The Ruins of Boveycombe

Extract from Parish Magazine November 2011

If you go down to the woods today…. you might come across a small group of archaeologists and volunteers excavating the site of the ruins of Boveycombe Farm.
For those of you not familiar with the area, if you walk from Heaven’s Gate down to Hisley Bridge, approximately half way down, either side of the bridle path are a few granite walls – all that is left of one of the earliest tenements in the parish.  Prior to work on-site, in depth research into Boveycombe’s past was carried out in our archives room, by one of the archaeological team. We thought it might be interesting to look at a little of the history of this farm, abandoned (for what reason we do not know) probably in the 1940’s.

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Is this the remains of Boveycombe farmhouse? The first building you reach is to the left of the path as you walk downhill.

The Devonshire Lay Subsidy of 1332 is the first real mention of Boveycombe. It was one of the eight tenements of Lustleigh (the others being Pepperdon, Foxworthy, Pethybridge, Mapstone, Caseley, South Harton and Barncourt).  By 1603, the reign of Elizabeth I was over and James I was about to become King. In 1615, Boveycombe was “held by William Grose, rent 8/- 8d, heriot* the best beast and acreage 50 (acres?)”. Richard Caseley, aged 30, held the reversion. This meant that on the death of William, Boveycombe would pass to Richard. By 1628, Nicholas Gray was resident at Boveycombe and the acreage had decreased to 32 acres. Martin Trend held the reversion.

By the next time the Manor of Lustleigh was recorded in 1742, Gilbert Babbacombe farmed Boveycombe’s 33 acres of “land, meadow and pasture” and the rent was £2 10/-. The farm remained in the same family until the 1837 Tithe map shows it in the ownership of John Gould, and occupied by George Wills, the total acreage now recorded as being 69 and a half acres.

The recent history of Boveycombe is patchy, but it is noted in the Archive by Ann Jones, formerly of Lower Hisley, that she and her sister Tish Roberts met George Crocker, who was probably the last person to farm Boveycombe, growing potatoes there in the early 1940s.  The current excavations have revealed that one building, probably the farmhouse as it had remnants of internal lime plaster, straddled the bridle path diagonally. There is also another building – possibly a barn – on the right  as you walk downhill.

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As you continue downhill, you reach the remains of a small building to the right of the bridle path, possibly a barn.

Another mystery is the old cart track that leads to the farm. On the bridle path beneath Lower Hisley it can still be seen on the right hand side. This path followed a route between two fields of Higher Hisley, dropping steeply down through the woods and into the farm.

* Heriot – payment to Lord of Manor on death of the tenant, the best live beast or dead chattel.

Queen Victoria – Golden and Diamond Jubilees

Extract from Parish Magazine June 2012

As the nation prepares to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, how did the people of Lustleigh celebrate the jubilee of Queen Victoria?

Queen Victoria is the longest serving monarch in the country’s history, reigning for 64 years between 1837 and 1901. In June 1887, the nation celebrated her Golden Jubilee. It was for this occasion that the Lych Gate and steps to the church were built. As early as 3 a.m. the village was preparing for a party with a feast of beef and plum pudding for the men of the village. For the children and woman folk………….. “An excellent tea was prepared” (probably by themselves, after having cooked the beef and plum pudding for the men!).

Ten years later, on 22nd June 1897, celebrations were again the order of the day for Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Several weeks beforehand a committee was formed – in fact two as one dealt with celebrations for the men folk and the other for the women and children. Special prayers were said on Sunday 20th and God Save the Queen was sung, including a new verse composed by the Dean of Rochester.


On the stroke of midnight, 60 shots were fired in the “village square” and at 5 a.m., another salute took place. The church bells then rang before a short church service at 8 a.m. where Holy Communion was held. Photographs of the choir, congregation and village children were taken on the church steps. Following a similar theme from the Golden Jubilee celebrations, the men feasted on beef and plum pudding – with tea for the women and children at 3 p.m. For the rest of the afternoon there were sports with a drum and flute band from Moretonhampstead and a string band from Plymouth providing music. Bonfires were lit on the Cleave and at Bullaton Rock. Dancing followed by the light of bonfires until a late hour.


As a lasting memorial to the event, the church chancel was “painted in fresco” by Mr. Reginald Hallward, Honourable Secretary of the Guild of Clergy and Artists. An unnamed parishioner gave a brass, fixed in the arch leading to the south transept, with a border of the rose, shamrock and thistle in the national colours of red, white and blue and on it were painted the letters V. R. I.
Most of the information for the above was taken from the Lustleigh Parish Magazine, May – July 1837 and 1897, which are held in the Archive Room.

The Early Lords of the Manor of Lustleigh Part 1

From the Domesday Book we can see that in 1065, in the reign of King Edward the Confessor, the manor of Lustleigh was held by Ansgar and prior to that by one Walter.  There is quite a gap in the records until we come to the early part of the 13th century when a William de Widworthy held the manor from 1200 to 1224. His wife was called Juliana and they had a daughter Alice and a son Hugh. Alice married a member of the Le Prous family from Gidleigh and they had a son – William Le Prous.
Hugh de Widworthy inherited the manor from his father and in turn his daughter – Emma Dinham – inherited the title. Emma and her husband Robert were Lord and Lady of the manor until 1291, but having had no children the manor passed to Emma’s cousin William le Prous.
There is an effigy of Sir William le Prous in the wall of the south transept of Lustleigh church.


In the north wall are effigies of a knight and a lady. As all records of these have been lost, there is some dispute about who they are. One view is that they are in fact Sir Robert Dinham and Lady Emma Dinham. Another theory is they are William de Widworthy and his wife Juliana. On the death of Sir William le Prous in 1316, the manor passed to his daughter Emma, who was married to Roger de Moelis. From then on several ancestors and relatives of theirs held the manor of Lustleigh: Firstly inherited by their daughter Alice de Moelis and her husband John Daumarle. Secondly by their son – Sir John Daumarle and his wife Isabella. Thirdly – as John and Isabella had no children – the manor passed to Clarice, Sir John’s sister. She was married to Richard Grenville. There is some uncertainty as to who succeeded them, as by rights it should have been Clarice’s daughter Alice Carndon and thereafter to their daughter and her husband – Joan and John Durford. Historical evidence suggests that these three women were tricked out of their rightful inheritance by the machinations of the sons of Isabella by her first marriage to John Tremayne.
The next verified information cites William Burleston purchasing the manor at the end of the 14th century. It is not clear if he bought it from Joan Durford or one of the Tremayne sons; in 1403 Burleston sold the manor of Lustleigh to Sir John Wadham. To be continued in part two together with a somewhat macabre tale befitting Halloween…


The above is taken from: Chapter V, “The Story of Waye”, by Hugo Pellew and based on research by Dr. M. H. Hughes

The Early Lords of the Manor of Lustleigh Part 2

The Fragmentation of the Manor (and a story fit for Halloween)

As we left the story last month, the Manor of Lustleigh consisted of a number of farms and cottages, all of which were owned by Nicholas Wadham. There were also a few free tenements that he did not own but from whom he received a small annual “quit rent” in acknowledgement that he was their Lord.


This simple and easily understood system was about to change and be replaced by a much more complicated one. Nicholas Wadham died in 1609. He was buried in the Parish Church at Ilminster Somerset. As he and his wife had no children, the title to Nicholas’s many estates and properties in Devon and Somerset went, as was the custom, to his three sisters. They each inherited a third of his estates and so in the case of Lustleigh each sister owned one third of the Manor.  If this situation arose today the estate would probably be physically divided into three equal shares however this was not so in those days. So, the sisters inherited “an undivided one third of the Manor of Lustleigh”.


The eldest of the sisters was Florence, the wife of John Wyndham of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset. Even in those days, the Wyndhams were a famous family. Four of Henry VIII’s queens – Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Parr – were related to them. Two of the family attained the rank of Vice-Admiral of England in the 16th century. Later Wyndhams held high ministerial posts in the reigns of George I and George II.


