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THE name Musbury is from the Saxon "Maes-Barrow" or the
Big Hill (Membury or Mem-Barrow, a neighbouring village
with hill of lower elevation, means Little Hill;, Maidenhayne,
a hamlet in the parish, means the enclosure under the Big Hill. The
hill is now called Musbury Castle and is crowned with earthworks,
erected in almost pre-historic days.
The first Rector of whom there is any known record is Roger
de Hamtone, instituted June 27th, 1204. (The list of Rectors in the
porch does not include the above, which was found after the list was
compiled), and this proves that there was an earlier church than the
present one, which dates from the early 15th century ; but no trace
of the former building remains.
The present church consists of Nave with N. and S. Aisles,
Chancel and West Tower. The S. Aisle is continued Eastward
beyond the line of the Rood Screen (now demolished) forming a
side chapel. There is no trace in any part of the building of any
construction earlier than 1400. The Tower is of the low broad type,
of which Seaton is another example. Its date might be about 1430.
The West window is a later insertion, its three-centred arch and
debased tracery clearly marking a subsequent period. A peculiarity
exists in the West Doorway. The door is recessed so deeply in the
massive West Wall, which is 3 feet 8 inches thick, as to form a Porch.
This doorway has evidently been altered and is not in its original
form. Traces of a larger arched doorway may be seen above the
present one. In most churches, the West door of the Tower is near
the outer surface of the wall, the wall being recessed inside, with a
segmental arch under the West window, which allows the door to
open inwards. It may be that this porch-like arrangement at
4 \ j
Musbury is due to the elevated and exposed position of the Church.
The smallness of the belfry windows, which is unusual for this date,
may be accounted for in the same way.
The Chancel and the E. and W. windows of the South Aisle are
of modern construction. In 1865 the Chancel was rebuilt and
lengthened 8 feet, bringing it to its original length previous to
1798. The South Aisle was re-roofed in 1867, and the Drake Chapel
re-roofed in 1869. In 1875, when the Church was restored by
Pearson Hay ward of Exeter, the North Aisle was entirely re-built ;
and the North Arcade, the date of which seems to be about 1400,
was re-constructed, owing to its being out of the perpendicular, and
some of the stone-work being much decayed. A similar style of
of capital and moulding may be seen in Uplyme Church, in fact,
almost identical The old stone-work has evidently been re-dressed.
The doorway of the South Porch might be of the same date as the
North Arcade, but its height, in proportion to its width, and the
absence of deep bonding in the jambs, may mean that it was
tampered with when the porch was re-built ; or it may be that it is
a modern imitation. The sun-dial base and ball on the gable of the
Porch, and the South windows, are of the 17th century. The small
square window (now blocked) high up behind the Drake Monument,
is also of the 17th century. The outline of a larger pointed window
may be traced on the outside of this wall. This was probably rilled
in when the monument was moved from the centre of the Chapel,
and placed against the wall. The South Arcade is characteristic of
the Perpendicular period. It may have been constructed about 1480
or 1490. The Easternmost arch and pillar were built in 1875. as well
as half the next arch, a massive pier, containing a stairway to the
Rood-loft, having been then demolished. The roofs are all entirely
modern. The floor of the church is said to have been lowered about
There is a remarkable absence of carved stone-work, the
gargoyles of the Tower being the only examples.
The Font is modern.
The shallow moulding of the Tower arch, which runs continu-
ously from base to base, without impost, is characteristic of the 15th
century. The masonry of the older walls is very rough rubble-work.
The Tower contains a peal of six bells. Formerly there were
three only, but in the year 1785 these were re-cast and made into
five bells, to which a sixth was added recently to complete the peal.
ASHE HOUSE (SOUTH).
THE DRAKES OF ASHE.
The first family of whom we can find trace in any record as
living at Ashe Bouse is that of De Ashe, from wliom it was handed
down on the distaff side (by female descent) to Christiana daughter
•of John Billet, and by her marriage during the reign of Henry the
Fifth, about A D. L4L5, to John Drake of Exmouth, came into
possession of the Drake family, with whom it remained till 1793. In
1787 it was let for three years to Sir John Pole, Bart., who resided
there while Shute House was being built. In 1793 it was bought by
Mr. George Tucker, Solicitor, of Axminster. and sold at his
death in 1799 to Captain Wm. Payne, of the 53rd Regiment,
■who was badly wounded at Waterloo. There is a field called
Mount Drake on the Western slopes of Musbury Castle, in which
may still be seen traces of a mansion known as Mount Drake,
being the property of the same family of Drake from before the
time of William the Conqueror. There still exist various branches
■of this ancient family both in England and the United States.
These latter trace their descent through Thomas Drake, grand-
son of John Drake of Ashe, who emigrated from his home at
Colyton, Devon, to Weymouth, Mass., U.S. A , in about the year
1653. Some of these have recently visited Musbury in order to
see the home of their ancestors at Ashe, and the Drake Monument
in Musbury Church. The famous navigator and sea captain,
Sir Francis Drake, belonged probably to a collateral branch of the
above family but there is no evidence to show that he was nearly
related to them.
An ancient record states that on April 21st, 1387, permission
was granted to the owners of Ashe House by Brantyngham, Bishop
of Exeter, to erect a chapel at Ashe, which still exists, but is no
longer used as such. The farmhouse of Great Trill, situated on
the northern outskirts of the parish of Musbury, also belonged to
the Drakes of Ashe, and for a time was occupied by members of
The first Duke of Marlborough was born at Ashe House in 1650.
He, together with his sister Arabella and other members of the
family, were baptized in the private chapel. Their father was
Winston Churchill who married Elizabeth daughter of John Drake
and his wife Eleanor daughter of Lord Boteler, of Bramfield, Herts.
THE DRAKE MONUMENT.
