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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Treacle Mines at Daccombe

[I have been told recently that Daccombe has its own Treacle mines...

To read more about the process of treacle mining click here.]

Coffinswell, 'Accombe and Daccombe...

["Coffinswell, 'Accombe and Daccombe - all begins with A"

This rhyme was reportedly heard recently in a shop in Newton Abbot. When questioned the shop keeper replied that 'All' does indeed begin with an A...

Haccombe ('Accombe) was a place where the owner of Coffinswell and Daccombe farms lived in the past, and used to be an important village in the area. In 1850 it had only 14 inhabitants, yet several inhabitants of Haccombe House where knighted.

Another person reports the rhyme, albeit with the towns in a different order, here.]

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Ditsum Plum

   
        Photo of Dittisham, Church 1925, ref. 78382
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   

[As a true piece of folklore there is no exact 'true' version of this story.  As part of a brilliant project in celebration of the Ditsum Plums, found in Dittisham (Ditsum!), a conglomerate version of the story, collected from local people and including many different permutations, was produced with help from the Local Heritage Initiative. I have permission to reproduce the story here...

About 1 or 2 hundred years ago a ship was sailing from Germany (or possibly Chilli) past the South Devon coast with a big cargo of prunes. Now here the story becomes even more vague... In perhaps the most unremantic version of the story the boat put into shore and the prunes where traded with the locals, who planted the stones, and hey presto! Plums!

However, all other versions include the presence of a mighty storm...  In the most compassionate version of the story the crew and boat survived, but only just... They put into port for repairs, and only had prunes to pay with.  Prunes = plums!

The last two versions involve a tragic wrecking!  In one the brave Ditsum villagers rescue the hapless sailors and get in return a crate of Prunes. There is just the slightest possibility they did not first seek permision to use this cargo from the half drowned men...

In the final version the sailors all die, drowned in the mighty waves of the storm. Nothing is left of the wreck but a single crate, that with a combination of tides, luck and providence, washed up the Dart to Ditsum quay...

The stones where planted and from them grew the plums, which where grafted and propigated till all the village was covered with a rich orchard of Ditsum Plums.

There are three varieties - one plum 'the Dittisham Ploughman' and two Damson varieties - Dittisham Damson and Dittisham Black.

My thanks to the community of 'Ditsum', and the compilers of  The Plum Project Book for this brilliant story.]

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Cross, Tree and Preaching

'The church, to which the carriage took us across the moor on Sunday, has a cross and steps under an old tree outside it, on which, in the earliest days of the Reformation, the preacher used to preach to the people.'

Valentine (undated)

[Could this be the Meavy Oak?]

The Warrior's leat

'Through the moor that we pass when driving into Plymouth, runs the pure stream of water that Sir Francis Drake had carried into the town. Tradition says that he summoned the water to follow him, when he rode into Plymouth, a distance of ten or twelve miles, and the stream obeyed him, trickling after him at his horse's heels. "Warrior" (or, as the people call him, "Waryer") Drake is still thought to have had some knowledge of magic by the country people.'

Valentine (undated)

Home of Sir Francis Drake



'There are beautiful spots all along the margin of Dartmoor, and one of the most delightful of these is Goodameavy, a very old house, said to have been one of Sir Francis Drake's earlier habitations...

...But the chief beauty of the place is the famous Dewerstone Rock that rises within the grounds...

...In making a new lawn, and turning the pathway round another, the possessors of Goodameavy discovered buried beneath it the skeleton of a gigantic man. He had evidently been very long buried; for nothing but the skeleton was left - though impressions of the buttons of his coat were left in the clay bed in which he slept. Who was he? A buccanier, murdered perhaps by his companions? or one who fell in the civil war?

There was nothing to tell the story of that skeleton; but it must have had a mystery attached to it, or it would not have been buried in the woods of Goodameavy. A watch - large and old-fashioned, but not quite a "Nuremburg egg" - was also found in the grounds.'

Valentine (undated)

Logan stone on Rippontor

'Regaining the road at a ruined building called New House, a wicket gate will give access by a horse track to Rippontor, a very lofty hill 1,549 feet above the sea-level.

Many hut circles and track lines will be found on the commons. On the west side of the tor stands a logan stone, the logging powers of which still remain.'

Valentine (undated)

Stannary Parliament furniture

'Close to Wistman's Wood rises Crockern Tor. It is the spot were the ancient statuary parliaments were held. The chief tin miners of Devon were by their charter obliged to meet on the summit of this tor, when the commission was opened, the jury sworn and preliminary business settled, the court then adjourning for final decisions to one of the stannary towns. This court was held as late as 1749. The tables and seats of the stannators were hewn out of the rock, or composed of great blocks of stone. Few vestiges of them remain, but perhaps a ridge of stones on one part of the tor, and many loose ones lying about may be relics of this parliament.'

 Valentine (undated)

Druids on Dartmoor

'There are also charms for the antiquarian on Dartmoor, in the remains of altars, logans and cromlechs, scattered over it, showing that it was once a sacred spot for Druid worship; names testifying to the same fact belong also to many of the tors, as Bel-tor, Mis-tor, Ham-tor, and others. Very rude are the materials of which these relics are formed, proving their great antiquity, and carrying our thoughts back for centuries to the day when the British priests burned incense to Bel or Baal, to the moon, the planets and the host of heaven; and sacrificed human victims to their false gods...

...There are few trees on Dartmoor, except Wistman or Whistman's Wood. It is situated about a mile north of Two Bridges, which is nearly in the centre of the moor, upon the side of a steep hill opposite Blair Down, forming the side of a valley through which a branch of the beautiful river Dart runs.

These remains of an ancient forest are supposed to have been one of the sacred groves so essential to Druidical worship, and which were full of evidences of cruelty, bodies of men being often nailed to the trees and suffered there to decay. It has been asserted by a writer on Cornwall, that Wistman's Wood is nearly in the same state now that it was at the time of the Norman Conquest.

The ascent to it is strewn with immense masses of granite, and starting from among them, wildly scattered, is a grove of diminutive oak trees, that look as if hundreds of centuries had passed since they first grew in Wistman's Wood; they are none of them above twelve feet high, and they spread wide arms at their tops, and their moss-covered branches twist and coil into each other in most fantastic fashion. Among these rocks and trees adders find a habitation.'