There is a fascinating and somewhat macabre tale regarding Florence. When she married john Wyndham the couple lived at Kentsford near Watchet. In the second year of their marriage Florence became ill, died and was buried in the family vault of St. Decumans Church nearby. That night the verger, a man named Attwell who had assisted at the last rites, returned to the vault, prised open the lid of the lead coffin and proceeded to strip the corpse of her jewellery. The story goes that having secured all but a valuable ring that he was unable to remove, he drew his knife and started to sever the finger. To his horror, blood began to flow and the “corpse”, struggling to a sitting position, demanded to know where she was. The terrified man fled leaving behind a lantern, which Florence now thoroughly alive, took to guide her as she staggered over fields to her home. She was unable to rouse anyone at the house however, some of the servants were awoken by the howling of the favourite hound of their late mistress and went to investigate, only to retreat in terror barring the door behind them at the grim site of a blood-stained shroud that they took to be the ghost of their late mistress. Hearing the commotion her husband, made of sterner stuff, at once ordered the door to be opened and was shocked to see the wife he had just buried standing on the lawn in front of the house. Florence fully recovered and a few weeks later gave birth to a son – John – who when he grew up had nine sons to carry on the family name. So much for Florence who must have been a woman of considerable courage and initiative. The verger was never heard of again despite the family offering a substantial reward to him for being the means of restoring Florence to her family.


Florence’s share of the Manor passed to her son John (later Sir John) – that same son who was born a few weeks after Florence’s return from the grave.  Nicholas Wadham’s other sisters Joan Strangeways and Margaret Martin saw each of their shares of the Manor of Lustleigh eventually pass to their Children, John Strangeways and Joan’s four daughters – Anne Floyer, Elisabeth Hamon, Frances White and Jane Richards.


The above is taken from: Chapter VII of “The Story of Waye”, by Hugo Pellew and based on research by Dr. M. H. Hughes.

Lustleigh War Memorial – Maunder

Samuel Maunder

In the North East corner of our churchyard, you will find a memorial to Samuel Maunder.  Sam died on June 5th 1915 and was buried there five days later. On the grave, there is a single red rose and a note reading
ALWAYS REMEMBERED BY HIS SWEETHEART MARY MAUDE (MORTIMORE) MARSDEN AND HER FAMILY This rose and the note bears witness to the great love and loyalty that Samuel inspired in another, as will be explained later.


Samuel Maunder was born in Lustleigh on December 2nd 1888, the son of William Maunder and Elizabeth née Osborne of Bowhouse Wreyland. He was baptised by Rev. Tudor. We know little of Samuels’s early life as he grew up in Lustleigh, but have found a clue that he was full of mischief. In Cecil Torr’s Small Talk in Wreyland, Torr wrote about the Wild Beast Shows, which moved round the towns of Devon, the camels and elephants being walked along the roads. He wrote that there was a salamander in one of these that an old lady described to him as “a critter as they calls a Sammy maunder”. Torr explained that Sammy was a Lustleigh boy that died in the war that used to play tricks on her, and she thought his fame had spread!

