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Cornwood Contents & Search
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The Parish of Cornwood, with a population of 1056, widely spread over it's area, is delightfully situated and lies chiefly in the upper reaches of the river Yealm.
It includes the two villages of Cornwood and Lutton, but in early days the latter place appears to have been a holding separate from Cornwood and in Testa de Nevill (1212) it is called Ludeton, and with Curnwood, is described as being then held by Wydo de Bredeuill, whose overlord was Richard, Earl of Mortain. These two places were together assessed in 1¼ Knight's fee.
In the Tax Roll of Devon (1302-3), it is recorded that on Lutton, Wydo le Brit was assessed in 1/3 Knight's fee, and that Martin de Halghwill had made a gift from this holding to the Blessed Mary of Plympton of 1/12 Knight's fee.
Besides these villages there are groups of cottages, such as Corntown, Tor and Yeo, there are also the larger houses, the Vicarage, Blachford, Delamore and Slade, with their dependant cottages, which would account for many of the inhabitants, so would several other houses, which, though of less size, are occupied by families of a standing similar to that of those mentioned by name. There are also a considerable number of farms, some of which, by their architecture or connection with families of repute, were evidently the houses of a class higher than that of tenant farmers, for instance Cholwich Town, Fardel, Hanger, South Hele and Wisdome. There is the old Vicarage (now called the Glebe House) and opposite the School stands a picturesque thatched cottage which has the reputation of being the oldest in the village, in fact there is a tradition that it was the Vicarage in olden times.
In 1894 a portion of the parish, lying in the valley of the river Erme, was severed, to help in the formation of the parish of Ivy Bridge, which included important buildings, for instance the Ivy Bridge Church, Vicarage, Railway Station and Lady Rogers' School for educating orphans, founded by Dame Hannah Rogers of Blachford under her will dated 8th September, 1764. It was first conducted in leasehold premises in Plymouth, but in 1888 was transferred to a schoolhouse at Ivy Bridge, erected on a site given by Lord Blachford for the purpose.
Besides the agricultural and inhabited parts there are extensive moorlands. These running past the lofty peak of Pen Beacon (1407 ft.) reach the loftier peak of Shell Top (1546 ft.) where the parish boundary divides it from Shaugh Prior and bending southwards separates it from Plympton St. Mary, until it joins the Yealm a little distance above Lee Mill Bridge. In the opposite direction from Shell Top it runs at a high level and in a North Easterly direction to Broad Rock, at the head of the Erme, thence following the course of the river southwards, as far as the Hall Estate, in the parish of Harford, it embraces Staldon Moor the highest part of which is 1324 feet.
At a considerably lower level, Hanger Down, with its charming views and Headon, with its China Clay works, deserve special notice.
Though the working population is mainly agricultural, there has been fresh scope for labour in the clay industry, as from land formerly considered of little value, China Clay is obtained and sent not only to the potteries and paper mills of England, but also to the Continent, India and America.
The Yealm, occasionally in old times written as 'Ye Alm', rises in boggy ground forming the watershed between it and one of the tributaries of the Plym and flowing southwards through the lovely gorge of Hawns and Dendles, quickly reaches the fertile meadows of the Blachford valley. Continuing it's course through the country, every yard of which is beautiful, it arrives, after being augmented by the Piall from the Delamore and Slade valley, at the tidal waters of the estuary between Puslinch and Kitley, some thirteen miles from it's source.
There has been a great deal of discussion as to the derivation of the name 'Hawns and Dendles', and although the origin of the word Hawns is obscure, Dendles is undoubtedly a corruption of Daniels, for Lord Blachford, on referring to his title deeds, found that the glen had been called Daniels many years ago, probably after some former tenant.
The earliest signs in Cornwood of the work of man are to be found on the Moor and land adjacent, and the parish presents a field full of interest to the antiquarian.
Like the greater part of Dartmoor, it abounds in prehistoric remains, probably of the Early Bronze period, for instance there is a row of 65 large stones, some of them huge, beginning a little way to the north of Watercombe Waste and running in a northerly direction over the southern slope of Staldon Moor, where at one point a circle of small stones, 15 feet in diameter, touches it, then crossing the summit, terminates a short way beyond.
On the east side of the Row, and at some distance from the little circle, is a Tumulus which has been opened, and on the western side there is another enclosed by two concentric circles of stones, which appears to have been unexplored.
About a mile to the north of this is a large circle of upright stones, with a row of smaller ones running from it in a north easterly direction to the distance of two and an eighth miles, and crossing the Erme, ends at Green Hill in the parish of Lydford.
A smaller circle of upright stones, with a fine row attached, lies on a ridge to the west of Cholwich Town, but from both circle and row some stones have been taken for repairing walls on the adjoining land.
On the southwestern slope of Pen Moor there are two cairns, one of which has a short row of stones connected with it and the other is surrounded by a circle.
There is another cairn towards the eastern end of Staldon ridge. Here it was that, at the time when Napoleon was threatening a landing on the coast, a mason called Jose Hillson took refuge and made his abode among the boulders forming it: hence it is shown as 'Hillson's House' on the Ordnance map.
He was not singular in his fears of the hated Napoleon, for at that time, all the farmers having rights of pasture on the moor, made preparation for driving their cattle on one day, their-sheep on another, and their ponies on a third to more distant recesses.
In a letter still existing, written by the Rev. Duke Yonge, Vicar of Cornwood, to his brother-in-law in Northamptonshire, he speaks of the desirability of sending his wife and certain valuables to him for safety, and suggested that his home would be especially safe as being near the Arsenal of Weedon.
There are substantial remains of a kistvaen, and a circle of stones surrounding it, in the eastern part of Hawns Waste, a few yards from the east side of the wall dividing the Blachford portion from that belonging to Slade, and on other parts of the Moor there are several, some of which have been investigated, while others, still unexamined, give promise of yielding valuable information to the explorer.
On the left bank of a small tributary of the Erme there is a Beehive Hut, about three quarters of a mile from the large circle already mentioned.
Above Yealm Steps on the right bank of the Yealm and on the left bank below, are the remains of smelting houses, known in the west as 'blowing' houses, with their granite moulds, into which the molten tin, obtained from the surrounding Moor by 'streaming', was cast. There are indications of much low-lying land in the valleys having been streamed for tin.
In connection with this subject it is interesting to note that in 1879, while a meadow in the Slade Valley was being drained, an ingot of tin, resembling in shape the moulds mentioned above, was found about three feet under the surface. This was presented by Mr. J. D. Pode, of Slade, to the Athenaeum Museum in Plymouth.
Of crosses, many of which are to be seen on the Moor and neighbouring lands, only the remains of three have been found in the parish. one is now utilized as a gate post in the lane leading to the old home of the Cholwich family, another is in the courtyard of that house, while a third, singularly unfinished at it's back, is used as a gatepost at Hanger, but all these have suffered injury, probably at the hands of those who occupied the adjacent lands.
There are numerous hut circles on the Moor, notably those lying between the Beehive Hut and the large circle already mentioned, and there are a great number enclosed in pounds on the side of a small valley to the east of Yealm Steps.
The earliest instance of human industry to which an approximate date can be put is that of the Fardel Stone. This, like others, the majority of which have been found in Ireland, is considered to be as early as the middle of the 5th century.
It bears on it's face, according to Sir Edward Smirke, deputy warden of the Stannaries, a well known antiquarian, the word Sagranus, or perhaps Sagranvi, and on it's back Fanoni Maqvirini, while other authorities such as Dr. Browne, sometime Professor of Art and Archaeology at Cambridge, afterwards Bishop of Bristol, read very slight variations of these words.
The special interest in this stone lies in the Ogam characters on its edges, which are considered to be equivalent to the Latin inscription.
It may be of interest to mention the theory, supported by Bishop Browne, that the Ogam characters represent finger signs, used by the Druids when communicating with one another in the presence of the uninitiated.
The Rev. Samuel Pearse, of Cadleigh, found it forming part of a culvert over a stream crossing the Ivy Bridge road on it's way to Fardel, and there is an interesting letter from him, dated 25th August, 1860, in which he describes himself as an octogenarian and says that when he was a boy he saw the stone constantly as he passed along the road and puzzled over it.
In later times, in conjunction with Mr. Cotton, of Highlands, founder of the Cotonian Library, he spent many days trying to discover the meaning of the inscription, and though he failed, he succeeded in inducing Captain Pode, of Slade, Lord of the Manor of Fardel, to place it in safety, and ultimately to present it to the British Museum.
Within the parish, which is in the Hundred of Ermington (Hermentona) there are three Manors, namely Cornwood, Fardel and Blachford, and in Domesday, where they are called Cornehuda, Ferdendel and Blacheorda, an account can be found, not only of the different grades of dependants, but also of the cattle, sheep, swine and goats within these Manors. With regard to Cornwood, mention is made of three unbroken mares, which an eminent judge, Sir Frederick Pollock, fancifully suggests were the first Dartmoor ponies mentioned in history.
Passing over the earlier Lords of the Manor of Cornwood, in course of time it came into possession of the Codes, who were also owners of Slade.
They were connected by marriage with the Heles or Heales, who trace their origin to very early times. Of all the families in the west, none has been so widely distributed, or owned land in so many parishes as that of the Heles, but in the time of Henry II it was at Hele, in the parish of Bradnidge (Bradninch), North Devon, that it first seems to have had a fixed abode.
