formerly, for 
incalculable numbers have been destroyed by those 
who have made enclosures. 

The hut circle is all that remains of the primitive 
dwelling of a people that were pastoral, and were 
clothed mainly, though not exclusively, in skins. 
M 



i62 DARTMOOR 

The foundations of the circular dwelh'ngs are 
formed of blocks of granite, sometimes set vertically 
and sometimes placed in horizontal layers, enclosing 
a space from eight to thirty feet in diameter. The 
roof rested on the circular wall, which was never 
over four feet high, and was doubtless of wood 
covered with rushes, heather, or skins ; a low door- 
way facing south or south-west gave access to the 
interior ; and a hole in the apex of the roof served 
as chimney. The thorough exploration of the floors 
of these huts has resulted in the discovery of fire- 
places, cooking-holes, and raised platforms of stones 
forming seats by day and beds at night, not so un- 
comfortable as it sounds, when covered with rushes 
and dry fragrant heather. 

That the inmates played games is probable, from 
the number of small rounded quartz pebbles found 
that may have served for a game. Cooking-pots 
rudely made by hand of coarse earthenware, imper- 
fectly baked, have been found, standing in the 
cooking-holes made in the floor, with the "cooking- 
stones" in and around them. These are river 
pebbles of dense, hard granite, which were placed 
in a fire and heated to such a pitch that dropped 
into the pot containing water they brought it to the 
boiling-point, and maintained it, by fresh additions, 
until the cooking operation was complete. These 
pots were fragile, and like modern crockery ware 
got broken ; in one prehistoric cooking-vessel it took 
the form of a fracture in the bottom — perhaps due 
to the careless dropping in of the cooking-stones by 
some inexperienced or impatient cook — but some- 



COOKING-POTS 163 

body was equal to the occasion, for the bottom was 
neatly mended with china clay. These vessels, or 
as much as stood in view above the floor of the hut, 
were usually ornamented with patterns of the herring- 
bone type, or merely with dots and lines conveying 
no idea of consecutive pattern. Their interiors are 
much blackened with cooking, and imprisoned in the 
shreds there may yet be found, by the expert analyst, 
oily globules, remains of prehistoric fat from beef and 
mutton. Cooking was performed in holes in the 
ground as well as in pots, just as modern savages 
cook at the present time. Hot stones in a pit, green 
grass, meat, more hot stones, and the whole turfed 
in, and you have a result which an epicure would 
relish. Some patience is necessary, perhaps twenty 
hours for a whole pig. 

There is a curious passage in the life of S. Lugid, 
of Clonfert, who died at the beginning of the seventh 
century. When a youth he served in the monastery, 
and as his biographer says, at that time it was 
customary to warm water by dropping into the 
vessel a ball of iron that had previously been heated 
in the fire. Lugid had to put such a ball into the 
drinking-vessel of the abbot, S. Coemgall, and he 
took it out of the fire with a pair of tongs, but 
Coemgall for some reason drew his hand back, and 
the ball fell on the table instead of into his cup, 
and it was so hot that it burnt a hole through the 
board. 

Most of the cooking-pots found in the Dartmoor 
hut circles have rounded bottoms, and are of too 
poor a paste to resist the direct action of the fire. 



i64 DARTMOOR 

An example of one such, removed from the hole in 
which it was, is preserved in the Plymouth Municipal 
Museum. 

One cooking-pot was found with a cross at the 
bottom of thicker clay, the object being to strengthen 
it, as experience showed that these pots always 
yielded first at the bottom. Some of the largest hut 
circles, those presumedly used in summer, had their 
kitchens separate from them, smaller huts, where the 
floors have been found thick with charcoal and 
fragments of this wretched fragile pottery. 

The larger huts had their roofs supported by a 
central pole, and the socket-hole in which it stood 
has been found in some of them. In many huts 
also a flat, smooth stone bedded in the floor has been 
noticed, presumedly employed as a block on which 
to chop wood or fashion bone implements. 

It is remarkable that one specimen only of a 
spindle-whorl has been discovered. No metal objects 
have so far been found in the Dartmoor hut circles. 
Implements of flint, sandstone, and granite abound ; 
they are mostly scrapers, borers, knives, and rubbing 
or smoothing tools ; a few arrow-heads have turned 
up, but these are mostly outside the huts, probably 
shot away in hunting. 

The examination of the graves discloses the same 
kind of pottery, but with better finish and more 
elaborate ornamentation. Implements of stone and 
some bronze objects were yielded by the graves, 
and the evidence of the exploration of the Dartmoor 
remains has thus far connected them with the period 
of culture known as the late Neolithic and Early 




BROADUN POUNDS 



^'POUNDS'* 165 

Bronze Age, which means that the folk were still 
using stone for their tools and weapons, but were 
just beginning to employ bronze, an alloy of copper 
and tin. It is not surprising that bronze has not 
hitherto been found in the dwellings ; it was far too 
valuable to be left about in such a manner as to be 
lost, and no surprise need be expressed that it has 
been discovered in sepulchral monuments appertain- 
ing to the same people, for nothing was too good as 
an offering for the use of the dead in the happy 
hunting-grounds above. 

That at least some of these huts belonged to 
"medicine men" is probable, from the finding in them 
of large, clear quartz crystals, such as are employed 
by several savage races as mediums for conjuring 
spirits. 

Some of the hut circles are enclosed within 
"pounds." Many examples exist. The most note- 
worthy is Grimspound. The circumference of the 
wall measures 15CX) feet, and it includes within it 
twenty-four hut circles. The wall is double, with 
small openings as doors into the space between, two 
of which are perfect ; but for what purpose the inter- 
space between the walls was left is most uncertain. 
It can hardly have been filled in with earth or rubble, 
as no traces of such filling remain. The entrance to 
the pound is in a very perfect condition. There is 
a hut circle outside the enclosing wall, just as in the 
prehistoric forts of Ireland. 

A curious passage may be quoted from the gloss to 
the Law of Adamnan, which shows how women were 
treated among the early races. 



i66 DARTMOOR 

In the hovels, very similar to our hut circles, a hole 
was dug in the floor from the door to the hearth 
about three feet deep. In this, in a condition of 
stark nudity, the women spent the day, and the 
object of the hole was partly decency and partly 
to keep the women in their places, so that — without 
joking — they were not on the same level as man. 
They did all the cooking, turning the spits. They 
made candles of fat, four hands'-breadth long. These 
they were required to hold aloft whilst the men ate 
and drank. At night the women were put to sleep 
in bothies like dog-kennels, outside the enclosure, so 
as to keep guard over their lords and masters, like 
watch-dogs. 

In Wales, Iltyd the knight sent his wife out stark 
naked in a bitter wind to collect the horses and drive 
them into pound, whilst he lay cuddled up in the 
blankets. 

Verily men had the upper hand then. Nous avons 
change tout cela. 

Near Post Bridge were numerous pounds contain- 
ing hut circles ; most have been destroyed — one only 
remains intact, at Broadun. Adjoining it was another, 
much larger ; there the enclosing wall has been 
destroyed, but not all the hut circles. At Archerton 
a plantation of firs has been made within one of these 
enclosures, of course to the destruction of the monu- 
ments it contained. 

What we learn from the hut circles on Dartmoor is 
that they were built and occupied by a people who, 
though they knew bronze, held it in high value, 
as we do gold. 




K 



I 



PLAN or KIST 
SHE\A//NC FOSIT/O/^ OF Uf?A/ 

SOALE 2 rCET TO I INCH 



COVER STONE 




s ECT tora 



ii^MSIlateff 




PLAN OF ^^;=r^. __:^"^ BARROW 

scale: b ft -to i ly 

BARROW OX CHAGFORD COMMON 



THE KISTVAEN 167 

II. Of the characteristic dolmen, which we in 
England call cromlech, we have but a single good 
example, that at Drewsteignton. Cornwall possesses 
numerous and fine specimens ; they abound in Wales 
and in Ireland. But although we have one only 
remaining, it can hardly be doubted that formerly 
there were others, wherever the name of Shillstone 
(Shelfstone) remains, as near Modbury, and in 
Bridestowe. 

The dolmen belonged to the period before bodies 
were burnt ; it was the family or tribal ossuary. As 
it became crowded with skeletons, the earliest were 
unceremoniously thrust back to the rear, to make 
room for the last - comers. The allee couverte in 
France, and the chambered barrows of Denmark, 
North Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and England, are 
but extensions of the dolmen to hold a larger number 
of the dead. The dolmens usually have a hole at 
one end, or a footstone that is removable at will, 
to allow for food to be passed in to the dead, and for 
the introduction of fresh applicants for house-room 
in the mansion of the departed. 

Some of these holed dolmens have the stone plugs 
for closing the holes still extant. On Dartmoor in 
the kistvaens a small stone at foot or side was placed, 
to be removed at pleasure. 

III. The kistvaen, or stone chest, is a modification 
of the dolmen, and is usually of a later date ; when 
incineration was become customary, the need for such 
enormous mortuary chapels, or tombs, as the dolmens 
and allees couvertes ceased. The dead could be 
packed into a much smaller space when reduced to 



i68 DARTMOOR 

a handful of ash. Nevertheless, it is probable that 
some kistvaens belong to the period of carnal inter- 
ment, and were erected for the reception of single 
bodies, which for some reason or other could not 
be conveyed to the family mausoleum. In Derby- 
shire carnal interment is found in cists, which are 
miniature dolmens, or kistvaens, sometimes standing 
alone, sometimes congregated together like cells of 
a honeycomb, each containing its crouched skeleton. 
On Dartmoor we have hundreds of kistvaens. Most 
have been rifled, but such as have been explored 
show that they belonged to the same people and 
period as those who occupied the hut circles. 

In the fine kistvaen at Merivale Bridge, plundered 
and mutilated though it had been, a flint knife and 
a polishing stone were found ; and flint flakes have 
been picked out of the ploughed soil round the 
Drewsteignton cromlech. At King's Oven is a 
ruined circle surrounding a demolished kistvaen, of 
which, however, some of the stones remain. A flint 
scraper was found wedged between two of the en- 
circling stones. Some fine specimens are to be seen 
near Post Bridge. 

IV. The stone circle is called by the French a 
cromlech. The purport of this is conjectural. Un- 
doubtedly interments have been found within them, 
but none, so far, in those on Dartmoor. In the great 
circle on Penmaen-mawr there were interments at the 
foot of several of the monoliths, and, indeed, one 
of these served as the backstone of a kistvaen. 
Stone uprights surround many cairns, in the midst 
of which is a kistvaen ; but such circles as the Grey 



THE STONE ROW 169 

Wethers, Scaur Hill, and that on Langstone Moor, 
never enclosed cairns or kistvaens, and must have 
had some other purpose. Among semi-barbarous 
tribes it is customary that the tribe and the clan 
shall have their places of assembly and consultation, 
and these are marked round by either stones or posts 
set up in the ground. Among some of these tribes, 
if one of the constituent clans fails to send its 
representative, the stone set up where he should sit 
is thrown down. It is possible that the circles of 
upright stones on Dartmoor, not connected with 
cairns, may have served such a purpose. They are 
usually placed on the neck of land between two 
rivers. There are on Dartmoor about a dozen. 

V. The stone row is almost invariably associated 
with cairns and kistvaens, and clearly had some 
relation to funeral rites. The stone settings are 
often single, sometimes double, or are as many as 
eight. They do not always run parallel ; they start 
from a cairn and end with a blocking-stone set across 
the line. In Scotland they are confined to Caithness. 
The finest known are at Carnac in Brittany. It is 
probable that just as a Bedouin now erects a stone 
near a fakir's tomb as a token of respect, so each 
of these rude blocks was set up by a member of a 
tribe, or a household, in honour of the chief buried 
in the cairn at the head of the row. It is remarkable 
how greatly the set stones vary in size ; some are 
quite insignificant, and could be planted by a boy, 
while others require the united efforts of three or 
four men, with modern appliances of three legs and 
block to lift and place them. Usually the largest 



170 DARTMOOR 

stones are planted near the cairn, and they dwindle 
to the blocking-stone, which is of respectable size. 
There is no known district so rich as Dartmoor in 
stone rows. The number of these still remaining 
in a more or less dilapidated condition is surpris- 
ing. Some five-and-twenty have been counted, and 
quantities must have been destroyed, and these the 
very finest examples, as the big upright stones lent 
themselves readily to be converted into gate-posts. 
Indeed of those that have been allowed to remain 
many have lost their largest stones. 

The most important stone row is that on Stall 
Moor, a single range, that can be discerned even from 
Cornwood Station, and looks like a number of 
cricketers in flannels stalking over the brow of the 
hill. A fine one is on Down Tor ; here the largest 
stones had been thrown down for the sake of re- 
moving them for gate-posts, and the marks of the 
levers were visible. Happily the Dartmoor Preserva- 
tion Society interfered and re-erected the stones 
which had been cast down. At Drizzlecombe are 
three sets of stone rows leading from tall menhirs. 
The stone avenue that led from the Longstone, near 
Caistor Rock for over a mile, was wantonly destroyed 
by a farmer a few years ago, when building a new- 
take wall hard by. A good example is on the brow 
of the hill opposite Grimspound, but the stones are 
not large. The Merivale Bridge remains consist of 
two sets of double rows, the stones very small, but 
the rows fairly intact. But the most remarkable row 
of all is that near the Erme Valley, which, starting 
from a great circle of upright stones, extends for two 



THE MENHIR 171 

miles and a quarter, descending a dip and crossing 
a stream to mount the opposite hill. 

VI. The menhir, or tall stone, is a rude, un- 
wrought obelisk. In some cases it is nothing other 
than the blocking-stone of a row which has been 
destroyed. But such is not always the case. There 
were no rows in connection with the menhir at 
Devil's Tor and the Whitmoor Stone. 

That the upright stone is a memorial to the dead 
can hardly be doubted ; it was continued to be 
erected, with an inscription, in Brito- Roman days, 
and its modern representative is in every church- 
yard. The menhirs, locally termed longstones, or 
langstones, must at one time have been numerous. 
Those round the moor have been carried away to 
serve as window-sills, door -jambs, even church 
pillars. Several places and moors, by their names, 
assure us that at one time these monuments were 
there. 

Menhirs are still erected by the dolmen builders 
on the Brama-pootra, the Khassias, and always in 
commemoration of the dead. The Chinese hold 
that the spirits of the deceased inhabit the memorials 
set up in their honour ; and the carved monoliths 
in Abyssinia, erected by the same race when it 
passed from Arabia to Africa, have carved in their 
faces little doors for the ingress and egress of 
the spirits. Holed menhirs are found in many 
places. 

There are several menhirs on Dartmoor, as the 
Beardown Man {Maen, stone), near Devil Tor, in 
a wild and desolate spot far from the haunts 



172 DARTMOOR 

of man ; the highest is at Drizzlecombe, height 
eighteen feet, and weighing six tons. 

It may well be doubted whether in any part of 
England such a complete series of remains of a 
vanished population exists as on Dartmoor, where 
we have their houses and their tombs. But the 
monuments are not of great size. 

VII. Cairns on Dartmoor are numerous, but all 
the large ones have been opened and robbed at 
some unknown period. They would not have been 
dug into at the cost of time and labour unless they 
had rendered results of value. One ruined cairn 
with a kistvaen in it is still called "The Crock of 
Gold," but probably bronze was the metal chiefly 
found. A cairn opened on Hameldon yielded a 
bronze knife with an amber handle with pins of 
gold. A cairn at Fernworthy gave up an urn with 
a button of Kimmeridge coal, and a small bronze 
knife, together with another of flint. But the cairns 
were not always raised over the bodies of the dead. 
Sometimes, perhaps, only over the head, which has 
long since disappeared ; sometimes over the place 
where the body was burnt, and sometimes as mere 
memorials. 

What makes ancient Irish usage so valuable is 
that there we have traditional pagan customs re- 
corded, and after Christianity was adopted the 
ancient usages were but slightly modified. I will 
quote a passage from Professor Sulivan that explains 
the various methods of interment. And it must be 
borne in mind that in Ireland the Celt was super- 
posed on the Ivernian just as in Devon and Cornwall, 




URN FROM KISTVAEN 



MONUMENTS 173 

and that in both the dominant race largely adopted 
the religious views and customs of the subjugated 
people. 

" From the ancient laws and other sources we have 
direct evidence that the ritual of the dead varied with the 
rank, sex, and occupation of the deceased, and that it was 
more splendid and elaborate in the case of great men." * 

The various kinds of monument were the Derc, 
the Fert, the Leacht, the Durna^ the CnoCy and the 
Cam. 

The Derc was a hollow, a pit, or hole, dug in the 
ground ; in fact, a simple grave. 

The Fert was a rectangular chamber, composed 
of stones set upright, and covered horizontally with 
flags ; in a word, a kistvaen. 

The Leacht seems to have been a larger -sized 
kistvaen, a cromlech or dolmen, but a single upright 
stone was also called a leacht. When a number of 
persons were buried in a single mound, then a stone 
was set up in commemoration of each round the 
tumulus or cairn. A good specimen may be seen 
beside the road to Widecombe from Post Bridge. 
The cairn has been almost levelled, but the ring 
of stones remains. 

The Cnoc was a rounded, sugar-loaf mound of 
earth, and the Duma was a similar mound raised 
over a kistvaen. 

The Cairn or Cam was a mere pile of stones, 
generally made over a grave, but sometimes having 
no immediate connection with one. Here is a curious 

* Introduction to O'Curry, Ma7iners and Customs of the Ancient 
Irish, 1873, i., p. cccxxix. 



174 DARTMOOR 

passage which will explain why some cairns contain 
no interments : — 

" The plunderers started from the coast, and each man 
took with him a stone to make a earn, for such was the 
custom of the Fians when going to plunder or war. It 
was a pillar-stone they planted when going to give a general 
battle ; and it was a cairn they made this time, because it 
was a plundering expedition. . . . Every man who survived 
used to remove his stone from the cairn, and the stones 
of those who were slain remained in place, and thus they 
were able to ascertain their losses." — The Book of the 
Dun Cow. 

Sometimes, after a battle, when it was not possible 
to carry away a body, the head of the man who 
had fallen was buried by his friends under a cairn, 
because the ancient Irish were wont to carry off 
heads as trophies ; but to violate a cairn, even when 
raised by a foe, was regarded as sacrilege. 

On Dartmoor, in addition to prehistoric antiquities, 
numerous rude stone crosses remain ; some of these, 
if not all, indicate ways, and were employed as 
landmarks. Only one bears an inscription, "Crux 
Siwardi." 

The whole of the moor, in the stream bottoms, 
is seamed with streamers' " burrows " and deep work- 
ings. It is not possible to fix their date. Through- 
out the Middle Ages stream tin was extracted from 
Dartmoor. Fresh activity was shown in the reign of 
Elizabeth. Beside the mounds may be seen the 
ruins of the old " blow-house," where the tin was 
smelted, and very probably among the ruins will be 
found the moulds into which the tin was run. I post- 



BOOKS ON DARTMOOR 175 

pone what I have to say on the tin -working to 
a chapter on that topic in the ensuing portion of my 
book, on Cornwall. 



Books on Dartmoor : — 

ROWE (S.), Perambulation of Dartmoor (new ed.). Exeter, 1896. 
A caution must be given that the original work was written in 1848, 
when archosology was a matter of theorising, and when Druids and 
Phoenicians cut great figures. In reading Rowe's book the reader must 
pass over all this. 

Crossing (W.), Amid Devonians Alps. London and Plymouth, 
1888. A pleasantly written little book, and free from the arrant 
nonsense of pseudo-antiquarians of fifty years ago, cooked up afresh. 

Page (J. L. W.), An Exploration of Dartmoor. London, 1889. 
All the archgeologic lore in this book must be rejected. Otherwise it is 
good. 

Cresswell (B. F.), Dartmoor and its Surroundings. London, 
1898. A handy 6d. guide, very useful, and commendably free from 
false theorising on antiquarian topics. 

Spencer (E.), Dartmoor. Plymouth, 1894. Afresh and pleasant 
book, trustworthy as to the geology, but wildly erroneous as to the 
antiquities. 

For the Archaeology : — 

Reports of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee of the Devonshire 
Association, 1894-9. 

For the History of the moor : — 

Reports and publications of the Dartmoor Preservation Society. 

For the Crosses : — 

Crossing (W.), The Ancient Crosses of Darttnoor. Exeter, 1887. 

Crossing (W.), The Old Stone Crosses of the Dartmoor Border. 
Exeter, 1892. 

For the Churches on the borders of Dartmoor : — 

Chapter xix. of Rowe's Perambtilation, new edition. 

For the Flora and Fauna of the moor : — 

Chapters xiv.-xvii. of the same. 

For the Geology of Dartmoor : — 

Ussher (W. a. G.), **The Granite of Dartmoor," in Transactions 
of the Devonshire Association^ 1888, 



CHAPTER XI. 
DARTMOOR: ITS TENANTS 

Forest rights exercised by the Duchy — Rights of the parishes of Devon 
to Dartmoor — Encroachments — Venville — Newtakes — Importance 
of the moor as common land — The four quarters — Drifts— A moor- 
man's house — Vipers in the walls — Crockern Tor and Mr. Fowler — 
The "Wish Hounds" — The pixies — How an Ordnance surveyor was 
pixy-led — The moor in fog — Story of a pixy birth — ^Joe Leaman 
and the pixies — Notice on church gate — The boys and the plaster 
figures — The witch of Endor — Those born on the moor do not like 
to leave it — Freshets on Dartmoor rivers — The Dart — Ancient 
tenements — The Prisons — Story of an attempted escape — A success- 
ful escape — Cost to the country of the criminal class — Some effort 
should be made to prevent crime — Believer Day — Trout-fishing — - 
Dartmoor in winter — The song of the moor, 

DARTMOOR consists of moorland running up 
to heights of over 2000 feet, a great deal of the 
area being enclosed, forming rough grazing farms, 
but much of it remains to-day what it was thousands 
of years ago, boulder-strewn ravines, through which 
rush impetuous streams, rocky heights crowned with 
huge blocks of granite, so weather-worn and piled 
up as to suggest to the stranger that some Titans 
had so placed them to serve as castles or to add 
a romantic touch to already wild scenery. Great 
sweeps of heather and furze-clad downs run up to 
these elevations, and on many of these the rude 
stone monuments lie scattered about in all directions. 

176 



THE FOREST 177 

The forest of Dartmoor became the property of 
the Princes of Wales only so far that forest rights 
were granted to the Black Prince and to the Princes 
of Wales for ever, without prejudice to such rights as 
had belonged from time immemorial to all Devon- 
shire parishes with the exception of Barnstaple and 
Totnes. And the rights of Devonshire parishes were 
to take off the moor whatever was wanted save 
venison and vert, that is to say, not to cut down green 
trees. As of trees there are none, or hardly any, 
this exception could not be very greatly felt as a 
grievance, and as now there are no deer, one might 
have supposed that Devonshire people could exercise 
an unlimited right over Dartmoor. Such, however, 
is not the case. The Duchy of Cornwall, vested in 
the Princes of Wales, has claimed and exercised the 
power to cut away and reject the rights of every 
parish except such as are immediately contiguous to 
the moor, and to enclose and to shut out the good 
people of Devon from large tracts, one of which is 
made over to the convicts, another to the artillery, to 
fire across at long range. The tors also are given up 
to be hacked and quarried ; and ponies and bullocks 
that have found their way on to the moors and do 
not belong to "Venville" parishes (that is to say, 
such as are contiguous to the forest) are pounded, 
and their owners fined for trespass. Thus the grant 
of forest rights, ?>., rights to hunt the red deer, have 
been converted to very exclusive rights to everything, 
and the Devonians, whose right was recognised to 
everything save venison and vert, has been reduced 
to nothing at all. But just as the Duchy encroached 
N 



178 DARTMOOR 

on the rights of all the good people of Devon, so 
was it also encroached upon. Before that the grant 
of forest rights was made to the Black Prince there 
were certain ancient tenements on the moor ; those 
occupying them held under the king, and were abso- 
lutely independent otherwise. But these tenants had 
certain traditional rights, which they could put in 
force once only in their lives — on the death of the 
last holder the incomer might enclose ten acres of 
moor land, and hold it at a nominal rent. Thus these 
ancient tenements gradually expanded. But besides 
this the holders made larger enclosures, locally termed 
"new-takes," when the fancy came to them to do so, 
and they settled matters easily with the Duchy agents, 
to the advantage of both. Large landed proprietors 
managed to get slices by a little greasing of palms, 
and some very odd transactions took place whereby 
great tracts of land, and even farms, were transferred 
from the Duchy to other hands without the Princes 
of Wales being in any way benefited, or being aware 
that they were being robbed. But then — as the 
Duchy had taken from the people — had not such 
of the people as could contrive it a right to take 
back what they could ? 

All this is now so far a matter of the past that 
the Duchy is no longer robbed, it robs instead — 
curtailing on all sides the rights of those living in 
the low steamy lands to the pure air and wide wastes 
of that great well-head of health and life — the ancient 
Forest of Dartmoor. 

During the abnormally dry summers of 1893 and 
1897 Dartmoor proved of incalculable advantage not 



MOORMEN 179 

to the County of Devon only, but far further afield. 
When grass was burnt up everywhere, and water 
failed, then the moor was green, and was twinkling 
with dancing streams. From every quarter the starv- 
ing cattle were driven there in thousands and tens of 
thousands. Drovers came from so far east as Kent, 
there to obtain food and drink unobtainable else- 
where. 

Thousands and tens of thousands more might 
have been sustained there but for the enclosures 
that have been suffered to be made — nay, have been 
encouraged. 

Dartmoor is divided into four regions, and over 
each region a moorman is placed. In every quarter 
of the moor a special earmark is required for the 
ponies that are turned out, a round hole punched 
in the ear, through which is passed a piece of dis- 
tinguishing tape, red or blue, white or black. The 
ponies are much given to rambling ; they pass from 
one quarter to another in search of pasture ; but 
the moorman of each quarter can recognise those 
turned out on his region by the earmark. Sheep 
also and bullocks are turned out on the moor ; but 
they have to be cared for at home in the winter, 
whereas the ponies brave the storms and snow. 
The flocks and herds are not driven on to the moor 
till summer, and are driven off at the approach of 
winter. 

Although every farmer round has a right to turn 
out his beasts, yet the moorman expects a fee for 
each horse, bullock, or sheep sent out on the downs. 
Cattle, horses, and sheep sent upon the common 



i8o DARTMOOR 

lands that adjoin the forest are h'able to stray on 
to the broader expanse, and in order to detect these 
and exact a fine for them certain drivings are 
ordered, locally called "drifts." The day when a 
drift is to take place is kept a profound secret till 
it is proclaimed early in the morning. Then a 
messenger on a fleet horse is sent round very early 
to announce it. On certain tors are holed stones, 
and through these horns were formerly passed and 
blown on such occasions. There are drifts for 
ponies, and drifts for bullocks. A drift is an 
animated and striking scene. Horsemen and dogs 
are out, the farmers identifying their cattle, the 
drivers and dogs sending the frightened beasts 
plunging, galloping in one direction towards the 
place of gathering. When all the beasts have been 
driven together, an officer of the Duchy mounts a 
stone and reads a formal document that is supposed 
to authorise the moormen to make their claim for 
fees. Then the Venville tenants carry off their 
cattle without objection. All others are pounded, 
or else their owners pay fines before being allowed 
to reclaim them. 

Now and then the Duchy endeavours to extend 
its right over the commons belonging to contiguous 
parishes. Nothing is lost by asserting a right, and 
something may be gained. But when a drift is 
carried over such commons the farmers of the 
parishes rise up and repel the moormen, and battles 
with clubs and horsewhips ensue. Blows are given 
and returned ; it is felt, and felt rightly, that en- 
croachment must be resisted at all cost, lest it should 



MOORMAN'S HOUSE i8i 

serve as a stepping-stone for deprivation of further 
rights. 

An old moorman's house was a picturesque object : 
built up centuries ago of granite blocks unshaped, 
set in earth, with no lime or cement to fix them, 
low-browed, with the roof thatched with rushes, the 
windows small, looking into a small court-yard, and 
this court-yard entered through a door in a high 
blank wall. On one side the turf stacked up, the 
saddles, the harness ; on the other, a cow-house and 
stable, the well-house accessible from the kitchen 
without going from under cover, the v/ell being 
nothing other than a limpid moor stream diverted 
and made to flow into a basin of scooped-out granite. 
The door into the house gives admission into an 
outer chamber, where is every description of odds 
and ends ; where are potatoes, old barrels, infirm cart- 
wheels, and the poultry hopping over everything. 
On one side a door gives admission to the kitchen, 
hall, parlour, all in one, lighted by a small window 
looking into the court-yard. Or, again, on the one 
hand is the cattle-shed, on the other the kitchen, all 
under one roof, and beyond the kitchen the common 
sleeping-chamber. Rarely is there an upper storey. 
The object of making these ancient houses so totally 
enclosed was to protect the dwelling from the furious 
storms. They were castles, but walled up against 
no other enemy than the wild weather. Nowadays 
these ancient houses are rapidly disappearing, and 
new, vulgar, staring edifices are taking their places — 
edifices that let in wind and water at every joint and 
loophole. 



iS2 DARTMOOR 

The dry walls of these old tenements were snug 
places for vipers to shelter through the winter, and 
I have heard many an old moorman relate how, 
when the peat fire was glowing and the room was 
warm, he has seen the heads and glittering eyes of 
the "long cripples" shoot out from the crevices in 
the wall and sway, enjoying the warmth, but too 
sluggish to do more. 

One told me that his dog was bitten by a viper, 
and its head was swollen shockingly. He at once 
got elder flowers, and put them in a caldron to boil, 
and held the dog's head over the steam. It cured 
the poor beast. 

Many years ago a Manchester man with plenty of 
money came down to Dartmoor, and declared that 
it was a shame so much land should lie waste; he 
would show what could be done with it. So he 
soon came to terms with the Duchy, which allowed 
him to enclose thousands of acres — which means 
exclude the public — and to set up machine-houses 
for steam-engines to thrash, and for steam-ploughs 
to turn the soil, and so on. The whole not very 
far from Crockern Tor, the umbel, the centre of the 
moor, the seat of the ancient stannary court, sub 
DiOy under the open vault of heaven, on unhewn 
granite seats. 

One day an old moorman met this new-fangled 
farmer, and said to him : " How do 'y^ Muster Vowler ? 
I had a dream about yii last night." 

" Did you, indeed ? I am flattered." 

" Hear what it is afore yii say that." 

" Well, tell me." 




LOWER TARR 



SUPERSTITION i8t 



v) 



" Well, Muster Vowler, I failed asleep, and then 
I saw the gurt old sperit of the moors, old Crockern 
himself, grey as granite, and his eyebrows hanging 
down over his glimmering eyes like sedge, and his 
eyes deep as peat water pools. Sez he to me, ' Do 
'y know Muster Vowler ? ' ' Well, sir,' sez I, ' I thinks 
I have that honour.' ' Then,' sez he in turn, ' Bear 
him a message from me. Tell Muster Vowler if he 
scratches my back, I '11 tear out his pocket.' " 

And sure enough old Crockern did it. After a 
few years Dartmoor beat the scientific farmer. He 
had tried to drain its bogs, it had drained his purse. 
He had scratched its back, and it had torn out his 
pocket. 

There existed formerly a belief on Dartmoor that 
it was hunted over at night in storm by a black 
sportsman, with black fire-breathing hounds, called 
the " Wish Hounds." They could be heard in full 
cry, and occasionally the blast of the hunter's horn 
on stormy nights. 

One night a moorman was riding home from 
Widecombe. There had been a fair there ; he had 
made money, and had taken something to keep out 
the cold, for the night promised to be one of 
tempest. He started on his homeward way. The 
moon shone out occasionally between the whirling 
masses of thick vapour. The horse knew the way 
better perhaps than his master. The rider had 
traversed the great ridge of Hameldon, and was 
mounting a moor on which stands a circle of up- 
right stones — reputedly a Druid circle, and said to 
dance on Christmas Eve — when he heard a sound 



][§4 DARTMOOR 

that startled him — a horn, and then past him swept 
without sound of footfall a pack of black dogs. 

The moorman was not frightened — he had taken 
in too much Dutch courage for that — and when a 
minute after the black hunter came up, he shouted 
to him, " Hey ! huntsman, what sport ? Give us 
some of your game." 

"Take that," answered the hunter, and flung him 
something which the man caught and held in his 
arm. Then the mysterious rider passed on. An 
hour elapsed before the moorman reached his home. 
As he had jogged on he had wondered what sort 
of game he had been given. It was too large for 
a hare, too small for a deer. Provokingly, not once 
since the encounter had the moon flashed forth. 
Now that he was at his door he swung himself 
from his horse, and still carrying the game, shouted 
for a lantern. 

The light was brought. With one hand the fellow 
took it, then raised it to throw a ray on that which 
he held in his arm — the game hunted and won by 
the Black Rider. It was his own baby, dead and 
cold. This story was told by the blacksmith at 
Moreton Hampstead to G. P. Bidder, the calculating 
boy, who as a lad was fond of playing about the old 
man's forge. From one of Mr. Bidder's daughters 
I had the tale. 

It would be unjustifiable to pass over the Pixies, 
or Pysgies as they are generally termed, who are 
the little spirits supposed specially to haunt Dart- 
moor, although indeed they leave their traces, and 
perform their pranks elsewhere. To be "pysgie- 



PIXY-LED 185 

led" is to go astray and become so bewildered as 
not to be able to find the way at all. How entirely 
one may go wrong even with the best appliances, the 
following experience will show. 

One morning, my friend Mr. R. Burnard, with 
one of the officers of the Ordnance Survey, another 
gentleman and myself, started from the Duchy Hotel, 
Princetown, with the object of visiting an unregis- 
tered stone row on Conies Down Tor, which at our 
request the Survey was about to include in their 
map. We started at 9.30 a.m., of course pro- 
vided with compasses and surveying apparatus. 
There was a bit of fog as we left the hotel door, 
but as we heard the larks singing aloft we expected 
it to clear. Mr. Burnard and the officer got ahead 
of us, and disappeared in the mist before we had 
gone a hundred yards — and we saw them no more 
that day. 

Beyond the Prisons there is a short cut across the 
enclosures made by the convicts, into the main 
Tavistock and Moreton road ; we took that, and on 
reaching the road struck by Fitz's Well due north, 
or nearly so, for Black Dunghill (Blackadun-hill). 
Then I knew that by going due north we must strike 
the Lych Way, the track by which corpses were 
formerly carried from the centre and east side of 
the moor for interment at Lydford. This Lych Way 
is fairly well marked. 

The mist became thicker ; we walked on, hoping 
on reaching Conies Down Tor to find our friends 
there. But after a bit I got completely lost ; we 
came on a dip or pan in which were sheep, but no 



i86 DARTMOOR 

stream ; that I could in no way account for, so we 
set our faces to the wind, which I knew when we 
started blew from the south, and about one o'clock 
we reached Princetown again, drenched to the skin. 
But the Ordnance Survey officer and Mr. Burnard 
had taken another route, had arrived at Mis Tor, and 
then by a swerve to the right along Mis Tor pan — one 
ghastly, boggy tract to be avoided — essayed to strike 
the Lych Way and reach Conies Down Tor. But 
in the mist they went so absolutely astray, notwith- 
standing their scientific appliances, that when about 
one o'clock they reached a stream flowing north they 
supposed that they had hit on the Ockment and 
would come out at Okehampton. Nor was it till 
a brawling stream came foaming down on the right, 
and the river took a twist south-west, that it dawned 
on them that they were on the Tavy. About five 
o'clock they reached, sopped as sponges and utterly 
fagged, a little tavern at Mary Tavy, where, in their 
prostration, they asked for a bottle of champagne. 
The hostess stared. " Plaize, surs, be he sum'ut to 
ate ? Us hav'n't got nort but eggs and a rasher." 

That was a case of Pixy-leading out of pure mis- 
chief, to show how superior they were to all the last 
appliances of science. 

Now, when the way is lost, there is one thing to be 
done, if possible — aim at running water and follow 
the stream. It may lead you out thirty miles from 
the spot you want to reach, but it will eventually lead 
to a roof, and " wittles and drink," and better still — 
dry clothes. 

But there is another way—to make two marks and 



THE PYSGIES 187 

pace between them till the fog rises. This is how an 
old farmer's wife did, living at Sheberton. She had 
been to Princetown to get some groceries. On her 
way back in the afternoon fog enveloped her, and she 
lost all sense of her direction. Well, she set down 
her basket with the groceries on the turf, and planted 
her gingham umbrella at ten strides from it, and 
spent the night walking from one to the other, 
addressing each now and then, so as to keep up 
her spirits. 

To the groceries : " Be yu lyin' comf'able there, my 
dears ? Keep dry what iver yu dii, my biities." 

