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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Parish Records




War Memorials



Castle Hill at Filleigh

Castle Hill - seat of Earl Fortescue

The house referred to in White's Directory was destroyed by fire in the 20th century but was reconstructed to the original plan. The "artificial semblance of a ruined castle" mentioned below is as it was in 1878 and can be seen here above the main portion of the house.

© Richard J. Brine


"Filleigh is a parish in South Molton Union and county court district, South Molton polling district of North Devon, petty sessional division, Barnstaple archdeaconry and South Molton deanery, and Braunton Hundred. It had 370 inhabitants ( 175 males, 195 females) in 1871, living in 74 houses on 2038 acres of land. Filleigh village is pleasantly situated 3½ miles W of South Molton, and 8 miles ESE of Barnstaple. The Devon and Somerset Railway has a station in the parish called Castle Hill.


The parish, which is bounded on the east by the small river Bray, includes Castle Hill, a finely wooded park of about 826 acres, the seat of Earl Fortescue, who has another seat at Ebrington Hall, Gloucestershire. The grounds, and the old mansion of Castle Hill, were much improved about 1740, by Hugh Fortescue, Lord Clinton, who, in 1746, was created Earl Clinton and Baron Fortescue and died without issue in 1751, when the earldom became extinct; but the Barony of Fortescue passed to his half-brother, Matthew Fortescue, who died in 1785 and was succeeded by his son Hugh, who was created Earl Fortescue and Viscount Ebrington in 1789. The latter died in 1841 and was succeeded by his son, the late Right Hon. Hugh Fortescue, Earl Fortescue and Viscount Ebrington, K.G., who was Lord Lieutenant and custos rotulorum of Devonshire, and Colonel of the East Devon Militia. He was born in 1783, and distinguished himself in the House of Commons, in the debates on Parliamentary Reform.  He died 14 September 1861 and was succeeded by his eldest son, the present (third) earl.

The large and handsome mansion of Castle Hill, which was altered and enlarged by the Earl in 1842, stands in the park, on a well-wooded eminence, whose summit is decorated with the artificial semblance of a ruined castle, and commands a prospect of very considerable extent. The grounds in front of the house are disposed into various pleasing slopes, which gradually descend from the terrace. Across the valley the ground again rises, and the view is terminated by a handsome triumphal arch on the top of the hill."


Castle Hill - the triumphal arch

Castle Hill, Filleigh - the Triumphal Arch

© Richard J. Brine


"The church (St. Paul's) was rebuilt in 1732 by the first Lord Clinton and baron Fortescue, and was restored and enlarged at the cost of Lord Fortescue in 1877; it is of Norman architecture, with a Gothic aisle, and contains some good painted glass windows and other family monuments. A handsome brass lectern, a lectionary, a crimson velvet altar cloth, with kneeling cushions to match, and new alms dishes have been presented by various friends. The register dates from 1685, The living is a rectory, in the patronage of Earl Fortescue, and is consolidated with that of East Buckland. Here is a good rectory house and 88½ acres of glebe. The tithes of Filleigh were commuted in 1839 for £97 per annum.


The school is on the South Molton road about ¼ mile E of the church. It was commenced by the late Earl and finished by the present Earl Fortescue as a memorial to the Hon. John Fortescue, who died in Madeira in 1859. The first Earl Clinton left £100 for the foundation of an almshouse. In about 1810, the late Earl built four dwellings, at the cost of £800, and gave them, with four gardens, in lieu of the old almshouse. The poor parishioners have the interest of £27, left by various donors.

Post office at Mr. David Bale's, Castle Hill, Letters are received at 8.15 a.m and despatched at 5. 30 pm via South Molton which is the nearest Money Order Office."


George Anstey, miller, Filleigh Mill

Thomas Austin, schoolmaster

Bale, David, grocer and postmaster

Bale, Misses Elizabeth  & Mary Jane, dressmakers

Braund, George, farmer, Barton

Brewer, John, land agent & solicitor to Earl Fortescue, Church Villa

Courtenay, William, farmer, East Heddon

Dadds, Mrs. Eliza, shopkeeper, Heddon

Dodd, John, station master

Ebrington, Rt. Hon. Viscount, Castle Hill

Ellacott, William, sexton

Fortescue, Rt, Hon. Earl, Castle Hill

Haggard, Rev, Christopher, MA, rector, The Rectory

Manning, Andrew, farmer, Higher Beer

Miller & Parker, coal, corn, manure merchants Castle Hill Station

Miller, Thomas, farmer and partner in the above, Mays Leary, Chittlehampton

Milton, George, parish clerk

Moore, George, blacksmith

Muxworthy, John, boot & shoe maker

Newton, Peter, farmer, Highdown

Parker, Frederick (of Miller & Parker) Castle Hill Station

Robins, Thomas, farmer, Park

Smaldon, James, farmer & carpenter, Knowslade

Tarver, Wyatt, grocer, Park Lane

Venn, John, farmer, West Heddon

Wilson, David, head gardener to Earl Fortescue.


St.Paul's Church, Filleigh - the interior

St. Paul's Church, Filleigh - the interior

© Richard J. Brine


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