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MAKER, including MOUNT EDGCUMBE

From White's Devonshire Directory of 1850

MAKER parish, which occupies a great part of the bold promontory and peninsula, which juts into the English Channel on the west side of Plymouth Sound, and the south side of the Harbour of Hamoaze, opposite Stonehouse and Devonport, is partly in Cornwall, and contains 2725 inhabitants, and 2260 acres of land, of which 1156 souls and about 1320 acres are in VAULTERSHOLME tithing, which is in Devonshire, and includes the beautiful seat of Mount Edgcumbe, the parish church, the village of Kingsand, and part of Millbrook. The whole parish is in the Archdeaconry of Cornwall and Deanery of East, and the Union of St. Germans. Makerton was one of the manors of the ancient family of the Valletorts, from whom Vaultersholme had its name. Mount Edgcumbe had formerly a village called West Stonehouse, as noticed at page 689, and was the property of the ancient family of Stonehouse, whose heiress brought it to the Durnfords. Sir Piers Edgcumbe, who died in 1539, married the heiress of the Durnford family, and the estate has since remained in his family. His son, Sir Richard, built a castellated mansion on the hill, to which he gave the name of Mount Edgcumbe. Richd. Edgcumbe, Esq., the immediate descendant of Sir Richard, having filled several important public offices in the reigns of George I. and II., was created Baron Edgcumbe, in 1742. His grandson, George, the third baron, was created Viscount Mount Edgcumbe and Valletort in 1781; and in 1789, was raised to the dignity of Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. He died in 1795, and was succeeded by his son, Richard, the late Earl, who died in 1839, when he was succeeded by his son, the present Right Honourable Ernest Augustus Edgcumbe, EARL OF MOUNT EDGCUMBE, and Viscount Valletort, who was born in 1797, and married the daughter of the late Admiral Fielding. He is an aid-de-camp to the Queen, and colonel of the Cornwall Militia.

MOUNT EDGCUMBE, the delightful seat of the Earl of that name, occupies that towering promontory of verdant lawns, groves, parks, rocky cliffs, and sylvan terraces, which overlooks the spacious harbours of Hamoaze and Plymouth Sound, and the towns of Plymouth, Stonehouse, and Devonport; and is approached from thence by the Cremill ferry boat. The beautiful grounds are about three miles in circuit, and the mansion is an extensive and handsome castellated building, which was erected in the reign of Queen Mary, by Sir Richard Edgcumbe, whose father obtained the estate by marrying the heiress of the Durnford family; but it has at various periods undergone considerable alterations. It occupies an elevated situation on the side of a beautifully wooded hill, in a spacious lawn, bounded with rich old timber trees, growing down to the water's edge. The house is built chiefly of red limestone, obtained near the spot, and covered with stucco; but the doors and window cases are of moor-stone. Its form is nearly square, with a tower at each corner, and battlements on the top. The towers were originally round; but about 80 years ago, they were rebuilt in an octagon shape, and of a larger size. The hall occupies the centre of the house, and rises to the height of the second story. This spacious and elegant room was newly fitted up by the first Lord Edgcumbe, in the Grecian style, and is handsomely decorated with Doric columns and pilasters of Devonshire marble, surrounded by an Ionic entablature. At each end of the hall is a gallery, in one of which is an organ. The chimney-pieces, tables, and termini supporting the busts, are of different varieties of Cornish granite, highly polished. Among the numerous family portraits which decorate the mansion, is one of Margaret Edgcumbe, maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth, painted in the 68th year of her age, and the 48th of her widowhood. Here are also full-lengths of Charles II., James II., William III., and Prince Rupert; and also finely executed heads of Charles I. and his natural grandson, the Duke of Monmouth. The northern windows command a noble vista, irregularly bounded by trees of various species, extending down to the broad harbour of Hamoaze, near its confluence with Plymouth Sound. Of the modern additions which have been made to this edifice, that of a wing, containing a library well stored with books, and other rooms, is not the least important. The grounds surrounding the house are laid out in the most pleasing and diversified manner. They rise on the east in precipitous acclivities from the rocky shore of the Sound; but those parts which stretch along the shore of Hamoaze and Millbrook Lake, on the north and north-west, slope to the water with a gentler inclination. "Throughout the whole demesne, an agreeable alternation of lawn, grove, and garden scenery, gratifies and relieves the eye; yet the prevailing style is of a richly varied woodland character. The general impression which an examination of its beauties leaves on the mind, is that of a magnificent Italian landscape, with its thick umbrageous woods rising proudly above each other." To walk round and view this beautiful mount, it is necessary for strangers to make application to Mrs. Huss, bookseller, Stonehouse, when a guide may be obtained for a party not exceeding six persons; but on Mondays free admission is given to the public., without more trouble than entering names at the lodge gate. On the left of the entrance are pleasure grounds or gardens, which skirt the entrance to the harbour, and are laid out in the respective styles of the English, French, and Italian horticulturists: the latter enriched with a noble conservatory, statues, urns, fountains, and long avenues of oderiferous orange trees. In the French garden is an octagonal room, opening into conservatories. At the back of this apartment a pleasing illusion is created by the removal of a picture; - a small antique statue of Meleager is then discovered, behind which is a mirror that reflects most of the various objects within the garden. In this division, opposite a beautiful magnolia tree, is a votive urn and tablet, inscribed to the memory of the late Countess of Mount Edgcumbe, who died in 1806, and to whose genius these grounds owe many of their improvements. The English garden is larger than the others, and contains many majestic and beautiful trees, including several magnolias, Libanian and Virginian cedars, &c. Here, likewise, is a neat pavilion, of the Doric order, the marble basin of which is supplied with hot and cold water, from the months of bronzed dolphins. A walk leading from this garden descends into a deep excavation or quarry, which, from being embosomed amidst lofty evergreens, overspread with parasitical plants, and interspersed with antique urns, sarcophagi, and other funeral emblems, assumes the character of an ancient cemetery. At one extremity, to increase the interest from association, amidst a heap of architectural fragments, lies a fine capital of the Corinthian order, brought from the ruins of Alexandria. Near this spot, on the margin of Barnpool, is the block-house, now partly in ruins and mantled with ivy. This, with a similar fort at Devil's Point, the opposite promontory, was erected in the reign of Elizabeth, for the defence of the harbour. Near Barnpool is the "amphitheatre," a noble assemblage of trees, rising with symmetrical curvature, rank above rank, to a great elevation, and displaying an endless variety of form and foliage. Among the exotics are some beautiful tulip trees, a majestic cedar of Libanus, several vast plane trees, and a Caroline poplar of extraordinory height. Near the beach is a neat Ionic rotunda, in which is a bust of Milton, and an inscription quoted from his Paradise Lost, in apposite allusion to the umbrageous mantling of the contiguous acclivity. The next object of attraction is an artificial ruin, representing the remains of a Gothic tower, the summit of which commands a panoramic prospect of great beauty. Near this ruin is a cottage, romantically situated near the cliff, and having a neat garden plot, teeming with shrubs and flowers. The southern side of the hill, towards the sea, is an abrupt rocky cliff, planted with almost every kind of evergreen tree and shrub, many of them of extraordinary size. Midway up the bill, through these plantations, extends the great terrace; and walks cut in zig-zag directions have been carried from thence upwards towards Redding Point, and downwards to the very brink of the precipitous cliff. These walks lead to numerous points of view, affording an extraordinary variety of wild and romantic scenery. The imitation Indian cottage, on the summit, overlooks the Sound. In Picklecombe is a little secluded valley, in which stand the imitative ruins of an ancient Gothic chapel, mantled with ivy. In Hoe Lake valley is a keeper's lodge, and a deep ravine, which forms the western boundary of the park, which is enlivened by numerous herds of fine deer. From the loftier points of the park, and especially in the neighbourhood of Maker Church, at its western extremity, the more distant landscape presents a series of prospects of the most varied description. In front, and right and left, are the towns and spacious harbours of the Port of Plymouth, and beyond them the horizon is bounded by the lofty and rugged hills of Dartmoor. The far-famed beauties of Mount Edgcumbe have elicited the admiration of the most illustrious personages both of this and foreign nations; poets have been lavish in its praise, and the Admiral of the Spanish Armada fixed his longing eyes upon it from the Channel. and declared that it should be his future residence, after the partition of England among the dons, but as John Bull and his jolly tars were not parties to this arrangement, the Spanish Duke's elysian dreams were never realized. (See page 636.) It was occupied as one of the royal garrisons, to act as a check upon Plymouth, during the civil wars of the 17th century, and was the last fortress in Devon, except Salcombe, that held out for the King. The Parish Church of Maker is dedicated to St. Macra, and the living is a discharged vicarage, valued at £233, in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor, and incumbency of the Rev. Edward Trelawney, M.A. The great tithes were appropriated to Plympton Priory, but now belong to the Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, together with most of the parish. The church occupies a commanding eminence between Mount Edgcumbe and Rame Head, and its tower serves as a land-mark, and in the late wars was used as a signal station. A house at Plympton, let for £12 a year, has been long vested in trust for the repairs of Maker church. Several tenements at Plymouth, left to Maker parish by Joan Bennett, in 1650, are let for £20 a year, of which £14 is divided among the poor, and £6 is paid to the vicar for monthly sermons. The poor parishioners have about £14. 10s. per annum, left by J. Trevill, J. Lanyon, J. Kerley, and other donors. There are several schools and a Wesleyan chapel in the parish.

Brian Randell, 31 Jan 1999

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