To the gingham: "Now old neighbour, tesn't folded 
yu like to be in this sort o' weather. But us can't 
alwez have what us likes i' this wurld, and mebbe 
t'aint glide us should." 

To the groceries : " Now my purties, yu '11 be better 
bym-by. Won't ee, shuggar, whan you 'm put into 
a nice warm cup o' tay ? That '11 be different from 
this drashy, dirty vog, I reckon." 

To the gingham: "Never mind. It's for rain 
you 'm spread. It would be demeanin' of yourself 
to stretch out all your boans agin' drizzlin' mist, 
for sure." 

By morning the vapour rose, and the old lady took 
her direction, came cheerily home, and comforted 
herself with a sugared cup of tea, and spread the 
umbrella in the kitchen to " dry hisself " 

But to return to the Pysgies themselves. 

What I am now about to mention is a story I 
have received from Mr. T. W. Whiteway, brother 
of Sir William Whiteway ; he was brought up on 



i88 DARTMOOR 

the confines of the moor. The story is of the Fairies' 
ointment, as Nurse Warren told it. 

" You have many times asked me to tell you about 
the Fairies' ointment. Now I don't suppose you 
will believe me, but I have heard Granny say that 
a very long time ago there were Pixies scattered 
all over the country. The Pixies were good and 
kind to some people, but to others they would play 
all sorts of tricks. You must never spy on a Pixy, 
for they would be sure to pay you out if you did. 
Now the story I am going to tell you was told to 
me by my grandmother, who died in her eighty- 
seventh year, and she heard it from her mother. 
So this all happened before there was any King 
George. Granny used to say that she believed it 
was when there was a King Henry, who had a 
number of wives. 

"There was a wonderfully clever midwife, called 
Morada, who lived a little way out of Holne village, 
close to Dartmoor. You know in those days doctors 
were not so plentiful as they be now, nor so clever ; 
so the people all around used to send for Nurse 
Morada. Now she was a widow woman and a 
foreigner. Folks did say she was a witch, and a 
sight of money she got, for folks was afraid to 
offend her. 

" One night just before harvest Nurse had gone to 
bed early, for it was a dark, dismal evening, likely 
for a thunderstorm, and Nurse was much afraid of 
lightning. 

"She had not been long asleep when she was 
awakened by such a clatter at the door as if it was 



A PIXY BIRTH 189 

being broken down, and it was thundering and 
lightning frightful. Nurse was greatly frightened, 
but lay still, hoping the knocking would cease, but 
it only got worse and worse. At last she rose 
and opened the window, when she saw by the 
lightning flashing, which almost blinded her, a little 
man sitting on a big horse, hammering at the 
door. 

" ' Come down, woman,' he said ; ' my wife is ill, 
and wants you.' 

" ' Do you think I 'm mad ? ' she called out. ' I 
would not go out for the queen herself such a night 
as this,' and was going to shut the window. 

" ' Stop ! ' he cried out ; ' will you come with me 
for ten golden guineas ? ' 

" Now this was a sight of money in those days, 
and Nurse was very greedy for money ; so she 
told the man to wait, and she would be dressed as 
soon as possible. 

" The man jumped down from his horse, and 
pointing to a shed said two words in a foreign 
language, whereupon the horse cleverly walked in 
out of the rain. The man entered the house, and 
when Nurse saw him she was that frightened she 
almost fainted away. He was not old at all, but 
a very handsome young man. He was small, to 
be sure, but he looked a real little gentleman, with 
such beautiful fine clothes, and eyes that fairly 
looked through you. He laughed to see how 
frightened the woman was. 

" ' Now listen to me,' he said in a voice as sweet as 
a thrush's, ' and be sure that if you do what I tell you. 



I90 DARTMOOR 

and never speak of what you may see or hear, no 
harm will happen to you, and I will give you ten 
guineas now and ten more when you return home. 
If you keep your promise all will be well, but if you 
do not I will punish you very severely. Now to 
show you what power I have, I tell you that although 
you say that you are a widow and call yourself 
Morada, that is not your name, for you never were 
married. Shall I tell you some more of your past life?' 

" ' No, sir, no ! ' she called out. ' I will do all that 
you tell me.' 

" ' That 's right and sensible. Now the first thing 
I do is to blindfold you, and you must not try to 
take off the bandage from your eyes. Take these 
ten guineas and put them away.' 

"This the woman did, and hid them behind the 
mantelpiece. They both left the house, the woman 
locking the door. He took the woman behind him 
on the horse, and tied her with a strap round her 
waist. Away went the horse like the wind across 
the moor ; Nurse thought from the time they took 
they must have gone pretty near as far as Lydford. 
When he got off from the horse he made sure that 
she had not moved the handkerchief. Unlocking 
a door, he led her up through a long passage, and, 
unlocking another door, pulled her inside. 

" * Now take off your handkerchief,' said he, and 
she found herself in a queer-looking place all lighted 
up with beautiful lamps. A little squint-eyed man 
came and said something the Nurse could not under- 
stand. The little gentleman then hurried off Nurse 
into a^nother room, where, lying on a beautiful velvet 



A PIXY BIRTH 191 

bed, was the prettiest little lady anybody ever did 
see. 

" Well, before many hours there was a sweet little 
dot of a boy born. Then the gentleman brought the 
Nurse a box of ointment and told her to rub some 
over the baby's eyelids. When nurse had done so 
she put the box in her pocket and forgot all about it. 
This got her into great trouble, as I '11 tell you about 
presently. Nurse stayed some days with the little 
lady, and got to love her very much, she was that 
kind and good. The little lady liked Nurse, and told 
her that she herself was a princess ; that her husband 
was a prince ; that they lived in a beautiful country 
where there was no frost or snow, and that they were 
fairies, not Pixies. Her father was the king of all the 
fairies, and he was very angry because she ran away 
and married the prince, who was not of so high 
a rank as she was, although he was her cousin, and 
that to punish them he sent 'em both to Dartmoor 
for a year. That time was now up, and they were all 
going home in a few days. 

" The fairy prince took Nurse to her home blind- 
folded on the big horse, in the same way as he 
brought her there, and on parting gave her the other 
ten guineas as he had promised. The next morning 
Nurse was in a great quandary when she found the 
box of ointment in her pocket. ' Well,' she thought, 
'he will be sure to come for this ointment, as they will 
all be going away to-morrow or the next day.' 

" Nurse stayed up all that night, but the prince did 
not come, and the next day and night passed without 
seeing him. Then Nurse felt certain that they werQ 



192 DARTMOOR 

all gone, and had forgotten the ointment, and she 
could scarcely eat, drink, or sleep for thinking what 
virtue there might be in it. 

" When the fourth night had passed without his 
coming Nurse could wait no longer, but opened the 
box and rubbed in a little of the ointment on her 
left eye; but she only felt the eye prick and sting 
a bit, so the woman thought the ointment must be 
only good for fairy babies, and she went to bed quite 
satisfied. 

" The next morning she thought she must have died 
and awakened up in another world. Everything 
about her looked as if it had grown ever so much. 
The cat, which always slept in her room, looked as 
large as a great dog. Then remembering the ointment, 
she covered her left eye, and all was as it used to 
be. The woman now got very frightened, and started 
off after breakfast to go to Ashburton to consult 
a friend of hers, a Mr. Stranger, who was very clever 
about herbs. 

"As she walked along she would now and again 
cover up her right eye, and then everything would 
look so grand and beautiful ; and looking up, she 
saw stars, although the sun was shining brightly, she 
could see that wonderfully far off. Now, she had not 
gone very far when suddenly the fairy prince, sitting 
on his horse, appeared before her. 

" * Good morning, sir,' she said, dropping a curtsy. 

" * Ah ! ' he cried, ' the ointment ! Which eye do 
you see me with ? ' 

" • The left, sir.' 

" Instantly she felt something like a blow on that 



THE PYSGIES 193 

eye. The fairy prince vanished, and appeared again 
as the little man she had first seen. 

" ' Nurse,' said he, ' you are blinded in your left eye 
as a punishment for having used the ointment. I am 
sorry, for you were kind to my wife. Here is a 
present she has sent you.' 

" He then gave her ten guineas, and she returned 
him the box. He then vanished. This is all the 
story that Granny told me about the fairy ointment." 

A farmer on the west side of Dartmoor, having 
had sickness among his cattle in 1879, sacrificed a 
sheep and burnt it on the moor above his farm as 
an offering to the Pysgies. The cattle at once 
began to recover, and did well after, nor were there 
any fresh cases of sickness among them. He spoke 
of the matter as by no means anything to be 
ashamed of, or that was likely to cause surprise. 

There can be little doubt that many of the Pixy 
stories, as well as those of ghosts, have their origin 
in practical jokes. 

Old Joe Leaman, of Dartmeet, recently dead, had 
an experience with Pysgies, as he supposed. 

One day, having need of fuel, he went up the 
Dart to cut faggots of wood in the Brimpts planta- 
tion. Whether he had leave to do so, or took it, 
is not recorded. 

He went among the trees, cut a faggot, bound 
it, and carried it to a place where he purposed 
making a pile, which he would carry home at his 
leisure. But he was observed by some young 
fellows, and after he had deposited his faggot and 
had disappeared in the plantation, they went to 
O 



194 DARTMOOR 

the spot, removed and concealed the faggot, and 
hid themselves. 

Presently Joe came from out of the wood with a 
second faggot on his back. On reaching the place 
where the first had been placed, he set down the 
second, looked about, rubbed his eyes, shook his 
head, and taking his staff drove it through the 
faggot, and pinned it firmly to the ground. Then 
he went again to the wood. 

No sooner was he gone than the young fellows 
crept from their hiding-place and removed the 
second bundle, but planted his staff where he had 
set it. 

Back came Joe Leaman bowed under a third 
faggot, but when he saw that the second had 
vanished like the first, and his stick remained, this 
was too much for him ; down went number three, 
and he took to his heels, and did not halt till he 
reached his cottage. 

Some hours later the mischievous youths came 
in, and saw the old fellow crouched over his peat 
fire. 

"Well, Joe, how bee'st a?" 

"A b'aint well." 

"What's the matter?" 

'' Umph ! b'aint well." 

Nothing more could be got out of him. 

During the night the lads brought all three 
faggots and his stick, and pegged them down at 
his door. Joe came out in the morning. 

" Ah ! " said he, " them Pysgies ! They 'm vriends 
wi' me again. Now I 'm all right. It ud niver do, 



ANECDOTES 195 

us on the moor not to be on glide tarms wi' they. 
I'm right as a trivet now." 

The schools have pretty well banished superstition 
from Dartmoor ; none now remains, and I doubt 
whether the old stories are any longer to be picked 
up there. 

Education, however, is not in an advanced con- 
dition. The other day I took down for preservation 
the following notice I saw affixed to the church gate 
at Post Bridge. It was written on vermilion -red 
paper : — 

" Mary maze hencot as been and kellad 
John Webb Jack daw. 
and he got to pay 5^ for kellad a Jack daw." 

The sense is not clear. As may be noticed, Mary 
is a he, just as a cow is a he. 

Here is a bit of conversation overheard between 
two Dartmoor boys : — 

" I zay, Bill, 'ow many cows hev your vaither ? " 
" Mine — oh ! dree and an oss. How many 'as 
yourn ? " 

" Mine ! oh ! my vaither — e 's in heaven." 
" Get out ! mine ha' been there scores o' times." 
This is a sceptical age. The very foundations of 
faith in verities and trust in authorities are shaken. 
How far may be instanced by this anecdote : — 

Two choir boys had been to a Christmas treat. 
There was a cake with little plaster figures on it, 
and two of these were presented to the aforesaid 
boys, Jack and Tom, by their pastor and spiritual 
father, with strict injunctions not to eat them, as 



196 DARTMOOR 

they would be most injurious, might kill them. 
They took the images home, and showed them to 
their mother, who at once perceived that they were 
of plaster of Paris and not edible. 

"Byes!" said she, "doant ey niver go for to ate 
of thickey drashey things. They '11 kill yu for zure- 
cartain, right off on end." 

Here, pray note it, was the same thing inculcated 
by the material as well as the spiritual parent. 
Some hours later the mother with a shock perceived 
that one of the plaster figures was gone from the 
mantelshelf on which she had placed it. 

" Tom ! Tom ! " she cried to the only son who was 
then in the house, " where be the plaister man to ? " 

"Plaise, mother, Jack hev aiten 'n — and if Jack 
be alive this arternoon, I be goin' to ate the other 
wan." 

When such a condition of mind exists among the 
young, can one expect to find a belief in Pixies still 
present ? 

The only very modern case of spectres or their 
congeners on the moor I have heard of is that of 
a moor farmer, who is wont to return from market at 
Moreton in a hilarious condition. 

"T'other day," said he, "just as I comed to a little 
dip in the ground t' other side o' Merripit, who shu'd 
I meet but the witch o' Endor. ' Muster,' sez she, 
* Yu' ve been drinkin' and got liquor o' board.' Now 
how cu'd a woman a' knawed that onless her 'd been 
a sperrit herself or a witch I 'd like to knaw." 

Some of those who have been brought up on the 
moor cannot endure to leave it. One man named 



X 



COTTAGES 197 

John Hamlyn, who died aged eighty years, had never 
in all his life been off it. Another, Jacob Gorman, 
aged seventy-five, had been from it only two months 
in all his life. At a little cot near Birch Tor, it was 
said that the fire had not gone out for a hundred 
years, as the women had never for a night left the 
house. 

Some of the old cottages on the moor were 
wonderful abodes, like Irish cabins. They are 
gradually disappearing, but a few still remain. The 
influx of visitors to Dartmoor, and the money 
brought there, tend to their effacement. A cot that 
could be run up between sunrise and sunset and 
a fire lighted by nightfall, has been held to consti- 
tute a right for ever to the place. Some of the 
hovels still standing have been so erected. 

The rivers on the moor are liable to freshets. In 
the notable storm of 1890, Merivale Bridge on the 
Walla, and the old bridge leading from Tavistock to 
Peter Tavy over the Tavy river, were swept away. 
But the Dart is notorious for its sudden swelling. 
It was due to this that the old couplet ran — 

" River of Dart, O river of Dart, 
Every year thou claimest a heart." 

The river " cries " when there is to be a change of 
wind. " Us shall have bad weather, maister ; I hear 
the Broadstones a crying." The Broadstones are 
boulders of granite lying in the bed of the river. 
The cry, however, hardly comes from them, but from 
a piping of the wind in the twists of the glen through 
which the turbulent river writhes. 



198 DARTMOOR 

In Dartington churchyard there is a tombstone to 
the memory of John Edmonds, who was drowned 
in the river on August 17th, 1840. He and his 
intended were coming from Staverton Church, where 
they had been married, when a wave of water rolled 
down on them, and cart, horse, and bride and bride- 
groom were swept away. Her body was found 
caught in a tree a few hundred yards below, but 
the body of the man was not recovered for nearly 
three weeks afterwards ; the horse and cart were 
carried over the weir near Totnes bridge. 

About a hundred and fifty years ago there was no 
stone bridge at Hexworthy, only a clapper (wooden 
bridge). Two men were coming down the road 
when they heard the roar of a freshet. " Here 
Cometh old Dart — let's run," said one. They ran, 
but old Dart was too quick for them ; he caught 
them on the clapper and carried both off and 
drowned them; so that year he had two hearts. 

A few years ago the Meavy suddenly rose and 
caught a man and his horse as they were crossing 
a ford below the village. The man was not drowned, 
but died of the consequences. 

Up to 1702 there were on Dartmoor but thirty-five 
tenements in fifteen localities, some two or three 
being grouped together in certain places. These 
ancient farms are situated in the best and most 
favoured portions of the Forest of Dartmoor, and 
have been occupied from prehistoric times, as is 
evidenced by the quantity of flint tools that are 
turned up at these spots. 

There is an account of the tenants of Dartmoor 



THE PRISONS 199 

as early as 1344-5, from which it appears that they 
were then forty-four in number. In 1346 the forty- 
four tenants depastured no less than 4700 oxen and 
thirty-seven steers, a very respectable total, and one 
showing that the favoured spots in the forest some 
five and a half centuries ago carried considerable 
herds of cattle. 

The names of the ancient tenements are : Hart- 
land, Merripit, Runnage, and Warner ; Dury, Pizwell, 
Believer, Reddon, and Babenay ; Princehall, Dunna- 
bridge, Brounberry, Sherberton, Hexworthy, Huccaby, 
and Brimpts. 

Formerly all these tenements were held as cus- 
tomary freeholds or copyholds, but many of them 
have been purchased by the Duchy.* 

Where the miners lived in the old times, when tin 
mining was in vigour on the moor, is not very clear, 
as very few ruins of quadrangular buildings remain 
that could have served as houses, and it is quite 
certain that they did not inhabit the hut circles, as 
they have not left their traces therein. They, in all 
likelihood, lodged in the farmhouses and their out- 
buildings during the week, and returned to their 
homes for the Sundays. 

In 1806 the vast range of prisons was erected at 
Princetown, on the bleakest and one of the loftiest 
sites on Dartmoor, for the accommodation of French 
prisoners of war. From 1816, when peace was pro- 
claimed, the buildings stood empty till 1850, when 
they were converted into a convict establishment, 

* For a full account of them see Burnard (R.), Dartmoor Pictorial 
Records, Plymouth, 1S93. 



200 DARTMOOR 

and since then the prisoners have been employed 
in enclosing and reclaiming the moor. 

As may well be imagined, many attempts at 
escape have been made. I remember one, espe- 
cially daring, which was nearly successful, some 
forty years ago. A prisoner succeeded in creeping 
along one of the beams sustaining the roof of the 
hall in which were the warders eating their supper, 
without attracting their attention. He got thence 
over the wall, and next broke into the doctor's 
house. There he possessed himself of a suit of 
clothes, and left his convict suit behind. Next he 
entered the doctor's stable, and took his horse out. 
But he was unable to enter the harness-room, owing 
to the strength of the lock, and so was obliged 
to escape, riding the horse, indeed, but without 
saddle, and directing it not with a bridle, but with 
a halter. 

He rode along at a swinging pace till he reached 
Two Bridges, where there is an ascent rather steep 
for a quarter of a mile, and then he necessarily 
slackened his pace. To his great annoyance, as he 
passed the Saracen's Head (the inn which constitutes 
the settlement of Two Bridges) a man emerged from 
the public-house and jumped on his horse. This 
was a moorman. The morrow was appointed for 
a drift, and he was going to make preparations to 
drive his quarter of the moor. He leaped on his 
horse and trotted after the convict, little knowing 
who he was. 

That night was one of moonlight. The moorman 
saw a gentleman in black riding a good horse before 



ESCAPED CONVICT 201 

him, and he pushed on to be abreast with him and 
have a little talk. 

"Whom have I the honour of riding with at 
night?" asked the moorman. 

"I'm the new curate," said the convict, "going 
round on my pastoral duties." 

" Oh, indeed, without saddle and bridle ? " 

"I was called up to a dying person. My groom 
was away. For souls one must do much." 

" Indeed, and your clothes don't seem to fit you," 
observed the moorman. 

Now the doctor was a fat man, and the man who 
wore his clothes was lean. 

" My duties are wearing to the carnal man," said 
the rider. 

"And the horse. By ginger! it's the doctor's," 
exclaimed the moorman. 

The convict kicked the flanks of his steed, and 
away he bounded. The hill had been surmounted. 
The moorman gave chase. 

Then he recollected that the doctor's horse was 
an old charger, and he thundered out, " Halt ! 
Right about face!" 

Instantly the old charger stopped — instantly — 
stopped dead, and away over his head like a rocket 
shot the soi-disant curate. 

In another moment the moorman was on him, had 
him fast, and said grimly, "You're a five -pounder 
to me, my reverend party." 

Five pounds is the reward for the apprehension of 
an escaped convict. 

The moorman got his five pounds, and the con- 



202 DARTMOOR 

vict got something he didn't like. He forfeited all 
the years of his imprisonment past, and got seven 
in addition for the theft of the horse and clothes. 

Some years ago a convict escaped and concealed 
himself in a mine. Impelled by hunger, he showed 
himself to the men there engaged. He told them 
that he was, like them, a toiler underground. They 
agreed to shelter him, and he was kept concealed in 
the mine till the search for him was past. Then they 
gave him old clothes, and each subscribed a sum 
of money to help him to leave the country. He got 
away, and some year or two after he sent back all 
the money he had been given, to be repaid to the 
men who had subscribed to get him off, and a good 
present into the bargain. 

A very different case was this. 

A man got out, escaped from the moor, and 
made his way to his wife's cottage. She gave him 
up and claimed the five pounds reward for her 
treachery. 

A friend was spending some months at Beardown. 
One evening he returned late from Tavistock, and 
to give notice that he was arriving fired off a pistol 
as he crossed the little bridge over the river below. 
Little did he then imagine, what he learned later, that 
a couple of convicts who had escaped were hiding 
under the bridge ; they would have sprung out on 
him and despoiled him of his clothes and money, 
possibly have murdered him, but were deterred by 
his chance firing of the pistol. They were captured 
a day or two later, and this was their confession. 

It is not by any means easy for a convict to escape. 



THE CONVICT 203 

When they are at work there are two rings of warders 
about them armed with rifles, and there is moreover 
a signal-station that commands where they are at 
work, from which watch is kept upon them. 

Our criminal class costs the nation a prodigious 
sum. The prison population for England and Scot- 
land is about 30,000, and the prison expenditure last 
year (1898) was £6o\,6<^6, so that the cost annually 
to the country of each convict is about ;^20. 

But there are indirect costs. If we put down : — 

Law courts at . . ;£^3)757)96o. 

Police at . ... 5,000,000. 

Loss of property by depreda- 
tion of criminals not less 
than ... . 1,000,000. 

Total ;^9, 76 1,960. 

and add to this the cost of the prisons, we reach the 
frightful expenditure of over ten millions. Surely 
the nation is penny wise and pound foolish. If 
instead of spending so much to get men into prison, 
and keep them there, it would but concern itself with 
keeping them out^ there would be a great reduction 
in cost. 

The convict is not such an utter black sheep as we 
might be disposed to think him. That which forms 
the class is the sending back among their fellows men 
who have been in prison. They cannot get out of 
the association, and consequently they return again 
and again to their cells. 

There is indeed a society for helping prisoners on 
leaving to get into situations, but this is a duty that 



204 DARTMOOR 

should be undertaken by the nation ; and very often 
the only way to really give a poor fellow a chance 
is to move him entirely away from this country. It 
is a difficult problem, and we could not, of course, 
send them to our colonies ; but all social problems 
are difficult, yet should be faced, and there is a 
solution to be found somewhere. 

All that the convict really requires is a certain 
amount of discipline, a strong hand, and a clear 
head in a leader or master, and he may yet be 
made a man of, useful to his fellows. 

" You don't think I 'm such a fool as to like it, do 
you ? " said a convicted burglar to the chaplain. " I 
do it because I can't help myself. When I leave 
prison I have nowhere else to go but to my old 
pals and the old diggings." 

If it could be contrived to give these fellows, after 
a first conviction, a start in a new country, nine out 
of ten might be reclaimed. They are like children, 
not wilfully given to evil, but incapable of self- 
restraint, and cowards among their fellows, whose 
opinions and persuasion they dare not oppose. 

There is one institution connected with Dartmoor 
that must not be passed over — Believer Day. 

When hare-hunting is over in the low country, 
then, some week or two after Easter, the packs that 
surround Dartmoor assemble on it, and a week is 
given up to hare-hunting. On the last day, Friday, 
there is a grand gathering on Believer Tor. All 
the towns and villages neighbouring on Dartmoor 
send out carriages, traps, carts, riders ; the roads are 
full of men and women, ay, and children hurrying 



TROUT-FISHING 205 

to Believer. Little girls with their baskets stuffed 
with saffron cake for lunch desert school and trudge 
to the tor. Ladies go out with champagne luncheons 
ready. Whether a hare be found and coursed that 
day matters little. It is given up to merriment in 
the fresh air and sparkling sun. And the roads that 
lead from Believer in the afternoon are careered over 
by riders, whose horses are so exhilarated that they 
race, and the riders have a difficulty in keeping their 
seats. Their faces are red, not those of the horses, but 
their riders — from the sun and air — and they are so 
averse to leave the moor, that they sometimes desert 
their saddles to roll on the soft and springy turf. 

Trout-fishing on Dartmoor is to be had, and on 
very easy terms, but the rivers are far less stocked 
than they were a few years ago, as they are so 
persistently whipped. The trout are small and dark, 
but delicious eating. 

There would be more birds but for the mischievous 
practice of "swaling" or burning the heather and 
gorse, which is persisted in till well into the summer, 
and, walking over a fresh-burned patch of moor, one 
may tread on roasted eggs or the burned young of 
some unhappy birds that fondly deemed there was 
protection for them in England. 

The "swaling" is carried on upon the commons 
round the forest as well as on the forest itself, so 
that the blame is not wholly due to the represen- 
tatives of the Duchy. 

One is disposed to think that the moor must be 
a desolate and altogether uninhabitable region in 
the winter. It is not so— at no time do the mosses 



2o6 DARTMOOR 

show in such variety of colour, and when the sun 
shines the sense of exhilaration is beyond restraint. 

To all lovers of Dartmoor I dedicate the song with 
which I conclude this chapter. 

THE SONG OF THE MOOR. 

'T is merry in the spring time, 

'T is blithe on Dartimoor, 
Where every man is equal, 

For every man is poor. 
I do what I 'm a minded, 

And none will say me nay, 
I go where I 'm inclined. 

On all sides — right of way. 

O the merry Dartimoor, 
O the bonny Dartimoor, 

I would not be where I 'm not free 
As I am upon the moor. 

'T is merry in the summer, 

When furze be flowering sweet ; 
The bees about it humming, 

In honey bathe their feet. 
The plover and the peewit. 

How cheerily they pipe. 
And underfoot the whortle 

Is turning blue and ripe. 

O the merry Dartimoor, etc. 

'T is merry in the autumn. 

When snipe and cock appear. 
And never see a keeper 

To say. No shooting here ! 
We stack the peat for fuel, 

We ask no better fire, 
And never pay a farden 

For all that we require. 

O the merry Dartimoor, etc. 



BOOKS ON DARTMOOR 207 

'T is merry in the winter, 

The wind is on the moor, 
For twenty miles to leeward 

The people hear it roar. 
'T is merry in the ingle. 

Beside a moorland lass. 
As watching turves a-glowing. 

The brimming bumpers pass. 

O the merry Dartimoor, 
O the bonny Dartimoor, 

I would not be where I 'm not free 
As I am upon the moor. 

Note. — Articles to be consulted : — 

Collier (W. F.), "Dartmoor," in Transactions of the Devonshire 
Association for 1876. 

, Collier (W. F.), " Venville Rights on Dartmoor," ibid., 1887. 
„ "Dartmoor for Devonshire," ibid.^ 1894. 

„ "Sport on Dartmoor," ibid.^ 1895. 



CHAPTER XII. 
OKEHAMPTON 

Origin of Okehampton obscure — The Ockments — Moor seekers — 
Okehampton Castle — French prisoners — Church — Belstone and 
Taw Marsh — Cranmere Pool — Tavy Cleave — South Zeal — 
Prehistoric monuments — An evening at the "Oxenham Arms'* 
— The Oxenham white bird — Mining misadventures — ** Old 
vayther " — Ecclesiological excursions — Early Christian monuments. 

WHAT brought Okehampton into existence? 
It is not fathered by the castle, nor mothered 
by the church. Both have withdrawn to a distance 
and repudiated responsibility in the stunted bantling. 
It " growed not of itself," like Topsy, for it did not 
grow at all ; it stuck. 

Sourton Down on the west, Whiddon Down on 
the east — where the devil, it is reported, caught cold 
— Dartmoor on the south, shut Okehampton in. It 
was open only to the wintry north, where population 
is sparse. 

Formerly, once in the day, once only did the mail 
coach traverse the one long street, ever on the yawn, 
and this was the one throb of life that ran through it. 
No passenger descended from the coach, no meals 
were taken, no lodging for the night was sought. The 
mails were dropped and the coach passed away. 

There were, in Okehampton, no manufacture, no 

208 



FULL OF BEAUTY 209 

business, no pleasure even, for it had no assembly balls, 
no neighbourhood. Okehampton was among towns 
what the earth-worm is in the order of animated 
nature, a digestive tube, but with digestive faculty 
undeveloped. Now all is changed. The War Office 
has established a summer barrack on the heights 
above it, and life — in some particulars in undesirable 
excess — has manifested itself Trade has sprung up : 
a lesson in life — never to despair of any place, any 
more than of any man. It has an office to fill, a 
function to perform, if only patience be exercised and 
time allowed. But if Okehampton in itself con- 
sidered as a town be ugly and uninteresting, the 
neighbourhood abounds in objects of interest, and 
the situation is full of beauty. 

Two brawling rivers, the East and the West Ock- 
ments, dance down from the moors and unite at the 
town ; and if each be followed upwards scenes of 
rare wildness and picturesque beauty will be found. 

It is towered over by Yes Tor and Cosdon, two 
of the highest points on Dartmoor, and some of the 
moor scenery, with its tumbled ranges of rocky 
height, is as fine as anything in the county of 
Devon. 

The Ockment {tiisg-^naenic)^ or stony water, gives 
its name to the place; the Saxon planted his tun 
at the junction of the streams, whereas the earlier 
dun of the Briton was on the height above the East 

* The Ock {uisg^ water) occurs elsewhere. The Oke-brook flows 
into the West Dart below Huckaby Bridge; and Huckaby is Ock-a-boe. 
The earlier name of the Blackabrook must have been Ock, for the 
bridge over it is Okery. 
P 



2IO OKEHAMPTON 

Ockment. Baldwin the Sheriff was given a manor 
there, and he set to work to build a castle, in the 
days of the Conqueror. Some of his work may be 
seen in the foundations of the keep. He took rolled 
granite blocks out of the river bed and built with 
them. But later, when the neck of slate rock was 
cut through on which the castle stands, so as to 
isolate it from the hill to which it was once connected, 
then the stone thus excavated was employed to 
complete the castle keep. Baldwin de Moels, or 
Moules, was the sheriff, and his descendants bore 
mules on their coat armour. The castle and manor 
remained in the hands of the de Moels and Avenells 
till the reign of Henry H., when they were given to 
Matilda d'Avranches, whose daughter brought it into 
the Courtenay family. 

The castle stands half a mile from the town. 
'* Okehampton Castle," says Mr. Worth, " differs from 
the other ancient castles of Devon in several note- 
worthy features. Most of the Norman fortalices, 
whether in this county or in Cornwall, have round 
shell keeps, as at Plympton and Totnes, Restormel 
and Launceston, may be seen to this day. The 
typical Norman castles, with the true square keeps, 
were fewer in number, but, as a rule, of greater com- 
parative importance. Among them, that of Oke- 
hampton occupies what may be regarded as a middle 
position. More important than Lydford in its 
adjuncts, it must have been much inferior to Exeter 
— Rougemont ; nor in its later phases can it ever have 
compared with the other Courtenay hold at Tiverton, 
as a residence, with their present seat at Powderham, 



OKEHAMPTON CASTLE 211 

or in extent and defensive power with the stronghold 
of the Pomeroys at Berry. Nevertheless, in the early 
Middle Ages it must have been regarded as a place 
of no little strength and dignity, when the Courtenays 
had completed what the Redverses began." 

The keep is planted on a mound that has been 
artificially formed by paring away of a natural spur 
of hill ; it is approached by a gradual slope from the 
east, along which, connected with the mound by 
curtain walls, are the remains of two ranges of 
buildings, north and south. On the north is the hall, 
and adjoining it the cellar ; on the south guard-rooms 
and chapel, and above the former were the lord's 
rooms. A barbican remains at the foot of the hill. 
The whole is small and somewhat wanting in dignity 
and picturesqueness. All the buildings except the 
keep were erected at the end of the thirteenth 
century. 

In the chapel may be seen, cut in the Hatherleigh 
freestone, " Hie V .... t fuit captivus belli, 1809." 
In the churchyard are graves of other French 
prisoners. Many were buried, or supposed to have 
been buried, at Princetown, where the prisons were 
erected for their accommodation. Recently, in 
making alterations and enlarging the churchyard 
there, several of their graves have been opened, 
and the coffins were discovered to be empty. 
Either the escape of the prisoners of war was 
connived at, and they were reported as dead and 
buried, or else their bodies were given, privately, 
for dissection. 

Okehampton Church was burnt down in 1842, with 



212 OKEHAMPTON 

the exception of the fine tower. It was rebuilt 
immediately after, and, considering the period when 
this was done, it is better than might have been 
expected. The chapel of S. James in the town 
was "restored" in a barbarous manner some thirty 
years later. 

Finely situated, with its back against rich woods, 
is Oaklands House, built by a timber merchant 
named Atkyns, who made his fortune in the Euro- 
pean war, and who changed his name to Saville. 
It is now the property of Colonel Holley. On the 
ridge above the station is a camp. The East Ock- 
ment should be followed up to Cullever Steps. On 
the slope of the Belstone Common is a circle called 
the Nine Maidens, but there are a good many more 
than nine stones. These are said to dance on Mid- 
summer night, and to be petrified damsels who 
insisted on dancing on a Sunday when they ought 
to have been at church. The circle is no true 
"sacred circle," but the remains of a hut circle 
consisting of double facing of upright slabs, formerly 
filled in with smaller stone between. 

One of the most interesting excursions that can 
be made from Okehampton is to Belstone and the 
Taw Marsh. This was once a fine lake, but has 
been filled up with rubble brought down from the 
tors. At the head of the marsh stands Steeperton 
Tor, 1739 feet, rising boldly above the marsh, with 
the Taw brawling down a slide of rock and rubble 
on the right. This is one way by which Cranmere 
Pool may be reached. Cranmere is popularly sup- 
posed to derive its name from the cranes that it is 



CRANMERE POOL 213 

conjectured may have resorted to it, but as no such 
birds have been seen there, or would be Hkely to go 
where there is neither fish nor spawn, the derivation 
must be abandoned. 

It is more probably derived from even, Cornish 
" round," or from crenne, to quake, as the pool is in 
the heart of bogs. It lies at the height of over 
1750 feet, in the midst of utter desolation, where 
the peat is chapped and seamed and is of apparently 
great depth. But the pool itself is nothing. Gradu- 
ally the peat has encroached upon it, till almost 
nothing but a puddle remains. 

In this vast boggy district rise the Tavy, the two 
Ockments, the Taw, the North Teign, and the two 
Darts. The nearest elevation is Cut Hill, that reaches 
1981 feet, and Whitehorse Hill, 1974. Across this 
desolate waste there is but one track from Two 
Bridges to Lydford, narrow, and only to be taken 
by one, if on horseback, who knows the way. On 
each hand is unfathomed bog. Cut Hill takes its 
name from a cleft cut through the walls of peat to 
admit a passage to Fur Tor. 

Even in this wilderness there are cairns covering 
the dead. One is led to suppose that they cover 
peculiarly restless beings, who were taken as far as 
possible from the habitations of men. I remember 
seeing a cairn in Iceland in a howling waste that 
in historic times was raised over one Glamr who 
would not lie quiet in his grave, but walked about 
and broke the backs of the living, or frightened 
them to death. He was dug up and transported 
as far as could be into the wilderness, his head cut 



214 OKEHAMPTON 

off and placed as a cushion for his trunk to sit on, 
and then reburied. 

Cranmere Pool, though but a puddle, deserves 
a visit. The intense desolation of the spot is im- 
pressive. On such solitary stretches, where not a 
sound of life, not the cry of a curlew, nor the hum 
of an insect is heard, I have known a horse stand 
still and tremble and sweat with fear. Here a 
few plants becoming rare elsewhere may still be 
found. 

There is a story told in Okehampton of a certain 
Benjamin Gayer, who was mayor there in 1673 
and 1678, and died in 1701, that he is condemned 
nightly to go from Okehampton to Cranmere to 
bale out the pond with a thimble that has a hole 
in it. 

Tavy Cleave may be visited from Okehampton or 
from Tavistock. There is but one way in which 
it ought to be visited to see it in its glory. Take 
the train to Bridestowe and walk thence to the 
" Dartmoor Inn." Strike thence due east, cross the 
brawling Lyd by steps to Doe Tor Farm, and thence 
aim for Hare Tor : keep to the right of the head 
of the tor and strike for some prongs of rock that 
appear south-east, and when you reach these you have 
beneath you 1000 feet, the ravine of the Tavy as it 
comes brawling down from the moor and plunges 
over a bar of red granite into a dark pool below. 
Far away to the north comes the Rattle Brook, 
dancing down trout-laden from Amicombe Hill and 
Lynx Tor, and to the east in like desolation rises 
Fur Tor, set in almost impassable bogs. 



