In 1525 Cecily, the Marchioness of Dorset, ordered a survey of her holdings in the south-west, which included the Borough Manor of Ilfracombe. The survey was undertaken by Richard Phellyps and gives the tenant, number of fields, acreage, land usage and the value of each holding. It is more detailed than the Doomsday survey, but still frustratingly incomplete (1).
The Manor farm Chambercombe was given first: "Thomas Dyer holds there a capital messuage called Chambercombe....to which belong 9 closes [fields]....of which 30 are arable......and 121 are pasture and lie between the clyves. And one acre is meadow.....And he pays yearly for all £3.6.8." This is roughly the same acreage as Hele in the Doomsday survey but the proportion of arable to pasture has reversed. In 1525 the output of Chambercombe was valued in the Subsidy Roll at around £20 (2).
The next largest property owned by the Marchioness in Ilfracombe was held by Ralph Somer "one tenement...to which belong 8 closes containing 64 acres of which 30 are arable worth each yearly 12p and 34 are pasture worth each yearly 18p". This may have been Hillsborough Estate, which was held by a Simon Somer in 1690. A few entries further down the list, John Cornysshe held 31 acres at Est. Bowden (Bowden farm). Several other places are mentioned by name, including Saston Parke, Ingleton (Incleton farm), Borough (Burrow farm), Hurne (Horne farm), West Parkys, Horsewelle Parke, Horedown, Culver Park, Shankdon, Blaklond, the Glybe, Runyclyfe, Etteford (Ettiford farm) and the Torres. There was also a "vacant place" called Whylcokkys Wallys, probably near Incleton (2).
One of the last references is to a new mill at Hele "The water course running to a new mill of Lord Fitzwarren used to yield £5.6.8 but now it is granted with the water course of Helemyll to Thomas Nicoll and Robert Ware for the term of their lives etc (for a rent of) £4.13.4". The rent is very high (more than their combined output in that year’s Subsidy Rolls and more than the rent for Chambercombe) and it may instead represent the entry fine, payable by a new tenant (3).
The mill that was new in 1525 was probably used as a mill right up until WW2 although no doubt it was renewed and repaired many times. This picture (right) shows the mill c1870. The overshot wheel is fed by water from above, held in a small mill pond, which is probably the original design since there is no indication of an earlier building or wheel. The mill pond was connected to three streams and two other ponds by over 500 metres of leats and several sluices. They are clearly shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1889 (left) although only the mill pond now survives. They were probably contemporary with the original mill since the mill pond can by itself only hold enough water to power the mill for a couple of hours and is fed by a stream with a very low flow rate. Furthermore, the "miller of the mill of Heyle" had to pay 12d a year "for the Lady’s water".
Thomas Harry held "one tenement to which belong 1 close called Culver Park containing 2 ½ acres of pasture....and 1 garden containing ½ acre of hempland" and William Maxschyll held a "virgate of hemp" with a cottage "lately in the tenure of Richard Pyngcowe". Hemp was a very important crop at the time and is the only crop specifically named in the Survey. Hemp fibres had many maritime (and other) uses, for example rope, sails, nets etc. and hemp was widely grown across southern England.
Hemp was particularly important in Combe Martin. In 1535 the total Church income was just under £40, of which £6 was from hemp. With a 10% tithe, the total hemp crop must have been worth £60 a year, a very considerable amount. Risdon, a hundred years later, wrote that Combe Martin was ‘a place noted for yielding the best hemp in all this country and that in great abundance’. At about the same time Thomas Westcote wrote ‘the town is not rich; yet are the people industrious and painful; their greatest trade and profit is the making of shoemakers thread by spinning whereof they maintain themselves, furnishing there with the most part of the shire.’ Shoemakers thread was made from hemp. Hemp remained an important crop right up to the early 19th century (4).
