St Peter's Church, Ashwater
St Peter’s Church, Ashwater

Ashwater is a village and civil parish in the Torridge district of Devon, and is in the Hundred of Black Torrington and the Deanery of Holsworthy. The
soil is chiefly clay; subsoil, clay. In the Doomsday Book, 1086, the name is given as Aissa. In 1270 it was Esse Water and by 1281 had become Assewalteri. The two Manors of Aissa and Hindefort became Ashwater Barton and Henford Barton.  As well as the village itself, the parish includes several hamlets, such as Henford, Quoditch and part of Ashmill, which lies directly on the boundary between Ashwater and Broadwoodwidger parishes. It is close by the Cornish border, and is about 10 miles north of Launceston. Fairs for cattle were held here on the first Tuesday in May, and the first Monday after the 1st of August.

Ashwater in 1883
Map of Ashwater in 1883

Ashwater in 1907

Map of Ashwater in 1907

St Peter ad Vincula Church (from Some Old Devon Churches By J. Stabb)

St. Peter's Church, Ashwater, interior. By J. Stabb
St. Peter’s Church, Ashwater, interior. By J. Stabb

The church dedicated to St. Peter, is thirteenth century, with fifteenth-century windows, with an arcade that mixes the two periods. The decorated font is Norman, described by Mee as “a great treasure“. The church consists of chancel, nave, south aisle with priest’s door, north transept or chapel, north porch and west tower with five bells. It is probable that the “north transept” was not a transept but a chapel. There is evidence of its having been built up against the nave, and it does not seem to have been part of the original building. The reredos, parclose screen, and choir stalls are all modern, of carved oak work of good design. The roofs have finely carved bosses and beams. In the south aisle is a monument with two recumbent figures; a male and a female. The male figure is clad in armour with helmet, the visor open. The following description of this monument is given in the Holsworthy Ruridecanal Magazine, 1904: “Lysons, the West Country antiquarian, says it is the tomb of the last of the Carminows. The Carminows took their name from Carminow Barton in Mawgan Parish, Cornwall. They were a great family and owned also the Manor of Boconnoc, Tintagel, Hornacott in Tamerton, and Ashwater. The last male Carminow was called Thomas, and the writer believes that the effigies are of him and his wife. The shield by the head of the knight is the shield of the Carminows, a bend or on a field axure with a label of three showing that was a shield of an eldest son. Thomas Carminow died in 1442 on the Wednesday before Christmas Day. He left two daughters (1) Joan who married Sir Thomas Carew, and inherited Ashwater Manor which remained in the family until Sir Peter Carew sold it to the Carys of Torre Abbey. (2) Margaret who married Sir Hugh Courtenay. Sir Hugh was killed either at or soon after the Battle of Tewkesbury (1471) where he fought for the Red Rose [i.e., Lancastrians]. His son was afterwards Earl of Devon. If you look at the cusping of the canopy over the effigies you will see two shields, carved on the underside. One of these is the shield of Courtenay impaling Carminow, and is the shield therefore of Sir Hugh and Margaret his wife. The other shows the Carminow coat of arms impaled by some other which is now defaced and illegible, but an easy and plausible guess makes it the Carew arms, the whole shield being that of Sir Thomas Carew and Joan his wife. In part the two shields on the cusping seem to correspond with the two shields on the east window of the south aisle which I described last month. The two sisters Joan and Margaret with their husbands rebuilt the south aisle, what more likely than that they should commemorate their father and mother by erecting this finely sculptured tomb. I am bound to confess that a late writer, Mr. Hamilton Rogers, in a book on the monumental effigies of Devon makes a different guess, and thinks it is probable that the tomb is that of Sir Hugh Courtenay and Margaret his wife and that it was placed there by Margaret herself, but I cannot say that his reasons are very convincing. Sir Hugh is called Sir Hugh of Ashwater in some old records, but he is also called Sir Hugh Courtenay of Buconnoc, and it is clear at any rate that not he but Sir Thomas Carew and Joan were the inheritors of this manor. Joan afterwards married Halmathe Malenory who lived at Ashwater. Margaret married a second husband, William Bottreaux. The carving is worked in Beer stone from the ancient Beer quarries near Seaton. It is sad that the sculptures have been so ill-treated. Much of the canopy has been destroyed, and the male figure has been broken across evidently by some people who were bent on finding out whether there was anything of value underneath. It was richly painted at first, but white wash has covered it with many coats, only here and there where this has scaled off can this be detected. The wooden carving which is now placed above the canopy is of a later date and has nothing to do with the monument or with the Carminow family.”

Carminow monument at Ashwater Church
Carminow monument at Ashwater Church

At the feet of the figures is a mutilated carving of the Holy Trinity of the same design as that at Plympton St. Mary. In the east window of the aisle are coloured shields, the left hand has the arms of the Carew family impaling the arms of Carminow; Sir Thomas Carew and his wife Joan who was a Carminow. The right hand shield has on one side the arms of the Courtenay family quartered with the De Redvers arms, the other side is blank, but probably has Carminow arms impaled and the shield would represent Sir Hugh Courtenay and his wife Margaret Carminow. Above the shields is the letter “M”, this may be the monogram of Sir H. Malenory, but I think it more likely that this end of the aisle was used as a Lady Chapel and that it is the monogram of the Blessed Virgin. Some old stones near the monument were found during a restoration of the church, built in one of the walls, they evidently formed part of a Norman doorway, probably the south (the north is Norman), and old portions of the original building. On the south wall is a large representation in plaster of the Royal arms dated “C. R. 1638“.
There is a fine Norman font with faces or masks at the corners, it is constructed of some stone with the appearance of granite, but is certainly not of that material, it may be a stone of volcanic origin found in Cornwall. The font and north doorway are the only remains of Norman work in the church. The church was struck by lightning in 1699, the present pinnacles were erected at that restoration. There is a modern rood beam with cross, and there are some very good modern bench-ends.

There are six bells in the church tower, with various dates from 1671, one from 1772, one undated and one dated 1929. Bell number four (1772) is inscribed SAMPSON BEALE, C.W., this is possibly the son of Sampson Beale one of the oath-takers in 1723. The last was added in 1929. Elsewhere he records that 1772 saw the recasting of the Church Bells and number 5 bell was inscribed ‘I call the quick to Church, the dead to grave Thomas Melhuish Rector– IP’”
Between 1864 and 1897 a great deal of ‘restorative’ work was throughout the church and at that time the bells were rehung. The tower was the venue for a bell-ringing competition for King George III’s jubilee in 1809. Ashwater’s bells rang for Waterloo; local men watched from the tower for enemy bombers in World War II; the bells rang Victory 3 peals at War’s end and again to mark the Millennium. The bells and the tower feature in a song that dates from the time of George III’s Golden Jubilee in 1809. As has been previously stated, the church was restored in 1876 at a cost of 1,200; in 1889 it was further restored, when the chancel was rebuilt, new-roofed with oak and re-floored and carved oak choir stalls and other fittings erected : a fine carved oak pulpit, carried out by John Northcott. The register dates from the year 1558, and records the baptism here of the father of General Monk, afterwards Duke of Albemarle.

The Bible Christian Chapel was built in 1865 just outside the village, on land provided by a local farmer. The interior of the Chapel was renovated in 1997 but original features, such as the pews with doors, were retained. Until the Deed of Union in 1932 there were several branches of the Methodist Church. The Chapel is now closed.

