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ü  My  own work

" Cut and pasted   

:  Typed from original

& Researched    ______________________________________________________
: Source: Domesday Book 1086/7

Entry from 1985 publication by Phillimore.

Land of the Bishop of Coutances.  (Constantiensis)

The Bishop himself holds Ashwater.  Alwin held it before 1066.  It paid tax for 1 hide.  Land for 20 ploughs.  In lordship 2 ploughs; 6 slaves; 1 virgate.  40 Villagers and 12 smallholders with 17 ploughs and 3 virgates.

Meadow, 100 acres; pasture, 200 acres; underwood, 15 acres.

42 cattle; 3 pigs; 161 sheep; 30 goats.

Value formerly and now £7.10s

& NB.  Ashwater was written in Latin as Aisse.  A hide was a unit of land.  The spelling of Devonshire was Devenescire.  Halwill (the neighbouring village) was smaller with 10 villagers and 1 smallholder and was held by Brictric and later by Queen Matilda.

: Source: United Kingdom Genealogy web site (

Entry from White's Devonshire 1878:

Ashwater, 7 miles S.E. by S. of Holsworthy, is a large village and parish in Holsworthy union, county court district and deanery, Holsworthy petty sessional division, South division of the county, Black Torrington hundred, and Barnstaple archdeaconry.  Its parish had 849 inhabitants (451 males, 398 females) in 1871, living in 168 houses on 8587 acres of land, and includes the hamlet of Quoditch, 2 miles east of the village.  Miss Mary Preston is lady of the manor of Ashwater; Lady Molesworth, lady of Hunscott manor, and owner of Henford Barton; and W.B.Coham, Esq. Owns the manor of Greenworthy.

ü  NB.  It is interesting that the average family number appears to be in excess of 5 people per house.

: Drink

In a publication called Eccentric Excursions, Etc by G M Woodward (1807) the following was observed: -

"It is a known characteristic… particularly in the neighbourhood of Holsworthy, that the people are never so happy as when they are going to law or drinking brandy.  The latter they perform in a manner peculiar to themselves.  The addition of the simple element of water they abhor, and consider their liquor spoilt if diluted…

They have another curious liquor called tear-brain, composed entirely of rum and brandy; and on enquiries being made the morning after the excess, the answer is that such a one dropped at twelve (literally fell from his chair), another at one, another at two, and so on to the end of the catalogue.

It is however curious to remark that these… mortals are in general wonderfully athletic, and some of them come nearer to the race of giants than is usually met with amongst the present generation… but it is to be observed that they seldom attain to a great age, internal inflammations and fevers being commonly the fruits of their indulgences.

The woman… take their glasses of brandy to the amount of two or three."

Witches and folklore

Witches and certain old women are able to blow lice on to people they wish to infect.  The only way to get rid of these is for the afflicted person to tell others about their infection, and if they do so, then the lice disappear.

Kittens born in May should be killed, as if allowed to live; they bring snakes into the house,

After eating eggs, one should pierce the bottom of the shells, otherwise pixies will go to sea in them, and sink ships.

ü  Railway

Ashwater station was on the track running from Halwill Junction to Launceston and on to Padstow via Wadebridge.  From Halwill Junction it was possible to travel to Bude via Holsworthy.  Ilfracombe was reached via Bideford and Barnstaple.  The route south from Halwill went through Okehampton to Exeter and on to London - Waterloo.  The station opened in 1886 and closed in 1966.

The North Devon and Cornwall Junction Light Railway (NDCJLR) was the spur running from Halwill to Bideford built in 1925 whereas the route through Ashwater was part of the much older Southern Railway.  All became British Rail after Nationalisation in 1948.

The Halwill, Ashwater, Tower Hill to Launceston section closed in 1965.  The final closure of the NDCJLR was in 1982 (by that time used only for limited freight, mainly clay from Petrockstowe to Appledore docks.)

: The following description of a journey from Halwill to Launceston appears in The Withered Arm by T.W.E.Roche published in 1967: -

"The descent from Halwill to Launceston was exciting indeed.  After a brief jaunt across heath-land lusher country, with steeper hills, was entered and the run down through Ashwater, embowered in steep woods, through bird filled trees to Tower Hill was a delight in green."

ü  The date of the journey is unknown, probably well before the 'Beeching Axe' began to fall because a further description of a 'Pilgrimage to Launceston' written in 1966 described a journey that commenced and terminated at Tower Hill shortly before the line was closed.

: The outward journey.

"Alas!  Tower Hill, now officially a halt, was silent and deserted, its yard lifted, its station building closed, though there were curtains in two of the cottages.  I found a gate that opened and meandered on to the platform.  It was now raining and the scene was depressing.  The down platform road still stood, rusty from disuse; the old granite name boards still bravely said "TOWER HILL", as did the modern green metal Southern ones.  The clouds lowered above the steep woods and the farms; could there really be trains still?  Sure enough, just after 7 o'clock the sound of an approaching train came upon the ear, a diesel rolling fast down the secluded valley from Ashwater, and the single unit, W55017, hove into view, the driver and guard both looking surprised to see me."