When the Marchioness died in 1530, her estates went to Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset, whose daughter was Lady Jane Grey (the granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister). The main bedroom at Chambercombe Manor has a Tudor frieze and a Coat of Arms said to belong to a relative of Henry Grey, but it is not known for sure whether Lady Jane ever stayed there. John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, married one of his sons to Lady Jane in 1553 and then persuaded Edward VI (son of Henry VIII) to name her as his successor. Edward died later that year and Jane reluctantly became Queen, but her reign lasted only nine days and she was replaced by Mary I, who as daughter of Henry VIII had more legal right to the throne. Jane, her father, and husband, were executed in 1554 and their lands reverted to the Crown (5).
< Middle Ages Elizabethan >
(1) Survey of West Country Manors, interpretation
The places identified in Ilfracombe are Chambercombe, Borough (Burrow farm) Hurne (Horne farm) Horedown and Hele Myll (Stoate 1979 pxiii) Beopleborough is almost certainly in Morthoe and probably Borough (Stoate 1979 p x)
John Fitzharberd is the former surveyor, probably from reign of Henry VII, he was adult in 1503 and in 1523 may have published the first book on farming in England, the Book of Husbandry by Master Fitzharberd, followed in the same year by a book on surveying. (Stoate 1979 p iii)
The survey was undertaken in 1525 by Richard Phellyps, of the properties belonging to the Marchioness of Dorset. The original, PRO E315/385 is in Latin. Lady Cecily owned properties all over England although this survey just covers the west country. She was the sole heir of the Bonville and Harington estates. She died in 1530 and the estates went to her grandson Henry, 3rd Marquis of Dorset, created Duke of Suffolk, who with his daughter Lady Jane Grey was executed in 1554 and his estates forfeit to the crown (Stoate 1979 p iii-iv)
Type of tenant and lease - most are tenants at will, ‘the tenants to the rest hold the same either by sufferance, will or custom, or by convention. The customary tenant holdeth at will, either for years, or for lives, or to them or their heirs, in divers manors according to the customs of the manor’ (Carew quoted by AL Rowse in Tudor Cornwall). Most often for three lives. (Stoate 1979 p iv)
Description of holding The demesne heads the list or may be ‘the whole farm there’. Other holdings are fragmentary. Land value is its true worth, not necessarily the rent received (Stoate 1979 p v)
Entry fine the sum payable when entering or exchanging a new life. Fines could be increased and often in this survey the previous fines are given. There was also a ‘confirmation’ fee to Lord Thomas, probably related to him taking over the estate. The fines have probably mostly been paid (often in instalments) and are entered as a guide to future fines, although contemporary sureties are given. (Stoate 1979 p v)
Rent normally fixed but sometimes went up or down. (Stoate 1979 p v)
Below each record is an entry, if found, in 1524/5 Devon Subsidy Roll assessment. L,G,W indicate an assessment on land, goods and wages respectively, figures given in pounds except between £1-3 and fractions over £3 are ignored (Stoate 1979 p vi)
(2) Survey entries
"ILFERCOMBE, Free Tenants [blank space 6" deep] Tenants at Will
Thomas Dyer holds there a capital messuage called Chambercombe by grant from John Fitzharberd to which belong 9 closes containing 152 acres of which 30 are arable worth each yearly 12d and 121 are pasture and lie between the Clyves. And one acre is meadow worth yearly 3/4d. And he pays yearly for all £3.6.8 (1525 SR Thomas Deare G20)
