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Notes 99-101: Churches in the Deanery of Kenn

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VII, (1912-1913), Exeter: James G. Commin. 1913, pp. 123-128.


Edmund R. Neville and Oswald J. Reichel

Prepared by Michael Steer

The three Notes here presented supplement Notes (66 & 67) that appeared in Vol V of D&C, N&Q. The Kenn Deanery consists of the parishes of Alphington, Ashcombe, Bishopsteignton, Chudleigh, Combeinteignhead, Dawlish, Dunchideock, East Ogwell, East Teignmouth, Exminster, Haccombe, Ide, Kenn, Kenton, Mamhead, Powderham, Shaldon, Shillingford St. George, Starcross, Stokeinteignhead, St. Thomas the Apostle (by Exeter), Trusham, West Ogwell and West Teignmouth. The third Note by Rev Reichel is caustically critical of the 1912 history of churches in the Deanery by Ms Beatrix F. Cresswell.  The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Note 99. "CHURCHES IN THE DEANERY OF KENN." — I have been sent some Notes on the Nevills of Alphington which appear in Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. I think you will find the full pedigree in the Genealogist for 1907. They are the Nevills of Essex. Alphington came to the Nevills through the marriage of John de Nevill, the Forester, who died 1246, with Hawise de Courtenay, daughter of John de Courtenay. Here however the notes are incorrect. John was succeeded in Alphington by Theobold de Nevill, Sheriff of Cornwall, a younger son ; he seems to have died without issue, as John de Nevill, son of John the Forester, who died 1282, got it. I do not know who John, who died 1274, was, nor do I know his Inq. (A.D. Inq. 3 Ed. I. No. 27). The heir of John, died 1282, was Hugh, Lord Nevill of Essex, died 1335. I suppose Theobald was a younger son of his who held it in 1316. Sir Hugh, in possession in 1349, was the second brother of the second and last Lord John de Nevill, who died 1358 (see I. P.M.), and son of Hugh, the first Lord. Hugh's son, John de Nevill, gave up Alphington with the Essex estates on his joining the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1358 (vide my paper in the Genealogist on the Nevills of Essex, in 1911).                                       EDMUND R. NEVILLE, F.S.A.

Note 100. "CHURCHES OF THE DEANERY OF KENN" (VII., par. 66, p. 100.) — I am much obliged to the Rev. Edmund R. Nevill for supplementing the Nevil descents to which I referred. The object of my criticism was, however, to show that Alphington was the estate of the Nevils, not of Plympton Priory, and therefore I only referred to authorities which proved this point. The A.D. Inquest of 11 May, 2 Ed. I. is the Inquest of John de Cortenay, in which Alphington is stated to be held of him by John de Nevil, so that John de Nevil must have been living on11 May, 1274. A year later according to the Hundred Rolls, the Bishop of Bangor held Alphington for the heir who was under age. Therefore John de Nevil must have died between 1274 and I275. The origin of the Nevils is a difficult one and has been discussed by Dr. Round in Feudal England, p. 488. It is, therefore, most desirable that authorities should be given for every step in the pedigree.                                    OSWALD J. REICHEL.

Note 101. "CHURCHES IN THE DEANERY OF KENN." — In these days of strict scholarship it is not sufficient for any one who undertakes to instruct others to be interesting in style and picturesque in description ; but he may be expected to be fairly conversant with the new sources of information which are now rendered available by the printing of so many original documents. I venture from this platform to draw attention to one or two points which have struck me in reading Miss Cresswell's interesting notes. On p. 33 we read that "in 1549, on the recommendation of Edward VI, Myles Coverdale handed over Bishopsteignton, Radway, West Teignmouth, and the advowson of the living to Sir Andrew Dudley." Lysons, ii., 490, 491, whom it would have been well to consult, states of both West Teignmouth and Bishopsteignton that "at the requisition of the Crown" they were alienated "by Bishop Veysey in 1549 to Sir Andrew Dudley, Knight." And that Lysons' statement is the more correct of the two is proved by the fact that Bishop Veysey continued to hold the See until 14 Aug., 1551, when he resigned it "for fear of bodily violence" (prae corporis metu). Myles Coverdale succeeded him, but he was not bishop until 1 55 1, or two years after the alienation of these manors. Surely Myles Coverdale has enough to answer for without having offences imputed to him of which he is innocent.

Again, on p. 44 Miss Cresswell writes : There does not seem to be any "record of the first acquisition of the manor of South Chiriton, as it was sometimes called, by the bishops of Exeter, who held the property from very ancient times." It would be hard to find a more misleading statement than the above, although it has the sanction of both Polwhele and Lysons. The manor never belonged to, and was never acquired by, the bishop, as all the fee lists shew, and therefore there could be no record of it. In 1086 it was Godwin's, and, like other of Godwin's estates, it went to the honour of Gloucester {Devon Notes and Queries, vi., 294), and was held by Umfravil under the Earls of Gloucester. Umfravil demised it to Champernoun, and Champernoun to Melewis. In 1241 the heir of John Melewis, Simon Lampre, and Hugh de Loges held it for 1/2 fee [Testa de Nevil, 265, p. 178a) ; in 1285 John Burnel held it of Champernoun (Feud. Aids, 315); in 1303 John Burnel (Ibid., 346) ; in 1346 Richard Burnel (Ibid., 387).