SOUTH ZEAL 215 

Between the Cleave rocks and Ger Tor is a settle- 
ment with hut circles well preserved, but one in a far 
better condition lies beyond the Tavy on Standon. 

Tavy Cleave is fine from below, but incomparably 
finer when seen from above. 

In June it is a veritable pixy fruit garden for 
luxuriance and abundance of purple whortleberries. 

All the veins of water forming depressions have 
been at some remote period laboriously streamed. 

Another interesting excursion may be made to 
South Zeal. The old coach-road ran through this 
quaint place, but the new road leaves it on one side. 
A few years ago it was more interesting than it is 
now, as some of the old houses have recently been 
removed. It, however, repays a visit. Situated at 
the opening of the Taw Cleave, under Cosdon 
Beacon, it is a little world to itself. The well-to-do 
community have extensive rights of common, and 
of late have been ruthlessly enclosing. None can 
oppose them, as all are agreed to grab and appro- 
priate what they can. This has led to much de- 
struction of prehistoric remains. There was at one 
time a circle of standing stones from eight to nine 
feet high. This has gone ; so has an avenue of up- 
right stones on the common leading to West Week. 
But another of stones, that are, however, small, start- 
ing from a cairn that contains two small kistvaens, 
is beside and indeed crosses the moor-track leading 
towards Rayborough Pool ; and on Whitmoor is a 
circle still fairly intact, though three or four of the 
largest uprights have been broken and removed to 
serve as gate-posts. Near this is the Whitmoor 



2i6 OKEHAMPTON 

Stone, a menhir, spared as it constitutes a parish 
boundary. 

In South Zeal is a little granite chapel, and before 
it is a very stately cross. The inn, the " Oxenham 
Arms," was formerly the mansion of the Burgoynes. 
I spent there an amusing evening a few winters ago. 
I had gone there with my friend Mr., now Dr., Bussell 
collecting folk-songs, for I remembered hearing many 
sung there when I was a boy some forty years before. 
I had worked the place for two or three days 
previously, visiting and "yarning" with some of the 
old singers, till shyness was broken down and good- 
fellowship established. Then I invited them to meet 
me at the " Oxenham Arms " in the evening. 

But when the evening arrived the inn was crowded 
with men. The women — wives and daughters — were 
dense in the passage, and outside boys stood on each 
other's shoulders flattening their noses, so that they 
looked like dabs of putty, against the window-panes. 
Evidently a grand concert was expected, and the old 
men rose to the occasion, and stood up in order and 
sang — but only modern songs — to suit the audience. 

However, the ice was broken, and during the next 
few days we had them in separately to sup with us, 
and after supper and a glass, over a roaring fire, they 
sang lustily some of the old songs drawn up from the 
bottom-most depths of their memory. There were 
" Lucky " Fewins, and old Charles Arscott, and lame 
Radmore, James Glanville, and Samuel Westaway, 
the cobbler. I remember one of them was stubborn ; 
he would not allow me to take down the words of 
a song of his — not a very ancient one either — but 



OXENHAM FAMILY 217 

did not object to the " pricking " of the tune. It was 
not till two years after that he gave way and sur- 
rendered the words. 

The old house of the Oxenham family is in the 
neighbourhood, but has passed away into other 
hands. To this family belonged, there can be little 
doubt, the John Oxenham who was such an 
adventurous seaman and explorer in the Elizabethan 
days. He was one of those who accompanied 
Francis Drake in the expedition to Nombre de 
Dios in 1572, and afterwards, in an adventure on 
his own account, was the first Englishman who 
launched a keel on the Pacific Ocean, or South Sea, 
as it was then called. He fell into the hands of 
the Spaniards, and was carried to Lima, where he 
was executed as a pirate. His story has been 
worked into Kingsley's Westward Ho ! The omen 
of the appearance of a white bird before death, 
supposed to belong to the family, is there effectively 
introduced. 

The house of Oxenham is of the last century, 
and was built about the year 17 14, the date which 
is sculptured on one of the granite pillars of the 
entrance gates. The family does not seem to have 
been qualified to bear arms in 1620, the last Herald's 
visitation, but the coat borne by the family is 
ar. a fess embattled between j oxen sa. The story is 
told that once upon a time a certain Margaret 
Oxenham was about to be married to the man of 
her choice. In the midst of the preparations on 
the wedding morn, when all was going merrily, the 
white bird appeared and hovered over the bride-elect. 



2i8 OKEHAMPTON 

The ceremony, however, proceeded, and at the altar 
of South Tawton the hapless bride was stabbed to 
death by a rejected lover. 

There is a remarkably circumstantial printed 
account of some appearances of the family omen 
in the year 1635 in a very rare tract, entitled, A 
True Relation of an Apparition in the likenesse of a 
Bird with a white brest^ that appeared hovering over 
the Death-Beds of some of the children of Mr. fames 
Oxenhaniy of Sale Monachorum, Devon^ Gent. Pre- 
fixed to the tract is a quaint engraved frontispiece. 
It is in four compartments ; in each of the first 
three is a representation of a person lying in 
a bed of the four-post type, and in the fourth is 
a child in a wicker cradle. Over each individual is 
a bird on the wing, hovering. At the foot of these 
pictorial compartments are the names of those above 
whom the bird appears: John Oxenham, aged 21; 
Thomasine, wife of James Oxenham the younger, 
aged 22; Rebecca Oxenham, aged 8, and Thomasine, 
a babe. 

This tract may have been provoked by a letter 
of James Howell to "Mr. E. D.," dated 3rd July, 1632, 
and written from Westminster : — 

" I can tell you of a strange thing I saw lately here, and 
I believe 'tis true. As I pass'd by St. Dunstans in Fleet- 
street the last Saturday, I stepp'd into a Lapidary, or 
stone-cutter's shop, to treat with the Master for a stone 
to be put upon my Father's Tomb; and casting my eyes 
up and down, I might spie a huge Marble with a large 
inscription upon 't, which was thus to my best remem- 
brance : — 



OXENHAM FAMILY 219 

" ' Here lies John Oxenham, a goodly young man^ in 
whose chamber^ as he was struggling with the Pangs of 
Deaths a Bird with a white brest was seen fluttering about 
his Bed^ and so vanished. 

" * Here lies Mary Oxenham, the sister of the said John, 
who died the next day, and the same Apparition was seen 
in the Room.^ 

" Then another sister is spoke of. Then : — 

" ' Here lies hard by James Oxenham, the son of the said 
John, who dyed a Child in his Cradel a little after, and such 
a Bird was seen fluttering about his head, a little before he 
expir'd, which vanished afterwards.^ 

" At the bottome of the Stone ther is : — 

" * Here lies EHzabeth Oxenham, the Mother of the said 
John, who died sixteen years si?ice, wheJi such a Bird with 
a white Brest ivas seen about her bed before her death.^ 

" To all these ther be divers Witnesses, both Squires and 
Ladies, whose names are engraven upon the Stone. This 
Stone is to be sent to a Town hard by Exeter, wher it 
happen 'it."* 

There are several suspicious points about the story. 
No such a monument exists or has existed in South 
Tav^ton Church, nor is one such know^n to have been 
set up in any other in the county. The stone was 
of marble, and therefore not for the graveyard, but 
for the interior of the church. 

According to the registers there was a John 
Oxenham, senior, died, and was buried May 2nd, 
1630, but not one of the others mentioned. There 
were two John Oxenhams in the parish : John, son of 
James and Elizabeth, born in 161 3; and John, son 
of William and Mary, born in 16 14. Mary was 

* Epistolce. Ho-EliancB, 5th edition, p. 232. London, 1678. 



220 OKEHAMPTON 

the sister of the latter, and their father was the 
village doctor. But it was Elizabeth, according to 
Howell, who was the mother. No James, son of 
John, was baptised at the time at South Tawton. 
Elizabeth, the mother, according to Howell, died 
about 1616. No such a person was buried at South 
Tawton at any date near that. 

The persons named in the tract of 1635 — three 
years after Howell's letter — are also four, but they 
are of Zeal Monachorum. But the name of Oxen- 
ham does not occur at all in the registers of that 
parish, and in the tract, apparently, South Zeal has 
been mistaken for Zeal Monachorum.* In the first 
edition of Howell's epistles there is no date to the 
letter; that was supplied later, probably by the 
publisher. Now it is curious that in 1635 the name 
John Oxenham does occur as having been buried 
at South Tawton on July 31st, aged twenty-one. 
He was baptised July loth, 16 14. But there are 
no entries of Thomasine, wife of James, nor of 
Rebecca, aged eight, either baptised or buried ; nor 
of Thomasine the babe. 

In the tract we are informed that the white- 
breasted bird appeared when Grace, the grandmother 
of John Oxenham, died, in 161 8. 

And in fact we do find in the South Tawton 
registers for that date, September 2nd, 161 8, Grace, 
the wife of John Oxenham, was buried. 

* The author of the tract could not find any parish of Zeal in 
Devonshire except Zeal Monachorum, where, as he did not know, there 
were no Oxenhams, and so he converted the hamlet of Zeal in South 
Tawton, where the Oxenhams were at home, into the Zeal where they 
were not. 



THE WHITE BIRD 221 

That Howell's quotation from memory refers to 
the same four as are named in the tract is, I think, 
probable. He had not seen the tract, or he would 
have quoted the names correctly. The letter was 
not written at the date added to it at a later period, 
but in the same year as the tract appeared, when 
he was a prisoner in the Fleet for debt. Whether 
he ever saw the monument may be doubted, and 
he may have merely written for publication with 
mention of the story which he had from hearsay. 
As to the tract, it was one of those pious frauds by 
no means uncommon among the "goody-goody" 
writers of that and other days, and the incident 
of the white -breasted bird was an invention em- 
ployed to " catch " the attention of readers, and lead 
on to the moral and pious sentiments that stuff 
the remainder of the tract. The trick of giving a 
list of witnesses was one resorted to by the ballad 
and tract mongers of the period, and it is notice- 
able that those whose names are appended as 
witnesses never existed at South Zeal, in South 
Tawton parish. 

When once this pious fraud had been launched, 
it rolled on by its own weight, and it became a 
point of honour in the family to uphold it; and 
plenty of after-apparitions were feigned or fancied 
to have been seen. 

The whole story of the alleged appearances of 
the white bird has been gone into with thorough- 
ness by Mr. Cotton, of Exeter, who to some extent 
credits it ; that is to say, he thinks that some real 
instances of birds fluttering at the window may 



222 OKEHAMPTON 

have given rise to the story. But the basis is 
rotten, and the superstructure accordingly will not 
stand. * 

A mine had been worked formerly above South 
Zeal. It had been under a "captain," of practical 
experience but no scientific knowledge. It yielded 
a small but steady profit. Then the directors and 
shareholders became impatient. They discharged 
the old captain, and sent down a fellow who had 
passed through the mining college, had scientific 
geology and mineralogy at his fingers' ends. He 
scouted the machinery that had been hitherto in 
use, sneered at the old-fashioned methods that had 
been pursued, boasted of what he was going to do, 
revolutionised the mine, reorganised the plant, had 
all the old machinery cast aside, or sold for old 
iron ; had down new and costly apparatus — then 
came heavy calls on the shareholders — renewed calls 
— and there was an end of profits, and as finis a 
general collapse. 

Some years ago a great fraud was committed in 
the neighbourhood. It was rumoured that gold was 
to be found in the gozen — the refuse from the 
mines. All who had old mines on their land sent 
up specimens to London, and received reports that 
there was a specified amount of gold in what was 
forwarded. Some, to be sure that there was no decep- 
tion, went up with their specimens and saw them 
ground, washed, and analysed, and the gold extracted. 
So large orders were sent up for gozen -crushing 

* Cotton (R. W.), ''The Oxenham Omen," in Transactions of the 
Devonshire Association^ 1882. 



LOCAL SONG 223 

machines. These came down, were set to work, and 
no gold was then found. The makers of the 
machines had introduced gold-dust into the water 
that was used in the washing of the crushed stone. I 
made use of this incident in my novel John Herring. 
But to return to the singers. Here is a song of 
local origin, which, however, I did not obtain from 
these South Zeal singers. I must premise that the 
local pronunciation of Okehampton is Ockington. 

At Ockington, in Devonshire, 
Old vayther lived vor many a year. 
And I along wi' he did dwell 
Nigh Dartimoor 'tes knawed vull well. 
D iddle-diddle-dee. 

It happ'nd on a zartain day, 
Vour score o' sheep — they rinned astray. 
Zeth vayther. Jack go arter'n, yu. 
Zez I — Be darned if ee'r I du. 

Diddle-diddle-dee. 

Purvok^d at my saacy tongue, 
A dish o' braath at me he flung. 
Then fu' o' wrath, as poppy red 
I knacked old vayther on the head. 
D iddle-diddle-dee. 

Then drayed wor I to Ex't'r jail, 
There to be tried — allowed no bail. 
And at next Easter 'zizes I 
Condemned was therefor to die. 

Diddle-diddle-dee. 

Young men and maydens all, I pray 
Take warnin' by my tragedy. 
Rin arter sheep when they are strayed. 
And don't knack vaythers on the 'ead. 
D iddle-diddle-dee. 



224 OKEHAMPTON 

South Tawton Church is fine. The restorer has 
taken the monumental slabs, sawn them in half, and 
employed them for lining the drain round the church, 
thus destroying the historical records of the parish. 
This is the more to be regretted, as a fire that 
occurred in the parsonage has seriously damaged 
the old registers. There is a fine Wyke monument 
in the church. 

But by far the most interesting church within an 
excursion of Okehampton is Bratton Clovelly, which, 
although not large, has a stately grandeur internally 
that is very impressive. Much money has been spent 
in "restoring" this church. The glass is good, but the 
new work in wood and alabaster is barely passable. 
North Lew Church contains very fine old oak, beside 
modern woodwork of poverty-stricken design. 

There are some early Christian monuments near 
Okehampton, a well at Sticklepath with an inscribed 
stone by it, and another inscribed stone by the road- 
side from Okehampton to Exeter. 

Note. — Books that may be consulted : — 

Bridges (M. B.), Some Account of the Barony and Town of OkC' 
hampton. New edition, Tiverton, 1889. 

Worth (R. N.), "Okehampton Castle," in Transactions of the 
Devonshire Association, 1895. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

Moreton Church — The almshouse — The dancing tree — Other dancing 
trees — The vintner's bush — The calculating boy — Life of Mr. 
Bidder — The ravens of Brennan — Grimspound — The Great 
Central Trackway — Stone rows — The Lych Way — Churches — 
Bowerman's Nose — Ashton — The Duchess of Kingston — Hennock 
— The Loveys family — Parson Harris — ^John Cann's Rocks — Lust- 
leigh Cleave — Hound Tor and Hey Tor Rocks — Widecombe — The 
Ballad of Tom Pearse. 

MORETON, with its whitewashed cottages and 
thatched roofs, has a primitive appearance, 
and withal a look of cleanliness. It is now the 
fashion to go to Chagford, which has been much 
puffed, but Moreton makes quite as good a head- 
quarters for Dartmoor excursions. 

It has a fine church of the usual type, that was 
gutted at its so-called restoration, and a remarkably 
fine carved oak screen was turned out, but happily 
secured by the late Earl of Devon, who gave it to 
Whitchurch, near Tavistock. A few years ago the 
fine screen of South Brent was thrown out when 
the church was made naked under the pretence of 
restoration, and allowed to rot in an outhouse. 

Moreton undoubtedly at one time was a town in 
the moors, and the bold ridge that runs from Hell 
Q 225 



226 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

Tor to Hennock to the east was till comparatively 
recently furze-and-heather-clad moor. 

An object of singular picturesqueness in Moreton 
is the almshouse, with the date of 1637, with a 
charming arcade of granite stunted pillars. Opposite 
another almshouse has been erected in modern times, 
to show how badly we can do things now when our 
forefathers did things well. 

In the same street is the base of the old village 
cross and the head of the same broken off. In the 
place of the cross the " Dancing Tree " has sprung 
up, that has been made use of by Mr. Blackmore in 
his novel of ChristoweL The tree in question is un- 
happily now in a condition to be danced round, 
not any longer to be danced upon. 

The tree is an elm, and it grows out of the base- 
ment of the old village cross, the lower steps of 
which engirdle the trunk ; and a fragment of the 
head of the cross lies just below. The tree must 
have sprung up after the destruction of the cross, or, 
possibly enough, it was itself the cause of destruc- 
tion, much in the same way as trees have destroyed 
and rent in sunder the tomb of Lady Anne Grim- 
stone, in Tewin churchyard. 

Of this latter the story goes that Lady Anne on 
her deathbed declared that she could not and would 
not believe in the resurrection of the body. Rather, 
she was reported to have said, will I hold that nine 
trees shall spring out of my dead body. 

Now in process of time the great stone sepulchral 
mass placed over her grave split asunder, and through 
the rents issued the shoots of nine trees, six ash and 



THE CROSS TREE 227 

three sycamores, together with great trunks and coils 
of ivy, that among them have tossed up and hold in 
suspense the fragments of Lady Anne's tomb. The 
story is of course made to account for the phenomenon. 

But to return to the Cross Tree, Moreton Hamp- 
stead. The elm, grown to a considerable size, was 
pollarded and had its branches curiously trained, so 
that the upper portion was given the shape of a 
table. On this tree-top it was customary on certain 
occasions to lay a platform, railed round, access to 
which was obtained by a ladder, and on this tree-top 
dancing took place. 

The following extracts taken from a journal kept 
by an old gentleman, a native and inhabitant of 
Moreton Hampstead at the beginning of this century, 
are interesting as giving us some actual dates upon 
which festivities took place on the tree. 

"June 4th, 1800. — His Majesty's birthday. Every mark 
of loyalty was shown. In the afternoon a concert of instru- 
mental music was held on the Cross Tree. 

"August 28th, 1801. — The Cross Tree floored and seated 
round, with a platform, railed on each side, from the top of 
an adjoining garden wall to the tree, and a flight of steps in 
the garden for the company to ascend. After passing the 
platform they enter under a grand arch formed of boughs. 
There is sufficient room for thirty persons to sit around, 
and six couples to dance, besides the orchestra. From the 
novelty of this rural apartment it is expected much company 
will resort there during the summer. 

"August 19th, 1807. — This night the French officers* 
assembled on the Cross Tree with their band of music. 
They performed several airs with great taste." 

* Prisoners of war staying on parole at Moreton Hampstead. 



228 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

Unfortunately, and to the great regret of the in- 
habitants of Moreton, the tree was wrecked by a 
gale on October ist, 1891, when the force of the 
wind was so great that the ancient elm could not 
withstand it, and at about a quarter past two o'clock 
in the afternoon most of the upper part was blown 
down, carrying with it a large piece of the trunk, 
which is quite hollow. This latter has been replaced 
and securely fastened. 

A recent visit to the Cross Tree shows that the 
old elm is not prepared to die yet ; it has thrown 
forth vigorous spray and has tufted its crown with 
green leaves. 

Moreton tree is not the only dancing tree in the 
West of England. On the high road from Exeter 
to Okehampton, near Dunsford, is a similar tree, but 
an oak, and this was woven and extended and 
fashioned into a flat surface. 

The story in the neighbourhood used to be that 
the Fulfords, of Great Fulford, held their lands on 
the singular tenure that they should dine once a year 
on the top of the tree, and give a dance there to 
their tenants. But this usage has long been dis- 
continued. The Fulfords are at Great Fulford still, 
notwithstanding. 

Again another dancing tree is at Trebursaye, near 
Launceston. This also is an oak, but is now in a 
neglected condition and has lost most of its original 
form, looking merely as a peculiarly crabbed and tor- 
tured old tree. Here anciently a ghost was wont to 
be seen, that of a woman who had fallen from it 
during a dance and broken her neck, and many 



THE MEAVY OAK 229 

stories were afloat relative to horses taking fright 
at night and running away with the riders, or of 
passers-by on foot who were so scared as to be 
unable to pursue their journey, through seeing the 
dead woman dancing on the tree. At length matters 
became so serious that Parson Ruddle, vicar of Laun- 
ceston, a notable man in his way, and famous as a 
ghost-layer, was induced to go to the tree at nightfall 
and exorcise the unquiet spirit. The ghost had so 
effectually frightened people that the dances on the 
top of the tree had been discontinued. They were 
never resumed. 

According to tradition there was again another 
dancing tree on the road from Okehampton to 
Launceston, near the village of Lifton. This tree 
was held to be the earliest to put forth leaves in 
all the country round. Entertainments were given 
on it, but it has disappeared, and the only reminis- 
cence of it remained till recently in "The Royal 
Oak " Inn, hard by which the old dancing tree stood. 

There is yet another, the Meavy Oak, sometimes 
called the Gospel Oak, for it is supposed that preach- 
ing was made from the steps of the village cross that 
stands before it. The oak, however, is of vast age. 
It is referred to in deeds almost to the Conquest, and 
that it was a sacred tree to which a certain amount 
of reverence was given is probable enough. The 
cross was set up under its shadow to consecrate it, 
and probably to put an end to superstitious rites 
done there. Anyhow this tree till within this century 
was, on the village festival, surrounded with poles, 
a platform was erected above the tree, the top of 



230 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

which was kept clipped flat like a table, and a set of 
stairs erected, by means of which the platform could 
be reached. 

On the top a table and chairs were set, and 
feasting took place. Whether dancing I cannot say, 
but in all probability in former generations there 
was dancing there as well as feeding and drinking. 
These trees where dancing took place are precisely 
the May-pole in a more primitive form. The May- 
pole is a makeshift for an actual tree ; a pole was 
brought and set up and adorned with flowers and 
green boughs, and then danced round. There was in 
Cornwall, and indeed elsewhere, a grand exodus from 
the towns and villages to the greenwood on May 
Day, when the lads and lasses at a very early 
hour went in quest of May bushes, green boughs 
and flowers wherewith to decorate the improvised 
May tree. This was then decorated profusely, and 
the merry-makers danced about it; ate, drank, 
and rose up to play, precisely as of old did the 
Israelites about the Golden Calf in the wilderness 
of Sinai. 

And most assuredly in early times, before Christi- 
anity had been established, those dances and revels 
about a sacred tree, whether naturally grown or 
whether manufactured as a May-pole, were an act 
of religious worship addressed to the spirit of 
vegetation manifesting itself in full vigour in spring. 

When S. Boniface strove to bring the Saxons to 
the knowledge of the truth, he cast down the great 
oak of Fritzlar which had received divine honours. 
In this lived the spirit of fertility, and till it fell 



SUPERSTITION 2-,i 



O 



beneath his axe, Boniface was well aware that he 
could not triumph over the popular superstition. 

S. Germanus, Bishop of Auxerre, who visited 
Britain to expose the Pelagian heresy, was himself 
guilty before his ordination of paying superstitious 
reverence to a pear tree. He had been a hunter, 
and it was customary for those who returned from 
the chase to suspend in the tree the heads and antlers 
of the game killed, as an act of homage to the spirit 
that inhabited it. The Bishop Amator remon- 
strated, but in vain. Then one day, when Germanus 
was out hunting, Amator cut the tree down. 

That some lingering notion of veneration due to 
trees hung on, and was regarded as savouring of 
something not orthodox, is perhaps shown by the 
following incident, which is perfectly true. It was 
told me by the person concerned. A new parson 
had been appointed to a remote parish in one of the 
north-western dales of Yorkshire under the Fells. 
Not being a native of Yorkshire, but a southerner, 
he was eyed with suspicion, and his movements were 
watched. Now in the parsonage garden was a large 
tree, and about the roots was a bed of violets. The 
suspicious villagers observed the pastor as he walked 
round the tree and every now and then bowed to 
pick a violet. This proceeding took place daily. 
Why he bowed they could not understand, unless 
it were in homage to the tree, and they actually drew 
up a memorial to the Archbishop of York complain- 
ing of their parson as guilty of idolatrous tree- 
worship. 

The bush hung out of a wine-shop signified that 



232 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

within were drinking and dancing. The bush is but 
the sacred tree reduced to its smallest dimensions, 
and the drinking and dancing that in former times 
took place around the tree are now relegated to 
within the house, but the bush is retained to sym- 
bolise roystering and mirth. I remember the case of 
a gentleman who "went off his head ; " his family were 
reluctant to allow it to transpire. But one day a 
climax was put to his eccentricities by his thrusting 
the stable broom out at an upper window, and pro- 
claiming, "This bush is to give notice, that within 
I have got two marriageable daughters on sale. 
Sherry stood all round. Going to the highest bidder. 

Going — going " His wife caught him by the 

shoulders, twisted him about, and said : " Gone com- 
pletely — and off to the asylum you shall pack at 
once." 

Moreton Hampstead was the birthplace of that 
remarkable genius George Parker Bidder. He was 
born in very humble circumstances, his father having 
been a stonemason ; and at the age of seven, when 
his talent first became apparent, he did not know the 
meaning of the word " multiplication," nor could he 
read the common numerical symbols. 

An elder brother had taught him to count to one 
hundred. His great haunt was the forge of the village 
blacksmith, a kindly old man, about whom more pre- 
sently. In his workshop neighbours would gather to 
prove the boy with hard questions involving figures, as 
it soon became known that he had an extraordinary 
faculty for calculation. The earliest public notice 
of this that has been met with is in a letter dated 




THE CALCULATING BOY 



THE CALCULATING BOY 233 

January 19th, 18 14, and signed "I. Isaac," printed in 
the Monthly Magazine (xxxvii. 104). 

"Sir, — Having heard that George Parker Bidder, seven 
years of age," (he was really seven months over the seven 
years, as he was born June 14th, 1806) "has a peculiar 
talent for combining numbers, I sent for him, desired him 
to read a few verses of the New Testament, and found he 
could scarcely do it even by spelling many words ; and 
knew not the numbers of the letters from one to ten." 
(Mr. Isaac then asked him several questions in the first four 
rules of arithmetic, to each of which he replied correctly 
and readily. He then proceeds to say) : " I then asked 
him how many days are in two years. But here he was at 
a stand, did not know what a year is, or how many hours 
are in a day, but having the terms explained, he soon made 
out the hours in a week, in a month, in twelve months. 
When asked how many inches are in a square foot, he soon 
signified that he knew neither of the terms, nor how many 
inches a foot contains, but with the aid of explanation he 
soon made out the number 1728; and when desired to 
multiply this by twelve, he complained the number was 
too large, but having time, about two minutes, he made out 
the number 20,738." 

His father now took him over the country to 
exhibit his wonderful powers. In 181 5 he was pre- 
sented to Queen Charlotte. He is said to have been 
a singularly bright and prepossessing boy. In a 
memoir in the P7'oceedings of the Institute of Civil 
Efzgineers (Ivii. pp. 294) we read : — 

"Travelling about the country, for the purpose of ex- 
hibiting his son's powers, proved so agreeable and profitable 
to his father, that the boy's education was entirely neglected. 



234 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

Fortunately, however, amongst those who witnessed his 
public performances were some gentlemen who thought 
they discerned qualities worthy of a better career than that 
of a mere arithmetical prodigy. The Rev. Thomas 
Jephson and the late Sir John Herschel visited Moreton 
in the autumn of 1817, to see the 'Calculating Boy,' and 
they were so much impressed by his talent and general 
intelligence that before the vacation was over Mr. Jephson 
and his Cambridge friends agreed to defray the expenses of 
his education, and he was placed with the master of the 
grammar school at Camberwell. There he remained for 
about a twelvemonth, when his father insisted on removing 
him, for the purpose of resuming the exhibition of his 
talents. Among other places, he was taken to Edinburgh, 
where he attracted the notice of Sir Henry Jardine, who, 
with the assistance of some friends, became responsible for 
his education. Bidder was then placed with a private 
tutor, and afterwards, in 18 19, he attended the classes at 
the University of Edinburgh." 

He quitted Edinburgh in 1824, and was given a 
post in the Ordnance Survey. In April, 1825, he 
quitted the Ordnance Survey and was engaged as 
assistant to Mr. H. R. Palmer, a civil engineer. 

It is deserving of remembrance that George Bidder's 
first care when starting in the world was to provide 
for the education of his two younger brothers, and 
for that purpose this lad of eighteen stinted and 
saved, denying himself all but the barest necessities. 

In 1833 he superintended the construction of the 
Blackwall Wharf, and in 1834 joined George and 
Robert Stephenson, whom he had known in Edin- 
burgh. 

Experience showed him the importance of electric 



MR. BIDDER 235 

communication between stations ; he introduced it 
on the Blackwall and Yarmouth railways, and became 
one of the principal founders of the Electric Tele- 
graph Company. 

In hydraulic engineering his chief works were the 
construction of Lowestoft Harbour and the Victoria 
Docks at North Woolwich. 

"Mr. Bidder took a distinguished part in the great 
parliamentary contests which attended the establishment 
of railways. His wonderful memory, his power of in- 
stantaneous calculation, his quick perception and readiness 
at repartee, caused him to be dreaded by hostile lawyers, 
one of whom made a fruitless application before a committee 
in the House of Lords that Mr. Bidder should not be 
allowed to remain in the room, because * Nature,' he said, 
' had endowed him with qualities that did not place his 
opponents on a fair footing.' 

" A remarkable instance of Mr. Bidder's wonderful 
readiness and power of mental numeration occurred in 
connexion with the passing of the Act for the North 
Staffordshire Railway. 

"There were several competing lines, and the object of 
Mr. Bidder's party was to get rid of as many as possible on 
Standing Orders. They had challenged the accuracy of 
the levels of one of the rival lines, but upon the examina- 
tion before the Committee on Standing Orders their 
opponents' witnesses were as positive as those of the 
North Staffordshire, and apparently were likely to com- 
mand greater credence. 

"Fortunately Mr. Bidder was present, and when the 
surveyors of the opposing lines were called to prove the 
levels at various points he asked to see their field-books, 
which he looked at apparently in the most cursory manner, 
and quietly put down without making a note or any 



236 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

observation, and as though he had seen nothing worthy 
of notice. When the surveyors had completed their proofs 
Mr. Bidder, who had carried on in his own mind a calcula- 
tion of the heights noted in all the books, not merely of 
the salient points upon which the witnesses had been 
examined, but also of the intermediate rises and falls 
noted in the several books, suddenly exclaimed that he 
would demonstrate to the Committee that the section was 
wrong. He then went rapidly through a calculation which 
took all by surprise, and clearly proved that if the levels 
were as represented at one point they could not possibly 
be as represented at another and distant point. The 
result was that the errors in the levels were reported, and 
the Bill was not allowed to proceed."* 

Some of his extraordinary achievements have been 
reported, but they are somewhat doubtful. It vv^ill 
be best to quote only one that is well authenticated 
from the Proceedings of the Institute of Civil 
Engineers (Ivii. 309). 

"On 26 September, 1878, being in his 73rd year, he 
was conversing with a mathematical friend on the subject 
of Light, when, it having been remarked that * 36,9 18 
pulses or waves of light, which only occupy i inch in 
length, are requisite to give the impression of red,' the 
friend 'suggested the query that, taking the velocity of 
light at 190,000 miles per second, how many of its waves 
must strike the eye and be registered in one second to give 
the colour red, and, producing a pencil, he was about 
to calculate the result, when Mr. Bidder said, 'You 
need not work it; the number of vibrations will be 
444.433)651.200,000.'" 

* Obituary Notice in Transactions of the Devonshire Association^ 
1879. See also that for iS86, pp. 309-15. 



BRENNAN 237 

Mr. Bidder died suddenly from disease of the 
heart on September 20th, 1878, aged seventy- two 
years. 

Mr. Bidder remembered many of the old stories 
of the moor told him by the blacksmith in whose 
forge he spent so many hours. 

I have given one in my chapter on Dartmoor and 
its tenants. Here is another, as recorded by Miss 
Bidder, the daughter of Mr. George P. Bidder. 

There was a woman, and she lived at Brennan * 
on the moor. And she had a baby. And one day 
she left her baby on the moor to play and pick 
"urts" (whortleberries), and she hasted to Moreton 
town. Now as she went she saw three ravens 
flying over her head from Blackiston. And she said, 
" Where be you a goin' to, Ravens cruel ? " They 
answered, " Up to Brennan ! up to Brennan ! " She 
had not gone far before she saw three more flying 
in the same direction. And again she asked, " Where 
be you a goin' to, Ravens cruel ? " And these three 
likewise answered her, " Up to Brennan ! up to 
Brennan ! " Now when she had gone somewhat 
further, and was drawing nigh to Moreton, again 
she saw three ravens fly over her head, and for 
the third time she put the same question and 
received the same answer. When in the evening 
she returned to Brennan Moor, there no little baby's 
voice welcomed her, for all that remained of her 
child was a heap of well-picked white bones. 

Brennan is what is marked on the Ordnance 
Survey as Brinning, a lonely spot south of Moreton 

* Bran, pi. dryny, Cornish, a crow. 



238 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

Hampstead, and between it and North Bovey. It 
seems to me that the story needs but a touch, and 
it resolves itself into a ballad. 

BRENNAN MOOR. 

Three ravens, they flew over Blackistone, 

Down-a-down, hey and hey ! 
And loudly they laughed over Moreton town, 

Over Moreton town. 
Saying, Where and O where shall we dine to-day ? 
On the moor, for sure, where runneth no way. 

As I sat a-swaying all in a tree, 

Down-a-down, hey and hey ! 
I saw a sweet mother and her babie. 

And her babie. 
Saying, Sleep, O sleep. I 'm to Moreton fair. 
For Babie and me to buy trinkets rare. 

As I was a-flying o'er Brennan Down, 

Down-a-down, hey and hey ! 
I saw her a-wending her way to town. 

Away to town. 
Our dinners are ready, our feasting free, 
Away to Brennan, black brothers, with me. 

The babe upon Brennan, so cold and bare, 

Down-a-down, hey and hey ! 
The mother a-gadding to Moreton fair. 

To Moreton fair. 
We '11 laugh and we '11 quaff the red blood free. 
There is plenty for all of us, brothers three. 

Three ravens flew over Blackistone, 

Down-a-down, hey and hey ! 
And loudly they laughed over Moreton town, 

Over Moreton town. 
With an armful of toys, came mother, to none 
Save a little white huddle of well-picked bone. 



G R IMSPOUND 




SCALE 120 FEET TO AN INCH 



GRIMSPOUND 239 

From Moreton an expedition may be made to 
Grimspound. 

This is an enclosure, prehistoric, on the slope 
between Hookner Tor and Hameldon. 

The circumference wall measures over 1500 feet, 
and was not for defence against human foes, but 
served as a protection against wolves. Grimslake, 
a small stream that dries up only in very hot 
summers, flows through the enclosure at its northern 
extremity. It passes under the wall, percolates 
through it for some way, and then emerges three- 
quarters of the way down. 

The pound was constructed where it is for two 
reasons : one, to take advantage of the outcrop of 
granite that divides the waterways, and which was 
largely exploited for the construction of the en- 
closure wall and of the huts within ; and the other, 
so as to have the advantage of the stream flowing 
through the pound. 

The entrance is to the south-south-east, and is 
paved in steps. There are twenty-one huts within 
the pound ; most of these have been explored, and 
have revealed cooking-holes, beds of stone, and in 
some a flat stone in the centre, apparently for 
the support of the central pole sustaining the roof. 
Flints and rare potsherds have been recovered. 

The most perfect of the huts has been railed 
round, and not filled in after clearing, that visitors 
may obtain some idea of these structures in their 
original condition. This one has a sort of vestibule 
walled against the prevailing wind. On the hill-top 
above Grimspound, a little distance from the source 



240 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

of Grimslake, is a cairn surrounded by a ring of 
stones; it contains a kistvaen in the centre. On 
the hill opposite, the col between Birch Tor and 
Challacombe Common is a collection of stone rows 
leading to a menhir. 

By ascending Hameldon, and walking along the 
ridge due south, the Great Central Trackway is 
crossed, in very good condition, and a cross stands 
beyond it. 

On the left-hand side of the road under Shapley 
Tor, above a little hollow and stream, before reaching 
the main road from Tavistock to Moreton, may be 
seen a remarkably fine hut circle composed of very 
large slabs of stone. On Watern Hill, at the back 
of the "Warren Inn," or to be more exact, on that 
portion called Chagford Common, are two double 
rows of upright stones leading from a cairn and 
small menhir. The stones are small, but the rows 
are very perfect. 

