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: