There is another article in the November 2016 issue of An Baner Kernewek. This is a feature about Tywardreath Priory which can also be read on this site.
An Baner Kernewek – The Cornish Banner is also known as the voice of the Cornish People.
There is another article in the November 2016 issue of An Baner Kernewek. This is a feature about Tywardreath Priory which can also be read on this site.
An Baner Kernewek – The Cornish Banner is also known as the voice of the Cornish People.
I called in at Bredon Church to see the grave site of Bishop John Prideaux.
He spent his last years living with his daughter and son in law and was buried at the church following a large and well attended funeral. Details of his life, death, will can be found on my other blogs on this site.
I was disappointed to see that his gravestone was placed underneath a rug in front of the altar. I hope that this was because the congregation are worried that it will be damaged by constant footfall. There is a plaque on the wall acknowledging him, but stating that he died a pauper. This is a common and repeated misconception which has been passed down. He certainly lost his Bishopric and church livings and position at Exeter College, Oxford following the Civil War, but he left a good deal of money and possessions in his will. It was his sons in law who sold off his possessions quite swiftly, following John’s death. I don’t know how much his two remaining daughters were happy with that.
Part of his biography on the plaque states’
‘stofordiae pago obscuro sed ingenius parentibus natus’ – born in an obscure village, Stowford, to land holding parents –
In addition to the blogs on the site, I have already written and published one book about John Prideaux and more are in the pipeline.
There is no current visible trace of Tywardreath Priory.
There have been recent attempts by the local people of Tywardreath to find it again using modern means. But it has been so flattened and all top stones and other artefacts taken away over the centuries, that discovery is difficult.
A gentleman of the parish wrote the following article in an edition of the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1922,
‘The ancient priory of Tywardreath has long been so entirely levelled with the ground, that it is not very easy even to ascertain its site. Some time ago the present vicar obtained leave to dig the ground on its supposed site in search of stones for erecting a vicarage house. The place where he made an excavation for this purpose appears to have been the east end of the priory chapel; and as some measurements were taken at the time , and I have, with the permission of the landlord, opened the ground in several places, partly of throwing some light on its architecture, the following particulars may not be unacceptable.
The chapel appears, so far as could be ascertained by measurement, to have been eighty feet long, by fifty seven wide, with a semi-circular end towards the east; strengthened by four buttresses of wrought Pentewan stone, two feet wide, and ornamented by four pilasters; within the shafts are a single half-column, four inches in diameter. At each angle was a handsome piece of architecture, as it was described to me, of which pilasters, resembling those already described, formed a part, but with the base five inches wide, and the mouldings in proportion.
In the vicarage garden, adjoining the west end of the chapel, a fragment of a stone arch was found, with a fleur-de-lis elegantly carved in deep relief; the same devise appears on the church stile, and in a coat of arms in one of the windows of the church, and appears from tanner to have been part of the arms of the priory. The wall of the chapel is the south wall of the churchyard.
The chapel was paved with beach pebbles, and was built partly of common clay slate raised on the spot; the wrought stones were of compact hard porphyry, from Pentewan Quarry in the parish of St. Austell, and hornblende from the cliff between Duporth and Charlestown in the same parish. All the carved work is executed with much skill and taste.’
Although nothing now remains above ground, there is a story which abounds that the last stone was shipped back to France by the last Prior. There is no proof of this, although the story has been passed down by oral tradition.
The Priory stood at the water’s edge and ships would dock and leave from here. Much of Par and St Blazey was underwater and the sea fingered its way inland to Prideaux and further at high tide. The monks built a causeway from Tywardreath to St Blazey, but three men, one a monk, died one day when they failed to check the tides. A ferry was used at other times.
As the Priory expanded, so did the satellite houses, farms and alehouses which would normally surround such a place. The waterside was busy and sea travel and fishing occurred here in addition to Fowey.
It has often been reported since the fall of the Priory, that monks are seen to wander about the church and the area and their chants heard.
The seal of the convent was a saltire or St. Andrews cross. Sometimes the seal was displayed between four fleurs-de-lis.
It is stated in the Monasticon Anglicanum the following;
‘Tywardreit a cell to Angiers in France.
Robert de Cardinham gave divers Lands and Revenue in Cornwall to the church of St Sergius of Angiers and to the Church of St Andrew in Tywardrait and to the monks there all which was confirm’d by King Henry III.’
This entry gives the impression that Robert de Cardinham built the Priory at Tywardreath, however deeper investigation shows that the priory was already built and in use by the ‘black monks’ of France and that Cardinham made substantial financial contribution to the priory’s upkeep and extension.
Prior to 1066 the lands of Tywardreath were in the control of the Saxon Lord Cola before the Conqueror and then fell to Richard FitzTorold, the steward of Count Robert, the King’s brother.
Robert FitzWilliam who died sometime between 1169 and 1177, is recorded in 1166 Cartae Baronum as the holder of the lands which had been formerly been held by Richard FitzTurold. In 1169, he and his son Robert made a gift to Tywardreath Priory.
Following his death, his son Robert de Cardinham was forced to pay a large feudal relief in Devon in order to gain his inheritance. He owned at least 71 Knight’s fees in Cornwall, from the successor of the Count of Mortain. One of his holdings was a mill at Cardinham which serviced the Tywardreath Priory.
It was his son, Robert de Cardinham (died 1230) – heir of Robert FitzWilliam (de Cardinham) – who made gifts to the already established priory at Tywardreath, written of in the Monasticon Anglicanum.
Establishment of Tywardreath Priory.
A long term and well established trade route passed through the area from the Camel to Fowey. Goods were shipped from Ireland to Cornwall and then from Fowey to Britanny and the Mediterranean and back. This was a hugely influential area where monks and travellers came to make secret meetings and where smugglers and pirates abounded.
