POH Transcripts - 1869

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February 1869.

Wed. Feb. 13. 1869. - I have just read a book in which I am much interested. It was intitled Pre-Glacial Man. It is by J. Scott Moore, whose uncle, now resides at Sidmouth, lent to me. The antiquity of the human race on the earth – the glacial periods – the periodical changes of climate – the causes of those great changes – and the endeavours to convert geological periods into ascertained time – these are among the great questions now occupying the attention of learned men. Most of these are touched upon in Mr. Moore’s book.

I jotted down the following mems :-

Mr. Gresswell shews that the mean noctidiurnal and annual times, trace back from the present day, under their Julian style (i.e. the noctidiurnal from a given feria prima)

The annual tropical from a given mean vernal equinox -

The annual anomalistic from a given conjunction of the mean sun with the apogee of the solar orbit -

The annual sidereal from a given conjunction of the sun with Beta and Zeta Tauri -

All calculated from the Meridian of Ancient Jerusalem – are found to meet together in one year of the era before Christ 4004, and on the 25th of April at midnight.

Further – If the same conjunction of circumstances took place before then, it must have been at 516000 years previous to it.

Sir Wm. Thompson calculated the probable age of the crust of the earth at about 98.000.000 years

Note :- P.O.H. has at this point in the diary inserted a page containing a Table showing variations in the Earths orbit.


Tu. Feb. 23. 1869. - Had a well dug in the corner of the field behind the Old Chancel. The soil in this part of the valley of Sidmouth is a deposit of alluvium consisting of glacial sand, and clay, lying on the red rock of the new Red Sandstone. They sank a shaft four feet in diameter. For the first five feet down they had fine mould hardening to a clay, then about five feet of gravel with some clay, and stones of various sizes up to the bigness of two fists, with the corners rounded off; then a bed of finer gravel some eight or ten inches thick; then courser gravel as before, with very little clay for about two feet; then a thin bed of peat, or mould, like old dead leaves (as the men said); and lastly gravel and stones partly water worn as before, down to fifteen feet, below which they could not go, as the water came in so fast. As the season has been excessively wet for some time, water was probably found sooner than it otherwise would have been. The well was bricked up, somewhat contracted like a dome at the top, with a hole left nearly two feet in diameter, and this sealed down with a flag stone. The charge for digging is a shilling a feet the first ten feet: eighteen pence the second ten: two shillings the third ten – and so on. The bricking up (not including the cost of the bricks) is the same, the lowest work being the dearest.


March 1869.

Fri. Mar. 12. – Hitherto there has been little or no winter. I have a pear tree and a peach tree in full bloom. The wind, as might be expected at this season of the year, has gone to the north-east, and it has become very cold. When I got up this morning and looked out of the window (from the room next the drawing room at No. 4 Coburg Terrace) snow was falling and Bulverton Hill quite white.

Mon. Mar. 14. – Men came and began to dig trenches for foundations for some additions I wish to make to the Old Chancel. I hope now to build entrance hall, two rooms, and bedroom over the hall.

Tu. Mar. 15. – Wind veered to the S W. with rain.

Fri. Mar. 19. – A Sidmouth sailor brought me a fosoil Elephants tooth. First tooth found. They often bring me curiosities or coins for sale, which they find on the beach. He told me he found it at low water, spring tides, at the latter part of the month, (it was full moon on the 26th. February) amongst the rocks far out, at about a mile and a quarter west of Sidmouth. This is at the commencement of the reef approaching High Peck Hill,and opposite “Wind-gate” as they Call the gap between Peak and High Peak Hills. Though a little sceptical at first, I examined it, and gave him five shillings for it. It occurred to me that in the Torquay Museum there is the tooth of an extinct mammal, and it therefore occurred to me that this would be worth securing. If this turns out valuable on enquiry, it will do, either for the new Exeter Museum, or for the British Museum. In the Torquay Museum there is the last lower left side molar of a Mammoth. It was dredged up from the bottom of Torbay, at no great distance from the shore, and probably belonged to some one of the Elephant tribe that once roamed through the submerged forest along that coast. It had not lain long at the bottom of the sea, being devoid of any incrustation of marine Polyzoa. Mine, however, has some slight incrustation. – See June 2. 1869.

April 1869.

Mon. April 5. 1869. – At last Mr. Hooper of Woodbury has come over to re-hang the church bells. He commenced to-day clearing away the old timbers and lowering all the six bells to the belfry floor below. £70 have been subscribed to do it.