It is however probable that Cornwood is not concerned with these, and that John de le Hele, who dwelt at South Hele in the reign of Henry II belonged to a younger branch. His son, William, married Joane, daughter of Sir Simon Cole of Slade.
In Jacobean times the most conspicuous member of this family was Elize Hele of Fardel, well known throughout the County of Devon for his great charities, but his desire to bequeath Fardel for charitable uses was frustrated by the Act of Mortmain and it became the property of his heir-at-law.
The first house bearing the name Dallamoor was built by a member of the Cole family and it eventually came into the possession of Robert Bellmaine from Westmoreland. The second was built in 1794 by Benjamin Hays, whose wife, Ann, was the third daughter of the Right Hon. George Treby, and Charity, daughter of Roger Hele of Halwell. Thus the ancient families of Hele and Treby were represented in the persons of Ann Hayes and her two elder sisters, Charity Ourry and Dorothy Drewe.
The third house was built in 1859 by Anne, grand-daughter of Ann Hayes and widow of William Mackworth Praed, who was well known as a barrister on the Western Circuit, and a judge of the County Court. He was, moreover, a considerable benefactor to the parish, by making and improving the roads and by building bridges where fords only existed.
Their daughter, Anne Praed, married Captain George Parker, who afterwards held the rank of Admiral and was for many years Master of the Dartmoor Hounds. His son Colonel William Frederic is now owner of Delamore and Lord of the Manor.
It is interesting to note that while the Heles were at various times Lords of the Manor of Fardel and Blachford, neither they nor their descendants hold the title any longer, and it is only in the Manor of Cornwood that they are in any way traced to the present time.
By the side of the road between the church and. the village stood the ancient pound, but as it's use for impounding cattle had ceased the present Lord of the Manor built two cottages on the site.
With regard to the manor of Fardel and its ownership, the name of Richard, Earl of Mortain (1212), seems most conspicuous. From him it came into possession of Warren Fitz Joel, from whom it was inherited by his daughter Ellen. She married William Newton , and their daughter, Joan, by her marriage with Sir John Ralegh in 1303, brought the estate into the Ralegh family, the most illustrious of whom was Sir Walter. The Manor was in early days assessed in 1 Knight's fee.
Sir Walter's elder brother, Sir Carew, born at Fardel, sold it to Walter Hele, in whose family it remained until 1740, when it became the property of Thomas Pearce of Bigbury. On his death it was sold to Sir Robert Palk, and by him to John Spurrel Pode, the great uncle of the present owner, John Duke Pode.
On passing through the fine granite piers of the gateway at the entrance to the Manor House there is on the left a chapel with it's quaint south porch, bearing on it a small granite cross, similar to the one surmounting the east end of the roof, and facing you on entering the building, which is 38ft. long by 15ft. wide, are the remains of an ancient doorway leading into the road, from which it is evident that it was not merely a domestic chapel, but was also used by the tenants of the Manor.
The only record of it's use at present existing is to be found in Bishop Lacey's register, where it is recorded that in 1422, licence for Divine Service was granted to Elizabeth, widow of Sir John Ralegh, grandson of the first Ralegh owner.
It has a good east window, with granite mullions of the late 14th century period, but there are signs of an earlier one, possibly of the 13th century. Underneath there are layers of plaster of two different periods, one no doubt belonging to the present window and the other, of finer texture, to the earlier one. On this latter there are traces of a pattern, stencilled in colour. This is also to be seen on the splay of one of the lancet windows on the south side. Doubtless there was once a reredos, as there are wooden blocks for its support let into the wall under the sill of the window.
There are some interesting features in the south wall, belonging to the earlier date, namely a credence, piscina and cedile. More unusual is the Easter Sepulchre in the north wall and the other opposite.
At right angles to the chapel is the Tudor mansion, with granite mullioned windows and ample porch. Within the house there is a room, which is now used as a dairy, but it's lofty roof points to the probability of it's having been the hall in olden times.
Beyond the large kitchen there is a picturesque staircase in Caroline style, leading to the bedrooms on the south side, beneath which there is a little parlour with paneled walls and ornamental ceiling.
Between the house and the Ivy Bridge road lies a field which in olden times was the subject of much mystery. Tradition says that some untold evil would surely follow were it ever to be ploughed up; moreover it is related that ghostlike apparitions had been seen there in the dead of night. A doggerel couplet, with variations, has been handed down, one of which is quoted in 'A Book of Dartmoor' by Baring-Gould, viz:
'Between this stone and Fardel Hall,
Lies as much money as the Devil can haul.'
The stone referred to is the one already mentioned with the Ogam inscription as it was discovered just outside the boundary of this field.
After Domesday the first mention of Blachford appears in the Tax Roll of Devon (1302-1303) in which it is recorded that the Prior of Plympton and the Church of the Blessed Michael in Cornwode held Nitherblacchesworthy (Blachford), which was assessed in ¼ Knight's fee.
