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Articles from Chittlehampton Parish Magazine

written by Rev. J.H.B. Andrews

Transcribed by David Ryall

There are over 200 articles published monthly from March 1947 into the 1970s. This is just a small selection.

No. 1 - Earliest Days
No. 15 - Chittlehampton Manor
No. 81 - The Inns of Chittlehampton
No.105 - School Fees - 1873
No.108 - Demolition of Cottages
No.112 - The Temple, Castle Hill
No.129 - Disposal of Clinton Estates
No.158 - Wayside Crosses
No. 179 - The Manor of Newton
No.181 - Traffic in the Village


No. l - March 1947 - The Earliest Days

What Is the oldest thing in Chittlehampton ? Oddly enough the oldest dated relic is a flimsy piece of paper, measuring 9 by 4 inches, dated the 29th year of King Edward, i.e. 1301, It is a grant by Peter de Kyngdon of part of his land in Alverdiscott to his daughter Christine, land which became the property of Chittlehampton Church until its sale in 1920,

Nothing that we can now see, except "Caesar's Camp' at Brightley can with certainty be said to have been In existence then, The Church was entirely rebuilt in the following century, The houses have been rebuilt, mostly several times over, Roads as we know them did not exist, for there was no wheeled traffic, such land was unenclosed land or woodland, It is a measure of the difference between those times and our own to reflect that, apart from the Vicar and any fellow 'clerks', no one could read, No books had yet been written in English, and printing was still In the distant future, But the story of St. Hieritha was already centuries old and pilgrims were coming to her shrine.

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No. 15 - June 1948 - Chittlehampton Manor

The manor of Chittlehampton, (distinct from that of Brightley) has changed hands many times. At the Norman Conquest it was held by Godwin, probably the brother of King Harold. In 1106 Henry I gave it to Robert Fitzhamon (who gave the Church to Tewkesbury Abbey), through whom it passed to the Earls of Gloucester, and in the course of time through heiresses to the great families of Clare and Despencer, and then to Beauchamp, Earls of Warwick. In 1545 it was the property of Henry Courtney, 11th Earl of Devonshire, created Marquis of Exeter, a cousin to the King, and the most powerful subject in the land. When Henry VIII went to France he was nominated heir to the throne, but the king on his return, fearing that he was too powerful and popular, had him attainted of high treason and executed, his vast estates being forfeit. Chittlehampton was then granted to Sir George Carew, of Mohun's Ottery, whose brother in 1553 sold it to Sir Hugh Pollard, of Kingsnympton. In 1638 Sir Lewis Pollard sold it to John Giffard Esq. Of Brightley. From 1708 onwards the manor of Chittlehampton and Brightley were acquired by Samuel Rolle, Esq. Of Hudscott, and by his son Samuel, who on his death in 1746 left them to his kinsman Dennis, whose son John (born at Hudscott 1751), M.P. For Barnstaple, was in 1796 created Lord Rolle. By his will the estate remained in trust from 1842 until the death in 1906 of the tenant for life, the Hon. Mark Rolle, when it reverted to Lord Clinton.

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No. 81 - February 1954 - The Inns of Chittlehampton

The new houses in the village are named Barnstaple Close, being built on the meadow belonging to the former Barnstaple Inn. The number of former inns or public houses in the village has often been the subject of remark. The rate books of the last century name seven and gave three annual values: Bell Inn, £11; New Inn, £6/10/-; Golden Lion, £18/15/-; Barnstaple Inn, £12/5/-; Rolle Arms, £5/5/-; Green Dragon, £11/10/-. The Barley Mow, the name of which still persists, is not mentioned. The Green Dragon, a beer house and not an inn, vicarage property, from being for some years the residence of assistant curates came to be called The Curatage. The King's Arms appears in the earlier lists, but has disappeared by 1850.it seems to have been on or near the site of the present Methodist Church. It was used for sales, or 'surveys' as they were called, and must presumably have had a large public room. The Barnstaple Inn, The Rolle Arms, and the old Bell Inn all had large rooms which were used in 1872 to help provide 650 people with tea at the reopening of the church after its restoration. The Rolle Arms is still in use by the Women's Institute. The accommodation available suggests that most of these houses were real inns "where a traveller is furnished with everything he has occasion for while on his stay". Just as Glastonbury had its hostelry for pilgrims, now the famous George Inn, so must Chittlehampton have had its more modest hostelries for the pilgrims, most of whom came on foot. The Golden Lion may have had reference to the arms of the Lovering family, predecessors of the Rolles at Hudscott, but the name is not uncommon. There seems to be no particular reason for the name Green Dragon.

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No. 105 - February 1956 - School Fees - 1873

Mr. George Crocker has kindly lent us a Parish Almanac for 1873. This was a commemorative publication, produced in the year following the major restoration of the church, but t is full of parochial information. Parents then paid for their children's schooling. Farmers whose rental was £50 a year and upwards paid 4d a week for the first, and 3d for each subsequent child, farmers of lower rental and tradesmen paying 3d and 2d. Others paid 2d and 1½d, and all 'before writing on paper' paid 1d. The hours were from 9 to 12, and 1.45 to 4. Inspection was then annually, and the Government grant depended on it. For 1872 the report had been, 'This school continues to do creditably'. Prizes were awarded to each class. We hope to publish more on another occasion 

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No. 108 - May 1956 - Demolition of Cottages

Each year the Rural Dean visits each church and records his report in a book kept for the purpose. The book now in use goes back to 1831, when it was reported that 12 pinnacles of the tower were deficient. In the same the Archdeacon also visited the Church and wrote,'No clothes to be hung out to dry in the churchyard. The gates to be kept lokt.' Who, one may ask, would be likely to hang pout washing in the churchyard?

Many have seen the old print of the south side of the Church showing a line of cottages across the north side of Town Place (as they used to call The Square). They belonged to the Feoffees. Three of them had gardens on the north side of the churchyard. The feoffees in 1869 were of the opinion that the gardens and cottage were really part of the churchyard, and relinquished the gardens in that year. In 1872 they resolved to ask permission of the Charity Commissioners to demolish the four westernmost cottages and add the site ti the churchyard. There was apparently opposition to this proposal, and in 1875 the Feoffees fortified themselves by a report from a Mr. Youatt, of Leary. He reported that they were in a bad or even dangerous state of repair, that the tenants no place to stack as much as a quarter of wood, not even out door, that the houses had no conveniences of any kind, and could not be made fit for further letting, even if the expense permitted. The cottages west of the old schoolroom (where the lychgate now is) were accordingly sold by auction and demolished in 1876. The Trustees of the Rolle Estate were the purchasers, and they permitted the site to be enclosed in the churchyard. The Feoffees at the time were; Earl Fortescue, chairman; The Hon. M.G.K.Rolle, Mr. Buckingham, Rev. J.Bawden, and Mr. Carder Watts. In 1879 three more cottages and the schoolroom were likewise sold, leaving only one which still remains, and the south side of the churchyard assumed its present appearance.

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No. 112 - September 1956 - The Temple, Castle Hill

The most curious house in the parish is one which few people have seen, for it is far from a public road, - the Temple in the woods north of Bradbury belonging to Castle Hill,

The mansion at Castle Hill was rebuilt by Arthur Fortescue in 1683 and by his son Hugh in 1694, but still incorporates some of the masonry of the ancient Filleigh manor-house. The wings of the house, its facade, and the elaborate lay-out of the grounds were however the work of another Hugh Fortescue, in whose favour the barony of Clinton was called out of abeyance in 1721. He was at first active in politics, and a supporter of Walpole, but from 1730 until his death in 1752 devoted himself to the remaking of his house. Almost all his internal decoration, the work of French plasterers, perished in the fire of 1934, but much of his external work remains. He built a sham ruined castle on the hill behind, he terraced at great labour the slopes below, descending to a large sheet of water, and planted an avenue leading the eye to a ruined arch (destroyed last year in a gale). In place of a typical Devonshire landscape of farm buildings and small fields he made it into the most beautiful parkland in the county. Only two buildings could be seen from his house, Filleigh Church which he moved half a mile to the west, and a ruined village (built as a picturesque ruin) above the wooded Bray valley more than a mile to the south-east. This Lord Clinton had no children, his heir being his much younger half-brother Matthew, Lord Fortescue. It was he in 1772 built the temple, on property formerly known as Holwell, which must at one time have become alienated from the ancient manor of Bradbury, and had been bought by Hugh Fortescue in 1710. The Temple was a memorial to Lord Clinton, and could be seen from Castle Hill, three-quarters of a mile away, until the trees concealed it. Unhappily it was burnt out some years ago, and is now an empty shell, too remote for present day habitation. It has a great portico with columns 25 feet high, and corresponding pilasters on the side which looks down the Bray. The occupants had to be content with windows on the south and east only. It formerly had a lawn in front, and must have been a charming and romantic a house as one could wish, a fitting memorial, not only to the man who made the landscape which is such a delight today, but also to an age of elegance which can never return.

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No. 129 - February 1958 - Disposal of Clinton Estates - Brightley Manor

The 15th January, 1958, will long be remembered by many, for on that day the Clinton Devon Estate informed tenants of their intention to dispose of most of their North Devon property. They own some 3,000 acres in the parish together with the greater part of the village.

As far as it is known, it will only be the second time that Brightley Manor (which includes Eastacott, Nethercleave, Hoe and adjacent properties) has been sold, the previous occasion being 1737, when Samuel Rolle bought it of the representatives of Caesar Giffard, and, except for various small sales, it has remained intact. Chittlehampton Manor on the other hand, has been sold a number of times, broken up, and largely put together again. Chittlehamholt was alienated in 1539, and Leary in 1700, and neither was recovered. Sir Lewis Pollard in 1639 sold thirteen farms, many of which were bought back in the 19th century. For some unknown reason John Giffard (d.1712) was obliged to part with property, and sold what remained bit by bit to the Rolle family. Succeeding owners added whatever came into the market. In Warkleigh as well as Chittlehampton.

Between 1737 and 1957 there have only been five owners, all of great benefit to the parish. Samuel Rolle (d.1747) was a generous and affectionate man, and desired his successor to be as kind to the poor as he had been. Denys Rolle (d.1797) was noted for his generosity and for his own quiet way of living. His son, Lord Rolle (d,1842) left benefactions which still exist. The Hon. Mark Rolle (d.1908) was remarkable for the extensive rebuilding which his trustees carried out through the 70's and 80's, the years of agricultural depression. Its immediate purpose was to create employment. The services of the forty men so employed were freely available for anything for the welfare of church or parish. In Lord Clinton (d.1958) parishioners always knew they had a friend.

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No. 158 - August 1960 - Wayside Crosses

The County Council, which is now taking an interest in all wayside crosses, has recently repaired Winson Cross, and we understand that in future the grass on its island is to be better kept.

The papers collected by Dean Milles in about 1755 record that Denys Rolle, of Hudscott, had recently built the cross up on its pedestal. Perhaps it was he who also planted the trees which so delightfully frame it. The cross itself is ancient, and there is one like it at Northlew. This and the stone cross at the head of Eastacott Lane are the only wayside crosses that we know of in North Devon. Churchyard crosses were commoner, and the base of one survives at Satterleigh, as it also does at Chittlehampton. Kings Nympton has the shaft of a very old Celtic cross as the cill of its doorway. Such crosses marked sacred sites before permanent churches were built. Sampford Courtenay has a wayside cross like the one at Eastacott.

What purpose did these crosses serve? The late Prebendary Chanter (who gave us the statue of St. Urith on the tower, and whose history of the parish, almost complete on his death, has never been found) suggested that they marked the resting places of the squires of Brightley and Hudscott on their way to burial at Chittlehampton. This is impossible, for there was no 'squire' of Hudscott at the time when the crosses were erected. The only reasonable suggestion is that of W.G.Hosking, that were connected with the widespread pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Urith. There was once a Brightley Bridge, the site of which is commemorated by the name 'Bridge Marsh' for the big field above Brightley Mill. Pilgrims crossing here would catch their first sight of the church just by the cross. Winson Cross would have served much the same purpose from the east.

The base of our ancient churchyard cross was removed to a new site, provided with a new cross, copied from Winson the one, and an inscription cut on it in memory of Archdeacon Seymour, vicar 1890-1906, who died in 1980. Such a thing would not be permitted now, and it was deplored by Prebendary Chanter writing in 1914.

