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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Parish Records




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Looking down on the village of Widecombe and its church

In the background - the long, steep hill that brings travellers off the Moor to the village clustered around its church.

From our postcard collection c.1920


WIDECOMBE-IN-THE-MOOR is a parish and scattered village, picturesquely seated in a valley on the eastern side of Dartmoor Forest, 6 miles N. W. by N. of Ashburton. It is in the Eastern division of the county, Newton Abbot union and county court district, Teignbridge petty sessional division Totnes archdeaconry, and Moreton rural deanery, and is a detached member of Haytor hundred. It had 901 inhabitants (469 males, 432 females) in 1871, living in 175 houses, on 10,614 acres. The parish includes the hamlets, &c. of Cator. Ponsworthy, Poundsgate, Linchaford, Fernhill, Dunstone, Blackslade, Lower Tor and about 4700 acres of open commons, called Neiuhridge, Blackdown, Natsworthy, Jourdan, &c.


The parish rises in bold hills from the river Dart and several of its tributary streams, and great improvements have been made of late years in the Forest farms. The first Lord Ashburton purchased a long term interest in  the manors of Widecombe and Spitchwick, and built a neat house in the latter, in a romantic situation, where he made extensive plantations. These manors are now held by Mrs. Drake and Dr. Blackall, respectively. Blackslade belongs to Mr. R. Dymond, F.S.A., and Nolsworthy to Mr. Owen Tucker.


Widecombe - St Pancras Church
The church of St. Pancras, Widecombe

©Richard J. Brine


The Church (St. Pancras), a large ancient structure with a lofty tower and six bells, has been recently restored. On Sunday afternoon, October 21, 1638, it was much damaged by lightning, which killed 4 and injured 62 of the congregation then assembled in divine worship. The tower was shattered extensively, and one of the large pinnacles fell through the roof of the nave, and a large beam dropped between the pulpit and reading-desk, without injuring the vicar or the clerk. A circumstantial account of this occurrence may be seen in some verses, written by an eye-witness, and preserved in the church. The fabric is mostly in the Early Perpendicular style, and has a nave, aisles, transepts, and chancel ; and the tower has octangular turrets at the four corners, crowned by erocketted pinnacles. The vicarage, valued in K.B. at £25 13s. 9d., and in 1831 at
£332, is in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter, and incumbency of the liev. John Williams, M.A., who has 60 acres of glebe, and a good residence. The impropriate tithes are held by the Rev. S. Coldridge, under a lease from the Dean and Chapter of Exeter; they are commuted at £168 6s., and the small ones at £280 a year. A new Church (St. John the Baptist) was built by Mrs. Larpent in 1863, in lieu of the long ruined chapel of St. Leonard, at Spitchwick. She was aided by a grant of £300 from the Incorporated Society for the erection of additional churches. A district called Leusden was assigned to the church in 1864, and had 370 inhabitants, (189 males, 181 females) in 1871, living in 81 houses, on 5000 acres of land.

The living is a vicarage, valued at £127, in the patronage of Mrs. C. R. Larpent, and incumbency of the Rev. Percival Jackson, who has 26acres of glebe, and a vicarage house. The Wesleyans
have small chapels at Widecombe and Ponsworthy, and the Independents have one at Watergate. A house, two cottages, and 1½ acres of land, have been vested from an early period for the use of the church and poor, and the latter have 13,s a year, left by Lewis Wills and Sampson Jerman. There is a fund for educational purposes, amounting to about £250, with which stock in the new Three per Cents, has been purchased. The School Board was formed on May 1, 1875, and consists of the Rev. J. Williams (chairman), and Messrs. John Hannaford (vice-chairman), F. H. Firth, 11. H. Ilannaford, John Easterbrook, Thomas Nosworthy, and James Hamlyn. The old National School Room is being enlarged to meet Government requirements.

Richard Fitzralph, Primate of all Ireland in the 14th century, was born in Devonshire, and his
family is said to have been seated for many generations at Widecombe, where remains of the old family residence are still to be seen. He translated the Bible into the Irish tongue, and wrote more than thirty books on religious subjects. He lived to a great age, and was buried at Dundalk.

Post Office at Mr. William Pike's. Letters are received at 10 a.m., and despatched at 3.30 p.m. week days only, via Ashburton, which is the nearest Money Order Office.


