Prideaux Manor

Prideaux Manor

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.

Lake states,

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.

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An Baner Kernewek

An Baner Kernewek

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

Annual post subscription – inland £15.00, Continent £20.00, airmail £25.00.

An Baner Kernewek

The Early History of the Prideaux Family by A A Prideaux is featured in Edition 163 February 2016.


A Corpse Candle in rural Cheshire

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.



Bishop John Prideaux – His Will

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.

Bishop John Prideaux – His Will

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?

John answered.

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.

The Bishop and the Witch


Stretchleigh Meteorite

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.


John Prideaux Bishop of Worcester – Biography


  • Born in Stowford, Devon 17th September 1578
  • Died at Bredon, Worcestershire 29th July 1650  (aged 72 years) of a fever
  • Buried at Bredon, Worcestershire 16th August 1650
  • Married in 1612, Anne Goodwin, daughter of William Goodwin. Died  August 11th 1627 and buried in St. Michael’s, Oxford
  • Married in 1628, Mary (Marie) Rendell, daughter of Sir Thomas Reynell of Ogwell, nr. Newton Abbott
  • Children by Anne:
  • 1614 William, bapt Devon . Matriculated at Exeter College and later became a Col. in Kings army, killed at Marston Moor, 1644
  • 1617 Mary, bapt. 10th February, buried 9th December 1624
  • 1618  Anne, bapt. 3rd March 1618, St. Michael’s, Oxford, buried 29th September 1624
  • 1619  Sarah, bapt. 15th December 1619, St. Michael’s, Oxford, marr. William Hodges died 17th April 1652, bur. Ripple, Worcs.
  • 1621 Elizabeth, bapt. 25th March 1621, St. Michael’s, Oxford, marr.  Henry Sutton died 2nd February 1659/60, bur. Bredon, Worcs.
  • 1622 Matthias, bapt. 1st September 1622, Exeter College Chapel, buried  17th February in 1625 February but died 14th September 1624. John buried him after consecrating the new Chapel at Exeter College.
  • 1622 John, bapt. 1st September 1622, Exeter College Chapel, bur. 1st August 1636
  • 1624 Robert, bapt. 14th May 1624, Exeter College Chapel, died of poisoning, buried 14th September 1627. He accidentally swallowed poison and took ten hours to die in agony. It was one month after his mother had died.
  • 1625 Mathias who matriculated at Exeter Collge and became a Captain in King’s Army. Author of “All Sortes of Histories….” Died in London of Smallpox in 1646.
  • No children by Mary
  • Several poems were written for the children after they died and some can be read here. 
  • John walked the 170 miles to Oxford under sponsorship of Lady Fowel in 1596
  • Pupil at Exeter College under Mr. William Helme, B.D. 1596
  • He matriculated from Exeter College Oxford 14 Oct 1596
  • A. 31st January 1599
  • Elected Fellow of Exeter College 30th Jun 1601
  • M.A. 30th Jun 1603
  • Took Holy Orders
  • Gave evidence at the Star Chamber in regard to the Gunter Witch case in 1606
  • Chaplain and tutor to Prince Henry the son of King James and later to King James and King Charles I
  • Fellow of Chelsea College 1609
  • D. 6th May 1611
  • Elected Rector of Exeter College 4th April 1612
  • D. 30th May 1612;
  • Vicar of Bampton 17th July 1614
  • Regius professor of divinity at Oxford 1615
  • Vice-Chancellor Oxford University, July 1619 to July 1621. July 1624 to 1626, and from 7 Oct. 1641 to 7 Feb. 1624/5
  • Canon of Christ Church 16th Mar 1616
  • Vicar of Chalgrove 1620
  • Canon at Salisbury Cathedral, 17th Jun 1620
  • Rector of Ewelme 1629
  • Rector, St. Martin’s, Bladon, Oxfordshire 1st Apr 1625 to 1641
  • Plaque erected at Harford Church 20th July 1639
  • Member of Lords’ committee 1 March 1640-1 to meet in the Jerusalem chamber and discuss plans of church reform under the lead of Williams
  • Bishop of Worcester, appointed 22nd November 1641, consecrated at Westminster 19th December 1641. He was a loyalist, and the surrender of Worcester to the Parliamentary forces in 1646 ended his episcopate. He is listed as being Bishop until his death in 1650
  • He spent his last years with his daughter and son-in-law who was the Rector of Bredon
  • He was a prolific writer, mainly in Latin, his principal works in English being The Doctrine of the Sabbath (London, 1634), and Sacred Eloquence (1659); he also wrote on devotional subjects. He had many pamphlets and books published, most which are in print nowJPx Book
  • Many of the great and the good attended his funeral
  • There are tributes to him in many books and pamphlets
  • Look here for lots of photographs relevant to John Prideaux

Bishop John Prideaux 1578 – 1650

Cover Version 2

Bishop John Prideaux is the star of A A Prideaux’s novel, The Bishop and The Witch.
As such, his life and history is dramatised in that novel and subsequent novels in the series.  Here I attach the Authors Epilogue to the book and the Bibliography.

