Talk by Todd Gray 12 Oct 2012 East Budleigh Church

Todd gave a very interesting talk, based on the research for his new book "Devon's Ancient Bench Ends"

Sadly as the years have passed the meaning and purpose of the carvings have been lost, but some depict a trade like cloth, wool and a cook with the little spit dog.

Church records  in Devon can give an insight into the carvings and they are thought to be the best in the UK.

Traditional seating plans are unique to each parish, it is a myth that no there were not seats in the churches as research shows the upgrading taking place across the county over the years.

East Budleigh pews can be dated back to early the 1530s, then in about 1600  box pews came into use, they even had curtains, so that the congregation could only bee seen by the vicar from his high pulpit! Then they    evolved back to being equal open pews.

Harry Hems carver (  also the Pinn Sisters were prominent carvers in the 1800s.

Village art traditions  influenced the carvers themes. In East Budleigh the Red Indian pew, or leaf head is unique. The carvings are found to be  unique to areas of the County, with some influences from Somerset and Cornwall. Also you can see Demons and folklore figures in the carvings.

Following the talk I am sure many will be looking at the Devon Pews with a renewed interest.

Feniton History Group 34th Meeting

Feniton History Group held the 34th meeting at Feniton Church on 11th Oct. 2012
Sadly due to the poor weather only ten people came for a talk given by Chris Wakefield from Ottery St Mary.

I would like to thank Chris and our Group members for their help in making the evening a success. A total of £52 will be passed to Feniton Church.
Using excellent maps and graphics Chris explained his research using a wonderful document dated 1061 detailing the Ottery St Mary boundary of the time. 

The talk looked at how you can read the landscape using old maps and visual features, how the boundaries followed ancient hedgerows and rivers, it was interesting to see how the River Otter has changed course. The River Tale too has changed leading to Sir John Kennaway having concern over the Feniton / Talaton parish line.

Mentioned by John Leland in his tour of East Devon in 1542, we find the following:

“A(bout) 5 Miles farther (from Clyst St Mary Bridge) I passid by a forde over a Riveret caullid Tale, that a mile dim. lower above S. Mari Oterey Toun goith into Oterey Water. Ther is a Bridge of Stone by the Ford of Tale, From this Ford of Tale I rode about 2. Miles farher to Veniton Bridge, where Oterey Water is devidid into 4. Armes by Pollicy to serve Grist and Tukking Milles.  Apon 3. of these Streames I roode by fair Stone Bridges. The First Arme of the 4. was on the lefte, and had no Bridge that I markid. On the North side of the first Bridge was a Chapelle now prophanid. [spelling as written]

Many of the long hedgerows would very old even iron age to mark land ownership, the Domesday Book

Robert Count of Mortain Domes day to Drogo Exon Domesday  shows that Feniton was worth £4 then  dropped to 40 shillings.

The old land measurements were quite variable, a Hide being equal t the amount of land an ox  could work in a day. and also enough land to maintain one family. 

 Many place names are very early Christian and Saxon meanings, the grapic showed that in 620 AD land to west is Christian and to east Saxon.

There is an area called Little England in Wales, seeming people from the North Devon Coast crossed the Channel to settle there.

As well has the land boundaries changing the homesteads evolved to from one large open room to portioned homes with a Buttery where  wines butts stored and from the open fire in the centre to a hearth with a chimney in the mid 1500s

Field names reflect the landscape features or trades and industry, words like Boo means by the street, a
Brake  would be marginal land

Even some areas were thought to be homes of pixies and demons, the name Beowulf  was mentioned.

One of the early land owners was Mr. Sweet Esq of  Alfington, you can use these details to speculate the name origins, perhaps   Sweethams and similar names fields were  possible was once his?

This Landscape  website can help explore this subject further: