POH Transcripts - 1868 (Jan - Jun, Nov)

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January 1868.

Monday, January 27. 1868. - Went from Old Chancel, Sidmouth, to Belmont Villa, Dawlish. Took the omnibus to Ottery Road Station and the railroad to Exeter. Went and looked at St Mary Major’s New Church in the cathedral yard, which is now approaching completion. Some people in Exeter think the old church need never have been pulled down, and certainly, I much regretted its destruction. I have heard it said that there was some ancient Roman work about it, but I do not know whether this was really true. A curious and interesting feature was a sort of round turret at the north-east corner, covered I think by a cone. There was also, near it, as in the sketch, a figure of St. Laurence, who I think is said to have suffered martyrdom by being burnt on a gridiron. I do not know whether this piece of ancient sculpture has been preserved.

February 1868.

Tu. Feb. 4. 1868. - Went to see the annual coursing in Powderham Park. Took the rail to Starcross, and walked to the Castle through the park. The weather was beautiful, and an immense number of people were there. Then walked to Powderham church. The only monument in it is a white stone recumbent female figure in the south transept, which I copied. There is a good carved oak screen, I was told old. The north transept is divided off by an open carved oak screen, new, by Gush, of Exeter. The Earl of Devon’s family sit there. The south transept is also divided off. The organ is at the SW. corner of the church. A new organ is in contemplation. The west window is by Beer of Exeter; the other coloured glass windows by makers from a distance.

Th. Feb. 6.- Went to see Powderham Castle. I suppose it must be near 25 years since I was here last. I came from Heightley Cottage, near Chudleigh Rock, where one of my aunts then lived (cottage since burnt down) with two Miss Clacks, connexions of the old branch of the Courtney family, and Mr. Holland, I think their nephew. Mr. Holland was afterwards implicated in a duel between Sir John Jeffcote and Dr. Henness of Exeter – fatal to the latter. Sir John, afterwards went out to the new colony of South Australia, and was drowned by the upsetting of a boat near the mouth of the river Murray. When his body was found, some days afterwards it was buried near the shore. A Mr. Wilkinson, who had been out there, told me he thought he must have been buried on or near My bit of land Section 18 inside Granite Island. If so his body must have drifted several miles westward

Since I was last at the Castle some additions have been made – as the wall enclosing the Terrace, on the river side, the walls, gates, and turrets, and approach on the land side. But they have been judiciously done, and harmonise with the rest of the building. On entering the castle, on this side, the first apartment shown is the new State dining hall. It is all in Gothic style, panelled all round, panelled ceiling, coloured and decorated, and handsome stone chimney piece, carved, painted, and gilt. The whole is much enriched with armorial bearings. The servant who showed me around, told me that the ornamental panels about five feet above the floor, were done by Lady Agnes Courtenay, the present Earl’s daughter. I have known several ladies who do oak carving in the small way, but I never saw such work as this by a lady. In the Music Room I was shown some silk embroidery, old and faded, on white or yellow satin, done long age by some of the former members of the Courtenay family. The mantel piece in white marble is handsomely carved. Large painting over, of one of the Earls of Devon. Beautiful painting opposite the fire of Louis XII., I think by David. There are two pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds – one of three ladies, the other, of a Countess of Devon, or Lady Courtenay , (Miss Clack) surrounded by her children – 8 or 10 of them. I was shown the state bedroom upstairs in which there is a handsome old fashioned bedstead, and tapestry round the walls. The walls of the staircase, and under the stairs, is a green ground, with a raised pattern of leaves and flowers in white. I was shown the chapel, formerly the old granary. Altogether it is a very interesting building.

Tu. Feb. 25. 1868.- Returned from Dawlish to Sidmouth, via Ex & Ottery.


March 1868.

Th. Mar. 19. - Human bones found behind the site of St. Peter’s chapel, near the market Place. See my account

April 1868.