: The return journey.

"Up through the lovely country we ran and so came again to Tower Hill, where wonder of wonders, one of the other passengers alighted; the guard ran up to take my ticket and waved to me as the train ran by; I stood for a while on the platform listening to its sound growing fainter, then echoing louder again, then dying up the valley of the hanging woods, while the wet Western evening wept for the North Cornwall line."

ü  The author of the above book also made a journey in 1965.  This was the Lydford-Launceston centenary special arranged by the Great Western Society.  The train reversed at Launceston and traversed the line through Tower Hill and Ashwater described as follows: -

: "Its (the train) motive power was 2-6-2T No. 41283 and she ran non-stop and very creditably up the beautiful wooded stretch through Tower Hill and Ashwater, where the local people turned out to see this last steam train pass, up to Halwill for reversal again and a visit to Bude before returning eastwards."

: Source: Devon County Council web site

Torridge - Parish Population Estimates (Ashwater)

1801          1851    1901    1931    1961    1971    1981

643             929      758      664      569      585      594

1991          1993    1995    1996    1997    1998    1999    2000    2001

630             631      645      639      641      648      657      662      689

ü  After peaking in 1851 (before the railway link) and the low point of 1961 (before closure of the station) the population has steadily risen again.  New housing underway and in the pipeline will probably ensure the rising trend continues for a few more years.

ü  The 2001 census recorded the number of residents as 651 with 273 households.  Since then it has been estimated (2007) that the population has risen to over 700.

: Extract from Devon by W.G.Hoskins (1954)

Ashwater is an attractive little village grouped around a green.  The church (St.Peter) is interesting.  It has a splendid Norman font of a Cornish type, with unique ornament and a N. doorway of the same date.  Otherwise the church is mainly 14th - and late 15th - cent.  in date.  Notice the curious S. arcade, which is said to date from a thorough restoration in 1676-7 when the churchwardens' accounts show that nearly £200 was spent on the fabric.  Notice, too, the carved roofs.  Some of the bench-ends are c.1500, but most are the work of a local craftsman.  The canopied tomb in the S. aisle with recumbent effigies is possibly that of Sir Hugh Courtenay (slain at Tewkesbury, 1471) and his wife Margaret.  Near by are the royal arms in plaster, dated 1638.


ü  During 2003 the Market and Coastal Towns Initiative was set up by government to address rural problems following the foot and mouth disaster of 2001. The Ruby Country project was developed as part of this initiative to promote the area and a trail is proposed to eventually link Bude to the Tarka Trail.  A specific part of the trail will encompass a circular route from Cookworthy Plantation visitor centre via Halwill - Landhill - Foxhole - Beckett - Thorn - Ashmill - Ashwater - Quoditch -Halwill back to Cookworthy.

I wrote the following in response to a request for information to advertise the flora and fauna attractions of this section of the Ruby Trail.

'The Ruby Trail pulsates with natural beauty throughout the year.  There are over fifty bird species that can be readily seen amongst the ancient hedgerows, which also abound with a great variety of seasonal wild flowers attended by myriad bees, butterflies and moths.

Most of the birds are resident although it is from late spring through to early autumn that the summer migrants grace us with their presence.  From the melodious dawn chorus to the sleepy evening call of nesting doves, the bird song has remained unchanged along these lanes for hundreds of years.

Shaded by trees the lush ferns and sedges provide an ideal habitat for mammals both small and large, from the darting shrew to the bumbling badger whilst fleeting deer glide coyly amongst the conifers of Witherdon Wood.

The timeless Devon banks, so typical of the route are home to reptiles, including slow worms, viviparous lizard and grass snakes.  The latter a favourite food of the buzzard that soars overhead, mewing like a stray cat in complete contrast to the deep croaking Ravens that often patrol the sides of the Carey valley.

Other creatures flutter overhead at dusk, starlings heading for their roosts as well as Canada Geese recently departed from Roadford Lake join the darting bats in pursuit of winged prey and the ghostly Barn Owl searching for an evening meal.

The route encircles and provides a snapshot of deepest, rural Devon.  Twisting and turning the undulating lanes offer glimpses of distant farms or cottages nestling quietly amidst the rolling greenery, so many shades of green that even in deepest winter, when blanched by frost or snow the landscape reflects tranquillity and challenges even the most skilled artist to reproduce the natural, unspoilt canvas that enfolds the Ruby Trail'.

The text was not prosaic enough for some and therefore an abridged version ultimately appeared on the Ruby Country website with a little less emphasis on the use of adjectives!


: Source: The Holsworthy Post August 11th 2005

100 years ago, Aug 19, 1905.

During a thunderstorm on Monday night, lightning killed four bullocks, the property of Mr. Amos Cole of Quoditch Farm, Ashwater.