Ralph Somer holds one tenement by grant from John Fitzharberd to which belong 8 closes containing 64 acres of which 30 are arable worth each yearly 12d and 34 are pasture worth each yearly18d. And the reversion of the properties is granted, by Richard Phelypp surveyor and to the most noble lady Cecily Marchioness of Dorset, Lady Haryngdon and Bonville, and by grant from master Nicholas Chaunterell clerk surveyor to the most noble lord Thomas Marquis of Dorset son and heir apparent of the said Lady, to Elizabeth the wife of the said Ralph and to Nicholas son of the said Ralph for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor. And they give to the said lady for a fine £4 and for confirmation to the said Lord 40/- payable in 3 accounts by surety of Thomas Dyer and John Estway and pay yearly for all 23/6d.(1524 SR Ralph Somer G 10) [This probably included Hillsborough since "In 1690 ‘Elsborrow’ was owned by Simon Somers and was conveyed to the Bowen family in the C18th a member of which, Miss Elizabeth Bowen, married Rev James May". (undated newspaper cutting, Ilfracombe Museum Hillsborough box) This is the second largest holding in Ilfracombe and the farm was probably next to Hillsborough (formerly Larkstone) cottage]
Richard Cole and Anne his wife and Robert their son hold for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors one tenement to which belong 5 closes containing 10 acres of which 8 are pasture worth each yearly 18d and 2 are arable worth each yearly 12d. They hold also 1 close called Saston Parke containing 2 acres of pasture worth yearly 3/- and pay yearly6/8. And they give to the said lady for a fine 10/- payable in 2 accounts and for confirmation 20d payable in the third account by surety of Thomas Dyer. And they pay yearly for all 27/8d.(1524 SR Richard Colle G 26/8d)
Walter Flemmyng and Thomas Ingleton hold for the term of their lives by grant from the aforesaid surveyors 4 closes containing 6 acres of which 2 are arable worth yearly 2/- and 4 are pasture worth each yearly 18d. And they give to the lady for a fine 6/8d payable in advance and to the lord for confirmation 2/4d payable in the second account by surety of Thomas Dyer. And they pay yearly for all 18/-. (1525 S R Thomas Ynkeldon G 8 ) [This is probably Incleton]
John Cornysshe holds by grant from John Fitzharberd 2 tenements called Est Bowden to which belong 6 closes containing 31 acres of which 16 are arable worth each yearly12d and 15 are pasture worth each yearly 18d. And the reversion of the premises is granted by the aforesaid surveyors to Roger Ward and Margaret his wife and Joan their daughter for a fine of £3.6.8 and for confirmation 33/4d payable in the third account by surety of John Cornysse and Thomas Dyer. And he pays yearly for all 20/-.(1524 SR John Cornes G2. John Cornysch G 30/-. John Cornys G2. John Cornys G1.Roger Ward G1.) [This is Bowden farm above Ilfracombe]
Richard Cornysshe, Thomasine his wife and Henry their son hold for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors one tenement in Borough to which belong 4 closes containing 12 acres of which 5 are arable worth each yearly12d and 7 are pasture worth each yearly 18d. And they give for a fine £3.13.4d payable in 2 accounts and for confirmation 24/5d payable in the third account by surety of John Maxsshyll and pay yearly for all 20/-. (1524 SR Richard Cornuse G 26/8d) [this is Burrow farm]
William Maxschyll, Joan his wife and Elizabeth Arthour hold for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors one cottage with a curtailage adjoining containing one virgate of land and pay yearly2/-. They hold also one other cottage lately in the tenure of Richard Pyngcowe to which belongs one virgate of hempland and pay yearly 2/-. And they give to the said lady for a fine 6/8d payable in the next account and to the said lord for confirmation 2/4d payable in the second account by surety of Ralph Somer and pat yearly for all 4/-.(1524 SR William Makeschow G6)
The same William holds by grant from John Fitzharberd one tenement in Hurne to which belong 6 closes with a garden containing 18 acres of which 10 are arable worth each yearly12d and 8 are pasture worth each yearly 18d and pays yearly for all 19/4.
The same William holds also by allowance from John Fitzharberd 4 closes called the West Parkys containing 10 acres of pasture worth each yearly 18d and pays yearly 22/8d.
He holds also by grant from John Fitzharberd one close called Horsewelle Parke containing 2 acres of pasture worth each yearly 18d and paye yearly 3/6.
He holds also by the above grant one pasture of heath and furze containing 200 acres called Horedown and it is conventionary pasture for 200 ewes. And he pays yearly 12/-.