Ashwater’s fallen from both World Wars

1914 – 1918
24140 Lance Corporal Samuel Boundy of the 10th Battalion, the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Son of William and Jane Boundy. Born in Clawton in the June Quarter of 1891. Died 25 March 1918 aged 27.
Leonard Haywood BRAY
930 Private Leonard Haywood Bray of the Royal North Devon Hussars. Son of Thomas and Emma Bray. Born in Lezant, Cornwall in the June Quarter of 1893. Died 29 November 1915 aged 22.
8578 Lance Corporal Francis Burnett of the Scots Guards. Son of John and Sarah Ann Burnett. Born in Ashwater in 1893. Died 18 December 1914 aged 21.
Cyril James Fry DOCKETT
532278 Private Cyril James Fry Dockett of the 15th County of London Battalion (the Civil Service Battalion). Son of Eber and Fanny Dockett. Born in Ashwater in 1895. Died 21 February 1918 aged 23.
130449 Private William George Gliddon if the 2nd/5th Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Son of Samuel and Elizabeth Gliddon. Born in Holsworthy in 1888. Died 3 December 1917 aged 29.
William HAM
240562 Private William Ham of the 1st/ 5th Battalion, the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Son of Richard Ham and the late Elizabeth. Born in Clawton in 1882. Died 8 February 1917 aged 35.
John Thomas JORDAN
148549 Private John Thomas Jordan of the Infantry Battalion, the Machine Gun Regiment. Son of John and Mary Jordan. Born in Ashwater in 1898. Died 5 May 1917 aged 19.
William John MOORE
216141 Private William John Moore of the 115th Baty, the 25th Brigade, the Royal Field Artillery. Son of Barney and Bessie Moore of Quoditch, Ashwater. Born in Milton Damerell in 1898. Died 5th December 1917 aged 20.
Albert Owen PERKIN
6107 Private Albert Owen Perkin of the 1st/4th Battalion, the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. Son of Richard and Betsy Perkin. Born in Holsworthy in 1892. Died 25 August 1916 aged 24.
203658 Sergeant Samuel Petherick of the 1st/4th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. Son of Arthur and Mary Petherick. Born in Ashwater in 1886. Died 24 January 1919 aged 33.
931 Private Charles Stephens of the Royal North Devon Hussars. Son of William and Millicent Stephens. Born in Broadwoodwidger in 1893. Died 21 October 1915 aged 22.
William TUBB
5036 Private William Tubb of the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. His father was a Colour Sergeant in the 3rd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. Born in Colchester in 1881. Enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment 9 June 1898 aged 17 years and 2 months. Died 30 October 1914 aged 31.

1939 – 1945
Herbert (Bert) George BAZLEY
D/JX 135256 Telegraphist Herbert George Bazley of the Royal Navy, HM Submarine Seahorse. Son of Edwin and Ethel Bazley of Ashwater. Born in St Germans, Cornwall in the September Quarter of 1915. Died 12 January 1940 aged 25.
Vernon Francis BURNETT
1311994 Sergeant Vernon Francis Burnett of the RAF VR, 612 Squadron. Son of George and Mary Burnett of Ashwater. Born in the Newton Abbot area in the September Quarter of 1920. Died 4 August 1943 aged 22.
5621538 Private Percival Lashbrook of the 1st/6th Battalion, the Queen’s Regiment (the West Surrey). Son of Daniel and Florence Lashbrook; husband of Katie Lashbrook. Born in Ashwater in the March Quarter of 1920. Died 24 October 1942 aged 22.
Derek Waters STRIBLEY
1605487 Flight Sergeant Derek Waters Stribley of the RAF VR, ,77 Squadron. Son of William and Mabel Stribley of Ashwater. Born in Ashwater in the June Quarter of 1923. Died 22 October 1943 aged 20.
From the official accident report:
“Pilot, John Barber, took off at 18.02 hours in Halifax MkIII JD121 KN-O from Elvington. Yorkshire for a raid on the city of Kassel, in Germany. The aircraft crashed at Tiestelsen, 9 kilometres south east of Brakel – the cause of loss not being established. The entire crew were lost.

The crew were: –

Flying Officer John Stuart Barber (Pilot)
Sergeant Derek Waters Stribley (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Roy Owen Hand (Navigator)
Flying Officer Eric Raymond Price (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Ivor Melvyn Smith (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Pretsell (Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer Class II Harry Arthur Weber RCAF (Air Gunner)
“Theirs was one of 45 aircraft which failed to return from this operation.”


Kelly’s Directory entry for Ashwater 1902

Post & M. 0. O., S. B. & Annuity & Insurance Office. Richard Hocking Moon, sub-postmaster. Letters received from Seaworthy R.S.O. North Devon, at 8.30 a.m.; dispatched at 5.10 p.m. Postal orders are issued here, but not paid. The telegraph office is at the Railway station Wall Letter Box, Ashmill, cleared at A 4.45 p.m School Board of 5 members was formed May 1, Sydney Dockett, clerk to the board 1871; Board School (mixed) (formerly a chapel), it will hold no children; average attendance, 80; Charles Alfred Habley, master ; Miss Mary Bromell, sewing mistress Board School, Hunscott (mixed), for 50 children average attendance, 36; Miss A. Mitchell, mistress. Railway Stations. Ashwater, Edward Charles Liley, station master. Dunsland Cross, William Pincombe, station master.

Marked thus * receive letters thro’ Brandis Corner R.S.O. Marked thus **receive letters thro’ Tet-cott, Holsworthy. Marked thus *** received letters thro’ Clawton, Holsworthy.
Beare Samuel, Balhatchet
Melhuish Rev. George Douglas M.A. Rectory
Spurin Roscoe Charles, Pristacott

Badcock William, farmer, Arscott
Baker Thomas, mason, Pristacott
*Ball James, farmer, Muckworthy
*Balsdon James, farmer, Muckworl ,
JBarrett Wm. G. farmer. Hole

Bray Arthur, farmer, Heath

*** Bromall Chas. cowkpr. Beech cot
Bromell Wm. farmer, East Venn
** Clifton Richard, carpenter, Enford
** Clifton William, carpenter, Enford.
Cole Amos, farmer, Quoditch
Cole Arscott, blacksmith, Spry’s shop

Cole Wm. butcher & farmer.Pristacott
* Corbett Gerald Vincent, frmr. Forde
Cotton Mark, farmer, Langaford

Crocker Frank, farmer, Grendiswrthy
Crocker Humphrey, farmer, Grendisworthy
Dockett Eber John, tailor & outfitter
Dockett John & Son, ironmongers
Down Thomas, Eailway inn
Dufty Thos. & Son, farmers, Barton
Ellicott Thomas, farmer.Larkworthy
Facy Alexander, farmer, East Down
Fowler William, farmer, New England
** Friend Ann (Mrs.), farmer, Henford Barton
** Friend Hichard, farmr.Henford Bartn
** Friend Wm. farmer, Henford Barton
Fry Samuel, blacksmith
Fry Thomas M.B.C.V.S. veterinary surgeon, Pristacott
Furse Jn. Hy. & Chas. frmrs. Qnodtch
Furse John, farmer, Westdown
Furse William, farmer, Quoditch
*Gerry William, frmr. Morecqmbe gt
Hamly Fras. carpenter & bldr. Pristacott
Hamly John, farmer, Pristacott
*** Hatch Emanuel, farmer, Burrow
Higgs H. corn & seed merchant, Railway station ; office, Holsworthy
Hill John, farmer, Blagaton
Hill John, farmer, Hay
Hill Samuel, farmer, Pristacott

Jones John Jas. farmer, Larkworthy
** Jones Richd. Wickett. farmr. Enford
* Jordan John Wood, farmer
Jordan Richard, farmer, Swingdon
Kneebone William, farmer, Pristacott
Lewis George, farmer & cattle dealr. Moor Hay
Lightfoot Albert James, Manor inn; farmer & posting establishment; good accommodation for tourists, cyclists, hunting & fishing gentlemn
Madge William Walker, farmer, Blagdon house
Mayne John, boot & shoe maker
*** Metherell Emanuel, yeoman, Buckhrn
Moon Richard Hocking, grocer & seed merchant. Post office
Murley Richard, farmer
Nancekivell Saml. farmer, Benson
Nancekivell William Beale, farmer & cattle dealer, Pristacott
Northcott John, ecclesiastical & architectural wood carver
Northcott Thos. carpentr. & whlwrght
Oliver Frederick, boot maker
** Oliver William, farmer, Enford
Palmer John, farmer, Langford
Parsons John, farmer, West Venn
*Parsons William, farmer, Muckwrthy

Pearce Francis, farmer, Pristacott
Rabley Charles A. registrar of births & deaths & vaccination officer for the sub-district of Ashwater, Holsworthy union
Skinner Samuel, fanner, Bradden
Sluggett Stephen, farmer, Langafd. la
Smale Reuben, carpenter, Quoditch
* Smith William, farmr. Muckworthy
*** Spry John, jun. farmer, Clawford
Spry John, carpenter & deputy registrar of births & deaths for Ashwater sub-district, Holsworthy union
Spry John, sen, farmer, Lucroft
Spry Philip, butcher
Spry William, blacksmith, Quoditch
Spry William Shadrach, farmer, Quoditch
*** Squires Joshua, farmer, Hunscott
*** Stacey John, farmer, Heggaton
Stribley Lydia (Mrs.), draper
Trick Wm. boot & shoe ma. Mount la
Vickery Thomas, farmer
Walters Henry, farmer, Berrington
* Watkins Norman, farmer, Olaw moor
*** Whitford Fdk. farmer, Sandy moor
Wood Richard, farmer, Viza
* Yelland Samuel, farmer, Middlecroft

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