I have been nowhere near the first to use stories and tit-bits from local papers for illustrative purposes as evidenced by the article below:

: Source: North Devon History - Peter Christie.  Published 1995.

Reproduced in North Devon Journal 04.07.1985 from original NDJ entries on 11.04.1878 and 02.05.1878.

'Dickens, in his novel Nicholas Nickelby, shocked his Victorian contemporaries with his fictional account of school-life at 'Dotheboys Hall' under the infamous Wackford Squeers.  This first appeared in 1838 and readers of the North Devon Journal in April 1878 must have been riveted by the headline, "A Devonshire 'Do-the-boys' Hall - Extraordinary Disclosures."

The report concerned a civil action at Holsworthy County Court between James Rawlings, a retired solicitor of Newton Tracey, and Mr and Mrs Charles Veysey, proprietors of the Hampton House Boarding School, Ashwater.  Mr Rawlings was seeking £50.00damages for the Veysey's negligence in looking after his daughter, Eve.

    In 1874 Eve had become an, 'articled pupil' at the school.  This meant she had   taught the juniors for a day-and-a-half a week and only paid £14.00 per annum to the Veyseys for her own tuition in English, French, music and callisthenics.  She arrived to find not only the 20 girls she had expected but 30 boys which she had not expected.  Also a surprise were her duties, which included helping the single maid-servant make all the beds and also looking after the cleanliness of the girls.  

    Only four wash-basins were provided for the pupils and she found, "a large number of vermin on the pillows and the linen."  This wasn't surprising as the sheets were only changed twice in six months.  Worse was to come, however, when one of her girl charges, "was seized with the itch" - an outbreak which rapidly spread through the school.  Apparently no medical help was called, every sufferer (whatever the complaint) being given 'Holloway's pills' a well known nineteenth century quack medicine.  In one case even a child with measles was given these pills.  It is a wonder in the light of all this that Eve stayed the two-and-a-half years that she did - on one occasion she arrived home with her head covered in vermin.    

    Mr Veysey denied everything saying he had "conducted the school for nearly twenty years without a blemish on his character."  Under cross-examination he did admit that the 30 boys slept two to bed in a room only 30 feet long.  The judge not surprisingly found Mr Rawlings' case proved and set damages at £20.00.

    The case did not finish there, however, as in May 1878 Eve Rawlings had to appear at the same court to answer a charge of "having committed wilful and corrupt perjury" in her evidence at the April case.  Mr Veysey began by producing letters written by Eve to his wife of which one typical one began, "My dear, dear Mrs Veysey - I write to thank you a million times for all your kindness and love to me ever since I have been here," - hardly the letter of an aggrieved person.  The schoolmaster then noted that, "the inspector of nuisances had visited the school, but had never complained of uncleanliness."  He then produced a string of witnesses including Rose Moore a former pupil who said that, "after Miss Rawlings left no one had skin disease."  The school laundress Ann Callocott said she washed between 15 and 20 sheets a week and another ex-pupil Elizabeth Harden said the sheets were changed twice weekly (though she added the cutlery was often dirty!).    

    Against these witnesses Mr Rawlings produced a series of parents who had withdrawn their children from the school including a Mr Bartlett whose daughter caught the "itch" there, came home and was cured but was promptly re-infected when she went back to the school.  Another parent had to burn his children's vermin-infested clothes when they came home.  One ex-pupil said that her sheets doubled as table-cloths.    

    The poor judge must have been bemused with such conflicting evidence and he took the easy way out by dismissing the whole case.  Very soon, and not unexpectedly after such damaging publicity, Hampton House School closed permanently and its pupils were redistributed to other (possibly cleaner) establishments.    

    NB. Peter Christie produced many articles for the local press and then compiled three books from his jottings and research.  I believe he still writes articles for the North Devon Journal, which occasionally features Ashwater within its pages.    

    : Source: Holsworthy Post, 29th September 2005

    Under the regular feature called, 'Looking Back' it was reported that on October 2nd 1965 three boys - Martin Stacey, Nicholas Neale and Robert Andrew passed the national cycling proficiency tests held at Ashwater School.    

: Source: Holsworthy Post, 6th October 2005

'Looking Back' reported, October 19th 1895 - Ashwater Cross Lanes School was closed because of an epidemic of scarlet fever.


Leslie Brookehouse the Rector of Ashwater prepared a fascinating little book in 1991.

He simply used (and acknowledged) the entire text from information previously written by a predecessor of his The Late Prebendary G D Melhuish who was the Rector of Ashwater from 1897 to 1935.

The book is packed with information gleaned from a number of sources starting with the Domesday Book and travelling through Taxing Papers, The Heralds' Visitations, Exeter Bishops' Registers, Ashwater Parish Registers (beginning in 1559) and the Churchwardens' accounts (commencing 1663), old Deeds and Wills as well as various County Historians and the Church Building itself.

