Devon, Its Moorlands, Streams and Coasts
by Rosalind Northcote
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Retracing the path to Malmsmead, one is irresistibly tempted to go a few steps into Somerset to look at the tiny church of Oare, where, Mr Blackmore says, Lorna Doone and Jan Ridd were married. The church is very narrow, and it stands among trees on the slope above the stream. On the south side of the nave, close to where the old east wall stood (the chancel is new), is an early piscina of a curious shape; it is supported by a large carved human head, with a hand to each cheek, and there is a thick, solid cap on the top.

Challacombe is a small village on the western border of Exmoor, seven or eight miles south of Lynton, and the church looks far over the moors. Westcote derives the name from 'Choldicombe, or rather Coldecombe, from its cold situation, next neighbour to Exmoor;' and he speaks of 'divers hillocks of earth and stones ... termed burrows and distinguished by sundry names,' in the parish, and hints at their uncanny nature by telling how 'fiery dragons have been seen flying and lighting on them.' Such tales he dismisses scornfully, but he tells of 'a strange accident' that happened 'within these seven years, verified by oath of the party, who otherwise might have had credit for his honesty.' A labouring man, having saved enough money to buy a few acres of waste land, began to build himself a house on it, and from a burrow near by he fetched stones and earth. He had cut deep into the hillock, when 'he found therein a little place, as it had been a large oven, fairly, strongly, and closely walled up; which comforted him much, hoping that some great good would befall him, and that there might be some treasure there hidden to maintain him more liberally and with less labour in his old years: wherewith encouraged he plies his work earnestly until he had broken a hole through this wall, in the cavity whereof he espied an earthen pot, which caused him to multiply his strokes until he might make the orifice thereof large enough to take out the pot, which his earnest desire made not long a-doing; but as he thrust in his arm and fastened his hand thereon he suddenly heard, or seemed to hear, the noise of the trampling or treading of horses coming, as he thought, towards him, which caused him to forbear and arise from the place, fearing the comers would take his purchase from him (for he assured himself it was treasure); but looking about every way to see what company this was, he saw neither horse nor man in view. To the pot again he goes, and had the like success a second time; and yet, looking all about, could ken nothing. At the third time he brings it away, and therein only a few ashes and bones, as if they had been of children, or the like. But the man, whether by the fear, which yet he denied, or other cause, which I cannot comprehend, in very short time after lost senses both of sight and hearing, and in less than three months consuming died.'

This tale is followed by another, of a 'mystical sciencer,' and Westcote finishes with the comment that the stories are 'not unfit tales for winter nights when you roast crabs by the fire, whereof this parish yields none, the climate is too cold, only the fine dainty fruits of wortles and blackberries.'

A little to the north of Challacombe is the great hill of Chapman Burrows, where stands a 'tall, lean slab of slate, the Longstone.' It is nine feet high, and in the broadest part about two feet eight inches wide. The history of the Longstone is unknown, but the suggestion has been made that it may be an ancient relic, a menhir, and this view is supported by the fact that about a dozen large tumuli lie on the slopes around. One of these is between ten and twelve feet high and three hundred feet round at the base. Burrows are found all over Exmoor. 'The eye of reflection sees stand uninterrupted a number of simple sepulchres of departed souls.... A morsel of earth now damps in silence the eclat of noisy warriors, and the green turf serves as a sufficient shroud for kings.'

By far the greatest part of Exmoor lies in Somerset, so that here one must not wander far amongst great round hills, wide distances, and deep combes. One has heard of strangers who have been disappointed by the first sight of Exmoor, for its heights are not very evident. There are no peaks, no sharply-cut isolated hills, nor any with a very striking outline, except Dunkery; but the whole moor is a tableland, across which the coach road runs at a level from twelve hundred to fourteen hundred feet above the sea: 'A bare rolling waste of moorland stretching away into the eastern distance, like the ocean "heaving in long swells,"' and large spaces of bracken, of bogs fringed with cotton-grass and rough grass and whortleberries, among which rise little glittering streams that splash their way down into the valleys beneath.

The sides of the glens leading from the borders of the moor are crowded with endless masses of mountain-ashes, and whether the leaves make a background to the flat creamy clusters of sweet, heavily scented flowers or to great bunches of scarlet fruit, the long ranks give a very rich effect.

Mr R. J. King has observed that Exmoor, 'still lonely and uncultivated,' was probably at one time during the English conquests a boundary or 'mark,' 'always regarded as sacred and placed under the protection of some deity or hero.' Amongst some very interesting remarks, he says that the intermingling in Devonshire of the Celtic and Teutonic races 'may be traced in folk-lore, not less distinctly than in dialect or in features.... Sigmund the Waelsing, who among our English ancestors represented Sigfried, the great hero of the Niebelungen-lied, has apparently left his name to the deep pool of Simonsbath ... again, side by side with traditions of King Arthur, to the parish of Simonsward in Cornwall.'

It is difficult to imagine any moorlands destitute of superstition, and plenty linger on Exmoor. Mr Page (writing in 1890) gave some instances that have occurred comparatively lately. He speaks of 'overlooking' and of witchcraft, and says that 'not many years since the villagers of Withycombe, by no means an Ultima Thule among hamlets, firmly believed that certain ancient dames had the power of turning themselves into white rabbits.'

'An astonishing instance of belief in witchcraft' within his own experience was one where an old woman—'as harmless a creature as can be found in the country'—was believed by her neighbours to have not only the evil eye, but also 'the power of turning herself into a black dog, in which form she was met a short time since, during the twilight hour, in a neighbouring lane. For these all-sufficient reasons the poor old soul was, for a while, unable to obtain the services of a nurse during an illness from which she is only now recovering.'

Another story shows the remarkable powers of a wise woman. Mr Page explains that he cannot give the real name of the couple, but calls them Giles. Giles deserted his wife. 'For a while Mrs Giles bore his absence with a fortitude born, perhaps, of no very great love for her partner. Then she suddenly took it into her head to have him home. She did not telegraph, she did not even write; but one day the errant husband was seen by the astonished villagers hurrying towards his deserted home. And his footsteps were marked with blood! The witch-wife had compelled his return in such haste that not only the soles of his boots, but those of his feet, were worn out.'

Mr Page mentions that 'the old mediaeval custom of touching a corpse still prevails. At an inquest lately held at or near South Molton, each of the coroner's jury, as he filed past the body, laid his fingers on the forehead. This act, it was believed, would free him from dreams of the deceased.

Omens and portents such as mysterious knockings, a particular sound of church-bells, or a bird flying into a room, are very grave warnings, and a story of this character comes from near Taunton. 'A farmer riding home from Taunton Market noticed a white rook among the sable flock settling over a field. When he reached home there were symptoms of uneasiness among his cattle, and that night the dogs barked so vociferously that he had to get up and quiet them. In the morning he was dead.'

Writing of other traditions, 'one of the most beautiful of Easter customs still survives. Young men have not yet ceased on the Resurrection morning to climb the nearest hill-top to see the sun flash over the dark ridge of Quantock, or the more distant line of Mendip.' To see the newly-arisen sun on Easter morning was an augury of good luck. 'Early in the century Dunkery, probably because it is the highest land in Somerset, was favoured above all surrounding hills, and its sides,' says Miss King, 'were covered with young men, who seemed to come from every quarter of the compass, and to be pressing up towards the Beacon.'

Exmoor stag-hunting is far-famed, for it is the only corner of England where wild red deer are still to be found. The fashion of coming here to hunt from a distant part of the country is comparatively modern, but Hugh Pollard, Ranger of the Forest, kept a pack of stag-hounds at Simonsbath more than three hundred years ago, and the Rangers who succeeded him continued to keep the hounds.

Even before the Conquest, the moor had been a royal hunting-ground. Deeds show that in the reign of Edward the Confessor there were at least three Royal Foresters; and William I, says Mr Rawle, 'probably reserved to himself the forest rights, for the Conqueror, according to the Saxon Chronicle, "loved the tall deer as though he had been their father," and would scarcely be likely to forgo any privileges concerning the vert and venison.' Various tenures show that later Kings kept Exmoor as a preserve. Walter Aungevin held land in Auri and Hole (near South Molton) under Edward III, 'by sergeantry that whensoever our lord the King should hunt in the forest of Exmoor, he should find for him two barbed arrows.' And Morinus de la Barr, farther to the west, near Braunton, held his land on the same tenure with the addition of finding 'one salmon.'

Nearly thirty years later in the same reign, a very curious tenure is registered. 'Walter Barun held certain lands and tenements in the town of Holicote, of the King in capite, by the service of hanging upon a certain forked piece of wood the red deer that die of the murrain in the King's forest of Exmoor; and also of lodging and entertaining the poor strangers, weakened by infirmities, that came to him, at his own proper costs, for the souls of the ancestors of our Lord King Edward.'

The Forest of Exmoor was part of the jointure of several Queens of England. Henry VIII settled it on Catherine of Aragon, and it was afterwards held by Jane Seymour. James I gave it to his Queen, but Charles I had other views, and announced his intention of drawing 'the unnecessary Forests and Waste Lands' [Dartmoor and Exmoor] 'to improvement.' Needless to say, the scheme died in its early stages, and when Charles II came to the throne, he granted a lease of the forest to the Marquis of Ormonde.

Besides the wild-deer on Exmoor, there are, as everyone knows, creatures almost as wild—herds of Exmoor ponies. Very few now are pure 'Exmoors,' except those belonging to Sir Thomas Acland. Among these ponies the true breed has been carefully preserved, and there has been no crossing. It seems a little odd to think of Exmoor ponies being mentioned in Domesday, but Mr Chanter quotes an entry referring to the stock in the parishes of Lynton and Countisbury, '72 brood mares, probably the Exmoor ponies running half wild on the moor; in Brendon, 104 wild mares (equas indomitas) are mentioned.'

'The average height is 12-1/2 hands, and bays and buffy bays with mealy noses prevail; in fact, are in the majority of three to one.' The older ponies live out all the year round, but stacks of hay and straw are built by the herdsmen against the time when the snow lies deep. 'Still, like honest, hard-working labourers, the ponies never assemble at the wicket till they have exhausted every means of self-support by scratching with their fore-feet in the snow for the remnants of the summer tufts, and drag wearily behind them an ever-lengthening chain of snowballs.'

