Paganus Prideaux 1040 – 1100 Lord of Prideaux

Sir John MacLean wrote

The name and family of Prideaux is of great antiquity in Cornwall. Soon after the Norman Conquest we find a family seated at Prideaux Castle in the parish of Luxullion and some have attributed to it a British origin. The first of the name of whom we have any record is Paganus or Pagan Pridieaux who in the pedigree registered in the Heralds College is described as Pagan Prideaux, Lord of Prideaux in the Conquest time. 

There has been much debate about whether Paganus came to Cornwall with the Conqueror or whether he was already here. This stems from the fact that the family have been known by the French sounding Prideaux for so many years.There are various points of view on the origination of the name Prideaux. In French it could mean ‘praying or worshipping God’, or ‘by water’. I have also considered the idea that the Cornish Tredwr which means settlement by the water, could have been an origin of the name. The sea certainly used to lap the edges of the Prideaux holdings at one time, although no longer, as will be examined later.
However, the family were known as Pridias before they became Prideaux and later some branches of the family became Priddis, Priddy and combinations thereof.  The Prideaux name was attached to Lord Paganus retrospectively. I have come to the conclusion that Pridias developed from the Old Cornish Prid (clay) and als/aus (cliff). The land stopped at what is now St. Blazey and the se came inland beyond Tywardreath and further inland.
Paganus Prideaux is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, the famous census of lands and its occupants which was drawn up twenty years after the Norman invasion as a means of collecting taxes. If Paganus came to this country with William, then his Prideaux name was dropped immediately he took over the lands around Tywardreath and Luxulyan, for his descendants were known as Pridias during the next generation. Had Paganus been a French invader, there would have been a more detailed family history and as there does not appear to be any record of a Prideaux on the continent prior to the invasion, I am convinced the roots of the family are Celtic. Indeed, the  Normans would have been happy to write about the origins of Richard and his father, had they travelled from France. It was the Normans who wrote about Paganus when referring to Richard Pridias, a man accepted as an associate only a generation later. Richard was refered to as Richard Pridias in all documentation of the time.
Until relatively recently, people were known by the name of their trade or their land or their master. It was a way to identify one man from another. In Saxon times the clan would take the name of their chief. R.M. Prideaux who wrote the wonderfully researched work, ‘A West Country Clan’, considers the Prideauxs to be a clan. This book rarely comes on the market, but  must be read by any serious family tree researcher of the Prideaux line. They will learn  that every blood Prideaux descends from this man.
I believe that Paganus was living in Cornwall at the time of the invasion. He was a clan chieftain of a long established line, surrounded by  family and neighbours and used to dealing and negotiating with invaders.

A Coat of Arms was granted to the Prideauxs on the 9th March 1874 by the College of Arms, making Paganus officially recognised.  A Pedigree was submitted by Stephen Isaacson Tucker, Rouge Croix Pursuivant [junior office at arms] of the College. This was taken from the heraldic visitation of Cornwall in 1620.
Paganus was the father of two sons, Richard and Philip. Little  is known of Philip, so I assume he did not survive long enough to produce a family.
The Domesday entry for the area reads,

Richard holds TYWARDREATH from the Count. Cola held it before 1066 and paid tax for one hide, 2 hides there, however land for 12 ploughs, in Lordship 4 ploughs, 7 slaves, 8 villagers and 18 small holders with 3 ploughs and the rest of the land. Woodland 6 acres, pasture 100 acres. Formerly £4, value now 40s, 11 cattle, 12 pigs, 200 sheep.

A hide tended to be about 120 acres and the pasture and woodland would have been in addition to that.
Domesday also notes that.

Lanescot is a much smaller manor and was held by Albert before 1066

Albert would have been another Saxon.
If Paganus was born in 1040, then he would have been around 26 years of age when William the Conqueror arrived. If he had his son Richard around 1070 and Richard died in 1122, Richard would have been aged 52 years old.   Richard’s son Baldwin died in 1169 and he must have been born in 1109, because of a charter he signed when he just come of age. I admit to fitting these ages around the facts I know, Baldwin dying in 1169 and Paganus being around as a man when the Conqueror invaded, but I doubt they are far wrong.

More can be read about Paganus in ‘Blood of the Lyon Men’ in the book by A A Prideaux, Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories  which is now available.