Although rather lengthy I make no apologies for reproducing below an extract that Brookehouse himself lifted from Melhuish:

: Source: Ashwater Church and Parish.  Some Historical Notes.

Melhuish says, 'Before the Conquest the land was divided up into village estates under a limited ownership of some Saxon noble or thegn - ("Squire" we should call him now): after the Conquest these village estates were turned into Manors.

The word "Parish" was at first an ecclesiastical term - sometimes a parish consisted of one village estate, sometimes of two or even more.

Ashwater Parish was made up of two Manors, Esse and Hindefort;  Esse contained the bulk of the parish and Hindefort was made up of Larkworthy and probably West Venn - with Henford stream as a dividing line.

It is not known when the two Manors were combined to form one Parish; the Parochial system took a long time to cover the country completely and West Devon was a late Saxon settlement on invasion, but it seems likely that they may have formed one parish before the Conquest.

The Manor Farms held by the owners were respectively Ashwater Barton and Henford Barton.

One would like to know what became of Alwyn and Bror, the two dispossessed owners, the first dwellers in Ashwater whose names we know.  (The Domesday entries of 1087 confirm these two held Aissa (Ashwater) and Hindefort (Henford) respectively "on the day on which King Edward was alive and dead."

Geoffrey Mowbray, Bishop of Constances, in Normandy appears to have held the Manor and farmed the Barton by means of a Bailiff.'

Melhuish investigates the history of the church building and surmises that it was probable there was a building for Public Worship on the site before the Conquest with cob walls and a thatched roof.  He points out that granite was not used for construction because of the availability of local freestone that was probably secured from Cookworthy Moor or Muckworthy.  There is evidence of Norman stone work from the end of the 11th or beginning of the 12th Century and suggests it was probably a very small building and lasted only some 100 or 150 years, when a larger church was planned and built.

Ashwater church seems to have been consecrated before 1257 because there is no mention in the Registers of the Bishops of Exeter after that date.  The first reference according to Melhuish is in 1270, when William de Esse was "collated" as Rector by the Bishop.  Parts of the 13th Century building remain despite various refurbishments.

'Walter of Dunheved, whose name appears as owner of the Manor and Patron of the Rectory in 1270, probably was the cause of the name Esse or Aissa being changed to Ashwater - to distinguish it from several other manors that had the name Esse - for you find the name given as Esse Valteri; then as years went on, Esse Water, Esse Woutier, Aysschewaterr, Asshewazter, Aysshewaterr, Aishwater and in a deed dated 1758 it is spelt Ashwater alias Essewater.  In 1302 it was spoken of as the Manor of Esse Fitzwalter.

According to Melhuish, 'many of the farms existing in his day (and mostly still today) were small outlying holdings long before the Norman Conquest.  Just four cob walls for a house, with a rough hedge enclosing a yard where cattle could be sheltered and protected and there you had the origin of such farms as Grendisworthy and Muckworthy; or if you had just an outlying cottage, that would be the origin of Arscott or Hunscott.

Then in each case a little plot would be hedged in so that cattle could be kept out and hay be cut; then another little field and so on as the wild wasteland was gradually tamed.  Most of the farms are very old.  No doubt the best land was first occupied and the colder clay land later.  I always suppose that the names of farms ending in 'don', like Braddon or Swingdon, show that they were later settlements when the drier hillside places had been filled up and men were beginning to turn their attention to the higher moorlands which were called 'duns' or 'dons or 'downs'.

The Testa de Nevil Tax Roll (about 1243) says that Esse was held by Galfrid de Dunheved and William Avenhall under the Tracey family.

In 1270 the Episcopal Register shows that Walter of Dunheved was Patron of the Rectory.  He presumably held the Manor.

A Tax Roll of 1303 says that Esse Water was held by Reginald de Bevill and Peter de Donysland.

Pole, who wrote about Devon at the end of Charles the First's reign says that Henry Cobham and Walter Dunheved held Ashwater in 1296; that Richard Reavill held one Knight's Fee in 1315 and that Roger Carminow was a holder in 1345.'

Melhuish suggests there may have been some confusion between Richard Reavill and Reginald de Bevill, possibly a misreading or miswriting of the same name.

A deed of Ranulf de Blanchminster of 1302 at Launceston mentioned Le West Downe in the Manor of Esse Fitz Walter as being land that he passed to Oliver de Halop of Lamorran and Nichola his wife.  In 1312 another Deed from Isabella (relict of Lord Ranulf de Blanchminster in widowhood) confirmed the transaction by reference to the land called La Done in the Manor of Exe (Esse) being passed to Nichola her daughter. (La Done is Norman French for West Down in Ashwater).

A cottage and a farm are still situated on west down today.

Roger Carminow held Ashwater Manor in 1345 followed by his heirs until the death of Thomas Carminow in 1443 who left it to his daughter who married Sir Thomas Carew.

