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Last Updated 11th October 2002
Articles (Publications List at End)
Peter Tavy1 Tavy Cleave
Peter Tavy2 Agrarian Clauses from 1848 Lease of Higher Godsworthy
Peter Tavy3 Higher Mill
Peter Tavy4 1870 Report of Ploughing Match
Peter Tavy5 Description from White’s 1850 Directory of Devon
Peter Tavy6 1754-1799 Burial Statistics
Peter Tavy7 Notes on Parish Registers
Peter Tavy8 1851 Census Placename Corrections
Peter Tavy9 Recipe for Cure of a Cough
Peter Tavy10 Full Transcript of Churchyard War Memorial (War Memorials Web Page)
Peter Tavy11 1836 Will of Roger Chubb (Help Desk Web Page)
Peter Tavy12 1911 Auction of Longbetor Farm (Help Desk Web Page)
Peter Tavy13 The Bude Lifeboat Disaster 1844
Publications Peter Tavy CD-ROMs/Floppy Discs Available from Dartmoor Press
Dartmoor Press Homepage Booklets Catalogue CD-ROMs/Floppy Discs Catalogue
Guide to Dartmoor CD-ROM Forest Publishing Books Order Details How To Order
DGI Search Service Online Magazine Parish Index Help Desk/FAQs Section
Dartmoor Region War Memorials Lost Devon MIs Index Research Services Sections
Publications Reviews Dartmoor Picture Gallery Links to Other Websites
To leave the Dartmoor Press website and go to the Devon GENUKI Website Peter Tavy Information Page(s) click here. Remember to put this page in your Bookmarks/Favourites before you go!

Tavy Cleave
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

The view into the gorge from the summit of the southernmost and highest of the Tavy Cleave Tors (grid reference SX55358321) offers some of the most dramatic scenery on Dartmoor. The rock strewn hillsides, the rapids and waterfalls along the river, and the precipitous slopes towering high above the valley floor, combine to create a beauty unrivalled on Dartmoor. Wild and untamed, yet not desolate like the peat fen, in the autumn sunshine there is only one word to describe the scene. Magnificent!

The view is no less dramatic from the valley floor. Walking upstream, walkers follow the wide sweep of the river under Deep Bottom and are suddenly confronted by the enormous rock pinnacle of Tavy Sharp, the silent sentinel and guardian of the Cleave, a massive granite buttress rising almost sheer from the river bank.

Standing at its foot, it is illuminating to reflect that the valley floor here is at an elevation above sea level approximating to the summit of Sheeps Tor (grid reference SX566682), which itself dominates its own surroundings. Thoughts which conjure up images of the vast range of heights encompassed by the tilted upland plateau of high Dartmoor. Standing on Sheeps Tor summit it is hard to imagine it being overshadowed by even higher eminences but, such an impressive tor in its own domain, it pales into insignificance when considered against those on northern Dartmoor. And consider also that the summit of Tavy Sharp is itself dwarfed by the huge crags of Yes Tor (grid reference SX581902)  which rise to some 650ft higher again. Even the crown of the Great Mis (grid reference SX562769), that giant amongst the Walkham Valley tors, scarcely grazes the foot of the clitter slope on Yes Tor.

It is to local author Eric Hemery, I think, that present generations owe the term (or phrase) high Dartmoor - from his book High Dartmoor, It's Land & People - which description, which has now passed into popular and common usage amongst those who know Dartmoor well, should almost be spelt with a capital 'h' in its written form. For High Dartmoor is a distinct region in itself. This is wild country. Man has to a certain extent tamed the lower slopes of the in-country parishes in the Dartmoor borderlands, and has also managed to eek out a living in those parishes which border the Forest of Dartmoor. But Nature and the Elements still hold the balance of power in these wilderness regions of high Dartmoor proper. Mankind has not yet tamed the highest land in Southern England.

Upstream from the bend on the River Tavy is a narrow cleft in the bedrock of the river where the water plunges into a deep wide tranquil pool, Long Pool. A little further upstream is an even more impressive fall, into the deep pool  called the Devil's Kitchen. Here the rushing river and the high peaks all around combine to form spectacular scenery, creating the impression that one is in true mountainous terrain. Scenes which prompted an earlier Dartmoor author and explorer, William Crossing, to write of walking Amidst Devonia's Alps. The boulders in the river bed here testify to the immense power of the River Tavy when in spate, moving rocks of enormous size when it unleashes its full fury after a winter storm on the high Moor. Violent tempests have also been known to occur in mid summer. In Part 2 of his Pictorial Records, Robert Burnard paints a vivid picture of the havoc and destruction which results when the mood of Nature and the Elements in these wilderness regions turns really ugly, recording that, on 17th July 1890 -

