A Topographical Dictionary of England
Samuel Lewis (1831)
Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)
LUNDY-ISLAND, an island, in the hundred of BRAUNTON, county of DEVON, 3½ leagues (N. W. by N.) from Hartland Point, and 4 (N.) from Clovelly. It is situated in the mouth of the Bristol channel, is upwards of three miles in length, and nearly one in breadth, containing about two thousand acres, of which not more than four hundred are in cultivation, and is so defended by lofty and precipitous rocks, as to be inaccessible, except at a small beach on the eastern side, where there is a tolerably good landing-place, secured by the Isle of Rats. The more elevated ground, rising eight hundred feet above the level of the sea, commands extensive prospects of the English and Welch coasts; and at the northern extremity of the island is a high pyramidal rock, called the Constable. Plantations of various trees have been formed here at considerable labour and expense, but the prevalence of strong north-easterly winds has hitherto stunted their growth. A few cattle, goats, and sheep, are fed on the island, but the last have not been known to thrive. Domestic fowls and rabbits are plentiful, though the rats which infest the place destroy great numbers. There are ruins of an ancient chapel, which was dedicated to St. Anne. From the quantities of human bones frequently ploughed up, and some remaining vestiges of ancient cultivation, there are evident proofs of its having been formerly much more populous. It is recorded that one Morisco, having been frustrated in a conspiracy to assassinate Henry III., made this his retreat, became the chief of a band of pirates, and for his crimes was executed here by command of the king: and also that Edward II., at one time during his disturbed reign, proposed retiring hither for safety from his rebellious nobles. Morisco's castle, situated near the south-eastern point, was originally a strong fortification, with considerable outworks: it is encompassed by a moat, but no ordnance are now mounted upon the battery, though a few dismounted guns occupy the ramparts, beneath which is a remarkable cave. In the parliamentary war, Lord Saye and Sele held it for Charles I.; and in the reign of William and Mary, the French seized it by stratagem, and maintained themselves in it a considerable time.