The Devon Historian Volume 84, 2015

Since Volume 82, we have been publishing full abstracts of our journal articles.


The Iconography of Medieval Devon Roodscreens: Michael Aufrère Williams

While almost universally recognised as being inferior in quality to those in East Anglia, the article nevertheless acknowledges the importance of the painted dado panels on Devon roodscreens, not least as a literal window onto pre-Reformation religious thought and aspiration. The article considers their historiography, the problems of identification, their decoration before and after the Reformation, consideration of various groupings and sequences of figures which may be found on the screens, problems with dating the paintings and an analysis of those paintings, with special reference to the rare, the common, and the local.

Where is Hederland? Jeanne James

This article responds to Chris Wakefield’s question ‘Where is Hederland?’ in Devon History News, 13 (2014) where he drew attention to Peter Orlando Hutchinson’s search for Hederland, first recorded in a charter dated 1205 and since ‘lost’. Giving attention to place-names as appropriate, sources used in the present quest include those up to the dissolution of the monasteries, including negative findings and background history; the writings of antiquarian and modern historians; and maps. Some historians suggested that Hederland was in Otterton or neighbouring parishes but, despite reservations, circumstantial, documentary and map evidence point to Hatherland in Washfield as its location.

Disorder and Rebellion: Perkin Warbeck and South West England: David M. Yorath

Perkin Warbeck, alias Richard Plantagenet (c.1474-1499), imposter and claimant to the English throne, played a minor but instructive part in the history of the South West during the late medieval period. The son of a Tournai artisan, Warbeck’s decade-long imposture as Richard III’s detained nephew, Richard, Duke of York, stirred the ambitions of a host of English noblemen and European leaders. He emerged in Ireland in 1491, to be honoured and protected by the courts of France, Burgundy, the Empire and Scotland, and tried three times to invade England (in 1495, 1496 and 1497), twice eluding capture, before eventually being apprehended at Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire, on 3 October 1497. The following article aims to chronicle his final assault and, in particular, the travels that brought the feigned ‘Duc of Yorkis’ into contact with the populace of far South West.

Nonconformist singing in Devon: Stephen Banfield

Using Devon as the case study, a historical overview of the development of nonconformist singing in England is attempted. An introduction to the theological issues is offered, and six overlapping musical phases of activity are then identified, explained and exemplified. These are the congregational singing of metrical psalms; the effects of Wesleyan evangelism; the rise of church bands and choirs (west gallery music); the development of Sunday schools; the admission of organs; and the gentrification that eventually normalised nonconformist singing. What emerges is a trajectory from cultural extenuation in the seventeenth century to cultural capitalisation in the nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries. Evidence is gathered from the main towns and a number of villages, as well as from publications including Thomas Ford’s fine but neglected Singing of Psalmes the Duty of Christians (London, 1653).

The Impact of the Bible Christians in Rural North-west Devon – a Force for Unity or Division? Janet Few

In the first half of the nineteenth century the Bible Christians were vilified by the Anglican elite as being ‘uproarious and disorderly’.  This paper examines the impact of this non-conformist group on the North-west Devon communities where they were found and considers the effect that their presence had on social order. The relationship between the presence of Bible Christians and declining rural populations in the first half of the nineteenth century is discussed, as is the impact that high levels of emigration by Bible Christians had on the communities that they left behind. Finally, the author assesses whether the Bible Christians were a force for cohesion or dissention.

Early Victorian Farming on the Culm: Using the Tithe Survey to Examine Patterns of Land-Use and Landscape: John Bradbeer

The paper uses the Tithe Survey to examine patterns of land-use in seventeen parishes in northern Devon.  Some inferences as to contemporary agricultural practices, in particular convertible husbandry, beat burning and the use of float meadows are drawn. The paper concludes with a brief review of field names.

Cultural conflict in Ilfracombe: fern-collecting, and the Cottage Garden Society’s prize-giving controversy of 1860: Andrew Jackson

Devon’s seaside resorts established themselves as an important component of the county’s leisure economy. However, their emergence did impose various forms of strain on existing infrastructure, activities, customs and attitudes. Ilfracombe’s development as a resort was rapid and extensive, and its transformation is discussed at length in the town’s local newspaper, Bright’s Intelligencer, of 1860-1. The publication’s front pages draw attention to leading issues and debates, typically in relation to Ilfracombe’s evolution into a popular visitor attraction. Local tensions inevitably arose, for example, regarding the relationship between the purpose of cottage gardening and the appreciation of nature, including ferns.