"...such a deluge of rain fell...over the watersheds of the Tavy, Walkham, and Cowsic...the tors visible from Tavistock, right up to Great Mis Tor, bore a remarkable appearance; for numerous streams were rushing down their slopes, swamping fields, deluging the roads, and swelling each tiny rivulet into a mighty torrent...a terrific roar was heard...folk of Tavistock knew that a big river was coming down...it came in immense volumes, increasing in strength and height every moment until the Guildhall Square was flooded and Abbey Bridge was threatened with destruction...the weir which supplies the canal was washed away...the storm which broke over the Tavy basin...from the heights of Stannon the water flowed in roaring cataracts, so broad as to appear like one vast sheet of foam, down into Tavy Cleave, where, seething, boiling, and dashing irresistibly along, it swept away clams, banks, and bridges...".

Agrarian Clauses from 1848
Lease of Higher Godsworthy
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

"...[lessee]...to farm and cultivate the premises...in the manner following...That the Orchards shall be kept and well filled up with good thriving young apple trees and...shall not be broken up...and shall be kept clear from weeds and be depastured with ringed Hogs and Sheep only and then only when the trees are properly fenced That all Gardens be kept properly manured and weeded That no fields usually considered as Meadow or Pasture or which have not been broken up for the last seven years shall be accounted as tillageable...That no Meadow or Lay field shall be cut more than once a year nor then without a preparatory dressing of thirty tons of dung per acre That no Wood hedgegrowth or Clover nor Hay nor Straw nor Reed nor Corn in the Straw nor Turnips Vetches Mangel Wurzels Carrots or other Green food for Cattle nor dung soil or other manure shall be removed from the said premises...That no Pollards or other Trees shall be lopped...That no hedge growth furze thorns nor undergrowth shall be cut in the last two years of the term...The tillage of the fields shall be as follows, namely the five course system that one fifth of the tillageable ground shall always be in grass seeds and one fifth as Lay ground and one fifth in Turnips or some other similar green root crop That no breach of Lay Ground whether for a Green or Straw Crop or both shall exceed four acres in any twelve months...the dressing per acre and rotation of Crops shall be as fixed in the Schedule hereto and on no account shall there be two straw or Grain Crops in succession the turnip Crop shall be twice hoed the last Barley or Oat Crop shall be seeded with not less than eight pounds of good Clover two pounds of White Clover two pounds of trefoil Seeds and eight gallons of good Eaver Seeds per acre...The Clover arrishes shall be cut but once and that only in the first year after Harvest without being manured as a lay field and in the last year or sooner determination of the said term shall be depastured with Sheep only after harvest the last Wheat Crop shall not exceed four acres That the potatoe tillage shall not exceed one quarter of the ground in Wheat tillage...no other Crop than Wheat Barley Oats Turnips Potatoes Vetches Sucerne Mangel Wurzel Cabbages or Carrots shall be taken without the Landlords consent in writing and with such consent Seas Sand Bone dust Guano Nitre and other manures may be substituted for the Lime required by the foregoing covenants...".

Enormously long unpunctuated sentences such as these were the standard inclusions in leases of this period, and were by this time taking up nearly half of the entire text of the deeds. And the agrarian clauses did not end there, for incorporated into these deeds was a fully itemised schedule, a large table setting out the rules and regulations to be followed regarding the "Dressing Tillage & Rotation of Crops". From the late C18th onwards one can trace the progress and development of farming practices by reference to these excrutiatingly long yet informative passages - it is perhaps fortunate that the predilection of earlier property deeds for endless repetition of the main clauses had by this time ceased, otherwise C19th leases would have become mini-booklets! Even so, some were still exceptionally lengthy, the agrarian clauses of some leases issued by the Manor of Buckland in the Moor from the early nineteenth century setting out everything in the minutest detail, and run to well over a thousand words. Much later ones from the Manor of Walkhampton were even more verbose, and in the late C19th were in fact printed, with spaces left in the appropriate places for insertion of the details unique to the particular lease, such as the name of the tenant, rent, &c.

Re the foregoing Higher Godsworthy lease, this was issued to James Arthur, Rev Walter Radcliffe being the landlord. It included the rather unusual rental clause, to the effect that the tenant should pay "£27 [annually] in time of peace and from the Declaration of War with any European Power the rent of £29 14s". Why this should have been stipulated is not perfectly clear to me.

Higher Mill
Description from "Dept of the Environment List of
Buildings of Special Architectural & Historical Importance"
transcribed by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

Grade II Listed Building. Mill and mill-house. C18 possibly with C19 addition. Stone rubble walls. Slate roof gabled at front of right-hand wing and hipped to left-hand wing. 2 stone rubble stacks with off-sets - one lateral at the front and one projecting deom right-hand end of wing.