A L Rowse. A Clever Boy.

It would be easy to list all the  achievements of Dr Rowse, but as his Bibliography is simple to find online along with his many honours, I don’t need to add to them. Instead, I shall add here, a few links and comments not readily available elsewhere.  I include a copy of the photograph and postcard I discovered in a book I bought,  along with a copy of a letter. In another blog about him on this site, I wrote that many of his peers had a problem with him and his attitude. But these personal notes show that he had many friends and admirers, who thought of A L Rowse as a clever boy and kind man.

A L Rowse

He sent a lovely photograph of himself on the Malpas Ferry and wrote on the reverse side

Malpas Ferry on the Fal, where, according to the medieval French chronicle . Tristram crossed over to Iseult on the bank, in the wood of Morois.  Moresk we call it today .ALR

On a postcard sent to Mrs. Richard Hatchwell of Chippenham on 27th March 1980, he wrote.

You are both sweet  to me. Delighted to have G’s book. I have most of his but this will make it complete. I have a  Corn Childhood  for you, but now when you come down will have some early Vols of  Poetry O.P. + unobtainable instead. You must go and see this place near Totnes. Nice old town too. Splendid! Medieval house and gardens. Love Leslie.

Rowse postcard

Richard and Mary Hatchwell were great friends of his and the interview and obituary below describe Mr. Hatchwell as the well known and respected antiquarian book seller that he was.

Richard Hatchwell Interview
Richard Hatchwell Obituary

The house he insisted they visit was Darlington Hall at Totnes. A L Rowse loved grand houses and the grand  families who lived in them and was friends and acquaintances with many in that circle. He was allowed access to many private libraries and family papers in order that he could complete the required research for his books. If anyone reading this wants to discover historical facts written in a flowing and easy to understand style, then read A L Rowse. He researched in great detail and his knowledge was second to none, especially with regard to Elizabethan,  Carolean and Jacobean history.

A letter he wrote to them from his home at Trenarren on 25th October 1994, shows their easy friendship.

Dearest Richard and Mary, Both,

Slow in sending you my horrible Regicides. But hope you approve my Shakespeare article in Daily Telegraph Week End Supplement, Oct 22.

When you come down again shall I sort out as last time – the mixture as before, some old rare books along with the moderns [though no fiction all good academically.]

All my friends are having ops, and Phyllis shingles – worried with re-decorating after dry rot! No worries of that sort when I lived in College. College life for me.

Wilts is not so damp as Cornwall – so hope you are spared re-decorating and shingles.

Much love Leslie.

Phyllis Candy was his housekeeper and looked after him for years. She was very protective of him, although Dr. Rowse was perfectly capable of looking after himself.

If you want to hear his voice, there are some lovely recordings on the BBC Archive website.

Desert Island Discs

Women of Mystery

and lately on You Tube.

He had such a wonderful speaking voice, which he honed himself at Oxford. He was never ashamed of his Cornish roots  or the thick accent, but he needed to be taken seriously.  He found himself mocked for having improved himself by some of his contemporaries, but he did not let it bother him unduly. Alan Bennett wrote a particularly cruel and unnecessary obituary about A L Rowse, soon after his death. alan bennett

Rowse does not appear to have had a great fondness for his mother, although he let her live with him in later years in spite of her nasty words and ingratitude. Their awkward relationship was discussed in Richard Ollard’s ‘A Man of Contradictions.’
Some of Rowse’s friends have also written books about him and all talk of him honestly and with great affection.

Tregonissey to Trenarren
Dr A L Rowse
A Man of Contradictions

Although a prolific and brilliant writer, his peers did not praise or revere him as they should have done. Dr Rowse certainly had a high opinion of himself and I feel the resentment he sometimes felt didn’t help his humour. A L suffered for years with stomach ulcers and in spite of  medication and operations,  at one time it was thought that he would die.  He seemed to live in a perpetual state of anxiety and perhaps a psychologist would point to the difficult relationship he experienced with his parents. We may decide, upon learning that a local butcher, Fred May , one day found it highly amusing to temporarily imprison the young boy inside a warm carcass, that here was another reason to create an underlying anxiety. There was also a strong rumour, not without foundation, that Fred May was, in fact, his real father. Sadly, in the end Rowse acknowledged that he was probably fathered by the butcher. He did visit some of the May descendants during one of his many USA lecture tours, but found little in common.
A L Rowse had no patience with some members of his family and neighbours in the small, tight community of Tregonissey. When he discovered that his eldest sister was born before his mother wed his father,  he romanced that he was really the son of  a St Aubyn. His mother had worked for them at St. Michael s Mount. The girl’s father was probably the daughter of a doctor where Rowse’smother had worked as a maid.
As he was writing one of his books  when living at Polmear Mine, his house overlooking Sr. Austell Bay, he noted that there was no one now left in Tregonissey from his childhood. That tight community had lived and worked and argued together for generations, but were now all gone. He experienced nostalgia as much as any of us do.
The personal reminiscences of his friends in the books detailed above confirm that his real friends and family genuinely loved and respected him. I am glad about that. I think he enjoyed his life and made sure that he got as much of of it as he could. Can everyone say that….
I am seriously thinking about starting a campaign to have Dr. Rowse properly recognised for his great works.
What do you think?


Bramley Town Street

Because our family left Bramley in the late 60’s and returned only rarely afterwards, Old Bramley is the one which remains in my mind . It is easy to follow the old streets, and stone cottages and ginnels which we as children scampered around. There was so much greenery and open space , of which there is little now.
Readers of SHUDDER will recognise Waterloo Lane, Broad Lane, Bramley Town Street, Bell Lane and Wood Lane. But in Mill Town and Village, which is what I call Bramley in the book, I only describe it as it was. The odd times I have been back, I am thinking about how it used to be , with the mill and the shops on Town Street.
I can’t really have an opinion on  whether or not the heart was blown out of Bramley along with the old properties , because we left and didn’t come back. But it definitely had a different character back then.
Town Street has so many memories for me. I would hang on to my mother while she pushed the Silver Cross containing  my brother and sister up Waterloo Lane to the crossroads at the top. We passed the old barbers on the left and the two banks on opposite sides of the road. Turning right,  we went shopping, buying items from individual shops. Butcher, baker, greengrocer and the rest. I seem to remember the road on Town Street being so much higher than the pavement, but perhaps that was because I was little. Mum would leave me outside guarding the pram while she went in the shop. That wasn’t dangerous  as she could see us through the shop window. We could shop along the street, reaching the Bell Lane junction and beyond. These road junctions were very narrow, the shops or cottages seemingly almost meeting each other at the top.
Visiting the park at Bramley would be reserved for a different trip and we would never buy fish and chips from the shop almost opposite the park, but from the one opposite the mill on Broad Lane.
If we walked to the end of Town Street and turned left, then we would be going to Bramley Baths, a place recently rejuvenated and now thankfully being used again.
When we went on holiday to Blackpool, with my grandma,  we would walk from Wood Lane, up Bellmount and Bell Lane until we reached Town Street. Then there would be the long walk along Town Street, past the top of Waterloo Lane and on to Stocks Hill, where the bus would pick us up . I am not sure, but I think the bus then drove back along Town Street where we had just walked!
My first school was St Peters and I remember walking there myself, crossing Town Street, when I was so young. I can remember the classrooms only vaguely, but I do recall the playroom bit. There was a pretend house, I think with pretend food. I embarrassed myself when I tried to eat one of the pretend jam tarts and everyone laughed. I didn’t find it funny for some reason.
As I said, we left Bramley when I was five years old, but if I close my eyes right now, its Bramley of the late 60’s which is the only one that exists for me.
Old Bramley.

Wellington House (2)


