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Full text of "Notes on the church of St. Michaels, Musbury, the Drakes of Ashe and their monument"

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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 
18 inches. 

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. 




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 family. 

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, which attracts many visitors during the 
summer months from America as well as from all parts of England, 

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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 
last Abbot. 

(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, consisting of a handsome silver Flagon, Chalice 
and two Patens, was the gift of Sir William Drake, Bart., of Ashe, in 


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. 


September, 1929. 



list nf 3EUct0rs nf Jltustmrg- 

Roger de Hamtone 
John Pinelle 
_L- Henry de Esse 
Sir Hugh 

Sir Robert de Brandone 
Sir John de Southdone 

Sir Roger de Radway 
William Michel 
Robert Mareschall 
John Hylle 
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 
John Strete 
Thomas Gossipp 

Richard Watson 
Richard Natrys 
Robert Saunders 
Thomas Balle 
William Balham 

18 Oct., 1454 

7 Dec, 1458 

23 Jan., 1475/6 

6 Nov., 1479 

27 May, 1497 

No date 

2 Mar., 1504 

2 May, 1527 

Matilda de Curteney 
Sir John de Curtney 

Sir Hugh de Courtney, 
Earl of Devon / 

Edward Courtney 

Henry VI, King of 
England and France 

Thos. Courteney, Earl 
of Devon 

Prince George, Duke of 

King Edward 

Edward, Earl of Devon 

Catherine Courtenay, 
Countess of Devon 



William Parson 

Thomas Raddon 

John Jordan 

Matthew Drake 

Richard Fairand 


Richard Cresson 

Nathaniel Pearse 

John Ayshford 

Philip Westcott 

Philip Prince 

Charles Hopping 

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 

No date 
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 
Bernard Drake 

>> >> 

John Drake 

John Drake of TriU 
Sir John Drake of Trill 
The Bishop 
Sir Wm. Drake of Ashe 

George Tucker 

Richard Levis and 
William Peterson 

George Tucker 
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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