Sir Thomas Carminow whose monument is in Ashwater Church was the son of Sir William Carminow.  He was Sherriff of Cornwall 1423-29, MP for Cornwall 1426-35 and MP for Devon in 1442.  It was his daughter; Margaret who married Sir Hugh Courtenay who was killed at or soon after the Battle of Tewkesbury.

The Churchwarden account in 1677 detailed a large expenditure (£198-9-1d) with a lot on restoration work but there are some amusing entries as well, for example:

To Alexander Hockady for a wild catt's head, 4d.  To Michael Davy for 4 kites heads, 8d and to Thomas Hancocke for Kites Heads, 10d.  To Amos Thorne for making the pickaxe, 12d.  To Peter Eame for keeping the dogs out of Church this yeare, 2/-.

It seems Peter Eame was very busy with church matters as he appeared many times for such diverse duties as cleaning the Bellpeags, ringing the bells at 8am on a Sunday, cleaning gutters, wiping seats, brushing hearse cloath and sweeping of the church fower times this yeare.

The Church rendered Rates in those days to help defray the cost and a list of the Parish Ratepayers for 1675 included one Sidrach Baskerville who paid 12d for Quoditch, 10d for Luckcroft, 2d for part of Westdowne and

6d for Hunscott.  John Baskerville paid 11d for Quoditch and 5d for Norcott's tenament.  John Baskivill (?the same man) paid 1d for Cockworthy.

In 1699 the Church Tower was struck by lightning although there is no mention of it in the Warden's Book a slate was put up as a memorandum of the event.

1772 saw the recasting of the Church Bells and number 5 bell was inscribed "I call the quick to Church, the dead to grave - Thomas Melhuish Rector - I.P."  The initials I.P. apparently stand for John Pennington (presumably a notable parishoner).

A turn handle type of organ was installed in 1807 -1808 and a chimney built in the vestry room in 1816 -1817.

Between 1864 and 1897 the Rector had a great deal of restorative work done internally and the bells were rehung.

Documents held by the Carey family apparently show that at one time the Patron of  the Living (at the Rectory) was the Prior and Convent of Frithelstock and in 1428, December 30th Thomas, Prior of Frithelstock granted to Thomas Carminow Esq., and Johanna his wife, a piece of land called Hammelonde, between Cary water on the East, the bridge on the South, the Mill Leat of Thomas Carminow on the West and the wood of the same Carminow called Prustacott Grove on the North side as well as the Advowson of the Church of Ashwater.

Prustacott is variously described as Prestacott, Pristacott or Priestacott on maps of today and there are farms and houses bearing prefixes such as Lower, Upper or Over before the word Priestacott as well as Priestacott House and Priestacott Farm.

ü  NB.The current bridge at Ashmill was built in the early part of the 19th Century.  Before this stone structure a wooden bridge and a ford existed further south.  Strengthening work was completed in 2005, as was similar work on the bridge over Carey Water at Quoditch in the same year.  The latter costing Devon County Council in the guise of South West Highways circa £70,000 simply to allow heavy goods vehicles to use it.

: In 1712 Christopher Mitchell was instituted as Rector and during his incumbency there was sever(e) epidemic which caused 49 deaths in the year 1725.  It seems whatever the cause both his wife and daughter died of it being buried on November 10th and 13th respectively.

Peter Sherwin was instituted on 7th January 1751 and tradition says he lived at Lower Pristacott rather than the Rectory.  This is supported in a Bishop's Visitation Paper dated 1764 where it is recorded that, "I reside constantly upon my cure but not at the Parsonage House as I obliged to rebuild it and it is not quite finished."

An odd fact unearthed by Melhuish was that in 1668 a presentation was made by the Churchwarden and the Sidesmen of, "Richard Larkworthy, Gent., for putting on(e) his hatt on(e) his head att the time of the exposition of the cathechesme and sermon time"

Presentation meant bringing it to the notice of the Bishop, obviously a serious matter.

Hops are not normally associated with the region but John Beckett, Rector 1673 - 1690 made mention of a Hop Yard at 'Powelhaire' a dwelling house (later known as Pullhare) within the Glebe.

Many of the family names recorded over the years have remained in or around the village such as Arscott, Moon, Larkworthy, Down and Martin. 

ü  NB. There are also some first names worth mentioning simply because they are infrequent or even non-existent today:

: 1562 Hercules Arscott

1566 Redigan Smale

1572 Hanniball Ferrow

1577 Gerrance Deeme

1579 Raddish Dodge and Fausting Horne

1592 Rabish Northam

1597 John Baskerfield married Johna Larkworthy

1606 Obedience Old

1607 Jory Axminell

1624 Ibbett Arscott

1632 Eulalia Veale

1650 Tavenor Ham

1654 Isaacke Sheere

1665 Sapience Bond

1666 Arminell Bligh (female)

1677 Bathsheba Sheere

ü  Melhuish suggests that in 1696 the name Baskevill appeared for the first time as a spelling of Baskerfield, although I feel he is mistaken as his own notes regarding the church rates levied in 1675 showed two Baskervilles, Sidrach and John (admittedly spelt with an 'e') paying for properties at Quoditch, one John Baskivill who paid the princely sum of 1d for Cockworthy and a simple name entry for Baskervill at 5d.  The name continued in 1753 when Shadrach Baskerville, no doubt a relative of Sidrach married Elizabeth Beare.
Apparently Rev. Melhuish had correspondence with Mr G. Gover of Reading who was studying place names of this part of Devon.  According to a subsidy roll dated 1302 several names of Ashwater Farms were given.