Lawnswood Cemetery

The cemetery and grounds of Lawnswood Cemetery feature in ‘Shudder’ as the church and the graveyard.  I have moved it to the edge of the woods near Finders Hospital  where it is also the scene of the dramatic finale to the story. For the sake of the story, it is not the exact likeness of Lawnswood, but is my inspiration.
My grandparents are buried there and I have visited  several times. Apart from funerals  my most memorable visit was one very snowy day when everywhere seemed very silent as the big fat snowflakes fell. Walking through the old memorials  I challenge anyone to remain in disbelief about the afterlife. Passing beyond the veil of life must be very similar to this quiet and peaceful  experience. In my mind anyway.
My mother went to Lawnswood Girls School as a girl and would talk about her time there all of her life  She thrived there, passing exams, acting and singing. She left to become a SRN, met my father during her training, married and had me. This beautiful building is another long gone and one wonders why so much beautiful architecture has been lost in West Yorkshire. When I describe places to anyone now, the memories bear no similarities to the Leeds and its surrounding areas now. It is why I have had such fun setting ‘Shudder’ in old Bramley, bringing it alive again.
There is a group set up now who are trying to look after Lawnswood Cemetery and I wish them all the luck in the world with it. Grandma and Granddad are trying to sleep there.

Look for them here.  Friends of  Lawnswood Cemetery

Following is a short piece from the book when Lydia first sees the graveyard.

The coat was lovely, so Lydia decided to go back outside and see what she could see. Warm as toast, she walked back into the snow which was now coming down thick and fast. There was no one about, so stepping out onto the driveway would not cause any problems. At the moment the entrance gates were still visible, but as  the snow was increasing, they would soon be blocked from view.

To her right was a path which led around the back of the lovely building and to her left a path leading to another stone building. Both beckoned to her.

She decided to take the right turning before the snow became too heavy. The path wound its way through bushes which made passage difficult for her and would not have allowed another person to travel alongside. Stones planted here and there  were covered in chisel carving. The path spilt into two and on the corner was a mock stone entrance to a house. Lydia could only see part of the feature when she first came upon it and as she walked around to the front,  saw that there stood a woman staring away into the distance.

“Hello,” she said to the woman.

But there was no answer and it wasn’t long before she could see the reason. The woman was made from stone. She was a statue, albeit an excellent one. Looking at her face must have been exactly the same as looking into the face of the woman after whom her likeness was created. Lydia reached out to touch the cold face and felt a tremor within.

She knew that the woman was sad or had been the cause of great sadness. The stone lady stood impassively in front of the stone door and under the shelter of a stone porch. The door behind her was slightly ajar and when Lydia tried to look beyond the lady and the door, she could only see another wall. Jumping a little when she thought that the lady moved, caused Lydia to  pull the fur coat around her for comfort.  She must pay more careful attention to the statue lady and make sure that she wouldn’t suddenly come alive and chase her down the lawn.

The beautiful stone lady , dressed in the old fashioned style was reminiscent of the old paintings Lydia had seen on the walls of the Town Hall. In her hand she held a handkerchief  tightly as if for security.  Her other hand  resting against her dress held a solitary flower. The porch roof stood on  ornate stone pillars and the door itself, although made from stone looked exactly like carved oak. Next to the door, underneath the bell push was a sign.

Lady Gladys Ailwood, my darling wife and companion.

Taken from me by the Shudder Man.

I shall never stop looking.

Don’t despair.

Lord Edward Ailwood


A L Rowse 1903 -1997

rowseMy roots are Cornish and I have spent a good deal of time roaming and living in Cornwall during my life. Many of the greatest writers of our country were either born in the West Country  or lived there at some point. The land brings such inspiration to creative people and I am sure that  others feel the magic of the Universe when they stand on a misty moor or take a  walk through Luxulyan.

But, perhaps they don’t. The Cornwall I think of when I hear it’s name, are the narrow leafed lanes and the small communities who speak in guttural  tones. This I why I love reading A. L. Rowse. His ‘Cornish Childhood’ was a bestseller in its day and is still read now. In it, Rowse writes only about his young life before he leaves Cornwall for Oxford. But through his words, the reader soon understands the Cornish society, its people and its landscape.

Rowse came back to his Cornwall following his Oxford years and lived in the house by the sea at Trenarren, where he always thought he would.

He wrote many books in addition to his meticulous diaries, which were  historical non fiction and in my humble opinion, he  has never been given satisfactory recognition for his works. He had the rare skill of weaving facts  with expert story telling  and so as we read, we walk with him along the  streets and meet those he describes, as if they were in our lives right now. Then, as if by magic we discover that we have learned and understood some  interesting history.  If I had been given his books to read at my school, instead of listening to the constant droning of teachers who obviously understood little of what they taught me, I should have learnt a lot more, a lot sooner.