In course of time it came into the possession of the Heles of South Hele, who continued there until 1694.
In that year both Blachford and South Hele were sold to Mr. John Rogers, who had occupied an important post in connection with H.M. Customs at Plymouth, where he had acquired considerable wealth as a merchant. In-1690 he purchased Wisdome from a younger son of the Hele family and resided there.
His ancestor, Dr. John Rogers, a prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral, was imprisoned for six months by Queen Mary, for preaching a sermon in defence of the reformed religion and in 1555 was burnt at the stake at Smithfield.
In 1698 Mr. John Rogers, of Wisdome, was created a Baronet and elected Member of Parliament for Plymouth, and in the same year, on the marriage of his son who bore the same name, he made Blachford over to him.
Sir John was the first of a succession of ten Baronets which ended with the Rev. Sir Edward Rogers. This series is remarkable, containing as it did seven Members of Parliament, three of whom were Recorders of Plymouth.: one of these, the 8th Baronet was the most eminent. He served his country for many years as permanent Under Secretary for the Colonies, and in 1871 was created Baron Blachford for Wisdome.
In memory of Lord and Lady Blachford a handsome granite cross was erected in the village by friends and parishioners, close to the entrance gates and was dedicated by Bishop Ryle, then Bishop of Exeter, and bears the following inscription:
'In grateful memory of Frederick Rogers, Lord Blachford, K.C.M.G. and his wife, Georgina Mary.
He served his country faithfully for 25 years in the Colonial Office. Their latter days were spent at Blachford in serving God and doing good to their neighbours.
Additions to the property have been made from time to time and in 1917, Miss Margaret Deare, the owner and Lady of the Manor gave to her cousin, major Frederick Passy, the greater portion of the estate, retaining only the house, with it's garden and ornamental grounds, the Deer Park and other park-like land.
Nothing is known of Slade in early days, but it is recorded that Walter de la Slade dwelt there in the reign of Edward I. Eventually it came into the possession of one who rejoiced in a surname, namely Reginald Cole, who lived there in the time~ of Henry IV and from whom it was inherited by his son John and he, in turn, was succeeded by his son Simon, or Sir Simon as he was frequently called. He died in 1497 and for five generation Slade continued to be the property of the Coles, who from time to time became connected by marriage with many of the leading families in the west.
Undoubtedly they came of a very old race, for one of them is mentioned in Domesday as being signatory to a deed which is now at Winchester. Many of them were held in high esteem by the ruling powers, as evidenced by the number who were raised to the dignity of Knighthood. As instances of their eminence it is recorded that in 1377, Adam Cole was commissioned by Edward III to protect the shores of Devon from incursions of the French, and another is that of Sir John Cole, who was in the train of the Duke of Gloucester in the battle of Agincourt.
Richard Cole, the last of that name to own Slade, sold it to a person called Sture, and retired to other property in Wolfardisworthy, near Clovelly, where he died on 19th April, 1614 and was buried in the north aisle of the parish church. Shortly afterwards it was purchased by Cristofer Savery of Shilston in the parish of Modbury, who was a member of a well-to-do family, resident in the west.
He traced his lineage from Sir Cristofer who, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, had the unusual honour of being created Knight Banneret for conspicuous bravery on the field of battle. After him, the most noted was Captain Thomas Savery, who found the practical use of steam and made other scientific discoveries. In the time of Charles I the Saverys were on the parliamentary side and later took an active part in bringing over William of orange.
Among the family papers of the Saverys, Slade is described as a large and stately mansion, which may account for it's being the only residence in the immediate neighbourhood, shown in an old map of Devonshire dated 1575, but during their occupancy it became much dilapidated and in order to make it a comfortable house it was remodelled on a smaller scale, but the Tudor hall, with it's lofty roof, richly carved panels and minstrels gallery was fortunately preserved, as well as the handsome staircase leading to some of the rooms in the western wing.
Slade, like Fardel and many another old house, had its warren, fishpond and mills and with its trout stream and rights of tributary was to a considerable extent independent of supplies from outside.
Waltham Savery sold Slade in 1780 to John Spurrel of Stoke Damerel who, however, did not reside there, but made it over to the son of his nephew John Pode, of Woodlands, in the parish of St. Budeaux, whose relations have made it their home ever since.
Fardel passed into the hands of Mr. R.E. Cocks (XL Dairy Company of Plymouth) by purchase in 1922 and Slade to Mr. Reginald Martin, managing director of Clay Works at Lee Moor in 1923. The sale of the contents of the house being largely attended by many people from all parts of the country and producing about E3000.00
The church, dedicated to St. Michael, stands on a slight eminence, 400 ft. above sea level, a short distance to the south west of the village of Cornwood and about three quarters of a mile from the village of Lutton.