The moor makes an excellent sheep-walk, but attempts to cultivate it have not prospered. As far as agriculturists are concerned, 'Exmoor is best left alone—the "peat and heather in hill and dale."'

There is an old ballad called 'The Farmer's Son of Devonshire,' in which the views of one character, 'Brother Jack,' show a distinct resemblance to those of the great John Fry in 'Lorna Doone.' Here are a few verses. The sub-title is a long one, beginning: 'Being the Valiant Coronel's Return from Flanders.' To the tune of 'Mary, live long.'

'WILL. Well met, Brother Jack, I've been in Flanders With valiant Commanders, and am return'd back to England again; Where a while I shall stay, and shall then march away; I'm an Officer now. Go with me, dear Brother, go with me, dear Brother, And lay by the Plow. I tell thee, old boy, the son of a farmer, In glittering armour, may kill and destroy A many proud French; As a Squire or Knight, having courage to fight, Then valiantly go, In arms like a Soldier, in arms like a Soldier, To face the proud foe.

'JACK. But, dear Brother Will, you are a vine yellow, And talk mighty mellow, but what if they kill Thy poor brother Jack By the pounce of a gun? If they shou'd I'm undone. You know that I never, you know that I never, Had courage to fight.

[WILL replies at some length.]

'JACK. The enemies' men with horror will fill me, Perhaps they may kill me, and where am I then? This runs in my mind; Should I chance to be lame, will the trophies of Fame Keep me from sad groans? A fig for that honour, a fig for that honour, Which brings broken bones.

'Such honour I scorn, I'd rather be mowing, Nay, plowing or sowing, or threshing of corn, At home in a barn; Then to leave Joan my wife, and to loose my sweet life, In peace let me dwell; I am not for fighting, I am not for fighting, So, Brother, Farewell.'


Castles and Country-Houses

'As Marly's bright green leaves give place To tints of rich and mellowed glow; As close the shortening autumn days, Whilst summer lingers, loth to go; Quick rises each familiar scene, And fancy homewards turns her gaze; Such are the hues in Oakford seem, And such a light o'er Iddesleigh plays— Methinks the oaks of dear old Pynes With richer brown delight the eye; Nor would I take these reddening vines For our wild cherry's crimson dye.'


Powderham Castle is a fine building in a lovely setting. On the east the park leads down towards the marshy edge of the broad rippling estuary, on either side there spread trees and bracken, with the deer feeding among them, and hills sloping gradually upwards make a very pretty background.

The Castle is difficult to describe, for one century after another has added a wing or pulled down a corner, and the result is an irregular building of very varying architecture. Even the exact colour is not easy to tell, but different shades of grey prevail. The north tower, the earliest part, is built of small and uneven stones. There is a tradition that Powderham was begun by William of Eu soon after the Conquest, and another story is that it existed before that date, and was built by a Saxon to prevent the Danes sailing up the river to Exeter; but the oldest portion now standing is probably due to Sir Philip Courtenay, who was born about A.D. 1337.

The Castle was strongly fortified, and in the Civil War withstood an attack planned by General Fairfax himself. The General, says Sprigg, ordered 'a design in hand against Pouldrum-house, by water and land, which, being on Friday, December 12, was immediately put in execution.... The design against Pouldrum-house was this, and thus carried: Lord's Day, December 14, nine of the clock at night, Captain Deane (the comptroller of the ordnance) was commanded over Ex with 200 foot and dragoons, to possess Pouldrum-castle, but the enemy had some few hours before got 150 into it, unto those that were there before, which our men not discovering before they had landed, would not return without attempting something. The church at Pouldrum being not far distant from the castle, they resolved to possess and make the best of it, and accordingly did so, and the next morning they got provisions from Nutwell-house unto them into the church, and began to fortify the same. The enemy at Excester, much startled hereat, fearing the castle would be lost, as well as the river blocked up by the fortifying of this church, sent therefore, on Monday, the 15th, a party of 500 foot, who joining with 200 from the castle assaulted our men about seven at night, threw in many hand granadoes amongst them, and so continued storming till ten, but were beaten off with much loss, leaving their dead on the place, and carrying with them many wounded, as appeared by the snow, that was much stained with blood as they retreated.' The Parliamentary soldiers remained in the church, and Sprigg, not unnaturally, vaunts their stoicism a little. 'They were resolved to continue in their duty; and notwithstanding the extremity of the cold, by reason of the great frost and snow, and want of all means to resist or qualify the same in the church, having no firing there, they would not quit the same till they received orders to do so; which hard service (hard in every respect) ... they were not immediately discharged of.' However, the next day, 'the general considering further the bitter coldness of the weather, and the hardness of the duty they would necessarily be put unto, if they should make good the church, sent orders to them to draw off, w^h that they might do with the more safety, two regiments were appointed to draw down and alarm the enemy on that side Excester, while they made good their retreat over the river.'

Powderham held out gallantly for more than another month, notwithstanding that 'Colonel Hammond was set down with some force' about it; and Fairfax, on his return from his victory at Dartmouth, 'marched to Chidley, endeavouring first to take a view of Pouldrum,' meditating a fresh attack. But the garrison had reached their limit of endurance, and the same night (January 24, 1646) the Castle was surrendered.

About the year 1700 great alterations were made, and now battlemented towers and French windows, iron balconies, and loopholes in massive walls many feet thick, in strange juxtaposition, show how it has been adapted to the taste and needs of its successive owners. On the west is a large courtyard, the Castle itself forming one side of the quadrangle; on the east, a broad terrace, set with little box-edged beds, high vases, and clipped cypresses, and little turrets at the angles. Smaller terraces run north and south of the Castle, and along the south terrace is a magnificent thick, high, and very dense yew-hedge. The centre of the east front is a low tower, and at each end are projecting wings. In the south wing is the present chapel, once a granary. Perhaps its most uncommon feature is the number of old bench-ends, most of whose panels are carved with heads, some of which were shaped piously, though others are grotesque. Through the chapel is the priest's room, a large and delightful one, lighted on three sides; with Pope Gregory in stained glass, and the Courtenay arms beneath, in one window.

The walls of the 'staircase hall' are a pale blue-green, and show a bold and very elaborate decoration, a belated example of the manner of Grinling Gibbons. Long white garlands, holding together flowers, fruit, spears, a quiver of arrows, birds, beasts, trumpets, and a mass of intricate designs, hang down the walls in high relief. The fine banqueting-hall has a carved and vaulted roof, and high at one end is a gallery. Deep panelling runs all round the hall, and at the head of the panels are little shields, the coats of arms of the English and French branches of the Courtenays, and of the ladies whom the successive heads of the family have married—with, in every case, the shields of her parents and grandparents as well. The heraldic chimneypiece is high and very elaborate. In the long drawing-rooms hang two examples of the few life-size groups that Richard Cosway painted. Both pictures are of three daughters of the house; the dresses are white, and the whole colouring extremely delicate. In the most delightful of the two the ladies are standing, and their figures and attitudes are extremely graceful. In the second picture all three are sitting on the ground, and though very pretty, this group has not the particular charm of the first. The large 'music-room' has been arranged to suit its name, for on the walls are tiny frescoes representing the triumph of Music, musical instruments are sculptured in marble on the chimneypiece, and even pattern the Aubusson carpet. In the panelled entrance-hall is some fine carving, and here hang the rather melancholy portraits of the unhappy Marquis of Exeter and his unfortunate son, and a large picture of a Lord and Lady Devon, most of their fourteen daughters, and their only son.

Powderham was brought to the Courtenays as the dowry of Margaret Bohun, daughter of the Earl of Hereford, and she left it to her fifth son, Sir Philip Courtenay, the ancestor of the present owner.

It would be impossible here to attempt the most imperfect outline of the changing fortunes of this 'imperial family,' even from the date at which they settled in England, and without any reference to the days when Courtenays were Kings of Jerusalem and Emperors of Constantinople. Members of this family have played important parts in different crises of the nation's history, and very many have been eminent in peace and war. From the chronicle of their lives and losses, battles and honours, I am able to quote here only a few scattered instances.

Sir Hugh Courtenay, born 1327, was often 'employed by the King in his wars in France and Scotland,' and fought at the battle of Crecy. The next year, among other 'brave Martialists,' he diverted himself by mimic battles at Eltham, and it is recorded that at this tournament the King gave him 'an Hood of White Cloth, embroidered with men in the posture of Dancers, buttoned with large Pearls.' Authorities are divided as to whether he or his father, the Earl of Devonshire, was one of the founders of the Order of the Garter. Sir Hugh's son of the same name married Matilda, daughter of the Earl of Kent, and his wife—usually known as the Fair Maid of Kent, Lady Matilda Courtenay—inherited her mother's beauty—'"the fairest lady in England," saith Froissard.' Hugh Courtenay died young, and his widow fell in love with 'Lord Valeran, Earl of St Paul, who, having been taken Prisoner in the Marches of Calais, was kept in the English Court, and by his winning Behaviour did much engage the Ladies Affections to him. The Princess her Mother [who as a widow had married the Black Prince] was at first much against the match, but at last she yielded, and the king her brother gave his consent, and for her dowry bestowed upon the Earl the Manor of Byfleet. Walsington says that this marriage was celebrated on the Octaves of Easter, at Windsor, with great Pomp, and the Earl got from France a great many Musicians and Dancers for that purpose.'

Sir Hugh was the eldest of seventeen children, and several of the sons were distinguished men. On the eve of the Battle of Navaretto, Sir Hugh, Sir Philip, and Sir Peter were knighted together by the Black Prince. Their eagerness to fight on land or sea led, on one occasion, to an unfortunate result. In 1378 the Duke of Lancaster was exasperating the fleet under his orders by his 'slow Proceedings and unnecessary delays,' and a part of it set out without him. 'Sir Philip and Sir Peter Courtenay, two brothers who had the Command of some ships, espying some vessels belonging to the enemy, inconsiderately assaulted them, being the whole Spanish Fleet, and though they bravely fought, and defended themselves, yet in the end were beaten, most of them who were good gentlemen of Devonshire and Somersetshire being slain. Sir Peter with some others were taken Prisoners, and Sir Philip was sore wounded but escaped the hands of his enemies.'