Samuel moved away from the village for three years to serve as a sapper in the Royal Engineers as soon as he was old enough. When he returned to Lustleigh aged about 20, he became an army reservist for six years before being called up in August 1914. We know he had just set up as a fish and poultry dealer living at 1 Pound Cottage when he was recalled to serve with the Royal Engineers. The only clue we have as to how he earned his living before that comes from a local newspaper report in 1913 of the funeral of an ex Kelly miner. The report said that his mates from the Kelly Mine were the bearers at his funeral and S. Maunder was listed as one of them, so it could be that he was employed there. There is no other evidence to support this however.  In 1911 when Sam was aged about 22, Lustleigh joined the celebrations for the Coronation of King George V. One of the events held was a sports day at Woodpark Meadow. Samuel came first in the high jump, second in the quarter mile, and was leader of the winning tug of war team. He was also listed as winner of the cock fighting! This had been banned since 1835 so it must have been the human equivalent,
In the early part of 1915, whilst serving abroad Samuel became very ill with TB and was sent back from France. He was sent to Dunrobin Castle in the North East of Scotland where huts had been built in the grounds for TB patents. The Duchess of Sutherland, who owned Dunrobin Castle, went to Belgium and France in August 1914 to set up field hospitals and worked in some of them. It might be that Sam was one of her patients, which would explain why he was sent to a hospital so far from his home.
Sam died three months after arriving in Scotland. In the July 1915 Parish Magazine the Rev. Johnson wrote about the remarkable demonstration of sympathy at Samuels’s funeral in Lustleigh. He wrote that a large assembly of parishioners of all classes were present at Sam’s funeral, and noted that Samuel had settled down in Lustleigh and had “marriage in view”.
These words “marriage in view” take us forward 100 years to explain the red rose now on the grave in our churchyard and the love story behind it*. In August 2014, the archive was contacted by the granddaughter of Mary Maude Mortimore. She explained that Sam and Mary were childhood sweethearts who grew up together in Lustleigh. Mary was born in Brook House in 1894, one of twelve children of William Mortimore. When the rest of Mary’s family moved to London, she stayed in the care of her aunt and uncle – Lillian and Scott Painter – who ran the Cleave Hotel. Aunt Lillian did not approve of Sam as she considered him of a different class. When Sam returned from France Mary joined him, and his Mother, in Scotland against Aunt Lillian’s wishes.  When Samuel died, Mary stayed on in Scotland for a time, and never returned to Lustleigh She did meet her Aunt again but not until 1934.  Mary never forgot Sam even after she got married. She would often cry when she thought about him years later, and always on Armistice Day. Mary’s son is now 94 years old but still came to Lustleigh last year to visit the grave of his mother’s great love, even though Sam was not his father. It was during this visit that flowers were put on the war memorial, and the rose on the grave.

Chris Vittle

* One hundred and thirty-nine friends and neighbours from the village paid for Sam’s memorial (a list of their names is held in the Archive Room).
On Friday 5th June 2015 there will be a muffled peal rung in memory of Samuel Maunder who died 100 years ago, the second of those on our memorial to die in the Great War.