It consists of a chancel 28½ ft. long, by 15 ft. wide, a nave 53¾ ft. long and two aisles, each of which is divided from the nave by four pillars of monolithic granite and responds,-and there are also two transepts, which make the total width of the church to be just over 58 ft.
The general style of the church is perpendicular, probably the result of restoration in the time of Bishop Grandison and it is recorded in the Bishops' register that on 19th June, 1336, he dedicated the church, high altar and two others. The site of one of these altars is shown by a credence in the east end of the north aisle, while probably the third was in a corresponding position in the south aisle, though no trace of it exists.
A proof that the aisles were not part of the original church, but were added at a later date may be found in the fact that the east wall of the south aisle conceals half the arch of the priests' doorway, and it is probable that they formed part of the restoration at that time.
A later restoration took place in 1875, when choir stalls were fixed, a lectern given as a memorial to Dr. C.C. Pode M.B., and the old pews discarded in favour of the present seats and it was then agreed by those who claimed ancient rights to some of these pews, that they should be unappropriated henceforth.
The chancel was handsomely restored in 1867 by Lord Blachford, with a Derbyshire alabaster and Italian marble reredos and arcading and with - ' columns of a richly coloured local stone, but the style is hardly in keeping with the perpendicular work of the rest of the church.
The only old woodwork is the Jacobean pulpit, which is a good specimen of the period. The rood screen was destroyed in Puritan times, but the doorways in the north wall mark the entrances to the staircase and rood loft. The font is modern, as well as the litany desk and episcopal chairs, one of which was made of oak from the original chapel of Exeter College, oxford.
The waggon roof of the nave and aisles is of a type common in the west of England, with panels of plaster between the ribs and bosses of oak at their juncture, but the chancel roof, which is paneled with oak, is modern.
Besides the east window in the chancel and a little lancet one, dedicated -to the memory of a former vicar, the Rev. Ch. Ch. Bartholomew, there are 4 no. four light windows and 10 no. with three lights. All have comparatively modern tracery and glass, as Walter Shute, an intruder into the living in the middle of the 17th century, had permitted the church to be much abused, the rood loft to be pulled down and the painted windows to be broken in pieces.
The altar, with panels inlaid with emblematic designs in various coloured woods and flanked by carved angels is modern. This replaced a carved one which was removed to the school chapel at Lutton. There are two altar candlesticks of brass gilt, having inscribed on them respectively: 'in honorem Christi corporis' and 'in honorem Christi sanguinis', and on the retable stands a cross, of Italian work, probably the head of a processional one. It was brought home from Italy by Lord Blachford, as were also the lamps hanging in the sanctuary, one of which is dated 1538. Doubtless these were originally censers.
The vestry is outside the north wall of the chancel, and in olden times a doorway, leading into the sanctuary, was it's only entrance to the church, but in the restoration of 1875 a new one was made through the east wall of the north aisle, at a point where one of the altars of Bishop Grandison's time stood, as indicated by the credence already mentioned. on completion of all the work a service was held, at which Bishop Temple was present, when a surpliced choir was introduced for the first time.
At the west end, divided from the nave by a thick wall stands the tower, nearly 10 ½ ft. square, which is undoubtedly the oldest part of the church and it's slightly tapering staircase, with remains of lancet windows, shows that it is at least as old as the early English period. Its height is 41 ft. to the top of the parapet and the staircase turret is 2 ft. higher. Its base is separated from the nave by a modern screen to partially conceal the ringers.
In an old map of Dartmoor, now in the Albert Museum, Exeter, which has been deciphered by a committee of the Devonshire Association, the church is represented as having a low spire.
The tower contains a set of six bells, five of them having been cast by Pennington in 1770, and the treble added in 1835. In it there is a clock with three faces, which Lady Blachford gave in memory of her husband, together with an endowment for it's maintenance.
The south porch was restored in 1908 by parishioners and friends in memory of the late Rev. J.T. Mundy, for nearly twenty years vicar of the parish, but the remains in it of an old stoup were so slight that it was not thought worthy of restoration. Above the doorway is a sun-dial, dated 17th March, 1762 and below it, inscribed on a white stone are the words 'In Thy light shall we see light'.
Within the south porch of the church is a list of the 42 incumbents, with interesting notes on the ecclesiastical history of the parish. It begins with John de Langeford, instituted as rector before the year 1263 (the exact year being unknown), and ends with the Rev. James Furneaux Powning, collated as vicar in 1908.
The change of title from rector to vicar is explained by the fact that in the year 1432 the Rectorial Tithes, which had been part of the stipend of the incumbents, were in a high handed way taken from the benefice and devoted to the upkeep of Exeter Cathedral choir, and this arrangement continued until 1742, when they were sold by the Priest Vicars to Sir John L. Rogers.