Plan. Wing projecting to front at either side and central recessed section. The mill is in the left-hand wing and is completely self-contained with only external access. To its rear is a room which forms part of the house. In the central section is the principal heated room with a corner fireplace, and to its right is a cross passage. The right-hand wing may be a C19 addition although it contains the staircase. This is at the rear reached from the passage and it has a very small dairy beyond to its right. In the front of the wing is a small parlour. The plan remains completely unaltered.

Exterior. 2 storeys. Asymmetrical 4 window front with mill in hipped wing projecting to the left and shallower gabled wing to the right. The mill has 2 C19 small-paned casements on its front wall. On its inner face is a doorway with slate canopy above. Pigeon holes on 1st floor. The central section has its stack projecting in the angle with the mill wing and to its right is a 3-light C20 small-paned casement with dripmould on the ground floor and 2 similar single light casements above, which are under small gables. At its right end the central section has a C19 lean-to porch in angle with right-hand wing and C20 plank door behind. The wing to the right has a 2-light early C20 small-paned casement on the 1st floor with a 3 light C19 casement below which is in recessed surround. Late C19 lean-to against right-hand end wall. The mill wheel was originally the left wall of the mill wing but has been removed although its position can be seen.

Interior. The mill retains its machinery which is enclosed on the ground floor, with the mill-stones on the floor above. In the principal room of the mill-house is the original granite-framed fireplace with a rough lintel and traces of an oven in the side. The dairy has slate shelves. Simple framed dog-leg staircase.

Report of Ploughing Match
March 1870 Edition of the Tavistock Gazette
transcribed by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

"We...entered Mr Cole's field...and although ourselves profoundly ignorant of furrow-science, we tried to disguise our folly as best we might...picking up from casual observations the elements of excellence in ploughing...Meanwhile the various teams were busily at work, with different advantages of horse or plough, all struggling manfully...hoping for the best...enduring the homely jests that greeted failure...when the struggle was concluded we adjourned...to the...Peter Tavy Inn. There we were well fed...by Mr Sussex...judges...Mr Giles, of Walkhampton, Mr Reyment of Whitchurch, and Mr J Arthur of Cudlipptown...awarded our 1st prize of £2 to G Perkin, of Kingsett, Mary Tavy; 2nd, £1 10s, to J Smale...Grendon; 3rd, £1, to J Mudge, son of W Mudge, of Sowtentown, Peter Tavy; 4th, 10s, to Richard Slowman, ploughman to W B Cudlip Esq, of Cazeytown".

Description from White’s 1850 Directory of Devon
transcribed by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

Tavy St. Peter, on the western borders of Dartmoor, 4 miles N.N.E. of Tavistock, has in its parish 587 souls, and about 6000 acres of land, of which 91 souls, and about 2450 acres, are in Willsworthy hamlet, a high moorland district in Lifton Hundred, 6 miles N.N.E. of Tavistock. The parish also includes Godsworthy, and many scattered farm houses. The Duke of Bedford is lord of the manors of Peter Tavy and Huntingdon; but Willsworthy belongs to the Buller family; and the Rev. W. Radcliffe and several smaller owners have estates in the parish, mostly freehold. The Church (St. Peter) has a tower and five bells; and the living is a rectory, valued in K.B. at £17. 1s. 8d., and now in the patronage of the Bishop of Exeter, and incumbency of the Rev. Wm. Macbean, M.A., who does not reside here. An ancient chapel at Willsworthy has been long used as a cowhouse.

Approximately 10,000 personal and property name entries from the Dartmoor Parish Sections of Trade Directories of a number of different years are listed in a "Dartmoor Trade Directories Index" which is available on a CD-ROM from Dartmoor Press.

1754-1799 Burial Statistics
compiled by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

- 1760 - 11 1770 - 2 1780 - 5 1790 - 4
- 1761 - 12 1771 - 8 1781 - 11 1791 - 7
- 1762 - 16 1772 - 8 1782 - 7 1792 - 5
- 1763 - 9 1773 - 14 1783 - 5 1793 - 4
1754 - 4 1764 - 6 1774 - 2 1784 - 13 1794 - 7
1755 - 2 1765 - 4 1775 - 7 1785 - 10 1795 - 5
1756 - 10 1766 - 13 1776 - 6 1786 - 6 1796 - 0
1757 - 3 1767 - 9 1777 - 11 1787 - 1 1797 - 10
1758 - 2 1768 - 8 1778 - 9 1788 - 1 1798 - 8
1759 - 5 1769 - 6 1779 - 7 1789 - 13 1799 - 6

Peter Tavy Parish Registers
data provided by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

These begin in 1674. Peter Tavy is not on the IGI.

There are 1,327 Peter Tavy entries on the Dartmoor & West Devon Genealogy Index (DGI) a surname search service from which is available from Dartmoor Press.