Lustleigh War Memorial – Boileau

Col. Frank Ridley Farrer Boileau

As the country commemorates the centenary of the start of World War I, in 1914, it is a time to focus more closely on Lustleigh’s own war memorial, and those listed on it whose association with the village was so tragically cut short when they gave their lives for their country. It is a time to remember that behind each name etched into the stone was an individual with their own story and with all of the hopes and dreams that we can also associate with, and someone that was as familiar with the village as we are.boileauOn 28th August 1914, just three weeks after the start of the Great War the first of those commemorated on the Lustleigh war memorial died of his wounds in France. It was tragic to die so soon after the start of the war but at least Col. Frank Boileau reached the age of 46 having had a life full of achievement. The average age of those listed on the Lustleigh memorial for the first war is below twenty-five.
Born into a military family on the 28th of November 1867, in Lucknow, India, Col. Boileau’s father was a Colonel, his grandfather was a Major General, and his uncle was Colonel Bradford of Welparke, Lustleigh. Educated at Cheltenham College, his family background meant that he was always destined for the military, and after undergoing military training, he was commissioned in the Royal Engineers in February 1887, as 2nd Lieutenant. There followed seven years’ service in India, with him becoming a Captain in the Royal Engineers from 1897.
As a Royal Engineer the then ‘Captain’ Boileau was heavily involved in the logistics for the British army’s relief of the siege of Chitral from warring tribesmen in March and April 1895, in what was then northern India. The action has gone down as a major victory in the annals of British military history.
Postings in Africa followed for the Captain, including action with the Royal Engineers alongside the 9th Infantry Division in the South Africa war, which lead to him being mentioned in despatches by Lord Roberts in March 1900.
Whilst back in England in January 1902, he married Mary Aurora Tudor, the daughter of Sub-Dean Tudor, Rector of Lustleigh, at a ceremony in Newton Abbot. Since her father’s death, Mary Tudor had been an advowson* of the parish of Lustleigh.
Following four years back in India from 1906, teaching at the staff college in Quetta, Baluchistan, Captain Boileau was promoted to Colonel on the 21st of January 1910 and was with HS3 Division as GSO 1 (General Service Officer) when the Great War broke out.
The 22nd of August 1914 was the bloodiest day of the entire western war when the French alone lost 27,000 dead. Colonel Boileau was wounded four days later at Ham, France, immediately before the battle of Le Cateau. He was evacuated to a military hospital in Boulogne but died of his wounds on the 28th August. He is buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery near Boulogne, Plot 16 Row AB, Grave 1.
The battle of Le Cateau was an extraordinary action by the British, under the command of General Sir Horace Smith Dorrien against the oncoming Germans, one of the last of its kind in History. Unlike the earlier battle of Mons, just to the north, where the majority of casualties were from rifle fire, Le Cateau was an artilleryman’s battle, demonstrating the devastating results, which modern quick-firing artillery using air-bursting shrapnel shells could have on infantry advancing in the open.
After the war, his widow Mrs Mary A Boileau resided at Windout Hill House in Exeter. She died in 1958 aged 83. They had three sons – Etienne Henry Tudor, Peter Claude and Hugh Even Ridley. In the Lustleigh Parish Magazine of October 1914 the rector, Herbert Johnson, wrote how “the death of Colonel Boileau had touched many hearts in Lustleigh, and that Lustleigh should feel some of the pride as well as of the sorrow caused by his death – R.I.P.”
In August 1916, the Parish Magazine noted that the memorial tablet on the south wall in Lustleigh Church to Colonel Boileau had been approved and the September issue recorded that it was now in place. Mrs Mary Boileau and her three sons were present at a short dedication service held on 26th September. The rector noted, “There will, we think, be a general admiration of its taste, execution and agreement with its position and surroundings”.
Colonel Frank Boileau is also listed on the village memorial at the foot of Mapstone Hill, which was erected a few years after the war.

Chris Vittle

* In ecclesiastical law, from advow or advocare, a right of presentation to a church or benefice.
We wish to acknowledge the help of Colin Gibson with editing this piece.

On Thursday August 28th, the church will ring a muffled peal in honour of Col. Boileau.

A Thatcher’s Life’ – Mick Dray

The Lustleigh Society Meeting March 2009

A Thatcher’s Life’ – Mick Dray

Thatch, even the very best, doesn’t last forever; so perhaps it is not so surprising that Lustleigh boasts among its residents not one but two Master Thatcher’s. At the Society’s February meeting we were fortunate indeed to have one of these, Mick Dray, from a dynasty of five generations of Master Thatcher’s, to inform and entertain us with his lively account of (A Thatcher’s Life’. In fact it proved to be much more than that as he gave us a non-stop and profusely illustrated account of the whole business covering different styles of thatching, the various techniques in use, the development over the years of specialised hand tools, the risks of fire (illustrated with some thought provoking photographs) and the relevant precautionary measures, not to mention the relative merits of the many different types and sources of thatching material.

It was this last topic that probably occupied at least half of the evening, not so much because there is an unlimited variety (there isn’t) but because the several different materials, ranging from wheat straw to Norfolk Reed to Turkish Reed and so on, all come from different places within or not so far outside Europe – and Mick seemed to have visited each and every one of them in his search for the wherewithal to practise his trade. The fact that he had put together a whole dossier of photographs illustrating .this added immeasurably to the interest. Different cultures develop different tools and techniques and these result in different approaches to reaping, threshing, drying, storing and transporting the final product even though the basic principles remain unchanged. His account took us back in time to when, in the UK, vehicle number plates still bore white characters on a black back-ground, to peasant communities in Eastern Europe under Communist sway, and to more advanced countries where massive machinery had come into use. It became more and more of a travelogue but none the less interesting for that.