Later on Sir Philip was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and must have wrestled with enough turbulence and riot to satisfy anyone. His manner of governing seems, at any rate, to have pleased the King, who, whilst Sir Philip was still in office, showered honours upon him—'the Park of Bovey Tracey ... Dartmoor Forest, and the Manour of Bradnich.' He was made 'Steward of all the King's Manours and Stannaries in the county of Cornwall,' and later on was appointed to other posts of importance. Unluckily, Sir Philip's chief principle of action seems to have been that might is right, and complaints being made to the King that he had expelled two of his neighbours from parts of their lands, and imprisoned the Abbot of Newenham, and two of his monks, 'with great force,' the intrepid knight was sent to the Tower. However, after a little while, 'at the request of the Lords and Commons, he was restored to his place and good name.'

William Courtenay, a brother to Sir Philip, was Bishop of London at the critical time when Wyclif's doctrines were first stirring men's minds, and after the murder of Archbishop Sudbury, Bishop Courtenay was translated to Canterbury, and began to take very severe measures against the heretics. A strange event marked a meeting of many dignitaries of Church and State, who had gathered to censure Wyclif's teaching and find means for its extermination. 'When they were just going to begin their business a wonderful and terrible earthquake happened throughout all England, whereupon differs of the suffragans being affrighted thought fit to leave off their business, but the Archbishop encouraged them to go on, and they proceeded to examine Articles of Wickliff, and to give their censure upon them.'

The Archbishop persuaded Parliament to pass an Act against certain preachers of heresy, that they might be arrested and kept 'in strong Prison until they shall justify themselves according to the Law of the Holy Church,' and brought the Chancellor of Oxford literally to his knees, begging the Archbishop's pardon for having shown favour to the Lollards against special commands.

His strong will was exercised in all matters, great and small, and offenders were punished in the most conspicuous fashion. The Archbishop took a high hand in dealing with affairs of the Diocese of Exeter, and the Bishop of Exeter greatly resented it, and appealed against him to Rome. The Archbishop then 'cited' Bishop Brantyngham 'to answer certain Articles to be proposed to him in the Visitation,' but some of the 'Bishop's Officers' met the bearer at Topsham, and 'did beat him, and forced him to eat the Citation, Parchment, Wax, and all.' The contempt of his commands, and the maltreatment of his messenger, naturally roused the Archbishop to wrath, and he inflicted this very heavy penance: 'That in the Church of Canterbury, St Paul's in London, and the Cathedral Church of Exeter, they should upon three Holy Days named, being in their shirts only, in a Procession going before the Cross, carry Wax Tapers burning in their hands, and then that they should give to the Priest a Salary to say Mass every day at the Tomb of the Earl of Devonshire; and lastly, every one of them was enjoined to pay a sum of money, for repairing the Walls of the City of Exeter.' In addition to the public disgrace, the trouble and cost of this penance must have been immense.

The sixth of these brothers, Sir Peter Courtenay, was, says Fuller, 'a true son of Mars and actuated with such heroic fire, that he wholly addicted himself unto feats of arms.' It has been already mentioned that he fought in the Spanish wars, and in milder moments he distinguished himself at 'justs and tournaments now justled out of fashion by your carpet knights.' As a prisoner of war in France, his captivity was lightened by the attentions he received, even from the King of France himself, and he was on such good terms with his captors that after his release he gained leave of Richard II 'to send into France, by Northampton Herald, and by Anlet Pursuivant, as a return for the civilities he received in France ... eight cloths of Scarlet, Black and Russet, to give to certain Noblemen of that Realm; as also two Horses, six saddles, six little bows, one sheaf of large Arrows and another sheaf of Cross-bow Arrows; likewise a Greyhound, and other dogs for the King of France's Keeper.'

The Wars of the Roses were especially fatal to the House of Courtenay, no less than three Earls of Devon losing their lives for King Henry, and in consequence the elder branch of the family became extinct.

A pleasanter time to look back upon was the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII. Henry VII had married Elizabeth, the elder, and the Earl of Devonshire Katherine, the younger, of Edward IV's daughters, and after Henry VIII's accession to the throne the Earl of Devonshire seems to have been much at Court. In the early months of 1509 preparations were made for 'solemn Justs in Honour of the Queen. The King was one, and with him three Aids: the King was called Coeur Loial, and the Earl of Devonshire, Bon Voloire, Sir Thomas Nevet, Bon Espoire, Sir Edward Nevil, Valiant Desire, and their Names were put in a fine Table, and the Table was hung on a Tree curiously wrought, and they were called Les Chevaliers de le Forest Salvigne, and they were to run at the Tilt with all comers.'

The irony of the King's choice of a nom de guerre seems to have escaped the historian.

'On the 1st day of May 1510, 2 Henry VIII, the King, accompanied with a great many valiant Nobles, rode upon managed Horses to the Wood to fetch May, where he and three others, viz., Sir Edward Howard, Charles Brandon, and Edward Nevil, which were Challengers, shifted themselves, and did put on coats of green Sattin, guarded with crimson Velvet; and on the other side were the Earls of Essex and Devonshire, the Marquis of Dorset, and the Lord Howard, and they were all in crimson Sattin, guarded with a pounced Guard of green Velvet. On the third Day the Queen made a great Banquet for the King and those who had justed, and after the Banquet she gave the Chief Prize to the King, the second to the Earl of Essex, the third to the Earl of Devonshire, and the Fourth to the Marquess of Dorset. Then the Heralds cried aloud, My Lords, For your noble Feats in Arms, God send you the Love of the Ladies whom you most admire.'

The next year the Earl of Devonshire died, and was succeeded by his son, Henry, who for a time was high in the favour of his royal cousin. He seems also to have taken part in many 'Justs and Tourneys.' One summer 'the Queen desired the King to bring to his Manour of Havering in Essex, to the Bower there, the Gentlemen of France that were Hostages, for whose Welcome she provided all things in a liberal manner.' The entertainment seems to have taken the shape of a small masked ball, and 'the King gave many gifts where he liked.' At the Field of the Cloth of Gold, the Earl of Devonshire had the honour of tilting with the French King, 'and they ran so hard together that both their Spears broke, and so they maintained their Courses nobly.'

The next year 'the King kept his Christmas at Greenwich in great splendour'; and there was another tournament and many challenges. 'Noble and rich was their Apparel, but in Feats of Arms the King excelled the rest.'

In the year 1525 the Earl was created Marquis of Exeter, and seven years later, before starting for France, the King formally named his cousin Heir Apparent to the Crown. After this Fortune turned her back on him, and though, at the King's bidding, he dealt with the northern rebels, taking with him 'a jolly company of Western Men, well and completely appointed,' it was thought that his power, shown by 'so sudden raising divers thousands,' awoke the King's jealousy. The influence of the Marquis 'over the west was second only to the hold which the Duke of Norfolk had upon the eastern counties'; and therefore, when two years later it was reported he had said, 'Knaves rule about the King. I trust to give them a buffet one day,' Cromwell was glad to seize the opportunity of simultaneously striking at feudalism in the West, and of dealing a blow at the inflexible Cardinal Pole, the Courtenays' kinsman. The Marquis was at once arrested on the charge of being an accomplice of the Cardinal, and was beheaded on Tower Hill.

Edward, his son, who was only twelve years old at the time of his father's death, was committed to the Tower, 'lest he should raise Commotions by revenging his Father's Quarrel,' and here he remained for twenty-seven years. There is a pretty account of Queen Mary coming to the Tower, soon after her accession, where 'Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, Dr Gardiner, late Bishop of Winchester, Edward Courtenay, son and heir to Henry Marquis of Exeter, the Dutchess of Somerset, Prisoners in the Tower, kneeling on the Hill, within the same Tower, saluted her Grace, and she came to them and kissed them, and said, "These be my prisoners," and caused them presently to be set at liberty.'

The very next day the Queen restored to her cousin the title of Earl of Devon (forfeited by his father's attainder), and soon after all his lands that remained in her possession, and also showed him other favours. In fact, 'it was reported that she carried some good affections towards the Earl, from the first time that she saw him.... Concerning which, there goes a story that the young Earl petitioning the Queen for leave to travel, she advised him to marry and stay at home, assuring him that no lady in the land, how high soever, would refuse to accept of him for a husband, by which words, she pointed out herself to him, as plainly as might either stand with the Modesty or Majesty of a Maiden Queen.' But, says Fuller with extreme candour, 'either because his long durance had some influence on his brain, or that naturally his face was better than his head, or out of some private fancy and affection (which is most probable) to the Lady Elizabeth,' who, another writer declares, 'of that moderate Share of Beauty that was between them, had much the better of her,' the Earl evaded the honour hinted to him, and begged leave to pay his addresses to the younger Princess. The Queen's feelings and vanity were deeply wounded, and, on a suspicion that the Princess as well as himself were concerned in Wyatt's rebellion, they were both sent to the Tower.

Cleaveland tells a charming story of the Princess and of a child who lived in the Tower. 'During the time that the Lady Elizabeth and the Lord Courtenay were in Prison, a little boy, the son of a Man that lived in the Tower, did use to resort unto their chambers and did often bring her Grace Flowers, as he did to the other Prisoners that were there, whereupon some suspicious heads, thinking to make something of it, on a Time called the Child unto them, promising him Figs and Apples, and asked him when he had been with the Earl of Devonshire, knowing that he did use to go to him: The Boy answered, That he would go by and by thither. Then they demanded of him, when he was with the Lady Elizabeth? He answered Every Day. Then they asked him, what the Lord Devonshire sent by him to her Grace? The Child said, I will go and know what he will give to carry to her; such was the discretion of the child (says Mr Fox), being but four Years of Age. This same is a crafty Boy, said the Lord Chamberlain; How say you, my lord Shandois? I pray you, my Lord, says the Boy, give me the Figs you promised me; No, quoth the Lord, thou shalt be whipt, if thou come any more to the Lady Elizabeth or the Lord Courtenay. The Boy answered, I will bring my Lady and Mistress more flowers, whereupon the Child's Father was commanded to permit the Boy to come no more up into the chambers. The next Day, as her Grace was walking in the Garden, the Child peeping in at a Hole in the Door, cried unto her, Mistress, I can bring no more flowers: Whereat she smiled, but said nothing, understanding thereby what they had done. Soon after the Chamberlain rebuked highly his Father, commanding him to put him out of the House; Alas! poor Infant, said the Father: It is a crafty Knave, quoth the Lord Chamberlain, let me see him here no more.'

Soon after Queen Mary's marriage, her husband tried hard to persuade her to release her sister and the Earl, 'and nothing, says Heylin, did King Philip more Honour amongst the English.' It is to be remembered to his good, that he interceded very earnestly, and in the end successfully, for another Devonshire conspirator in Wyatt's rising, Sir Peter Carew.

The Earl, fearing that he might, 'upon the first disorder, be committed to the Tower, to which his Stars seemed to condemn him,' prudently resolved to go abroad; but he must have been born under a very unlucky planet, for the next year he was seized with illness, and died at Padua. With him the title became extinct for about two hundred and fifty years; then Lord Courtenay, a descendant of the Powderham branch of Courtenays, established his claim to the earldom. As the attainder of the Marquis of Exeter was never reversed, that title was never revived in this family.

Among the 'Roxburghe Ballads' is one relating to the Courtenays, called 'The Stout Cripple of Cornwall.' No notes throw any light upon the possible origin of the story or offer any opinion as to the probability of the ballad being an account of a true incident, or 'founded on fact,' or wholly imaginary.

'Of a stout Cripple that kept the highway, And beg'd for his living all time of the day, A story I'll tell you that pleasant shall be— The Cripple of Cornwall sirnamed was he.

'He crept on his hands and his knees up and downe, In a torn jacket and ragged patcht gowne; For he had never a leg to the knee— The Cripple of Cornwall sirnamed was he.

'He was of stomake courageious and stout, For he had no cause to complaine of the gout; To go upon stilts most cunning was he, With a staff on his neck most gallant and free.

'Yea, no good-fellowship would he forsake, Were it in secret a purse to take, His help was as good as any might be, The Cripple of Cornwall sirnamed was he.

'When he upon any such service did go, The crafty young Cripple provided it so, His tools he kept close in an old hollow tree, That stood from the city a mile, two or three.

'Thus all the day long he beg'd for relief, And late in the night he play'd the false theefe, And seven years together this custom kept he, And no man thought him such a person to be.

'There were few graziers who went on the way, But unto the Cripple for passage did pay. And every brave merchant that he did descry, He emptied their purses ere they passed by.

'The gallant Lord Courtenay, both valiant and bold, Rode forth with great plenty of silver and gold, At Exeter there (for) a purchase to pay, But that the false Cripple his journey did stay.

'For why, the false Cripple heard tidings of late, As he lay for almes at this noble-man's gate, What day and what houre his journey should be; "This is," quoth the Cripple, "a booty for me."

'Then to his companions this matter he moved, Which he in like actions before-time had proved; They make themselves ready, and deeply they sweare, This money's their own, before they come there.

'Upon his two stilts the Cripple doth mount, To have the best share he makes his account; All clothed in canvas downe to the ground, He takes up his standing, his mates with him round.

'Then comes the Lord Courtenay, with half a score men, That little suspected these thieves in their den, And they (thus) perceiving them come to their hand, In a darke (winter's) evening, they bid him to stand.

'"Deliver thy purse," quoth the Cripple, "with speed— For we be good fellows and thereof have need." "Not so," quoth Lord Countenay, "but this I'll tell ye, Win it and wear it, else get none of me."

'With that the Lord Courtenay stood on his defence, And so did his servants; but ere they went hence, Two of the true men were slain in the fight, And four of the thieves were put to the flight.

'And while for their safeguard they run thus away, The jolly bold Cripple did hold the rest play, And with his pikestaff he wounded them so, As they were unable to run or to go.

'With fighting the Lord Courtney was driven out of breath, And most of his servants were wounded to death, Then came other horsemen riding so fast, The Cripple was forced to flye at the last.

'And over a river that ran there beside, Which was very deep and eighteen foot wide, With his long staff and his stilts leaped he, And shifted himself in an old hollow tree.

'Then through the country was hue and cry made, To have these bold thieves apprehended and staid; The Cripple he creep on his hands and his knees, And on the hieway great posting he sees.

'And as they came riding, he begging doth say, "O give me one penny, good masters, I pray;" And thus on to Exeter creeps he along, No man suspecting that he had done wrong.

'Anon the Lord Courtney he spies in the street, He comes unto him and he kisses his feet, Saying, "God save your honour and keep you from ill, And from the hands of your enemies still!"

'"Amen!" quoth Lord Courtney, and therewith flung downe Unto the poor Cripple an English crowne; Away went the Cripple, and thus did he thinke, "Five hundred pound more would make me to drinke."

'In vain that hue and cry it was made, They found none of them, though the country was laid; But this grieved the Cripple both night and by day, That he so unluckily mist of his prey.

'Nine hundred pound this Cripple had got, By begging and thieving—so good was his lot— "A thousand pound he would make it," he said, "And then he would quite give over his trade."

'But as he (thus) strived his mind to fulfill. In following his actions so lewd and so ill, At last he was taken, the law to suffice, Condemned and hanged at Exeter 'size.

'Which made all men greatly amazed to see, That such an impotent person as he Should venture himself in such actions as they, To rob in such sort upon the hye-way.'

On a hill about two miles east of Totnes stand the ruins of Berry Pomeroy, at a little distance almost hidden in the thick woods around them. Vistas of green leaves without end open from the road to the castle, long lines of beeches and oaks stretching out of sight and broken by glades chequered with flickering lights and shadows. On the north and east side of the walls the ground falls away precipitously to a great depth, and a stream runs along the valley beneath. The ruins are covered with ivy, saplings and bushes spread their fresh shoots and sprays among the crumbling stones, and all is open to the sky; but enough remains to show what a noble building Berry Pomeroy must have been. The outer walls of the Castle were built by the Pomeroys—it is thought probable by Henry de Pomeroy, in the reign of King John, though the Castle was granted them by William the Conqueror. A hexagonal tower flanks the gateway on either side. Above it is the guard-room, in which two pillars support circular arches that are in a very perfect condition, and the grooves in the walls for the portcullis may easily be traced. It is usually reported that the Pomeroys' coat of arms is still visible on the gateway, but as the lodge-keeper, who for many years has trimmed the ivy at intervals, has never seen it, it may be that a little imagination has come to the help of mere eyesight.

A curtain wall connects the gateway with a tower called St Margaret's Tower, of which merely the shell remains, smothered in overhanging ivy, brambles, long grass, and a tapestry of plants, and beneath the tower is a small, dark dungeon. To the left, across the quadrangle and along the western wall, are a number of rooms more or less imperfect that belonged to the Pomeroys' castle. They lead one into another, and contain enormous fireplaces and chimneys. Opposite the gateway the ruins are much more broken down, in parts hardly more than fragments and tall trees peer over a low wall, the crowning point of a very steep ascent.

Just inside the gateway, on the right, is the skeleton of the splendid west front, due to Sir Edward Seymour. The inner buildings, which rose in Tudor days, are of a character entirely different from that of the older remains, and the Seymours' spacious ideas were reflected in the magnificence of their castle. The windows and traces of fireplaces in the walls show that it must have been four stories high and held a maze of rooms. One becomes confused wandering through enclosed spaces, cell-like, for the great height, unbroken by floor or ceiling, gives an impression that the rooms are small. Over all is an uncomfortable sense of desertion, and the high empty windows, with stone mullions and square labels, somehow give a skull-like appearance to the frame of the west front. There is not the feeling of repose that there is about some ruins, which seem to disown their debt to man, and to be bent on pretending that they are as entirely a work of Nature as any lichen-covered boulder lying near them. I do not know if Berry Pomeroy is said to be haunted, but it awakens an uneasy sensation that it is itself a ghost—the ghost of an unsatisfied ambition, the creation of many minds who planned and toiled, soared and fell.

As a matter of fact, the Seymours' castle was never finished, and it is curious that, as it was destroyed in comparatively recent times, there should be no account of such an important event. The theory most usually accepted is that it was burned by lightning; but there is no absolute proof that this was the case.

Of the Pomeroys of Berry Pomeroy few records of much importance remain. Ralph de la Pomerai was so 'greatly assistant to William the Conqueror' in subduing this kingdom, that no less than fifty-eight lordships in Devonshire were awarded him. Henry de Pomeroy, in the reign of King John, was a powerful and rebellious noble, who must have been a terror to his weaker neighbours. Occasional glimpses of this family are given by old deeds and papers, as, for instance, in 1267, when a 'Pardon' was granted by 'Edward, eldest son of the king, to Sir Henry de la Pomeroy, who was against the king in the late disturbances in the kingdom.' About the same date is a grant by Sir Henry, 'for the health of his soul,' of the Manor of Canonteign, the advowsons of four churches, and 'other possessions to the Prior and Convent of the Blessed Mary of Martin ... by ordinance of Walter, Bishop of Exeter.'

Some years later Edward I, now King, sent a second pardon to Sir Henry 'and Joan, his wife, for detaining Isabella, daughter and one of the heirs of John de Moles, deceased, and marrying her against the king's will to William de Botreaux, the younger.' So that he appears to have followed his own pleasure with extreme independence.

A note on a more peaceful subject is extracted from the Testa de Nevil: 'Geoffrey de la Worthy holds one tenement, four acres of land and a half, and two gardens of Henry de la Pomeroye, in Bery, rendering at Easter and Midsummer four shillings and nine pence, and one pound of wax and three capons, the price of the wax sixpence, and the capons one penny.' One penny!

The terms of settling several other disputes are preserved—in one case at great length. In the reign of Henry VII, Sir Edward Pomeroy fell out with 'the Mayor of Totnes and his brethren'; several gentlemen arbitrated between them, and eventually 'awarded that the said Sir Edward Pomeroy shall clearly exclude, forgive, and put from him all malice and debates ... and from hensforth to be loving unto theym,' and the same conciliatory spirit was to be shown by the other side. As a really satisfactory conclusion, Sir Edward was desired to send the Mayor and his brethren a buck to be eaten in state, 'Provided that the same Sir Edward be at the etyng of the same bucke, in goodly manner. Furthermore we award that the said maiour and his brethren shal paye for the wyne which shal be dronke at the etyng of the same bucke.'

Sir Thomas Pomeroy, the last of this family to own the Castle, fell into disgrace through joining in the Western rebellion against the Prayer-Book, and his estate passed to the Protector Somerset.

It would be absurd in this chapter to attempt to touch on more than a very few points in the history of the great family of the Seymours, or to touch on any that are not connected with Devonshire. Amongst the Duke of Somerset's papers are some extremely interesting letters and documents relating to Sir Edward Seymour's descendants in this county. The second wife of the Protector Somerset, Ann Stanhope, is described in no flattering terms, one biographer attributing some of the Duke's later troubles to 'the pride, the haughty hate, the unquiet vanity of a mannish, or rather of a divellish, woman.' Haywood says she was 'subtle and violent in accomplishing her ends, and for pride, monstrous.' It can easily be imagined, therefore, that she persuaded the Duke to set aside her stepson in favour of her own eldest son; but all the honours that should have passed to him were forfeited by the attainder of the Duke. The title of Earl of Hertford was, however, restored to Ann Stanhope's son in the reign of James I.

The true heir, Sir Edward Seymour, to whose descendants the dukedom has now reverted, was given Berry Pomeroy by his father. His grandson, Edward, showed great zeal in making ready the defences of the coast when the Armada was expected, and from various letters, orders, and 'precepts,' it is obvious that these preparations brought him great responsibility and an immense amount of work. In 1586 a letter was forwarded to him from the Lord-Lieutenant in reference to the 'beacon watches.' Instructions were sent that 'one, two, or three horses for post' should be kept at a convenient place near each beacon, that one or more might be ready to start at a moment's notice if the signal were given. Further directions were: 'That the wisest and discreetest men of every parish be appointed to assist the constables; ... Commandment to every person within every parish that they do not [set any furze or] heath on fire after seven of the clock in the afternoon.' And there were a host of orders regarding 'the trained soldiers, and also all others mustered and charged with armour.'

Later Colonel Seymour was called into council with the Earl of Bath, the Lord-Lieutenant of the county, and others, to draw up orders as to stores of 'powder, match, and lead,' that 'one moiety more of each sort' be kept in towns than was previously ordered, and that 'armour, weapons, horses, and other necessary furnitures for the wars be held in perfect readiness ... for all sudden service without defect.'

His grandson, another Sir Edward, was a very loyal and devoted servant of Charles I. In 1643 he was given full power and authority in His Majesty's name 'to impress, raise, enroll, and retain one regiment of 1,500 foot soldiers;' and in the following August he was appointed to the important post of Governor of Dartmouth. Besides supervising the garrison and the defences of the town, this officer was required to raise loans, supply ordnance, ammunition, and other necessaries—sometimes even troops—to captains in the neighbourhood. He was also desired to do his best to provide money and 'sea-victuals' for ships going out in the King's service, and received particular instructions from the King to prevent any 'ships, vessels, prizes, or anything belonging to them,' that might be captured, from being plundered or disposed of before they had been 'legally adjudicated by the judge of our Admiralty there ... for the time being.'

The tone of letters that passed between certain generals, Royalist and Puritan, about this date, furnishes an additional reason for mourning the tragedies of the time. The following letter is from the Earl of Warwick to Colonel Seymour:


'1644, July 18.

'I return you my serious acknowledgment of your civility, and should most gladly embrace an opportunity to serve you, not only for your respects, but also for that ancient acquaintance I have had with your noble family and the honour I have borne it, the recalling whereof to memory adds to the trouble of our present distance, which I hope God will, in due time, reconcile, so as the mutual freedom of conversation which we sometimes enjoyed may be restored, which I shall the more value as it may give me advantage of testifying my esteem of you.... It is a pity the truth should be clouded by some mis-informations that have overspread these parts. God will in his time scatter them and undeceive those that wait upon him for counsel.'

A few days later, in Colonel Seymour's reply to this letter, he admits he has been culpably generous to his adversary. 'Truly, for my own part, I had rather err with mercy than justice, for had not my lenity made me a delinquent to duty, your Lordship had wanted some of Dartmouth now aboard you.'

At the beginning of the war a fine letter was written by Sir William Waller to his friend and present adversary, Lord Hopton:


'1643, July 16.

'The experience I have had of your work, and the happiness I have enjoyed in your friendship, are wounding considerations to me when I look upon this present distance between us; certainly, my affections to you are so unchangeable that hostility itself cannot violate my friendship to your person, but I must be true to the cause wherein I serve. The old limitation—usque ad alias—holds still, and where my conscience is interested, all other obligations are swallowed up. I should most gladly wait upon you, according to your desire, but that I look upon you as engaged in that party beyond the possibility of a retreat, and, consequently, incapable of being wrought upon by my persuasions, and I know the conference can never be so close between us but that it would take wind and receive construction to my dishonour. That great God who is the searcher of my heart, knows with what a sad sense I go on upon this service, and with what a perfect hatred I detest this war without an enemy, but I look upon it as opus Dei, which is enough to silence all passion in me. The God of Peace, in his good time, send us the blessing of peace, and, in the mean time, fit us to receive it. We are both upon the stage, and must act the parts that are assigned to us in this tragedy; let us do it in a way of honour and without personal animosities.'

Later, Colonel Seymour gave up the Governorship of Dartmouth, and was succeeded by Sir Lewis Pollard.

Among the Seymour papers are some interesting notes, dated '1645, May 22,' relating to horses and arms raised in the Hundred of Stanborough. 'Mr Bampfield, parson, will bring a horse and arms to-morrow at Berry.... John Key of Rattery affirms that he hath three horses in the King's service; that he hath one mare only, which he proffers; his estate not above 40 li. per annum, and hath no money. Dipford:—Mr William Fowell, late of Dipford Downs, assessed a horse and arms complete; his wife appears; says that Prince Maurice had one horse and Captain Newton had another for a country horse very lately; all the answer. Mr John Newton doth not appear. Buckfastleigh:—Mr Richard Cable hath brought one gelding with all arms, only a carbine instead of pistols, and no rider. Dortington:—Mr Champernowne brought a little pretty fat old horse, but nothing else.'

In 1647 Colonel Seymour's lands and goods were sequestrated, and he himself was kept either in prison or on parole all through Cromwell's days. Letters and papers of this period shed a light on the difficulties and hardships that in some cases befell the families of Cavaliers. Sir Thomas Fairfax intervened on behalf of Mistress Seymour, who was then at the estate of Maiden Bradley in Wiltshire, saying that he had forbidden the soldiers to molest her in any way, and begging the Committee for the County to insure that no civilian 'should prejudice her in the enjoyment of her rights.' The lady had a humbler but very earnest advocate, a servant of Sir Henry Ludlow's, who had been in danger of being ruined 'had she not been means for my preservation.' She had begged his liberty of Colonel Molesworth when the King's soldiers were hunting for him, in order to exchange him for one of their side taken prisoner, 'a blackamoor.' Mistress Seymour, too, gave this poor man a good price for some wheat, 'which then none else would do, and had she not bought it, it is very likely that it would have been taken away by the soldiers, as the corn in the barn was.'

Mistress Seymour was evidently strong-minded as well as charitable, as is shown in a letter written by her husband from the Marshalsea, at Exeter,—an appeal to be given a hearing. He complains that being 'hurried away to prison and no bail taken, no crime or accusation produced, makes me sigh when I remember the liberty due to a freeborn subject in England'; and the thrust is followed by a threat: 'If this request be denied, I have found a way to be even with them; for, if not granted, I intend to send up my wife.... And I pray advise the Council of State from me, in relation to their own quiet, let them grant my request rather than be punished with her importunity.'

The Council were evidently impressed by Colonel Seymour's wisdom, for two months later they granted him a pass to return home. His liberty was, however, very much clipped, and rather more than two years later the following 'parole' was exacted of him: 'Undertaking to remain at the dwelling-house of Mr Holt in Exeter, and when required to deliver himself a prisoner to Captain Unton Crooke.' Signed.

Sir Edward Seymour died in 1659, and Colonel Seymour, now Sir Edward, became a member of Parliament a year or so later. His letters to Lady Seymour from London are amusing from their variety of news and gossip. Sir Edward's style was terse, not to say jerky. One letter he begins by bitter complaints of their 'most undutiful son,' his 'obstinacy' and 'untowardness,' and then passes on to speak of his own imminent return. Then: 'I was this day sennight, which was the last Saturday, upon the scaffold, where I saw Sir Henry Vane's head severed from his shoulders.... The Queen perfectly recovered. Cherries are cried here in the streets for a penny a pound.'

Sir Edward received scanty reward for all his sacrifices, but he was reappointed Governor of Dartmouth, and in 1679 his son writes to tell him that he had been 'pricked Sheriff for the County of Devon ... by the King with all the kindness imaginable,' and an assurance that if Sir Edward felt the work too much for him, a subordinate should be found and the 'chargeable part' made easy. The Earl of Bath wrote by the same post: 'His Majesty declared in Council that he made choice of you, not only because you were the best man of your county, but also a person on whom he could by long experience place his greatest confidence.'

Sir Edward died in the winter of 1688, and his son became the fifth Sir Edward Seymour of Berry Pomeroy in succession.

The new Sir Edward was a very distinguished man, who in 1672 had been unanimously chosen Speaker of the House of Commons. He was the Seymour whose influence Lord Macaulay rated so highly, and whose support was extremely valuable to William of Orange when he arrived in England. Unfortunately, few of Sir Edward's papers, or papers referring to him, are now to be found. A long and carefully balanced epitaph in Maiden Bradley Church describes him as


* * * * *


About five miles north-east of Berry Pomeroy stands Compton Castle, and there is a tradition that they were once connected by a subterranean passage. Compton is a very interesting example of a fortified manor-house, built in the early part of the fifteenth century. It stands low on the slope of a narrow, winding green valley, and on the west the hill has been cut back to make room for the walls.