     AUTHOR’S EPILOGUE NPG D22907; John Prideaux by William Faithorne

I began researching my family history many years ago. During that research I came across John Prideaux, a Stowford blood ancestor who ultimately became the Bishop of Worcester. He was involved in so many significant events during his busy life that he was easy to find in many articles, books and archives. Apart from the biography list, there is no central point where his life and achievements are described in any detail. I eventually managed to collect together all the references, facts and figures that I found.  Initially, I wanted to write a factual and historical book, but found it to be dry and unemotional. I wish I could write about history in the style of one of my heroes. A. L. Rowse, but sadly I cannot. So my plans changed and I decided to put my spin on the life John may have had between the known facts, in an effort to bring him to life.  I have so much research on JPx (as I refer to him in my notes) that I now intend to write a series of books about him and hopefully each one will not take the eight years it has taken to bring this one together.  I have enough research for two or three further books and so that could take me…. a while.
I researched the history of Oxford, Exeter College, North Moreton and all of the characters featured in the story.  I tried to ensure that each person could have been in the right place at the right time.  And I think generally that they were. I am sure you will tell me if I am wrong.  I really don’t mind if you do.
I visited Worcester Cathedral, Bredon, Harford, Stowford, Salisbury and Oxford while I was tracking him down. I stayed at the home of the Gunter family at The Rectory at North Moreton and visited the church and ate at the Bear Inn and walked the lanes and tracks there.  I was allowed in the Worcester Cathedral Library to go through John’s own books and walked in his footsteps in his childhood village, church and school. I can only guess what he was really like, but I have been following him for so long that he became my friend along the way and gave me glimpses of his personality. His framed picture looks at me from four rooms in this house alone and his eyes follow me everywhere. I feel so many times that his ghost is tailing me. I feel it now. I believe he approves of my personification of him, but perhaps I am delusional.
I have checked and checked the facts of his life and his contemporaries, but there may be errors and for that I apologise. What I don’t apologise for, is my linking those facts together and putting my interpretation on what propelled him from one fact to another. I can’t prove that he did this or that and equally you cannot prove that he didn’t.
Most of the people involved in this story actually lived and were contemporaries of his. Many of the places still exist, although they have been modernised and added to many times. His likeness can be viewed in several places and after I collected all the information together, his personality and style shone out. The bullet points of his life are available online, but that is not the same as marrying it all together.  I hope I make you understand how he matured and I hope you get to like him.
I have a copy of his Will and that is very interesting reading. He wrote several books and pamphlets and owned lots more. Many of his owned books are at Worcester Cathedral Library and John has written in many of them. He seemed to be trying to find his peace with God.  He wrote ‘Euchologia’ for his daughters, giving them instructions on how to live a good life through prayer and join him in Heaven. His scribblings though, did give a clue to his worries about whether he would end up there.
He enjoyed a lifetime of debating the Bible teachings and had been involved in the translation of the King James Bible along with his fellow worthy contemporaries. Following his involvement with the Gunters, he became tutor to Prince Henry and Prince Charles because King James valued his loyalty and knowledge. JPx continued during his long and successful involvement with Exeter College with the friendship and ear of Charles I.
It was King Charles who made him Bishop of Worcester during the Civil War. The bishopric was taken from him when Worcester fell. JPx was almost a broken man once he was stripped of his roles and livings and was incredibly lucky to escape with his life. Many of his contemporaries did not.
It was written somewhere following his death and then widely copied, that after his downfall, he was poverty stricken. His Will however, does not show that. He had lost much following the arrest of Charles, his livings, his positions, his titles and many of his friends. But he still managed to leave several valuable items to his family.  Further checking shows that these possessions such as King Henry’s staffe, his large collection of rare books and silver plate, were sold off by his grandchildren. These have been scattered around the world.
This book is called ‘The Bishop and the Witch’ and although JPx was not a bishop during this time, each book in the series will be called ‘The Bishop and….’
While writing I have tried to keep facts as accurate as possible, but sometimes found anomalies which are difficult to overcome. As an example, I searched for the day of the week for 30th October 1605 on an established website to be informed that it was a Sunday. But the letter in the archives of the papers of Robert Cecil record, that the letter from Richard Neile about not being able to send Anne for examination on that day, was apparently a Wednesday. Now I know that this could have been recorded incorrectly and so I tried to establish facts elsewhere. Instead I chose not to mention the day, merely the date.  You see why it has taken me eight years? Don’t get me started on the twirling gate…
Several people mention JPx in their books and research and I shall try and list all the ones I know of in the Bibliography at the end of this book.
Below is a list the facts known which I joined together for the fictional/factual tale you have already read. Perhaps you have turned directly to this page and for that I shall punish you by giving you few dramatic details.