Tu. Ap. 7. - Mr. Heineken and myself took a trip to Colaton Rawley and neighbourhood. We proceeded via Bulverton and Newton Poppleford Hill. Turned to the left or south in Newton Poppleford, and stopped to look at Dotton or Datton, spelt Donitine in Domesday Book. Under a wineash floor, at the Mill towards the latter half of the last century, a gold or silver gilt cup was found, which was given to Mr. Duke of Otterton, who there owned the property. It may have been a sacramental cup, as a chapel is said to have existed here. Somewhere about 1855 William Cornish found some old copper coins near the bank in the bed of the river, one day when he was fishing. Neither he nor his father, C. Cornish Esq. of Salcombe House near Sidmouth, could tell me any more of then. A few that he brought home had been mislaid or lost. It was near the ford and the wooden bridge over the Otter. They were said to have been Roman.

Proceeding to Colaton Rawley and examined the church. The windows are Perpendicular, except the east window of the nave, which has traces of late Decorated. The stonework however seems to have been renewed. Small window on the south side, the lower ends of the dripstone of which end without bosses, knees, or returns. The same sort of Gable ends to the windows on the north side of the old house, mentioned presently.

Over the south porch is a sundial with three faces. The gnomon of the west face is the only one remaining. From the pattern and character of the stonework, this dial is not very ancient. There is something in it rather Jacobean.

The east door of the tower is good. A man’s and woman’s head terminate the hoodmoulding. They may represent benefactor’s of the church. The horned head-dress adorns the woman. A similar one occurs at the west door of Clyst St. George. The deep hollow in the middle of the moulding round the door, produces a fine effect.

The annexed is a sketch of the font in the church. Perhaps I have made it a trifle too high for its width, though I am not sure I have. The church is a nave and north aisle, contemporary, and at the north-east corner an addition apparently of the third pointed period, partly against the north aisle, and projecting several feet eastward of it. Its floor is about eighteen inches above the church. The connection is by a large arch. A square hole, nearly two feet square, has been cut at right angles through the north wall of the nave, near the communion table, as if to make a sort of squint to those who occupied this addition during the service. The columns down the nave are massive circular Norman; the arches pointed; the mouldings a plain chamfer of two orders. Waggon roof of nave, divided by wood ribs in squares. Timber bosses at the intersections good; once coloured. Along the cornice moulding flowers and coats of arms whitewashed. I saw one of three torteaux and a label of three points, for Courtenay, occurring twice. Also three cinquefoils or stars, 2 and 1, on another shield. Both the two great east windows all too close to each other, and consequently not under the points of the gables. The easternmost column of the series, though of the same pattern, is less massive than the others, and is plainly not so old.

The bosses in the north aisle are finer and better cut. Perpendicular work along the cornice, and top moulding battlemented. Piscina quite plain. Tower has three bells, but they are out of order. Turret at south-east corner. No buttresses.

A hundred or two hundred yards, west of the church is an old house called “Place.”

Query – A contraction of Palace, as the Abbots of Dunkeswell once had a residence here. The rural Palace of the Bishops of Exeter, just below Chudleigh, is called “Place.” The Dean of Exeter had a Rectory in this parish. Or could this house have been the Dean’s Rectory? Tradition says that Sir Walter Rawley lived here, at the time the property belonged to his family. The gardener pointed out a spot on the north side of the house, in the large garden, where Sir Walter is said to have first grown potatoes. The house is built with red stone of the neighbourhood, except where patched with brick in more recent times. Over the entrance porch on the east, is a little chapel.

There is a piscina on the south side; and a two light window blocked up. Entrance to it from a bedroom on the north side, and also a single light window on this side blocked up. At its east end is a two light window, with a quatrefoil in head, of a Decorated character. There are two holes in the piscina. At its west end is a splayed hole, blocked up, about two feet square, and about 18 inches from the floor. It is on a level with the floor of the room on the other side of the wall, at the top of the stairs. Use, a mystery. Mr. Cutler of Sidmouth owns this house.

Mon. Ap. 1868. - Went to Dawlish. Coach to Ottery Road Station, and then the rail.