King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine had great connections to her ancestral inheritance in Angers and it may have been this connection to the house of SS Sergius and Bacchus which encouraged the French monks to arrive and establish a daughter house at Tywardreath. Sergius and Bacchus were two Romans violently executed and martyred when they refused to approve of their leaders murderous violence.
Henry and Eleanor wanted a spy satellite in this faraway edge of his kingdom.
According to the History of Glasney College (James Whetter); the foundation date for Tywardreath Priory is given as 1088, although the building was not completed until 1135. Osbert was the first prior who ruled by the favour of Lord Robert FitzTorold. Henry’s chief agent, the Bishop of Salisbury set in motion the beginning of the priory.
The Tywardreath connection is the first documented reference I have so far found to the Manor of Pridias (later Prideaux), although many connections are documented in retrospect.
Osbert, the Prior at Tywardreath granted to Baldwin de Pridias;
‘One knight’s fee in the manor of Pidias, to hold to him and his heirs, except an acre of land in Carnubelbanathel for which the monks of Tywardreath rendered annually to the said Baldwin 20d, for all customs, &c, as written in the charter of convention between Ordagar the Canon and Richard de Pidias Father of the said Baldwin.’
The charter was initially drawn up in 1120-1122 between Canon Ordagar and Richard de Pridias, the son of Paganus, but Richard died in 1122. This document remained unsigned until 1130 when Baldwin, the son of Richard, came of age and was rewritten.
The Benedictine priory initially housed about seven monks, the endowment being sufficient for that number. The priory, although poor, controlled the port of Fowey and had lands scattered over Cornwall. They rented some of the Pridias lands and I assume that this is what the charter was for.
The Crown began to mistrust the monks, an opinion which continued until its eventually downfall during the purges of Henry VIII. They were believed to be passing on gossip and finances to the French Abbott and assisting traitors. For this reason the Crown often took the monastery under its protection and confiscated money and goods, leaving the monks poor and reliant upon the goodwill of their neighbours. These neighbours were rather suspicious of the French monks, but used them for their skills with herbs and their ability to work in harmony with the more ‘natural’ practices of the first people of Cornwall.
There was an annual charge on the priory’s income, which was known as a corrody. This was to pay for the board and lodging of founders when they visited. Originally a voucher, later money, was used and this could then more easily be transferred to the Crown as a pension. In 1486 Henry VII recommended that his servant William Martyn be granted a corrody of 5 marks a year to be charged on the manors of Tywardreath and Trenant. A corrody was held in Tywardreath Priory in 1509 by Hugh Denys of Osterley Groom of the King’s Close Stool to Henry VII. On the death of Denys, Henry VIII transferred the corrody (“in the King’s gift by death of Hugh Denys”) to John Porth, another courtier.
All the French monks were expelled between 1400 and 1405 and in 1406 it became the home for English monks, who built up a thriving community until 1536 when it was supressed. In 1535 the Valor Ecclesisticus drawn for King Henry VIII, the priory had been valued at less than £200 annually,
Records show that there were 19 unsuccessful attempts to persuade Prior Thomas Colyns to retire gracefully from office shortly before the Dissolution, but he would not. It is not known whether the Priory documents went into the Arundell archive from the Prior or the King’s agent.
At the time of the Dissolution the Arundells were vying with the Grenvilles and Godolphins to obtain the lands of Tywardreath (see AL Rowse, Tudor Cornwall, pp. 209-10.). Thomas Arundell came into possession of the priory documentation. He was for a while in charge of the commission for dissolving the monasteries and would thus have been one of the few people in a position to remove the documents from the priory. Thomas could arrange to have the documents removed to Lanherne hoping that his family would acquire the priory lands. They didn’t succeed however. Grenville held them instead.
At Tywardreath Priory, newly writ documents were often smoked to make them look old and substantiate a claim.
Oliver’s Monasticon displays a document indicating that Grenville held the lands and then leased them to Sir John Arundell and Arundell sub-let the lands to Laurence Courtenay in 1542 (Oliver, Monasticon, p. 45, no. XXIV.). The documentation regarding the priory still remain in the Arundell Archive. John Grenville (CRO, CA/B44/1) eventually sold the lands to the Rashleigh family and the Earl of Hertford (Rowse, Tudor Cornwall, p. 205 and p. 210.).
List of Priors
1. Michael c.1250 – 1263
2. Galfridus 1263 – c. 1278
3. Philip c.1297 – 1324
4. William Bouges 1333 – 1371
5. William de la Hay 1371 – 1399
6. John Masselyn 1399 – 1406
7. John Roger 1406 – 1433
8. John Brentyngham 1433 – 1450
9. Walter Barnecot 1450 – 1496
10. Richard Martyn 1496 – 1506
11. Thomas Colyns 1507 – 1536
Tywardreath Priory lands were organised into eight manors for purposes of administration:
1. Manor of St Austell: seat of manor was in St Austell; tenements also in St Stephen in Branel.
2. Manor of Fentrigan: not an original manor but created as a means of administering the priory’s scattered lands in Altarnun, Davidstow, Lesnewth, Otterham, Treneglos, Warbstow, Week St Mary and Whitstone.
3. Manor of Fowey: seat of manor and all tenements were in Fowey. The borough of Fowey belonged to Tywardreath Priory. The court rolls here are for Fowey manor; it is not clear whether there was also a separate borough court.
4. Manor of Gready: not an original manor but formed from scattered lands in St Austell, Cardinham, Lanlivery, Lanivet and Luxilian.
5. Manor of Porthia: not an original manor but formed from scattered lands in St Anthony in Meneage, Gulval, St Ives, Lelant, Madron, Manaccan, Towednack, Zennor and possibly Ludgvan.
6. Manor of Trenant: seat of manor was in Fowey; tenements also in Tywardreath.
7. Manor of Trevennen: seat of manor was in Goran; tenements also in St Erme, Goran, St Michael Carhays and Probus.
8. Manor of Tywardreath Prior: seat of manor was in Tywardreath; tenements also in St Austell, St Endellion, St Enoder, St Sampson Golant, Lanlivery, St Martin by Looe and Menheniot.