The Widecombe Road by Frederick Widgery
The road leading down into Widecombe seen from Dartmoor

{painted by Frederick Widgery. A well-known Devon artist, Frederick Widgery became Mayor of Exeter in 1904.



Adams William, farmer, Chittleford

Andrews Eli,boot & shoe maker,Venton

Arnold John, mason, Townwood

Avery William, farm bailiff. Lower Blackadon

Beard William, shopkeeper

Blackall Dr Joseph, Spitchwick and Exeter

Bridgman John, farmer, Blackslade

Caunter Mrs Elizabeth, farmer, Linchaford

Caunter John, carpenter, Ponsworthy Mill

Chaffe John farmer, Corndon

Chaffe Samuel, farmer, Sweaton

Cleave John, carpenter. Lower town

Cole George, miller, Jordan

Daw Mrs Eliz., miller, Cockenford

Drake Mr Thomas, Manor house

Dymond Robert, Esq., J.P., Blackslade house,

Easterbrook John, farmer, Jordan

Easterbrook John, farmer, Lizwell

Fewins Simon, blacksmth, Ponsworthy

Firth Frederick, Esq., J.P., Great Gator

French George, farmer, Higher Venton

French Mrs Harriet,farmer,Spitchwick

French John, farmer,Ley

French Richard, farmer, Rowbrooks

French William, farmer,Lower Venton

Guest Thomas, farm bailiff. Stone

Hamlyn Miss Harriet, shopkeeper, Poundsgate

Hamlyn James, farmer, Lower Ash

Hamlyn James, farmer, Lake

Hamlyn James, farmer,EastShallaford

Hamlyn Parker, victualler., Tavistock Inn

Hamlyn Richard, farmer, Drywells

Hannaford Aaron, farmer, Lower Torr

Hannaford George, farmer, Bonhill

Hannaford Herbert,farmr,Southcombe

Hannaford John, farmer, Middle Cator

Hannaford John, farmer, Hatchwell

Hannaford Peter, farmer, Tunhill

Hannaford Richard, farmer, Pitton

Hannaford Roger, farmer, Langworthy

Hannaford Samuel, farmer.Broadaford

Hannaford William, farmer, Middle Natsworthy

Harvey Mr Joseph, Southcombe villa

Hern John, farmer, Scobetor ;

Hern Robert, farmer, Coombe

Hern Samuel, farmer, Kingshead

Horn Thomas, farmer, LowerDunston

Hext John, farmer, Corundonford

Irish Walter, farmer, Lower Cator

Jackson Rev. Percival, Vicar of St. Jolin the Baptist,Leusdon

Kcnnaway Mr Warwick, Pitts park,

Langdon Elijah, farmer, Foxworthy

Langdon Mr William, Bittleford

Larpent Mrs Charlotte, Leusdon

Leaman John, farmer, Bavenly

Lee James. beer retailer, Rugglestone

LuscombeThos. farm bailiff,Northway

Mann Richard, farmer, Great Dunstone

Mead John, blacksmith

Norsworthy George, farmer, Lower Dunstone

Norsworthy John, farmer, Southway

Norsworthy Richard, sexton

Parkyn James, farmer. The Glebe

Pike William, baker, shopkeeper, and postmaster

Preston William, farmer, Leightor

RobertsWm.carpnter.Higher Dunstone

Smerdon Edwin (Edwin & Ilerbert);Bonhill Villa

Smerdon, Edwin & Herbert, farmers

Smerdon Mr. Elias, Dunstone cottage

Smerdon, Herbert (Edwin & Herbert) farmer and victualler. Old Inn

Smerdon Miss Nancy, Venton

Smerdon Robert,farmer,Hedge Barton

Smerdon Robert, jun. farmer, Middle Natsworthy

Stockman John, farmer, Uphill

Stone Mr John, The Lodge, Leusdon


Tapper Joseph, farmer, Isaford

Townsend Daniel, boot and maker, Higher Dunstone

Townsend Jas., carpenter, Lower town

Tucker Mr William John Owen, Natsworthy Manor

Waldrom Richard, carpenter, Bonhill

Warren Charles, boot and shoe maker, Ponsworthy

Warren James,farmer, LowerUppacott

Warren John, tailor, Fernhill

Warren John, mason

Warren Samuel, thatcher, Smith hill

White Thomas, farmer, Rowden

Willcocks Thos.farmer..Higher Blackadon

Williams Rev. John, vicar

Withycombe, George, baker and shopkeeper, Poundsgate


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