Tu. Ap. – Frederick Hutchinson, son of my first cousin of the same name, who married and went to Albany, Garharn’s Town, Uitenhagh, &c. on the East of Cape Colony, being sent to England by his father for a short visit, came to Dawlish. Never in England before. All new to him.


May 1868.

Friday May 1. 1868. - May Day. At Sidmouth on May Day the children carry about boughs of trees decorated with ribbons, flowers, &c., and call at the house for pence. At Dawlish the girls bring about what they call a May Doll, which I had never seen before. The one I saw was a doll about fourteen inches long laid in a basket, and surrounded with flowers. Sometimes a little cradle is used instead of a basket.

Sat. May 2. - F.H. went to London to prepare for his return voyage.

Mon. May 4. - Walked out to Langstone Point and finished a coloured drawing of “The Elephant Rock.” The face of the cliff, on the eastern or Exmouth side of the Point, and near the Railway wall, has been shaped out by the action of the waves at high water, into the form of an immense Elephant. It certainly very like. The legs have been disengaged by caverns which run into the cliff. As the rock is not very hard, perhaps it will not endure many years. I have often been through the caverns and passages, in one side and out the other, but I think I can remember before they were formed.

Wed. May 6. - Left Dawlish for Sidmouth. By mistake in Exeter I got into the wrong train, and was carried to Tiverton Junction. Got out. Took the first train back to Exeter, and then first to Ottery Road. On arriving there I was too late for the coaches to Sidmouth. Slept at Ottery.


Th. May 7. 1868. - After breakfast went into the church. After that I called on Sir John Coleridge about the Otterton Cartulary, which had been lent to me for historical purposes some years ago by some of his relatives now dead. He did not know where it was now kept, or who had it. I told him it ought to be in the British Museum. Got to Sidmouth about noon.


June 1868.


Tu. June 23.1868. - Summoned into Exeter. Formaly they used to put me on the special Juries at the Assizes, when I got a guinea a trial, but was kept in Exeter the whole week; but a few years ago the County Magistrates made some alterations, so that now I am on the Grand Jury at the General Sessions when I get nothing, but are only required one day. The Sessions begin to-day, but I am not required till to-morrow: so I went on to Dawlish.

W. J.24. 1868. - Took the first train to Exeter, and got into court before ten. There were about thirty Grand Jurymen present, and near 24 were selected, but as my name was not called, I was not required. The surplus were dismissed, and I was free. Strolled about. Went and looked at the houses of Dinhaw’s charity, and then his statue on Northernhay. Looked at the new church near Dinhaw’s cottages. The stone carving is first class work. Went round Exeter Cathedral with the Verger. Two or three things have been done since I last went round.

Went down to Dawlish to sleep.

Th. June 25. - Came in to-day to attend one of the quarterly meetings of the Exeter Architectural Society, held at the College Hall in South Street. Some good papers were read. Went down to St.Thomas’s. Visited the church for the purpose of seeing the monument to the memory of Mrs. Medley, formerly one of the Miss. Bacons, of Sid Cliff near Sidmouth. Her father, the Sculptor (the Younger Bacon) executed the recumbent figure of his daughter. The monument is on the north side of the chancel, within the Communion rails. It is a fuller face and fatter hands than most of the Miss. Bacons had. The countenance is extremely pleasing. Most of them died young. They were as fair and delicate as wax dolls to look at.

Returned to Dawlish.

Fr. June 26. 1868. - Spent to-day in Dawlish.

Sat. June 27. - Returned to Sidmouth. Took a very pleasant route for summer, e.g., The rail to Starcross: a boat for two or three miles down the river to Exmouth, where the new docks are making great progress: then the omnibus four miles to Budleigh Salterton: and lastly, a walk of six miles over the hills to Sidmouth, where I arrived at 7 P.M.

November 1868.

Nov. 9 1868. - Looking out at the back of the Old Chancel at about half past seven this evening, I saw a meteor passing over the zenith. It went from N.N.E. to S.S.W. rather slowly. It had a short tail, which waived like the tail of a fish swimming. When it got behind the chimneys of my house No. 4 Coburg Terrace, I rushed from the back to the front, out upon the green where I caught sight of it again.