The Central Trackway to which I have alluded 
is a paved causeway, the continuation of the Fosse- 
way. It runs across Dartmoor. It can be traced 
from Wray Barton, in Moreton Hampstead, where 
it crosses the railway and the Moreton and Newton 
road. Thence a lane runs on it to a cross-road ; 
this it traverses, and is continued as a practicable 
road by Langstone — where, as the name implies, 
there was once a menhir — by Ford to Heytree, 
where is a cluster of hut circles. Then it ascends 
Hameldon by Berry Pound, and becomes quite 
distinct. From the cross on Hameldon it descends 
into the valley, mounts Challacombe, and aims 



STREAM WORKS 241 

across the upper waters of the Webburn for Merri- 
pit; on the marshy ground above the little field 
planted round with beech at Post Bridge it can be 
seen. Road-menders have broken up a portion of 
it, thus exposing a section. It traverses the East 
Dart, and can be distinctly traced above Archerton, 
whence it aims for Lower White Tor. It has been 
thought to be distinguished on Mis Tor, and striking 
for Cox Tor, but I mistrust this portion, and am 
inclined to think that the old Lych Way is its 
continuation from Lidaford Tor, where it disappears. 
The Lych Way, or Corpse Road, is that by which 
the dead were borne to burial at Lydford, till licence 
was granted by Bishop Bronescombe in 1260 to 
such people on the moor as were distant from their 
parish church, to recur to Widecombe for their 
baptisms and interments. The Lych Way is still 
much used for bringing in turf, and for the driving 
out and back of cattle. The paved causeway is 
fine, but in parts it has been resolved by centuries 
of use to a deep-cut furrow. It was said formerly 
that of a night ghostly trains of mourners might 
be seen flitting along it. 

There are extensive, and in some cases very 
ancient, stream works at the head of the two Web- 
burns. Chaw Gully is an early effort in mining. 
The rocks were not blasted, but cut by driving 
wedges or cutting grooves into the stone, then filling 
the holes with lime and pouring water over the 
quicklime, when the expansion split the rock. 

Great quantities of tin have been extracted from 
these rude works; how early and how late these are 
R 



242 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

none can say. The same heaps have been turned 
and turned again. 

There are good screens in the churches of Brid- 
ford, Manaton, Lustleigh — where is also an inscribed 
stone — Bovey Tracey, and North Bovey ; and 
beautiful scenery in Lustleigh Cleave and about 
Manaton. 

Bowerman's Nose is a singular core of hard 
granite, left standing on a hillside in the midst of 
a "clitter." The way in which it was fashioned 
has been already described. 

The valley of the Teign is beautiful throughout ; 
it deserves a visit both above and below Dunsford 
Bridge. Fingle has been spoken of in the chapter 
devoted to Exeter. Below Dunsford the river should 
be left to ascend a picturesque combe to Bridford, 
in order to visit the very fine screen and pulpit. 

Christow Church is good, and there is in the 
porch a stone, on which is inscribed, " Nathaniel 
Busell, aet. 48 yeers, dark heere, dyed 19th Feb., 
1 63 1." Tradition asserts that he was shot where 
he lies buried by the soldiers of the Parliament, 
who desired to enter and deface the church ; but 
Busell refused to deliver up the keys. In the 
churchyard are some stately yews. 

Ashton possesses a screen with paintings on it in 
admirable preservation. Here was the seat of the 
family of that name from which came Sir George, who, 
after the battle of Stratton, passed over from the side 
of the Parliament to that of the king. Hence also 
sprang the notorious Duchess of Kingston, the lovely 
Miss Chudleigh, who was tried for bigamy in West' 



HENNOCK 243 

minster Hall by the peers in 1776, and who was the 
original from whom Thackeray drew his detailed por- 
trait of Beatrice Esmond, both as young Trix and as 
the old Baroness Bernstein. She has had hard measure 
dealt out to her, and cruellest of all was that John 
Dunning, a native of her own part of Devon, should 
have acted in the prosecution against her and in- 
sulted her before the peers, so as to wring tears 
from her eyes. There can be no question but that 
when she married the Duke of Kingston she believed 
that her former clandestine marriage was invalid.* 

Further down the Teign, in a beautiful situation, is 
Canonteign, an old mansion of the Davie family, 
well preserved. Hence Hennock may be visited, 
lying high on the ridge between the Bovey and 
the Teign. Of this place Murray in his Handbook 
told the following story : — " It is said that when 
a vicar of Hennock, one Anthony Lovitt, died, his 
son, of the same name, took his place, although not 
in orders. The parishioners made no objections, and 
it was not until some years afterwards, when he tried 
to raise their tithes, that they denounced him, think- 
ing that, * if they were to pay all that money they 
might as well have a real parson.' " The story, how- 
ever, is not true. There was a vicar, Anthony Loveys, 
and he had a son of the same name whom he 
appointed parish clerk, and the second Anthony re- 
mained on as clerk after his father's death and the 
appointment of a new vicar. The name continues in 
the place, and has become that of a yeoman family. 

• I have told her story in my Historic Oddities and Strange Events. 
Methuen, 1889. 



244 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

There was a very locally-famous parson of Hennock, 
named Harris, not yet forgotten. He was a wizard. 
Those who had lost goods went to him, and he 
recovered them for the true owners. One day 
Farmer Loveys went to him. " Pass'n," said he, 
" last night my fine gander was stolen. How can y 
help me ? " 

So Parson Harris went to his books, drew a circle, 
muttered some words, then opened his window, and 
in through the casement came the gander, plucked, 
trussed, and on the spit, and fell at his feet. 

On another occasion someone else came to him 
with a similar complaint, only on this occasion several 
geese had been carried off. 

" You be aisy," said the vicar. " The man as has 
a done this shall be put to open shame." So next 
Sunday, when he got up in the pulpit, he pro- 
claimed : — " I give you all to know that Farmer 
Tuckett has had three geese stolen. Now I Ve 
read my books and drawn my figures, and I have 
so conjured that three feathers of thickey geese shall 
now — this instant — stick to the nose of the thief." 

Up went the hand of one in the congregation 
to his nose. At once Parson Harris saw the move- 
ment, pointed to him, and thundered forth, "There 
is the man as stole the geese." 

His maid, Polly, had a lover, as the manner of 
maids is. The young man took service in Exeter. 
Polly was inconsolable. He left on Saturday, and 
the girl did nothing but sob all day. " You be easy, 
Polly," said her master ; " I '11 conjure him home to 
you." 



LUSTLEIGH CLEAVE 245 

So he began his abracadabra, but Sunday came 
and Sunday passed, and no John appeared. Polly 
went to bed much shaken in her belief in the powers 
of the master. 

However, about the first glimmer of dawn there 
came a clatter of feet and a rapping at the door, and 
lo ! outside was John, in his best suit, except the 
coat, bathed in perspiration and out of breath. The 
spell had not taken effect on him all day because he 
had worn his best coat with the Prayer Book in the 
pocket. But so soon as ever at night he took off his 
coat, then it operated, and he had run all the way 
from Exeter to Hennock. 

At Hennock are Bottor Rocks and also those of 
John Cann. A path at the side is called "John 
Cann's path." John Cann is said to have been a 
staunch Royalist, who was hunted by the Round- 
heads. He took refuge among these rocks, to which 
provisions were secretly conveyed for his use, and 
there he secreted his treasure. The " path " was worn 
by his pacing at night. He was finally tracked to 
his hiding-place by bloodhounds, taken and hanged, 
but his treasure, the secret of which he would not 
reveal, lies concealed among the rocks, and a little 
blue flame is thought to dance along the track and 
hover over the place where lies the gold. 

Lustleigh Cleave is a fine rocky valley, so strewn 
with rocks that the river for a considerable distance 
worms its way beneath, unseen. From hence an 
ascent may be made to Becky Falls, a dribble except 
in very wet weather, and higher still to Manaton and 
to Hey Tor Rocks, bold masses of hard granite. More 



246 MORETON HAMPSTEAD 

picturesque, though not so massive, are Hound Tor 
Rocks, that take their name from the extraordinary 
shapes, as of dogs' heads formed by the granite 
spires and projections. 

Widecombe is a valley shut in by moor; where 
the people are much of a law to themselves, having 
no resident manorial lords over them, and having no 
neighbours. A sturdy and headstrong race has grown 
up there, doing what is right in their own eyes, and 
somewhat indifferent to the opinions and feelings 
of the outer world. In winter they are as much 
closed in as was Noah in the ark. 

This was the scene of a terrible thunderstorm, a 
record of which is preserved in the church. Mr. Black- 
more has worked it into his novel of Christowel. The 
tower is very fine, but the church does not come 
up to one's expectations. Widecombe is walled up 
to heaven on the west by Hameldon, and the morn- 
ing sun is excluded by a bold chain of tors on the east. 
It was for the purpose of going to Widecombe Fair 
that Tom Pearse was induced to lend his old mare, 
which is the topic of the most popular of Devonshire 
songs. 

" Tom Pearse, Tom Pearse, lend me your grey mare, 
All along, down along, out along, lee. 
For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair, 
Wi' Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter 

Davy, Dan'l Whiddon, 
Harry Hawk, old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all." 

Chorus. — Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all. 

" And when shall I see again my grey mare ? " 

All along, etc. 
" By Friday soon, or Saturday noon, 

Wi' Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer," etc. 



POPULAR SONG 247 

Then Friday came, and Saturday noon, 

All along, etc. 
But Tom Pearse's old mare hath not trotted home, 

Wi' Bill Brewer, etc 

So Tom Pearse he got up to the top o' the hill, 

All along, etc. 
And he seed his old mare down a making her will 

Wi' Bill Brewer, etc. 

So Tom Pearse's old mare, her took sick and died. 

All along, etc. 
And Tom he sat down on a stone, and he cried 

Wi' Bill Brewer, etc. 

But this isn't the end o' this shocking affair, 

All along, etc. 
Nor, though they be dead, of the horrid career 

Of Bill Brewer, etc. 

When the wind whistles cold on the moor of a night, 

All along, etc. 
Tom Pearse's old mare doth appear, gashly white, 

Wi' Bill Brewer, etc. 

And all the long night be heard skirling and groans, 

All along, etc. 
From Tom Pearse's old mare in her rattling bones. 

And from Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, 
Peter Davy, Dan'l Whiddon, 

Harry Hawk, old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all. 

Chorus. — Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all. 



CHAPTER XIV. 
ASHBURTON 

Ashburton manors — The Ashburn — The cloth-workers — The tuck- 
ing-mills — County families sprung from the woollen trade — Intro- 
duction of machinery — ^John Dunning — Created Baron Ashburton 
— Wood .carving in Ashburton — The Oldham owl — Screen de- 
stroyed — Ilsington — The Pomeroys — Holne — Dean Prior and 
Herrick — Abbey of Buckfast — A foundation of S. Petrock — 
Staverton Church — Screens in Devon — Dr. Blackall's Drive — 
Holne Chase — Bovey Tracey — William de Tracy — Chudleigh. 

A PLEASANT, sleepy, country town, hardly able 
to maintain its old-world dignity against the 
ruffling, modern, manufacturing Buckfastleigh. A 
pleasant centre, whence delightful excursions may be 
made, and with an old-world aroma about it, as 
though preserved in pot-pourri. 

It has a beautiful church. Ashburton consisted of 
a royal and an episcopal manor, each with its several 
municipal officers. A stream divided the manors. 
Ashburton is the tun on the Ashburn. Ash is but 
another form of Exe, from usk, water. It owed its 
growth and prosperity to the wool trade. The 
proximity to Dartmoor, an unrivalled run for sheep, 
and the water of the stream to turn the mills, gave 
to Ashburton a great significance as a centre of cloth 
manufacture. Added to which it was a stannary 
town. 

248 



TUCKING.MILLS 249 

The old chapel of S. Laurence in the town, now 
converted into a grammar school, belonged to the 
guild of the cloth-workers, and their seal became the 
arms of the borough : On a mount vert, a chapel 
with spire, in dexter chief the sun in splendour, in 
sinister a crescent moon, in dexter base a teasel, in 
sinister a saltire. The teasel and sun and moon were 
emblematical of the chief staples of the place ; the 
woollen trade and the mining interests. 

The old fulling-mills were locally termed tucking- 
mills, and the extent to which cloth-working was 
carried on in South Devon is shown by the prevalence 
of the surname Tucker * 

The process of manufacture given by Westcote, in 
1630, is as follows : — 

" First, the gentleman farmer, or husbandman, sends his 
wool to the market, which is bought either by the comber or 
spinster, and they, the next week, bring it hither again in yarn, 
which the weaver buys, and the market following brings that 
hither again in cloth, when it is sold, either to the clothier, 
who sends it to London, or to the merchant, who, after it hath 
passed the fuller's mill, and sometimes the dyer's vat, trans- 
ports it. The large quantities whereof cannot be well 
guessed, but best known to the custom-book, whereunto 
it yields no small commodity, and this is continued all the 
year through." 

The clothier was a man of some means, that 
bought the yarn or abb in the Tuesday's market 
from Cornish and Tavistock spinners, who kept this 

* For what follows on the woollen trade I am greatly indebted to a 
paper by Mr. P. F. S. Amery in the Transactions of the Devonshire 
Association, 1879. 



250 ASHBURTON 

branch of the trade pretty much to themselves. 
The worsted was spun into " tops " — and the name 
Toop is common now in the neighbourhood. Tops, 
the combed wool so called by poor cottagers, was made 
by them into chains to form the warp or framework 
of the fabric. 

One day a week the serge-maker assumed a long 
apron and met his weavers, the poor folk of the 
neighbourhood, who frequently hired their looms 
from him, paying him a shilling quarterly. He 
served out to them the proper proportions of abb 
and worsted, with a certain quantity of glue to size 
the chain before tying it to the loom. This they 
took home with them, and wove at leisure, returning 
it the following week and receiving the price of their 
labour. 

These serges were then fulled at the borough tuck- 
ing-mill. This was supplied with a water-wheel that 
gave motion to the tree or spindle, whose teeth com- 
municated it to the stampers, which were made to 
rise and fall. The stampers or pestles worked in 
troughs in which was laid the stuff that was intended 
to be fulled. The cloth had already been saturated 
in various unsavoury liquids to prepare it for the 
stampers. For raising the nap after dying the 
dipsacus, or common teasel, was extensively grown. 
The heads were fixed round the circumference of 
a large, broad wheel which was made to revolve, and 
the cloth was held against it. 

The cloths were then ready. 

It is evident that no large capital was needed in 
this mode of doing business ; the clothier had no 



CLOTH-WORKERS 251 

operatives to look after, and only a small portion of 
his time was occupied in his business. A day set 
apart to "tend" his weavers, and an hour in the 
yarn market on Tuesdays was about all that was 
regularly required of him. Yet the business done 
was large, and he expended his capital in purchasing 
land, in enclosing commons, and in starting tanneries, 
above all in acting as banker to the neighbourhood. 

It is really surprising to see how many of the 
notable heraldic families of Devon rose from being 
clothiers. But then the serges of the West were in 
request not in England only, but also abroad. West- 
cote says : — 

" The stuff of serges or perpetuanos is now in great use 
and request with us, wherewith the market at Exeter is 
abundantly furnished of all sorts and prices; the number 
will hardly be credited. Tiverton hath also such a store 
in kersies as will not be believed. Crediton yields many 
of the finest sorts of kersies. Totnes and some places 
near it hath had besides these a sort of coarse cloth, 
which they call narrow-pin-whites ^ not elsewhere made. 
Barnstaple and Torrington furnish us with bays, single 
and double frizados. At Tavistock there is a good market. 
Ottery St. Mary hath mixed kersies ; Cullompton, kersey 
stockings." 

The introduction of worsted spinning-frames in 
the North of England early in the present century 
revolutionised the trade, and in 18 17 Mr. Gaunter 
started the first worsted spinning-frames in Ash- 
burton, charging lod. a pound for spinning. For 
a while he held the monopoly. But the Dart was 
now called into requisition at Buckfast, and on the 



252 ASHBURTON 

site and out of the materials of the abbey a spinning 
factory was established. 

"The next great change," says Mr. Amery, "was brought 
about by the fact that all the weaving was carried on in the 
houses of the poor. Perhaps in a social point of view 
it was a good thing, as the mother was always occupied 
at home, and had her eye on the family; but to the 
manufacturer it was bad, as the materials entrusted by him 
to the weaver were open to great peculations, for weavers 
could always supply themselves with yarn or abb sufficient 
to provide their families with stockings, and joiners could 
purchase the best glue at half price in the little shops, 
where it had been bartered for small goods. So great was 
the loss of yarn, worsted, and glue, and so various were 
the means taken to make up the short weight by the use 
of oil, water, etc., that a remedy was sought and found in 
the expedient of erecting large factories, fitted with the 
newest spring looms ; here the weavers came and worked, 
and nothing was allowed to be carried off the premises." 

More wool is now worked up by the aid of the 
power-looms and combing machines at Ashburton 
and Buckfastleigh than in the old prosperous times. 

Ashburton's most distinguished son was John 
Dunning, first Baron Ashburton. He belonged to 
a respectable family, originally seated in Walk- 
hampton parish, which, though not bearing an 
armorial coat, was yet above the class of yeomen. 
His father, John Dunning, settled as an attorney 
at Ashburton, where the future Lord Ashburton was 
born in 173 1.* John Dunning the elder had as 
one of his clients Sir Thomas Clarke, Master of 

* For a memoir of John Dunning, see that by Mr. R. Dymond, 
in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1876. 




J. DUNNING, FIRST LORD ASHBURTON 



JOHN DUNNING 253 

the Rolls, who owned a good deal of property 
about Ashburton. A legal instrument drawn up by 
the young Dunning when only nineteen, and sent 
to Sir Thomas, struck the Master of the Rolls as 
being so well done that he undertook the charge of 
fitting him for a career at the bar ; and under this 
patron's auspices young Dunning, in the twenty- 
first year of his age, entered the Middle Temple in 
1752, 

It was whilst keeping his terms that Dunning 
made acquaintance with Home Tooke, who ad- 
dressed to him in 1778 his Letter on the English 
Particle, which was later expanded into The Diver- 
sions of Purley. After four years of study Dunning 
was called to the bar, and for five weary years after 
that his prospects remained in a most unpromising 
condition. He was a very ugly man, stunted in 
growth, his limbs misshapen, and his features mean. 
Home Tooke used to tell a story illustrative of 
his personal appearance. On one occasion Thurlow 
wished to see him privately, and going to the coffee- 
house he frequented, asked the waiter if Mr. Dunning 
were there. The waiter, who was new to the place, 
said he did not know him. " Not know him ! " ex- 
claimed Thurlow with his usual volley of oaths. 
" Go into the room upstairs, and if you see a gentle- 
man like the knave of clubs, call him down." The 
waiter departed, and returned with Dunning. 

On one occasion he was retained in an assault 
case, and his object was to disprove the identity of 
the person named by an old woman as the aggres- 
sor. Abandoning his usual overbearing demeanour 



254 ASHBURTON 

towards v/itnesses, he commenced his cross-examina- 
tion thus, mildly : — 

" Pray, my good woman, what sized man was he ? " 

" Short and stumpy, sir ; almost as small as your 
honour." 

" Humph ! What sort of a nose had he ? " 

" Well now, what I should ca' a snubby nose, like 
your own, sir, only not quite so cocked up like." 

" Humph ! His eyes ? " 

" He 'd gotten a bit o' a cast in 'em, sir, like your 
honour's squint." 

" Go down, woman. That will do." 

Presently affairs took a turn. Dunning worked 
his way into notice by adopting violent radical or 
democratical views, and became the friend of the 
notorious Wilkes, who also had a squint, and he 
acted as junior counsel in the famous prosecution 
of the publishers of No. 45 of the North Briton^ 
which contained strictures on the speech from the 
throne, at the close of the session of 1763. It 
was in this case that Dunning firmly established 
his reputation as a close and subtle reasoner, and 
he could ever calculate on being employed by his 
party. From this date no member of the bar 
obtained a larger number of briefs. I have already 
told, in my Old Country Life, a story illustrative of 
the way in which he managed the defence of a man 
on trial for murder. In 1766 he won the recorder- 
ship of Bristol, he was appointed Solicitor-General 
in 1767, and in the general election of 1768 he was 
elected member for Calne. 

"Among the new accessions to the House of 



JOHN DUNNING 255 

Commons at this juncture," writes Lord Mahon, 
" by far the most eminent in ability was John 
Dunning. . . . He was a man both of quick parts 
and strong passions ; in his politics a zealous Whig. 
As an orator, none ever laboured under greater 
disadvantages of voice and manner ; but these dis- 
advantages were most successfully retrieved by his 
wondrous powers of reasoning, his keen invective, 
and his ready wit. At the trial of the Duchess of 
Kingston for bigamy, when he appeared as counsel 
against her Grace, Hannah More, who was present, 
thus describes him : * His manner is insufferably bad, 
coughing and spitting at every word, but his sense 
and expression pointed to the last degree. He 
made her Grace shed bitter tears.'" The mode in 
which he used his hands was absurd as it was 
peculiar. He drew them whilst speaking up close 
together to the height of his breast, where he 
rested his wrists, and kept up a continual paddling 
with his outspread palms, moving them with a 
rapidity corresponding to the motion of his tongue. 
It was said that he looked on such occasions like 
a flat fish hung up in a fishmonger's shop, the body 
rigid, but the fins in front vibrating up and down 
unceasingly. 

In 1769 Dunning bought the manors of Spitch- 
wick and Widecombe. " Manors in Devonshire ! " 
exclaimed Jack Lee. "A pity, Dunning, you should 
have them there, and should bring no manners with 
you to Westminster." 

In 1770 he resigned his position as Solicitor- 
General, and resumed, his old position outside the 



256 ASHBURTON 

bar, but with a professional income estimated at 
the then unprecedented sum of ;^ 10,000 per annum. 

He was now on the Opposition benches in the 
House. In the hot debates on the American War, 
Dunning steadfastly advocated a policy of con- 
ciliation. An instance of Dunning's sharpness of 
repartee was afforded when Chatham moved an 
address to the Crown in favour of this policy. 
The motion was upheld by Lords Shelburne, 
Camden, and Rockingham, and they were supported 
by the vote of the Duke of Cumberland. His Royal 
Highness was one day complimenting Dr. Price 
on a pamphlet he had written in favour of the 
Americans. " I sat up reading it last night," said 
he, "till it had almost blinded me." "On the rest 
of the nation, your Royal Highness," said Dunning, 
who stood by, " the pamphlet has had the opposite 
effect. It has opened their eyes." 

John Dunning was nearly fifty years old when 
he married. His choice was Elizabeth Baring, 
daughter of John Baring, of Larkbeare, one of the 
many woollen merchants then flourishing in Exeter, 
and sister of the founders of the great house of 
Baring Brothers. He was married to her in 1780. 

His honeymoon must have been short, for exactly 
one week after his marriage Dunning brought forward 
in Committee of the House of Commons his famous 
motion, " That it is the opinion of this Committee 
that the influence of the Crown has increased, is 
increasing, and ought to be diminished." After a 
fierce debate he succeeded in carrying his motion 
by a majority of eighteen. 



WOOD-CARVING 257 

On the 15th March, 1782, a motion of want of 
confidence, though negatived by a majority of 
nine, proved fatal to the Administration, and the 
Premier resigned. Then, after twelve years passed 
in " the cold shade of opposition," the Whigs were 
again in power ; and one of the first steps taken 
by the Marquess of Rockingham, who now became 
Prime Minister, was to reward John Dunning with 
a coronet. His patent of nobility bore date April 
8th, 1782, and thus the misshapen but clever son 
of the little Ashburton attorney became the first 
Baron Ashburton. None when in opposition had 
denounced more vigorously, and with greater display 
of righteous indignation, the bestowal of pensions on 
a large scale ; but no sooner had he passed out of 
the Opposition into place than he exacted for him- 
self the enormous pension of ;^4000 per annum, a 
sum to him quite unnecessary, as he had amassed 
a huge fortune. 

By this time, however, his health had begun to fail, 
and he died on August i8th, 1783, of paralysis, 
leaving a son, Richard Barre Dunning, to succeed 
him in the title, and to inherit a fortune of ^180,000. 
The second Lord Ashburton married a daughter 
of William Cunninghame, of Lambshaw, and 
through her became allied with the Cranstoun 
family, to whom a large portion of his ample 
possessions passed at his death without issue in 
1823. 

Ashburton, in the Tudor period, seems to have 
possessed a school of wood -carving. The Church- 
wardens' Book shows that much work was done in 
s 



258 ASHBURTON 

the church between 15 15 and 1525. An Exeter 
man named John Mayne was then employed in 
wood-carving, but there were Ashburton workmen 
as well. There was then erected a very fine screen. 
The rood-loft was removed in 1539, but not the 
screen itself till last century, when portions of it 
became the property of private persons, and others 
were laid as foundations to the galleries. 

The side chapels seem also to have been screened 
in ; and there was one Thomas Prideaux who was 
a liberal contributor to the beautification of the 
church. In one of the side chapels was a rich, 
canopied altar-piece with wings. When the chan- 
tries and chapels were destroyed, this was carried 
away by the son, Robert Prideaux, and employed 
for the decoration of his room. The central piece 
of the triptych has been lost, but the wings and 
the canopy remain. Some of the wood-carving of 
Henry the Seventh's reign in and about Ashburton 
is of the very finest quality, quite unsurpassed in 
its style. Work by apparently the same hand may 
be seen at Fulford in the hall. 

In Ashburton stands a quaint slated house-front 
with the pips on cards cut in slate ornamenting the 
front. The old ring to which the bull was attached 
for baiting still remains where was the ancient bull- 
ring of the town. Ashburton was, as already said, 
originally composed of two manors — one royal, the 
other episcopal — and each had its portreeve. The 
King's Bridge united them, and the river divided one 
from the other. This was a relic of pre-Saxon times, 
when the chief of the land and the ecclesiastical 



THE CHURCH 259 

chief had their separate establishments. At a later 
period Ashburton passed wholly into the hands of 
the Bishop of Exeter. Bishop Oldham, 1504-15 19, 
was a benefactor to the church, and gave it a lectern 
with an owl, his symbol, supporting the desk. This 
owl was sold to Bigbury, along with the handsome 
pulpit. Holne pulpit is very similar to that formerly 
in Ashburton. 

The church of Ashburton has been renovated, and 
is now very stately and beautiful. It is to be re- 
gretted that the architect, the late Mr. Street, was 
superior to restoring the screen from the fragments 
that remained, and instead evolved one out of his 
inner consciousness, quite out of character with the 
church, and entirely different in feeling from the 
work common throughout the neighbourhood, which 
is exquisite in beauty of design and in detail. But 
such is the way with architects. The Arlers of 
Gmiind designed Milan Cathedral, but were not 
allowed to complete it ; it was given to sixteen 
different Italian architects to meddle with and to 
muddle it ; the result is that the exterior is a bit 
of miserable frippery in marble. Happily the 
original design for the interior was not interfered 
with. 

But something incomparably worse may be seen 
near Ashburton, in the interior of Bickington. 

Ilsington Church retains a few poppy-head benches 
of rich work, unique in the county. 

In Ilsington is Ingsdon, once the seat of the 
Pomeroy family, but no relics of the ancient house 
remain. According to tradition, the Pomeroy ances- 



26o ASHBURTON 

tor was jester to Robert the Magnificent, father of 
William the Conqueror. He was a dwarf, full of 
comical movements as well as of quips and quirks. 
As he came in with the dessert he was called 
Pomme-roy, the Apple King. His son became a 
faithful servant of William, and was rewarded by 
him with large manors in Devon and Somersetshire. 
A junior branch was settled at Ingsdon. The 
tradition is of course groundless, as the family 
derived from a place Pomeraye in Normandy, near 
Bayeux. It probably originated with a family tend- 
ency to jest, and to a certain grotesqueness of appear- 
ance. It is told by Miss Strickland in her History 
of the Queens of England. But the odd circumstance 
about it is that there are Pomeroys now in and 
about Ashburton of humble degree — the children, 
the plague of the schoolmaster and mistresses, as 
they are born humourists, and withal have such a 
droll appearance and expression as to inevitably 
provoke mirth. 

Holne Church has a good painted screen, and the 
parsonage is the house in which Charles Kingsley 
was born. The view of the winding of the Dart 
from the parsonage garden is beautiful. 

Dean Prior was long the place to which poor 
Robert Herrick was banished. He did not love it, 
nor did he relish the rude ways of his parishioners. 
It is to be feared he did not labour very hard to 
better them. He was buried here in the churchyard 
in 1674. Here also was laid his servant "Prue," 
recorded in his poems. Her burial is entered in 
the register as that of "Prudence Balden, an olde 



ABBEY OF BUCKFAST 261 

maid," and Herrick's trust that the violet might 
blossom on her grave is perhaps not unfulfilled, 
although her grassy mound is not now known. 

The Abbey of Buckfast is within an easy walk, and 
should on all accounts be visited. It is the earliest 
foundation in Devon, going back to long before the 
Conquest, in fact no documents exist to show when 
it was founded. " Mr. Brooking Rowe has suggested 
that Buckfast Abbey probably existed before the 
coming of the Northmen ; that would be before 
A.D. 'jZj. It may be so, but, at least, it must be 
grouped with Bodmin and Glastonbury Abbey as 
one of a trio of monastic churches which had 
property in Devon before King Edgar's time, and 
is probably, with the exception of Exeter, the only 
monastery before that time existing in the county. 
Its extreme antiquity may be inferred from the fact 
that Buckfast itself was never assessed." That is, at 
the taking of Domesday. 

Now I have an idea concerning it. Two of its 
churches were Harford and South Brent, and both are 
dedicated to S. Petrock. We find S. Petrock again, 
further down the Dart, at its mouth. Where we find 
a Celtic dedication, there we may be pretty certain 
that either the saint founded the church, or that it 
was given to him, not necessarily in his lifetime. 

In Celtic monasteries, when a grant was made, it 
was not made to the community, but to the saint 
personally, who was supposed never to die, and all 
the lands and churches granted became his personal 
property. Now, as we find two of the churches 
belonging to this venerable abbey bearing S. Petrock's 



262 ASHBURTON 

name, I think it quite possible that the original abbey 
may have been, like that of Padstow, a foundation 
of S. Petrock. When, however, the abbey was re- 
endowed and recast, and occupied by monks belong- 
ing to the Latin orders, S. Petrock would be ignored 
at Buckfast, and the only indication left of his having 
once owned the whole territory of Buckfast would 
be the lingering on of his name in some of the 
churches that belonged to that same territory. 

I am not sure that we have not hard by traces 
of other Celtic saints, S. Wulvella in Gulwell, a Holy- 
well at Ashburton, and her brother S. Paul of Leon 
at Staverton, though now supplanted by Paul the 
Apostle. 

Buckfast Abbey, after having been given over to the 
wreckers, has been purchased by French Benedictines, 
expelled from France in 1882, and they are carefully 
rebuilding the abbey on its old lines, following all 
the details as turned up among the ruins. The 
foundations of the church have been uncovered, and 
show that it was of great size. It was pulled down in 
1806, and the materials employed in the construction 
of a factory. 

Staverton Church is deserving a visit because of its 
superb screen, that has been most carefully restored. 
It exhibits a screen complete in all its parts, a thing 
very rare. Most of these lack what was their crowning 
glory, the upper member. Indeed there is but one 
completely intact in the county — Atherington, if we 
except the stone screen at Exeter. 

There are other screens in the neighbourhood ; that 
of Buckland has on it some unexplained paintings. 



EXCURSIONS 263 

The Celt was never a builder. His churches were 
rude to the last degree of rudeness. But what he 
delighted in was wattle-work, interlacing osiers into 
the most intricate and beautiful and varied designs. 
We may conjecture that our Celtic forefathers did 
not concern themselves much about the stonework of 
their churches, and concentrated all their efforts on a 
screen dividing chancel from nave, which with platting 
and interweaving they made into a miracle of love- 
liness. And this direction given to decoration hung 
on in Devon and Cornwall, and resulted in the 
glorious screens. For them, to contain them, the 
shells were built. Everything was sacrificed to them, 
and when they are swept away what remains is 
nakedness, disproportion, and desolation. 

Of the excursions in the neighbourhood of Ash- 
burton to scenes of loveliness I will say but little. 
Yet let me recommend one of singular beauty — it 
is called Dr. Blackall's Drive. The Tavistock road 
is taken till the Dart is passed at New Bridge, then 
after a steep ascent the highway is abandoned before 
Pound Gate is reached, and a turf drive runs above 
the Dart commanding its gorge, the Holne coppice, 
and Benjie Tor, and the high road is rejoined be- 
tween Bell Tor and Sharp Tor. This excursion may 
be combined with a drive through Holne Chase, if 
taken on a day when the latter is open to the 
public. 

Holne Chase, however, should be seen from both 
sides of the Dart, as the aspects are very different 
on the two sides. 

Hembury and Holne Chase camps are both fine, 



264 ASHBURTON 

and deserve investigation. They commanded and 
defended the entrance to the moor from this side. 
Widecombe has been spoken of under the head of 
Moreton. 

Bovey should be visited, with its fine church and 
screen and painted and gilt stone pulpit, and with 
the Bovey Heathfield potteries. 

Bovey was one of the manors of the De Tracy 
who was a principal hand in the murder of Thomas 
a Becket, and it is to this ambitious and turbulent 
prelate that the church is dedicated. The story 
goes that William de Tracy built the church at 
Bovey as penance for his part in the murder; but 
the church constructed by him was burnt about 
1300, and was rebuilt in the Perpendicular style. 
The story was diligently propagated that De Tracy 
died on his way to the Holy Land, in a frenzy, 
tearing his flesh off his bones with his teeth and 
nails, and shrieking, " Mercy, Thomas, mercy ! " But, 
as a matter of fact, no judgment of God fell on the 
murderers. Within four years after the murder, 
De Tracy was justiciary of Normandy. The pre- 
sent Lord Wemyss and Lord Sudeley are his lineal 
descendants. The pedigree, contrary to all received 
opinions on the subject of " judgments " on sac- 
rilege, exhibits the very singular instance of an 
estate descending for upwards of seven hundred 
years in the male line of the same family. Fitzurse, 
another of the murderers, went to Ireland, and 
became the ancestor of the McMahon family. 

There are some curious pictures on the Bovey 
screen which are supposed to have reference to the 
story of Becket and his quarrels with the king. 



CHUDLEIGH 265 

Chudleigh is at some distance, but it is worth a 
visit, partly because of the good screen in the church, 
but mainly because of the very pretty ravine through 
which the Kate {Cad^ fall) tumbles. The rock here 
is of limestone, a fine and beautiful marble, and in 
its face is a cavern supposed to be haunted by the 
Pixies, with a stalagmite floor that was broken up 
by Dr. Buckland in 1825, and the soil beneath it 
examined in the slip -shod, happy-go-lucky style 
usual with explorers of that period. It deserves to 
be reinvestigated systematically. 

Note. — Books and articles on Ashburton : — 

Worthy (C), Ashburton and its Neighbotcrhood. Ashburton, 1875. 
Amery (P. F. S.), Articles already noticed in the Transactions of the 
Devonshire Association, 1876 and 1896. 



CHAPTER XV. 

TAVISTOCK 

Origin of Tavistock — Foundation of the Abbey — S. Rumon — Edgar 
and Elfrida — Abbot Aylmer — Aldred — The Parish Church — Glan- 
ville — The Story of Mrs. Page — ^John Fitz — The Story of Sir John 
Fitz — The Story of Lady Howard — Sir Richard Grenville — Early 
inscribed stones — Statue of Sir Francis Drake — Buckland Abbey — 
Morwell — Lydford, its castle, lavine, and waterfall — Brent Tor — 
Endsleigh — Mary and Peter Tavy — Whit Tor. 

CERTAIN towns tell you at a glance what was 
their raison d'etre; Tavistock has clustered 
about its abbey, that lay low near its fish-ponds, 
whereas Launceston clings about its castle, that 
stood high to command the country round. 

Very possibly the original Saxon stockade was 
where still some earthworks remain, above the South 
Western Railway, but the centre of life moved thence 
on account of the fancy coming into the head of 
Ordulf, Earl of Devon, to found an abbey by the 
waterside in the valley beneath him. The legend, 
as told in a cartulary summarised in Dugdale's 
Monasticon, is that, in the reign of Edgar, Ordulf 
was one night praying in the open air, when he saw 
a pillar of fire brighter than the sun at noon hovering 
where now anyone, on any day, may see a lowering 
cloud of smoke. That same night an angel bade 

266 



THE ABBEY 267 

him go forth at dawn and explore the spot where 
he had seen the fire, and then build an oratory to 
the four evangelists. I think I can explain the vision. 
The farmer was " swaling." At a certain period a 
good many pillars of fire may be seen about 
Tavistock, when either the furze is being burnt, or 
the farmers are consuming the " stroil " — the weeds 
from their fields. So I do not reject the story 
as altogether fabulous, but as "improved." What 
Ordulf had a mind to do was to establish a monas- 
tery for the comfort of his soul, having, I doubt not, 
bullied and maltreated the poor Britons without com- 
punction. His father had had a mind the same way, 
but had died without performing what was his intent. 

