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Lundy Island Contents & Search
LUNDY ISLAND From White's Devonshire Directory of 1850 LUNDY ISLAND, though situated in the Bristol Channel, about 18 miles west of the mainland, is a detached member of Braunton Hundred. It is about three miles long and one broad, and comprises about 1800 acres. On account of the lofty rocks with which it is encompassed, it is inaccessible, except by a narrow entrance on the eastern side, where a small beach admits a secure approach, and is sheltered by a detached portion of rock called the Isle of Rats. There are on the island a farm-house and a few small cottages. It is farmed by Mr John Lee, and belongs chiefly to J. H. Haven, Esq. It has long been famous for butter, and the feeding of cattle and sheep; and some parts are in tillage, and produce good crops of oats, turnips, potatoes, &c. Towards the northern extremity, the island rises to the height of 800 feet above the level of the sea, and is terminated by a lofty pyramidal rock, called the Constable. It was formerly the retreat of pirates, particularly one of the name of Wm. de Morisco, who, in the reign of Henry III., fled thither, after an unsuccessful attempt against the life of the King; and having fortified it strongly contrived to live in safety for some time, till being taken, with 16 of his followers, he suffered the penalty of the law for his crimes. Edward II, when he was hurried by his disaffected nobles from one part of the kingdom to another, had thoughts of retiring to this island for safety; but he was driven by the wind to Glamorganshire, where he was afterwards betrayed by the Welch. The chief antiquities on the island are what is called Morisco's Castle, and the ruins of St Anne's Chapel. The castle is near the south-east end, and was strongly fortified with large outworks and a ditch. In the reign of Charles I. Lord Say and Seale held this fortress for the King; and in the time of William and Mary, the French surprised it by a stratagem, and plundered and kept it for some time. About the middle of last century, this island was sold by Government to a nobleman, who entrusted it to the care of Benson, a notorious smuggler, and member of parliament, who was at length obliged to make a precipitate flight. It afterwards belonged to Sir J. B. Warren, and has since frequently changed owners. In l840, it was sold for 9400 guineas. Some years ago, two excellent lighthouses were erected upon it; and it has lately been discovered to have a good roadstead, in which a large fleet might ride securely in easterly gales.
Brian Randell, 26 Aug 1999
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