The castle faces east, a garden-plot lies in front, and the foundations of an ancient wall divide it from the lawn beyond. Close to the central door stands the base and broken shaft of a stone cross. The picturesque western front of the castle is gabled and embattled, and a very high archway is built in the centre of the wall. The colour is difficult to describe, for the castle is very much overgrown with ivy and a faint green lichen has crept over the stones in many parts, but the shades pass from a rich cream colour to a soft grey. A very marked feature is 'the great number of projections carried on machicoulis, through the openings of which stones and other missiles could be thrown on the heads of assailants.' Both the chief doorway and a postern gate to the south were defended by portcullises.

On the north side an Early Perpendicular window marks the chapel. The central doorway opened into the large and almost square guard-room, and on the north side of this room a pointed doorway leads into the chapel, which keeps some of its special characteristics. At the east end a square space is sunk in the wall above the spot where the altar stood, and in this space the faint traces of a fresco can still just be seen. In the wall that shuts off the guard-room is a cinquefoiled piscina and a four-light window, the stonework of which is like that in the east window, and this window allowed anyone in the guard-room to join in Divine service. In the west wall is a hagioscope, and from a room next the chapel a newel staircase led to the priest's room on the floor above. A little window with two cinquefoiled openings in his wall enabled the priest to look down into the chapel., and the height of the sill from the floor suggests that it may have served him as a prie-dieu. The moulded base of a stone cross still remains over the ancient belfry, which rises out of a mass of ivy.

There are a bewildering number of rooms, many now inaccessible, and the height of the walls shows that there were two or three, and in the north-east block four, stories. The banqueting-hall, forty-two feet in length and twenty-three in width, has utterly disappeared, and only the gable-marks of the roof against the buildings on the south side have enabled Mr Roscoe Gibbs to draw his very careful deductions. In the kitchen the huge fireplace, stretching the whole width of one wall, still keeps its great fire-bars; next the kitchen is the steward's room, above which two stories still stand, though the upper one is absolutely in ruins.

Outside these rooms is a large open space, now grass-grown, and the sprays and buds of a cluster-rose tap against the massive walls. Close by lies a heavy round of granite, slightly hollowed out towards the centre, which is shown as one of the stones used for grinding corn. In an upper room is a hiding-place for treasure—two long, shallow cavities in the floor, of which there cannot have been the slightest sign when the floor was covered with planking. A vaulted passage leads to the south court, and in one corner of this court rises a watch-tower over a horrible little dungeon or chamber of torture.

The walls throughout the whole building are from two and a half to four feet thick, and a thick and solid wall nearly twenty-four feet high protects an inner court, where even in January the turf is firm, springy, and close. At the farther end, on steps leading into the garden, a peacock looks wonderfully appropriate, and some white fantails strutting in front of the heavy walls add very much to the picture. There is scarcely any sign of the old 'pleasaunce,' except a low and fairly broad box-hedge, which runs each side of a path in the present garden, where a few violets and one or two strawberry-blossoms are tokens of the softness of the air.

The Castle has changed owners many times. 'Stephen' held it of Judhael of Totnes; then it passed to the De la Poles; Lady Alice de la Pole gave it to the Comptons, and seven generations later a Compton heiress brought it, in the reign of Edward II, to the family of Gilberts, of whom Sir Humphrey Gilbert was a descendant. The Gilberts seem to have lived alternately at Compton and on their older property, Greenway, and with one interval the castle belonged to them till nearly the end of the eighteenth century. The only trace of them now to be seen is in the spandrels of a small cinquefoil-headed opening on the projecting gabled wing to the south of the central door. Each spandrel is sculptured with their crest, a squirrel holding a hazel branch.

Mr Eden Phillpotts has painted the ruins with a characteristic touch:

'At gloaming time, when the jackdaws make an end of day, when weary birds rustle in the ivy ere they sleep, hearts and eyes, gifted to feel and see a little above the level prose of working hours, shall yet conceive these heroes of old moving within their deserted courts. Some chambers are still whole, and bats sidle through the naked window at the call of dusk; some are thrown open to sun and rain and storm; the chapel stands intact; the scoop for holy water lies still within the thickness of its wall. But aloft, where rich arras once hid the stone, and silver sconces held the torch, Nature now sets her hand, brings spleenwort and harts-tongue, trails the ivy, the speedwell, and the toad-flax....

'Ivy-mantled, solemn, silent, it stands like a sentient thing, and broods with blind eyes upon ages forgotten; when these grey stones still echoed neigh of horse and bay of hound, rattle of steel, blare of trump, and bustle of great retinues.'

The castle of Okehampton stands about half a mile from the town, and looks on one side over fertile hills and valleys, woods, and rich meadows, and the gleaming waters of the West Okement, on the other towards the bold, changeless outlines of the outer barriers of Dartmoor. The Castle was once surrounded by its park. Risdon mentions that originally there were 'Castle, market, and park adjoining.... The park, which containeth a large circuit of land, King Henry the eighth, by the persuasion of Sir Richard Pollard, disparked and alienated the same.' The Okement, rippling over a rocky bed—the name uisg maenic means the 'stony water'—hurries past the foot of a knoll on which the castle rises out of a cloud of green leaves that shelter and half hide the walls. Protected by the river and a steeply scarped bank on the south, a natural ravine on the north, and a deep notch cut on the western side, the mass of slate rock that it stands on was a point of vantage. On the crest of the hill the keep stands on a mound, with which two sets of buildings were connected by curtain walls. These buildings stretch down the slope to the east, the space between the two blocks narrowing towards the gateway.

Mr Worth observes that in Devonshire and Cornwall most of the smaller Norman keeps were round, as at Totnes, Launceston, and Plympton; but the stronger castles had square keeps. Okehampton, though not a large or very strong fortress, was distinguished by its square keep, and 'occupies what may be called a middle position.'

Tradition has always held that Baldwin de Brionis, to whom the Conqueror gave the manor, built the Castle, and Mr Worth, after a searching examination, thinks that, as regards the lower part of the keep walls, this may very well be the case; for they are not only Norman, but Norman of the period in which Baldwin lived. The other buildings are later, but vary in date, the most modern being the part of the block which contains the chapel, and which was probably reconstructed from older buildings towards the close of the thirteenth century.

There are gaps in the walls of the keep, but the ruins show that there were four rooms, two above and two below; some of the windows and a fireplace in one of the upper rooms are still to be seen. In the northern block of buildings was the great hall—forty-five feet long and twenty-five feet wide—lighted by two large windows to the south, and entered by a boldly moulded granite doorway. A second doorway in one corner led to a staircase-turret which led to the roof.

On the southern side the buildings are larger and less imperfect. Here is the chapel, 'evidently,' says Mr Worth, 'a portion of a larger structure, which has, perhaps, for the most part disappeared....'

East of the chapel are the guard-rooms, in a two-storied block of two rooms on each floor. A doorway in the north-eastern corner leads into the porter's lodge, a small room in the gate-tower with 'a loop window in the eastern wall commanding the approach. Above this chamber there is one precisely similar in the upper story (the floor, of course, is gone), and it is noteworthy that this is the only part of the fabric that retains its roof, which is supported by three massive stone ribs.'

The barony of Okehampton was one of many grants made by the Conqueror to Baldwin de Brionis, and some generations later it passed by marriage to the Courtenays, in which family it remained until the Marquis of Exeter was attainted and beheaded in 1538. The Castle was among the possessions that Queen Mary restored to the Earl of Devon, and on his death in 1556 his lands were divided amongst his heirs. Okehampton Castle fell to the share of the Mohuns, and in 1628 John Mohun was granted a peerage and took the title of Lord Mohun of Okehampton. The last Lord Mohun died in 1712.

To the barony of Okehampton belonged Floyer's Hayes, in the parish of St Thomas the Apostle, near Exeter, and it was held on this curious tenure: 'That if the Courtenays, Earls of Devon, came at any time into Exe Isle, they [the Floyers] were to attend them, decently apparelled with a clean towel on their shoulders, a flagon of wine in one hand and a silver bowl in the other, and offer to serve them with drink.'

About thirteen miles south-west of Okehampton, Sydenham stands in a beautiful valley, overshadowed by woods, in which the shining green of the laurels, the darker masses of the rhododendrons' tapering leaves, patches of russet bracken, and feathery light green moss make a feast of colour, even when overhead there is only the bare tracery of twigs and branches. The coverts lie on a hill-side that is steep and fairly high, and at the foot is a rushing stream which is crossed by a bridge exactly opposite the front of the house.

The following notes have been most kindly sent me by Mrs. Tremayne:

'The Manor of Sidelham, or Sidraham, now called Sydenham, appears to have been originally held by four Saxon Thanes, whose names have not been preserved, and to have passed from them into the hands of that powerful noble, Judhaell de Totnais. On his banishment by William Rufus, his property was confiscated, and Sydenham gave its name to a family who still possessed it in the reign of Henry III, and was succeeded by a family called Mauris, from whom it passed in marriage to Trevage, and from Trevage to Wise. Part of the house dates from the fourteenth century, and is said to have originally formed a quadrangle or H, but in the reign of Elizabeth it was built into the shape of an E, and is a very perfect example of Tudor domestic architecture.

'Sir Edward Wise, in the reign of James I, very much beautified the house, and legend says that he tried to add such height and such an amount of granite to it that Risdon writes, "The very foundations were ready to reel under the burthen." The house lies in a lovely wooded valley on the banks of the River Lyd, and it has four separate entrances, each opening on to a court or garden. Access to the front-entrance—commonly called the Green Court—is through a fine iron gateway, and above the central door are the Wise arms. Most of the windows have eight rounded granite mullions and small leaded panes of glass, and in some the original glass still remains. Two windows in the front are of Charles I.'s date, and have quaint fan-shaped lights. Over the large granite open fireplace in the front-hall is the date 1656, when the house underwent repair after damage, caused, it is said, in the Civil Wars. There is a story repeated in many histories of Devon, and told by Lysons amongst others, that Sydenham was taken in 1644 by Colonel Holborne; but I have every reason to believe that the Sydenham garrisoned and taken was Combe Sydenham, in the parish of Stogumber, near Taunton, but the fact that within the last forty years a sword and other weapons, also seventeenth-century horseshoes, have been found may be taken as a proof that fighting of some sort did take place.

