St Giles on the Heath, sometimes hyphenated as St Giles-on-the-Heath, is a village and civil parish in the far west of Devon, England. It forms part of the local government district of Torridge. The village is in the east of the parish and lies on the A388 road about eight miles south of the town of Holsworthy. The parish is surrounded clockwise from the north-west by the parishes of Northcott, Luffincott, Ashwater, Virginstow, Broadwoodwidger and Lifton. Its western border follows the River Tamar which forms the county boundary with Cornwall. In 2001 its population was 617, significantly higher than the 258 residents it had in 1901.The village is part of Broadheath electoral ward.
Before 1193 the church of St Giles was a chapelry of North Petherwin belonging to the abbey of Tavistock. However, from 1288 it was a chapelry of St Stephen’s by Launceston belonging to Launceston Priory. In 1500 the relationship between the two churches was settled; St Giles chapel was granted the right of burial and was thereafter to be served by a chaplain maintained by the priory who also served the chapel of Werrington. At the Reformation it became a donative. The church of St. Giles is a small but ancient edifice, principally in the Perpendicular style, with Early English remains, and consists of chancel, nave of five bays, south aisle, south porch and a low western tower with pyramidal roof, containing 5 bells, all cast in 1740, except the tenor, which dates from 1793: the chancel retains a piscina and the east windows have Decorated tracery : at the east end of the aisle is a mural monument to the Cary family, dated 1565, and above this a memorial window to the Johns family, erected in 1877, when the church was entirely rebuilt (with the exception of a part of the north wall, which is Early English), at a cost of £1,050. The parish was originally in Cornwall, and one of the few Cornish places on the east of the river Tamar, but is now part of the county of Devon. The parish register dates from the year 1653.
Its hamlets include Panson, Hoggadon, and Sitcott. According to Risdon’s Survey of Devon (1714), St. Giles in the Heath was ‘so termed of its barren sight, is hemmed in within the Tamar river on one side, and a pretty brook called Cary on the other‘. This he conceives gives rise to the name for the Cary family’ who originated here in the 12th century. Cary barton is the only mentioned Manor listed in Doomsday 1068, as kari. The only other mention in Doomsday is of West Panson. The parish of St Giles belonged before 1876 to the Archdeaconry of Cornwall and was then included in the new Diocese of Truro to which it still belongs. St Giles-in-the-Heath forms part of Werrington with St Giles-In-The-Heath and Virginstow United Parish; the benefice is united with the benefices of Boyton and North Tamerton.
In the 1744 visitation replies 35 families were recorded, including 90 communicants. 49 communicated at Easter last, according to the Rev. James Sanaxay, who resided in neighbouring Tetcott where he also performed Divine Service. There was one un-endowed almshouse, and no schools. Listed in the hearth tax for 1674 were 18 names paying tax on 31 hearths, and six paupers with one hearth each. Some of these families are possibly the same as those who took the oath in 1723.
The Sitcott Papers are interesting and refer to some of the oath-takers of 1723.
In 1647 John Horrell bought Sitcott from Erasmus Isaac jun, and rented it to James Martin and/or William Martyn, who passed it to Sargeant in 1650. In 1659 the tenancy was transferred from J. Courtice (possibly related to Bennedick Courtice) to his widow Mary for 13s. 6d. per annum. In 1665 John Horrell took out a mortgage for £106. Horrell left Sitcott to his nephew John Horrell in 1726, but with strings attached.
In 1744 John Horrell, a butcher, had a mortgage with Mr. Welch, who bought the lease from Robert Maddock in 1745. In 1760 John Horrell sold his house to pay £2449 debt to Welch, and the following year was in the debtors’ prison. Philip Welch’s heir, Richard, discharged the £100 debt owing to the Arscott family. Sitcott was sold in 1792 by Jane and Mary (John Horrell’s sisters) for £580.
St. Giles on the Heath Marriage Registers 1602-1812 St. Giles in the Heath Marriage Registers 1837-1897 St. Giles on the Heath Baptisms 1653-1773 St. Giles in the Heath Burials 1663-1812 St. Giles in the Heath Burials 1837-1904
St. Giles on the Heath Service Men from World War One (with thanks to David Pett nephew of Edward and Walter Bridgeman)
Edward John Bridgeman
Edward or John as he was known was born in 1898 to Richard and Rebecca Bridgeman at Downacary, Broadwood (St. Giles). His father was a farmer and on leaving school John worked on his fathers farm. He enlisted with the Devonshire Regiment (Regimental No. 205159) serving with the 2nd Battalion as a Lance Corporal.
Walter Hampton Bridgeman
Walter was John above’s brother being born in 1899 to Richard and Rebecca Bridgeman at Downacary, Broadwood (St. Giles). His father was a farmer and on leaving school Walter worked on his fathers farm. Walter enlisted whilst underage with the Devonshire Regiment (Regimental No. 205160) serving with the 2nd Battalion. He rose to the rank of Sergeant. He was killed in action at the Third Battle of the Aisne on the 27th of May 1918 in Champaign, France.
William was born in 1886 to William and Elizabeth Titball at Heale, St. Giles on the Heath. His father was an Agricultural Labourer. On leaving school William went to work for Mr. Albert Stenlake at Waterloo farm, North Petherwin as a Cattleboy. By 1911 he was married and living with his wife Beatrice at Carey Cottage, St. Giles on the Heath with their son Reginald William and daughter Beatrice Mary. William was working as a Cowman. The only record of his military service is from the Cornish and Devon Post which stated that he had joined the Territorials. Having survived the war William lived until he passed away at Exeter in June 1941.
Kelly’s 1902 Directory for St. Giles
Letters through Launceston, the nearest money order office, arrive at n a.m. The postman collects letters The nearest telegraph office is at Tower Hill railway
station, 1 1/2miles distant A School Board of 5 members was formed March 29, 1879 ; Sidney Dockett, Ashwater, clerk to the board Board School (mixed) (formerly National), for 65 children ; average attendance, 58 ; Mrs. Ellen Savage, mistress; a new school is now (1901) in course of erection.
Edser Rev. David, Vicarage
Badcock John, farmer, Cary
Balsdon James, blacksmith, shopkpr. & farmer
Banbury Francis, farmer, Hawkadon
Body Alfred, Arscott Arms P.H. Chapman’s well
Colwill Joseph, farmer, Little Sitcott
Crabb John, carpenter, Box’s shop
Davey Walter, butcher & farmer, Box’s shop
Davies Richard, shopkpr. Box’s shop
Friend Mary (Mrs.),frmr. Hollow Pansn
Harris William, farmer. East Panson
Jewell Henry, farmer, West Panson
Lyle Samuel, farmer. East Panson
Lyle Thomas, farmer, Sitcott
Mill John, farmer, Pinslow
Yeo William, farmer, Chapman’s well
Walk from St. Giles to Launceston in conjuction with the opening of St. Giles Coronation Hall in 1961.