  • John Prideaux did walk the 170 miles from Stowford to Oxford in the clothes he kept in his closets until the end of his life, so that he could never forget his beginnings. The dates I gave are approximate, but I don’t think I can be far out.
  • The prayer was a Prideaux prayer handed down through his family and used as a means of warding off illness, bad luck and perhaps, demons. I mention it in many of the Prideaux stories. JPx talked about the prayer regularly and taught it to his daughters in his latter years.
  • He signed himself as John Worcester once he became Bishop.
  • The first born son of his parent’s was called John, but he died almost immediately. It was said that the son born praying would become a great man. This child was our Bishop John.
  • The Gunters were living in North Moreton in 1596 and John’s walk would have taken him within a couple of miles of their village. Anne was a young girl at the time.
  • Brian Gunter was known to assault Anne, it was reported in Star Chamber records.
  • The football match of 1598 took place and the two Gregory men were killed by Brian Gunter. The story is written in many records both parish and courts of the time. There was a great deal of ill feeling between the families.
  • Anne Gunter had terrible fits and body movements as described throughout this story. She also constantly vomited or found pins. Her body swelled and her head turned and her ankles twisted. Not all of the fits could be put down to fakery.
  • Elizabeth Gregory gave birth around the time of Anne’s fits and complained that Anne’s spirit was harassing her during childbirth.
  • Once released from prison, Brian Gunter continued to live in his usual stroppy and vindictive manner until 1628 when he died in Oxford. He is buried there, he survived his wife by 11 years. She died at North Moreton and was buried in the church.
  • There is no record of Anne either returning or contacting her family after 1606 and she is not mentioned in any wills or documents that I have found. She did tell the King that she had fallen for a servant of Bancroft named Ashley and the King agreed to give her a dowry.
  • Anne Gunter eventually confessed all to King James during an examination.
  • Gilbert Bradshawe suffered several assaults in the years following the trial. These attacks were from Brian and his family and included Susan Holland who became prone to violence once her husband was dead.  Apparently the Gunters wanted him out of the church. Gilbert took his case to the Star Chamber in 1620.
  • Thomas Holland, the Regius Professor of Divinity and Rector of Exeter College lived (1539 – 1612. ) was 40 years older than his wife Susan Gunter, but they managed to have 6 children. John Prideaux succeeded him as Rector upon his death and as Regius Professor in 1615. He was one of the translators of the Bible.
  • Dr Richard Neile (1562 – 1640) was chaplain to Robert Cecil and became Dean of Westminster on 5th November 1605, the day Parliament was to reconvene. He could have been blown up had the treasonous plot been successful, but he wasn’t. He became Bishop of Rochester, Lichfield and Coventry, Lincoln, Durham and Winchester. He often sat at the Star Chamber, the Gunter trial being one of the cases.
  • Samuel Harsnett (1561-1631) was another man with a heady career. He was chaplain to the Archbishop Bancroft. He later became Bishop of Norwich and Bishop of Chichester. At the time of this story he was a resident at Chigwell, where he later established a school and he also had the living at Shenfield.
  • Richard Bancroft (1544 – 1610) was a great favourite of King James and became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1604 and oversaw the translation of the King James Bible. He was with Queen Elizabeth when she died, but he didn’t kill her… He was also Bishop of London. Although a Cambridge man he became Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1608 until his death.
  • William Laud (1573 – 1645) was John Prideaux’s nemesis for much of their parallel careers. He was a homosexual, a fact which matters not a jot these days quite rightly, but back then he needed to hide his feelings.  He was chaplain to Richard Neile and became Dean of Gloucester and Bishop of St Davids. He later became Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury during Charles 1 reign, but he made many enemies. Once he established a religious point of view he would force it through with little regard for other opinions. In 1640 he was accused of treason, but at his trial there were only a few who could agree a treasonable charge. Personal vendettas came into play and Laud was sentenced to death, although on no specific charge. In spite of a Royal pardon he was beheaded and died with dignity at 72 years old. Although John Prideaux had argued with him for much of his life, it seems likely that he would miss him once he was gone.
  • William Helme was tutor to John in his early Oxford years. He was a fellow of the college until 1615 when he left to become a vicar until his death in 1639.
  • The map of Oxford drawn by John Speed and reproduced in this book was drawn in 1605 and shows the layout of Oxford and the colleges and streets at the time of this story.
  • Turl Street which runs along the western perimeter of Exeter College was so named as it led from the turnstile in the north wall. The turnstile also known as the ‘twirl’ or ‘twirling gate’ was to keep cows and other animals out of the city.
  • John Prideaux assisted with the translation of The King James Bible.
  • The story of Dr Rowland Taylor is a true one.  He was one of the martyrs during Queen Mary’s reign. Miss Goodwin eventually became John’s first wife and mother of his children. He wrote about her in books and letters to his daughters near the end of his life.
  • John Prideaux surveyed the college during his tenure and oversaw many changes.  Excellent details and maps can be found here.
  • On the NW corner of the college fronting Turl Street between the chapel and the more modern looking building on the corner with Broad Street is known as Prideaux buildings and the front is all that remains of the house he built.
  • On either side of the wall to which parts of the college abutted, were ditches and small ponds full of black mud which often flooded into the college.
  • Elizabeth Gregory, Mary and Anne Pepwell were the three North Moreton women accused of witchcraft. They were found innocent of bewitchment at their trial in 1604.
  • He buried his wife and children either at St Michael at the North Gate or at Exeter College Chapel. His son Mathias was the first buried at Exeter following its foundation and the inscription reads ‘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.
  • There were poems written about each child as he/she died young and are still available here.
  • From his nine born children, only two daughters survived John.
  • John Cleveland wrote a long poem about JPx upon his death.  It can be read in John Cleveland’s Poems.
  • The likeness of John Prideaux can be found online.
  • The Bear Inn at North Moreton.