Thomas Harry holds for the term of his life according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors one tenement to which belong 1 close called Culver Park containing 2 ½ acres of pasture worth each yearly 18d and 1 garden containing ½ acre of Hempland worth yearly 12d and 1 piece of land which is worth yearly 6d. And he gives for a fine 6/8d payable in the next account and for confirmation 2/4d payable in the third account by surety of William Thorne. And he pays yearly for all 18/6d. (1524 SR Thomas Harry G1)
Thomas Jule and Joan his wife and Alice Parkman hold for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors one tenement called Shankdon to which belong 2 closes containing 32 acres of which 12 are arable worth each yearly 12d and 20 are pasture worth yearly 18d. And they give for a fine 53/4d payable in 2 accounts and for confirmation 16/8d payable in the third account by surety of Thomas Dyer. And they pay yearly for all with one cottage and garden in Assheford 20/3d.
Adam Whytt chaplain holds by grant from John Fitzharberd one tenemant to which belong 5 closes containing 17 acres of which 7 are arable worth each yearly 12d and 10 are pasture worth each yearly 18d. And he pays yearly for all 20/-
The pasture called Blaklond lately in the tenure of Doctor Norton contains 9 acres of pasture worth each yearly 18d and yields nearly 13/10d
Also one parcel of land called the Glybe lying in the close called Green Close by west the churche contains one virgate of pasture and yields yearly 6d.
Adam Whytt and Thomasine wife of Richard baker and John their son hold for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors two closes of which one contains 2 acres of pasture and they pay yearly 5/- and the other close called Runyclyfe contains 3 ½ acres of pasture and they pay yearly 7/-. And they give for a fine 13/4d payable in the next account and for confirmation 4/5d payable in the second account by surety of Thomas Ingleton. And they pay yearly for all 12/-
Thomas Ingleton and his son hold for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors one vacant place called Wylcokkys Wallys. And they give nothing for a fine because they continue to pay the old rent viz 2/- but before it was in decay 8d viz only 16d. And so now they pay yearly 2/- (1524 see previous entry)
John Etteford, Elena his wife and Isobel their daughter hold for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors one burgage with a garden and croft adjoining containing one acre of pasture. And they pay yearly 9/-. They hold also 2 closes containing 3 acres of pasture worth each yearly 18d and pay yearly 8/-. And they give for a fine 6/8d payable in two accounts and for confirmation 2/4d payable in the third account by surety of Thomas Dyer and John Bayne. And they pay yearly for all 17/-. (1525 SR John Etford G 1) [this must be Ettiford]
The water course running to a new mill of Lord Fitzwarren used to yield £5.6.8 but now it is granted with the water course of Helemyll to thomas Nicoll and Robert Ware for the term of their lives etc (for a rent of) £4.13.4 (1524 SR Thomas Nicholl G2, Robert Ware G 1)
The miller of the mill of Heyle for the lady’s water 12d yearly.
Robert Arkenoll, Wilmot his wife and Thomas their son hold for the term of their lives according to the customs of the manor by grant from the aforsaid surveyors one close now divided into 4 parts called the Torres containing in all 110 acres of pasture worth each yearly 18d. And he gives to the said lady for a fine £20 and to the said lord for confirmation £6.13.4 payable in three accounts by his own surety and pays yearly for all 46/8d. (1524 Robert Hertknoll G 20, Thomas Hartknoll G 3)" (Stoate 1979 pp 117-122)
(3) Hele Mill
"Lord Fitzwarren built a Mill in 1525, HeleMyll. In due course it was rented by Thomas Nichol and Robert Ware, for the term of their lives, for a rent of £4-13-4d" (ICTG 1985-6 p 1)
A hand-tinted colour photograph at Hele Mill has been produced as a postcard, shown above. It says "The Old Corn Mill c1870 Hele Bay, Ilfracombe" on the back. A black & white copy has the caption "The corn mill at Hele Bay, said to date from the 16th century. It has been restored to full working order, and is now a tourist attraction where visitors can buy freshly ground wholemeal flour" (Lamplugh 1996 p 118)
The three streams that fed the mill are shown on a drawing on the inside wall of the mill. Incidentally, the meaning of Hele is wrongly given as from Heel, describing the shape of the path to the south of the river crossing (it is from Hela, Saxon for sheltered valley). The drawing is similar to the drawing above taken from the 1889 Ordnance Survey map; there are three pools; the mill pond beside the mill; the 'junction pool' below the middle stream, and a large mill pond in Hele valley. Only one of the streams now feeds the mill, the leats linking the other two streams to the small mill pond have been filled in. The 1889 OS map scale 1:2500 shows about 8" of leats, or about 555 yards.