Valentine (undated)

Extracts about Sir Francis Drake the "Sea King"

'The town-Hall of Plymouth is very fine, and its painted windows record the adventures of the West-country Hero, Drake.

It was on the Hoe that Sir Francis Drake and the captains of the Fleet were playing a game of bowls, when that true-hearted mariner, Captain Thomas Fleming, came to him with news of the approach of the Spanish Armada, which he had seen - a mighty shadow looming over the sea - on the French coast, and had put on all sail and urged his vessel to the English shore at her greatest speed, to forewarn the nation of the advent of her deadly foe...

...We must be pardoned if we digress for a moment to say a few words about this English "sea king" of Elizabeth's days; for assuredly, with the exception of Nelson, England has no greater sea-worthy on her roll of fame. Drake, after repeatedly fight. ing with, and defeating the Spaniards in the West Indies, had, in 1587, with thirty sail of men-of-war, destroyed ten thousand tons of shipping in Cadiz Bay, which he called "singeing the King of Spain's whiskers." He was a man of low stature, but well set, with brown hair, a fair complexion, and a cheerful open countenance. Elizabeth distinguished him by especial favour. She had knighted him after his return from his celebrated voyage round the world, undertaken in his own ship, and she warmly upheld the dignity she had conferred....

...A large bronze statue of Sir Francis Drake by Boehm (a replica of one given to Tavistock by the Duke of Bedford) was erected by public subscription on Plymouth Hoe, in 1884, and was unveiled by Lady Drake, as the representative of the family, on February 14th. There is now a National Memorial of the defeat of the Armada erected, which has medallion portraits of all the heroes of that great fight round the pedestal, with a figure of Britannia at the top. Plymouth and the west country are very proud of their great captains, amongst whole are reckoned some of the greatest of the subjects of Elizabeth.'

Valentine (undated)

[full text and detailed description of events - http://www.mspong.org/picturesque/plymouth.html]

Sir Walter Raleigh and relatives on the Dart

'On the right, as we steam up the river, on an eminence, we see Greenway House, once a dwelling of Sir Walter Raleigh's, where he is said to have alarmed his servant by smoking a pipe. The first po tato, that most valuable gift that he be stowed on England, was planted here. It is still more interesting to learn that GreenWay was the birthplace of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the half-brother of Raleigh. He took possession of Newfoundland in Elizabeth's reign, and was lost in a storm. The last time his comrades saw him, before he disappeared from their sight for ever, in the mist and gloom of the evening, he held a Bible in his hand, and said cheerily, "We are as near heaven by sea as by land.'

Valentine (undated)

Valentine (undated) reffrence

Picturesque England 

Its Landmarks and Historic Haunts, 
as described in Lay and legend,
Song and Story

Compiled and Edited 
By L Valentine

Published by Frederick Warn and Co.:London and New York

(Undated - probably Victorian / 19th century)

[from Matthew Spong who put this onto the internet] -

I found this volume on a table at a church fete in Beecroft when I was around 14 years old. It was scanned from the original volume, converted to text, corrected and converted into a website over a long period from 1999 to 2004. The work was begun on a Powermac 8100 and finished on a generic PC running Red Hat Linux. I would like to dedicate this work to the memory of my father Neill Spong, who never went to England, had no interest in English history, but who loved old books and respected hard work and perseverence.
Matthew Spong, April 2004

http://www.mspong.org/picturesque/contents.html

South Devon sunken lanes

'How lovely those long lanes are, sunk in the hills! Tradition says that they were thus cut to hide the wain going home with its treasures, from the greedy eyes of Saxon freebooters.'

Valentine (undated)

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Legend of John Trinnaman's Pool - part 4

...Some say that each time John Trinnaman filled the bag with wet sand, the bottom of the bag split open and the sand went back into the river. He then looked up to heaven and called for ‘more rope’ to tie the bottom of the bag. As he did so, a rope came down from the branches of the oak tree, wound itself round the butler’s neck and hanged him. The bag of sand, they say, turned into one big solid stone.

If you care to look closely around on the river bank in the Trinnaman Pool area in Long Timber Woods in Ivybridge, you will see a large oak tree at the base of which is an unusual granite stone. Cut in the stone is a large basin round indentation. Some people say that this was where John Trinnaman placed handfuls of sand as he gathered it from the river.

This is the John Trinnaman legend.

[Collected from Tom of Ivybridge, who first heard it from his teacher during World War One, whilst picking blackberries for the war effort. Sadly Tom passed away in the mid 1990's.]

The Legend of John Trinnaman's Pool - part 3

...The dead body was washed away by the fast flowing river. When the master of Stowford House missed the pantry boy, he enquired of the butler as to the boy’s disappearance. John Trinnaman then told the master that he had chastised the boy and last saw him running off towards the river. Servants were sent to search the river and eventually found the dead boy caught in reeds further downstream. In the meantime, the lady of Stowford House discovered the butler frantically trying to clean the blood stains off the kitchen wall and his terrible deed was revealed.
When John Trinnaman confessed the crime to his master, who was lord of the manor of Ivybridge and chief magistrate, he decreed the the butler should go down to the river Erme and fetch a bag of sand to scour off the blood stains from the kitchen walls.

John Trinnaman collected the sand and desperately tried to remove the bloodstains but however hard he worked the stains would not go. Consequently, the master of Stowford House thrashed him with a horse whip, gave him a bag and a piece of rope to tie the top of the bag and chased him from the kitchen to get more clean sand.

When he went down to the river this time, the river was in full flood and as the bruised and battered butler struggled up the river bank with his bag of wet sand, he fell backwards exhausted into the river and drowned... [cont.]

The Legend of John Trinnaman's Pool - part 2

...John Trinnaman called repeatedly for the pantry boy to tend to his kitchen duties until the mistress heard his calls and told the butler that she had instructed the pantry boy to bring the lamb to her daughter. John Trinnaman resented this, fearing that one day the pantry boy would take over his job and with it the favours of the household.

The butler nursed this grievance for a long time and brooded over it. He threatened the pantry boy not to go beyond the walls of the kitchen again. Later he locked the boy away in an attic room intending to starve him to death. The daughter became aware of this and knowing that the owls had their roosts in the attic beams, she fed them continuously and they carried their food into the attic. The pantry boy seemed to thrive on his diet of owl meat and instead of starving became fatter.