: Surnames often came from the place where a person lived and the Christian or first name was simply attached to it.  The fashion was for lawyers and learned folk to use French so instead of being written as John of Blagadon it was John de Blagadon.

The places mentioned in the 1302 list included de Arscote (Arscott), de Estblakedon (East Blagaton), de Braddon, de Gryndeworthi (Grendisworthy), de la Hethe (Heath), de Heghedon (Heggadon), de Hunscote (Hunscott), de Langaford, de Leverkeworthi (Larkworthy), de Lukrofte, de Morcomb, de Northend, de Quidhiwis (Quoditch), de la Fenne and de la Vise (Viza).

ü  Quoditch appears as Cowditch on some early maps and the suggestion is that Quidhiwis has a similar meaning and refers to a dirty (muddy) place.

: Melhuish also records details of population for Ashwater from census returns as follows:
1801 - 643;  1811 - 677;  1821 - 774;  1841 - 1046;  1861 - 803;  1871 - 849;  1881 - 849;  1891 - 756;  1911 - 679;  1921 - 659.

He points out the Census return for 1821 is in the Church Chest, signed by Samual Balhatchet, Overseer and shows there were 397 males and 377 females, 136 families and 133 inhabited houses.  2 houses were being built and 4 were uninhabited.

Finally also courtesy of the 1675 rate list provided by Melhuish I have extracted the following property names to compare with those still inhabited today:

Hunscott, Pristacott, Viza, Higden, Ford (Forda?), Blacklands, Bassett, Burrowe, Grindsworthy, Middlecott, Langford, Berridon, Braddon, Luckroft, Westdowne, Hole, Lane, Lane Downe, North Downe, Lashbrooke, Stadford, Henford, Morcombe, East Blagdon, Rainston, Westerdowne, Ashmills, Whittacroft, Cockworthy and East Clawmoore.

: Source: Holsworthy Post, 27th October 2005.

Looking Back

November 3rd 1945.  For services in NW Europe, Dvr Cyril Fry, RASC, of Priestacott, Ashwater has been awarded the Military Medal.

November 7th 1925.  “Sylvia Mayfair, our fashion expert, writes: A defect has been discovered in the fashionable Russian boots - allowance has not been made for the shortness of present day frocks and there is an uncomfortable two inches between the top of the boot and the end of the skirt.  This is now being remedied and the boots now come up to the knee.”

The local paper also carried minutes of the Ashwater Parish Council meeting for October 2005 that confirmed although a sign post, gates and styles had been renewed for the footpath from Quoditch to Beckett there was no funding available from Devon C.C. this year to erect a footbridge over the River Carey.

Devon County Council subsequently erected two prominent footbridges, one at Quoditch and the other linking Blagadon with Foxhole thus enabling circular walks to be sign posted.

Footbridge over the River Carey at Quoditch

: Source: Holsworthy Post, November 3rd 2005

Looking Back: November 9th 1935

Among new bus services granted by the Traffic Commissioners is one to Mr N Haston of Quoditch, Ashwater to run between Quoditch and Okehampton.

: The same issue of The Post also printed an article of local up to date news for November 2005 headed: -

Youngest and oldest to open Ashwater School extension.

A new £150,000 extension at Ashwater Primary School will be officially opened by the youngest pupil and one of the oldest former pupils next week.

The development at Ashwater has provided a new ICT suite and library, a kitchen and new toilets for pupils and staff.

On Friday (Nov 4), it will be officially opened by four-year-old Kaydie Dix and Mr Jack Moon, who is in his 90’s and the oldest resident in the village who attended the school.

The chairman of Devon County Council, Des Shadrick who comes from Holsworthy, will also attend the event to celebrate the new extension.

The school says the new facilities have been a great improvement for pupils and staff.

The changes are already having a positive impact on teaching and learning as well as the general welfare of children and staff.”

ü  In the next edition of the paper a fine picture of the above people appeared showing the plaque and the school head Debbie Tomlinson, school cook; Karen Osborne plus Chris Smith, chairman of governors.  Jack Moon attended the school in 1919 and at the time still ran a local milk round at 91 years of age.

Elsewhere in the same edition of the paper a colour picture of the mighty 97lb pumpkin grown by Fiona Bull was shown as it was being raffled in Holsworthy market.  The raffle proceeds of £70.00 were donated to two charities of her choice.

