Sidney H Heath.

The South Devon and Dorset coast online

. (page 1 of 30)
Online LibrarySidney H HeathThe South Devon and Dorset coast → online text (page 1 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


! ■[' i;i'"!in









iuHHHB




■f




^liillliilifc



■iil^




\/




WILLIAM GEORGE S SONS LTD.



THE SOUTH DEVON AND DORSET COAST



UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLU<^e



THE NORFOLK AND SUFFOLK COJST
'By W. A. Dutt

THE CORO^WALL CO J ST
'By Arthur L. Salmon



LONDOC^: r. FISHS^ UNfVIO^




/'(^frar Hes^



igio



WEYMOUTH HARBOUR

From a Water-Colour Draruing by the Author.



The South T>evon
and T>orset Coast



By Sidney Heath



Illustrated




lAdelphl ro) Terroce>v<C



7". Fisher Unwin

London : (t/^delplji Terrace

Leipsic : Inselstrasse 20

igjo



{All rights reserved.)



DEDICATED

BY PERMISSION

TO

THOMAS HARDY



NOTES ON MAPS

In hilly and sparsely populated counties like
Devon and Dorset reliable maps cannot be
dispensed with, especially by those who would
explore the delightful byways that bisect the
broader and more familiar highways. Once off
the beaten track sign-posts are few and far
between and the rustic's ideas of mileage vague
in the extreme, for in the native's " mile and a
bit," the " bit " is generally found to be of far
greater extent than the mile. To the working
geologist and antiquary reliable maps are essen-
tial, and the intelligent traveller and tourist will
find good maps of inestimable value.

For all sorts and conditions of travellers the
well-known Ordnance Survey maps are un-
equalled, not only for their geographical accuracy
and clearness of detail, but also on account of the
ease with which they can be folded for carrying
in the pocket. For the pedestrian the one mile to
one inch maps are the best, and, when far from
" the madding crowd " in the Wessex country, or
amid the solitudes of the Devon moors, these
maps will reveal to others, as they have often
revealed to me, a bewildering choice of hitherto
unknown by-ways and pleasant field-walks of
the existence of which I should have remained



viii NOTES ON MAPS

ignorant but for the topographical revelations
of the maps. As the cyclist is debarred from
exploring the field-paths and side tracks that
fringe the main thoroughfares, the two miles to
the inch are very useful for although covering
greater areas than the one mile to the inch maps,
yet they are equally clear in detail. For the
rapidly travelling motorist the range of the tours
is extended, and for him the four miles to one
inch maps have everything to recommend them
that the most exacting traveller could require.

Maps covering the South Devon and Dorset
Coast are : —

One mile to one inch, published in outline or
coloured (flat or folded) : 325, 326, 327, 328, 329,
339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 349, 350, 355, 356.

A series of maps covering larger areas is at
present in course of active publication. This is
known as the large-sheet series, and the numbers
required to cover the same area are as follows : —
132, 133, 141, 142, 143, 144, 149, 150. These are
published in the coloured edition only.

Two miles to one inch, published fully coloured
(flat or folded), 31, 36, 37, 38.

Four miles to one inch, coloured (flat or folded),
22, 19 and 23.

Four miles to one inch. County Maps. Devon-
shire, Is. ; Dorsetshire, Is.

Ten miles to one inch, coloured (flat or folded),
11, 12.

Mr. T. Fisher Unwin, Adelphi Terrace, London,
W.C., is the sole wholesale agent for all the above-
mentioned maps, which can be obtained through
any bookseller.

S. H.



ACKNO W LEDGMENTS

To give a complete bibliography of the South
Devon and Dorset Coast is not possible, as the
volumes consulted that bear on this extensive
strip of land must number some hundreds. In
the compilation of his Introductory chapter the
author wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to
various articles covering the Roman and Saxon
periods, by Grant Allen, R. N. Worth, Dean Spence,
and Professor Creasy. To those interested in the
Roman occupation of Devon, the various papers
on this era published in the Transactions of
the Devonshire Archaeological Society are invalu-
able. Dr. Brushfield is a recognised authority
on Raleghana, and one to whose researches and
writings due acknowledgment is made where
references to them occur.