(4) First references to hemp
"Combmartin, anciently Marhuscombe, is more to the east, bearing the adjunct of its ancient landlords, the Martins, whose inheritance it was many ages past; which lieth low, as the name implieth, and near the sea, having a cove for boats to land: a place noted for yielding the best hemp in all this country, and that in great abundance" (Risdon 1630 p 247)
"MARIJUANA: AN OLD CROP FOR NORTH DEVON In 1525 the surveyor employed by Cecily, Lady Harrington and Bonville drew up a list of the leaseholdings of his mistress. She had, by marriage and inheritance become a major landholder in the west country and wished to know just what she owned. The record survived and has now been published. Although most of her Devon lands were in the south of the county she also owned areas in North Devon - mostly in Ilfracombe though other parishes do appear. The list might appear fairly dry but there are points of interest. Firstly the names of the farm tenants. ...At Ilfracombe there was a Thomas Enkyldon - a name that still exists today as Incledon. In the same parish there was the melodically named Andrew Pynecowe.....Ilfracombe which has 50 separate holdings listed throws up a whole crop of names many of which are still recognisable. Thus there is Chambercombe, East Bowden, Hurne, Horedown, Culver Park, Runyclyfe, Shankdon and The Torres......In most of the ND places listed there are entries for ‘hempland’. Small in area but valuable in production, hemp went to make rope and provide cattle food. Hemp isn’t grown today - perhaps because it also produces marijuana - an interesting crop for North Devon!" (Christie 1995 p 80-81, also North Devon Journal 19th May 1988)
The earliest reference to hemp in Combe Martin is in 1535. On Henry VIII's orders, income of church was given as £39 10s, of which £6 was the tithe (tenth part) of ‘le hempe’. Tithe of wool also £6. The only item larger was tithe of corn at £13 14s 6d. Total production of hemp was worth over £60, a great deal of money then. May have been grown long before. (Stanes 1989a p 62-63)
Tristiam Risdon's survey of Devon c1640 says Combe Martin was ‘a place noted for yielding the best hemp in all this country and that in great abundance’ in 1630 Thomas Westcote says ‘the town is not rich; yet are the people industrious and painful; their greatest trade and profit is the making of shoemakers thread by spinning whereof they maintain themselves, furnishing there with the most part of the shire.’ This was made of hemp. Hemp is probably why the medieval strip field system can still be seen - small fields ideal for hemp, succeeded by strawberries in C19th (Stanes 1989a p 62)
Lysons 1822 description of Devon says of Combe Martin ‘the thread is no longer made here nor the hemp cultivated’. Miss Kathleen Toms ‘notes on Combe Martin’ of 1902 says that hemp was still being grown at beginning of 19thc in small plots (Stanes 1989a p 65)
(5) Lady Jane Grey & Chambercome
"The manor of Ilfracombe anciently belonged to the Chambernons, who had a seat in this parish, called Chambernon's Wike. From them, as Risdon states, it passed by marriage to Polglass, then to Sergeaux, and afterwards to Herle. Sir William Pole observes that ' Sir John Herle, dying without issue, conveyed that large inheritance of Champernon unto William Lord Bonvile, from whom it descended unto Gray, Duke of Suffolk, and by his attainder came unto the crown'." (Risdon 1811 p 431)
Lady Jane Grey, born 1537, for 9 days Queen of England, was the great grand-daughter of Henry VII, daughter of Henry Grey, marquess of Dorset. When she was nine she became ward of Thomas, Lord Seymour. He was beheaded for treason in 1549. Lady Jane Grey married Lord Guildford Dudley in 1553 and Edward VI was persuaded by the Duke of Northumberland to will the succession of the throne to Lady Jane and her male heirs. Edward VI died July 6th 1553 and Lady Jane was told that she was Queen. She is said to have fainted and resisted but was eventually persuaded and her proclamation was issued July 10th. Mary, however, heard early of her brother’s death and gathered supporters around her at which Northumberland’s support began to fade away. Mary was proclaimed Queen on July 19th, with Lady Jane’s agreement and Lady Jane was committed to the Tower. She and her husband were beheaded Feb 12th 1554. (Encyclopaedia Britannica 1971 Vol 10 p 921)
Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII, born 1516, became Queen 1553, her claim unquestionable in law, died of illness in 1558. (Encyclopaedia Britannica 1971 Vol 14 p 992-993)
"In May 1553 he [the Duke of Northumberland] married one of his sons, Guildford Dudley, to Lady Jane Grey, eldest granddaughter of Henry VIII's younger sister, Mary. Then he persuaded Edward to leave the crown by will to Jane and her heirs male. ...But when Edward died (July 6 1553) and Jane was proclaimed queen, the nation soon showed its determination not to exchange Tudors for Dudleys....On July 20 Northumberland surrendered, crowning his ignoble career by professing himself a Roman Catholic upon the scaffold, possibly in the vain hope of being pardoned" (Encyclopaedia Britannica 1971 Vol 8 p 495)
"Either way, Chambercombe remained in the possession of the Champernons until the 15th century, when the family became extinct. It then passed through the Polglass, Herles, and Bonville families to the Greys, of whom the last owner was the first Duke of Suffolk. Although the property passed to the crown in 1450, the Greys seem to have retained the tenancy, providing the Manor with one of it's historical highlights in that the ill fated Lady Jane Grey lived there for a while, and her bedroom, still containing a fine Elizabethan bed and Tudor rose candelabra pendant and plaster frieze, is a current feature of the house." (Wheeler p 1)
"Lady Jane Gray apparently stayed at Chambercombe Manor, owned at the time by her father the Earl of Sussex, before her short reign on the throne of England and her execution in 1554 when she was 17 years old." (North Devon Journal Nov 2nd 2000 p 6, article re Pat Barrow's excavations at Chambercombe)
I visited Chambercombe Manor on 27th August 2003 and was kindly invited to join a guided tour. Part of the Main Hall is said to date from 1066 and has a fine lime-ash floor. The main staircase is outside the Hall, half open to the elements and although the stairs are now replaced, the newel posts are Elizabethan. At the top of the staircase is a doorway to what is now holiday cottages and a ghost, said to haunt Chambercombe, has supposedly been seen passing through this doorway. There is a row of five rooms upstairs. The first is the Chippendale Room, with a Chippendale 4-poster bed and a double-chest. The roof purlins were previously ship's timbers, as in the adjoining Dressing Room, which contains a copy of a Breeches Bible from 1610, so-called because Puritan modesty objected to Adam and Eve's nakedness and had them cover themselves with fig leaves. The next, the Tudor or Elizabethan Room, was the main bedroom. It has a Tudor frieze, part of which has been obscured by a barrelled ceiling, presumably Elizabethan, and there is a very fine Elizabethan 4-poster bed. When the fireplace was later put in, a Coat of Arms was discovered, thought to belong to one of Henry Gray's relatives, possibly Lady Jane Gray, the nine days queen, but there is no evidence that she lived here. There is a steep staircase from the Hall below. The next room is the Hidden Room; so-called because there is a legend that a skeleton was found there, hidden by former residents of the Manor, the Oatways, said to be smugglers and wreckers. It contains what is said to be a priest hole. The last is the Victorian Room, with a Victorian 4-poster bed and this originally had its own small staircase. For visitors safety, the tour route goes through the adjoining roof space (said to be where the servants slept) down new steps into the Victorian Kitchen, over the top of the private chapel of the Champernons, registered by Bishop Lacy in 1439. In the adjoining passage back to the Hall is a stoop, which had been hidden; when found it contained a Henry VIII chalice. There were people living in the Manor until 1972.
< Middle Ages Elizabethan >