& Source: Holsworthy Library.

A copied newspaper cutting (I believe from The Post) confirmed electricity had arrived at Ashwater Village on 22nd March 1958.  32 houses, 6 council houses and the village hall were all connected and switched on.  The 11,000volt overhead line came from Holsworthy as a continuation from Clawton that received the supply in 1956.

Outlying farms to the left and right of the village were not connected (I assume this included Quoditch as well as Henford) because the cost would be considerable after already having spent £20,000 in stretching the wires to the village.  Henford was not connected until 1964.

The article made great play of the fact that the electricity supply would stop the drift of population from farms to the towns.  No doubt because of the living standards and convenience of gadgets operated by electricity.

: Source: Kelly’s Directories.

1850 - population of Ashwater including Quoditch was 1046
1851 - the population dropped to 929
1856 - Solomon Baskerville, a yeoman held a farm at Quoditch
1857 - there were 61 adults eligible and registered to vote
1866 - Sampson Beale, John Cole, Samuel Cole, Phillip Spry and Robert Smale were all shown as farmers at Quoditch.  The New Inn was held by William Jenkin.
1873 - Robert Smale (the same or his son?) now shown as a carpenter.  Dennis Botterell, Richard Riddicliffe and William Scoins now shown as Quoditch farmers.

: Source: White’s Devonshire 1878/79

Joseph Dennis Botterell , farmer at South Quoditch, Richard Raddicliffe, William Scoins and Phillip Spry entered as farmers of Quoditch and the latter was also a blacksmith.

: Source: Kelly’s Directories.

1883 - John Raddicliffe, William Scoins, Lewis Withecombe al, shown as farmers at Quoditch with Robert Smale a carpenter.
1889 - The Railway Inn landlord was Thomas Down.  William Furse was a farmer at Quoditch as was Lewis Withecombe.  William Spry was a blacksmith and Robert Smale and Sons were carpenters.
1902 - Jn. (John?) Hy (Henry?) and Chas (Charles) Furse were farmers at Quoditch and shown as a single entry suggesting both at one farm.  William Furse and William Shadrach Spry were also farmers with Reuben Smale entered as a carpenter.
1906 - Amos Cole, John Henry Furse and Stephen Sluggett now shown as farmers with Reuben Smale, carpenter and William Spry, blacksmith.
1926 - Richard Luxton shown as a farmer at Quoditch.
1935 - Albert Davey, Lucy Ashton, Richard Hancock and Richard Luxton all entered as farmers at Quoditch
1939 - Mrs Lucy Ashton, Albert Davey, Richard Hancock and Richard Luxton all continue to be entered as farmers at Quoditch.

: Source: Ashwater Church Tithes

1873 - Joseph Dennis Bottrell paid as owner or tenant of South Quoditch Farm and Quoditch Cottage.  William Maynard held a cottage and one acre at Quoditch.

: Source: 1907 Map of Ashwater

The three plots and dwellings currently called Valley View, Hill View and Quoditch Cottage all appear clearly marked and a pump is shown (this presently stands outside Hill View).

: Source: Church Register

1562 - Hercules Arscott was baptised as son of John Arscott at Ashwater
1568 - Anthony Munck married Mistress Mary Arscott at Ashwater.

: Source: Looking Back - Holsworthy Post November 10th 2005

The paper reported that 100 years ago, ‘Mr. Ernest Jordan, farmer aged 29, of Swingdon, Ashwater, has died from a wound from his own gun.  The gun, used for shooting rabbits, was standing against a hedge when Mr. Jordan went to collect it to return home.  It is supposed that as he took it the trigger caught in some brambles, the gun exploded, and the charge entered his left shoulder.

: Source: Ashwater Horticultural Club (A report in Holsworthy Post November 10th 2005)

After two previous attempts to appear as guest speaker John Harris at last made it to Ashwater.  Around 26 people came to hear him speak about “Moon Gardening”.  In his own jocular fashion he explained that Moon Gardening did not mean going out into the garden at night but it was to do with the moon’s effect on the earth’s water table, which in turn affects the moisture content of the soil.  He explained that when there is a new moon it is a good time to plant root crops, the first quarter of the moon to plant crops that mainly grow above ground, the full moon is a time to harvest and the last quarter is the time of digging, pruning and taking cuttings.  He then went on to talk about the 200acre estate at Tresillian illustrated by some beautiful slides taken by his wife.

: Source: North Devon Journal November 10th 2005

The following article appeared under the banner heading of: -

Shopkeeper Debbie is now leading cleric first female Rural Dean has ‘big plans’

A woman who swapped cushions and curtains for the clergy has been made the first female Rural Dean of Holsworthy.

Debbie May, 44 was called to the ministry more than ten years ago while running her own soft furnishing shop in Hertfordshire.

She also worked as a childminder and as a reader for an ecumenical church near her home in Essex.