'In making alterations in the kitchen chimney some twenty years ago, a little hiding-place, or priest's room, was found opening out of it, and in it was an oak table and the remains of a chair; and since then large and small unsuspected rooms have been discovered, and it has been said that in the largest a troop could lie hidden—as indeed it could with ease. Quite recently a secret passage leading from the house towards the river has been found, bearing out the legend always handed down, "that the Lady Wise of the day escaped with a large party by a secret passage near the river, and got into the woods undetected by the soldiers who were round the house." It is very probable that the secret rooms mentioned and the passage communicated.

'There is fine oak panelling in most of the rooms, and in the dining-room the panelling is inlaid in a delicate design with an ivory-like substance. Secret passages exist to this day in the walls, which are of immense thickness, in some places being seven feet in depth. There are three oak staircases, the main one being finely carved with figures standing at the angles, and another having very fine newels.

'In what goes by the name of the King's Room there is an ancient bed, with fine old red silk curtains and the Prince of Wales's plumes over it, in which Charles I and Charles II are reported to have slept. It is quite likely that Charles II, when Prince of Wales, did come here, as he is known to have been many weeks in the neighbourhood.'

The garden is delightful, and no change in it has been made for very many years. A wide lawn slopes away from the house, and a very small straight rivulet runs through it just a foot or two from the path. At the foot of the slope is a tiny lake, which, though very narrow, divides the lawn from end to end, and beyond the water the ground rises gradually. Clipped bushes and a large flower-border mark the farther edge of the lawn.

The Tremaynes were originally a Cornish family, but they came to Devonshire early in the fourteenth century. For at this time Isabella Trenchard of Collocombe married Thomas Tremayne, and after his death Sir John Damarel, 'and so much gain'd the affection of her second husband that he gave her and her heirs by Tremain (having none of his own)' some of his estates.

Thomas Tremayne and Philippa his wife lived during the sixteenth century, and had sixteen children, several of whom distinguished themselves. Andrew and Nicholas were twins, and so amazingly alike 'in all their lineaments, so equal in stature, so colour'd in hair, and of such resemblance in face and gesture,' that they were only recognized, 'even by their near relations,' 'by wearing some several coloured riband or the like ... yet somewhat more strange was that their minds and affections were as one: for what the one loved the other desired: ... yea, such a confederation of inbred power and of sympathy was in their natures, that if Nicholas were sick or grieved, Andrew felt the like pain, though far distant and remote in their persons.'

When Sir Peter Carew fled the country, suspected of plotting against Queen Mary, Andrew Tremayne embarked with him at Weymouth, and later Nicholas joined his twin in France, and they threw in their lot with a troop of adventurers who harassed the Channel. Froude has said: 'The sons of honourable houses ... dashed out upon the waters to revenge the Smithfield massacres. They found help where it could least have been looked for: Henry II of France hated heresy, but he hated Spain worse. Sooner than see England absorbed in the Spanish monarchy, he forgot his bigotry in his politics. He furnished these young mutineers with ships and money and letters of marque. The Huguenots were their natural friends; with Rochelle for an arsenal, they held the mouth of the Channel, and harassed the communications between Cadiz and Antwerp.'

Occasionally the twins met with ill-luck, and an entry in the Acts of the Privy Council records that: 'To be committed to several prisons, to be kept secret, without having conference with any ... Andrew Tremayne to the Marshalsey and Nicholas Tremayne to the Gate House, suspected of piracy.' Afterwards they went back to their life of risks and chances on the high seas.

But when Elizabeth came to the throne a different view was taken of these rovers. 'Privateering suited Elizabeth's convenience,' says Froude. 'Time was wanted to restore the Navy. The privateers were a resource in the interval ... they were really the armed force of the country.' So (in 1559) instructions were sent to the English Ambassador in Paris that certain gentlemen, among whom were the Tremaynes, 'as shall serve their country, the Ambassador shall himself comfort them to return home. Circumspection must be used.' The postscript is characteristically cautious.

The Queen valued Nicholas as a trustworthy messenger, where a matter needed discreet handling, and the bearer of it was likely to be in danger. In 1559-60 the Bishop of Aquila wrote to the King of Spain: 'The Queen has just sent to France an Englishman called Tremaine, a great heretic, who is to disembark in Brittany. I understand that he goes backwards and forwards with messages to the heretics in that country.' On one journey he was arrested when carrying letters in cipher, and Throckmorton, the English Ambassador in Paris, wrote to the Due de Guise, asking for his release. Nicholas was a special favourite of the Queen, but as he loved a camp better than a court, she gave him leave 'to enter into the service of the King of Navarre, by which means he will be better able to serve her.' The King of Navarre, however, did not greatly appreciate Tremayne, and a short time afterwards Throckmorton writes: 'The bearer, Mr Tremayne, came out of England with intent to see the wars in Almain, or elsewhere, thereby to be better able to serve the Queen. He has been here a good while to hearken which way the flame will rise to his purpose; but now, finding all the Princes in Christendom inclined to sit still, returns home. Desires Cecil to do something for him to help him to live, as it will be right well bestowed. The Queen will have a good servant in him, and Cecil an honest gentleman at his command.'

Andrew had entered the army, and in Scotland reaped fame from the brilliant cavalry charge which drove the French back into Leith. Lord Grey wrote in 1560-61 that he had chosen Captain Tremayne to escort Lord James, 'because he is a gentleman of good behaviour, courtesy, and well trained, and also that he stands in the favour of the Lords of Scotland by reason of his valiant service at Leith.'

In the winter of 1562-63 the Queen began openly to help the Huguenots at Havre, and Nicholas Tremayne was sent there at the head of 'fifty horsemen pistolliers.' In the following May Captain Tremayne's band and some others, in a skirmish, 'repulsed the Rheingrave's whole force, slain and taken near 400, with one ensign and seven drums. Not more than twenty of their own were killed and wounded, none to his knowledge taken.' Four days later Tremayne's troops, over-confident, risked too much, and their Captain was shot, to the great grief of his fellow-officers. Warwick wrote to Cecil: 'Whereas you write that you are more sorry for the death of Tremain than you could be glad of the death of a 100 Allmaynes, I assure you that there is never a man but is of the same opinion.' The Queen was much grieved by the loss. 'She had resented,' says Froude, 'the expulsion of the French inhabitants of Havre ... she was more deeply affected with the death of Tremayne; and Warwick was obliged to tell her that war was a rough game; she must not discourage her troops by finding fault with measures indispensable to success; for Tremayne, he said, "men came there to venture their lives for her Majesty and their country, and must stand to that which God had appointed either to live or die."'

Risdon concludes his account of the twins by saying that they died together; but this is not altogether accurate, for, about a week after the death of Nicholas, Andrew with three hundred soldiers set sail from Berwick for Havre. It is, however, quite true that they died in the same place, and the interval between their deaths was very short, for about seven weeks after his twin was killed Andrew Tremayne succumbed to the plague.

Edward Tremayne, another brother, followed the fortunes of the Marquis of Exeter, and was 'a great sufferer for his inviolable fidelity to his noble master.' So firm was his devotion that even torture failed to extort from him a confession that the Marquis and 'the Lady Elizabeth' had been involved in Wyatt's conspiracy. His 'invincible resolution' asserted their innocence, even on the rack, and Queen Elizabeth later recognized this splendid loyalty by making him 'one of the clerks of Her Majesty's most honourable privy-council.'

Cecil had a high opinion of Tremayne, and in 1569 showed his faith in Tremayne's judgment by sending him to Ireland, to sift the terrible but conflicting stories of its miseries and rebellions, and 'to let him know quietly the real condition of the country.' Tremayne, to begin with, wrote hopefully of remedies for all that was wrong, but after a year's study and experience realized that the trouble lay deeper than he had at first understood. Nevertheless, some notes on the state of Ireland by Edward Tremayne are endorsed by Lord Burghley 'A good advice.' The Queen showed her confidence by entrusting to him (in 1580) a very delicate task. The treasure that Drake brought home in the Pelican had to be registered; the examination must be made before some public officer, but the Queen feared that it might be necessary to make restitution to Spain, and, not objecting to a little crooked dealing, was very anxious that the total amount of the booty should never be made known. In obedience to the instructions he received from her, Tremayne writes to Walsingham: 'I have at no time entered into the account, to know more of the very value of the treasure than he made me acquainted with. And to say the truth, I persuaded him to impart to me no more than need, for so I saw him commanded in her Majesty's behalf, that he should reveal the certainly to no man living.' Here follows a fine tribute to Drake's unselfishness: 'And withal, I must say, as I find by apparent demonstration, he is so inclined to advance the value to be delivered to her Majesty and seeking in general to recompense all men that have been in this case dealers with him, as I dare take an oath with him, he will rather diminish his own portion than leave any of them unsatisfied.'

Edmund Tremayne, of a later generation, faithfully served his King in the troubled times of the Civil Wars, 'and was several hundred pounds deep in their books, at Haberdashers' Hall, for his loyalty. He is also stated to have repaid a considerable portion of the money borrowed for the necessities of the Queen during her sojourn at Exeter, at the time of the birth of the Princess Henrietta. Later he was imprisoned and his goods were sequestrated.'

A very treasured possession in the family is the 'tongue token,' believed to have originally belonged to this Edmund Tremayne. These tokens, small enough to put under the tongue in case of need, were given to the bearers of messages from those of high rank or importance, as a proof of the genuineness of the bearer, where there was too much danger to risk a written word. This token is a tiny oval of gold, with the head of King Charles on one side and his initials on the other. Edmund Tremayne is supposed to have received this token when he carried the news of the Princess's birth from Exeter to the King at Oxford.

Mr Tremayne's grandson, Edmund, married Arabella, the daughter and heiress of Sir Edward Wise, who brought Sydenham to the Tremaynes. Various traces of the Wises remain, among them a portrait of a golden-haired Lady Wise. She is painted wearing a white satin dress, an immense Vandyck collar, and many ornaments. Among her possessions was a magnificent set of 'horse furniture,' made, it is supposed, for some state occasion when she rode with her husband in the year (1633) that he was High Sheriff. It is of very fine and rich crimson velvet, arranged to fit over the pommels of the saddle and hang down on either side. The furniture includes an imposing red velvet stirrup, and both this and the saddle-cloth are elaborately and beautifully worked with silver embroidery, and hung with silver tassels to match; and a piece of velvet that lay over the crupper is thickly strewn with delicate little silver cockle-shells.