Several of the incumbents deserve particular notice, but for very different reasons. On the 11th May, 1312, Master Henry Bloyou, the 3rd rector, was summonsed to appear at Westminster, to answer the plea of William Martyn, whose warren at Ugborough he had entered in pursuit of hares and rabbits. The writ was sent to Bishop Stapeldon, of Exeter to deal with and his revenues were sequestrated to the value of 2 marks.
Hugh Jones, who was the Bishop of Llandaff, became the incumbent in 1566.
The date of the induction of Henry Smith, the 28th Incumbent, is not recorded, but it was shortly before the rebellion. He was much beloved by the parish and neighbouring gentry and is said to have been a man of learning and a zealous loyalist. However, loyalty was his undoing, as owing to it, his benefice was sequestrated by the evil powers which had mastery at the time.
He was subject to much persecution, his goods were plundered and he and his wife and children had to flee for their lives. Eventually he was caught and imprisoned in the neighbourhood of Plymouth and finally sent to the common gaol at Exeter, where he died and it is said that his end was hastened by the news of the death of Charles I. It is related that during his incumbency Cornwood received a royal visitor in the person of Prince Charles, who had come to show his regard to the vicar, so well known for his true and faithful adherence to the cause of his beloved master Charles I.
When Henry Smith had been ousted, Walter Shute in defiance of right and justice was placed in possession of the benefice. It was he of whom Walker in his 'Sufferings of the Clergy' speaks as being called a very ignorant and gluttonous fellow, and it is said that on the Martyrdom of Charles I he preached a blasphemous sermon, in which he derided Kings and Princes. However, he conformed at the Restoration and by the clemency-of the Government was allowed to continue in the living, being instituted on 8th November, 1662.
In later times the church was the scene of shameful disorder and Waltham Savery of Slade was convicted of 'chiding and brawling in the church and churchyard' and was forbidden to enter it until he should ask pardon of Sir John Rogers publicly in church. This he did on St. Bartholomew's Day, 1734, with these words 'Whereas I have been lately convicted by sentence in the Consistory Court of Exon, for chiding and brawling in the church and churchyard I do now acknowledge to have transgressed the law and offended you, for which I ask your pardon.'
He was the cause of further trouble, for he cut down the pegs on which Sir John and his family hung their hats. Whereupon Dame Mary, her daughter and two servants hung them on a par-close screen. He then brought an action against Sir John, which was given in his favour in the Archdeacon's Court at Totnes, but when the case was carried by Sir John on appeal to the Court of Delegates the previous decision was reversed and Savery was sentenced to pay E300.00.
The Holy Communion Plate escaped the hands of the spoilers in Puritan times and consists of:
Against the south wall of the Slade chapel there is the Cole monument, which is an altar tomb without name or inscription, but it is doubtless in memory of Philip Cole, of Slade, who died on 30th January, 1596. He had married Joane, the daughter of Thomas Williams of Stowford, in the parish of Harford, Speaker in the House of Commons in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
She survived her husband and in the course of time married Richard Connock, of Lyllesdon, in the parish of North Curry, Somerset. On 27th October, 1621 she made a will in which, besides other bequests, she left £10 apiece to the poor of Cornwood, Harford and North Curry and £50 to be equally divided between these three parishes, for repairing and adorning their respective churches.
She also desired to be buried in the parish church of Cornwood, near the body of her first husband, Philip Cole, and in carrying out her wishes, her executors erected a framework of stone above the tomb of Philip Cole, enclosing two kneeling figures in the richly coloured dress of the period, representing her and Philip. This is substantiated by the fact that the arms of the Coles and Williams were at one time painted on the face of the tomb below, but are now obliterated.
There are also two smaller figures, carved in relief on the background, but uncoloured, and it is not unfair to assume that they represent Philip Cole's father and mother, William, who died on 23rd April, 1547 and Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Sir Philip Champernont, Kt., of Modbury, who married secondly a Pollard. She too showed her affection for the home of her first married life, by desiring in her will to be buried 'in holie earthe within Cornwood church, nigh unto the place wheare the bodie of my late husband was buried'. The whole monument is surmounted by the arms of the Coles-Argent, a bull passant, Sa., armed Or, with a bordure of the second bezantee.
There is an entry in an old register at North Curry, made by the Rev. John Gibbs, Vicar of the parish, saying that in as much as in him lay, he had given to Mrs. Johan Connock, of North Curry a gentlewoman of about 90 years of age, of much weakness and great infirmity and continually keeping her bed, a dispensation to eat flesh that Lent, such as the laws did permit, to sustain and nourish nature in her. There is no further record of her, but she must have died in 1633, as her will was proved on the 14th of September in that year.
In a history of North Curry, it mentions that there is an altar in the vestry which has embroidered on it 'Johan Connock, 1633', also a shield with three cock's feet. This, the author considers to be in memory of the same old lady.