Completely frustrated because he could not starve the pantry boy to death John Trinnaman called the boy down to the kitchen where he beat him until he confessed that the daughter had helped to keep him alive by feeding the owls. In anger, John Trinnaman picked the boy up by his legs, swung him round and bashed the boy’s brains out against the kitchen wall. He then carried the dead boy down to the river Erme and threw him into the water... [cont.]

The Legend of John Trinnaman’s Pool - part 1


Photo of Ivybridge, the Bridge c1876, ref. 8306

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.


This story emanates from Stowford House, an old mansion overlooking the river Erme in Ivybridge, Devon.

It is said that in the 14th or 15th century a wealthy family lived in this grand house and John Trinnaman was employed as the household butler. He was said to be very handsome and a proud bachelor who was devoted to his work and to the lady of the house, who favoured him with sweet smiles and glances when the master was not about.

One day John Trinnaman noticed the daughter of the house paying too much attention to the pantry boy and that was quite improper. The pantry boy was told never to go near any of the family unless told to do so by him.

However, on one spring day when the apple trees were all in bloom at Stowford House, the pantry boy was asked by the lady of the house to catch a lamb down in the meadow and bring it to her daughter to fondle. The pantry boy did as he was told, caught the lamb and brought it to the girl. The boy and girl then lingered together for some time while they played with the lamb.... [cont.]

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Nine Maidens stone circle on May the 1st

[Cog and Wheels, a local all-lady Morris team dance at the Nine Maidens stone circle at Belstone every May the 1st at dawn. Their website here.

Gypsy Curse in Maidencombe, Torquay

'My story...though rather short.

Round where I live in Maidencombe, Torquay, many many years ago there was a band of gypsies living in a field and coexisting with nature and land owners.

Apparently they had lived there for many years in an harmonious fashion until the 1970's when people began to arrive, depriving them of land in which they lived on...legally (or so we had been told).

By the late 1970's there were a row of detatched houses, each with a large plot of land, though they were fortunate as on their side, their land in which they lived on, was untouched...however.

Twenty odd years later, and I remember it still...they were forced out by our local council, to make way for new, expensive modern houses.

They tried to ask for extensions to up until the summer so they could relocate elsewhere for the winter, but aslas, it did not happen.

The houses went up, and they were pushed out.

As the houses were filled by developers who wanted to sell their land and make profit in which even more houses were built on, they discovered a small mound of collected assortments of old smoking pipes, horse shoes, rusty nails and a broken porcaline doll.

Since those houses have gone up on that part where this mound supposedly was many people in and around that area have contracted terrible illnesses and have died.

As many people on our road have now believed there is a gypsy curse, which is slowly killing off the residents and also animals in untimely deaths.

Young of a myth it might be, but myths start in some time or another...'

From Abagail of Torquay 2008

Monday, 14 June 2010

Apparition of Coach and Horses

"I have heard tell of a coach and horses that is said to haunt the old coach road in Harcombe, Uplyme, but as a recent resident (1985!) am not privy to any other stories."

From Uplyme resident

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Cheney's Hounds

'IN the parish of St Teath, a pack of hounds was once kept by an old squire named Cheney. How he or they died I cannot learn; but on "Cheney Downs" the ghosts of the dogs are sometimes seen, and often heard, in rough weather.

In the western parishes of the county, I can name several places which are said to be haunted by the "wish hounds." [a]

[a] See Athenaeum, No. 1013, March 27, 1847. See Appendix L for Notes on the BARGEST.'

Hunt 1903

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Wish Hounds - part 3

'...Mr Kemble has the following incorrect remarks on this word :

"In Devonshire to this day all magical or supernatural dealings go under the common name of wishtness. Can this have any reference to Woden's name 'wyse? " Mr Polwhele's note gives the true meaning of the word. Still Mr Kemble's idea is supported by the fact that "there are Wishanger (Wisehangre or Woden's Meadow), one about four miles south-west of Wanborough in Surrey, and another near Gloucester."  And we find also, "south-east of Pixhill in Tedstone, Delamere, there are Wishmoor and Inksmoor near Sapey Bridge in Whitbourn."'

 Hunt 1903

Wish Hounds - part 2

'...Once I was told at Jump, that Sir Francis Drake drove a hearse into Plymouth at night with headless horses, and that he was followed by a pack of "yelling hounds" without heads. If dogs hear the cry of the wish hounds they all die. May it not be that "wish" is connected with the west-country word "whist," meaning more than ordinary melancholy, a sorrow which has something weird surrounding it?


"And then he sought the dark-green lane,
Whose willows mourn'd the faded year,
Sighing (I heard the love-lorn swain),
'Wishness! oh, wishness! walketh here.'"
-- The Wishful Swain of Devon. By POLWHELE.

The author adds in a note, "An expression used by the vulgar in the north of Devon to express local melancholy. There is something sublime in this impersonation of wishness." The expression is as common in Cornwall as it is in Devonshire...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Wish Hounds - part 1

From Cresswell 1921
'THE tradition of the Midnight Hunter and his headless hounds--always, in Cornwall, associated with Tregeagle--prevails everywhere.

The Abbot's Way on Dartmoor, an ancient road which extends into Cornwall, is said to be the favourite coursing ground of "the wish or wisked hounds of. Dartmoor," called also the "yell-hounds," and the "yeth-hounds." The valley of the Dewerstone is also the place of their midnight meetings. ...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Friday, 11 June 2010

Saint Nectan

Foxglove - Pam Brophy [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
[The Christian Nectan was the eldest of a royal house in Wales in the sixth century, or so the legend goes. It was said that he felt the calling of the ascetic life of a hermit, and so set his coracle onto the sea and aloud the Lord to take him where he would. The wind and waves pushed him hither and thither, before finally setting him down safely on the rugged north Devon shoreline, near Hartland (a minor miracle in its self, given the fierceness of that storm blighted peninsular). It was here that he built is Hermits hut by the well that bares his name. Seeing his absolute poverty a kindly local farmer by the name of Huddon gifted Nectan two cows, ostensibly in return for helping him locate some lost pigs.

One day Nectan found his cows gone, and by following their hoof marks soon overtook the thieves who where in the process of stealing them. Seeing nothing more than a week skinny hermit the thugs knocked him down and killed the Saint. It is said that where ever the Saints blood flowed foxgloves grew. Nectan became so venerated that 500 or so years later a total of 39 churches where erected and dedicated to the Welsh Saint (34 in Cornwall and 5 in Devon)

- Thanks to Ann from Ideford for forwarding me this story, probably written by a former vicar of Ashcombe (though here retold in my own words). She added that next Sunday (the 13th of June) the people of Ashcombe Church will be celebrating Saint Nectan, it being the nearest Sunday to his day (he is the saint to whom their church is dedicated). They will also sing a hymn about the Saint, written by the same Vicar who put the above story to paper.

I have a few years ago also been told this story by a north Devon resident, who adds to the story, saying that not only was the saints head cut off, but he then picked it up and carried it under his arm back to his well, dripping blood and conjuring foxgloves for 2 or 3 miles. She had part of an old green lane running across the back of her overgrown orchard (we estimated from the age of the age and uncared for nature of trees and the spread of bluebells from the bank it had been abandoned for around 40 years - having been told bluebells spread one meter every ten years!). The lane, though hard to use, did indeed contain masses of foxgloves, despite the overgrown hedges.]

Unprinted Stories

[I am currently working on gathering some stories directly from people, so may not post anything for a day or two.]

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Cross Tree of Chagford

[This photo is of the site of Chagfords Cross tree, now supplanted by a granite boulder installed at the millennium.  Though I have asked many people no one appears to know much about the origional tree, despight it being celebrated in a kneeler in the local church.  Many Devon and some Somerset and Dorset villages had Cross Trees, often situated just outside the church entrance. Most where elm, but Chagfords was an oak.  There is some confusion as to whether they are called cross trees because of being at a cross ways (the entrance to the church) or whether they had some religious connotation.  During the middle ages the church frequently had to petition people to stop worshiping under trees and by rocks and springs, albeit in a Christian way.  I have read somewhere about one cross tree being used for religious purposes as a hangover from Catholic times in England.

The only rumors I found to Chagfords Cross Tree was that it was once part of a giant circle of trees that surrounded (and predated!) the land where the church now stands, a druids grove none the less, with one tree standing in historic times in the square (never seen any evidence for this) and the last one being the that which felled in the 1970's, called the Cross Tree...  Very mysterious...]

Redruth Manuscript of a Witchfinder

Article here.

Wikipedia

[Does anyone understand the Wikipedia copyright rules??? What do I have to post with text found on Wikipedia to make them happy?]

Books being processed and those already done

[Being done:-

Hope 1893
Hunt 1903

Compleated:-

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Dipped into:-

Wikipedia
My memory!]

Rat Island off Lundy

'Rat Island, which shelters the landing-place, gets its name from being one of the last refuges of that old British breed of black rat, which, however, is being exterminated by its Hanoverian supplanter.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Lundy and pirates

   
        Photo of Lundy Island, 1890, ref. 24753
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   

'A family named Marisco were long proprietors of this wild demesne, and one having plotted against Henry III., fled hither for safety.  For some years he and his comrades led a rude buccaneering life, but where eventially captured by the king's cruisers, and duly executed.  The island has also served as a stronghold for Turkish, Scotch and French privateers; and so late as the last century it was in the hands of a local scoundrel named Benson, who turned this fastness to various unlawful accounts.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895
   
   

Lundy and the Devil's Limekiln

   
        Photo of Lundy Island, West Coast 1890, ref. 24748
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   

'On the coast, the more remarkable points are - the Hen and Chicken reef, north, and the isolated rock of the Constable; Lamatry, and Rat Island, south; the Seals, Gannets and Gull Rocks, east; and on the west the savage chasm of the Devil's Limekiln, with the rock of the Shutter opposite its seaward mouth, as if designed to block it up.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Stoke and the Abbey founded because of shipwreck

'Between Hartland and Hartland Quay the village of Stoke St. Nectan is passed, with its pretty old church and churchyard; and the stately mansion of Hartland Abbey, a seat of the old family of Stucley, reposing amid luxuriant woods on the green and pleasant valley-slope. Of the ancient monastery - founded by the Countess Elgitha in grateful commemoration of the escape of her husband, Earl Godwin, from shipwreck - the present mansion embodies the Decorated arched cloister, built by Abbot John of Exeter.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Clovelly and Gallantry Bower

   
        Photo of Clovelly, Gallant Rock 1908, ref. 61008
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   

'Gallantry Bower, strange name for such a stern scene, is a sheer cliff (380 feet) which overlooks a glorious panorama of the sea on the one side and richly-wooded country on the other. The name is probably a corruption of an old Cornish word, but it has prompted a version of the well worn legend of a Lover's Leap.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Northam and the Battle Mound

'In the village a grass mound is said to mark the burrial-place of the slain of a great battle between the Saxon and the Dane; and on the way to Appledore is Bloody Corner, where, more authentically, Alfred did defeat the Danes under Hubba.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Bideford and the Brotherhood of the Rose

   
        Photo of Bideford, Quay 1893, ref. 32303
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   


'The only old building on the Quey is the Newfoundland Inn, formally the Ship, in which was founded that "Brotherhood of the Rose".

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Bloody Corner and the ruined windmill

'The prominent tower beyond Appledore is not any historical monument, but a "folly". Further back in the country may be seen a more romantic ruin, which is only a dilapidated windmill, left there as a sea-mark, serving also to call attention to Bloody Corner, not far from it, where King Alfred defeated the Danes under Hubba.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Barnstaple Castle

'The castle is said to have been first built by Athelstan, then rebuilt by a norman baron, who also founded a priory decicated to St. Mary Magdaline.'

Hope Moncrieff

Bow (or Nymet Tracey) and Thomas a Becket

'Coplestone may be visited for the sake of the ancient cross, about 12 feet high, and decorated with rude ornamental scrolls; also Bow, otherwise Nymet Tracey, 3 miles west, with an old church, not the only one said to have been founded by that murderer of  Thomas a Becket.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

The burried city under Braunton Burrows


Photo of Saunton, Sands 1920, ref. 69406

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.


'Beyond it [Croyde Bay] stretch for 3 miles or so the Saunton Sands, which become Braunton Burrows, that end only above Bideford Bar. This wide labyrinth of sandhills and burrows, said to cover the ruins of an ancient city, has been opened up by road, and a hotel built there (Saunton Sands), which is reached from Braunton station.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Morte Stone and shipwrecks


   
        Photo of Mortehoe, Morte Point from Bull Point c1900, ref. M99504
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   

'Under the cliffs of Morte Point, lies Barricane Creek, rich in shells; whilst out at sea the waves dash fiercely over the ill-famed Morte Stone, which has a terrible reputation for shipwrecks.'