S. H,



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. INTRODUCTORY . . . . .1

II. THE THREE TOWNS .... 26

III. PLYMPTON, YEALMPTON, AND BIGBURY BAY . 50

IV. KINGSBRIDGE AND NEIGHBOURHOOD . . 63
V. DARTMOUTH AND THE DART . . .81

VI. TORBAY ..... 98

VII. hope's NOSE TO SHALDON AND NEWTON ABBOT . 118
VIII. TEIGNMOUTH AND DAWLISH . . . 130

IX. EXMOUTH AND THE EXE .... 146

X. EXETER ..... 165

XI. BUDLEIGH SALTERTON AND EAST BUDLEIGH . 187
XII. SIDMOUTH TO LYME REGIS . . . 205

XIII. LYME REGIS ..... 230

XIV. CHARMOUTH TO BRIDPORT . . . 249

XV. THE CHESIL BEACH AND PORTLAND . . 263

zi



xii CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

XVI. WEYMOUTH AND MBLCOMBE KEGIB . . 293

XVII. WEYMOUTH TO DORCHESTER . . . 305
XVIII. WILLIAM BARNES AND THOMAS HARDY . 327

XIX. LULWORTH AND NEIGHBOURHOOD . . 342

XX. A COAST RAMBLE IN PURBECK . . 357

XXI. SWANAGE AND STUDLAND . . . 373

XXII. CORFE AND ITS CASTLE . . . 385
XXIII. WAREHAM, POOLE, AND WIMBOBNE . . 405

INDEX ..... 423



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



WEYMOUTH HARBOUR

From a water-colour drawvtig by the Author.



Frontispiece



FROM PHOTOGRAPHS



BOLT HEAD .

By W. B. Gay.

THE BARBICAN, PLYMOUTH
By W. B. Gay.

NEWTON AND NOSS .
By W. B. Gay.

BIGBURY BAY

By W. B. Gay.

KINGSBRIDGE .

By W. B. Gay.

SALCOMBE CASTLE
By W. B. Gay.

TOTNES

By W. B. Gay.

anstey's cove

By W. B. Gay.

ODDICOMBE BEACH
By W. B. Gay.

DAWLISH . . . .

By W. B. Gay.

THE CHOIR, EXETER CATHEDRAL
By J. Hinton Lake.

xiii



FACING PAGE

20



. 40

52

. 58

68

. 74

86

. 118

120

. 142

176



xiv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FACING PAGE

SIR WALTER RALEGH ..... 192

From an engraving by Vertue.

SIDMOUTH ...... 206

By Garnett Skinner.

OTTERY ST. MARY CHURCH .... 210

By Qamet Skinner.

BINDON FARM, AXMOUTH .... 218

By F. W. Shepherd.

LYME REGIS ...... 230

By Mrs. E. Perkins.

THE "queen's ARMS," CHARMOUTH . . 246

By Richard Hine.

WEST BAY ...... 256

By Richard Hine.

mapperton ...... 260

By Richard Hine.

CHURCH HOPE COVE, PORTLAND .... 286
By Mrs. E. Perkins.

SANDSFOOT CASTLE ..... 296

By Mrs. E. Perkins.

ROMAN PAVEMENT, DORCHESTER .... 318

By Mrs. E. Perkins,

THOMAS HARDY ..... 340

By Miss M. Stanley,

LULWORTH COVE . . . . . . 346

By Mrs. E. Perkins.

EAST LULWORTH ..... 350

By W. Churchill.

WORBARROW TOUT ..... 358

By W, Churchill.

WORTH MATRAVERS CHURCH .... 366

By W. Churchill.

STUDLAND CHURCH ..... 380

By W. Churchill.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xv



FACING PAGE

CORFE CASTLE ..... 386

By Mrs. E. Perkins.

DACKHAMS, CORFE ..... 400

By W. Churchill.

WAREHAM ...... 406

By Mrs. E, Perkins.