The tenements of each manor,
• St Austell Manor
• St Austell town (Austoll, Austolle, Austolus) in St Austell parish
• Fentrigan Manor
• Carneglos in Altarnun parish [presumably]
• Fentrigan (Fentregan, Fentygan, Ventregan, Ventregan) in Warbstow parish
• Froxton (Forkeston) in Whitstone parish
• Helset in Lesnewth parish
• Penaton (Peneton) in Davidstow parish
• ‘Trehybyow’ [unidentified]
• Tredarrup (Tretharap) in Warbstow parish
• Witheven (Withefenne) in Warbstow parish
• Fowey Manor
• Fowey (Fawy) in Fowey parish
• Gready Manor
• Cardinham Mill (Cardinan, Cardynam) in Cardinham parish
• ‘Le Forthynglond’ [presumably] in Lanlivery parish
• Goom (Le Gomm) in Lanlivery parish
• Upper Gready (Gredyou superior) in Lanlivery parish
• Lanlivery (Lanlevery, Lanlyuery) in Lanlivery parish
• Layhays (Leslof?) in Cardinham parish
• ‘Lebiri’ [unidentified] in Cardinham parish
• Tretharrup (Trewartharape) in Luxilian parish
• Porthia Manor
• St Anthony in St Anthony in Meneage parish
• Bolenna (Bolaynow, Bolenowe) in Towednack parish
• Boscobben (Boscum) in Zennor parish
• ‘Boscomol 1′ [unidentified; possibly Boskennal in Ludgvan parish ?]
• Bosilliack (Boswolsekk) in Madron parish
• Bosoljack (Boswouleck) in Gulval parish
• Carn Bolenna (Carn Bolenow) in Towednack parish
• Carnelloe (Carnellow) in Zennor parish
• Chyangweal (Chyangwele) in Towednack parish
• Dennis (Dynese) in St Anthony in Meneage parish
• Hendra in Lelant parish
• St Ives (Ias) in St Ives parish
• Lelant (Lanant, Lananta, Lananth, Lannantha) in Lelant parish
• Malinnan (Melyn Manan,
• Myllenan) [lost] in St Anthony in Meneage parish’Melyncres’ (Myllyncrees) [unidentified]
• ‘Parkemane at Carnsu’ [unidentified]
• Pednolva (Penwolva) in St Ives parish
• Penbeagle (Penbygell) in St Ives parish
• ‘Placenor or Placetorten’ [probably in St Ives town and parish]
• Porthminster (Polmester) in St Ives parish
• Rosecaddon (Rescaden) in Manaccan parish
• Skyburrier (Scuburyowe) in St Anthony in Meneage parish
• ‘Torrm’ [?] [unidentified]
• Tregenna (Tregene) in St Ives parish
• Trewey (Trethewe) in Zennor parish
• Trevail (Treveel, Trevell) in Zennor parish
• Treveglos in Zennor parish
• ‘Treveylla’ [unidentified]
• Trenwith (Trevnwyth) in St Ives parish
• Trenant Manor
• Caffa Mills (Caghmylle, Caigthmyll, Caigthmylle) in Fowey parish
• Coombe (Comb, Combe, Legom?) in Fowey parish
• ‘Drenek’ [unidentified, presumably near to Trewalls in Fowey parish]
• Fowey in Fowey parish
• Lankelly (Nankilly) in Fowey parish
• Little Lawhyre (Lawhire Parua, Litellawhyra, Lityll Lawhere, Lytell Awhyr, Lytill Awhyre) in Fowey parish
• Lescrow (Lescrawe, Lescrowe, Loscrowe) in Fowey parish
• Long Stone (Langestone, Langiston) in Fowey parish
• Trenant Barton in Fowey parish
• Trewalls (Trewale) [lost] in Fowey parish [near Coombe]
• Trevennen Manor
• Godarricks (Godarek) in Goran parish
• Pengelly (Pengelly Pryour) in St Erme parish
• Trevaskus (Trevalscoys) in Goran parish
• Trevennen (Tremaignon, Tremanion, Tremanyon, Tremaynon, Trevanyon) in Goran parish
• Trewalla or Trewolla (Trewalaveour, Trewalavighan, Trewalemur) in Goran parish
• Tywardreath Prior Manor
• ‘Bowete’ [unidentified; possibly compare Bovewood in St Sampson Golant parish]
• Caruggatt (Carogat, Carregot, Carrogat, Carulgad, Corrogat) in Tywardreath parish
• Coldharbour (Trefory alias Coldeherber, Trevory) [lost] in Tywardreath parish
• Par (le Par) in Tywardreath parish
• Kilgogue (?Keligog, Kellygoke) in Tywardreath parish
• Lancrow moor (Lancrowemor) in Lanlivery parish [tin-works in, adjacent to Trevorry in Lanlivery parish]
• Trefingey (Trefrongye) in Tywardreath parish
• Treesmill (Treysmyll) in Tywardreath parish
• ‘Tressaveour’ (Tresaveour, Trusavor) [lost in the north part of St Austell parish]
• Tywardreath town in Tywardreath parish
• Tywardreath Manors by Parish
• Altarnun parish – Fentrigan Manor
• St Anthony in Meneage parish – Porthia Manor
• St Austell parish – St Austell Manor, Tywardreath Prior Manor
• Cardinham parish – Gready Manor
• Davidstow parish – Fentrigan Manor
• St Erme parish – Trevennen Manor
• Fowey parish – Fowey Manor, Trenant Manor
• Goran parish – Trevennen Manor
• Gulval parish – Porthia Manor
• St Ives parish – Porthia Manor
• Lanlivery parish – Gready Manor, Tywardreath Prior Manor
• Lelant parish – Porthia Manor
• Lesnewth parish – Fentrigan Manor
• Ludgvan parish – Porthia Manor
• Luxilian parish – Gready Manor
• Madron parish – Porthia Manor
• Manaccan parish – Porthia Manor
• St Sampson Golant parish – Tywardreath Prior Manor
• Towednack parish – Porthia Manor
• Tywardreath parish – Tywardreath Prior Manor
• Warbstow parish – Fentrigan Manor
• Whitstone parish – Fentrigan Manor
• Zennor parish – Porthia Manor
Life in England in the 1600’s beautifully animated.
In 1790 Robert Prowse was born in Paul, just outside Penzance. He married Grace who was born in 1800 and they had seven children. William, Grace, Robert. Margaret, Susanna, Jane and Elizabeth. They worked on the land. His brother William also had a family and settled in New Mill also just outside Penzance.
and they had William, John, James, Ann and Richard.
William  worked as a tin miner at New Mill on Mulfra Hill. He married Ellen and they had William H, Eliza E, James T and John. Eventually by 1881 he managed to buy a 13 acre farm on Mulfra Hill and their family had increased by Edwin C, Eveline J, Grosvenor and Aromulous H.
William married and had a son William Robert on 2nd October 1906. He took over the farm at Mulfra and married Dorothy Violet, born 28th December 1902. [3 days after Granddad Clifford.]
He ran the place as a farm and also as a motor dealer and general dealer. He called the place Mulfra Vean Garage and was one of the first people to get a telephone in the tiny hamlet. It was prior to WW2 and his number was Penzance 581.
They carried on running the farm and garage and eventually in the late 50’s started taking in holidaymakers for BB and evening meal.
Mulfra Quoit was one of the ancient attractions and was within walking distance of the farm. Dad used to take us to Tintagel, Merry Maidens and other places along with St Ives and Lands End. Madron Workhouse was very near and has quite a history.
I remember the evening walks down the lane to the village and Dad scaring us when he hid behind the hedges and jumped out.
I also remember how creepy the house was. There were many stuffed birds and animals about the place and I remember the musty smell. There was a stuffed Cornish Chough at the bottom of the stairs which Dad joked about for years. We ran from bed to loo in the middle of the night. Karen remembers clearly the ghost of a young girl in white standing by the bed and not going away.
Even so, I think back on the visits with fondness in spite of the really horrible paintings of dying dogs and drowning girls.
We eventually stopped visiting, I think because the meals became more boring. I do recall the last year that we had milk pudding every night. I have never touched semolina, tapioca etc since.
William died on April 1988 and Dorothy died May 1991.
Vean means small and Mul is the Cornish version of round topped hill (Welsh is moel and English is knoll) Mulfra Vean likely means farmstead on the small hill.
Pobo vean means little people or piskies.
A friend brought this video to my attention shortly after he uploaded it to YouTube.
My father and brother (both black belts) are on this clip which was broadcast on the local news back in 1991. They ran the karate club along with a couple of others. Dad appears initially at 1.06 walking behind Ron Davies and Mark shows up at various points in the clip. Mark can be seen best at 1.32 fighting with Ron during his grading.
Sad thing is, several of those who appeared are now dead. Dad died shortly after the filming, then Mark (both at a ridiculously young age), then Ron, then…
The moral of this story may be,
Don’t appear on local TV.
BTW. Mark (as was I) was a Special Constable and our colleagues had to attend his death. When they asked for volunteers from the force for his full police funeral, the list went on and on. He had a motor cycle escort and police cars and a guard of honour. The escort took us on a tour of the town which lasted 10 minutes instead of taking the hearse the 1 minute drive to the church. People stopped in the street. We were all too traumatised to record it but I did take this snap. He would have loved it – had he been alive…
The Prideaux/Pridias family had a manor house at the base of the Prideaux hill fort since prior to the Norman invasion. The dwelling was knocked down and rebuilt in an improved style many times.
The ancient manor originally comprised Great and Little Prideaux, Lestoon, Levrean, Rosemullen, Trevanney, Trenince, and Ponts Mill in Luxulyan. Stenalees in St Austell, Grediow in Lanlivery, Biscovay in St Blazey, Carroget, Kilhalland, Rosegarth and Penpillick in Tywardreath. Gubbavean in St Issey, Nanscowe in St Breaock, and moieties in Golant, one of which was called Bakers.
During the time that the Herles became named owners of the property and lands due to the male Prideaux line here dying out, the house and land was known as Prideaux Herle. Wood, Drew and Reid are among many who have recorded that the Reverend Charles Herle Prideaux who matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford was born of honourable parents at Prideaux Herle, near Lystwithyel, Cornwall in 1598. (This branch of the family are to feature in my next Bishop John Prideaux book.)
I have a description of the manor house in some of my documents.
Of the ancient seat of the Herles, which within memory formed a complete quadrangle, the eastern side only remains. This portion was built early in the fourteenth century by Thomas Herle, who was one of the stannators of the stannary of Blackmore, 22 James 1. 1624 and 12 Charles 1, 1636. It comprised a large and handsome hall, with a carved roof and armorial bosses shewing the marriage connexiots of the family and one or two inferior apartments. Over the chimney of one of the upper rooms the story of Perseus and Andromeda was represented in plaster, this with the stone stairs that led to the sleeping apartments have been removed. Over the chief entrance is a shield of twelve quarterings, surmounted with the crest of the Herles.
As the house originally stood intact, it was a venerable and interesting structure. Within the quadrangle was a well of excellent water and the only entrance which led direct to the north was from the north, which was so constructed as to appear to pass through a wall ten or twelve feet in thickness. The south and the west portions of the house were the most ancient, two of the upper rooms of which contained the arms of Prideaux, with quarterings and the family motto – In God is All.
From the Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall of 1820.
Luxulian, although wild and desolate in its general aspect, affords considerable matter for the entertainment of the tourist, namely its ancient church, two moveable stones called Logan Rocks, the venerable mansion, and decayed fortification called Prideaux Castle, and the singularly rocky valley, which opens and folds itself with astonishing grandeur through the country below.