Hope Moncreiff 1895

Morthoe and the murder of Becket

   
        Photo of Mortehoe, the Church of St Mary Magdalene, interior 1935, ref. 87131
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   

'The Morthoe Hotel is down below on the beach; and there is an inn, the Chichester Arms, in the vilage, near the little Norman church, containing the tomb thought to be that of William de Tracey, one of Becket's murders, who said to have lived in dreary exile here, "when wind and weather turned against him." The legend also has has a common feature in Cornwall: the murderer's doom is eternally to make bundles and wisps of sand.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Lundy proverb

[when viewed from Ilfracombe]
'"When Lundy is plain,
It will rain"'

 Hope Moncrieff 1895

Mole's Chamber on Exmoor

'A good walker may return by Mole's Chamber (7m. from Lynton), scene of the death of a perhaps mythical Exmoor farmer, Mole by name, who rode his horse for a wager into the redoubtable morass, now drained, and was swallowed, man and horse.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Faggus the Highwayman of Exmoor

   
        Photo of Exmoor, the Doone Valley c1960, ref. E51001
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   


'Another sinister hero of this wild region , at about the same period, was Faggus, the highwayman, who, though he has found no one to celebrate him in a novel, still lives dimly in the popular memory as a kind of cross between Dick Turpin and Robin Hood.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

The Doones of Exmoor


Photo of Doone Glen, 1900, ref. 45674

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.


'Of the Doone houses, or hovels, little remains but a few rude square foundations, and a piece of stonework resembling an oven.  At no time can they have been anything other but the smallest and roughest of residences. The Doones themselves where a family of reckless outlaws, who infested Exmoor at the begining of the last century, and where not got rid of until, by a particularly barbarous murder at Exford, they drove the neighbourhood to exasperation.  For the facts and fictions of these people, the tourist need hardly be referred to Blackmore's "Lorna Doone."'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Raged Jack at Lynton

   
        Photo of Lynton, Valley of Rocks, Ragged Jack 1907, ref. 59384
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   


'Before long it [a footpath from Lynton and Lynmouth] brings you to a fantastic mass of rocks, known as "Ragged Jack".  To this group is attached the often-repeated legend of people turned into stone for misconducting themselves on a Sunday.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Lynmouth Smugglers


Photo of Lynmouth, c1890, ref. L126301

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.


'The place has naturally a somewhat motley aspect, the new hotels and lodging-houses contrasting with the homes of herring fishers and smugglers who once had Lynmouth to themselves; but it is still not unworthy of its picturesque surroundings.'

Hope Moncreiff 1895

Dragon on the Dart?

[I remember reading something about a Dragon on the West Dart river - I think it may have been in William Crossing's "echoes of an ancient forest", first published as a series in a newspaper at the beginning of the 20th century. He told of a winged serpent.  One of the dragons lairs lay on the left hand side of the Wo Brook. The dragon was blamed for taking stock, and those who ventured past Wo Brook might also be eaten, for sheep of humans where much of a muchness. Though no detail is given to how it was achieved the dragon was captured and thrown bound 'hand and foot' into the Dart.

- My copy of the text is a modern reproduction from 1994 by Forest Publishing]

Belstone and the Nine Maidens

'But one couldn't hurry on without lingering by Belstone Cleave and the sacred circle known as the Nine Maidens, who were turned to stone for dancing on Sunday, their partners also, as would appear, since there are more than nine of them still standing.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Dennabridge Pound and the Judge's Chair

   
        Photo of Dartmoor, the Judge's Chair, Dunnabridge  1910, ref. 62315
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   


' A couple of miles or so more on the highroad brings us on the highroad to Dennabridge Pound, where a curiouse structure is said to be the "Judge's Chair" braught from the meeting-place of the stannary Parliamenton Crocken Tor; and at Dennabridge Farm, not far off, a large slab is shown as the Council Table. The pound itself, though originally perhaps a sacred circle, has been rebuilt in modern times, and adapted to the practical purposes in the periodical "drifts", when ponies and catle are driven together from a whole quarter of the moor, that stray animals may be sorted out and restored to their owners, a ceremony graphicly described in Mr. Baring-Gould's "Urith."'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Widdecombe Church


Photo of Dartmoor, Widdecombe in the Moor 1907, ref. 5805

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.


'Or from Buckland the walk may be prolonged 2 or 3 miles to Widecombe Church, known as the Cathedral of Dartmoor, a fine fane indeed for such a lonely situation, and much to large for its congregation. It is said to have been oraginally built by the tin miners as a thanks offering in the 15th century...

...The neighborhood [of Widdecombe-in-the-Moor] has a bad name for thunder-storms, and a notorious one in 1638 seriously damaged the tower, as may still be seen, and is recorded in some quaint lines by the villiage dominie, displayed on a board on the wall. Four of the congregation where killed and many injured by this catastrophe, which of course gave rise to grim legends of diabolical agency.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Lover's Leap on Holn Chase, nr. Ashburton


Photo of River Dart, Holne Chase, Lover's Leap c1871, ref. 5534

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.


'The most celebrated point is Lover's Leap, a sheer rock naturally suggesting that good old story so often told of such features.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Buckfastleigh Church and the devil.

   
        Photo of Buckfastleigh, Church Steps c1960, ref. B238056
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   


'The Church, perched up on high, as if to make religion difficult, is attained by a flight of more than 100 steps.  Of course the well worn legend runs that it was placed here out of reach of the devil, who had a troublesome habit of undoing every night the work accomplished during the day.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Staverton Cider

'the village of Staverton, famous for its cider'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Druids and Bowerman's Nose



'The wooded rocks of Manaton Tor behind should be climbed for the view, opposite will be noticed the tall pile of Bowerman's Nose, so like a human figure that it has been taken for a Druidical idol.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Lustleigh Nutcrackers

'Two logan-stones here are known as the nutcrackers, by which a path runs on to Horsham Steps, where the stream almost vanishes among the masses of granite'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

The Three Crowns

'The Three Crowns Hotel, scene of a hot fight in the Civil War.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Moretonhampstead Dancing Tree