I sent an account of it, with a coloured sketch, to the Astronomer Royal, and received the answer annexed.

Sat. Nov. 14. 1868. - A long, long interval and no entry in my diary. And it was likely to have been longer, for I have often thought of dropping it altogether and of throwing the whole into the fire.

Cui bons? What is the good of jotting down memorandums which I may never require to refer to as long as I live, and which nobody may care to look at after I am dead? If I had a wife and children, I might wish to leave something after me for their amusement or instruction, because men “live in their children.” When the ladies sometimes joke me or reproach me for continuing single so long, I generally tell them not to hurry me, and that I mean to look out as soon as I come to the marrying age.

Before I burn this book I may as well note down, in reference to the Devonshire Association, that I made several expeditions in August and September to the top of Honiton Hill to assist at excavations of some of the tumuli near Roncombe Gurt or Broad Down. I found two flint arrow heads one day, flint flake, pieces of ruddle or red ochre, with which the ancient Britons (like modern savages) coloured their faces to look terrible in war, and other things, which I handed over to Mr. Kirwan the secretary for the Exeter or British Museum.

It is a noteable fact that the new Reform Bill has divided the county into three parts, instead of two, as before, - that Sidmouth is in the Eastern Division, - that this town has become a Poling place, - and that the Sidmouth poling district comprises the parishes of Salcombe Regis, Branscombe, Sidbury, Harford, and Sidmouth. I am sorry politics have come so near to our doors. We shall derive no benefit, and a bone of Contention has been thrown into the place. Voted for Lord Courtenay. First time I ever took the trouble to vote for anybody.

Shortly before cousin John Hutchinson died at Blurton, he requested that the Hutchinson Papers might be handed over to me. After his funeral, May 3, 1865, I brought them with me to Sidmouth, but have only recently found time to look them over. For two or three months, at odd times, I have been examining them, reading them, arranging them, making indexes, notes, mems, and catalogue.

Sat up last night till two this morning, most of the time walking up and down on the gravel, to look for the November Meteors. Turn back to my account of November 1866. They were only few and far between, so at two I went to bed.

Monday, Nov, 16. 1868. - The Rev. Mr. Eyre and his family have been living in the Elysian Fields. He recently died, and has been carried for internment to his parish in Buckinghamshire. Mrs Eyre, his widow, has just told me an anecdote which she heard over there. Mr. Disraeli (or D’Israeli, as it used to be written) the prime minister, recently gave a dinner party at Hugenden, and amongst the guests were the newly made Lord Napier of Magdala, who so triumphantly managed the Abyssinian Campaign to rescue the captives detained by King Theodore, and Mr. Reverdy Johnson, the new Minister from the United States of America. The story goes, that when Mr. Johnson was introduced to Lord Napier, he said – “Ha! If King Theodore had not killed himself, you never would have taken Magdala.” It seems impossible to believe this story. In the first place, it is not at all like Mr. Johnson, who seems to be making many friends in England; and in the second it is obviously untrue, inasmuch as King Theodore killed himself b­­­ecause he saw that his city was taken.

And this reminds me that Frederick May, who enlisted in the 33rd Regiment a dozen years ago, and used to be my gardener (as his old father is still) has just returned from Abyssinia, and has come to Sidmouth for a week. He was at the storming of Magdala, and got in and saw Theodore before he was quite dead. He told me that as he was getting through the fence, a swarthy looking warrior with flowing black hair made a cut at him with his sword – that he threw himself bark to escape the blow – reloaded his rifle (one of the new Snyder breech loaders) shot his opponent, and then got in. He said that he could not be positive that the King had shot himself, as is generally asserted – That his fine clothes were much spattered with blood – that he was wounded in several places, probably by stray shots – that he helped to lift up his body – that he had long black hair and beard, though represented beardless in the Illustrated London News – that many of the soldiers, and himself among them, cut off locks of his hair as mementos – that what he cut off he gave to the Captain of his Company – but that he will get me some of it the first opportunity.

Note: - There are no more entries in the diary until13th. February 1869.



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