The church is seated in moderate eminence, and with its tower, is built of wrought granite. The Gothic walls of the porch are embattled, and the ceiling very curiously ornamented. On the front over the arch, are the ancient arms of Prideaux……..
Prideaux Castle, the original seat of the Prideaux family, is supposed to have stood on an elevated spot, which has now the appearance of an ancient encampment. At a small distance on the northern side of these remains, is seated Prideaux House, which seems to have been built by the Herles, and their arms are still over the entrance. It is a rude quadrangular building, the apartments low and gloomy, and the stairs throughout are formed of moorstone. The hall, which is now used as a stable, is ornamented with shields of armorial bearings, cut in oak, and shew the marriage connexions of the Herles, during their residence at this place. The upper apartments exhibit some curious plasterwork, and on one of the chimney pieces is represented Perseus riding to the relief of Andromeda, who is represented chained to a rack, with a sea monster swimming towards her.
Medrose present house was built by the Kendalls. The hall is lined with oak, and has very curiously carved chimney piece, adorned with large human figures, and a variety of armorial bearings.
A little to the east of Prideaux Castle, stands the handsome modern mansion of John Coleman Rashleigh, esq. The best front has a southern prospect, and a coach road is carried through the grounds by an easy descent, into a small valley, which enters the great western road, at St. Blazey church town.
The Cornish Banner / An Baner Kernewek is Cornwall’s foremost cultural magazine. Now in its 41st year and having reached No. 163 it is the land’s longest running serious quarterly.
As well as providing up-to-date commentary on the current world scene the magazine deals with contemporary events in Cornwall and has articles on its history, culture and the arts by leading writers. An interesting feature looks at the history of islands and regions in other parts, putting the Cornish experience in perspective. Having completed in past issues a series on Cornish people in the 20th century, which has recently been published as a book in two volumes, the editor now has articles on Cornish personalities in the Georgian period, including Sir Francis Basset/Lord de Dunstanville, Charles Rashleigh and Christopher Wallis, a Helston attorney. Dygemysker’s “Cornish Notes”, consisting of extracts from the previous three months issues of the daily Western Morning News, provide local readers and those overseas with an invaluable record of their native land. “Cornish Gleanings” by Tom Tucker, contributions by talented poets, book reviews and shorter pieces complete the pages of Cornwall’s most distinguished journal which is well supported by local advertisers
The Early History of the Prideaux Family by A A Prideaux is featured in Edition 163 February 2016.
The Bishop and The Witch and Shudder are very different stories, but this film by Pudding Lane Productions illustrates both very well. Early 17th Century England was a fantastical place.
I had similar images in my mind when writing both books. Although this film, created by six De Montfort students taking part in the Crytek Off the Map project is of 17th century London, the model fits perfectly for early 17th century Oxford of The Bishop and The Witch and mystery century Shudder.
I wrote a narrative about a Corpse Candle in The Specials, when the character Edith Prentice nee Trewen tells a psychiatrist about her encounter with one. I based that episode on one which happened to me over a decade ago.
I was driving late from Wrenbury to Whitchurch on the back roads. It was a journey I had taken several times and never had a problem, but this night I felt lost. The narrow roads I usually took didn’t seem to be there and I turned right and left where I thought I should go, but didn’t seem to be getting nearer home. There was no phone signal, so I could call no one and I was feeling very anxious. There seemed to be a lot of electricity in the air and all the time I was trying to keep a lid on my panic, I was noticing that I could see no houses, car lights or hear any sounds. I couldn’t work out where I was and it was not until later when I went through the experience in my mind and checked on Google Maps that I worked out that it was somewhere between Marbury, Marley Green and Hollyhurst in a triangle between the meres.
I drove (unusually) slowly and suddenly there it was.
A yellow flame in the middle of the road in front of me.
I stopped the car and just held on to the steering wheel. I am not a scaredy cat type of person and always confront my fears, rather than hide from them, but this time I didn’t know what to do. The flame looked exactly like a candle flame, the same shape and the same kind of flickering. The base did not reach the ground and I estimated it to be about one metre tall and in 3D. I looked around but could not see any lights anywhere and no people. That was not unusual in itself, as you can see when you look at the map above. And it was almost midnight. I had no clue where I was. No clue.
I just stared at it for about two minutes, although to be honest I did not time myself. My mind could not compute what I was looking at. I drove a little closer and began to get out of the car to have a look. But, then I thought how stupid that would be. I was in the middle of nowhere and leaving the safety of the car might mean a criminal, a ghost or an alien could grab me, or take the car or… Think about the possibilities your frightened mind would come up with during an event like that. I thought of those and more. I have absolutely no idea why I did not take a photo, I didn’t think about that until much later.
So, I climbed back into my car, locked the doors and crept towards the flame. I did not reverse away, as I already didn’t know where I was and there was no way I could do a U turn . The flame did not move in front of me nor go out. I went on to the grass verge and went past it very slowly. The flame was hovering above the road, there was nothing igniting it, unless bare tarmac can magically produce this phenomena. I stopped next to it and checked that there was nothing on this lonely lane, bordered by narrow grass verges and hedgerows, except for this metre high flame and me. There was not.
By now, I wasn’t as scared, but still did not want to get out of the car. I felt as though I was electrified and I considered the possibility that I had died and should perhaps drive towards the light rather than around it.
But, I had a lot to do at home, so I drove quietly away instead of remaining. That was quite difficult to do though and I felt almost magnetised to the flame and wanted to stay there. Even as I drove away, I considered driving back and staying by it. I didn’t however and drove on, noticing in my rear view mirror that the flame was still there. I don’t remember much of the journey back until I arrived at the street lights of Whitchurch. Then the experience went round and round my mind, while I tried to make sense of it.
I couldn’t and although I mentioned it to a couple of people, I soon stopped when their response was, ‘Oh, it was probably just something alight which had been thrown from a car, ‘or more usually, ‘been drinking had you?’ Neither of those explanations applied.
