1850 Gazetteer of Berry Pomeroy England

BERRY POMEROY is a small scattered village, two miles E. of Totnes, and has in its parish 4525A. 1R. 10P. of fertile land, several neat houses and scattered farms, and also BRIDGETOWN, which forms a handsome suburb of Totnes, with which it is connected by a good bridge over the Dart. In 1841 the parish contained 1149 inhabitants, of whom 505 were in Berry Pomeroy, and 644 in Bridgetown. The latter is now part of the Parliamentary Borough of Totnes, as noticed at a susbsequent page. The Duke of Somerset is lord of the two manors and owner of most of the soil. William the Conqueror gave the manor of Bury or Berry to Ralph de Pomerai, who built BERRY POMEROY CASTLE, which for 500 years was the stately residence of the Pomeroys. The extensive and magnificent ruins of this once formidable castle are situated on a rocky eminence, thickly covered with wood, and rising above a pellucid brook, about two miles N.E. of Totnes. It was dismantled during the civil wars of the 17th century. The approach to it is through a thick wood, extending along the slope of a range of hills that entirely intercept any prospect to the south; and on the opposite side is a steep rocky ridge, covered with oak, so that the ruins are shut into a beautiful valley. The fortress appears, from the ruins, to have been originally quadrangular, having only one entrance, which was on the south, between two hexagon towers, through a double gateway; the first machiolated, and further strengthened by angular bastions. Over this gateway the arms of the Pomeroys are still to be seen. The eastern tower commands a fine prospect of the adjacent country, and the room over the gateway appears to have been the chapel. The ruins in the quadrangle, or court, are much more modern then the rest, as they belonged to a magnificent mansion, commenced by the Seymours, in the 16th century, at the cost of £20,000, but never completed. What was finished is thus described by Prince :- “Before the door of the Great Hall was a noble work, whose length was the full breadth of the court, arched over with curiously carved freestone, supported in the fore part by several stately pillars of the Corinthian order, standing on pedestals, having cornices and friezes finely wrought. The apartments within were very splendid, especially the dining room; and many of the other rooms were well adorned with mouldings and fret-work, some of whose marble clavils were so delicately fine, that they would reflect an object from a great distance. Notwithstanding which, it is now demolished, and all this glory lyeth in the dust; there being nothing standing but a few broken walls, which seem to mourn their own approaching funerals.” The great gate, the walls of the south front, the north wing of the quadrangle, some apartments on the west side, and a turret or two, are the principal remains; and they are so finely overhung with branches of trees and shrubs, which grow close to the walls, so beautifully mantled with ivy, and so richly encrusted with moss, that they constitute the most picturesque objects that can be imagined. The last of the Pomeroys who occupied Berry Pomeroy Castle, was deeply concerned in the rebellion of 1549, and is said to have saved his life by making over the manor and castle to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, whose successors have since held them and resided here. The present Duke’s principal seats are Bulstrode Park, Bucks, and Farley Park, Somerset. Berry Pomeroy Church (Virgin Mary,) is an ancient structure, with a tower, and four bells, and contains an elaborate alabaster monument to the memory of Lord Edward Seymour, and his son, and son’s wife, whose effigies are represented lying on three steps, in very constrained positions. The building is mostly in the perpendicular style, and the nave and chancel are divided by a finely carved screen. The Duke of Somerset is impropriator of the rectory, and patron of the vicarage, valued in K.B. at £18. 19s. 7d., and in 1831 at £360, and now in the incumbency of the Rev. Wm. B. Cosens, M.A., who has a good residence, and three acres of glebe. The Free Church, at BRIDGETOWN was built in 1835 by the Duke of Somerset, at the cost of £7000, and was intended to be a chapel of ease for that part of the parish which forms a suburb of Totnes, but owing to a dispute with the Bishop, was never consecrated. It is now licensed as a nonconformist place of worship, under the ministry of Rev. James Shore, M.A. . It is the perpendicular style, with a tower, and about 1200 sittings. In 1700, Susan Bound left £420 to be invested in land, and the yearly proceeds to be applied in relieving her late husband’s poor relations, or other poor people resident in Bridgetown. This legacy, with £180 arrears of interest, was laid out, in 1720, in the purchase of a farm of 29A. 1R. 1P. at Combe, now let for about £40 per annum.

Gazetteer, History,

White, William. History, gazetteer, and directory of Devonshire. William White Publisher, 1850.

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