1851 Census Placename Corrections
data provided by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

Most researchers will, of course, be aware of the fact that they will have to check numerous early  spelling variants when searching for placenames in any old records - comments which apply similarly to personal names. Unfortunately, the original 1851 census returns for the majority of the Dartmoor parishes were transcribed by persons who did not have the remotest clue about the placenames (or surnames) of the districts, and so did not know what badly handwritten entries were supposed to represent. Many weird and wonderful names have therefore been invented! Their presence can seriously lead researchers astray and, most especially now that the 1851 CD-ROM is in widespread use, lead them to overlook whole households and even large chunks of entire villages by using the search facility which the CD-ROM provides (which, of course, only recognises "as spelt" entries). The following are the pure mistranscriptions and entirely fictional property names which appear in the 1851 census for Walkhampton, which researchers will need to be aware of, together with their correct names (note that spelling variants which were correctly used, of which there are of course very many examples, and 'authentic' misspellings which appear in the originals, are not included in this list) -

Cov Torr = Cox Torr; Bara Walls = Bare Walls

Recipe for Cure of a Cough
transcribed by
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

Intriguing and unusual little documents surface in various archive collections from time to time, which take investigations beyond what might be described as "standard" local history research. One such item is a small and rather moth-eaten notebook entitled "John Reep's Recept Book", compiled by John Reep of Willsworthy during the 1830s and 1840s. Here is one of his acquaintances' recipes for the cure of a cough -

"Mrs Vigers Recept for a Cought. Half pint of Vinegar Half pound of treacle one tea spunfull of allspice to be boild slowley for twentey minuets then strained then add a glass of Old rum and 15 Dropes of Laudanum take three tea spoonfulls for a dose three times a Day".
Doubtless the headstones to many who were immediately "cured" by taking this vile concoction stand in the Peter Tavy churchyard!

The Bude Lifeboat Disaster 1844
Mike Brown, Dartmoor Press

A headstone in the graveyard at Peter Tavy commemorates...

William Sketch
Who was drowned at Bude through the
Capsizing of the Life Boat
October 10th 1844

This is not the type of accidental death which one expects to find commemorated on a headstone in a Dartmoor graveyard. Although there are occasional epitaphs to those killed on sea voyages (and, of course, a larger number to servicemen of the navy who lost their lives in the course of their duty), but what makes the Peter Tavy epitaph the more intriguing is the fact that, as I discovered, William Sketch was actually a member of the crew of the lifeboat!

The Bude Lifeboat Station was established in 1839 following a spate of shipwrecks along that notorious stretch of coastline which, according to local legend, “From Padstow Point to Lundy Light, Is a Watery Grave by Day or Night”. In that year King William IV commanded the Duchy to provide funds for a lifeboat, which latter was built by Wake of Sunderland to a design known as the “North Country” type, a vessel which immediately upon arrival at its new home was treated with suspicion by its crew. It performed only one service launch before the day of the disaster, but apparently played only a minor role in a sea rescue on 28th October 1843. Why it was not used more frequently is not satisfactorily explained in the reports which I read.

On the fatal day, nearly a year after this operation, the lifeboat was on a practice launch when a sudden heavy swell broke the steersman's oar and four others on the port side, bringing the boat broadside to the sea, whereupon a second large wave capsized her. According to a contemporary report in the Royal Cornwall Gazette, 4 men clung to the keel, 5 others were imprisoned underneath the hull until the boat drifted onto the sands, and others clung to oars and were later rescued, but accounts in other sources differ as to the precise particulars and numbers of men
involved. William Skitch (as the surname was spelt in the newspaper) and Nicholas Bradden were the only two lifeboatmen who drowned.

But the most puzzling aspect, from the Dartmoor interest, remains something of a mystery, for I have been unable to ascertain how a Peter Tavy man came to be in Bude in the first place and, of
all things, performing the duty of a lifeboatman. I understand that crews of lifeboats in those days comprised only two or three locals, and to make up the numbers other men were merely requisitioned from whatever ship(s) happened to be in port at the time, although I feel that the latter would hardly be likely for what was merely intended as a practice launch.

Peter Tavy Publications
Available from Dartmoor Press
The Main Dartmoor Press CD-ROMs/Floppy Discs Catalogue Page (see link below) has fuller details on the contents of titles, and also lots more CD-ROMs. To order see How to OrderSection (see link below). 
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CDA Mike Brown's Guide to Dartmoor CD-ROM £10.50 £12.50
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HGNCD Heraldic & Genealogical Notes from Devon Churches CD-ROM £15 £17
DFCD24 Dartmoor Family History Index: Peter Tavy CD-ROM £10 £12
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Publications Reviews Dartmoor Picture Gallery Links to Other Websites
To leave the Dartmoor Press website and go to the Devon GENUKI Website Peter Tavy Information Page(s) click here. Remember to put this page in your Bookmarks/Favourites before you go!

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