Charleton Parish History Page

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"The parish of Charleton is divided, into, what is called by the parishioners, the north and south side, separated from each other by the space of about a mile and half. The extreme length of the north part is about two miles and half; the breadth about a mile and half. The situation is rather high, (for the South Hams). The soil is slate or shelf, and clay. The south side is in the shape or form of a triangle, each side one mile and half, bounded on the north-west and south-east by branches of the river which flows from Salcombe to Kingsbridge. This part of the parish, which is commonly called the Manor, belongs to Lord Boringdon. It is a very low situation. The soil chiefly slate, and when well manured grows very excellent barley; and is famous for producing great quantities of good cyder. It is an inclosed parish; the fields, indeed, are remarkably small; the fences are earth banks, planted with thorns. Here are but few trees, a trifling number of elms, scattered in the hedges, make up the whole. The roads are in general dry, but very narrow. The materials are of the worst kind, a soft slate. Villages belonging to the parish of Charleton are five. Goveton and Lidstone, situated in the north part of the parish, the distance between them one mile. In the south division is West and East Charleton, with part of the village of Frogmore. The houses in these villages are chiefly built with mud, and thatched. The principal farm on the manor is the barton of Court, belonging to Lord B. a very compact estate; but the house is very Gothic, and very unwieldy. The other principal farms are Cutland, Burrow, Tor, and Croft, all in the north part of the parish. I understand Cutland derived its name from an ancient family, the Courtlands. There was a Sir Hugh Courtland who possessed this estate. The remaining part of the parish is divided into small tenements. There is no sort of manufacture carried on by the inhabitants, who consist of farmers and day-labourers. The latter are a robust hardy set of men, whose employment, during the summer months, if that of procuring sand for manuring the land. The method is two men in a barge (which will carry about 100 horse load) go to the entrance of the harbour of Salcombe, and moor their barge in about 18 feet of water, and draw up the sand with a dredge, which is just the form of an oyster dredge. The farmers are rackholders and leaseholders, nearly equal in number. The farmers of this parish oftentimes, during the summer months, catch large quantities of fish, called the grey mullet, which proves excellent and cheap food for the lower class of people. The number of inhabitants are about 400. Here are some strong instances of health and longevity, such as ninety and ninety-six, with all the senses perfect. Among their customs, they have one very bad one, which is absenting themselves, Sunday mornings, from public worship, and which (bye the bye) is an eternal disgrace to the South Hams in general. They believe firmly in witchcraft and conjuration. Their sports are skittle playing and wrestling. The church, which is a very neat one, with a beautiful screen, is situated at the southern extremity of the manor, on the point of the triangle; built with stone, and covered with slate. The tower is low, with four bells. Patron of the living, which is a rectory, Lord Boringdon; incumbent, William Tickell, L.B. List of patrons: the present Lord Boringdon; ----- Spechard, esq. Incumbents: the present William Tickell, Thos. Whingates, Henry Oldham, ----- Langworthy, ----- Garland. The parsonage-house is neither an ancient nor modern building, but an uncouth structure, situated about a quarter of a mile from the church." From the rector in 1791.

Transcribed by Ray Osborn from The History of Devonshire by Richard Polwhele 1793 -1806