Next day Ordulf went to the spot where he had 
seen the fire, and there beheld four stakes, marking 
out the ground, and this fact confirms me in my 
opinion. For it was the custom of the natives thus to 
indicate the bounds of their fields. The stakes were 
called termons. In like manner miners indicated their 
setts by cutting four turves annually at the limits 
of their grounds. 

Ordulf now set to work and erected an oratory 
with buildings for an abbot and brethren, and he 
gave them of his inheritance Tavistock, Milton, 
Hatherleigh, Burrington, Rumonsleigh, Linkinhorne, 
Dunethem, and Chuvelin, which I cannot identify. 
He also bestowed on the monastery his wife's dower. 

When the monastic church was built he moved 
to it the bones of his father, mother, and brother, 
and after his death was there laid himself 

However, before he graced it with his own relics, 



268 TAVISTOCK 

he transferred to it the remains of S. Rumon or 
Ruan (960), who, if we may judge from some place- 
names, had been there at a considerably earlier 
period as a missionary; for there is near Meavy a 
Roman's cross, and between Tavistock and Bere 
Ferrers is Romansleigh, and on the Tamar Rumleigh. 

The saint reposed in the church of Ruan Lani- 
home (Llan-ruan) in Cornwall, but Ordulf did not 
scruple to rob a mere West Welsh church to give 
honour and glory to one of his own founding. 

Rumon was by no means a saint with a name and 
not a story. He had been a convert of S. Patrick, 
a Scot of Ireland. As I shall say something con- 
cerning him when we come to his field of labours 
in the Lizard district, I will say no more about 
them here. 

Ordgar, Earl of Devon, was father of the beautiful 
Elfrida, who accordingly was sister of Ordulf. Her 
story, though tolerably well known, must not be 
passed over here. 

King Edgar was a little man, but thought a good 
deal of himself — a merciful dispensation of Provi- 
dence accorded to little men to make up for their lack 
of inches. He was of a warm complexion. He once 
carried off a nun from her convent, and was repri- 
manded for it by S. Dunstan, who forbade him for 
this disreputable act to wear his crown for seven 
years. His first wife was Ethelfleda, called the Duck 
— Duckie, doubtless, by her husband — and after her 
death he looked out for another, as is an infirm way 
that widowers have. 

Edgar, hearing that Elfrida, daughter of Ordgar, 



^♦DOING" THE KING 269 

was the loveliest woman in England, with a true 
Devonshire complexion of cream and heather-bloom, 
sent Ethelwald, Earl of the East Angles, to interview 
her before he committed himself Ethelwald no 
sooner saw her than he was a " gone coon," and 
he asked the hand of Elfrida from her brother. 
Having received his consent, he hurried back to the 
king and told him that the lady was much over- 
rated, that her chief beauty lay in her wealth ; as her 
only brother Ordulf was childless, she had expecta- 
tions of coming in for his fortune when it should 
please Providence, and so on. 

So, as though looking only to her expectations, 
Ethelwald asked the king to give him the lady. 
Edgar yielded his consent, and Ethelwald married 
Elfrida, and became by her the father of a boy whom 
he persuaded the king to take as his god-child, and 
to whom he gave the name of Edgar. Then Ethel- 
wald was glad, for he knew that according to the 
laws of the Church, they had contracted a spiritual 
relationship which would prevent the king from ever 
marrying Elfrida and removing himself, the obstacle 
which stood in the way should he contemplate an 
union. 

Now the report reached the king that he had been 
" done," done out of the loveliest woman in Christen- 
dom, and the little man ruffled up and became fiery 
red, and vowed he would a-hunting go, and hunt in 
the royal chase of Dartmoor. So he sent word to 
Ethelwald that he purposed visiting him at his Castle 
of Harewood, and solicited a bed and breakfast. 

Harewood is situated on a tongue of land about 



270 TAVISTOCK 

which the Tamar makes a great loop — at one time 
assuredly a very strong camp ; then it became a 
gentleman's place, now it is a ruin. 

Ethelwald felt uneasy. He told his wife the story 
of the deception he had practised, which shows how 
soft and incapable of dealing with women he was. 
Then he went on to ask of her the impossible — to dis- 
guise her beauty. As if any woman would do that ! 

But when Elfrida knew the story she also ruffled 
up, not a little, and made a point of dressing herself 
in her most costly array, braiding her lovely hair 
with jewels, and washing her pretty face in milk and 
eau de — elder-flowers. Edgar became madly enam- 
oured, and to boot furious with the man who had 
deceived him. 

As they were together one day hunting, and were 
alone, the king smote Ethelwald with a javelin so 
that he died, and he took Elfrida to be his wife ; and 
to expiate his peccadillo, erected a convent in the 
Harewood forest. 

Edgar died in 975, and he was but thirty-two years 
old when he died. 

Now, is there any truth in this story } 

The tale comes to us from Geoffrey Gaimar and 
from William of Malmesbury, and their accounts do 
not quite tally, for Gaimar makes the king send 
off the obnoxious husband to the wars, to fall by 
the hand of the rebels in Yorkshire, and this looks 
like a cooking-up of the story of David and Uriah. 
On the other hand, William of Malmesbury's tale 
smells somewhat of an English version of the story 
in the Nibelungenlied of Sigurd and Kriemhild. 



THE ABBEY 271 

Both historians certainly drew from ballads, but 
these ballads were the vehicle through which history 
in early times was preserved. It has been supposed 
that the Harewood in question was Harewood near 
Leeds, in Yorkshire, but surely Elfrida would be 
on her inheritance in the West. Another difficulty 
is that there was no convent of nuns near the place. 
But this may have been thrown in as a sort of 
moral to the tale — if kings or other men do naughty 
things, they will have to pay for it. 

Tavistock Abbey had some men of rare ability 
to rule over it. One was Aylmer, chosen in 981, 
who lived in difficult times, when the Vikings came 
and harried the coasts, ran up the rivers, and 
plundered and burned wherever they went. When 
the Danes were spoiling, the land, driving off the 
cattle and burning the farms, he gave out of the 
revenues of the abbey a double danegeld or con- 
tribution for the relief of those in distress. But 
presently his own abbey was surrounded, pillaged, 
and burnt. This was in 997, by a horde that had 
first landed at Watchet, and then returned round 
the Land's End, and had run up the Tamar. They 
went as far as Lydford, and burnt and slew every- 
thing and every person they could lay hands on. 

But a far abler man was Lyfing, afterwards Bishop 
of Worcester, and at the same time of Devon and 
Cornwall. 

Another admirable man was Aldred, who suc- 
ceeded Lyfing in the see of Worcester in 1046, 
after having been Abbot of Tavistock fourteen years ; 
and he was made Archbishop of York in 1060, and 



272 TAVISTOCK 

died in 1069, broken-hearted at the misery that 
came in the wake of the Conquest. The lives of 
both these men, showing how to steer a difficult 
course in a troubled sea among many rocks, are 
worth a study, and for that I refer the reader to Mr. 
Alford's Abbots of Tavistock. (Plymouth, 1891.) 

The Abbey Church of Tavistock was second only 
to Exeter for size and dignity in the West. It has 
completely disappeared, and the road in front of 
the Bedford Hotel now runs over what was the 
nave of the great church. 

Where now stands the hotel was in ancient days 
the Saxon school; it was pulled down in 1736, 
when the inn, then the house of the Dukes of 
Bedford, was erected on its site and out of its 
materials. 

The parish church is large, in the Perpendicular 
style, and somewhat uninteresting. But it must be 
remembered that the Devon and Cornish churches 
were built with intent to have their chancels and 
side chapels cut off by a very rich screen. Such 
a screen did once exist at Tavistock, and were 
it in place and complete, the church would at 
once appear well proportioned. It looks now un- 
furnished, like a railway station. It was repaired 
in 184s, and for the period the work was really 
marvellously well done. The carved oak benches 
were faithful copies of those in Bere Ferrers Church, 
and there was no scamping in the material. The 
new glass in the windows ranges from very good 
to execrably bad. Some objects of interest con- 
nected with the history of the church, among these 



STORY OF MRS. PAGE 273 

the reputed thigh-bones of Ordgar and Ordulf, are 
preserved. 

There is a fine monument to John Fitz, who died 
in 1590. Opposite it is one of Judge Glanville, Ser- 
jeant-at-Law in 1589 and Justice of Common Pleas 
in 1598. He died July 27th, 1600. He had by his 
wife a fair family. Now here comes in a question of 
some interest. 

The current tradition is that one of Glanville's 
daughters, Eulalia by name, was married to a John 
Page, whom she murdered, and for the crime she was 
sentenced to be burned alive ; which sentence was 
carried into effect in 1 590 at Barnstaple. 

I will give the story as contained in a letter by 
Mr. Daniel Lysons, author of the Magna Britannia, 
in 1827 : — 

" The Judge's daughter was attached to George Stanwich, 
a young man of Tavistock, lieutenant of a man-of-war, whose 
letters, the father disapproving of the attachment, were 
intercepted. An old miser of Plymouth, of the name of 
Page, wishing to have an heir to disappoint his relatives, 
who perhaps were too confident in calculating upon sharing 
his wealth, availed himself of this apparent neglect of the 
young sailor, and settling on her a good jointure, obtained 
her hand. She took with her a maidservant from Tavistock, 
but her husband was so penurious that he dismissed all the 
other servants, and caused his wife and her maid to do all 
the work themselves. On an interview subsequently taking 
place between her and Stanwich, she accused him of 
neglecting to write to her, and then discovered that his 
letters had been intercepted. The maid advised them to 
get rid of the old gentleman, and Stanwich at length, with 
great reluctance, consented to their putting an end to him. 
T 



274 TAVISTOCK 

Page lived in what was afterwards the Mayoralty House (at 
Plymouth), and a woman who lived opposite hearing at 
night some sand thrown against a window, thinking it was 
her own, arose, and looking out, saw a young gentleman 
near Page's window, and heard him say, 'For God's sake 
stay your hand ! ' A female replied, ' 'T is too late ; the 
deed is done.' On the following morning it was given out 
that Page had died suddenly in the night, and as soon as 
possible he was buried. On the testimony, however, of his 
neighbour, the body was taken up again, and it appearing 
that he had been strangled, his wife, Stanwich, and the 
maid were tried and executed. It is current among the 
common people here that Judge Glanville, her own father, 
pronounced the sentence." 

That sentence v^ould be one for petty treason, 
burning alive. It vi^as not till 1790 that the law 
requiring women to be burnt alive for putting to 
death their husbands or their masters was repealed. 
A woman was so burnt in 1789. A poor girl of 
fifteen was burnt at Heavitree, near Exeter, on July 
29th, 1782, for poisoning her master. Eulalia Page 
and her servant were actually executed at Barnstaple 
and George Stanwich was hanged. All that is certain. 
But the question about which a difficulty arises is — 
Was Eulalia a daughter of Judge Glanville ? 

There is a contemporary tract that contains an 
account of the transaction, which was reprinted by 
Payne Collier.* PVom this we learn that Mrs. Page 
having failed in an attempt to poison her husband, 
prevailed on one of her servants, named Robert 
Priddis (Prideaux), to assist her, and on the other 

* Bibliographical Catalogtie of Early English Literature, 1865, ii. 
pp. 83-6. 



THE GLANVILLES 275 

side Strangwich (Standwich) hired one Tom Stone 
to assist in the murder. 

The deed was accomplished about ten o'clock on 
the night of February nth, 1591, and all four were 
tried at Barnstaple, whither the assizes had been 
moved from Exeter because the plague was raging 
in the latter city, and were executed on March 20th 
following. Philip Wyot, town clerk of Barnstaple, 
kept a diary at the time, extracts from which have 
been printed. He gives some particulars : — " The 
gibbet was sat up on the Castle Green and xviij 
prisoners hanged, whereof iiij of Plimouth for a 
murder." These four were the murderers of Page. 
How it was that Ulalia was hanged instead of being 
burnt, in contravention of the law, does not appear, 
and we may doubt the statement. Three of those 
hanged were buried in the churchyard at Barnstaple, 
but Ulalia Page was laid in that of Bishops Tawton. 
Now as to the statement that Judge Glanville sen- 
tenced his own daughter. 

In the first place, was she his daughter? It 
appears not ; for from the tract already referred to, 
" in the town of Testock (Tavistock) . . . there 
dwelled one Mr. Glandfield (Glanville), a man of 
good wealth and account as any occupier in that 
cuntrie," whose daughter Eulalia was ; and she set 
her affections on George Strangwich, who was in 
her father's employ. Mr. Glanville, of Tavistock, 
almost certainly was a near relative of the judge. 
The Glanvilles were tanners of Whitchurch, in trade, 
but the family was respectable. They have been 
given a fanciful pedigree from a Norman Lord of 



276 TAVISTOCK 

Glanville near Caen, but it is deficient in proof. 
What is clear is that the family occupied a re- 
spectable position near Tavistock in the reign of 
Elizabeth; they had their tan pits, and they went 
into trade without scruple. In fact, John Glanville, 
father of the judge, was himself a merchant, i.e., 
shopkeeper in Tavistock. That Eulalia was a sister 
of the judge is possible enough. That her name 
was not inserted in the pedigree as recorded in the 
Herald's Visitation may easily be understood.* 

The next point is — Did Judge Glanville preside 
at the trial? 

Now we are informed by E. Foss {Biographia 
Juridica, 1870, p. 303) that Glanville "was promoted 
to the bench as a Justice of the Common Pleas on 
June 30th, 1598." Consequently he was not a judge 
at the time that Eulalia Page was tried. The judge 
who tried the case, as we learn from Wyot's diary, 
was Lord Anderson. Nevertheless, Glanville was 
present at Barnstaple at the assizes, for Wyot men- 
tions him as Serjeant Glandye, who was one of the 
principal lawyers present, and he had been "called 
to the degree of the coif," Ford records, two years 
before. So, as far as we can discover : — 

1. Eulalia was very probably sister of Judge 
Glanville, she being daughter of a merchant Glan- 
ville, of Tavistock, as he was son of one. 

2. That she really was executed for the murder 
of her husband, Page, along with her lover, George 
Strangwich, and two assistants. 

* Glandfeelde is the same as Glanville ; so in the Tavistock register, 
Grenville is entered as Greenfeelde. 



JOHN FITZ 277 

3. That Strangwich had not been in the Navy, but 
was a shop assistant of Mr. Glanville. 

4. That John Glanville, Serjeant - at - Law, pre- 
sumably her brother, was present at the trial, but 
was not judge at the time. 

The tragic story was not only turned into ballads, 
but also was dramatised by Ben Jonson and Decker. 
In Halliwell's Dictionary of Old English Plays (i860) 
is this entry : — 

"Page, of Plymouth. A play by Ben Johnson and 
Decker, written in 1599, upon the story of the murder of 
one Page at Plymouth."* 

A little way out of the town on the Plymouth 
road, by the Drake statue, is the gateway of old 
Fitzford House. About this a good deal of both 
history and legend hangs. 

The house was that of old John Fitz, whose splen- 
did monument is in Tavistock Church. Late in life 
he had a son of the name also of John, an only child, 
whose story is tragical. The heir was fourteen only 
when he lost his father. John Fitz, who was " a very 
comely person," was married before he had attained 
his majority to a daughter of Sir William Courtenay. 
Of this marriage one child, Mary, was born in 1596, 
when her father was just twenty-one years old.t The 
young gentleman being now of age, and finding 

* Dr. Brushfield has sifted the whole story in the pages of The 
Western Antiquary, ix., p. 35. 

t The story of John Fitz and of Lady Howard has been worked 
out very carefully by Mrs. George Radford, to whose paper in the 
Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1890, I am much indebted 
for what follows. 



278 TAVISTOCK 

himself free from all restraint, began to live a very- 
rackety life for three years, when an incident 
happened that ought to have sobered him. What 
follows is quoted, condensed, from The Bloudie 
Booke : or The Tragical End of Sir John Fitz, 
London, 1605. 

"Meeting (June 4th, 1599) at Tavistocke a dinner wyth 
manie of his neighbors and friends, with great varietie of 
merriments and discourse they outstript the noontide. 
Amongst other their table-talk Sir John (he was not knighted 
at the time) was vanting his free Tenure in holding his 
lande, boasting that he helde not a foote of any but the 
Queene in England ; to whoome Mayster Slanninge 
replyed, that although of ceurtesie it were neglected, yet 
of dewe hee was to paye him so muche by the yeere for 
some small lande helde of him; uppon which wordes Sir 
John told him with a great oath he lyed, and withall gave 
fuell to his rage, offering to stab him. But Maister 
Slanning with a great knife warded the hazard." 

Friends intervened and the quarrel was patched 
up, so that presently Slanning left and departed for 
his home at Bickleigh. He had not gone very far 
before, dismounting, he bade his man take the horses 
along the road, whilst he walked by a short cut across 
the fields. 

At that moment he heard the tramp of horses, and 
saw John Fitz and four more galloping after him. 
So as not to seem to be running away Slanning 
remained on the spot, and on John Fitz coming 
up asked what he wanted. Fitz drew his sword and 
raved that he would revenge the insult offered him, 
and Slanning was forced to defend himself. He was 



JOHN FITZ 279 

wounded, and someone struck Slanning from behind, 
whereupon he staggered forwards and Fitz ran him 
through the body. Local tradition, and Prince in his 
Worthies, will have it that the affray took place at 
Fitzford Gate. 

Nicolas Slanning was buried in Bickleigh Church, 
which, when " restored " and made desperately un- 
interesting, lost the great feature of Slanning's 
monument, which was fine, though of plaster. Now 
the inscription alone remains : 

" Great was the lamentation that the country side made 
for the death of so beloved a Gentleman as Maister Slanning 
was." 

John Fitz, then aged twenty-four, fled to France, 
where he remained until, by his wife's exertions, a 
pardon was procured for him, December i6th, 1599. 

He returned home, and for a year or two led 
a blameless life — at least he did not murder any 
more of his friends — and at the coronation of King 
James I. was knighted. 

Whether the honour conferred on him was too 
much for him, or whether there was a mad strain 
in his blood, cannot be said, but on his return from 
London he broke out into wild ways again. Finding 
the presence of his wife and only child a restraint on 
him, he turned them out of the house, and surrounded 
himself with dissolute companions, chief among 
whom was " Lusty Jacke, one whose deedes were 
indeed meane, whose good qualities altogether none." 

In the summer of 1605 he received a summons to 
London to appear before the courts, in answer to 



28o TAVISTOCK 

a claim of compensation for their father's death made 
by the children of Nicolas Slanning. He set out 
attended by a single servant. He was a prey to 
terrors, particularly afraid of his father-in-law, Sir 
William Courtenay, who he knew was very incensed 
with him because of his behaviour to his wife, the 
daughter of Sir William. He had moreover been 
squandering money which had been settled on her 
by deed. Every day his fancies got more disordered, 
till he put up at Kingston-on-Thames, his last rest- 
ing-place before reaching London ; but there, a prey 
to alarms and fancies, he would not lie, and rode 
on to Twickenham, where he stopped at " The 
Anchor," a small hostelry kept by one Daniel 
Alley, whom he roused out of his bed about 2 a.m. 
The host, to accommodate him, was forced to sur- 
render to him his own bed, and send his wife to sleep 
with the children. But the knight could not rest 
after he had lain down, and was heard crying out 
that he was pursued by enemies. 

Very early, the host rose that he might go out and 
mow a field, but his wife entreated him not to leave 
the house. He laughed at her alarms, but she per- 
sisted, and a neighbour who was going to help in the 
mowing came in. Sir John Fitz started out of sleep 
on hearing voices, and persuaded that his fears were 
verified, rushed from his room in his nightgown, with 
his sword, and ran Alley through the body. He then 
wounded the unhappy wife, and finding the error into 
which he had fallen, finally mortally wounded himself. 
A doctor was sent for, but he tore off the bandages, 
and so died, lamented of none save Lusty Jack. 



MARY FITZ 281 

No sooner was he dead than the Earl of North- 
umberland hastened to buy the wardship of the little 
heiress, Mary Fitz, then nine years and one week old. 
At the time the Crown became the guardian of 
orphans whose lands were held in capite or direct 
from the Crown, and was wont to sell the wardships 
to the highest bidders. The guardian had complete 
control, to the exclusion of the mother, over the 
ward, and he could marry the ward as he liked, this 
also being generally an affair of money. As soon as 
Mary Fitz was twelve, the Earl, as she was a desir- 
able heiress, disposed of her to his brother, Sir Allan 
Percy, aged thirty-one ; she did not, however, live 
with her husband, but was placed under the charge 
of Lady Hatton. Sir Allan died in November, 161 1, 
three years after, and then it was said : — " Sir Allan 
Percy is gone the way of all flesh, dying, his lady the 
way of all quicke flesh, having stolen out of my Lady 
Eliz. Hatton's house in London, in the edge of an 
evening, and coupled herself in marriage with Mr. 
Darcy, my lord Darcye's eldest son." This was 
on December i8th, 161 1, just about a month after 
the death of husband number one. He was of her 
own age, and no doubt she found him to her liking ; 
however, he lived only a few months after his 
marriage, and Lady Mary was again a widow, and 
was imposed (161 2), hardly by her own choice, on 
Sir Charles Howard, fourth son of Thomas, Earl 
of Suffolk. So she had number three when scarcely 
sixteen. Sir Charles died in 1622 ; consequently they 
were together for ten years. She had two daughters 
by Sir Charles Howard, and a son, George Howard, 



282 TAVISTOCK 

is mentioned, but there is some doubt as to his 
parentage. In 1628 she took a fourth, Sir Richard 
Grenville, the younger brother of the gallant Sir 
Bevil. He was a very disreputable, bad-tempered, 
altogether ill-conditioned fellow. Lady Howard took 
good care, before accepting number four, to have her 
property well tied up to herself, so that he could not 
touch it. When he discovered this he was furious, 
and treated her with insolence and violence. By him 
she had two daughters, Elizabeth, who died early, 
and Mary. 

The condition of family broil became at last so 
intolerable that she was forced to appeal to the 
justices of peace against him, and finally to 
endeavour to obtain a divorce, 163 1-2. The re- 
velations then made on both sides are not pleasant 
reading. If he was abusive, she did not keep her 
tongue shut behind her teeth. 

The story of her further troubles during the Civil 
War, of Sir Richard's playing fast and loose with 
one party and then the other, of his masterful seizure 
of her house at Fitzford and her estates in Devon, 
need not here be told at length. She lived in London, 
and was put to desperate shifts for money. At last 
Sir Richard was thrown into prison, but escaped to 
France, 1646. Lady Grenville, or as she now called 
herself — for she held herself to be divorced — Lady 
Howard, at once returned to Fitzford, found it gutted 
and in a wretched condition, and set to work to 
cleanse, repair, and refurnish. Her son, George 
Howard, managed her business for her till his death 
in September, 1671, without issue. His mother, at 



LADY HOWARD'S PENANCE 28 



o 



this date very old, was probably bedridden ; the 
shock of her son's death was too much for her, and 
she died a month later. Knowing her to be ill, her 
first cousin, Sir William Courtenay, hastened to her 
bedside, and, probably with the connivance of a 
trusted maid, Thomasine Wills, persuaded the old 
lady to make over to him all her landed estates, to 
the exclusion of her two daughters, who were alive 
and married. It was an infamous piece of roguery, 
and it brought no luck on the Courtenays. 

Popular feeling was outraged and has revenged 
itself on her, who really was not so much to blame 
as Sir William Courtenay, in painting her in the 
blackest colours. She is popularly represented as 
having murdered her first three husbands, as conceiv- 
ing a deadly hatred against her daughter Elizabeth, 
who apparently died early, but cannot be traced, and 
as not exactly walking but riding after death. When 
the clock strikes twelve every night she is supposed 
to start in a coach made of bones from the gateway 
of Fitzford House, drawn by headless horses ; before 
the carriage runs a sable hound with one eye in the 
middle of his forehead. The spectral coach makes 
its way to Okehampton, where the hound plucks 
a blade of grass from the castle mound, and then 
the cortege returns to Fitzford, where the blade is 
laid on the threshold of the gate. This is Lady 
Howard's penance, and it will last till every blade 
of grass on the mound of Okehampton Castle hill 
has been plucked, which will not be till the crack 
of doom, as the grass grows faster than the hound 
can carry it off. 



284 TAVISTOCK 

I frequently heard of the coach going from Oke- 
hampton to Tavistock when I was a boy; and there 
was a ballad about it, of which I was able to recall 
a few fragments, which I completed and published 
along with the original air in my Songs of the West. 
As a child I remember the deadly fear that I felt lest 
I should be on the road at night, and my nurse was 
wont to comfort me by saying there was no fear 
of the " Lady's Coach," except after midnight. 

In the vicarage garden are some very early in- 
scribed stones collected from the neighbourhood. 
There is no token on them that they are Christian. 
Their inscriptions are : — 

1. Neprani fili Condevi 

2. Sabini fili Maccodecheti 

3. Dobunii Fabri fili Enabarri. 

This latter has on it also in oghans Enabarr. The 
second has the test word Mac for Map or Mab, indica- 
tive of Irish occupation. Moreover Dechet was a 
name, probably of a sept or tribe in Kerry, where 
several stones inscribed with the same name are 
found.* 

The third is interesting, for Dobun was a faber 
or smith. In Celtic organisation every tuatha or 
tribe had its chief smith, and every fine or clan 
had its smith and forge as well, all whose rights and 
dues were determined by law ; moreover, the head 
smith of the tribe was a man of very considerable 
consequence, social and political. 

* A member of the same clan or tribe was buried at Penrhos 
Llygwyin, Anglesea — "ZT/V jacet Maccudicheli" 



DRAKE STATUE 285 

Dobuni, in the third, is the Latin for the genitive 
Douvinias, also a Kerry name. A stone at Ballin- 
taggart bears an inscription to a son of Dobunus, 
MUCCOIDOVVINIAS. Another stone of another son 
is at Burnham, also in Kerry, in Lord Ventry's 
collection. Here, then, we have written and en- 
graven in stone for our learning the record of an 
Irish settlement from Kerry in the neighbourhood 
of Tavistock. If S. Rumon preached there he could 
preach in Gaelic and be understood. 

Of the abbey of Tavistock there are but poor 
remains. Betsy Grimbal's tower in the vicarage 
garden was a gate-house, and takes its name from 
a woman who was murdered there by a soldier. A 
porch into the refectory or abbot's hall is the dairy 
of the "Bedford Inn." Some fragments of the 
monastic buildings are united and converted into 
library and municipal buildings, but they are 
dominated and oppressed by an architectural mon- 
strosity — an absurd Town Hall in nondescript style. 

The Drake statue is of bronze, and fine, in front 
of the Fitzford gate, and possesses the bas-reliefs 
on the base, in which the replica on Plymouth Hoe is 
deficient. Sir Francis Drake was born at Crowndale, 
the first farm down the Tavy valley. The old house 
has been destroyed. The Drakes were of yeoman 
origin in Whitchurch, nothing more. They laboured 
to prove a kinship to the ancient family of Drake 
of Ash, but failed, and Sir Francis Drake was granted 
an entirely new coat of arms. 

The story is told that Sir Francis and Sir Bernard, 
— the latter the head of the Ash family — had a heated 



286 TAVISTOCK 

quarrel over the matter in the presence of Queen 
Elizabeth, Sir Bernard objecting to the navigator 
assuming the wyvern gules. 

" Well," said Bess, " I will give Sir Francis a new 
coat, a ship in full sail, with the wyvern turned head 
over heels at the poop." 

But Sir Bernard was too important a man to be 
offended ; she thought better of it, and gave Sir 
Francis the noble coat of a fess wavy between two 
pole stars. 

The story is pronounced to be apocryphal. 

Sir Francis became possessor by purchase of Buck- 
land Abbey (1581), which is not only beautifully 
situated, but is interesting. It is, in fact, the cruci- 
form abbey church converted into an Elizabethan 
mansion. The nave has been floored, and the draw- 
ing-room upstairs is in it ; the hall below is also 
in part therein. There is here some splendid plaster- 
work. The choir was pulled down and a kitchen 
wing built at right angles. In the grounds are 
some remarkably fine tulip trees. 

Buckland Monachorum Church is large, Perpen- 
dicular, but cold, and has a naked, unfurnished look 
internally from being without its screen. 

There are two points on no account to be missed 
by a visitor to Tavistock, and both can be combined 
in one drive or walk — the Raven Rock above the 
Virtuous Lady Mine, opposite the point where the 
Walla falls into the Tavy ; the other the better 
known Morwell Rocks. The former, hardly inferior 
to the other, but less known, is reached from the 
Bere Alston road. 



LYDFORD 287 

At Morwell is the hunting - lodge of Abbot 
Courtenay, cousin of Bishop Grandisson, and ap- 
pointed by him to Tavistock Abbey. It was a very 
unsatisfactory appointment. He alienated the pro- 
perty of the abbey, and allowed its buildings and 
discipline to fall into decay, and got the monastery 
into a debt equivalent to twenty thousand pounds 
of our money. All he cared for was sport, like the 
jolly monk in Chaucer's Prologue, 

The quadrangle, which was in a singularly un- 
touched condition, with hall and butteries and 
kitchens, was somewhat wantonly mutilated some 
fifty years ago and turned into farmhouse and 
cottages. 

From Tavistock Lydford can be visited with ease. 
This was a very strong place at one time, a sort 
of inland cliff-castle, situated in a fork between 
ravines, with mounds and trenches drawn across the 
neck. The castle, an uninteresting ruin, occupies a 
natural mound artificially shaped ; it was long the 
Stannary prison. The waterfall is graceful rather 
than fine, a steep slide of seventy feet in height in 
the midst of woods. From this the river Lyd should 
be ascended for three miles by a path through a 
ravine that grows in grandeur till it is spanned by 
a bridge. The ascent may well be continued to Kits 
Steps, another fall of a totally different character, 
much spoiled by refuse -heaps from an abandoned 
mine. From Lydford a visitor should take a walk 
across the shoulder of Hare Tor to the rocks of 
Tavy Cleave, perhaps the grandest scene on Dart- 
moor. 



288 TAVISTOCK 

Another excursion is to be made to Brent Tor, a 
subaqueous volcanic cone, crowned by a little church. 
The base of the hill has been fortified. The banks 
are most perfect on the east. The view from the 
top of the tor is remarkably extensive and fine. 
Endsleigh, the country seat of the Duke of Bedford, 
is almost unsurpassed in England for beauty of 
scenery. Mary Tavy Church has a good new screen, 
and Peter Tavy a scrap of an old one and remains 
of a magnificent early Tudor pew, wantonly de- 
molished. 

From either Whit Tor may be ascended, a tor of 
gabbro, or volcanic traplike formation. The summit 
has been fortified. On Peter Tavy Moor is a fine 
circle of upright stones, and a menhir. Peter Tavy 
Combe should on no account be passed over unseen. 

Note. — Books on Tavistock : — 

Alford (Rev. D.), The Abbots of Tavistock. Plymouth, 1891. 

Bray (Mrs.), The Borders of the Tamar and the Tavy, 2 vols, new 
edition. London: Kent and Co., 1879. A valuable book for old 
stories and superstitions. Mr. Bray was also the first to explore 
Dartmoor for its antiquities. But all the rubbish about Druids must 
be put aside. When written in 1832 antiquaries knew no better; 
they talked and wrote nonsense on such subjects. 

Evans (R.), Home Scenes; or, Tavistock and its Vicinity, Tavistock, 
1846 ; now not easily procured. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

TORQUAY 

As a health resort — The Palk family — Myths concerning the family — 

Its real history — The Gary family — Landing at Brixham of William 

of Orange — Kent's Cavern — Order of deposits therein — Churches in 

the neighbourhood — Haccombe — The Teign-head combes — Wol- 

. borough — The Three Wells — Aller pottery — Its story — Red mud. 

THIS pleasant winter residence is now stretched 
from Paignton on one side to Marychurch on 
the other, with different climates in its several parts. 
Torquay is backed by a high ridge against the east, 
and consequently is sheltered from cutting winds 
from that quarter. S. Marychurch is on the top of 
the cliffs, and catches every wind. Paignton looks 
across the bay due east, and is therefore exposed 
to the most bracing of all winds. In Frying Pan 
Row, Torquay, one may be grilled the same day 
that at Paignton one may have one's nose and fingers 
turned blue. 

A century ago Torquay was a little fishing village, 
numbering but a few poor cottages. 

Torquay has benefited largely from the Palk family, 
but then the Palks also have benefited largely by 
Torquay. 

A cloud of dust has been stirred up to disguise 
U 289 



290 TORQUAY 

the humble, but respectable, origin of the family; 
and even Foster in his Peerage (1882), who is always 
accurate when he had facts placed before him, com- 
mences with "Sir Robert Palk, descended from Henry 
Palk, of Ambrook, Devon (Henry VH., 1493-4)." 
But Ambrook, which is in Staverton, never did belong 
to the Palks ; it was the property first of the Shap- 
cotes, and then of the Nayles. Sir Bernard Burke, in 
addition to the Ambrook myth, states that Walter, 
seventh in descent, married Miss Abraham, and had 
Robert, Walter (who was member for Ashburton), 
and Grace. The late Sir Bernard Burke was not 
remarkable for accuracy, and here he has floundered 
into a succession of blunders. The descent from 
Henry Palk, of Ambrook, is apocryphal ; and Walter 
Palk never was member for Ashburton, or for any- 
where else. Another false assertion made has been 
that the family are descended from a Rev. Thomas 
Palk, of Staverton, a " celebrated " Nonconformist 
divine, who died in 1693. Wills proved in the 
Court of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter disprove 
this. 

The real facts are these. 

Walter Palk, of Ashburton, married Grace Ryder, 
and by her means came in for a petty farm called 
Lower Headborough, close to Ashburton. He died 
in 1707, when his personal estate was valued at 
£\6o \Qs. ^\d. His son Walter married Frances, 
daughter of Robert Abraham, a farmer in Woodland, 
and his pack-horses carried serge from Ashburton 
over Haldon to Exeter. This is probably the origin 
of the story commonly told that the first Palk was 



ROBERT PALK 291 

a carrier between Exeter and Ashburton. He had 
two sons : Walter, whose son, the Rev. Jonathan Palk, 
vicar of Ilsington, described his father as a " little 
farmer with a large family." The second son, Robert, 
born in 1717, was sent as a sizar to Oxford, by the 
assistance of his uncle Abraham. He was ordained 
deacon, and became a poor curate in Cornwall. On 
Christmastide he walked to Ashburton to see his 
father, and as he was returning on his way home, 
he stood on Dart Bridge, looking down on the river, 
when a gentleman riding by recognised him, drew 
up, and said, " Is that you, Palk ? " He had been 
a fellow-student at Oxford. Palk had a sad story to 
tell of privation and vexation. The other suggested 
to him to seek his fortune under John Company in 
India, and volunteered an introduction. He went 
out, acting as chaplain to the Stirling Castle, and 
during the time he was in India, attracted the atten- 
tion of General Lawrence, who in 1752 obtained for 
him an appointment as paymaster to the army, of 
which he had then assumed the command. But 
already by clever speculation Mr. Palk had done 
well ; the new position enabled him to vastly enlarge 
his profits. 

He next embarked in trade, and this also proved 
remunerative. He came back to England for the 
first time in 1759. Subsequently a difficulty arose in 
India. The Company were debating it at the old 
East India House in Leadenhall Street. What 
capable man could they find to do the difficult 
work before them ? At last one of them exclaimed, 
"Gentlemen, you forget that we have Mr. Palk at 



292 TORQUAY 

home." " The very man ! " He was sent out as 
Governor of Madras in 1763. In 1775 General 
Lawrence died, and left ;^8o,ooo to his old proteg^. 

The acquisition of the property about Torquay, at 
the time when it was a place of no consideration, was 
a shrewd stroke of business. Mr. Palk was created 
a baronet, and elected to represent Devon in Parlia- 
ment. Subsequently, when the Rev. John Home 
Tooke, a Jacobin, as it was the fashion to call 
Radicals of that day, was returned to Parliament, 
the House settled that it would not allow of clerical 
members being admitted, and this would have ex- 
cluded Sir Robert Palk as well as Home Tooke, but 
that Palk was only in deacon's orders. 

Sir Robert did much for Torquay. Sir Lawrence 
continued to promote the material welfare of the 
place in every way available. 

He constructed the outer harbour and new pier, 
which were completed in 1870, at an outlay of 
;£"70,ooo. Further attractions were afforded to 
visitors by the provision of recreation grounds and 
public walks. He also gave sites for new churches, 
and the modern town of Torquay has risen into 
a place full of beauty and attraction. 

"Robert Palk's touch seemed to turn everything into 
gold. He realised it for himself, for his children, for his 
relatives, for his friends, and for his surroundings. He was 
an ancestor to look back upon, a forefather of whom any 
family might reasonably be proud."* 

* Worthy, Devonshire Parishes^ 1889, vol. ii., p. 335. Mr. Worthy 
has worked out the Palk pedigree from extant wills and registers. 