To return to Cornwood church, on the south wall of the chancel there is a monument consisting of two white alabaster figures in Elizabethan costume, a gentleman kneeling on a cushion at a prayer desk, facing a lady who is kneeling on the other side. Underneath is inscribed:
'Here lyeth the bodies of Robert Bellmaine late of Dallamoore, esquire, and Dorothy his wife who departed this life, she on the 27th day of April, he on the 8th day of May following, 1627.'
'Here's rest and peace
Within the graue,
Whitch wee in life
Could never haue'
This is surmounted by a shield of arms, quarterly of twenty, and above it the Bellmaine crest, an open hand.
There is a monument, forming part of the pavement of the tower, which must have been removed from its original position in the church. It consists of a slab of marble bearing the following inscription:
'Here lyeth the body of the Lady Jane Roll, the wife of Sir Henry Roll, Knight, who died the IX daye of June, ano domi, 1634.'
The remainder of the inscription is partly covered by the tower screen, and base of the font, but it shows that Lady Jane had been previously married to Richard Hals, Esquire.
In an angle at the northeast corner of the Slade chapel is the monument of John Savery, of Slade, an oval tablet of white marble, bearing the following inscription:
'Near this place lyeth the body of Mr. John Savery, son of William Savery of Slade, esq., by Prudence his wife, daughter of John Drake of Iveybridge, esq., who departed this life the 21st Feb. 1696.'
Below this on a black marble tablet is the recumbent figure of a child, in a green mantle, edged with ermine, with this epitaph:
'This infant fled from our admiring sight
His stay so short, so sudden was his flight
That he has taught us by his hasting hence
That th'earth's too vile for so much innocence
Reader relent since thou noe more shall see
This matchless child but in his effigie.'
and on a miniature shield below are the arms of Savery, viz. Gules, a fess Vaire, between three unicorn heads, couped, Or. The whole is surmounted by a tablet with the arms of Savery and Drake.
On a paving stone, now at the entrance to the tower, the following words were inscribed, though now much oblitereated:
'His curious frame and pretty charming love,
Seraphim like prepar'd him for above
His change was glorious, his asent was braue,
His soul's in Heaven, triumphant ore the graue.
John Savery, son of William Savery of Slade, esq., buried 27th Feb. 1696.
This stone no doubt formed a part of the pavement near the Savery monument.
In the churchyard there are two altar tombs of rough granite, belonging to the 17th century. The inscriptions are carved in bold relief. On the one near the lych gate can be read: 'the 5th of Feb. 1655, Rich the daughter of Mr. William Cholwich of Cholwich, with the family coat of arms on the west end.
During the last half century, two additions have been made to the churchyard, the first by the gift of the land by Admiral Parker of Delamore and the second by that of his successor, Colonel William F. Parker. The principal entrance to it is through a handsome lych gate, given in 1878 by Lord Blachford's sister, Miss Rogers.
The picturesque old vicarage was very inconveniently distant from the church and this, as well as the glebe, has been sold to the owners of the adjoining land, and a new vicarage erected, close to the church.
The oldest register of baptisms, marriages and burials are contained in a half-bound volume, beginning with the year 1685 and ending with 1783. Some entries are impossible to decipher as the edges of the paper are completely worn out and others are difficult to read owing to the use of ink which has faded, but a fair copy has been made of what is legible, as well as an index.
This register contains a statement of the rights of the vicar of Cornwood to a stream of water which supplies the vicarage and of an agreement with Sir. F. Rogers with regard to an exchange of a small plot of ground belonging to it, for certain rights of turbary etc., but there are no other entries of interest, excepting those of births, deaths and marriages.
Tradition says that the parish Clerk, who lived in a cottage close by the church had charge of various documents and papers relating to it, but the cottage was burnt down and all the contents destroyed. This probably accounts for there being no records earlier that 1685.
Facing the church on the north and with it's windows looking into the churchyard, stands a cottage, which formerly was used as the village school over which a Dame presided, and where subsequently meetings of the church council were held, but in place of this large school buildings were erected in the village. Inscribed on a marble tablet at the entrance is a Latin inscription, which translated may be read as follows: 'This school has been erected to the Glory of God and the advancement of His church, 1859.'
It is with the same view that the Rev. Duke Yonge, a former vicar, founded the Yonge Charity. He left certain lands at Lutton and a sum of Money to trustees for the benefit of the poor of the parish, and directed that one part of this endowment should be devoted, among other things, to the education of a certain number of poor children of the parish, to be selected by the vicar, and to the teaching of the Catechism and principles of the Church of England, and another part to the purchase of bibles, testaments and religious tracts published by the S.P.C.K. to be distributed in the parish.