I have thought about the phenomena on and off ever since. When I researched similar happenings, the corpse candle explanation fitted better than any other.
The only event which occurred a few weeks later and completely out of the blue, was the sudden and unexpected death of my dear brother Mark. I cannot say whether the two events are related and I have never seen a candle flame since.
Below is a copy of the Last Will and Testament of Bishop John Prideaux.
It was proved on the 20th September 1650 and the original copy of this will has been lost in the Public Records Office.
The will was written on the 20th June 1650, a month before his death. It seems he was aware that his time was coming.
In the name of God. Amen
The twentith Daie of June iun the year our of Lord God one Thousand six hundred and fiftie I John Prideaux Doctor in Divinitie Sometyme Regius Professor in the Universitie of Oxford and Bishopp of Worcester, being at present in perfect sence and memory praised bee God, Doe make this my last Will and Testament as followeth. I doe first commend my Soule to God And my bodie to be buryed in the Chancell of the parish Church of Breedon according to the discretion of my Executors. Item I doe protest that I dye in the true Christian Faith firmely beleevinge and houldinge the Doctrine Worshipp and Discipline established and professed in the Church of England, in the reigne of Queene Elizabeth King James and the beginninge of the raigne of the late Kinge Charles as I have alwayes professed mayneteyned and defended the same in my severall places and callings. Item I doe give and bequeath to Mary Prideaux my beloved wife my great guilt Bible and booke of common prayer bound upp with the Homilies of the Church of England. Item to my said deare wife I give my Episcopall Seale. Item to my said deare wife I give two bonds or obligacons of the summe of One Thousand poundes for the payment of five hundred poundes due from Thomas Reynell of Ogwell in the Countie of Devon Esquire. Item to her my said deare wife I give and bequeath one hundred poundes in gould. which she knoweth of, and already hath in her own possession. Item to her my said deare wife I give my best bedd with the furniture thereunto belonginge. Item to her my said deare wife I give two Bedds for her Servaunts. Item to her my said deare wife I give All my plate,my great Cedar Chest. Item all my Lynnen I give and bequeath to my said deare wife and my Two Daughters Sara Hodges and Elizabeth Sutton to bee equally devided betweene them. Item I doe give and bequeath to my Sonne in Lawe Henry Sutton Clarke All that me Messuage or Tenement acituate and beings neare unto Exeter Colledge in the Cittie of Oxford with all tenements and hereditaments thereunto belonging. To have and to hould to him the said Henry Sutton his Executots and assignes unto the End and terme of all the yeares which I have or ought to have therein, Together with all much Indentures of lease whereby I hold the same. Item I give and bequeath to my Two Sonnes in Lawe William Hodges and trhe aforesaid Henry Sutton Al;l my Bookes to be equally devyded betweene them. All the rest og my goods and Chattells unbequeathed I give to my said Two Sonnes in Lawe William Hodges and Henry Sutton whom I nomynate and appointe joynt Executors of this my Last Will and Testament. Jo: Prideaux, Sealed and subscribed in the presence of Ric. Goslinge Elizabeth Pope Elizabeth Stock
There rose a rumour, seemingley begun by a Later Bishop of Worcester, John Gauden, that John Prideaux was living in poverty. This myth has been perpetuated in writings.John had certainly lost a great deal following his removal of his Bishopric and his livings by the Rebels, but this Will shows that he still had much to leave.
Gauden and others had taken on face value John’s joke when asked
How doth your Lordship do?
Never better in my Life, only I have too great a Stomach; for I have eaten that little Plate which the Sequestrators left me, I have eaten a great Library of excellent Books, I have eaten a great deal of Linen, much of my Brass, some of my Pewter, and now I am come to eat Iron, and what will come next I know not.
Among the friends and associates of John Prideaux were poets and writers. Some of these recorded in beautiful prose, the events of his life. Of course, this was before A A Prideaux decided to do that too…
His beloved daughter Mary who was baptised on the 10th February 1617 and buried on the 9th December 1624. She died of an unrecorded illness. However, the following poem suggests that Mary was born with birth abnormalities which may have led to her early death. The poet refers to her now straightened body after death. John’s son Robert was baptised on the 14th May 1624 and buried in Exeter College on September 17th 1627. He had accidentally swallowed some poison and took ten agonising hours to die. It was only one month after his mother had died. The second poem is about his sad death.
The following two poems were published in 1656 as ‘Musarum Deliciæ or the Muses’s Recreation’. They were taken from the dueling muses written between two wits of the day, Archdeacon of Barnstaple Dr. James Smith and Sir John Mennis.
Happy Grave thou dost enshrine
That which makes thee a rich Myne,
Yet remember, ’tis but loane,
And we look for back our owne.
The very same, marke me, the same,
Thou shalt not cheat us with a Lame
Deformed Carcasse ; this was faire,
Fresh as morning, soft as Ayre ;
Purer then other flesh as faire
As other Soules their bodies are :
And that thou maist the better see
To finde her out, two starres there be
Eclipsed now ; uncloud but those,
And they will point thee to the Rose
That dy’d each Cheek, now pale and wan,
But will be, when she wakes againe
Fresher then ever ; and how ere
Her long sleep may alter her,
Her Soul will know her Body streight,
‘Twas made so fit for’t, no deceipt
Can suit another to it, none
Cloath it so neatly as its owne
Here lyes his Parents hopes and fears,
Once all their joyes, now all their tears,
He’s now past sence, past fear of paine,
‘Twere sin to wish him here againe.
Had it liv’d to have been a Man,
This Inch had grown but to a span;
And now he takes up the lesse room,
Rock’d from his Cradle to his Tomb.
Tis better dye a child, at four,
Then live and dye so at fourscore.
View but the way by which we come,
Thou’lt say, he’s best, that’s first at home.
Further poetry was written about Mary’s death by William Strode, a former student of John and associate. They were not always on the same side.