TORBAY 295 

The other family attached to Torquay to which it 
must look is that of Gary, as ancient and noble as 
that of Palk is modern and humble. The nest of the 
family is Gary, on the river of the same name in 
S. Giles-in-the- Heath, Devon, but on the borders of 
Gornwall. It can be traced back like those of most 
men to an Adam — but an Adam Gary in 1240. 

Torbay is noted as the place where Dutch William 
arrived in 1688. He landed at Brixham on Novem- 
ber 4th, and, as the tide was out, he called for some- 
one to carry him ashore, whereupon a little man 
named Varwell volunteered. 

The local story is that the good folk of Brixham 
presented their illustrious visitor with the following 
address : — 

" An' please your Majesty, King William, 

You're welcome to Brixham Quay, 

To eat buckhorn and drink Bohea 

Along wi' we, 

An' please your Majesty, King William." 

But the story is of course apocryphal, as the prince 
was not a king, and tea was at a fabulous price. 

The subsequent history of the "little man" who 
carried the king ashore is rather singular. Having 
a short ambling pony, he rode bare-headed before the 
prince to Newton and afterwards to Exeter, and so 
pleased him with his zeal that the prince bade him 
come to court, when he should be seated on the throne, 
and that then he would reward Varwell. The prince 
also gave him a line under his hand, which was to 
serve as a passport to the royal presence. In due time 
accordingly the little man took his course to London, 



294 TORQUAY 

promising his townsmen that he would come back 
among them a lord at least. When, however, he 
arrived there, some sharpers, who learned his errand 
at the tavern where he put up, made Varwell glori- 
ously drunk, and kept him in this condition for 
several successive weeks. During this time one of 
the party, having obtained the passport, went to 
court, with the " little man's " tale in his mouth, and 
received a handsome present from the king. Our 
adventurer, recovering himself afterwards, went to 
the palace without his card of admission and was 
repulsed as an impostor, and returned to Brixham 
never to hold up his head again. 

It is fair to say that the Varwell family entirely 
repudiate the latter part of the tale, and say that 
the " little man " did see the king and got a hundred 
pounds out of him. 

The troops with the prince were obliged to encamp 
in the open air, but William got a lodging in one 
of the cottages. 

Whitter, who was one of the attendants on the 
Dutch adventurer, has left a graphic account of the 
landing and subsequent march : — 

" It was a cold, frosty night, and the stars twinkl'd 
exceedingly ; besides, the ground was very wet after so 
much rain and ill weather; the soldiers were to stand to 
their arms the whole night ; and therefore sundry soldiers 
went to fetch some old hedges and cut down green wood 
to burn therewith and make some fire. Those who had 
provision in their gnap-sacks did broil it at the fire, and 
others went into the villages thereabouts to buy some fresh 
provisions for their officers, but, alas ! there was little to 



WILLIAM OF ORANGE 295 

be gotten. There was a little ale-house among the fisher- 
men's houses, which was so extremely thronged that a 
man could not thrust in his head, nor get bread or ale 
for money. It was a 'happy time for the landlord, who 
strutted about as if indeed he had been a lord himself." 

The little ale-house is probably that now entitled 
the " Buller Arms." It was there William is said 
to have slept, and to have left behind him a ring that 
remained in the possession of the taverner's family 
till it came to one Mary Churchward, who died 
about i860. It was stolen from her one night by 
a thief who entered her room whilst she slept, and 
it was never recovered. 

On the morrow William and his Dutchmen with a 
few Scots and English marched to Paignton, and 
many people, mostly Nonconformists, welcomed 
him. 

A gentleman, very advanced in age, in 1880 
says : — 

" There are few now left who can say as I can, that they 
have heard their fathers and their wives' fathers talking 
together of the men who saw the landing of William the 
Third at Torbay. I have heard Captain Clements say 
he, as a boy, heard as many as seven or eight old men 
each giving the particulars of what he saw ; then one said 
a shipload of horses hawled to the Quay, and the horses 
walked out all harnessed, and the quickness with which 
each man knew his horse and mounted it surprised them. 
Another old man said, ' I helped to get on shore the horses 
that were thrown overboard, and swam on shore, guided 
by only a single rope running from the ship to the shore.' 
My father remembered one Gaffer Will Webber, of 
Staverton, who lived to a great age, say that he went 



296 TORQUAY 

from Staverton as a boy with his father, who took a cart- 
load of apples from Staverton to the highroad from 
Brixham to Exeter, that the soldiers might help themselves 
to them, and to wish them ' God-speed.' 

" I merely mention this to show how easily tradition can 
be handed down, requiring only three or four individuals 
for two centuries." ^ 

What was done by the country folk v^^as to roll 
apples down the slopes from the orchards to the 
troops as they passed. 

The prince spent the second night at Paignton 
in a house near the " Crown and Anchor Inn," where 
his room is still shown. 

Next day he with his troops marched to Newton, 
and he took up his quarters in Ford House, belong- 
ing to Sir William Courtenay, who prudently de- 
camped so as not to compromise himself. A 
room there is called the Orange Room, and is now 
always papered and hung with that colour. At 
Newton the prince's proclamation was read on the 
steps of the old market cross, not by the Rev. John 
Reynell, rector of Wolborough, as is stated on a 
stone erected on the spot, but by a chaplain, no 
doubt the fussy and pushing Burnet. Reynell had 
also made himself scarce. From Newton the prince 
marched to Exeter. 

One can tell pretty well what were the political 
leanings of squires and parsons at the period of 
the Jacobite troubles, for where there was zeal for 
the House of Stuart, there Scotch pines were planted ; 

* WiNDEATT (T. W.), "The Landing of the Prince of Orange," in 
Transactions of the Devonshire Association ^ 1880. 



KENT'S CAVERN 297 

where, however, the Dutchman was in favour, there 
Hme trees were set in avenues. 

In Torquay Museum is an interesting collection 
of relics from Kent's Cavern. This is a cave in 
the limestone rocks that was first explored in 1824, 
when Mr. Northmore, of Cleve, near Exeter, visited 
it with the double object, as he stated, " of discover- 
ing organic remains, and of ascertaining the existence 
of a temple of Mithras," and he declared himself 
happy to say that he was "successful in both objects." 
An amusing example this of the egregious nonsense 
that was regarded as antiquarianism at the beginning 
of this century. He was followed by Mr. (afterwards 
Sir) W. C. Trevelyan, who was the first to have 
obtained any results of scientific value. 

The Rev. J. MacEnery, a Roman Catholic priest, 
whose name must be for ever associated with the 
Cavern, visited it in the summer of 1825. The visit 
was a memorable one, for, devoting himself to what 
he conjectured to be a favourable spot, he found 
several teeth and bones ; and he thus sums up his 
feelings on the occasion : — 

" They were the first fossil teeth I had ever seen, 
and as I laid my hands on them, relics of extinct 
races and witnesses of an order of things which 
passed away with them, I shrank back involuntarily. 
Though not insensible to the excitement attending 
new discoveries, I am not ashamed to own that in 
the presence of these remains I felt more of awe 
than joy." 

He communicated his discovery to Dr. Buckland, 
and from time to time dug into the deposits. At 



298 TORQUAY 

that and a long subsequent period the proper 
method of studying deposits of this kind was not 
understood, and the several layers were not 
distinguished. Trenches were cut that went through 
beds separated in age by many centuries, perhaps 
thousands of years, and no distinction was made 
between what lay near the surface and what was 
found in the lowermost strata. A proper exam- 
ination began in March, 1866, and was continued 
without intermission through the summer of 1880 
under the able direction of Mr. W. Pengelly, at a 
cost of nearly two thousand pounds. 

Kent's Cavern gives evidence of a double occupa- 
tion by man at a remote distance of time the one 
from the other. The upper beds are of cave-earth. 
Below that is the breccia, and in the upper alone are 
traces of the hyena found. In the lowest strata of 
crystalline breccia are rude flint and chert implements 
of the same type as that found elsewhere in the river- 
drift. In association with these were the remains of 
the cave-bear, and a tool was found manufactured 
out of an already fossilised tooth of this animal. The 
chert and flint employed were from the gravels that 
lie between Newton Abbot and Torquay. 

Above the breccia is the cave-earth, in which 
flint implements are by far more numerous, 
and are of a higher form, some being carefully 
chipped all round. The earlier tool was fashioned 
by heavy blows dealt against the core of flint, 
detaching large flakes. But the tools of the second 
period are neatly trimmed. The flakes were de- 
tached, very often by pressure and a jerk, and then 



CAVES 299 

the edges were delicately worked with a small tool. 
A bone needle was also met with, and bone awls, and 
two harpoons of reindeer antler, the one barbed on 
one side and the other on both. 

Rude, coarse pottery has also been found, but only 
quite near the surface, and this belongs to a later 
period. 

There are other caves in the same formation, at 
Anstis and at Brixham, that have rendered good 
results when explored. 

The two deposits are separated from each other 
by a sheet of crystalline stalagmite, in some places 
nearly twelve feet thick, formed after the breccia was 
deposited, and before the cave-earth was introduced. 
After the stalagmite had been formed, it was broken 
up by some unknown natural agency, and much of 
it, along with some of the breccia, was carried out by 
water from the cave, before the deposition of the 
cave-earth began. 

"From these observations it is evident that the River- 
drift men inhabited the caves of Devonshire, Derbyshire, 
and Nottinghamshire in an early stage of the history of 
caverns, and that after an interval, to be measured in Kent's 
Hole by the above-mentioned physical changes, the Cave- 
men (those of the Second Period) found shelter in the 
same places. The former also followed the chase in the 
valley of the Elwy and the vale of Clwydd in North 
Wales, and the latter found ample food in the numerous 
reindeer, horses, and bisons then wandering over the plains 
extending from the Mendip Hills to the Quantocks, and 
the low, fertile tract now covered by the estuary of the 
Severn and the Irish Sea. When all these facts are taken 
into consideration, it is difficult to escape Mr. Pengelly's 



300 TORQUAY 

conclusion that the two sets of implements represent two 
distinct social atates, of which the ruder is by far the most 
ancient." * 

We have, in the caves of France, evidence of the 
successive layers of civilisation, one superposed on 
the other, down to the reindeer hunter, who ate 
horses, represented by the cave-earth man of Kent's 
Hole; and in this latter we have this same man 
superposed on the traces of the still earlier man of 
the river-drift. To make all plainer, I will add here 
a summary of the deposits. 





' Modern, Roman, etc. "* 






Iron Age, Celtic, bronze orna- 




Neolithic < 


ments. 
Bronze weapons, Ivernian, flint 
tools. 
, Flint and pottery. > 


^ Fauna, as 
at present. 




r Flint and bone tools, cave- ' 


Hyena, 


Palaeo- 


men. 


cave-bear, 


lithic ■ 


Rudest flint tools, river-drift 


reindeer, 




men. 


mammoth. 



There are remains of a cliff castle at Long Quarry 
Point ; from its name one may conjecture that a 
church stood in Celtic times on Kilmarie. Almost 
certainly this was a cliff castle, but the traces have 
disappeared. 

The old church of Tor Mohun is dedicated to 
S. Petrock, as is shown by a Bartlett will in Somerset 
House, in 1517. Tor Abbey has been crowded into 
a narrow space by encroaching buildings. Cocking- 

* Boyd Dawk ins, Early Man in Britain^ ibSo, p. 197. 



HACCOMBE 301 

ton House and church deserve a visit, as forming 
a charming group. Paignton Church contains a very 
fine but mutilated tomb with rich canopy and screen- 
work, showing that there must have been in the 
fifteenth century a native school of good figure 
sculptors. Marldon Church is also interesting, and 
in that parish is the curious Compton Castle, of 
which history has little to say. Haccombe, the seat 
of the Carews, has a church crowded with fine monu- 
mental effigies. The mansion is about the most 
hideous that could be conceived. It is said that a 
Carew pulled down his fine Elizabethan mansion and 
went to Italy, leaving instructions to an architect 
to build him a handsome house in the Georgian 
style. 

When he returned and saw what had been erected : 
" Well," said he, " I believe that now I may take to 
myself the credit of possessing the very ugliest 
house in the county." The situation is of exquisite 
beauty. How lovely must have been the scene with 
a grave old Elizabethan manor-house, mottled with 
white and yellow lichen, embowered in trees, above 
which rose the hills, the evening sun glittering in 
its many muUioned windows, while the rooks wheeled 
and cawed about it. 

The little combes that dip into the estuary of the 
Teign, rich with vegetation growing rank out of 
the red soil, are very lovely. Stoke-in-Teignhead 
not only has a good screen, but it is a parish that 
has never had a squire, but has been occupied 
from the sixteenth century by substantial yeomen, 
who have maintained themselves there against en- 



302 TORQUAY 

croaching men of many acres. Combe-in-Teignhead 
has a very fine screen and equally good old benches. 

Wolborough has a good church occupying a site 
that was once a camp, and contains an excellent 
screen, well restored and glittering with gold and 
colour. East Ogwell has also a screen, and the old 
manor mill is a picturesque object for the pencil. 
Denbury is a strong camp. 

Torbrian, situated in a lovely spot, has fine screen- 
work and monuments of the Petres. The three 
Wells, Coffinswell, Kingskerswell, and Abbots- 
kerswell, lie together. At Kingskerswell are some 
old monumental effigies of the Prowse family. At 
Abbotskerswell are a screen, and a large statue of the 
Blessed Virgin in a niche of the window splay. This 
latter had been plastered over into one great bulk ; 
when the plaster was removed the statue was revealed. 
The very fine Jacobean altar-rails were removed at 
the " restoration," to make place for something utterly 
uninteresting. Here there is an early and interesting 
church-house. The church-house was the building 
in which the parishioners from a distance spent 
a rainy time between morning service and vespers. 
The house was divided by a floor into two storeys, 
that above for women, that below for the men. 
Here were also held the church ales, that is to say, 
the ale brewed by the wardens and sold to defray 
church expenses. The ale was also supplied on 
Sundays by the clerk to those who tarried for even- 
song, and so, little by little, most of these old church- 
houses degenerated into taverns. 

Abbotskerswell is the seat of the Aller pottery 



WELL-PARISHES 303 

art manufacture, started by the late Mr. John 
Phillips, with the object of providing the village 
young men with remunerative work at their own 
homes. But about this presently. The story of the 
inception of the work is interesting. 

Coffinswell still possesses its holy well, that is 
called the " Lady Well," used by young girls for 
fortune-telling. 

At some little distance from this spring lies a 
nameless grave in unconsecrated ground, where is 
buried a lady banished holy ground for her sins. 
Every New Year's morn, after the stroke of mid- 
night, she rises and takes "one cock's stride" towards 
the churchyard, which, when she reaches, she will 
find rest, and her hope is to be found therein — at 
the crack of doom. 

The three well-parishes lie about the stream of 
the Aller (W. allwy^ to pour forth, to stream), that 
flows into the Teign below Newton Abbot. But it 
was not always so. At some remote period, when 
the great Dartmoor peaks "stood up and took the 
morning," far higher than they do now, the moun- 
tain torrents that swept the detritus of quartz from 
Hey Tor and Rippon Tor not only filled the lake of 
Bovey with pure white china clay, till they had 
converted a basin into a plain, but they also poured 
between red sandstone and limestone cliffs into the 
sea at Torbay. Then came a convulsion of nature ; 
these latter formations rose as a wall across the bed 
of the torrent, and the spill of the granite upland 
passed down the Teign valley. Then the little 
Aller was formed of the drainage of the combes of 



304 TORQUAY 

the upraised barrier, and, blushing at its insignifi- 
cance, it stole through the ancient bottom, cutting 
its modest way through the beds of quartz clay 
left by the former occupant of the valley, and, of 
course, flowing in a direction precisely the reverse 
of the former flood. The deposits of the earlier 
stream remain in all the laps of the hills and folds 
of the valley. They consist of quartz clay, some- 
what coloured by admixture of the later rocks that 
have been fretted by lateral streams. 

The first to discover these beds were the gipsies. 
They were our early potters. These wandering 
people were wont to camp wherever there was clay, 
and wood suitable for baking the clay. They set 
their rude wheels to work, and erected their equally 
primitive kilns, and spent one half the year in making 
pots, and the other half in vending them from place 
to place. When the wood supply was exhausted, then 
the Bohemians set up their potteries on another spot 
that commended itself to them, to be again deserted 
when the wood supplies failed once more. 

The reason why the potteries at Burslem and 
elsewhere in Staffordshire have become permanent 
is, that there the coal is ready at hand, and that 
there the native population has taken the trade out 
of the desultory hands of the gipsies, and has 
worked at it persistently, instead of intermittently. 
The old stations, the rude kilns, the heaps of broken 
and imperfectly baked crocks of the ancient potters, 
are often come upon in the woods of Aller vale, 
and among the heather and gorse brakes of Bovey 
Heathfield. 



ART SCHOOL 305 

The Aller vale opens into the Teign, as already 
said, below Newton Abbot, and extends about four 
miles south to the village of Kingskerswell, that 
stands on the crest of the red rocky barrier which 
diverted the course of the flood from Dartmoor. A 
branch of the valley to the west terminates at a 
distance of two miles at the picturesque village of 
Abbotskerswell, and another branch to the east 
leads up to the village of Cofflnswell. The deepest 
deposit of clay is at the point where the three 
parishes converge. 

Just nineteen years ago the idea of an art school 
was mooted in the district. It was enthusiastically 
taken up by the village doctor at Kingskerswell, 
in association with an institute for the labourers 
and young men of the parish, and after a little 
difficulty he succeeded in getting hold of some 
premises for the purpose. This earnest-hearted and 
energetic man, Dr. Symons, did not live to see more 
than the initiation of his scheme. By many the 
idea of an art school among village bumpkins was 
viewed with mistrust, even with disfavour. It was 
argued, and with truth, that art schools had been 
started in country towns, and had failed to reach a 
class below the middle order. Sons and daughters 
of artisans and labourers would have none of it. 
Such had been the experience in Newton, such in 
Torquay. If the intelligent artisan of the town 
turned his back on the art school, was it likely that 
Hodge would favour it? When people have satis- 
fied their minds that a certain venture is doomed 
to failure, they are very careful not to lend their 



3o6 TORQUAY 

names to it, nor to put out their finger-tips to help 
it in any way. It was so in this case. 

The managers of the Board School, when asked 
to lend the room for the purpose, refused it. The 
promoters, failing in every other direction, turned to 
a poor widow left with two sons, struggling hard to 
keep soul and body together in a modest " cob " 
(clay-walled) cottage with thatched roof She was 
asked the loan of her kitchen, a room measuring 
21 feet by 1 8 feet, lighted by two small latticed 
windows, with low open-boarded and raftered ceiling 
of unhewn timber. Glad to earn a few pence, she 
consented, and the art classes were started on a 
career of unexpected success. 

The school of art began with a few pupils. A 
Sunday-school teacher persuaded his class to go 
to the art school, and perhaps to humour him, 
rather than with any anticipation of profit, the boys 
accepted the invitation. The widow's kitchen was 
whitewashed and clean. On the hearth a log fire 
blazed. A few simple pictures hung on the walls, 
and a scarlet geranium glowed in a pot in the 
window. A couple of trestles supported a plank 
for a table, and a pair of forms served to seat the 
pupils. The ploughboy, with his stiff fingers, was 
set to draw straight lines, and wonderful were his 
productions. The lines danced, trembled, wriggled, 
halted, then rushed off the page. They were 
crackers in their gyrations at first, and then rockets. 
By degrees the lines became less random, more sub- 
dued and purposeful, and finally a crow of delight 
proclaimed to the whole class that the curly-headed 



ART SCHOOL 307 

ploughboy had succeeded in producing a musical 
bar of five fairly parallel lines. Then, with both 
hands plunged into his pockets, young Hodge 
leaned back and went off into a roar of laughter. 
It had dawned on his mind that he could draw a 
line with a pencil on paper as true as he could with 
a ploughshare in a field. He had come to the 
school for a lark, and had found that the self- 
satisfaction acquired by the discovery of his powers 
was a lark better than he had expected. The ques- 
tion presented itself from the outset — How was the 
art school to be maintained ? The fires must be 
kept in full glow, the lamps must be supplied with 
oil, the widow must be paid to clean her floor after 
the boys had brought over it the red mud from the 
lanes. As so much mistrust as to the advantage 
and prospect of success of the classes was enter- 
tained, it was from the first resolved by the 
promoters not to solicit subscriptions. The whole 
thing was to be self-supporting. This was repre- 
sented to the pupils, and they readily accepted the 
situation. They undertook to organise and keep 
going through the winter a series of fortnightly 
entertainments ; they would invite some outsiders, 
but for the most part they would do their best 
themselves to entertain. The evenings would be 
made lively with recitations, readings, and songs. 
Doubtful whether such performance would deserve 
a fixed charge for admission, the young fellows on 
putting their heads together determined to make 
none, but to hold a cap at the door when the 
"pleasant evening" was over, and let those who 



3o8 TORQUAY 

had been entertained show their appreciation as 
they chose. 

These fortnightly cottage entertainments became 
a recognised institution and a source of profit, besides 
serving as a means of interesting and occupying the 
pupils. A thing that begins in a small way on right 
principles, a thing that "hath the seed in itself," is 
bound to succeed. 

Adjoining the widow's cottage was another un- 
tenanted, like it consisting of a single apartment on 
the ground floor. It became necessary to rent this, 
knock a door through the wall, and combine the 
cottages. The second room was turned into a 
workshop, with a carpenter's bench and a chest of 
tools. 

Out of the first art school in the one well -parish 
grew two others, one in each of the other well- 
parishes. Coffinswell has but a population of a 
hundred souls, nevertheless its art school has been 
frequented by as many as twelve pupils. Sixty is 
the highest number reached by the three together, 
which are now combined to maintain an efficient 
art instructor. 

It fell out that a stoneware pottery in the Aller 
vale was burnt down in 1881, and when reconstructed 
the proprietor, who had cordially promoted the art 
classes, resolved on converting what had been a 
factory of drain and ridge tiles into a terra-cotta 
manufactory, in which some of the more promising 
pupils might find employ, and in which the know- 
ledge and dexterity acquired in the class might be 
turned to practical uses. A single experienced potter 



RED SOIL 309 

was engaged, a gipsy, to start the affair, as there was 
no local tradition as to the manufacture of crocks 
upon which to go. 

The classes were from the outset for boys and girls 
together, and though recently there has been a change 
in this arrangement, the young women coming in the 
afternoon, and the young men in the evening, this 
alteration has been made owing to increase of num- 
bers, not in consequence of any rudeness or im- 
propriety, for such there had not been in the ten 
years of the career of the school. In this case the 
experience has been precisely the same as that of the 
mixed schools and colleges of the United States. 

There is one thing that a visitor to Torquay is 
certain to carry away with him if he has made 
excursions on foot about it — some of its red soil. 
The roads, in spite of the County Council, are bad, 
for the material of which they are made is soft. But 
what a soil it is for flowers and for fruit ! Anything 
and everything will grow there and run wild. Stick 
a twig into the earth, and it is bound to grow. As 
for roses and violets, they run riot there. And, taken 
on the whole, the visitor who has been to Torquay is 
almost sure to carry away with him something beside 
the red mud, something quite as adhesive — pleasant 
memories of the place and its balmy air. 



CHAPTER XVIl. 
TOTNES 

The legend of Brutus — Derivation of the name — Castle — The charter 
— Old houses — Piazzas — The church — The screen — Dartington Hall 
— Little Hempston Rectory — Old gate — Priory — Berry Pomeroy. 

WHAT a pity it is that the dear old legends 
that lie at the root of history have been 
dissipated ! That we can no longer believe in 
Romulus and Remus and the she-wolf — no, not 
even when the Lupercale remains on the side of 
the Palatine Hill, after the palaces of Augustus, 
of Tiberius, of Caligula, of Septimius Severus, have 
been levelled with the dust. 

How cruel, too, that the delightful story of Alfred 
and the cakes, that also of Edwin and Elgiva, are 
relegated to the region of fables ; that we are told 
there never was such a person as King Arthur, and 
that S. George for Merry England never was a 
gallant knight, and certainly slew no dragon, nor 
delivered fair maid ! 

Dust we are, but is it absolutely necessary that all 
human history, and the history of nature, should 
spring out of dust? that the events of the child- 
hood of our race should have been all orderly and un- 
romantic, as if every nationality had been bred in trim- 
ness as a Board School scholar? Now, what if we could 

310 



w^.|;—. 




LEGEND OF BRUTUS 311 

believe that old gossiping — I am afraid I must add 
lying — historian, Geoffrey of Monmouth ! Why, the 
transformation scene at a pantomime would be nothing 
to the blaze of wonders and romance in the midst of 
which the England of history steps on to the stage. 

Ah ! if we could but believe old Geoffrey, or the 
British book which he saw and translated, why, then, 
Totnes would be the most revered spot in England, 
as that where the first man set his foot when he 
landed in an uncultivated, unpeopled island. Is there 
not on the Palatine the Lupercale, the very den in 
which the she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, to 
prove the tale ? Are there not Arthur's Seats enough 
in Cornwall, Wales, Cumberland, Scotland, to show 
that there must have been an Arthur to sit in them ? 
And is there not the stone in the high street of 
Totnes on which Brut, when he landed, set his foot 
to establish against all doubters the existence of 
Brut and the fact of his landing there ? 

The story is this. 

As it fell upon a day there was a certain king 
called Sylvius in Italy, and when he was about to 
become a father he consulted a magician, who by the 
stars could tell all that was to be. Now this magician 
read that the child that was to be born to Sylvius 
would be the death of his father and mother. 

In course of time the child was born, and at his 
birth his mother died. " He 's a Brute," said King 
Sylvius, and so that was his name. 

But King Sylvius did not have his child exposed 
to wild beasts ; he gave it to be nursed by a good 
woman, who reared the " Brute " till he was fifteen. 



315 TOTNES 

Now it fell out that one day King Sylvius went 
a-hunting in the merry greenwood with horn and 
hounds, and the little " Brute," hearing the winding 
of the horn and the music of the hounds, picked up 
the bow he himself had made, and with the arrows 
he himself also had winged, forth he went to the 
chase. Alas ! it so fell out that the first arrow he 
shot pierced his father's heart. 

On this account Brute had to fly the country. 

" And away he fared to the Grecian land, 
With a hey ! with a ho ! and a nonny O ! 
And there he gathered a stahvart band. 
And the ships they sail on the blue sea O ! " 

Now the mother of Brute had been a Trojan, so all 
the refugees, after the destruction of Troy, gathered 
about the young prince, and formed a large body 
of men. Brute took to wife Ignogne, daughter of 
Pandrasos, King of the Greeks, and resolved to sail 
away in quest of a new country. So the king, his 
father-in-law, gave him ships and lading, and he 
started. A fair wind swelled his sails, and he sailed 
over the deep blue sea till he reached a certain island 
called Loegria, which was all solitary, for it had been 
wasted by pirates. But Brute went on shore, and 
found an old deserted and ruinous temple, and there 
he lit three fires, and he sacrificed a white hart, and 
poured the blood mingled with wine on the broken 
altar, and he sang : — 

" Sweet goddess above, in the light of love. 

That high through the blue doth sail, 
O tell me who rove in the woodland grove, 

O tell me, and do not fail. 
Where I shall rest — and thine altar dressed, 

Shall finish this wandering tale." 



LEGEND OF BRUTUS 313 

These words he repeated nine times, after which 
he took four turns round the altar, and laid himself 
down on the skin of the white hart and fell asleep. 
About the third hour of the night he saw a beautiful 
form appear with the new moon in her hair, and 
a sceptre with the morning star shining on its point, 
and she said to him : — 

" Far, far away in the ocean blue, 

There lieth an island fair. 
Which giants possessed, but of them are few 

That linger to haunt it there. 
O there shalt thou reign, in a pleasant plain 

Shalt found thee a city rare. 
From thee shall a line of heroes divine 

Carry triumph everywhere." 

When Brute woke he was much encouraged by 
the vision, and he returned to his ship, hoisted the 
mainsail, and away, away, before the wind the ship 
flew, throwing up foam from her bows, and leaving 
a track as milk in the sea behind. He passed through 
the Straits of Gibraltar and coasted up Aquitaine, 
and rounded the Cape of Finisterre, and at length, 
with a fair wind, crossed the sea, and came to the 
marble cliffs of Dunan Dyffnaint, the land of deep 
vales, and in the cliffs opened a great rift, down 
which flowed a beautiful river, and he sailed up it. 
And lo ! on either side were green pastures spangled 
with buttercups, and forests of mighty oaks and 
beech, and over his head the white gulls screamed, 
and in the water the broad-winged herons dipped ; 
and so he sailed, and before him rose a red cliff; and 
now the tide began to fall. So he ran his ship 
up against the cliff and leapt ashore, and where he 



314 TOTNES 

leaped there his foot made its impress on the red 
rock, which remains even unto this day. Then, when 
Brute had landed, he sat himself down and said : — 

" Here I sit, and here I rest, 
And this town shall be called Totnes." 

Which shows that Brute had not much idea of rhyme, 
nor of measure in his rhyme. 

It must be told that the very spot where Brute 
sprang ashore is half-way up the hill from the river 
Dart, up which he sailed ; but then the river was 
much fuller in those days, or men's legs were longer. 

Totnes, in fact, occupies a promontory of red 
sandstone rock, round which the river not only winds, 
but anciently swept up a creek that ran for two 
miles. In fact there was a labyrinth of creeks there ; 
one between Totnes and the sea, another between 
Totnes and the mainland, so that the town was acces- 
sible on one side only, and that side was strongly 
fortified by castle and earthworks. The creek to the 
south still fills with water ; its mouth is below Sharp- 
ham, and the tide now rises only as far as Bow 
Bridge. Formerly it ran quite a mile further up. 
The town of Totnes, in fact, occupies one point alone 
in a ness or promontory that was formerly, when the 
tide rose, flushed with water on the three sides. It 
has, however, been supposed that the term Totnes 
applies to the whole of that portion of South Devon 
to the coast; some even assert to the whole peninsula 
of Devon and Cornwall. The creeks have silted up 
with the rich red mud, and with the washings from 
the tin mines on Dartmoor, to such an extent that 



THE CASTLE 315 

the true ness character of the little district of Totnes 
and the villages of Ashprington and Harberton has 
not been recognised. It is a hilly district, and the 
clefts which formerly filled with water are natural 
dykes fortifying it. 

The Ikenild Street, which was a British trackway, 
passed through Totnes, which is the old Durium of 
the Itineraries. The river Dart is the Dour, that 
comes out as Durium in Latin, and is simply the 
Celtic word for water. We have it again in Doro- 
vernia, Dover, and in Dorchester, the castle or camp 
on the water. 

The name Totnes is probably Saxon, from tot, 
toten, " to project," as in Tothill, Tottenham ; and 
we have it again in a promontory on the coast, as 
Dodman's Nose, which is peculiar, for this is a com- 
bination of three languages. Dod is the Saxon, man 
is the Celtic maen, stone or rock, and ness is the 
Scandinavian nose or headland. 

The railway station and line to Plymouth now 
occupy the old creek, up which barges, and un- 
doubtedly smuggled spirits, went to Dartington. 
Anyone standing on the Dartington side and look- 
ing across at Totnes will see at once what was the 
old character of this headland. The town occupies a 
long ridge, which reached to the river by one street 
that ran its entire length. The magnificent church 
of red sandstone, with its grand tower and pinnacles, 
occupies the centre, and on the land side, the only 
side assailable, towered up the castle on a mound 
that was thrown up in prehistoric times. 

The castle is now ruined ; the circular " mote " re- 



3i6 TOTNES 

mains, and a few crumbling walls and great elm trees 
full of rooks' nests rise in the place of towers and 
battlements. The grounds about the ruins have been 
nicely laid out, and what remains of the castle is 
saved from further disintegration. The character was 
very much that of other castles in the West, as Rouge- 
mont, Plympton, and Launceston. There was no 
square keep, but a circular drum, and a large yard 
surrounded by walls that stood on earlier earthworks. 
A picturesque gate gives access to the town near the 
castle. The town itself is quaint and full of interest- 
ing relics. A great number of the houses date 
from Elizabethan times, and belonged to the wealthy 
merchants of Totnes, which was a great place for 
the manufacture of woollen cloth. Indeed in the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was already 
famous. 

Totnes is one of the oldest boroughs in the 
country. Its earliest charter dates from 1205, 
and I believe I am right in saying that at a dinner 
at the Mansion' House given by a Lord Mayor of 
London within the last few years to the mayors of 
England, precedence was given to the representative 
of the borough of Totnes over all others. 

The houses of the merchants of Totnes have been 
sadly tampered with. The requirements of modern 
trade exact large shop-fronts, and to satisfy the 
demand of the public to see at a glance what is 
to be sold within, the venerable houses have been 
transformed externally, at all events on the ground- 
floor. But let anyone interested in such things go 
within and ask to be shown the panelled rooms and 



PIAZZAS 317 

plaster ceilings, and he will see much to interest and 
delight. A peculiarly fine piece of plaster -work is 
in the parlour of the local bookseller, and if the 
visitor desires to have his hair cut he can have it 
done in a chamber of the local barber, where the 
woodwork is of the sixteenth century. 

Totnes preserves its old piazzas, or covered ways 
in High Street, very much like those of Berne or an 
Italian city, or, indeed, of the bastides or free cities 
built by our Edward I. in his duchy of Guyenne, 
of which Montpazier, Beaumont, St. Foye are notable 
examples, and seem to show that piazzas were a 
common feature of English towns and of towns 
built under English influence in the thirteenth century. 
The same sort of thing is found at Chester, but not, 
that I am aware, in any other English towns. If in 
Italy these covered ways are an advantage, in that 
it allows those who walk along the streets to look in 
at the shop windows with comfort when the sun is 
shining, in Totnes it allows them the same advantage 
when the rain is falling ; 

*' And the rain it raineth every day." 

One unpardonable outrage has been committed at 
Totnes. There existed in front of the churchyard 
and in continuation of the piazza, a butter market, 
which consisted of an enlarged piazza, supported on 
granite pillars of the beginning of the seventeenth 
century. The vulgar craving to show off the parish 
church when so many pounds, shillings, and pence 
had been spent on its restoration ; the fear lest 
visitors should fail to see that the shopkeepers of 



3i8 TOTNES 

Totnes had put their hands into their pockets to 
do up their church, made them destroy this pic- 
turesque and unique feature. 

The church itself is a very fine building. It was 
originally a Norman structure of the eleventh cen- 
tury, but was rebuilt in the thirteenth, and is, as 
it now stands, a structure of Perpendicular work 
of the fifteenth century. It is of red sandstone, 
of a warm and pleasant colour. In the tower are 
niches containing figures of saints of lighter colour. 
The church has gone through a restoration more 
or less satisfactory, or unsatisfactory, at the hands 
of the late Sir G. Gilbert Scott, who had no feeling 
for Perpendicular work. It is a stately church ; its 
chief glory is a superb rood-screen of carved stone, 
erected in 1460, and richly coloured and gilt. This 
supported a wide gallery that extended over half the 
chancel, and access to this gallery was obtained by a 
splendid carved and gilt newel staircase in the 
chancel. The top of the screen is delicately spread 
into fan -work, intended to sustain the beam of the 
gallery. In the so-called restoration of the church 
the entire gallery was removed, consequently the 
stair leads to vacancy and the screen supports 
nothing. Moreover, one of the most striking effects 
of the church was destroyed. A broad belt of 
shadow was designed to cross the chancel, behind 
the screen, throwing up, on one side, the gilded 
tracery of the screen, and on the other, the flood 
of light that bathed the sanctuary and altar. All 
this is gone, and the effect is now absolutely 
commonplace. There are screens, near Totnes of 



REGISTERS 319 

extraordinary richness — at Great Hempston, Ipplepen, 
Harberton, and Berry Pomeroy — covered with gold 
and adorned with paintings. But none are perfect. 
A screen consisted of three parts. The lower was 
the sustaining arcade, then came the fan-groining 
to support the gallery, above that, the most splendid 
feature of all, the gallery back, which consisted of 
a series of canopied compartments containing paint- 
ings representing the gospel story. This still exists 
in Exeter Cathedral ; the uppermost member is also 
to be seen at Atherington, as has been already stated, 
but everywhere else it has disappeared. 

Formerly there stood a reredos at the east end of 
the chancel of Grecian design, singularly out of 
character with the building, but hardly worse than 
the contemptible concern that has been erected in 
its place. 

At the east end of the church, on the outside, the 
apprentices of Totnes were wont to sharpen their 
knives, and the stones are curiously rubbed away in 
the process. 