The Drake Monument, which attracts many visitors during the
summer months from America as well as from all parts of England,
was erected in 1611, another Bay being added about 35 years later.
The figures represent : —
(l.j John Drake and his wife Amy, daughter of Roger
Grenville of Stow. This John Drake was High Sheriff
of Devon, and appointed Steward of the Monastery of
Newenham, between Musbury and Axminster, by its
(2.) Sir Barnard Drake, Kt., and his wife Gertrude, daughter
of Bartholemew Fortescue of Filleigh. This Sir Barnard
Drake, a Justice of the Peace, was knighted by Queen
Elizabeth for his gallant services as a sea captain,
flighting the Spaniards off Newfoundland. His last
exploit was to capture a Portugal ship which was
privateering in the English Channel. The seamen on
board were assigned at the Exeter Assizes. While
awaiting trial these unfortunate men contracted gaol
fever, a virulent form of typhus which proved fatal to
eleven of the Jury and three of the Justices, including
Sir Barnard Drake, who was taken to Crediton where
he died and was buried in April, 1587.
(3.) John Drake and his wife Dorothy, daughter of William
The Drake Monument was skilfully restored by Mr. Herbert
Read, Sculptor, of Exeter, in 1926. Mr. Louis Stoughton Drake, of
Boston, Mass., U.S.A., a direct descendant of the Drakes of Ashe,
undertook to bear the necessary expense when he came to Musbury
in the previous year and found the tomb in urgent need of repair.
During the restoration of the Monument a flat stone was noticed
lying on it, with five crosses one at either corner and in centre,
measuring twelve by six inches. It is evidently a Mensa, probably
of the 15th century ; this may have been the centre of an original
stone altar in this church, or a more likely theory is that it was the
altar top of the Chapel attached to Ashe House.
THE ALTAR PLATE.
The Altar Plate, consisting of a handsome silver Flagon, Chalice
and two Patens, was the gift of Sir William Drake, Bart., of Ashe, in
THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS.
The East window, which is not a good specimen of its kind,
is dedicated to the memory of William Farley Lethbridge, and
Susannah his wife. He was Nelson's Flag-Lieutenant on H.M.S.
Fondroyent, and later lost a leg during an action while serving on
H.M.S. Temeraire. Retiring, he bought and re-built Mountfield
House. Later he voyaged to India under the old East India Comp-
any, and dying on the way home, was buried at sea. Susannah, his
third wife, lived in Musbury until her death, being remembered for
her goodness and charity. The window depicting the Good
Samaritan was erected at her death by her sons.
The window at the end of the South Aisle is to the memory of
Thomas Charles Lethbridge, son of the above.
The Reredos, a handsome specimen of Italian mosaic work, was
given by Sir William Drake, of Oatlands, Surrey, in 1874.
A considerable sum of money was raised by the Rev. Horace W.
Thrupp whilst Rector of this parish for the restoration of the
Church in 1874-5.
There is an entry in an old Churchwarden's Book relating to
the Churchyard stating that a yew tree was planted in 1828 to the
north of the Church.
A Village Hall has recently been erected at a cost of about
£650, including furnishing and other expenses, and at a meeting of
the subscribers a resolution was passed expressing their wish that
the Hall be called "Drake's Hall" in acknowledgment of the financial
help given by members of that family, amounting to nearly £100,
and that it may long serve, as a symbol of the bond that links
Musbury with the Drakes of Ashe who lived in Musbury from very
early times till the end of the 18th century.
(Signed) HENRY G. COCKERTON,
ASHE HOUSE (NORTH).
list nf 3EUct0rs nf Jltustmrg-
Roger de Hamtone
_L- Henry de Esse
Sir Robert de Brandone
Sir John de Southdone
Sir Roger de Radway
Sir John Mathu
Sir John Hille
Date of Institution.
,. 27 June, 1204
,. 20 Dec, 1260
.. 10 June, 1266
.. 3 Nov., 1314
4 March, 1316
.. 19 Sept., 1347
... 15 July, 1349
... 15 Nov., 1363
about 28 June, 1397
... 15 May, 1403
... 23 Dec, 1420
... 6 Aug., 1427
Master John Waldene ... 16 June, 1430
Sir William Beare about 28 Oct., 1434
Sir Richard Wysce
18 Oct., 1454
7 Dec, 1458
23 Jan., 1475/6
6 Nov., 1479
27 May, 1497
2 Mar., 1504
2 May, 1527
Matilda de Curteney
Sir John de Curtney
Sir Hugh de Courtney,
Earl of Devon /
Henry VI, King of
England and France
Thos. Courteney, Earl
Prince George, Duke of
Edward, Earl of Devon
Countess of Devon
William Salter, M.A.
Benjamin Symes, M.A.
George Tucker, L.L.B.
Richard Lewis, M.A.
Date of Institution.
... 22 Jan., 1547
... 16 April, 1564
about May, 1598
... 7 May, 1630
Minister elected 1662)
... 22 Nov, 1662
... 25 April, 1672
... 19 Dec, 1687
... 2 Sept, 1710
... 11 Oct, 1711
... 12 Mar, 1713/4
... 24 Dec, 1726
... 18 May, 1770
... 28 Sept, 1798
... 21 Nov, 1816
George Tucker, S.C.L. ... 22 July, 1822
Horace William Thrupp,M. A. 5 Aug., 1863
Thomas Edwards, B. A. ... 5 Dec, 1906
Henry George Cockerton, M.A. Nov, 1920
John Drake of Exmouth
John Drake of TriU
Sir John Drake of Trill
Sir Wm. Drake of Ashe
Richard Levis and
Rev. John Vaughan
Col. Vaughan Payne
Proceeds from the sale of this leaflet are devoted by the Rector
to Parish purposes.
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UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL
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