   
        Photo of Moretonhampstead, Cross Street c1960, ref. M97003
       
Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
   


'Near the churchyard is a public park called Sentry, i.e. "Sanctuary". Between it and the churchyard are the remains of an ancient cross, and a vigorous but venerable Elm-tree [now replaced with a copper beech - witnessed as a mature tree in 2010], whose branches were formally so trimmed and disposed as to support a platform for dancers.  The musicians were perched up in the higher boughs, and dancers ascended to their leaf-embowered salon by means of a ladder.  This tree and the neighborhood are renowned in Mr. Blackmore's Christowell.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Dosemary Pool - part 4

'...This is a delusion caused by enchantment; Goonhylda still lives. Tregeagle offers himself to Goonhylda, who rejects his suit with scorn, and desires to leave the castle. Tregeagle coolly informs her that she cannot quit the place; Goonhylda threatens him with her father's vengeance. She is a prisoner, but her page contrives to make his escape, and in the evening arrives at Launceston Castle gate. The Earl of Cornwall, hearing from the page that his daughter lives and is a prisoner, arms himself and all his retainers --

"And em the greye morne peep'd. the eastern hills o'er,
At Tregeagle's gate sounded hys home."

Tregeagle will not obey the summons, but suddenly "they hearde the Black Hunter's dread voyce in the wynde!"

"They heard hys curate hell-houndes runn,yelping behynde,
And his steede thundered loude on the eare!"

This gentleman in black shakes the castle with his cry, "Come forth, Sir Tregeagle! come forth and submit to thy fate!" Of course he comes forth, and "the rede bolte of vengeaunce shot forth wyth a glare, and strooke him a corpse to the grounde!"

"Then from the black corpse a pale spectre appear'd,
And hyed him away through the night."

Goonhylda is of course found uninjured, and taken home by the earl. The castle disappears and Dozmare Pool re-appears; but --

"Stylle as the traveller pursues hys lone waye,
In horroure at nyghte o'er the waste,
He hears Syr Tregeagle with shrieks rushe away
He hears the Black Hunter pursuing his preye,
And shrynkes at bys bugle's dread blaste."'

Hunt 1903


Dosemary Pool - part 3

'...Surrounded with all that is supposed to minister to the enjoyment of a sensual life, time passes on, and "Tregeagle ne'er notyc'd its flyghte." Yet we are told "he marked each day with some damnable deed." In the midst of his vicious career he is returning home through a violent storm, and he is accosted by a damsel on a white horse and a little page by her side, who craves his protection. Tregeagle takes this beautiful maiden to his castle. The page is made to tell the lady's story; she is called Goonhylda, and is the daughter of "Earl Cornwaill," living in Launceston, or, as it was then called, "Dunevyd Castle." Engaged in the pleasures of the hunt, the lady and her page are lost and overtaken by the storm. Tregeagle, as the storm rages savagely, makes them his "guests for the nyghte," promising to send a "quicke messenger" to inform her father of her whereabouts. At the same time --

"If that the countenance speaketh the mynde,
Dark deeds he revolved in hys breaste."

The earl hears nothing of his daughter; and having passed a miserable night, he sets forth in the morning, "wyth hys knyghtes, and esquyers, and serving-men all," in search of his child; and --

"At length to the plaine he emerged from the woode,
For a father, alas, what a syghte!
There lay her fayre garments all drenched in blood,
Her palfreye all torn in the dark crimson floode,
By the ravenous beasts of the nyghte."...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Dosemary Pool - part 3

'...Tregeagle, in the ballad, is a shepherd dwelling "by the poole on the moore." He was ambitious and unscrupulous. "I wish for all that I see !" was his exclamation, when "a figure gigantick" is seen "midst the gloom of the night."

This spirit offers Tregeagle, in exchange for his soul, all that he desires for one hundred years. Tregeagle does not hesitate:--

"'A bargaine! a bargaine!' he said aloude;
'At my lot I will never repine;
I sweare to observe it, I sweare by the roode.
And am readye to scale and to sygne with my bloode,
Both my soul and my body are thine."

Tregeagle is thrown into a trance, from which he awakes to find himself "cloathed in gorgeous attyre," and master of a wide domain of great beauty:

"Where Dozmare lake its darke waters did roil,
A castle now reared its heade,
Wythe manye a turrete soe statelye and talle;
And many a warden dyd walke on its-walle,
All splendidly cloathed in redde."...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903


Dosemary Pool - part 2

'..There is a ballad," Tregeagle; or, Dozmaré Pool: an Anciente Cornishe Legende, in two parts," by John Penwame. He has given a somewhat different version of the legend from any I have heard, and in the ballad very considerable liberties have been taken. It must, however, be admitted, that nearly all the incidents introduced in the poem are to be found in some of the many stories current amongst the peasantry.

Speaking of Dozmaré Pool, Mr Penwarne says:--

"There is a popular story attached to this lake, ridiculous enough, as most of those tales are. It is, that a person of the name of Tregeagle, who had been a rich and powerful man, but very wicked, guilty of murder and other heinous crimes, lived near this place; and that, after his death, his spirit haunted the neighbourhood, but was at length exorcised and laid to rest in Dozmaré Pool. But having in his lifetime, in order to enjoy the good things of this world, disposed of his soul and body to the devil, his infernal majesty takes great pleasure in tormenting him, by imposing on him difficult tasks; such as spinning a rope of sand, dipping out the pool with a limpet-shell, &c., and at times amuses himself with hunting him over the moors with his hell-hounds, at which time Tregeagle is heard to roar and howl in a most dreadful manner, so that 'roaring or howling like Tregeagle,' is a common expression amongst the vulgar in Cornwall. Such is the foundation on which is built the following tale. The author has given it an ancient dress, as best suited to the subject."...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Dosemary Pool - part 1


Photo of Dozmary Pool, 1900, ref. 45901

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.


'MR BOND, in his "Topographical and Historical Sketches of the Boroughs of East and West Looe," writes -- "This pool is distant from Looe about twelve miles off. Mr Carew says:

'Dosmery Pool amid the moores,
On top stands of a hill;
More than a mile about, no streams
It empt, nor any fill'

It is a lake of fresh water about a mile in circumference, the only one in Cornwall (unless the Loe Pool near Helston may be deemed such), and probably takes its name from Dome-Mer, sweet or fresh-water sea. It is about eight or ten feet deep in many parts. The notion entertained by some, of there being a whirlpool in its middle, I can contradict, having, some years ago, passed all over in a boat then kept there."