The registers of Totnes are very early and of great 
interest, as containing much information concerning 
the old merchant families and the landed gentry of 
the neighbourhood with whom they married. 

The nearest great manorial house is that of Dart- 
ington, which was a mansion of the Hollands, Dukes 
of Exeter, and now belongs to the Champernownes. 
It possesses ruins of the splendid hall, of the date 
of Richard II., whose device, a white hart chained, 
appears repeated several times. On the opposite 
side of the river is the most interesting and unique 



320 TOTNES 

parsonage of Little Hempston, a perfectly untouched 
building of the fourteenth century, exactly the priest's 
house of the time of Chaucer. The house consists 
of a structure occupying four sides of a tiny quad- 
rangle. It has a hall, buttery, kitchen, and solar. 
Every window, except that of the hall, looks into the 
little court, which is just twenty feet square, and the 
rooms accordingly are gloomy. The late John Keble, 
who was often a visitor at Dartington Parsonage, 
would, when missing, be found there, dreaming over 
the life of the parish priest in the Middle Ages. 

A very singular circumstance is connected with 
the old Champernownes of Dartington. Gawaine 
Champernowne was married to the Lady Roberta, 
daughter of the Count de Montgomeri, leader of the 
Huguenots. On account of her misconduct she was 
divorced in 1582, by Act of Parliament passed for 
the purpose. However, oddly to relate, no sooner 
were they divorced than they patched up their quarrel 
and continued to live together as husband and wife, 
and had a large family. Happily the eldest son and 
heir was born before the Act was passed, or in all 
certainty he would have been illegitimate in the eye 
of the law. But the two younger sons and three 
daughters were the issue after the divorce. 

The old south gate of Totnes still remains, and at 
one time the chamber over it was a public-house. 
It has since been converted into a reading-room, and 
contains some good wood-carving of the Tudor age 
and a fine plaster cornice. 

On the north side of the church are the remains of 
the old priory of S. Mary, founded by Judael, Earl. 



CHURCHES 321 

of Totnes, at the Conquest. These have been trans- 
formed into guildhall, prisons, and sexton's houses. 
The priory must have been a modest building. It 
stood just within the old town walls, which may be 
traced in fairly good preservation thence to the south 
gate. The church of Totnes is a vicarial church, as 
Judael granted it to the Benedictine Abbey of Saints 
Sergius and Bacchus at Angers. 

The priors had the right of presentation to the 
parish church up to the time of the dissolution of the 
religious houses, except during the wars with France, 
when the Crown appointed, this being an alien priory. 

In 1414 there was a quarrel in the church between 
the prior and one John Southam, what about we do 
not know. They seem to have punched each other's 
nose, so as to bring blood ; whereupon the church 
was closed till the bishop could hold investigation 
whether the sacred edifice had been desecrated there- 
by. Bishop Stafford did hold inquiry, and in ecclesi- 
astical language, and with proper gravity, pronounced 
that the case was " fudge," that the matter had been 
made a great deal more of than there was occasion, 
and that the vicar was to recommence services in the 
church. 

Torbrian Church, picturesquely situated in a glen, 
has been already alluded to. This parish is the 
cradle of Lord Petre's family. 

The splendid ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle are 
within a walk or drive, and will repay a visit, not 
only from the interest of the remains, but also from 
the beauty of the situation on the brow of rock over- 
hanging the water. 
Y 



322 TOTNES 

Below the town of Totnes is the quay, at which 
the steamboat may be entered for the beautiful 
descent of the Dart to Dartmouth. 

On all sides, peeping out of woods, above smooth 
lawns, backed by orchards, appear numerous smiling 
villas. It would seem that many well-to-do people 
have come to the same conclusion as did Brute, and 
have made Totnes their seat, saying : — 

" Here I sit — and here I rest." 

And the visitor will think that old Brute was no fool 
when he said that, and will wish that he could do the 
same. 

Note. — Books on Totnes : — 

Cotton (W. ), Graphic and Historical Sketch of the Antiquities of 
Totnes. London : Longman, 1850. 

WiNDEATT (E.), "An Historical Sketch of Totnes," in the Trans- 
actions of the Devonshire Association^ 1880. 

Dymond (R.), "Ancient Documents relating to the Civil History of 
Totnes," in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1880. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 
DARTMOUTH 

A first visit to Dartmouth — Descent of the Dart — The Church of S. 
Saviour — ^John Hawley — The Butter Row — Slate - covered houses 
—The Ship Inn— Walk to the sea— Warfleet— S. Petrock's— The 
Castle — Attacks on Dartmouth — The Golden Strand — Kingswear 
— Burying under foundations — Newcomen — Sir Walter Raleigh 
and his pipe — Slapton Lea — Dame Juliana Hawkins — Visits to be 
made — What not to be done. 

I WILL tell you how I first saw Dartmouth 
before I proceed to say anything about it, and 
then the reader will perhaps understand the peculiar 
affection with which I write about it. 

It happened early one June that I had made every 
arrangement to go with a friend a walking tour 
among the Dolomite Alps. We were to meet in 
town and cross the Channel together to Antwerp. 

At the last moment some particularly vexatious 
business cropped up which detained me, and I had 
to wire to my friend that I could not be with him 
on the day fixed, but would, if possible, meet him 
in Cologne. In two days I saw it was all up with 
my Continental excursion, and I was obliged to 
telegraph to Cologne that my friend must go on 
his way by himself. 

Now when a man has been slaving at his desk 

323 



324 DARTMOUTH 

all winter, and has been planning out every stage 
of his tour, and has thought, talked, written, dreamed 
of it for months — then to see his hope blasted is 
enough to make him cross. Cross accordingly I 
was ; so cross, that the best and most long-suffering 
of wives advised me to go somewhere. " Some- 
where," thought I ; " why, I have never been down 
the Dart, have never seen Dartmouth." So I took 
the advice given me and started. 

What a day that was when I spun along the 
Great Western Railway from Plymouth to Totnes 
The day was resplendent with sun, and yet not too 
hot. The orchards everywhere were a mass of 
flowers, from white to pink. I had hit precisely 
on the time and train whereby a number of English 
officers, just landed from the Soudan at Plymouth, 
were dispersing to their homes. In the same carriage 
with me was a young officer who had bought a 
number of Funny Folks and was immersed in it. 
A brother officer came to the carriage-window, after 
we had reached a second station, and addressing my 
fellow-traveller through the window exclaimed, " I 
say, did you ever see the like of this, old chap? 
We are going through waves of colour, a sea of 
flowers. I never saw anything to equal it — and 
after the sands of Egypt, old boy ! " The bell 
rang and he had to run back to his carriage. 
" Yes ; all right," was the response of the man in 
my compartment, and down went his head and 
thoughts among Funny Folks. 

At the next station the second officer was again 
at our window, and again addressing the reader of 



SCENERY 325 

the periodical, " I say, Jones;! talk of Araby the 
Blessed, it isn't worth mention in the same day 
with ten thousand times more lovely, blessed, dear 
old England. By George ! old chap, I want to look 
out of both windows at once. I can't see enough 
of it. I feel as if I could cry, it is so beautiful ! " 

"Ah! indeed," responded the reader, and down 
went his head into his paper, and did not look 
off it again. "Truly," I thought, "what a blessing 
to publishers that all men have not the sense of 
beauty ; and what a blessing it is to men like 
myself that we are not addicted to the grotesque." 

The descent of the Dart should be made as I 
made it then, on an early summer evening when 
the sun is in decline, and the lawns are yellow 
with buttercups, when the mighty oaks and beeches 
are casting long shadows, and the reaches of the 
river are alternately sheets of quivering gold and 
of purple ink. 

As I went down the river, all dissatisfaction at 
my lot passed away, and by the time Dartmouth 
came in view I could no longer refrain myself, but 
threw my cap into the air, and barely caught it 
from falling overboard as I shouted, " Hurrah for 
merry England ! Verily it has scenes that are un- 
rivalled in the whole world." 

Indeed now, in gravity, as I write this, I cannot 
think that I have ever seen any sight lovelier than 
Dartmouth on an evening in early summer, with 
Kingswear opposite, the one bathed in soft sweet 
shadow, and the other glittering and golden in the 
sun's declining rays. 



326 DARTMOUTH 

The sea is not visible from Dartmouth, which is 
hemmed in by hills that rise to a great height on 
every side, shutting in the basin of water that is 
the port of Dartmouth, and shutting out all winds. 
The town itself is full of picturesque bits. The 
church, dedicated to S. Saviour, is really a chapelry 
in the parish of Townstal, the church of which, 
set as a beacon on a hill, is two miles distant, and 
reached by a scramble. The church of Dartmouth 
was built at the end of the fourteenth century, and 
has happily escaped the reckless restoration which 
has befallen Totnes. What has been done has been 
reparative, and all in the best taste. The church 
contains a magnificent painted and gilt wood screen, 
and a pulpit of the same character, with the royal 
badges of later date on its sides. A gallery runs 
round three sides of the church, over the aisles ; 
that is of Elizabethan date, and the panels in front 
are emblazoned with the arms of the merchant 
princes of the town at the time of its prosperity. 
A curious door, covered with iron - work of very 
rich description, representing lions impaled on an 
oak tree, bears the date 1631, but this merely 
represents the restoration of the woodwork of the 
door. In the floor of the church is the brass of 
John Hawley, merchant, who died in 1408, and 
his two wives, Joan, who died in 1394, and Alice, 
who died in 1403 ; there can be little doubt as to 
which of the wives he loved best, for he is repre- 
sented holding the hand of the first This is the 
Hawley, merchant of Dartmouth, mentioned by 
old Stow in his Annals, who, in 1390, "waged the 



OLD HOUSES 327 

navie of shippes of the ports of his own charges, 
and took 34 shippes laden with wyne to the sum 
of fifteen hundred tunnes." The visitor may com- 
pare the costume worn by the ladies on the brass 
with the description given by Stow of the fashion 
that then set in : " This time was used exceeding 
pride in garments, gownes with deepe and broad 
sleeves, commonly called peake sleeves, whereof 
some hung downe to their feete, and at least to 
the knees, ful of cuts and jagges." 

Among the old houses in the town, unhappily 
fast disappearing, must be noted those in Butter 
Row, a short piazza like that at Totnes, and in one 
of these is a very fine carved oak chimney-piece, 
that merits examination. 

Other old houses are in Fosse Street and the 
Shambles. A peculiarity of the old Dartmouth 
houses is that they are covered with small slates, 
cut into various devices, and forming elegant pat- 
terns, that cover them as a coat of mail against the 
rain. Forty years ago there were many of these 
picturesque old houses, they are now woefully re- 
duced in numbers. 

The "Ship Inn" is an old-fashioned hostel, very 
comfortable, and though modernised externally, yet 
has much that is characteristic of an old inn in the 
inside. I was dining there one evening when the 
train from town had arrived, and launched its pas- 
sengers into Dartmouth. Among these happened 
to be a German, who was on his way by the Donald 
Currie boat to the Cape. He came into the dining- 
room of the " Ship," seated himself at a table at a 



328 DARTMOUTH 

little distance from me, and signed that he wanted 
something to eat. 

The courteous, elderly v/aiter bowed and said, 
"What will you have, sir, soup?" 

"Yesh! yesh!" 

" There is vermicelli." 

"Yesh! yesh!" 

"And Julienne." 

"Yesh! yesh!" 

"And ox-tail." 

"Yesh! yesh!" 

"And mulligatawny." 

"Yesh! yesh!" 

"And fish, sir. Would you like some?" 

"Oh, yesh! yesh!" 

" There is some turbot." 

"Yesh! yesh!" 

"And a nice pair of soles." 

"Yesh! yesh!" 

"And some brill." 

"Oh, yesh! yesh!" 

"And perhaps you would like, sir, a mayonnaise of 
lobster ? " 

"Oh, yesh! yesh!" 

It was time for me to interfere. I jumped up 
and hastened to the assistance of the poor German, 
and said in his own tongue : " I beg your pardon 
for my interference, sir, but are you ordering dinner 
for yourself or for the entire crew? You will, I 
know, excuse me, but I thought it advisable to 
speak before it came to the wine list." 

"Ach, du lieber Herr!" gasped the German. "I 



THE CHURCH 329 

know but one English word, and that is Yesh. Will 
you be so merciful as to order dinner for me ? " 

I at once entered into consultation with the waiter, 
and settled all matters agreeably. 

A charming walk may — no, must, be taken from 
Dartmouth to the sea ; the street, very narrow, runs 
between houses for a long way, giving glimpses of 
the water, of old bastions and towers, of gardens 
hanging on the steep slopes, of fuchsias and pelar- 
goniums running riot in the warm, damp air, of red 
rock and green foliage, jumbled together in the 
wildest picturesqueness, of the blue, still water below, 
with gulls, living foam - flakes swaying, chattering 
over the surface. Then the road has to bend round 
Warfleet, a lovely bay bowered in woods, with an 
old mill and a limekiln, and barges lying by, waiting 
for lime or for flour. When this has been passed, 
and, alas ! a very ugly modern house that disfigures 
one of the loveliest scenes in South Devon, a head- 
land is reached by a walk under trees, and all at 
once a corner is turned, and a venerable church and 
a castle are revealed, occupying the rocky points 
that command the entrance of Dartmouth Harbour. 

The church undoubtedly served as chapel to the 
castle, but is far older in dedication than any portion 
of the castle, for it is dedicated to the purely British 
Saint Petrock, who lived in the sixth century. 

The church is small, much mutilated, and contains 
a number of old monuments, and some brasses to 
the Roope and Plumleigh families. On the opposite 
side of the estuary is another castle. 

The castle that adjoins is supposed to date from 



330 DARTMOUTH 

the reign of Henry VII., but one existed in the 
same spot at an earlier date. Edward IV., in 1481, 
covenanted with the men of Dartmouth to pay them 
annually ;^30 from the customs of Exeter and Dart- 
mouth, on condition of their building a "stronge 
and myghtye and defensyve new tower," and of their 
protecting the harbour with a chain. Certainly, the 
men of Dartmouth earned their money cheaply, for 
"the myghtye tower" is a very small affair. 

For their own interest one would have supposed 
they would have erected a greater fortress, as Dart- 
mouth suffered severely at times from pirates and 
French fleets. In 1377 it was plundered by the 
French, who in the same year swept our shores from 
Rye to Plymouth. In 1403 it returned the visit of 
the French ; in 1404 a French fleet succeeded in 
putting into Black Pool, a little to the right of the 
entrance to the Dart, but the Dartmouth men armed 
and came down the steep sides of the bay upon the 
French, killed their leader, and forced them to regain 
their vessels and put off to sea. The French lost 
four hundred men and two hundred prisoners in the 
engagement. 

On the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada, 
in 1588, two vessels, the Crescent and the Haste, were 
fitted out, and the former is said to have been 
engaged with one of the Spanish vessels. In 1592, 
the Madre de Dios, one of the great Indian 
"carracks" or plate ships, was taken on her way 
to Spain, and was brought into Dartmouth. She 
was a floating castle of seven decks, and was laden 
with silver, spices, rare woods, and tapestries. The 



KINGSWEAR 331 

neighbouring gentry and townsmen of Dartmouth 
began to clear the pixze for the adornment of their 
own houses, and commissioners were sent from 
London to recover as much of the spoil as was 
possible. 

There is a bay near Black Pool which goes by the 
name of the Golden Strand, because a vessel was 
wrecked there laden with treasure, and to this day 
gold coins are occasionally picked up on the beach. 
In the basement of the tower of Dartmouth Castle 
are still the traces of where the iron chain or boom 
was fastened that could be stretched across the 
entrance to the harbour in time of war. 

That smuggling was carried on to a very large 
extent on this coast in former times cannot be 
doubted. Indeed, the caves artificially constructed 
for the purpose of holding " run " goods still exist 
in several places; and many capital stories are told 
of the good old smuggling days, and the way in 
which the revenue officers were cheated. 

Immediately opposite Dartmouth is Kingswear, 
situated on the steep slope of rock that runs pre- 
cipitously to the sea. There is a curious circumstance 
connected with the church. In 1845, the church was 
pulled down, when under the foundation was dis- 
covered a cavity cut in the rock filled with infant 
bones and quicklime. There is but too much reason 
to believe that we have here one of the many 
instances that remain of the old heathen belief that 
no building would stand unless a man or child were 
buried under the foundation. A few years ago, when 
the parish church of Wickersley, Lincolnshire, was 



332 DARTMOUTH 

rebuilt by Sir G. Gilbert Scott, on raising the founda- 
tions the complete skeleton of a man was found la*d 
lengthwise under the masonry. At Holsworthy, North 
Devon, in the same way, a skeleton was discovered 
with much lime about it in the wall, as if to hasten 
decomposition. The custom still exists in the East. 
In i860, the King of Burmah (father of Theebaw) 
rebuilt Mandalay. On that occasion fifty-three 
individuals were buried alive, three under each of 
the twelve gates, one under each of the palace gates, 
and four under the throne itself In 1880 the virtue 
was supposed to have evaporated, and Theebaw 
proposed to repeat the ceremony with one hundred 
victims, but I believe the actual number sacrificed 
was about twenty-five. The Burmans believe that the 
nals or spirits of the persons buried guard the gates 
and attack persons approaching with hostile inten- 
tions. Precisely similar convictions were common 
all over Europe. 

In S. Saviour's, Dartmouth, in the chancel, is 
buried the skull of Sir Charles McCarthy, who was 
for a while Governor of Sierra Leone, and was 
killed at Accra, in an encounter with the Ashantees, 
January 21st, 1824; the skull was greatly prized by 
the Ashantees, who had possessed themselves of it, 
and with it they decorated the war-drum of the king. 
The skull was happily recovered in 1829, and was 
brought to Dartmouth, where it was buried with 
some ceremony. 

Dartmouth was the birthplace of Newcomen, who 
introduced a notable improvement in steam engines. 
According to the first form of his discovery, the 



SIR WALTER RALEIGH 333 

steam was condensed by sending a current of cold 
water on the outside of the cylinder, an arrangement 
that required a boy to be always at hand with a 
bucket of water. Watt's improvement of employing 
steam to drive down the piston was invented whilst 
he was repairing one of Newcomen's engines. New- 
comen was baptised at Dartmouth in 1663 ; he died 
in 1729. His house was removed in 1864, but some 
of the old carved oak has been utilised in Newcomen 
Cottage, Townstal, as well as the " clovel " or 
wooden lintel over the fireplace at which Newcomen 
sat watching the steam puffing from his mother's 
kettle, and first conceived the idea of employing 
steam as a force for propelling engines. A chimney- 
piece of plaster, representing Shadrach, Meshach, 
and Abednego before Nebuchadnezzar, is at Brook- 
hill House, on the Kingswear side of the river. 
This same handsome chimney-piece, of oak, came 
from Greenway, up the Dart, where lived Sir 
Walter Raleigh, and it is said that it was before the 
fire kindled under this chimney-piece that the great 
navigator indulged in the first pipe of tobacco he 
ever smoked in England. There is a story told of 
Sir Walter being called in with his pipe for a very 
novel purpose at Littleham. There lived there a 
gentleman of Dutch or German extraction, named 
Creveldt, who had been at deadly feud with a neigh- 
bour, Sir Roger de Wheelingham, and the latter died 
without any reconciliation. Thenceforth, Creveldt 
was tormented from sunset to sunrise by the ghost 
of his enemy. He could not rest ; he could not eat, 
and, worst of all, he could not drink. The days for 



334 DARTMOUTH 

exorcising ghosts were over. He called in the parson, 
but the parson could do nothing. Matters were in 
this condition when an Exeter trading vessel, com- 
manded by Captain Izaaks, anchored near Exmouth. 
The captain heard of Creveldt's trouble ; he was 
under some obligation to him, and he at once visited 
him. He heard his piteous tale, and said : " In 
ancient times I have been told that incense was 
used against stubborn ghosts. I have heard that now 
Sir Walter Raleigh has introduced a novel sort of 
incense much more efficacious. Let us send for him." 

Accordingly, Sir Walter was invited. He in- 
structed Creveldt how to smoke tobacco ; and the 
fumes of the pipe proved too much for the ghost. 
The spirit departed, coughing and sneezing, to the 
tobaccoless world. 

No visitor should fail to visit Slapton Lea — a bar 
of pebble and sand tossed up by the sea, over which 
runs the coach-road to Kingsbridge — an excursion 
well meriting being made. The streams descending 
from the land are held back from entering the sea 
by this ridge, and form a lake that not only abounds 
in fish, and attracts water birds, but also contains 
water plants. 

At Slapton lived Sir Richard and Dame Juliana 
Hawkins, in a house called Pool. 

Dame Juliana was a haughty woman, and the 
story is told that she would not go to church except 
on a carpet Accordingly, when she went to Slapton 
Church to pay her devotions, a couple of negro 
servants proceeded before her unrolling a carpet of 
red velvet. 



THE DART 335 

On the river is Dittisham, and how the salmon 
do congregate in the pool there ! It is a great place 
for figs and plums, and should be seen when the 
plum trees are in flower. The view from the par- 
sonage garden, commanding two reaches of the 
river, is exquisite. But for loveliness of situation. 
Stoke Gabriel in a lap or creek, facing the sun, shut 
away from every wind, is the most perfect. 

A good picturesque modern house has been erected 
at a point commanding Dartmouth, on the opposite 
side at Maypool (F. C. Simpson, Esq.), that is a real 
feature of beauty in the landscape. 

At Stoke Fleming is a fine brass. 

The time when Dartmouth may be seen to advan- 
tage — I am not speaking now of the river — is at the 
autumn regatta. Then the quaint old place is en 
fete. The little square that opens on to the quay 
is devoted to dancing. Lights flare, flags wave, 
music peals forth, and the Mayor opens the ball in 
the open air. It is a sight not to be seen elsewhere 
in England — when viewed from the river it is like 
a scene on the stage. 

There is one thing you must do at Dartmouth, 
because you cannot help doing so — enjoy yourself. 
But there is one thing you must on no account do 
— offend a single, though the most insignificant, 
member of the town. If you do, the whole popu- 
lation is out on you like a hive of angry bees — for 
in a place so shut in by hills and water everyone 
is related. 

Sir Charles McCarthy, as already related, has left 
his head at Dartmouth. As the visitor leaves by 



336 DARTMOUTH 

the little steamer to remount the Dart, and looks 
at the lovely estuary, the hills embowered in trees, 
the picturesque old town — he feels, perhaps, like 
myself, as if he had left his heart there. 

Note. — Works on Dartmouth : — 

Karkeek (P. Q.), "Notes on the Early History of Dartmouth," in 
the Transactions of the Devonshire Association^ 1880. 

Karkeek (P. Q.), "The Shipping and Commerce of Dartmouth in 
the Reign of Richard II.," ibid., 1881. 

Newman (Dr.), "On the Antiquity of Dartmouth," ibid.^ 1869. 



CHAPTER XIX. 
KINGSBRIDGE 

Kingsbridge a misnomer — The estuary — The church — "Farewell to 
Kingsbridge" — Numerous screens in the neighbourhood — Portle- 
mouth — S. Onolaus — Master John Schorn — Old houses — The 
Fortescues — Defence of Salcombe Castle — Lea Priory — Stokenham 
— Slapton — Bolt Head — The Avon — Oldaport on the Erme — Mod- 
bury — The Champernownes — Bigbury — The Owl — S. Anne's Well — 
Parson Lane — Aveton Gifford — Bishop Stapledon — His murder — 
• Fishing. 

KINGSBRIDGE is a curious town, having a 
name that is a misnomer, for it possesses no 
bridge, there being no river. The estuary that runs 
some five to six miles in, at the head of which 
Kingsbridge stands, is a creek into which no river 
discharges, only brooks. It has several lateral 
branches — to Gerston, Frogmore, and South Pool, 
and at the mouth is Salcombe, a flourishing place, 
much in resort on account of the mildness of the 
climate, surpassing Torquay in this respect, and 
nearly as warm as Falmouth. The drawback to 
Salcombe is its distance from a railway. 

In Kingsbridge itself there is not much to be seen. 
The church is interesting, with a central tower and 
spire, and is curious as having been enlarged at 
various times, making the interior very inconvenient 
for the hearing of the preacher. 
Z 337 



338 KINGSBRIDGE 

Kingsbridge is actually in Churchstow. The town 
has drifted down from the high ground where was 
the fortified "stoke" to the quay, the "brig." The 
church in the town is a chapelry, and the erection 
took place in 1310. It is dedicated to S. Edmund 
the king and martyr, but why in the world they 
should have gone to the East Saxons for a patron 
I am at a loss to know. Churchstow belonged to the 
Abbey of Buckfast. 

One half of Kingsbridge is in the parish of Dod- 
brooke, where there is a good church with a fine 
old screen. 

There is a local ballad preserved relative to the 
departure of some troops for America quartered in 
the place in 1778-80, and there are old men in 
Kingsbridge who can recall the time when a detach- 
ment of military was there. The ballad runs : — 

" On the ninth day of November, at the dawning in the sky, 
Ere we sailed away to New York, we at anchor here did lie. 
O'er the meadows fair of Kingsbridge, there the mist was lying 

grey ; 
We were bound against the rebels, in the North America. 

" O so mournful was the parting of the soldiers and their wives, 
For that none could say for certain, they 'd return home with 

their lives. 
Then the women they were weeping, and they curs'd the cruel 

day 
That we sailed against the rebels in the North America. 

" O the little babes were stretching out their arms with saddest 
cries. 
And the bitter tears were falling from their pretty, simple eyes, 
That their scarlet-coated daddies must be hurrying away, 
For to fight against the rebels in the North America. 



FALLAPIT 339 

" Now God preserve our Monarch, I will finish up my strain ; 
Be his subjects ever loyal, and his honour all maintain. 
May the Lord our voyage prosper, and our arms across the sea, 
And put down the wicked rebels in the North America." 

There are a good many objects of interest in the 
neighbourhood. Combe Royal is an old house much 
modernised, where lemons and oranges are golden in 
the open air, and the blue hydrangeas lie in masses 
under the trees. 

Fallapit has been entirely rebuilt. It was the seat 
of the Fortescues, and their monuments crowd the 
parish church of East Allington. During the civil 
wars, the castle at Salcombe was held for the king by 
Sir Edmund Fortescue. After having sustained two 
sieges, probably of short duration, it was summoned 
by General Fairfax on January 23rd, 1645, and after 
a long siege of nearly four months, surrendered on 
honourable terms to Colonel Weldon, the governor of 
Plymouth. Sir Edmund was allowed to march out 
with the garrison, bearing their arms, to Fallapit, 
and take with him the key of the castle he had so 
gallantly defended. 

When Fallapit was sold, among other things put 
up by the auctioneer was this very key, and it was 
knocked down for half a crown. 

A charming excursion may be made to the cell of 
Lee Priory, an almost perfect monastic building. 
The chapel has been destroyed, but the gateway and 
refectory and the dormitories remain intact. It is 
situated in a peaceful, umbrageous dell away from 
the world among green lawns and pleasant woods, 
an idyllic spot. 



340 KINGSBRIDGE 

At South Milton in the church is an interesting 
rood-screen, with paintings of saints on the panels. 
Screens are, indeed, numerous in this district, some 
very fine. Crass stupidity has occasioned the des- 
truction of those of Malborough and West Alvington. 
The clergy should be the guardians, not the ravagers, 
of their churches, but quis custodiet custodes? 

A delightful row down the estuary will take to 
Salcombe, a modern place. Opposite, up a tre- 
mendous scramble, is Portlemouth, a settlement of 
S. Winwaloe, the great Brittany saint. He is locally 
called Onolaus or Onslow. Winwaloe was the son 
of Gwen of the Three Breasts, and her husband, 
Fragan or Brechan, cousin of Cado, Duke of Corn- 
wall. Although Gwen is represented on monuments 
in Brittany as a woman with three breasts, yet in 
Celtic the epithet means no more than that she was 
twice married, and had children by both husbands. 
Winwaloe was educated by S. Budoc, and founded 
Landevenec in Finisterre. At one time, fired with 
enthusiasm at what he had heard of the achievements 
of S. Patrick in Ireland, he desired to go there, but 
was advised to remain and devote himself to the 
education of his own people. He accordingly gave 
up his life to ministering to the spiritual necessities 
of the Britons who came to Armorica, either as a 
place for expansion, finding Britain too strait for 
them, or driven there by dynastic revolutions. 

Whether Winwaloe ever came into Devon and 
Cornwall we are not told in his Life, but it is not 
improbable, as he was closely related to the reigning 
princes. 



MASTER JOHN SCHORNE 341 

His biographer gives us a somewhat minute 
account of his personal appearance and habits. He 
was of a moderate height, with a bright, smiling 
countenance ; he was very patient with the perverse, 
and gentle in his dealings with all men. He was 
usually clothed in a goat's skin. He never seated 
himself in church, but always stood or knelt. 

He died about 532. In Portlemouth Church, which 
has been barbarously " restored," he is represented on 
the screen holding the church in his hand. He is the 
third figure from the north. The first is partly effaced ; 
the second is probably his sister, Creirwy ; the sixth 
is Sir John Schorne, a Buckinghamshire rector, who 
died in 1308, and was supposed to have conjured the 
devil into a boot. He was venerated greatly as a 
patron against ague and the gout. There is a jingle 
relative to him : — 

" To Maister John Schorne, that blessed man born, 
For the ague to him we apply, 
Which judgeth with a bote ; I beshrew his heart's rote 
That will trust him, and it be I." 

His shrine was at North Marston in Bucks, and 
was a great resort up to the time of the Reformation. 
At one time the monks of Windsor contrived to get 
his body removed to their church, but though they 
advertised him well he did not " take on " in that 
quarter, and they returned the body to North 
Marston. There are representations of him on the 
screens of Wolborough and Alphington, and one 
or two in Norfolk. The screen at Portlemouth is 
of a richer and better design than is general in the 
county. In the " restoration " of the church the 



342 KINGSBRIDGE 

level of the chancel has been raised to an excessive 
height, so as to give a ludicrous appearance to those 
occupying the stalls. But altogether the restoration 
has been a piece of wanton barbarity. The carving 
of the screen is of a high quality. At South Huish 
was another beautiful little screen. This has been 
saved from the hand of desecration by being removed 
to the Chapel of Bowringslea, a grand old Tudor 
mansion that has been carefully and conscientiously 
restored by Mr. Ilbert, the proprietor. 

At South Pool is a screen with arabesques on it, 
well restored ; also an Easter sepulchre. 

Stokenham Church stands up boldly above a spring 
that gushes forth and forms a pool below the church- 
yard wall. This, there can be little doubt, must have 
at one time been regarded as a holy well. The 
church within is stately, and contains a good screen 
with paintings of saints on it, and a stone pulpit 
absurdly painted with Freemason symbols. What 
stained glass there is, is mediocre. Sherford, attached 
as a benefice to Stokenham, has another good screen, 
with apostles painted on it. Slapton has a very 
fine screen, but without paintings. The church was 
originally attached to a college founded in 1350 by 
Sir Guy de Brian, standard-bearer to Edward III.; 
the gate tower alone remains. 

Some fine rocky headlands and pleasant coves 
are to be visited, notably Bolt Head and Bolt Tail, 
and Prawle Point, with the sweet nooks where the 
brooks descend to the sea, or the cliffs give way 
to form a sunny, sleepy lap, lined with sand. At 
Bolt Tail is a prehistoric cliff castle. At Portle- 



OLDAPORT 343 

mouth may be traced the entrenchments cast up 
by the Parliamentarians in the siege of Salcombe 
Castle. 

The river Avon, that runs down from Dartmoor, is 
followed by the branch line of the Great Western 
Railway to Kingsbridge. A station is at Gara 
Bridge {Garw, Celtic for rough). The river passes 
under Loddiswell (Lady's Well), and then, unable 
to reach the Kingsbridge estuary on account of an 
intervening hill 370 feet high, turns sulkily to 
the right and enters Bigbury Bay far away to the 
west. Clearly Kingsbridge Harbour was made to 
receive it, but the river, like the life of many a 
man, has taken a twist and gone astray. But 
where the river went not, there goes the train by 
a tunnel. 

The Avon enters the sea under Thirlstone, a 
parish that takes its name from a rock that has 
been " thirled " or drilled by the waves, on the beach. 
The church contains a few fragments of the screen 
worked up to form an altar. 

An interesting expedition may be made from 
Kingsbridge to the mouth of the Erme. Above 
where the river debouches into the sea is Oldaport, 
the remains, supposed to be Roman, of a harbour 
commanded by two towers. One of the latter has 
of late years been destroyed. 

The ancient port occupying two creeks remains 
silted up. There is absolutely no record of its 
having been used in mediaeval times, and this leads 
to the supposition that it is considerably earlier. It 
is a very interesting relic ; but the two towers have 



344 kiNGSBRIDGE 

been destroyed, and all that remains is a wall that 
cut off the spit of land, and a deep moat. 

Modbury, a little market town, was a great seat 
of the Champernowne family. It has always been 
a musical centre. In the reign of Henry VIII. Sir 
Philip Champernowne, of Modbury, went up to 
Windsor, taking with him his company of musicians 
on rote and tabor and psaltery and dulcimer, and 
all kinds of music, and they performed before King 
Henry, to that huge monarch's huge content. So 
pleased was he with their "consort of fine musicke," 
that he bade Sir Philip remain with his company 
at Windsor, to play to him whenever the evil spirit 
was on him ; but forgot to say that this was to be 
at royal charges. The entertaining of his band of 
musicians at court by Sir Philip during many 
months proved so great an expense that when he re- 
turned to Modbury he was a wiser and a much 
poorer man, and had to sell a manor or two to 
meet his liabilities. 

In 1558 good Queen Bess mounted her father's 
throne ; and one day bethought her of the Modbury 
orchestra. So with her royal hand she wrote down 
to Henry Champernowne, grandson of Sir Philip, to 
bid him bring up to court his ''consort of fine 
musicke," for that she desired greatly to hear it. 

Henry was tactless, and he replied that the visit 
to Windsor previously had cost his grandfather two 
of his best manors, and that he really could not 
afford it. Queen Bess was highly incensed, and 
found occasion against Henry Champernowne to 
mulct him of four or five fine manors, as a lesson 



BIGBURY 345 

to him not to return such an answer to a royal 
mistress again. This marked the beginning of the 
decline of the Champernowne family at Modbury. 
The manor passed from them in 1700. But al- 
though the Champernownes are gone, the band is 
still there. It has never ceased to renew itself, and 
Modbury prides itself as of old on its "consort of 
fine musicke." 

Bigbury takes its name from some great camp or 
bury that has disappeared under the plough. In 
the church is a very fine carved oak pulpit, like 
that of Holne, given by Bishop Oldham to Ash- 
burton Church in or about 15 10. At the same time 
he presented an owl as lectern to Ashburton Church, 
the owl being his badge. In 1777 the wiseacres of 
Ashburton sold pulpit and owl to Bigbury for eleven 
guineas. When the Bigbury folk saw that they had 
got an owl instead of an eagle, they were disgusted, 
sawed off the head and sent it to Plymouth, with 
an order for an eagle's head of the same dimensions. 
Accordingly, now the lessons are read in the church 
from a lectern that has an owl's body with an eagle's 
head. But really — as in the puzzle pictures — one is 
disposed to ask, " Where is the owl ? " and to look 
for it first among the Ashburton folk who sold their 
bird, and secondly among the Bigbury folk who 
objected because he was an owl. There are some 
brasses in the church to the Burton family, into 
which married the De Bigburys. 

At S. Anne's there are an old chapel and a holy 
well. S. Anne did not come into fashion as a saint 
till the fifteenth century, and there are no early 



346 KINGSBRIDGE 

representations of her, or dedications to her. But 
Anne was the mother of the gods among the Celts, 
and the name was given to several notable women, 
as the mother of S. Samson, and the daughter of 
Vortimer, king of the Britons, mother of S. Wenn, 
who married Solomon, king of the Dumnonii ; and 
a suppressed cult of the old goddess went on under 
the plea of being directed to these historic women, 
till the great explosion of devotion to Anne, mother 
of the Blessed Virgin — known to us only through 
the apocryphal gospels. 

Ane or Anne was the mythical mother of the Tuatha 
de Danan, the race found in our peninsula, in Scotland 
from the Clyde to the Firth of Forth, and throughout 
Ireland, called by the classic writers Dumnonii. 
They were subdued in Ireland by the Gaels or Scots. 
Undoubtedly throughout Devon and Cornwall there 
must have been a cult of the great ancestress. She 
has given her name to the Paps of Ane in Kerry 
and to S. Anne's (Agnes') Head in Cornwall, and 
as surely the holy wells now attributed to S. Anne 
were formerly regarded as sacred fountains of the 
great mother of the race, whose first fathers were 
gods. 