Before Mr. Yonge had taken Holy Orders, he had studied medicine in one of the London hospitals, and perhaps this gave him the idea of directing that another portion of the charity should be spent in medical aid for the poor parishioners, who were not receiving parish relief, and he bequeathed a sum of money to the Plymouth Public Dispensary, on condition that each year an adequate number of tickets of admission should be at the disposal of the vicar of Cornwood.
The Rook Charity was founded in 1700 by the Fortescues of Hangar, who conveyed to trustees a messuage and tenement called East Rooke, alias Reed's or Wakeham's Rooke and the rent of this farm is now spent at Christmas, in blankets, coal and clothing.
In 1875 a small school room for infants was built by some of the landowners of the parish at Lutton, on land belonging to Yonge's Charity trust and subsequently an addition was made by Admiral Parker, to form a chancel and vestry, for use when the room is required for Divine Service, and in 1885 Lord Blachford built a house for the school teacher, also situated on land belonging to the same trust.
Cornwood owes a great debt of gratitude to Sir Isambard Brunel, the famous engineer, who brought the South Devon Railway through the parish, spanning it's valleys with lofty viaducts, instead of using the less hilly route to the south, This modest railway, with it's single line of narrow gauge, was afterwards absorbed by the Great Western Railway, and amore substantial viaduct took the place of the old one, wide enough to allow a double line of broad gauge.
All this was a great advantage, for with a station within easy reach of the village, the inhabitants were brought into closer touch with their neighbours and the outer world, and enabled them to obtain commodities, not to say the necessaries of life, in a quicker and more convenient manner.
The railway, however, has not added to the picturesqueness of the parish, since it has brought slates to it from the Cornish and Welsh quarries, which have taken the place of the thatch that covered many of the cottages in former years. No longer does the sweet aroma of the peat fires greet one, but it's fragrance has been supplanted by the smoke and fumes of c6al and petroleum, and there is perhaps only one house in the parish following the ancient practice of burning peat, although more as luxury than necessity.
But a day may come when Rights of Turbary are considered valuable and peat is again dug from the turf-ties, as there are many places on the Moor and adjacent land which abound with this most useful fuel.
Unlike Ireland, the Devon Moors have yielded very little Bog-Oak. One specimen however was found some years ago in the parish by the tenant of Cholwich Town, who, on making an excavation in some boggy land for the foundation of a wall he was about to build, came across a large tree in it, about 9 ft. below the surface of the ground, and though decayed on the outside, the heart was sound enough to have a large picture frame made from it, in which he enclosed an engraving of his landlord.
In olden times, the Squires of Cornwood were ardent promoters of sport, for a record shows that about 1740 Mr. W. Savery of Slade kept a pack of hounds, which brought his huntsman to a tragic end, as on visiting the kennel in the dead of night, to quiet the pack, the hounds, not recognising him in night attire, attacked and devoured him.
About that time Mr. Thomas Pearse of Fardel also kept a pack. At a later date Sir John Rogers of Blachford kept 24 couples of hounds and six hunters, and towards the end of the eighteenth century Mr. J.S. Pode of Slade kept hounds in charge of his huntsman, John Roberts.
These, after passing into the possession of Mr. J.C. Bulteel, developed into the famous Dartmoor Hounds.
Public Races were once held on Henlake Down, for in the years 1794 and 1795 the Squires of Slade and Blachford were successful competitors and silver cups were won in them.
The foundations of the stand, from which the judges could survey the course, are still distinctly visible. Those going to the races from Cornwood and beyond would pass through Fourteen Stone Lane, which derives it's name from a group of large ill-shapen stones lying on the surface of the ground at the Hanger Down end, four of them however have been removed to a distance of a few yards.
At the close of the 19th century and in the beginning of the next, there were National Celebrations, in which the loyal people of Cornwood joined. Those who took part would doubtless remember them 'with pleasure as long as they lived, but in memory of the accession of Edward VII on 26th June, 1902, they had a lasting record of that day in the oak tree planted on the Heathfield by two children, chosen by their fellows in the Cornwood and Lutton schools respectively. Yet a still more permanent memorial for future generations was established by the inauguration of a water supply for the village of Cornwood and some of the houses beyond, when the first sod was cut by the youngest daughter of the vicar, the Rev. J.T. Mundy, in whose glebe the reservoir was to be constructed. It was however at a later date that a water supply was found for Lutton.
These Notes have now come to an end, and though they will probably be of little or no account to a stranger it is hoped that they may be interesting, to those who are in any way connected with Cornwood, and it is also hoped that someone who reads them, and has the time and opportunity for research, may found on them a real history of this parish, which is a field full of all kinds of interest.
Thanks are both due to Mr. R. Hansford Worth, the well known antiquarian and also to the Rev. H. Hugh Breton, Vicar of Sheepstor, for their able criticisms and assistance, which have tended to the accuracy and completeness of these Notes.
Brian Randell, 29 May 2003
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