Sleep pretty one, O sleep whilst I
Sing thee thy latest lullaby,
And may my song be but as thee,
Ne’er was sweeter harmony.
Thus whilst our prayers were at strife,
Thine for thy death, ours for thy life,
thine did prevail, and on their wings
Transport thy soul, where now it sings
And ne’er shall complain any more
But for not being there before.
Let her parents now confess
That they believe her happiness
Which tears question. Think as you
Lento her the world, heaven lent you,
And is it just then to complain
When each hath but its own again?
Then think that both your glories are
For her preferment. for ’tis far
Nobler to get a saint, and bear
A child to heaven, than an heir
To a large empire.
Weep not because this child hath died so young
But weep because yourselves have lived so long,
Ripeness is from ourselves, and then we die
When nature hath obtained maturity.
Summer and Winter fruits there be, and all
Not at one time, but being ripe do fall.
Death did not err, the mourners are beguiled,
She died, more like a mother than a child.
Add only to her growth some inches more,
She took up now what due was at three score.
Is Prideaux dead? he lives after his death by his writings
Death removes the mitre, which is replaced by a crown.
If by the fall of Luminaries we
may safely guess the world’s catasrophe
The signs are all fulfilled, the tokens shown
That scarce man has any of his own
Only the Jew’s conversion some doubt bred
But that’s confused now the Doctor’s dead.
Great Atlas of Religion since thy fate
Proclaims our loss too soon out tears too late
Where shall our bleeding Church a Champion
to grasp with Heresie? Or to maintain gain
Her conflict with the Devil? For the ods
Runs by byased fix to four against the gods.
Hell lifts again and the engagements flies
With winged zeal throng all the Sectaries
That should the soundly into question fall
We were within a vote of none at all
But this can hap upon a single death?
Yes for thou were the treasure of our breath
That pious Arch whereupon the building stood
Which broke, the whole’s devolved into a flood,
An inundation that ore bears the bancks
And bounds of all religion. If some flancks
Shew their emergent heads Like Seth’s famed
Th’are monuments of thy devotion gone
No wonder then the rambling Spirit stray
In thee the body fell and slipt away
Hence tis the pulpit swells with exhalations
Intricate Nonsense travell’d from all Nations
Notions refin’d to doubts and maxims squeez’d
With tedious hick-ups till the sence grows’ freez’d
If ought shall chance to drop we may call good.
Tis thy distinction makes it understood
Thy glorious sun made ours a perfect day
Our influence took its being from thy ray
Thine was that Gideon’s fleece when all stood dry
Pearl’d with celestial dew shower’d from O’n high if spread
But now thy night is come our shades are
And living here we move among the dead
Perhaps an Ignis fatuus now and then
Starts up in holes, stinks and goes out agen.
Such Kicksee Winsee flames shew but how dear
Thy great lights would be here
A Brother with five loaves and two small fishes
A table book of sighs books and wishes.
Startles Religion more at one strong doubt
Than what they mean as the candle’s out
But I profane thy ashes (gracious soul)
Thy spirit flew too high to trust these foul
Gnostick opinions. Thou desired to meet
Such tenents that durst stand upon their feet
And beard the truth with as intens’d a zeal
As Saint, upon fall night quilt a meal
Rome never tremblled till thy piercing eye
Darted her through and crushed the mystery
Thy revealation made St Johns compleat
Babylon fell indeed but twas thy sweat
And oyl perfomed the work, to what we see,
Foretold in misty types foretold in thee
Some shallow lines were drawn and sconces made
By smatteters in the arts to drive a trade
Of words between us, but that proved no more
Then threats in cowing feathers to give ore
Thy fancy laid the siege that wrought her fall
Thy batteries commanded around the wall
Not poor loop hole error could sneak by
No not the Abbess to the Friery
Though her disguise as close and subtely good
As when she wore Monk’s hose for hood
And if perhaps their French or Spanish wine
Had filled them full of beads and Bellarmine
That they durst salley or attempta guard
Oh how thy busy brain would beat and ward
Rally and reinforce! rout! and relieve!
Double reserves and then an onset give
Like marshalled thunder backed with flames of fire!
Storms mixed with storms! Passions with globes of ire!
Yet so well disciplined that judgment still
Sway’d and not rash commissionated will
No, words in thee knew order, time and place.
The instant of a charge or when to face
When to pursue advantage where to halt
When to draw off and where to re-assault
Such sure commands stream’d from thee, that twas one
With thee to vanquish as to look upon
So tht they ruined foes grovelling confess
Thy conquests were their fate and happiness
Npr was it all their busniess here to war
With foreign forces. But thy active star
Could course a home bred mist a native sin
And shew it’s guilt’s degrees, how and wherein
Then sentence and expell it. Thus thy Sun
An everlasting strage in labour run
So that its motion to an eye of man
Wav’d still in compleat Meridian
But these are but fair comments of our loss
The Glory of a Church now on the Cross
The transcript of that beauty once we had.
Whilest with the lustre of thy presence clad
But tho art gone (Brave Soul) and with thee all
The gallantry of Arts Polemical
Nothing remains as primitive but talk
But that our priests in Leather walk
A flying ministry of horse and foot
Things that can start a text and ne’er come to o’t
Teazers of doctrines which in long sleeved
Run down a sermon all upon the nose (prose
These like dull glow worms twinckle in the
The frightened Land Skips of an absent light
But thy rich flames withdrawn, Heaven caught
Thy glories were grown ripe for recompense
And therefore to prevent our weak effaies
Th’art crewn’d an Angel with coelestial Ba’yes
And there thy ravished soul meets field and fire
Beauties enough to fill it’s strong desire
The contemplation of a present God
Perfections in the womb the very road
and Essences of vertues as they be
Streaming and mixing in Eternity
Whilst we possess a soul but in a vail
Like earth confined, catch Heaven by retail
Such a dark Panthorn age, such jealous dayes
Men tread on snakes, sleep in Battaliaes
Walk like conessors, hear but must not lay
What the bold world dares act and what may
And yet here all votes Commons and Lords agree
The Crosier fell in Laud, the Cross in thee.