POOLE HARBOUR ...... 412

By Mrs. E. Perkins.



FROM SKETCHES BY THE AUTHOR

END PAPERS.

PAQE

BRASS OF NICHOLAS CAREW .... 124

EXETER CATHEDRAL ..... 172

ALL saints' CHURCH, EAST BUDLEIGH . . 198

DETAILS AT ALL SAINTS* CHURCH, EAST BUDLEIGH . 199

BENCH END, ALL SAINTS* CHURCH, EAST BUDLEIGH 201

BENCH END, ALL SAINTS* CHURCH, EAST BUDLEIGH . 202

THE RALEGH PEW ..... 203

BENCH ENDS AT OTTERY ST. MARY . . . 209

DETAIL OF CANOPY AT OTTERY ST. MARY . . 211

STEPS ON COBB, LYME REGIS .... 235

FONT IN CHICKERELL CHURCH . . . 272

THE TRINITY ON ABBOTSBURY CHURCH . . .. 277

BOW AND ARROW CASTLE, PORTLAND . . 289

MAIDUK CASTLE ...... 311



xvi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE!

STOUP AT BKOADMAYNE CHURCH . . . 315

DOECHESTER ...... 321

CAME RECTORY . . . . .331

THOMAS hardy's BIRTHPLACE .... 337

THE AGGLESTONE ROCK .... 383

THE GREYHOUND INN, CORFE .... 403

MAPS

ESTUARY OP THE DART . . . . 89

THE CHESIL BEACH ..... 265

PLAN

CORFE CASTLE ..... 395



The South Devon and Dorset Coast



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

To say that Devonshire is Dartmoor, although this
heather-clad moorland occupies but a small space
on a map of the county, is a truism that needs
no explanation to any one familiar with the
peculiar geological conditions that prevail in this
interesting vs^estern shire. The stupendous and,
geologically considered, flat-topped expanse of
unenclosed country called Dartmoor is nothing
but the worn-down base of a gigantic mountain
that reared its lofty summit to the clouds in some
remote and prehistoric age. The pitiless rain, the
action of melting snows, the disintegrating forces
of frost, wind, and heat have slowly, and through-
out an immense period of time, worn down, inch
by inch and grain by grain, the whole of the
upper portion of a mountainous volcano, esti-
mated by geologists to have been originally some
18,000 feet in height, until nothing now remains
but the stump. Thus it is that, if we would under-
stand rightly the present positions and aspects of
the deep combes, winding river gorges, and stone-
strewn heights of Devon, we must bear in mind

2 1



2 SOUTH DEVON AND DORSET COAST

that a great deal of its physical beauty, no less
than the situation of its coast towns, is due to
the conditions imposed by this torso of granitic
rock. The work of denudation has, of course,
been more or less uneven. The rivers flowing
from the watersheds carved out the softer
portions ; the intervening ridges, being of harder
material, formed the boundaries of the valleys,
while the hardest masses of all have survived in
the bosses of stone or tors that give so striking
and distinctive an appearance to the summits of
these moorland heights.

It is these peculiar geological conditions that
give to Devonshire in general, and to Dartmoor
in particular, the greater part of their interest,
both pictorial and historical. In the fastnesses of
this rolling waste of peat and heather the majority
of the rivers of Devon commence their careers,
rising, nearly all of them, on a common central
watershed, whence the Okement, the Taw^, the
Tavy, the Teign, and that most romantic of all
English rivers, the peerless Dart, springing from
a kindred source, flow by widely divergent routes
through green orchard vales and bickering dells
to the sea.

The physical features, therefore, of mountain
and valley, sea cliff and estuary, should be con-
sidered not as isolated or individual geological
units, but as contributory factors to an organic
whole, the offspring of a universal natural law.
Our admiration of a land- or seascape is intensified
and not diminished by the thought that hill and
dale, combe and ravine, cliff and bay, owe their
contours almost entirely to the excavating power
of sea, rain, and rivers, operating throughout ages
of time ; and that the flowers, trees, and other



INTRODUCTORY 3

vegetation clothing them, together with the
buildings on their surface, have definite relations
to the composition of the soil and to the character
of the climate.

With the history of the early tribes and peoples
(ignoring the Neolithic and Palaeolithic eras) who
first inhabited this southern seaboard, whether
Lapps, Finns, or Iberians, we need not here be
concerned. Their history, if not exactly mythical,
is largely conjectural and traditional, and although
faint traces of the social and warlike customs of
these primitive peoples possess attractions for the
well-read antiquary and the painstaking archae-
ologist, yet for the majority of us the interesting
history of the races that have inhabited the South
Devon and Dorset littoral begins with the Roman
invasion. Occasionally, as at Kent's Cavern and
Grimspound, the veil of antiquity that obscures
the older past is lifted for a moment, but for a
moment only. At the same time we know that
from time immemorial Dartmoor has ranked as
one of the most ancient seats of culture in
England. It was the haunt of the tin-workers,
and Crockern Tor marks the ancient site of the
open-air mote, or " Tinners' " Parliament. The old
stone seats, hewn out of the solid granite, for the
stannators and other officials have long since been
broken up into road-metal by the sacrilegious
hammer of the British contractor, who has a
wonderful gift for breaking up the material that
lies nearest to his hand, whether such is of great
archaeological value or not.

As a tin-producing country the south-west part
of England was known to the civilised nations of
the ancient world at a very remote period. The
Scilly Islands and Cornwall were frequented in



4 SOUTH DEVON AND DORSET COAST

early times by the Phcenician and Carthaginian
traders for the tin which they required for the
making of bronze ; and it is quite possible that,
even if they did not settle here, they visited many
of the Devon and Dorset ports for the purposes of
trade. Caesar relates that he found the tribes of
the maritime districts less barbarous than those
of the interior, and that agriculture was more
practised in the south than in the north. Inter-
esting as are these sidelights on pre-Koman
England, the real and authentic history of these
islands may be said to begin with the Roman
invasion.

In evidences of this era Devonshire is very
poorly represented in important stations, a great
contrast to the sister shire of Dorset, a land that
teems with memorials of the Roman legions.
With the exception of a few relics found at
Exeter, Axminster, and Seaton, some slight
remains of one or two camps and stations, there
is scarcely anything in Devon to which one can
unhesitatingly ascribe a Roman origin, and this
notwithstanding that several Roman settlements
have been located. In Dorset, on the other hand,
Roman stations existed at Dorchester, Jordan Hill,
near Weymouth ; Wareham, Lyme Regis, Wim-
borne, and probably at Poole and Charmouth, in
addition to many minor evidences of presence, if
not of a settled occupation.

The association of Rome with Britain, from the
first inroad under Julius Csesar to the final aban-
donment under Theodosius, covers a period of
less than five centuries, and although we have
abundant records of the Roman wars with the
Silures, the Iceni, and other tribes all along the
great wall and beyond it to the Grampians, yet in



INTRODUCTORY 5

Devon and Dorset the history of the Roman occu-
pation is vague in the extreme. Caesar's first
expedition to Britain, August, B.C. 55, is admitted
to have been a failure. His second attempt in the
year following was so far successful in that he
won sundry battles and received the submission
of Cassivellaunus, but in less than eight weeks he
was back in Gaul, and to call this a conquest
would be a misuse of language, for Rome quickly
estimated this " reconnaissance in force " at its
proper value. The important results of Caesar's
invasions were indirect, and led to the establish-
ment of Gaulish and Belgic settlements all along
the coast of the Channel, the object of the settlers
being gradually to work their way, wedge-like,
into the interior by driving the older inhabitants
before them.