In fact when Mick came to the end of his talk there was an immediate forest of hands raised to put a whole sequence of interested questions, a certain indicator that his sixty-strong audience had enjoyed· listening to him at least as much as he had obviously enjoyed talking to us; a propitious start to our new season of talks. Thank you Mick for such a splendid ‘kick-off’!

John Peacock


Extract from April 2009 Lustleigh Parish Magazine

Women’s work

For the women and young girls the major source of employment was found in the village shops or in the large houses and guest houses as housekeepers, maids, cleaners etc. As a young boy Bill Squires found work at the Cleave Hotel as a general “dogsbody” living in” six and a half days a week for five shillings. Two other female employees “lived in”. One was “a pretty, black-haired young girl” called Norah Hatherley. She was full of fun and looked quite stunning in her black dress and white apron. She was the general assistant and waitress for serving table”.

“I had to be down in that kitchen at 7 o’clock in a morning, clean the range out, clean the flues every morning, it was two flues we had, ’twas the double oven, and when you cleaned that fireplace, the range, you had to see your face in it, ’twas like silver when you’d cleaned it…I never used to go to bed till ten to half past and in the summer time when we had people in I was up about six and went to bed half past eleven because, we had to do everything, we had to clean the shoes of a morning, I had to bring all the shoes down…”
Mrs Norah Wright (nee Hatherley b.1914)

12lussa004-EditFrom the second half of the twentieth century, with the decline in farming and mining, the loss of the railway and the closing down of shops and businesses these opportunities for employment have either disappeared or are strictly limited. Many working people must now commute to Exeter or Plymouth or the neighbouring towns. With the modern advances in communication some people work from home, from where they can run their own businesses.


There was always plenty of gardening work for Lustleigh men and boys.The many large houses, particularly those built in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, were generally owned by the well-to-do who were able to employ a full-time gardener and sometimes two. In the period after the First War World the wage was around £1.10s. to £2 per week.

There were several market gardens in Lustleigh in the twentieth century. One of these, on the corner of Caseley road was run by Mr. and Mrs. May who also ran a tea room for visitors.

Boveycombe Flower Farm at Lower Hisley was owned by the Gould family who grew potatoes in Boveycombe Field (now lost in the woods on Lustleigh Cleave) during the Second World War.

Mining and Quarrying

As happened all over Dartmoor, tin mining took place in Lustleigh in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, though there is very little evidence left of this activity. Much more important in recent times has been the mining of micaceous haematite, or’shiny ore’, found at various sites along the Wray Valley.

“In the parishes of Hennock and Lustleigh, there is found in the granite a species of micaceous or peculiar iron ore, known by the name of Devonshire Sand it was used for writing sand and vorious other purposes.”
Daniel Lysons 1822

‘Shiny Ore’, so named because of the metallic sparkle of iron oxide within the ore. was mined at Kelly, situated at the eastern edge of Lustleigh, until the early I950*s. It provided employment for 6 to 8 workers at a wage higher than that of agricultural labourers, though the risks were greater. Small scale production at Kelly Mine went on from the late eighteenth century. From 1900 production was greatly increased.

As well as the miners, there were surface workers who sorted, washed and packed the ore, and a blacksmith who sharpened the drills and picks.The full barrels were loaded on to carts or lorries and taken to Lustleigh station.


The ore was used in the glazing process at the local potteries then later it became important as a base for corrosion-resistant paint used in warship grey paint, and on bridges and locomotives.

In 1951 there was a collapse in the Slade workings at the mine which resulted in the closure of all the operations in the Wray valley.Today the Kelly Mine Preservation Society is working to restore Kelly Mine, and to research its history.

There was also work in the granite quarries in the Wray Valley and at Moretonhampstead. Bill Squires remembers: “The local stone quarries provided good work as did the silver ore mine at Kelly. My father was a ‘blaster’ in both quarries, being paid for the material he produced after each firing…. The explosive used was industrial dynamite ignited by a fuse and detonator.”