About fourteen miles north-east of Exeter, in the valley of the Culm, stands Bradfield; an avenue of cedars leads up to the house, which is an Elizabethan one in a very perfect condition. The banqueting-hall is panelled throughout, and its fine carved roof is supported by elaborately carved and pierced hammer-beams. High at one end is the minstrels' gallery, and at the other is a latticed window, which opened on to a corridor, and is said to have been used by the lady of the house, who could see from it anything that might be happening in the hall. A high arch on one side of the hall divides a small panelled room, where the guests gathered before dinner. The arch is of white stone, and little blocks, each bearing a shield or flower, are set at intervals on the mouldings.

The music-room is panelled, and above the panels are hangings of Spanish leather covered with graceful designs. The fireplace and very interesting 'porch' projecting into the room look like late Italian Renaissance work, though, from the dresses of the carved figures on them, they are supposed to have been actually made in England. The porch is richly carved and painted, and slender strips of very light wood are inlaid amongst a mass of ornamental details. The figures seem more than a little incongruous to each other. On one panel are Adam and Eve with the Tree of Knowledge between them, and above appear ladies and gentlemen of the court of Queen Elizabeth—little coloured figures, standing well out from the backs of their niches.

The fireplace is very elaborately carved and painted, and here, too, are figures in curious juxtaposition surrounded by very rich decorations. Amongst others may be seen a farmer and his wife, a cook, with a large goose that she is about to kill, and a dairymaid, with a miniature cow in her arms. High above these are the sons and daughters of Jesse in splendid robes and crowns.

Bradfield, in ancient days Bradefelle, was once held by a family of that name. The deed that carried it to the Walronds is not dated, but a marginal note says that 'Fulke Paynel' was dead in 1 Henry III. The deed runs as follows:

Fulke Paynel grants to Richard Walerond of Exeter all his land of Bradfield in his Manor of Offeculme. Richard Walerond is to make two suits yearly, one at 'La Hockeday,'[10] and one at Michaelmas amercement, to consist of one sextary of wine of the value of sixpence and not more. Grant of common pasture throughout the manor, except in fields and meadows. One pound of pepper to be paid at Michaelmas annually. In recognition of this grant Richard Walerond 'pays to Fulke Paynel five marks of silver, and gives to Hande his wife' one golden ring, and to William his heir one golden brooch.

[Footnote 10: 'La Hockeday' is commonly, but incorrectly, supposed to commemorate the freedom of the English by the massacre of the Danes on the Feast of St. Brice, 1002. 'Hoke-tide' began on the Monday after the second Sunday after Easter.]

Witnesses: Simon son of Roger, Hamelin de Boulay, William de Lomene, Walter de Tiddecomba, Simon de Baunton and Robert his brother, Peter Comyn, Radulphus de Doddescomba, Walter de Soffewill, 'and many others.'

Among the Walrond papers is an agreement dated Michaelmas, 1261, regarding a farm 'let for nineteen years, in consideration of four marks paid and one mark a year for six years and rent of six shillings a year ... and two capons at Michaelmas and one bushel of winter wheat at Christmas in each year, from one ferling of land in Cumb.'

I believe that the views held by Sir Henry Walrond of the arrival of William of Orange are not clearly recorded, but whatever they were, a note written by General Ginkel, during the march from Tor Bay to Whitehall, was, considering the position of things, decidedly peremptory:

'Sir van Ginkel, Lt.-General of the Cavalry of the United Netherlands, in the service of his Highness, the Prince of Orange, etc.

'We have taken up our quarters in the house of Sir Hendrie Waldron, which quarters we desire shall be kept open as long as the troops of His Highness shall remain in this town or neighbourhood; we have also left in the care of the aforesaid Sr Hendries Waldron two black horses, and likewise the gray mare, which he shall keep for us.

'Given at Columpton the 7/17 November, 1688.


A charming echo from the past sounds in a very different epistle—a love-letter from Sir William Walrond to a Mistress Courtenay. The letter is written on a sheet of paper covered with gold-leaf and bordered with elaborate designs. The case belonging to it is embroidered in fine crewel-work in (more or less) natural colours, representing figures, scenery, and a house in the background, and it suggests the needles of Little Gidding.


'The happiness I late enjoy'd by the fruition of your sweete society gives an incentive to mee to let you knowe how deep you are percullest[11] in my brest, though their injurious feare [youth's usual concomitant] obscured those larger narratives of my most intensive love and really devoted service ... 'twas my present fate then to be lesse expressive when I most admir'de these eminent perfections which both art & nature have adorn'd you with and as being doubtful of obtaining what I heartily desired remained your captive but in confidence of your candid disposition am now your humble petitioner to bee so far happified as to be deemed your honouring servant. Let then, I beseech you (worthy, lady) this poor and unpolished character of my due respects and firm affections achieve the happiness of kissing your fairest hands and you shall thereby engage at present and in future

'Your most honouring

'friende and servant,


'Anderdon this 27th of October, 1659.'

[Footnote 11: Portcullised.]

Pynes stands in the Exe Valley, just within three miles of Exeter Cathedral. It is of red brick with white dressings, and has many high narrow windows. A view has been put forward that the politics of country gentlemen in the early part of the eighteenth century may always be traced by their trees; those who were in favour of William III set lime-avenues, while Jacobites planted Scotch firs. There is a tradition in the family that, while the Northcotes were for the Prince of Orange, the Staffords were for King James, but it seems quite as likely that political significance was not always the chief point in planting trees. In any case, there are many Scotch firs, and a lime-avenue (peculiarly in keeping with the style of the house) is shown by prints to have led far over the hill to Upton Pyne, but is now, alas! represented only by one or two aged survivors.

The manor belonged to the family of Pyne in the reign of Henry I, and after many years was brought by an heiress to the Larders. From this family, after another interval, it passed by marriage to the Coplestones, of whom it was bought by Hugh Stafford.

The Staffords, or, as the name originally was, Stowfords, migrated from Stowford in Dolton near Torrington, soon after the Restoration. Hugh Stafford, born in 1674, was very keenly interested in the subject of apple-growing and cider. He wrote a 'Dissertation' on the subject, and especially on a certain apple called the Royal Wilding, from which it had just been discovered (about 1710) a very superior kind of cider could be produced. Unfortunately, Lord Bute's cider-tax so greatly discouraged the manufacture that after it had been imposed farmers only made enough for their own use and their labourers', and were not very critical as to the quality. In consequence, the choicest kinds of fruit were neglected, and both the Royal Wilding and the White Sour of the South Hams, another much-prized apple, are no longer to be found.

The daughter and heiress of Mr Stafford married her neighbour, Sir Henry Northcote. The Northcotes have been settled in Devonshire since the reign of Henry I, when Galfridus de Northcote held the lands of Northcote at East Down, near Barnstaple, and in the middle of the sixteenth century Walter Northcote was living at Uton, in the parish of Crediton. In this neighbourhood his descendants remained until Sir Henry's marriage, when they came to Pynes.

John Northcote was one of the Devonshire justices who attended Quarter Sessions during the later part of the reign of Elizabeth, and he lived till within ten years of the outbreak of Civil War. From his epitaph, it appears that he was tried by the Star Chamber; the verse has been translated as follows:

'To him the Queen's Commission in his youth Trusted the scales of Justice and of Truth. Fair was the balance held, and pure his fame, Though by Star Chamber tried, as gold by flame.'

Nothing is known of the trial, not even the charge, but it is pretty certain that, in common with several other justices at that time, he had showed 'a want of "forwardness"' in collecting ship-money.

Another justice, Walter Yonge, notes in his diary that in 1627 letters were sent to the justices of Devon, 'to the Mayors of port-towns, Exeter, Dartmouth, Totnes, Plymouth, and Barnstaple, bidding the towns provide ships, and the country, men and victuals.' Later, letters were sent demanding that a large sum should be raised 'to set a fleet at sea ... we having but six or seven days to raise the money, and to return it to London; but our county refused to meddle therein.' John Northcote was Sheriff just at this time, and was most probably held responsible for the intractability of his countrymen.

Sir John Northcote, his son, was born in 1599, and became a Member of Parliament, he and Sir Edmund Fowel representing Ashburton in the Long Parliament. During his first few weeks in the House of Commons, Sir John took notes of the proceedings, and the small brown volume in which they are written still exists. The notes have been transcribed by Mr A. H. A. Hamilton, and are very interesting, for they record threatenings of the great storm so soon to burst over England. The pages open with 'Proceedings against the Earl of Strafford. Mr Pimm's [Pym] Report'—which report prefaces terrible accusations with a personal touch: 'Long known the person charged by acts of friendship.'

Many letters, reports, and commissions, refer to Jesuits and priests, and often the Queen's name appears intervening on their behalf; laws against them were more and more relaxed, 'signifying his Majesty's pleasure at instance of her Majesty,' till the Commons became uneasy, and a 'petition' was framed to the King, to remind him of his 'protestation' at the opening of his reign, that the Queen 'should not intermeddle with matters of religion.'

The long and stubborn opposition to the exaction of ship-money, 'Voted illegal and entered nullo contradicente,' is given. The Judges who had declared the tax to be legal were supposed to have been tampered with by Strafford, and Mr Hyde (afterwards Lord Clarendon) suggested that they should be interviewed as to what had passed. The following is a bit of the debate as it was taken down; as Sir John did not write shorthand, he was naturally able to give only the gist of each speech:

'MR HIDE. That some of the house be sent to know what solicitations [had been made].

* * * * *

'SIR FRANC. SEYMOUR. That proof be first made.

'MR PELHAM. That it will amount to high treason and to prepare present charge.

'SIR JO. WRAY. The posy of his grandfather, Just and True. Sir Ed. Cook [said] whoever shall go about to overthrow Common Law, the Common Law will overthrow him. His motion, Currat Lex.

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