A L Rowse quickly dropped out of fashion  and out of the Oxford set in the 20’s and 30’s due to his forthright and often rude manner. He could be arrogant and suffered no one he considered a fool. I only recently met a man who knew him at University when they were both lecturers and he told me a tale of an unpleasant conversation they had had. I will not repeat it here, but have heard similar reports on different occasions.

When you read his early work it is possible to see what turned this rather clever boy from a relatively poor background, into the capricious and complicated man he became. I believe his attitude was the classic defence mechanism of a man who did not want to let anyone in.

He collected a great library of books, many first editions, which he bequeathed to the University of Exeter, The Royal Institution of Cornwall selected some and others were sold to dealers. I have quite a few of his books, many signed. It is rumoured that some wag said that in the latter years, a book not signed by A L Rowse would be worth more as it was rarer than a signed one. One of the books I bought from a dealer had a personal photograph of Rowse alongside a  letter written by him. Just an everyday letter, but I treasure it.

When I go to Cornwall, I visit his grave and place flowers. He has other friends living in the area still, who tend his grave and his memory and another book is being written about him now. It seems he is not forgotten.

Although so much of old home ground has been altered by new roads and  buildings,  if you read his work and that of his friends, such as Dr James Whetter,  it is possible to find the lanes and the fields he talked about. You can eat your lunch under the viaduct at Luxulyan as he did at Christmas with his good friend David Treffry . Or you could walk up the high lanes and sit and look at the spectacular view. I have done that. Rowse’s Cornwall is the Cornwall I think of, for it changed little from his younger day to my childhood. It has changed dramatically since then.

I don’t know how many times I have read ‘A Cornish Childhood’, but I do know that it’s not too many.


Bramley near Leeds

Wellington House

I debated for a little while as to whether I should write about the town on which I based Mill Town. I decided that I should and can officially announce that I have mapped the town based on  an area of Bramley near Leeds in Yorkshire. Bramley has altered hugely in the past 50 years, with many old stone buildings and houses being demolished in the name of progress. In the story,  I returned several of the houses and cottages and added a few for effect. The woods are back in their full glory and the mill is replaced exactly where it used to be.
Quite naturally, although the roads are mostly in the same place they are now, I have added and removed features and buildings where they did not suit the story. I built Finders Hospital on the other side of the woods and added a church and cemetery where there is none. I never took the reader along some of the lanes and others only partway.
The long gone Wellington House was my inspiration for Snooty Manor, a house I coveted as a child. I have only ever seen one photograph of the place and am in the process of asking the owner of it if he will allow me to show you on this blog. The housing estates  do not exist in Mill Town and Village and there are fields and stone walls everywhere.
I must add that the characters in the Shudder are based on no-one living or dead in Bramley and if anyone feels that there is a resemblance to themselves, or someone they know, they are mistaken.


The Library

The LibraryQuite a lot happens in the library in Mill Town  and here is one library I visited with friends which was an inspiration for it. I love libraries and books. I have hundreds of them, many first editions and lots are  leather bound.  The oldest book I have was published in 1625 and was written by an ancestor Bishop John Prideaux. He is the one I am currently writing about in ‘The Bishop and the Witch.’ The Prideauxs like writing and talking. That must mean something.


Finders Hospital

Finders Hospital

Finders Hospital

I have already said that I have been researching my ancestry pretty well all my life. Its taken me to many places, one of which was Flete House in Devon, where I was given a tour around the old house. The land and old buildings were once in Prideaux hands. This Prideaux killed one of the Bigburys at Sequers Bridge but I shall tell that tale another time. The house was my inspiration for Finders Hospital. It was easy to imagine the townspeople coming in and out of this place and that night on the lawn.




Fowey/Seaside quayside

This is Seaside. I love Seaside.
It’s a pity that we couldn’t stay too long there in SHUDDER. I suppose I didn’t want to taint the memory of the place. I want to live near there soon.
I have said before that I remembered SHUDDER in a dream and then just had to type it out. But you really have to be dedicated to pulling every word out of your mind and getting it down on paper in a form that’s acceptable to readers. If people pay money to read your work, that’s an honour and it’s the writers duty to put all their energy and thought into the story.  Writing is not easy, but like running a marathon, you feel great when you cross the finish line labelled.