The words and pictures in following books, pamphlets and links have not been copied, or quoted, but I thought it would be helpful to researchers to have an idea where to look for more information on Cornwall, Devon, the Prideaux family and the Gunter family. I have many books which may also help in research, but have not listed them all here.

  • An Obscure Place by Louise Ryan.
  • A West Country Clan by R M Prideaux
  • A Devon Family. The Story of the Aclands by Anne Acland
  • Survey of Cornwall 1602 by Richard Carew
  • Sir Bevill Grenville and his times by John Stucley
  • Highways and Byways in Devon and Cornwall by Joseph Pennell and Hugh Thomson
  • Devon Its Moorlands, Streams and Coasts by Lady Rosalind Northcote
  • Survey of the County of Devon by Tristram Risdon
  • The Cornish Witch-finder by William Henry Paynter
  • Catholic and Reformed by Anthony Milton
  • The Hammer of Witches (Malleus Maleficarum) by Christopher S Mackay
  • The Bewitching of Anne Gunter by James Sharpe
  • Cecil Papers
  • Oxford History
  • North Moreton History
  • A selection of poems about the children of John Prideaux. (Sadly, after their deaths)
  • John Cleveland’s poem written as a Eulogy for John Prideaux.
  • History of Exeter College
  • Dictionary of National Biography
  • The Doctrine of Practical Praying by John Prideaux
  • North Moreton church registers
  • Public Record Office
  • Victorian County History of Berkshire vol iii
  • A British Library search brings up at least 50 books referencing John Prideaux
  • A guide to Harford Parish Church
  • The Heraldry of Worcestershire
  • An Historical Account of the Lives and Deaths of the Most Eminent and Evangelical  Authors and Preachers by the Rev. Erasmus Middleton
  • Lives of Individuals by R A Davenport
  • A History of North Moreton by Gerald Howat
  • Laudian and royalist polemic in 17thC England by Anthony Milton
  • Personal papers, books and documents of A A Prideaux.

APx at Worcester Cathedral

A A Prideaux at Worcester Cathedral

 The Bishop and the Witch is published by Paganus Publishing.

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