The true conquest of Britain (ignoring the
reputed expedition of Augustus) may be said to
have begun when Claudius sent Aulus Plautius
to these shores in a.d. 43, from which date the
Roman invasion was steady and continuous. The
resistance was everywhere strenuous and pro-
longed, the farther north never being conquered,
as the walls of Hadrian and the Antonine Rampart
attest. Although the struggle was unequal, in
consequence of the British being a divided and
not a united people, every emperor had his
revolt, and if effective conquest is to be gauged
by a cessation of arms, the subjection of the
British occupied the Roman legions exactly a
century and three-quarters — from the landing of
Aulus Plautius to the death of Severus and the
treaty of Caracalla. As a matter of fact, the
British were never conquered by force of arms,
but gradually submitted to a process of amalga-



6 SOUTH DEVON AND DORSET COAST

mation, of peaceful penetration, in which they
acknowledged the Roman suzerainty. The skill
of the natives in bronze and iron, in pottery,
and above all their ability to build better and
larger ships than any of those composing the
Roman fleets, make it clear that the so-called
Roman Conquest was not so much a triumph of
civilisation over barbarism as some historians
would have us believe. The natives held their
own against the picked soldiers of imperial Rome
for nearly two centuries ; their centres of industry
were linked b}'^ trackways good enough to be con-
verted by the invaders into broad military roads ;
they could dam the marshes of Somerset, and
build such strongholds as Old Sarum, Exeter,
and Maidun Castle, the last replaced in later
days by Roman Dorchester. They appear to have
had no literature, but history proves that it is
possible for races and nations to attain to a state
of civilisation without the common use of letters ;
while their religion, albeit grim and bloody, was,
in point of morality, not inferior to that taught
in the Roman pantheon. The principal evidences
of the Roman occupation consist of villas, roads,
pavements, earthworks, pottery, and coins, but
these last require very careful handling, and
antiquaries are generally agreed that, unless
found in large hoards, coins are evidence of pre-
sence rather than of occupation. An immense
amount of Roman coinage must have passed into
British custody, and have continued in circulation
for centuries after the last Roman soldier had left
these shores. No people appear to have been so
careless with their money as the Romans, and
whenever they walked abroad they appear at
first sight to have dispersed a quantity of loose



INTRODUCTORY 7

cash. A good deal of this distribution, however,
was due to the fact that coins circulate long after
the emperors whose effigies they portray have
passed away, a circumstance that makes the
finding of coins rather untrustworthy evidence
of occupation.

Four hundred years of Roman rule had turned
the Britain of the Celts into a beautiful country,
dotted over with important and prosperous cities,
well-built homesteads, farms, and villages, with
here and there magnificent villas, the residences of
the powerful officials in the service of Rome.
Taking all things into consideration, the Britain of
Roman-British constitution may be said to have
been a prosperous and a contented one. With the
withdrawal of the Roman armies for the defence
of their own country against the inroads of the
Goths, the Saxon, Engle, and Dane descended on
these shores, and the extermination of the Roman-
British population continued for more than a
century, and resulted in the sweeping away of one
race to make room for a new and stronger one.
The Celtic-Roman, however, handicapped as he was
by the petty jealousies of his leaders, put up a
good fight, and although driven eventually into
the extreme western part of the country, was not
easily overcome. Very slow indeed was the march
of the invader, but as sure as it was slow, and with
no fear of revolt or uprising, for in that cruel
advance every man, woman, and child was slain,
with the exception perhaps of a few women whom
the invaders took as wives. Burned homesteads
and ruined cities testified to the thoroughness of
the Saxon's awful march through the beautiful
land of Britain — a march that changed the race,
the faith, the customs, and the speech of these