Such is Mr Bond's evidence; but this is nothing compared with the popular belief, which declares the pool to be bottomless; and beyond this, is it not known to every man of faith, that a thorn-bush thrown into Dosmery Pool has sunk in the middle of it, and after some time has come up in Falmouth Harbour?

Notwithstanding that Carew says that "no streams it empt, nor any fill," James Michell, in his parochial history of St Neot's, says, -- "It is situate on a small stream called St Neot's River, a branch of the Fowey, which rises in Dosmare Pool"...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Tregeagle haunting - part 2

'...When the parson came into the room with the spirit and the man, the first thing the parson did was to draw a circle and place the man to stand within it; the spirit took the form of a black bull, and (roared as you may still hear Tregagle roar in Genvor Cove before a northerly storm) did all he could to get at the man with his horns and hoofs. The parson continued reading all the time. At first the reading seemed to make him more furious, but little by little he became as gentle as a lamb, and allowed the parson to do what he would with him, and consented at last to go to Genvor Cove (in Escols Cliff), and make a truss of sand, which he was to carry above a certain rock in Escols Cliff. He was many years trying, without being able to accomplish this piece of work, until it came to a very cold winter, when Tregagle, by taking water from the stream near by, and pouring oyer the sand, caused it to freeze together, so that he finished the task, came back 'to the man, and would have torn him in pieces, but the man happened to have a child in his arms, so the spirit couldn't harm him. The man sent for the parson without delay; Parson Corker couldn't manage him alone, this time; had to get some more parsons to help,--very difficult job;--bound Tregagle at last to the same task, and not to go near the fresh water. He is still there, making his truss of sand and spinning sand ropes to bind it. What some people take to be the "calling of the northern cleves" (cliffs) is the roaring of Tregagle because there is a storm coming from the north to scatter his sand. [f] W. B...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Tregeagle haunting - part 1

'Another correspondent to whom I am much indebted for valuable notes on the folk-lore of the Land's End district, sends me the following version:

You may know the story better than I do; however, I 'll give you the west-country version. A man in the neighbourhood of Redruth, I think (I have almost forgotten the story), lent a sum of money to another without receiving bond or note, and the transaction was witnessed by Tregagle, who died before the money was paid back. When the lender demanded the money, the borrower denied having received it. He was brought into a court of justice, when the man denied on oath that he ever borrowed the money, and declared that if Tregagle saw any such thing take place, he wished that Tregagle would come and declare it. The words were no sooner out of his mouth than Tregagle stood before him, and told him that it was easy to bring him, but that he should not find it so easy to put him away. Tregagle followed the man day and night, wouldn't let him have a moment's rest, until he got all the parsons, conjurors, and other wise men together, to lay him. The wise ones accomplished this for a short time by binding the spirit to empty Dosmery (or Dorsmery) Pool with a crogan (limpet-shell). He soon finished the job and came to the man again, who sent for Parson Corker, of Burrian, who was a noted hand for laying spirits, driving the devil from the bedside of old villains, and other kinds of jobs of the same kind...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Jahn Tregeagle the Steward - part 3

'..."And they went yore to the minister, and axed he for to lay un. "And the minister zaid, thicky [Thicky, correctly written thilke -- i.e., the ilka, a true word frequent in Chaucer. ] was their look-out; they'd a brought'n up, and they was to gett 'n down again the best way they could. And I 've a heerd the ould men tell ut, sir. The minister he got dree hunderd pound for a layin' of un again.

"And first, a was bound to the old epping-stock [Perhaps Uppingstock, an erection of stone steps for the farmers' wives to get on their horses by.] up to Churchtown; [Not Chũrchtown, but Churchtówn.] and after that a was bound to the ould oven in T'evurder; James Wyatt down to Wadebridge, he was there when they did open ut.

"And after that a was bound to Dozmary Pool; and they do say that there he ez now emptying of it out with a lampet.shell, with a hole in the bottom of ut."

This is a very ancient idea, and was one of the torments of the classical Tartarus.The treacherous daughters of Danaus being condemned therein to empty Leth with a bottomless vessel:--

"Et Danai proles Veneris quae numma laesit,
In cava Lethaeas solia portat aquas."

Dosmare Pool is a small lake or tarn on the Bodmin Moors, a fit representative of Lethe, with its black water and desolate environs.--J. C. H.'

Hunt 1903

Jahn Tregeagle the Steward - part 2

'..."And he rent for the man, and axed 'n for az rent: and the man said he'd apaid az rent: and the lord said he hadn't, there warn't no cross to az name in the books, and he tould 'n that he 'd have the law for 'ii if he didn't pay.

"And the man, he didn't know what to do: and he went yore to the minister of Simonward; [St Breward.] and the minister axed 'n if he'd a got faith: and the man, he hadn't got faith, and he was obliged for to come homewards again.

"And after that the 'Zaizes was coming naigh, and he was becoming afeerd, sure enough: and he went yore to the minister again, and tould'n he'd a got faith; the minister might do whatever a laiked.

"And the minister draed a ring out on the floor: and he caaled out dree times, Jahn Tergagle, Jahn Tergagle, Jahn Tergagle I and (I 've a heerd the ould men tell ut, sir) theess Jahn Tergagle stood before mun in the middle of the ring.

"And he went yore wi' mun to the Ezaizes, and gave ax evidence and tould how this man had a paid az rent; and the lord he was cast.

"And after that they was come back to their own house, theess Jahn Tergagle he gave mun a brave deal of trouble; he was knackin' about the place, and wouldn't laive mun alone at all...'

Hunt 1903

Jahn Tregeagle the Steward - part 1

'THERE are numerous versions of this legend, and sundry statements I made as to the man who is supposed to have achieved the no very envious immortality which he enjoys.


One or two of these may interest the reader.
 
The following very characteristic narrative, from a much-esteemed correspondent, gives several incidents which have not a place in the legend as I have related it, which comprehends the explanation given for the appearance of Tregeagle at so many different parts of the county.

The Tregeagle, of whom mention occurs in the writings of Cornish legendary authors, was a real person: a member of a respectable family, resident during the seventeenth century at Trevorder, in the parish of St Breock, and identical probably with a John Tregeagle whose tombstone may yet be seen in the parish church there, close to the chancel.