She said: “As I was being trained as a reader I knew I was being called into ordained ministry.  The Bishop’s selectors confirmed what I thought and three years later I was on my way to Trinity College to train for the ministry.  I did two years of reader training and a further year of interviews - it was all very rigorous, but when I got to Trinity I really enjoyed it.”

Debbie is married with three sons and is also the legal guardian of her 16 year old nephew.  She said, “It was a big sacrifice for the family and my husband Wayne had to give up work and become a house husband for two years to look after the family.”

After training Debbie became the curate in three rural churches in Suffolk - Haughley, Wetherden and Stowupland before neing inducted as the first female rector of Ashwater, Beaworthy, Clawton, Halwill and Tetcott with Luffincott last year.

She now also has the role of Rural Dean of Holsworthy with the oversight of 21 churches and the clergy and lay workers in the deanery.

The Rural Dean is the key link between the Bishop and other clergy in the diocese.  Debbie said:  “It is very unusual to be offered this position so quickly after being ordained and I am honoured.  I am really enjoying it and am getting to meet a lot of people.  It is wonderful here, when we first came we fell in love with it and everyone has been very supportive.  I have got big plans and want to make the churches more user friendly for everyone.

I want to encourage young families and make people realise the church is there for everyone, not just on Sundays but throughout the week.  We have now got toys and books for children and hold family services on the third Sunday of every month in Ashwater from 10am.

We have an Alpha course running and a home fellowship group and have lots more planned for the future.”

ü  NB. Debbie lives in Ashwater and despite all her commitments still finds time to play skittles on a Thursday evening for Ashwater Ladies.  (2005/2006 season).

: Source: Cornish and Devon Post December 15th 2005

Two items concerning Ashwater’s week and one from times past appeared in the paper:

Item No.1

The second Ashwater Christmas lights competition is being judged today (Thursday).  The competition organised by the parish council, involved Ashmill, Henford and Quoditch, as well as Ashwater.

Mal Brown, strategic director at TDC will be judging the various displays.  Trophies will be awarded for best overall display, most artistic and judge’s choice.  The trophies were kindly donated by ‘Mrs Huckles China Matching’.

Tony Marsh, chairman of Ashwater PC said, ‘last year was really successful and I think it’s going to be even more successful this year.  We are hoping that people will take time to look around at various villages.’

The result of the judging was published in the parish newsletter and the winner awarded the judges choice prize were the Price household at Quoditch.  They have been decorating their home for years and it seemed fitting they should win recognition as they were amongst the first to light up the outside of their premises in this manner in the area.

Item No.2

On November 30th Ashwater Primary School held their Indian experience.  The school’s press gang explained: ‘The manager and head chef from a Holsworthy restaurant called the “Bay of Bengal” came to talk to us.  We tasted many different Indian foods, which they had kindly prepared for us and brought with them.  Anam, the chef, came dressed in traditional Indian clothes.  He looked very smart.  We also watched some Bollywood dancing and listened to some Indian music.  We asked them a variety of questions.  I think we all learnt something new.’

A picture appeared of several of the staff and pupils with the restaurant personnel.

The final snippet came from the regular ‘looking back’ page:

90 Years ago, Dec 24, 1915

An elderly lady named Hill, who lived at Rockey’s Hill, Ashwater, was found dead in bed on Monday.

ü  NB. Quite why this was reported in this manner is not clear and as far as I can establish the nearest dwellingss to Rockey’s Hill are and always have been Woodpark and Dury Hill Cottage.  The former is not on the hill, but the latter, as the name implies is on Dury Hill, which is the slope that compliments Rockey’s Hill the other side of Dury Water.

: Source: The Post and Weekly News 29th December 2005

The regular looking back feature contained the following snippet: -

Jan 8, 1916

When about to clear a letter-box at Ashmill, Ashwater, Mr W Sillifant, who drives the mail cart from Halwill to Ashwater, was knocked down by a runaway pony.  His injuries were not serious.

ü  NB. The name of Sillifant, although known locally is not particularly common away from the South West and does not seem to feature in Ashwater at present, but interestingly appeared twice more in the same issue of The Post on 29th December 2005.  The first mention was of Joy Sillifant who on Jan 1, 1966 presented gifts to Mrs F M Bolton, who retired after 15 years as infant teacher at Clawton C P School.  (I imagine Joy was a pupil and of course I am not aware of any ladies who might have married and changed their name).

The second was a very lengthy obituary for Mrs G Sillifant (Age 45) of Egloskerry who died from illness, although it seems the initial ‘G’ was for her husband as she was named Sarah and as a young girl moved with her parents to Cornwall where she met and married Graham Sillifant of Camelford.  In the list of mourners I counted no less than 11 more Sillifants.  This relatively young woman was obviously well known, loved and respected because there were two entire columns of names mentioned and the Egloskerry Parish Church was reported to be full to overflowing for a lady who played football and achieved the status of England Ladies Trialist.