8 SOUTH DEVON AND DORSET COAST

islands. It was practically a war of ruthless
extermination, into which the policy of the Roman
" peaceful penetration " did not enter ; but so
prolonged was the resistance that it took the
invaders a century and a half to win the land.
After Kent and Sussex had been slowly won, and
Hampshire, Dorset, and probably Devonshire,
partly conquered, the northern and central
portions of the land gradually fell, and enabled
the invaders, under their famous chief, Ceawlin,
the Woden-descended, to attack and sack the cities
of the Severn and western valleys. The disasters
that overtook the native armies were not due to
the inferiority of the individual soldier, but — in this
resembling the earlier invasion of the Romans — to
internal jealousies and strifes, and the utter lack
of concerted action in the face of the common
enemy. This fatal want of intelligent co-operation,
notwithstanding their reckless courage and
splendid gallantry, resulted eventually in the
British armies being utterly destroyed, save for
a poor remnant that took refuge in the mountains
of Wales, Devon, and Cornwall. We have a few
brief records of what was happening along the
south-west seaboard at this era, although a long
period of savage warfare ensued before our Saxon
ancestors established their Octarchy ; and even
then a very considerable portion of the western
districts remained in the possession of the British,
or, as the Saxons called them, the Welsh. Devon-
shire as a whole remained essentially British long
after Somerset and Dorset had been partially
conquered, and no Saxon prince ever subdued the
impregnable tors of Dartmoor. Even after the
time when the greater part of Devonshire had
been politically incorporated with the West-Saxon



INTRODUCTORY 9

realm, Cornish- Welsh continued to be spoken by
the natives of the remote uplands, and is said to
have lingered on in outlying places until the reign
of Elizabeth.

In 787, thirteen years before the accession
of Egbert to the throne of Wessex, some
men of a strange race landed on the eastern coast
of England, and slew the Saxon magistrate who
went to question them. They then ravaged the
district and re-embarked. Such is the first recorded
appearance of the Danes, the invaders who darken
the pages of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles from the
end of the eighth century until the coming of the
Normans in 1066, when Harold, after destroying
the Danish army at Stamford, met his own defeat
and death at Hastings a few days later.

On the sea coast near Charmouth, in 833 and 8i4,
during the reigns of Egbert and Ethelwolf, some
fierce struggles took place, in one of which the
British under Ethelwolf were heavily defeated by
the Danes, who burned and ravaged the district.
In 877 the balance was restored somewhat by
Alfred, who, after gaining a great victory over the
Northmen in Swanic (Swanage) Bay, captured
Exeter, which had previously fallen into Danish
hands. It has been said that it was only the
military genius and staunch patriotism of Alfred
that saved Saxon England from utter destruction.

Wareham, lying on the edge of the sheltered
harbour of Poole, was a favourite landing-place of
the Danes, from whence they could ravage the rich
valleys of the Frome, and here early in the eleventh
century Cnut established himself until bought off
with British gold.

Throughout this long period of warfare there
was a general prevalence of the Teutonic Saxons



10 SOUTH DEVON AND DORSET COAST

over the British and the Danes, the product of all
three races being designated, for general purposes,
Anglo-Saxon, in contradistinction to the fourth
great element of our race, the Norman. Even this
mild form of dogmatising, however, is deceptive
with regard to the population of these islands at
the present day, for although it is easy to talk and
write about Celts and Saxons, it would puzzle the
best ethnographer to decide who is Celt and who
Saxon.

The Norman Conquest saw the Anglo-Saxons
treated in the same manner as their ancestors had
dealt with the Roman-Celt, except that instead of
being exterminated they became the feudal vassals
of their conquerors, who, despite many bright and
brave qualities, surpassed even the aristocrats of
Rome in cruelty, pride, state-craft, and in their
contempt for the industries, the rights, and the
feelings of those over whom they established their
domination. Two years after the battle of
Hastings William besieged and took Exeter, from
whence he proceeded to Cornwall, and so com-
pleted his conquest in the west. In 1137 Exeter
Castle was surrendered to Stephen by Baldwin de
Redvers, who, two years later, took Corfe Castle
in the interests of Maud, who had been driven out
of Wareham.

The only important local event in the reign of
King John was the disafforesting of the whole of
Devonshire, with the exception of Dartmoor and
Exmoor, in accordance with the 4:7th clause of the
Magna Charta, " All forests that have been made
forests in our time shall forthwith be disforested ;
and the same shall be done with the banks that
have been fenced in by us in our time."

The wars with France saw the enemy plundering



INTRODUCTORY 11

and burning all along the coast, and Plymouth,
Dartmouth, Teignmouth, Weymouth, Poole and



Online LibrarySidney H HeathThe South Devon and Dorset coast → online text (page 1 of 30)