Lingering one day amid the venerable arches of that same church, the narrator, a native of the parish, encountered, near a small transept called the Trevorder aisle, the sexton, a man then perhaps of about eighty years of age. The conversation turning not unnaturally on the "illustrious dead," the narrator was gratified in receiving from the lips of the old man the following characteristic specimen of folk-lore, the greater part of which has remained clearly imprinted in his memory after a Iapse of many years; though [he thinks he has had to supply the very last sentence of all from the general popular tradition] here and there he may have had to supply a few expressions:

"Theess Jahn Tergagle, I 'ye a heerd mun tell, sir, he was a steward to a lord.

"And a man came fore to the court and paid ax rent: and Jahn Tergagle didn't put no cross to az name in the books.

"And after that Tergagle daied: and the lord came down to look after az rents: and when he zeed the books, he zeed this man's name that there wasn't no cross to ut...' [cont.]

Hunt 1903

Monday, 7 June 2010

Grey Wethers

[image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grey_Wethers_5%281%29.JPG - Creative Commons license GFDL]

'In the same direction, 3 miles up the long ridge, we come across to the Grey Wethers, two incomplete stone circles, so called because of their resemblance to a flock of sheep, lying at the base of Sittaford Tor (1764 feet), easily ascended by those who would find the logan-stone at its summit.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Benji and his sieve


[When asked of any folklore in the area while walking to the moorland boundary of Belstone Parish a Dartmoor Guide, born in Belstone, replied "well, there is Benji, of course, at Cranmere pool, who is condemned to empty the water with a sieve..." This is all he would say.]

The Irishman's Wall

[There are two similar legends I know of this wall, differing only in one small detail. One I read of some time ago, and one I heard from a Dartmoor parks guide who grew up in Belston.

The Irishman's Wall, on Belstone parish dates back to the time of the enclosures. At this time a rich newcomer turned up - either that or he had been long away from the parish, perhaps in Ireland, amassing much wealth.  He decided to put his wealth to work, and at that age, as now, money meant a lot to the law of the land, if not its people. Employing incomers to work for him (the wall is not a typical Dartmoor construction) - again, possibly from Ireland - he set to work enclosing a large area of the common of Belstone for his private use. This was a barbaric time, and across the land the poor people suffered greatly, and the wedge of greed  was well and truly driven home between the peasant and the land.  If completed the wall would have deprived many of the villagers of the food in their belly, the peat in their hearths, and even the stone to repair their houses with.

Here the written and the told stories diverge a fraction.  The written version (I cannot recall the book) tells of how while the rich man's lackeys built the wall over the breast of the hill the locals followed just out of site over the brow knocking it down.

The guide told a slightly more cunning story - he said the locals waited till pretty much the day it was finished, when the rich man had sunk all his assets into it. That night they went out on mass and before dawn broke every foot of the wall was torn down and scattered - the common of Belstone could not be enclosed!  When sun rose not a villager was to be seen, but the rich man was ruined, and to this day the land of Belstone parish is unenclosed.]

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Wistmans Wood

'Wistman's Wood, one of the lions of Dartmoor, probably takes its name from whisht, a Devonshire synonym for "uncanny." It is a group of stunted and gnarled oaks, mixed with ferns and mountain ash, rooted among mossy boulders which make rough scrambling. There are said to be some five hundred of these trees many of them several centuries old, but none more than 10 or 12 feet high. One tradition gives them as planted in the 13th century by Isabella de Fortibus, Countess of Devon; but this weird wood appears to be still older. It is naturally connected with the Druids, and another derivation finds its name in their synonym ' The Wise Men." Both stories and trees answer doubly to ancient ideas of a sacred place, and few superstitious natives would care to find themselves here in the dark. It is haunted by adders, which make a real danger ~ one should be careful in picking one's steps among the boulders and their choked-up interstices. While this primeval wood seems almost as ancient as the stone monuments around it, the greenery in the adjacent Cowsick glen has been carefully nursed into beauty within our own century.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

The depth of bottomless Classenwell Pool

'Here we may turn to the right, by the Leat formed to supply Devonport with water, for Classenwell Pool, remarkable as the only lake of Dartmoor, naturally declared to be bottomless, in point of fact about 15 feet deep.'

Hope Moncrieff

Fitz's Well

'About as far up the Blackabrook, on the other side of the prison, will be found Fitz's Well, with which a romantic legend is connected.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Meavy Oak

'Meavy... ...notable... ...for an oak that claims to be the oldest in England'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Lidford Cascade and the Gubbins

'This glen [at Lidford] was once the haunt of the Gubbins, a band of outlaws who, a century earlier, played much the same part as the Doones in North Devon'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Great Miss Tor and the Devil's Frying Pan

'On the top [of Great Miss Tor] is a natural rock-basin, called Mis Tor Pan, about 10 feet in circumference, which is supposed to be the work of the Druids, to whom anything prehistoric is readily attributed, when we know little about them. From another agent to whom superstitious country folk are apt to credit anything mysterious, it gets the nickname The Devil's Frying Pan; but it is apparently natural.  At the top of Vixen Tor are three similar basins, and they occur frequently on other parts of the moor.

Hope Moncrieff 1895

Vixen Tor - Cresswell 1921

[I know of one on Kes Tor, and the puggie-stone near Chagford may well have one, though I haven't seen it.  In the Isles of Scilly on St Agnes there is the Punch Bowl - also in granite. The picture bellow is of the basin on Kes Tor]

Judge Jeffries, Lidford Castle and the Black Pig

'As has been already hinted, the village is scattered over some 2 miles about the course of the Lid, having its center a mile or more from the station, on the high road from Brent tor running on to Okehampton, which, at the farther end, joins the other road through St. Mary Tavy. This central point is distinguished by the (castle and the Church. The former, now reduced to a hollow square tower mouldering upon an artificial mound, was founded . soon after the Conquest, and converted by Edward I. into the Stannary Prison of Devonshire. Until the last century it was still made use of for this purpose, though much defaced and shattered in 1650. The edicts of the Stannary Court partook to a considerable extent of the characteristics of Judge Lynch, so that " Lidford Law " became as notorious as " Jedburgh Justice." Judge Jeffreys held here one of his Black Assizes, and the legend runs that the court-room is still haunted by his spirit in the guise of a black pig.'


Hope Moncrieff 1895

The Lyke-way at Lidford

'Traces of the Lyke-way, by which corpses were brought across the moor to its church, may still be found. '

Hope Moncrieff 1895