The real reason why the parish was called Cheriton Bishop was not because the manor, but because the advowson was the bishop's, and parishes took their names from their churches rather than from their manors. Thus Pancrasweek, Christow, Jacobstow and Churchstow represent the manors of Dunsdon, East Bridford, Broomford and Norton ; and Withycombe Ralegh includes half of the royal manor of Budleigh, but bears the name of the small manor of Withycombe because the church was there.

By a reference to Lacy's register, p. 38, Miss Cresswell might have informed herself and her readers that: "Lady Eleanor de Melhuwysshe was seised of the manor of Melhuwysshe and of the advowson of the church of Cheritone. And she gave one acre of land in the same manor to a certain Walter [Bronescombe], sometime bishop of Exeter [1257-1280], together with the advowson of the aforesaid church, to hold to him and his successors for ever by virtue &c." The bishop made his first collation to the rectory on Sunday after the feast of St. Mathew, 1274 (Lacy, 36).

Again, on p. 48 Miss Cresswell says of Christow: "The name of this parish is believed to be a corruption of the old family name of Christenstowe." This is a strange belief. Christen stow or Christ's stow is Christ's place, and this name has been given to the parish from the spot or place where Christ was worshipped in the church within the manor of East Bridford. Bredeford or East Bridford was Baldwin the sheriff's in 1086, and he gave it to his second wife Emma. Emma, after the death of her husband in 1090, either gave it or bequeathed it to the abbey of Bee in Normandy, and the abbey on the feast of the Nativity of St. John, 24 June, 1244 (not 1247) granted it in perpetual fee-farm under the name of Christenestow to the daughter house or priory of Cowick (Oliver, Mon., 156).

Or, again, to take the case of Canon Teign, p. 49, this manor which was given in 1125 by Joslin de Pomeray to St. Mary du Val {Cal. Docts in France, 536; Trans. Devon. Assoc., xxxix., 375), an Augustinian foundation, was transferred to Merton Priory of the same order after the foundation of Merton in 11 36; it would be interesting to know exactly when the transfer was effected (Dugdale, Mon., vi., 245), but Miss Cresswell is silent.

One would be glad also to know on what authority Miss Cresswell makes the statement on p. 59 that "Dedications to St. Gregory indicate churches of an early date and represent Saxon recognition of St. Gregory's influence." In Roman times, when a church was called after its builder, for instance, titulus Lucinae, the builder of the church was accounted its patron-saint. To have built a church entitled the builder 1 to saintship. The same use prevailed among the Celts, which accounts for the large number of Celtic saints. They were persons who had built churches. But, as Bishop Stubbs informs us, a different practice existed among the Saxons. Here St. Michael was generally the patron-saint until about 1150, when the Blessed Virgin took St. Michael's place. The dedication-saint was usually the saint whose relics were enclosed under the altar. For no church could be consecrated without relics according to a canon of 2nd Council of Nicaea in 787, and if relics were not procurable, the Council of Chelsea in 816 ordered that the consecrated Host should be enclosed under the altar instead. We can thus understand such a dedication as that of the Holy Rood if a small fragment of the Rood were enclosed as a relic ; but the Holy Rood could never have been a patron-saint.

Now Miss Cresswell, like Miss Arnold Foster and many others, appears to have been unaware of the distinction between the patron-saint and the dedication-saint, but it is an authentic fact, and may explain what is often called a double dedication. A canon of the sixth century in Gratian (Caus., xviii., Qu., ii., c. 30) distinguishes "the day of dedication" and "the birthday of the martyrs whose relics are deposited in the church." One of the Confessor's Ecclesiastical Laws is equally explicit in ordering protection for those going or returning "in districts where the Dedication day or the Day of their proper saint is being kept" (Law 3 of 1064).

The cause of the general failure to note the distinction may be referred to the order made by Convocation in 28 Hen. VIII (Stephens' Eccles. Statutes, p. 334): "That the feast of Dedication of the Church shall in all places throughout this realm be celebrated and kept on the first Sunday of the month of October for ever and upon none other day. Item, that the feast of the Patron of every Church within this realm, commonly called the Church Holiday, shall not from henceforth be kept or observed as a holiday as heretofore hath been used, but that it shall be lawful to all and singular persons resident or dwelling within this realm to go to their work, occupation or mystery as upon any other workaday."

None of the dedications which Miss Cresswell mentions - Dawlish, Goodleigh, Harpford, Venn Ottery, Seaton - go back to Saxon times. Dawlish, the most likely one, did not become a "bookland" before 1044 (Trans. Devon. Assoc., xiii., 115), and it is very doubtful if any church existed there before the twelfth century save the seamen's chapel of St. Michael at East Teignmouth. Kingsteignton and Kenton appear to have been the only churches for the district between the Teign and the Exe in 909, when the bishopric of Crediton was separated from Old Sarum, and so they still continued to be the property of the canons of Old Sarum. The fact, moreover, that the presbyters who administered Kenton Church on behalf of the canons of Old Sarum are in the Geldroll of 1084, called "the presbyters of Exminster," seems to shew that they were still in charge of the whole hundred of Exminster, Harpford and Venn Ottery had not even a manorial existence in 1086, but were waste of the hundred of Budleigh. There cannot, then, have been any churches there ; and thus the pretended antiquity of certain churches, and with it the inferences drawn therefrom disappear.

One does not wish to seem captious. But is it quite fair to the reader, who may believe that he has before him the last word that can be said on the history of Devonshire Churches, to set down as facts what any attempt at verification would quickly have shewn to be unfounded legends of the past?                               OSWALD J. REICHEL.