A Walk Back In Time At The Old Priory A Walk Back In Time At The Old Priory

Notices A Walk Back in time at The Old Priory

Posted: Thursday 20th May '21

Updated: Wednesday 16th June '21

Old Priory: A WALK BACK IN TIME (1885)

It is 1885, and you are standing looking at the old Priory ruins at the back of the Church, with the Church on your right and Cloister Hall Farm on the left. If you follow the suggested route and the map you should be able to look at some of the older properties and perhaps imagine the living conditions and life style of some of the people living there in the 1880s.

Cloister Hall is a 400 acre farm owned by James Mallet and is one of the largest and oldest in the Parish, on which he employs seven men.

The walk starts now by going through the small gate to the front porch of the Church and up the path to the church gate. On the right is the Parsonage of the Rev. Brine, the Vicar who lives there with his sister Caroline. Almost opposite the church gate is the village green behind which is the Clinton Arms where Robert Sandford, landlord and brewer can be found. Going up the hill there is a smallholding called Pool Parks where George Hearn and his family live. A bit further up there is a long house called Pencleave, the farm of Richard Bond, who employs four men on the 200 acres. Towards Torrington and a couple of hundred yards down the hill we look down on, and into the bedroom windows of Culliver Cottages the homes of Mr Mallet’s workmen, the Morrish, Tanton and Hancock families. Further on down the hill past the turn for Monkleigh on the left are the cottages at Rakeham; these are the cottages of farm workers and railway workers and where John Gay the painter lives. The families of Edmund Palmer and James Marley also live here. The Gatehouse is next, the home of Sergeant Thomas Reaney and his South African wife Sarah. Tolls are no longer collected here. Towards the River Torridge the lane on the right leads to Drummets Mill (or Water Cleave). Mr Thomas Ford employs six men in the mill and on his 100 acre farm. Looking towards Torrington you can see the splendid wooden railway bridge.

Go back up the hill and then turn right towards Monkleigh and then left at Plumpers Bridge. There are two cottages here on the left at the bottom of the hill, Thomas Abbott lives in one and the other is empty. Towards Buckland Brewer we pass Beare Haine, the farm of Mr Lewis and then on to Higher Culleigh the 140 acre farm of Edward Abbot where two men and two boys are employed. On the left is Lower Culleigh where Mr and Mrs Cory live. The next property is at Catsborough Cross, a farm workers cottage occupied by the Hearn family and across the road a terrace of three cottages housing the Short, Collings and Squire families.

On the road to Buckland Brewer we pass Mill Lane Cottage and Lower Coombe then down the steep hill to The Glen. William Hooper a groom lives in the lodge and retired Civil Servant Mr Milford lives in the house, both properties being Frithelstock side of the River Duntz, which parts Frithelstock from Buckland Brewer.

Returning up the road we take Mill Lane, opposite Mill Lane Cottage, as a short cut to Horwood Barton. This is the largest farm in the Parish being 500 acres and farmed by John Norman employing ten men, two boys and two women. Continuing along Mill Lane and then towards Ash is the farm of Mr Fisher with 200 acres. At West Ash there are workmen’s cottages occupied by the Gerry and Colwill families.

A short walk across the field behind West Ash there is Smythacott farmed by Mr John Johns who came from Parkham. Behind the farm there is a public right of way to Knaworthy farm, the home of Jessie Dunn. The footpath continues from here to the two Hollamore farms of William May and Richard Bromell. Leaving Hollamore on the road to Stibb Cross, the first lane on the left leads to Bibbear Farm. Mr Robert Millman farms the 100 acres with one man and the help of some of his ten children. Going through the farm to the back road, go left to Southcott, passing Beara and turning left again and up to the two farms there of Mr Smale, with 260 acres who employs three men, and William Hookway, farmer and butcher. James Knight a thatcher, and James and Mary Hutchings also live in cottages here at Southcott. Carry on up the hill to Ebberdown on the right, where Mrs Oake a washerwoman and her family live. Half a mile further on, a lane on the right leads to Stretchacott Farm where Mr William Ashton is Bailiff for Mr Philbrick of Littleham, a brewer by profession. He also owns other holdings nearby including Coombe Farm which can be seen across the valley, in total about 350 acres. James Mills lives in the cottage nearby.

Coming out the lane from Stretchacott and then down towards Stone which is about a mile away, you may see some of the nine children of John Gill at Furzepole. There is also John Knight a thatcher and a washerwoman Elizabeth Hedger living in houses next door. At the group of houses at Old Pound there’s a retired cooper John Ball and his wife Mary Ball. At Stone on the right is the farm of James and Mary Ball and on the corner a cottage, which use to be a Baptist Chapel.

The un-named or numbered cottages at Stone and Church Lane are the homes of many of the trades’ people of Frithelstock. There is George Walter carpenter and grocer with William Brice the Baptist Minister as a lodger. John Short the boot and shoemaker, Richard Southcombe carpenter whose daughter Lucy is a dressmaker: Samuel Perkin a retired cordwainer. Many of the wives here do outwork for the glove factory at Torrington and Annie Glover is a well known stocking knitter. There are two blacksmiths, Thomas Stapleton and William Morrish with two apprentices. The New Inn public House is now closed and it appears that Elizabeth Galsworthy has a clothes shop in its place. You will pass the recently built Baptist Chapel at Stone built in 1872, and the Bible Christian Chapel built in 1852.

Up the road to Bideford are cottages at Huskhill belonging to Horwood farm and a bit further on is the school which was built about 12 years ago and is big enough for about 80 children. Mr William Nash is the headmaster and his wife the infant teacher. Back up to Huskhill Cross and down Back Lane, Usk Cottage is on the right and half a mile on is Broad Park on the left, where shepherd James Moase lives. The next property on the road is School House where Sarah Sillifant is a national schoolmistress and her son is a pupil teacher. Her husband William is a mason employing four men. A short distance on is a footpath to the right by Six Acre Cottage leading to Preston Farm (about a mile away via a footbridge) where Francis Squire farms 47 acres and James Moase next door at Hill Farm has 55 Acres. Three cottages nearby are for James Hutchings’s family and William Newcombe who works for James Moase. Following the lane out to the council road, a turn left will take you down the hill to Clements Hill where John Goad lives and farms.

A steep lane behind the house leads down through the woods to the railway and Watergate Halt. If you wait here you should be able to get a ride to Torrington Station on a clay wagon from Peters Marland. On the way to the station you can see Tucking Mill on the left and a few hundred yards further down still on the left you will see Drummets Mill, then cross the wooden viaduct and bridge across the Torridge to the station. On leaving the train, go back across the river by the Rothern Bridge. On the main road beware of pony and traps being driven erratically. Go back up past the Gate House and Rakeham Cottages then up the hill to the village of Frithelstock and by then you will be just ready for a pint of homebrew at the Clinton Arms.

Should you really need something to bring you back down to earth, when you have finished your drink, take a stroll around the Church yard. Many of the headstones there, near the church gate bear the names of the people you may well have encountered on a walk around the parish 140 years ago.


Extract from Frithelstock Past and Present, reproduced with the kind permission of the Frithelstock Book Group


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All the contact details have been given for the local clubs and groups, but please do contact us if you have any questions about what you’ve seen on this website.
Church : Sidney Adams 01805 622300
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Parish Clerk

Mrs Kate Graddock (BA Hons)
4 Springfield, Petrockstowe,
Devon, EX20 3HF

Phone: 07703 050496
Email: frithelstockpc@gmail.com

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