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No. 179 - May 1962 - The Manor of Newton

The smallest of the manors in the parish was Newton. At the time of Domesday Book (1086) it was held by one called Ansgar of Baldwin, the Sheriff of Devon. He held Whitstone of Baldwin also. Such manors were too small to continue on their own, with a manor house and a manor court. Newton was no more than 160 acres. Its name means 'new farm', the old farm of the settlers being Chittlehampton itself.

There is no Chittlehampton Barton, as for instance there is a Warkleigh Barton, but Risdon writing in 1630 says that a barton house to the east of the church was remembered in his day. Since the Lord of the Manor was an absentee who did not need a large farm to provide his household with food, the old manorial farm, or demesne, as it was called, was divided up at a very early date. The name is preserved in the Barton Parks to the north of the church, formerly a separate holding. Court Hayes, Ash, Bratton, Longparks and what used to be called North Hudscott, would all have been taken out of it. But in 1086 the manorial farm still existed, and the new farm, Newton, had become quite independent.

It had two 'villeins', that is two tenant farmers in addition to the demesne, and the demesne would have been half of the whole. It may be that North Newton, 79 acres, was the demesne, and South Newton, 76 acres, was once divided into two small 'villein' farms, but there id no trace of such a division now, and 900 years is a very long time.

North Newton was the home of the Saunder family. Kelly's directory says that it was bought in 1688 by Arthur Saunder, whose family lived there from 1542 to 1864, when it passed through a daughter to Kelland. There is a small Kelland-Saunder charity which perpetuates the association with the parish. It brings in 16s. A year, which is supposed to be distributed to the poor, and is now accumulating until the Charity Commissioners suggest some fitting way of disposing of it.

Editor's Note: A document in Barnstaple Record Office (T.2309 batch) concerning Colleytown refers to the property being called 'East Newton alias Collatown'. The Saunder family owned both North Newton, and Colleytown in the 18th century, the latter property being used as a dowager house. The acreage of Colleytown is 22 - quite small. This all indicates that Colleytown might well be the 'lost' villein.

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No. 181 - July 1962 - Traffic through Chittlehampton

We hear much nowadays of the traffic problem and of the crowded roads. Our predecessors may have noted crowds of a different kind. Time was when the Barnstaple-Exeter road came through Townsend and by way of Denis's Hill to Chittlehamholt, and straight across the Mole up and down steep hills to Chulmleigh, The milestones are still there. Along this road came strings of packhorses (it was best to keep out of their way, for they were not minded to stop), and travellers, mostly on foot, who needed refreshment and shelter. We only know of those who needed relief from the churchwardens to help[ them on their way, Here are a few entries:

1730 Given to a sailor by the passons order .. .. 1s.0d.
Gave to a poor saylor his ship being burnt by lightening .. 2s.0d.
1759 Gave 4 English sailors who escaped from a French prison, who had a pass .. 2s.
1799 To a poor man and his wife from Halstone to Bristol with a pass .. 2s.

The destinations make interesting reading: from Ireland to Mary Ottery; from Padstow to Bridgwater; from Barnstaple to Elton in Derbyshire; from Ilfordcombe to Gosport; from Truro to Bristol; from Plymouth to Liverpool (17 distressed sailors); from Durham to Cornwall; from Barnstaple to Dover; from Cornwall to Bristol; from Plymouth to Bristol; from Ilfracombe to London; from Bideford to Bridgwater; from Dartmouth to Bristol; from Barnstaple to Warrington; from Appledore to Bridgwater; from Holyhead to Philadelphia. There was a story behind all these journeys, and we should especially like to know what brought the sailor through Chittlehampton on his way from Holyhead to Philadelphia.

It seems that this road, now partly deserted was once thronged, and our predecessors were not as much cut off from affairs as we imagine. But it was a steep road for wheeled traffic, and early in the 19th century a better way was found across New Bridge, through Atherington and High Bickington, and across Colleton Bridge to Chulmleigh. The last relief paid to a traveller was in 1818. In 1832 the turnpike road along the Taw Valley put Chittlehampton 'off the roads'

Editor's note.  The main road along the valley (A377) was superceded in 1989 by an improved A361 Link Road from Barnstaple to the M5 Motorway near Tiverton, this route being the preferred route to Exeter so making all former major routes from Barnstaple to Exeter pleasant quiet roads.

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Brian Randell, 15 Jul 2004

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