There is a rock at sea, reached at low tide, called 
Borough Island, on which is a little inn. It was 
formerly, judging by the name, a cliff fortress. 

Ringmore, the adjoining parish to Bigbury, has 
a church and village nestling into a pleasant, wooded 
combe. The church has a small spire, and the base- 
ment serves as a porch. Anent this tower is a tale. 

During the civil wars, a Mr. Lane was rector, 



AVETON GIFFORD 347 

as also incumbent of the adjoining parish of Aveton 
Gifford. He mustered the able-bodied men of his 
parish, drilled them, obtained some cannon, and 
formed a battery manned by his fellows, to com- 
mand the bridge below Loddiswell, by which Parlia- 
mentary troops were marching to the siege of Sal- 
combe Castle, and caused them such annoyance that 
during the siege of Plymouth by the Parliamentary 
forces, several boats full of armed men were de- 
spatched from Plymouth to capture and shoot the 
sturdy rector. Forewarned, Mr. Lane took refuge 
in a small chamber, provided with a fireplace, 
in the tower of the church, and there he remained 
in concealment for three months, secretly nourished 
by his parishioners. His most painful experi- 
ence at the time was on the Sundays, when the 
minister intruded by the Parliament harangued from 
the pulpit in terms audible in his secret chamber. 
Then Mr. Lane could hardly contain himself from 
bursting forth to refute his heresies and denounce 
his disloyalty. 

The soldiers are said to have landed at Ayrmer 
Cove and proceeded to the rectory, which they 
thoroughly ransacked, but although they searched 
the neighbourhood, they were unable to find the man 
they were sent to capture. 

The old historic parsonage has been demolished, 
and its site is marked by a walled garden, but the 
secret chamber in the tower remains. 

At Aveton Gifford is a fine screen, carefully re- 
stored. Walter de Stapledon was rector of this parish, 
and was raised thence to be Bishop of Exeter in 



348 KINGSBRIDGE 

1307, and in 13 14 he was the founder of Exeter 
College, Oxford. He was for several years High 
Treasurer to Edward II. His story is really worth 
giving in short. On the vacancy of the see, the king 
sent down con^^e d'elire on October 6th, 1307. The 
chapter sat. Of twenty-three canons fifteen chose 
Stapledon, three selected the Dean, three the Arch- 
deacon of Totnes, and two voted for the Dean of 
Wells. When the result of the counting was an- 
nounced, then another voting was proceeded with, 
and Stapledon was elected unanimously. 

The result was announced to the king and he gave 
his assent on December 6th. But meanwhile a 
troublesome fellow, Richard Plymstoke, Rector of 
Exminster, had sent an appeal to the Pope against 
nine of the canons, whom he pronounced to be dis- 
qualified for election, and one of these was Stapledon. 
Here was an unpleasant intervention, only too sure 
to be eagerly seized on by the Roman curia for the 
sake of extorting money. To make matters worse, 
the Pope had suspended the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, and he had gone to France, to Poitiers, to 
meet the Pope and solicit, and buy, his relief. On 
January i8th the Archbishop, who had been restored 
and empowered to investigate the complaint of 
Plymstoke, issued his commission ; and on March 
loth poor Stapledon wrote a bitter letter to the 
Cardinal, Thomas Joce, to complain of the condition 
of poverty into which he had been reduced. " It 
is hard on me ; at the present moment I am destitute 
even to nakedness." 

To make matters worse, the queen, Isabella, wrote 



THE DESPENSERS 349 

to him requiring him to find a prebendal stall and a 
revenue for her chaplain — a foreigner with an out- 
landish name — Jargono. He replied that he could 
not give a canonry to this stranger, and as to finding 
him an income, he said that he was overwhelmed 
with debt, on account of the intolerable burden of 
costs incurred by the appeal to Rome, and in pre- 
paring for his consecration. 

And it was not till October 13th, 1308, nearly a 
year after his election, that he was consecrated. His 
registers, carefully preserved at Exeter, prove him 
to have been a hard-working, high-principled, and 
altogether estimable prelate. He it was who erected 
that masterpiece of woodwork, the bishop's throne, 
in Exeter Cathedral. 

Stapledon was one of the foremost statesmen of 
his day, and he was the trusted friend and adviser of 
King Edward II. Hence his frequent and prolonged 
sojourns in the Metropolis, and his occasional absences 
from England on missions of importance. 

In 1323 the troubles with the Despensers, the 
king's favourites, began. 

Charles IV., king of France, seized the Agenois 
and threatened Guienne. Edward sent his queen, 
Isabella, to Paris to negotiate with her brother. 
The treaty which she made was so humiliating for 
England that the king's council refused to discuss 
it. Another suggestion was then made from the 
French court, that if Edward would bestow Guienne 
on his eldest son, the king himself would not be 
required to do homage to the Crown of France. 
The Despensers urged Edward to accept this. The 



350 KINGSBRIDGE 

queen now refused to return to England ; she had 
made a favourite and paramour of Lord Mortimer, 
and, out of spite against the king, favoured the 
Lancastrian party. Charles IV. was at last obliged 
to send her out of his dominions. She retired to 
the court of Hainault, where, under the direction 
of Mortimer, she prepared for the invasion of 
England. At the close of 1326 Isabella landed at 
Orwell in Suffolk, with a small but well-appointed 
army of Hainaulters and exiles. The Lancastrians 
immediately hastened to her standard. It was 
generally supposed that her object was simply the 
removal of the Despensers. After a vain attempt 
to rouse the Londoners in his cause, Edward fled 
with the two Despensers to the Welsh marches. 

The king's flight and the successful advance of 
the queen's forces towards London encouraged the 
citizens to break out into open rebellion against 
the Government. Before leaving, Edward had made 
Stapledon guardian of the city. Walsingham, in 
his History, says : — 

"Continuing their rage, the citizens made a rush for 
the house of the Bishop of Exeter, and, setting fire to the 
gates, quickly forced an entrance. Not finding the bishop 
they carried off his jewels, plate, and furniture. It 
happened, however, that in an evil hour the bishop re- 
turned from the country, who, although he had been 
forewarned, felt no manner of dread of the citizens. So 
he rode on with all boldness, till he reached the north 
door of St. Paul's, where he was forthwith seized by the 
raging people, who struck at and wounded him, and 
finally, having dragged him from his horse, hurried him 
away to the place of execution. Now the bishop wore a 



FISHING 351 

kind of armour, which we commonly calle aketone ; and 
having stripped him of that, and of all his other garments, 
they cut off his head. Two others, members of his house- 
hold, suffered the same fate. Having perpetrated this 
sacrilegious deed, they fixed the bishop's head on a 
stake. As to the corpse, they flung it into a small pit 
in a disused cemetery." 

Another chronicler says : — 

" The naked body, with only a rag given by charity of a 
woman, was laid on a spot called le lawks chirche^ and, 
without any grave, lay there, with those of his two 
esquires." 

"Those," says Dr. Oliver, "who attend to the springs 
and principles of actions must award the tribute of praise 
and admiration to this high-minded bishop and minister ; 
they will appreciate his zeal and energy to sustain the 
declining fortunes of his royal master, and venerate him 
for his disregard of self, and for his incorruptible honour 
and loyalty under every discouragement." 

His body was finally brought to Exeter, where 
it lies in the Cathedral under a beautiful canopied 
tomb in the north-east bay of the choir, close to 
the high altar. 

And now, one word to the angler. 

What streams these are that flow through the 
South Hams ! What pools under deep banks, in 
which the trout lurk ! To him who can obtain 
permission to fish the Erme, the Avon, can be 
assured days to be never forgotten, of excellent 
sport in lovely scenery. 



CHAPTER XX. 

PLYMOUTH 

Plymouth Sound — The river Plym — Its real name — Sutton — Plympton 
— A cradle of naval adventure — The Hawkins family — Sir John 
Hawkins — Sir Francis Drake — " Singeing the King of Spain's 
beard " — The invincible Armada — Song of — Statue of Drake — The 
Eddystone — Its lighthouses — The neighbourhood of Plymouth — 
Hamoaze — The Lynher — S. Germans — Cawsand Bay — Smuggling 
— Lady's Rock — Millbrook — Landrake — S. Indract — Sir Joshua 
Reynolds — Dewerstone — Peacock Bridge — Childe the Hunter. 



W 



HEN a sailor heard the song sung, to which 
this is the refrain : — 



" O dear Plymouth town ! and O blue Plymouth Sound, 
O where is your equal on earth to be found ? " 

he said, "Them's my opinions, to the turn of a 
hair." 

About Plymouth town I am not so confident, but 
as to the Sound it is not easily surpassed. The Bay 
of Naples has Vesuvius, and above an Italian sky, 
but lacks the wealth of verdure of Mount Edgcumbe, 
and has none of those wondrous inlets that make of 
Plymouth Sound a figure of a watery hand displayed, 
and of the Three Towns a problem in topography 
which it requires long experience to solve. 

The name of the place is a misnomer. 

Plym is not the name of the river which has its 

352 



RIVER PLYM 353 

mouth where the town squats. Plym is the contrac- 
tion for Pen-lynn, the head of the lake, and was given 
originally to Plympton, where are the remains of a 
castle, and where are still to be seen the iron rings to 
which vessels were moored. But just as the Taw-ford 
{ridcT) has contributed a name to the river Torridge, 
above the ford, so has Pen-lynn sent its name down 
the stream and given it to Plymouth. Pelynt in 
Cornwall is likewise a Pen-lynn. 

What the original name of the river was is doubt- 
ful. Higher up, where it comes rioting down from 
the moor, above the Dewerstone is Cadover Bridge, 
not the bridge over the Cad, but Cadworthy Bridge. 
Perhaps the river was the Cad, so called from caedy 
contracted, shut within banks, very suitable to a river 
emerging from a ravine. A witty friend referring 
to " the brawling Cad," the epithet applied to it by 
the poet Carrington, said that it was not till the 
institution of chars-a-bancs and early-closing days in 
Plymouth that he ever saw "the brawling cad" upon 
Dartmoor ; since then he has seen a great deal too 
much of the article. 

Plymouth as a town is comparatively modern. 
When Domesday was compiled nothing was known 
of it, but there was a Sutton — South Town — near 
the pool, which eventually became the port of old 
Plymouth. 

It first acquired some consequence when the 
Valletorts had a house near where is now the 
church of S. Andrew. 

There was, however, a lis or enclosed residence 
of a chief, if we may accept the Domesday manor 
2 A 



354 PLYMOUTH 

of Lisistone * as thence derived. And there have 
been early reHcs turned up occasionally. But no 
real consequence accrued to the place till the 
Valletorts set up house there in the reign of 
Henry I. 

The old couplet, applied with variations to so 
many places in the kingdom, and locally running : 

" Plympton was a borough town 
When Plymouth was a vuzzy down," 

was true enough. Plympton at the time of the 
Conquest was head of the district, and there were 
then canons there in the monastery, which dates 
back at least to the reign of Edgar, probably to 
a much earlier period. The priors of Plympton got 
a grant of land in Sutton, which they held as lords 
of the manor till 1439. ^^ ^^^ not till the end of 
the thirteenth century that the name of Plymouth 
came to knowledge and the place began to acquire 
consequence. But it was not till the days of good 
Queen Bess that the place became one of prime 
importance. 

*' In the latter half of the sixteenth century," says Mr. 
Worth, " Devonshire was the foremost county in England, 
and Plymouth its foremost town. Elizabeth called the men 
of Devonshire her right hand, and so far carried her liking 
for matters Devonian, that one of the earliest passports of 
Raleigh to her favour was the fact that he talked the 
broadest dialect of the shire, and never abandoned it for 
the affected speech current at court." t 

* Now Lipson. 

t Worth (R. N.), History of Plymouth, 1890, p. 39. I shall quote 
much from this admirable work, not only full of information, but 
written in a charming style. 




GRAMMAU SCHOOL 




IN ?LY.MlMO.N 



HAWKINS 355 

The importance of Plymouth as a starting-point 
for discovery, and as the cradle of our maritime 
power, must never be forgotten. 

Old Carew says : — 

" Here have the troops of adventurers made their rendez- 
vous for attempting new discoveries or inhabitances, as 
Thomas Stukeleigh for Florida, Sir Humfrey Gilbert 
for Newfoundland, Sir Richard Grenville for Virginia, Sir 
Martin Frobisher and Master Davies for the North-West 
Passage, Sir Walter Raleigh for Guiana." 

It is indeed no exaggeration to say that in the 
reign of Elizabeth Plymouth had become the fore- 
most port in England. 

" If any person desired to see her English worthies, 
Plymouth was the likeliest place to seek them. All were 
in some fashion associated with the old town. These were 
days when men were indifferent whether they fought upon 
land or water, when the fact that a man was a good general 
was considered the best of all reasons why he should be 
a good admiral likewise. ' Per mare per terrain ' was the 
motto of Elizabeth's true-born Englishmen, and familiar 
and dear to them was Plymouth, with its narrow streets, 
its dwarfish quays, its broad waters, and its glorious Hoe." 

The roll of Plymouth's naval heroes begins with 
the Hawkins family, and one looks in vain in modern 
Plymouth for some statue to commemorate the most 
illustrious of her sons. 

These Hawkinses were a remarkable race. "Gentle- 
men," as Prince says, "of worshipful extraction for 
several descents," they were made more worshipful 
by their deeds. 



356 PLYMOUTH 

" For three generations in succession they were the 
master-spirits of Plymouth in its most illustrious days ; 
its leading merchants, its bravest sailors, serving oft and 
well in the civic chair and the Commons House of Parlia- 
ment. For three generations they were in the van of 
English seamanship, founders of England's commerce in 
South, West, and East, stout in fight, of quenchless spirit 
in adventure — a family of merchant statesmen and heroes 
to whom our country affords no parallel."* 

The early voyages of Sir John Hawkins were 
to the Canary Isles. In 1562 he made his first 
expedition in search of negroes to sell in Hispa- 
niola, so that he was not squeamish in the matter 
of the trade in human flesh. But in 1567 he \ 

made an expedition ever memorable, for his were 
the first English keels to furrow that hitherto un- 
known sea, the Bay of Mexico. He had with him 
a fleet of six ships, two of which were royal vessels, 
the rest were his own, and one of these, the Judith, 
was commanded by his kinsman, Francis Drake. 
Whilst in the port of S. Juan de Ulloa Hawkins 
was treacherously assailed, and lost all the vessels, 
with the exception of two, of which one was the 
Judith. When his brother William heard of the 
disaster he begged Elizabeth to allow him to make 
reprisals on his own account ; and on the return 
of John " it may fairly be said that Plymouth de- 
clared war against Spain. Hawkins and Drake 
thereafter never missed a chance of making good 
their losses. The treachery of San Juan de Ulloa 
was the moving cause of the series of harassments 

* Worth, 



HAWKINS 357 

which culminated in the destruction of the Armada. 
For every EngHsh Hfe then lost, for every pound 
of English treasure then taken, Spain paid a hundred 
and a thousand fold." 

In the following year, at Rio de la Flacho, whilst 
getting in supplies, he was attacked by Michael de 
Castiliano with a thousand men. Hawkins had but 
two hundred under his command ; however, he 
drove the Spaniards back, entered the town, and 
carried off the ensign, for which, on his return, he 
was granted an addition to his arms — on a canton, 
gold, an escalop between two palmers' staves, sable. 

In 1573 Hawkins was chosen by the queen "as 
the fittest person in her dominions to manage her 
naval affairs," and for twenty-one years served as 
Controller of the Navy. It was through his wise 
provision, by his resolution, in spite of the niggard- 
liness wherewith Elizabeth doled out money, that 
" when the moment of trial came," says Froude, '' he 
sent her ships to sea in such condition — hull, rigging, 
spars, and running rope — that they had no match in 
the world." 

About the Armada presently. 

In 1595 Hawkins and Drake were together sent 
to the West Indies in command of an expedition. 
But they could not agree. Hawkins wanted at 
once to sail for America, Drake to hover about 
the Canaries to intercept Spanish galleons. The 
disagreement greatly irritated old Sir John, un- 
accustomed to have his will opposed. Then he 
learned that one of his vessels, named the Francis, 
had been taken by the Spaniards. Grief at this, 



358 PLYMOUTH 

and annoyance caused by the double command, 
brought on a fever, and he died at sea, November 
15th, 1595. 

Old Prince says, in drawing a parallel between 
him and Drake, " In their deaths they were not 
divided, either in respect of the cause thereof, for 
they died both heart-broken ; the one, for that being 
in joint commission with the other, his advice and 
counsel was neglected ; the other, for the ill success 
with which his last voyage was attended. Alike 
they were also in their deaths ; as to the place, for 
they both died on the sea ; as to the time, they 
both expired in the same voyage, the one a little 
before the other, about the interspace of a few 
months ; and lastly, as to their funerals, for they 
were both buried in the ocean, over which they had 
both so often rid in triumph." 

The elder brother of Sir John, William, the 
patriarch of the port, was Mayor of Plymouth in 
the Armada year. William's son, Sir Richard 
Hawkins, sailed in 1593 from Plymouth with five 
vessels to the South Seas, and was taken by the 
Spaniards. From various causes the fleet was re- 
duced to the single vessel the Dainty, which he 
himself commanded. Manned by seventy-five men 
only, she was assailed by eight Spanish vessels 
with crews of 1300. Nevertheless, like Sir Richard 
Grenville, of the Revenge, he showed lusty fight, 
which was kept up for three days, and he did not 
surrender till he had himself been wounded six 
times, and then only when he had secured honourable 
terms, which the false scoundrels broke, by sending 



DRAKE 359 

their prisoners to Spain, instead of allowing them, 
as was undertaken, to return to England. 

He is one of those to whom the ballad is supposed 
to relate : — 

" Would you hear of a Spanish lady, 
How she wooed an English man ?" 

But it is also told of a member of the Popham 
family, by whom the lady's picture, and her chain 
and bracelets, mentioned in the ballad, were pre- 
served. 

Next to the Hawkins heroes we have Drake, a 
Plymothian by adoption, the son of a yeoman near 
Tavistock. Camden calls him, "without dispute 
the greatest captain of the age." 

Many strange stories are told of him, as that he 
brought water to Plymouth by pronouncing an in- 
cantation over a spring on Dartmoor, and then 
riding direct to the seaport, whereupon the water 
followed him, docile as a dog. When he was build- 
ing Buckland Abbey, every night the devils carried 
away the stones. Drake got up into a tree and 
watched. When he saw the devils at work he 
crowed like a cock. " Dawn coming ? " exclaimed 
a devil. " And there comes the sun ! " cried out 
another, for Drake had lit his pipe ; and away they 
scampered. 

Another story is, that he left his wife at Lynton, and 
was away for so long that she believed him dead, 
and was about to be married again, when Sir 
Francis, who was in the Bristol Channel, fired a 
cannon-ball, that flew in at the church window and 
fell between her and her intended " second." " None 



36o PLYMOUTH 

could have done that but Sir Francis," said the lady 
with a sigh, and so the cerenaony was abruptly 
broken off. 

Drake was brought up at sea under Hawkins, 
and accompanied him on the voyage of 1567, which 
ended so disastrously. His first independent expedi- 
tion was in 1572, when he made his memorable 
expedition to Nombre de Dios. 

Four years later Drake started on his voyage of 
circumnavigation, with five vessels. Disaster and 
disaffection broke up the little fleet, but he perse- 
vered, and on September 26th, 1580, brought the 
Pelican safely back to Plymouth again ; the first 
English captain who had sailed round the world. 
Plymouth turned out to welcome him, headed by 
the Mayor, and S. Andrew's bells rang a merry peal. 

The Pelican was crammed with treasure. Drake 
went to the Thames in her, and was received 
graciously by the queen. " His ship," says Camden, 
"she caused to be drawn up in a little creek near 
Deptford, as a monument of his so lucky sailing 
round the world. And having, as it were, con- 
secrated it as a memorial with great ceremony, she 
was banqueted in it, and conferred on Drake the 
honour of knighthood." 

Singularly enough the Spanish Ambassador com- 
plained, on the part of his Government, of Drake 
having ventured into the Pacific ; but the queen 
spiritedly replied that she did not acknowledge 
grants of strange lands, much less of foreign seas 
made by the Pope, and that, sail where they might, 
her good mariners should enjoy her countenance, 



DRAKE 361 

In 1585 Drake, with a fleet of twenty-five sail, 
made another expedition to the West Indies ; and 
his next exploit, performed in 1587, was what he 
called "singeing the King of Spain's beard." With 
his fleet he ravaged the coast of Spain, and delayed 
the sailing of the Armada for a year. The Invin- 
cible Armada, as the Spaniards designated it in 
their pride, set sail from the Tagus on May 29th. 
It consisted of 130 vessels of all sizes, mounting 
2431 guns, and carrying, in addition to the mariners, 
nearly 20,000 land troops, among whom were 2000 
volunteers of the noblest families in Spain. But 
the fleet was overtaken by a storm off Corufia, and 
four large ships foundered at sea ; on hearing which, 
that stingy old cat, Elizabeth, at once ordered the 
admiral. Lord Howard of Effingham, to lay up four 
of his largest vessels, and discharge their crews. 
The admiral had the spirit to disobey, saying that 
rather than do that he would maintain the crews at 
his own cost. On July 19th, one named Fleming, 
a Scottish privateer, sailed into Plymouth, with in- 
telligence that he had seen the Spanish fleet off the 
Lizard. At the moment most of the captains and 
officers were on shore playing bowls on the Hoe. 
There was instant bustle, and a call to man the 
boats. "There is time enough," said Drake, "to 
play the game out first, and thrash the Spaniards 
afterwards." 

Unfortunately the wind was from the south, but 

the captains contrived to warp out their ships. On 

the following day, being Saturday, the 20th of July, 

they got a full sight of the Armada standing 

2 A 2 



362 PLYMOUTH 

majestically on, the vessels drawn up in the form of 
a crescent, which, from horn to horn, measured some 
seven miles. 

Their great height and bulk, though imposing 
to the unskilled, gave confidence to the English 
seamen, who reckoned at once upon having the 
advantage in tacking and manoeuvring their lighter 
craft. The miserable parsimony of Elizabeth, who 
did not allow a sufficiency of ammunition to the 
fleet, interfered sadly with the proceedings of the 
defenders of the English shores. But the story of 
the Armada belongs to general English history, and 
need not be detailed here. It is a story, read it often 
as we may, that makes the blood dance in one's 
veins. 

It has served as the topic of many lines. I will 
give some not usually quoted, by John O'Keefe, 
which were set to music by Dr. Arnold : — 

" In May fifteen hundred and eighty-eight, 

Cries PhiHp, ' The EngHsh I '11 humble ; 
I Ve taken it into my Majesty's pate, 

And the lion, Oh ! down he shall tumble. 
The lords of the sea ! ' Then his sceptre he shook ; 

' I '11 prove it all arrant bravado. 
By Neptune ! I '11 sweep 'em all into a nook, 

With th' Invincible Spanish Armado.' 

" This fleet started out, and the winds they did blow ; 

Their guns made a terrible clatter. 
Our noble Queen Bess, 'cos her wanted to know, 

Quill'd her ruff, and cried, 'Pray what's the matter?' 
' They say, my good Queen,' replies Howard so stout, 

' The Spaniard has drawn his toledo. 
Odds bobbins ! he '11 thump us, and kick us about, 

With th' Invincible Spanish Armado.' 



THE HOE 363 

" The Lord Mayor of London, a very wise man, 

What to do in the case vastly wondered. 
Says the Queen, * Send in fifty good ships, if you can,' 

Says the Lord Mayor, ' I '11 send you a hundred ! ' 
Our fire ships soon struck every cannon all dumb, 

For the Dons ran to Ave and Credo ; 
Don Medina roars out, ' Sure the foul fiend is come. 

For th' Invincible Spanish Armado.' 

" On Effingham's squadron, tho' all in abreast. 

Like open-mouth'd curs they came bowling ; 
His sugar-plums finding they could not digest, 

Away they ran yelping and howling. 
When Britain's foe shall, all with envy agog, 

In our Channel make such a tornado, 
Huzza ! my brave boys ! we 're still lusty to flog 

An Invincible .... Armado." 

And here the dotted line will allow of Gallic, 
Russian, or German to be inserted. Of Spanish 
there need be no fear. Spain is played out. 

A fine bronze statue of Sir Francis by Boehm is 
on the Hoe, the traditional site of the bowling match, 
but it is only a replica of that at Tavistock, and lacks 
the fine bas-reliefs representing incidents in the life 
of Drake ; among others, the game of bowls, and his 
burial at sea. On the Hoe is also a ridiculous ter- 
centenary monument commemorative of the Armada, 
and the upper portion of Smeaton's Eddystone light- 
house. 

This dangerous reef had occasioned so many 
wrecks and such loss of life, that Mr. Henry Win- 
stanley, a gentleman of property in Essex, a self- 
taught mechanician, resolved to devote his attention 
and his money to the erection of a lighthouse upon the 
reef, called Eddystone probably because of the swirl of 



364 PLYMOUTH 

water about it. He commenced the erection in 1696, 
and completed it in four years. The structure was 
eminently picturesque, so much so that a local artist 
at Launceston thought he could not do better than 
make a painting of it to decorate a house there then 
in construction (Dockacre), and set it up as a portion 
of the chimney-piece. The edifice certainly was not 
calculated to withstand such seas as roll in the 
Channel, but Winstanley knew only that second- 
hand wash which flows over miles of mud on the 
Essex coast, which it submerges, but above which 
it cannot heap itself into billows. 

Winstanley had implicit confidence in his work, 
and frequently expressed the wish that he might be 
in his lighthouse when tested by a severe storm from 
the west. He had his desire. One morning in 
November, 1703, he left the Barbican to superintend 
repairs. An old seaman standing there warned him 
that dirty weather was coming on. Nevertheless, 
strong in his confidence, he went. That night, whilst 
he remained at the lighthouse, a hurricane sprang up, 
and when morning broke no lighthouse was visible ; 
the erection and its occupants had been swept away. 
Three years elapsed before another attempt was 
made to rear a beacon. At length a silk mercer 
of London, named Rudyard, undertook the work. 
He determined to imitate as closely as might be the 
trunk of a Scotch pine, and to give to wind and wave 
as little surface as possible on which to take effect. 
Winstanley's edifice had been polygonal ; Rudyard's 
was to be circular. Commenced in 1706 and com- 
pleted in 1709, entirely of timber, the shaft weathered 



EDDYSTONE LIGHTHOUSE 365 

the storms of nearly fifty years in safety, and might 
have defied them longer but that it was built of 
combustible materials. It caught fire on the 2nd 
December, 1755. The three keepers in it did their 
utmost to extinguish the flames, but their efforts were 
ineffectual. The lead wherewith it was roofed ran 
off in molten streams, and the men had to take 
refuge in a hole of the rock. When they were 
rescued one of the men went raving mad, broke 
away, and was never seen again. Another solemnly 
averred that some of the molten lead, as he stood 
looking up agape at the fire, had run down his throat 
as it spouted from the roof. He died within twelve 
days, and actually lodged within his stomach was 
found a mass of lead weighing nearly eight ounces. 
How he had lived so long was a marvel. 

Twelve months were not suffered to pass before 
a third lighthouse was commenced — that of Smeaton. 
This was of stone, dovetailed together. It was com- 
menced in June, 1757, and completed by October, 
1759. This lighthouse might have lasted to the 
present, had it not been that the rocky foundation 
began to yield under the incessant beat of the 
waves. 

This necessitated a fourth, from the designs of Mr. 
(now Sir J.) Douglass, which was begun in 1879 and 
completed in 1882. The total height is 148 feet. 

The Breakwater was begun in 1812, but was not 
completed till 1841. 

The neighbourhood of Plymouth abounds in 
objects of interest and scenes of great beauty. The 
Hamoaze, the estuary of the Tamar and Tavy com- 



o 



66 PLYMOUTH 



bined, is a noble sheet of water. The name {am-uisge\ 
Round about the water, describes it as an almost land- 
locked tract of glittering tide and effluent rivers, 
with woods and hills sloping down to the surface. 
Mount Edgcumbe, with its sub-tropical shrubs and 
trees, shows how warm the air is even in winter, 
in spots where not exposed to the sea breeze. 

Up the creek of the Lynher {Lyn-hir, the long 
creek) boats pass to S. Germans, where is a noble 
church, on the site of a pre-Saxon monastery founded 
by S. Germanus of Auxerre. The little disfranchised 
borough contains many objects to engage the artist's 
pencil, notably the eminently picturesque alms- 
houses. 

The noble church has been very badly " restored." 
The Norman work is fine. 

Cawsand, with its bay, makes a pleasant excursion. 
This was at one time a great nest for smugglers. 
An old woman named Borlase had a cottage with 
a window looking towards Plymouth, and she kept 
her eye on the water. When a preventive boat was 
visible she went down the street giving information. 
There was another old woman, only lately deceased, 
who went by the name of Granny Grylls. When a 
young woman she was wont to walk to the beach 
and back carrying a baby that was never heard to 
wail. 

One day a customs officer said to her, " Well, Mrs. 
Grylls, that baby of yours is very quiet." 

" Quiet her may be," answered she, " but I reckon 
her's got a deal o' sperit in her." 

And so she had, for the baby was no other than 



EXCURSIONS 367 

a jar of brandy. She was wont by this means to 
remove " run " liquor from its cache in the sand. A 
man named Trist had been a notorious smuggler. 
At last he was caught and given over to the press- 
gang to be sent on board a man-of-war. Trist bore 
his capture quietly enough, but as the vessel lay off 
Cawsand he suddenly slipped overboard and made for 
a boat that was at anchor, shipped that, and hoisted 
sail. His Majesty's vessel at once lowered a boat 
and made in pursuit. After a hard row the sailing 
smack was come up with and found to be empty. 
Trist had gone overboard again and swum to a Caw- 
sand fishing-smack, where he lay hid for some days. 
As there was quite a fleet of these boats on the 
water, the men in His Majesty's service did not 
know which to search. So Trist got off and was 
never secured again. 

Near Cawsand is a rock with a white sparry forma- 
tion on it, like the figure of a woman. This is called 
Lady's Rock, and the fishermen on returning always 
cast an offering of a few mackerels or herrings to the 
ledge before the figure. 

A curious custom on May Day exists at Millbrook, 
once a rotten borough, of the boatmen carrying a 
dressed ship about the streets with music. 

An excursion up the Tamar may be made by 
steamer to the Weir Head. The river scenery is 
very fine, especially at the Morwell Rocks. On the 
way Cothele is passed, the ancient and unaltered 
mansion of the Edgcumbes, rich in carved wood, 
tapestry, and ancient furniture. It is the most per- 
fect and characteristic mansion of the fifteenth 



368 PLYMOUTH 

century in Cornwall. Lower down the river is S. 
Dominic. 

Early in the eighth century Indract, with his sister 
Dominica, Irish pilgrims, and attendants arrived 
there, and settled on the Tamar. A little headland, 
Halton, marks a spot where Indract had a chapel 
and a holy well. The latter is in good condition ; 
the former is represented by an ivy-covered wall. 
However, the church of Landrake (Llan-Indract) was 
his main settlement, and his sister Dominica founded 
that now bearing her name. In the river Indract 
made a salmon weir and trapped fish for his party. 
But one of these was a thief and greedy, and carried 
off fish for his own consumption, regardless of his 
comrades. There were "ructions," and Indract packed 
his portmanteau and* started for Rome. Whether 
Dominica accompanied him is not stated, but it is 
probable that she would not care to be left alone in 
a strange land, though I am certain she would have 
met with nothing but kindly courtesy from Cornish- 
men. The party — all but the thief and those who 
were in the intrigue with him — reached Rome, and 
returning through Britain came as far as Skapwith, 
near Glastonbury, where a Saxon hanger-on upon 
King Ina's court, hearing that a party of travellers 
was at hand, basely went to their lodgings and 
murdered them at night in the hopes of getting 
loot. Ina, his master, who was then at Glastonbury, 
came to hear of what had been done, and he had the 
bodies moved to the abbey. Whether he scolded the 
man who murdered them, or even proceeded to 
punish him, we are not told. 



AWNS AND DENDLES 369 

Bere Ferrers has a fine church, with some old glass 
in it and a very singular font, that looks almost as 
if it had been constructed out of a still earlier capital. 
Bere Alston was once a borough, returning two 
members. 

On the east side of Plymouth is the interesting 
Plympton S. Mary, with a noble church ; Plympton 
S. Maurice, with a fine modern screen, and the 
remains of a castle. Here is the old grammar school 
where Sir Joshua Reynolds received his instruction, 
and here also is the house in which he was born. 
He gave his own portrait to the town hall of the little 
place — for it also was a borough, and, to the lasting 
disgrace of Plympton be it recorded, the municipality 
sold it. The old house of Boringdon has a fine 
hall. The house has twice been altered, and the last 
alterations are incongruous. One half of the house 
has been pulled down. Above it is a well-preserved 
camp. Ermington Church deserves a visit; it has been 
well restored. It has a bold post-Reformation screen. 
Holbeton has also been restored in excellent taste. 
On Revelstoke a vast amount of money has been 
lavished unsatisfactorily. Near Cornwood station is 
Fardell, an old mansion of Sir Walter Raleigh, with 
a chapel. 

The same station serves for the Awns and 
Dendles cascade, and for a visit to the Stall Moor 
with its long stone row, also the more than two-mile- 
long row, leading from the Staldon circle, and the 
old blowing -houses on the Yealm at Yealm Steps. 
There the old moulds for the tin lie among the ruins 
of two of these houses, one above the steps, the other 



^7o PLYMOUTH 



J 



below. A further excursion may be made into the 
Erme valley, with its numerous prehistoric remains, 
and to the blowing - house at the junction of the 
Hook Lake. This is comparatively late, as there is 
a wheel-pit. 

North of Plymouth interesting excursions may 
be made to the Dewerstone, perhaps the finest bit 
of rock scenery on Dartmoor, or rather at its edge, 
where the so-called Plym bursts forth from its 
moorland cradle. The summit of the Dewerstone 
has been fortified by a double line of walls. A 
walk thence up the river will take a visitor into 
some wild country. He will pass Legis Tor with 
its hut circles in very fair preservation, Ditsworthy 
Warren, and at Drizzlecombe, coming in from the 
north, he will see avenues of stones and menhirs and 
the Giant's Grave, a large cairn, and a well-preserved 
kistvaen. By the stream bed below is a blowing- 
house with its tin moulds. Shavercombe stream 
comes down on the right, and there may be found 
traces of the slate that overlay the granite, much 
altered by heat. From Trowlesworthy Warren a 
wall, fallen, extends, in connection with numerous 
hut circles, as far as the Yealm. For what purpose 
it was erected, unless it were a tribal boundary, it 
is impossible to discover. 

A visitor to the Dewerstone should not fail to 
descend through the wood to the Meavy river, and 
follow it down to Shaugh Bridge. 

An interesting house is Old Newnham, the ancient 
seat of the Strode family. 

Hard by is Peacock Bridge. Here a fight took 



EXCURSIONS 371 

place, according to tradition, between a Parker and 
a Strode, with their retainers, relative to a peacock, 
and Strode had his thumb cut off in the fray. 

Buckland Monachorum also is within reach, the 
church converted into a mansion. 

Meavy Church contains early and rude carving. 
Sheepstor stands above an artificial lake, the reservoir 
that supplies Plymouth with water. This occupies 
the site of an ancient lake, that had been filled 
with rubble brought down by the torrents from 
the moor. 

A delightful walk may be taken by branching 
from the Princetown road to Nosworthy Bridge, 
passing under Leather Tor and following Dean- 
combe, then ascending Combshead Tor to an 
interesting group of prehistoric remains, a cairn 
surrounded by a circle of stones, and a stone row 
leading to a chambered cairn. By continuing the 
line north-east Nun's or Siward's Cross will be 
reached in the midst of utter desolation. Far 
away east Is Childe's Tomb, a kistvaen. 

The story is that Childe, a hunter, lost himself 
on the moor. Snow came on, and he cut open his 
horse, and crept within the carcass to keep himself 
warm. But even this did not avail. 

So with his finger dipp'd in blood, 

He scrabbled on the stones : 
" This is my will, God it fulfil, 

And buried be my bones. 
Whoe'er he be that findeth me, 

And brings me to a grave, 
The lands that now to me belong 

In Plymstock he shall have." 



372 PLYMOUTH 

The story goes on to say that while the men 
of Plymstock were preparing to transport the body 
thither, the monks of Tavistock whipped it off, 
threw a bridge of planks, since called Guile Bridge, 
over the Tavy, and interred the hunter in their 
cemetery, thereby obtaining possession of his lands. 



END OF VOL I. 



PLYMOUTH 
WILLIAM BRENDON AND SOK 
PRINTERS 



•P''T- 






'^^^^ BOOK dQ£S mi 
CIRCULATE 








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