I have read and reread the above poem and Cleveland either knew John Prideaux well, or listened to his friends. He knew so many things about him. The poem also illustrates how well the Bishop was thought of and how pious he was. John really understood the meaning of his Bible.
His son William Prideaux who described himself as a chatterbox and a talkative boy, had four of his own lines included in Epithalamia Oxoniensia in 1625, on the marriage of Charles I and Henrietta. A great honour for an eleven year old boy.
Garrule, si quaeras. tibi quis, puer, addidit alas,
Inter tot Charites, ut tua Musa volet?
Cum sponsam constet Carolum duxisse Mariam,
Inde Tui similis quilibet esse cupit.
Guilielmus Prideaux, Doctoris fil e Col. Exon.
If you ask, you talkative boy, who amongst so many Graces
has added wings to you, so that your Muse may fly,
since it ius well known that Charles has married Maria,
his bride, then everybody wants to be like you.
William Prideaux, son of Doctor Prideaux of Exeter College
William became a Colonel in the King’s Troop and was killed at Marston Moor in 1644.
William Stukeley wrote in his memoirs of him.
He (William) raised a Regiment in favour of the Royal Party, and maintained it at his own Charge.
He was a very valiant man, and slew 14 or 16 of the Rebels with his own hand at the Battle of Marston Moor, where he received his Death’s wound.
The grandfather of this William Stukeley, took Ellen Crossland as a second wife. Ellen was William’s widow.
John Prince wrote of William Prideaux,
the Doctor was wont pleasantly to say, He maintained free-will.
Are you trying to make out what the little child is saying? Read, you will die as did Mathias Prideaux, the Rector’s son, who was the first one to be buried in this chapel after its foundation.
Tristram Risdon (1580-1640) was the renowned author of ‘Risdon’s Survey of Devon’ a tome he worked on solidly between 1605 and 1630. Risdon travelled every inch of Devon documenting the families, houses and towns there. Although he borrowed from Sir William Pole’s ‘Collections towards the Description of the Country of Devon’, his work was largely first hand.
The work was first published in a heavily edited serial form by Edmund Curll in 1714 and then in it’s full form in 1810, a copy of which I possess.
It is a thorough and delightful description and easily readable. There are so many nuggets of information within, many of which would be very useful to the family historian, if only they knew. I used it during my research as the Prideaux family and their holdings are mentioned many times.
There was one entry which attracted my attention, when referring to the Stretchleigh manor, situated in the middle of Prideaux properties in south west Devon, a little south of Ivybridge.
In this signiory A.D. 1623, there fell from above a stone of twenty three pounds weight, which in falling made a fearful noise, first like a rumbling of a piece of ordinance, which in descending lower, lessened, and ended when upon the ground no louder than the report of a petronel; it was composed of matter like a stone singed or half burnt for lime.
A signiory is the land or manor owned and controlled by a seignior or feudal lord. Seignior is also a derivative of senior, monseigneur, monsieur etc.
A petronel was a firearm of the time.
A culverin was an old musket.
An aerolite is another term for meteorite.
This Stretchleigh Meteorite has been recorded in several pamphlets and books.
In ‘A View of Devonshire’ written in 1630 by Thomas Westcote, gent. stated in very similar terms, the following.
“In some part of this manor (Strechley) there fell from above, 1625*[a probable misprint for 1623]–I cannot say from heaven–a stone of twenty-three pounds weight, with a great and fearful noise in falling, first it was heard like unto thunder, or rather to be thought the report of some great ordnance, cannon, or culverin; and as it descended so did the noise lessen, at last, when it came to the earth, to the height of the report of a peternel, or pistol. It was for matter like unto a stone singed, or half burnt for lime; but being larger described by a richer wit, I will forbear to enlarge on it.”
This “richer wit” had been the author of a pamphlet published at the time.
this aerolite as having fallen on January 10th, 1623, in an orchard, near some men who were planting trees. It was buried in the ground three feet deep, and its dimensions were three feet and a half in length, two feet and a half in breadth, and one foot and a half in thickness. The pieces broken from off it were in the possession of many of the neighbouring gentry.
The Stretchleigh Meteorite has been recorded in a couple of pamphlets and books. In ‘A View of Devonshire’ written in 1630 via Thomas Westcote, gent. said: “I can not say from heaven–a stone of twenty-three pounds weight, with a super and anxious noise in falling, first it used to be heard like unto thunder…”
[Lysons’ Magna Britannia. vol. vi, pt. 2; Devon, pp. 175, 176.] notes that this pamphlet also describes,
three suns seen at Tregony, in Cornwall, in 1622.
This phenomena likely refers to the optical illusion parhelion, when light interacts with ice crystals in the atmosphere. A halo effect is created, bringing the image of the sun to the right and left of the actual sun. It occurs mainly when the sun is near the horizon. When this phenomena occurred prior to the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, Edward VI used it in order to rally his troops.
In ‘Contributions towards a History of British Meteorites’, by T.M. Hall. Mineralogical Magazine, volume 3, April, 1879 the author states in reference to the Stretchleigh Meteor and the three suns of Tregony.
In 1869 I called especial attention to the Ermington meteorite in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association*[vol. III, pp. 75, 78.] in the hope of obtaining some clue as to the subsequent history of any of these portions, but so far, my enquiries have been unsuccessful. From the description it is highly improbable that it could have been an iron meteorite, and from comparing the weight with the size it would appear that either the latter must have been very much exaggerated by the writer of the pamphlet, or that Risdon and Westcote must have been mistaken in the weight.
As it is, there appears to be no trace of this meteorite around now. How wonderful to think that there are some stones lying about a garden or a field, with such a history.
The Meteoritical Society has listed the Stretchleigh meteor here.
The site of the meteor fall is 50° 23’N, 3° 57’W.