Tu. Ap. 27. 1869. - Mr. Heineken and Myself went out for a day’s excursion, according to the plan we have followed for the last twenty years, By which we have amused ourselves in looking up the antiquities of the neighbourhood of Sidmouth. Getting into a carriage after breakfast, together with sandwiches, beer, bread and cheese, cakes &c., maps, books, sketchbooks, memorandum books, photographic camera, pickaxe, spade, measuring rod, tape, probing-iron, and sometimes other things if we were likely to require them, we started and went up Salcombe Hill. Left Salcombe on our right, Stopped at Thorn Farm; went in and looked at the Hall Ceiling, paneled with moulded oak beams. Since we were last here the hall is divided into a parlour and a passage. The lower round moulding of the cross beams is carved in a pattern like the annexed. There used to be a picturesque old well, arched over with stone, in the orchard on the north side above. It seems to have been removed. We could not find it. It was like this. We observed the Ordnance Mark on the Pound and went on to Trow. There used to be (and still is) a tradition that a man called Trump found a crock of gold many years ago, when ploughing in a field between the Pound and Trow: but his nephew, some deicme or dodecime of years ago, laughed at the story when I told him that I had heard so, and he assured me his uncle made his money in other ways. From the Lyme road we turned north, and passed the farm called Long Chimney, after the road called Longue Cheminee, I suppose by the Normans. We crossed Rakeway or Rakeway Head Bridge, and turned east at the foot of Broad Down. Stopped and looked again at the Lovehayne Farm tumulus. (See Oct. 29. 1861.) Rakeway may possible come from the Celtic Rhac, the ridge or top of the hill and way or road, and hayne or hayes, very common between this and Axminster, I believe is hedges or enclosures. Nearly one half the tumulus still remains – about five feet high and 60 broad. Walking over it, we picked up a flint flake and a peace of ruddle, or red oxide of iron, used as war paint. Coming back to the road we found some flakes and apparently a core of flint in the intervening field. We went on to Blackbury Castle, where we had often been before. This time we wished to examine for sling-stones and calcined flints. On digging in several places round the ramparts, we met with them on the south side at A, more at BB, some at C, but most at D. It was from about D that 70 cartloads were taken away, some 50 years ago, to make mortar for the new Wishcombe House, as a man called Mutter, who did it, once told us in the camp.

The ramparts seen to have been heightened and repaired with these calcined flints. Whence came they? For some time a feeling has been growing upon me, that perhaps there was a Beacon in this camp, built of stones like the one on Culmstock Hill, still perfect, which I examined and sketched August 7. 1851.

I believe there was a similar one on Shute Hill, and the same over Harpford, near Sidmouth. Such a Beacon consists of a circular wall about ten or twelve feet in diameter, and six or seven high, covered with a dome roof, leaving a large hole in the top. If wood were put in at the doorway and lighted, the drought would send out a great flame at the top. If such a beacon were built of flints, the great heat of the flames against the sides of the interior must necessarily calcine and split them, and these splinters would accumulate in a heap on the floor. It would be requisite from time to time to clear them out, and they would be thrown on the ramparts. I cannot imagine that partial or ephemeral or accidental burning of the woods could have produced such quantities of flint splinters, as some writers have supposed; nor could burning on the level ground have done it, for fire has little effect downwards. It must have been the result of long continued action, under favourable circumstances

We then traversed the field on the south in front of the entrance, in various directions, Mr. Heineken found nine egg shaped beach pebbles scattered over a space 30 or 40 yards in front of the entrance at D, whist I wandered away towards the sides of the field and into the field below. But I discovered none until I came back and crossed the region where he had been successful. When I picked up two. It is rather strange that they should have abounded only at that spot, unless we imagine that they had been used in a fight which took place before the entrance. He afterwards found one at F in the camp, but as the ground in the interior is not tilled we could not make any special examination. There are two low mounds at E near the east end of the interior, like tumuli, which, owing to bushes and brambles, we had not noticed in our former visits. We sat on the north agger and eat our dinner.

Like giants refreshed we arose and proceeded to Southleigh. At the Belvidere, a quarter of a mile from the camp, we stopped. This hexagonal tower was inhabited when we were here before, but it is now shut up and is falling to ruin. We got a view of Wishcombe House in the valley – a very ugley house indeed. It is the seat of Charles Gordon Esq., J.P. His late father, whom I well remember, was a stout athletic man, of whose surpassing strength many anecdotes are current in the neighbourhood. One of his feats was to take a bull by the horns, and by giving him a jirk, he would fling the animal upon his side on the ground. He was the first of Wishcombe, and owed his existence, as common report say’s, to the error of some Scotch Lord.

We could not learn that there were any antiquities in the neighbourhood of Southleigh. We walked round the church. There is a string course of good effect, (annexed) but nearly all gone, round the tower. The same is at Sidmouth. New windows of Beer stone, at the expense of Miss Gordon of Wiscombe, were being put in. They are of the Decorated style. The tower is squire with angular buttresses. No turret, but the staircase built out over on the north side, and in again. Four bells, but one of them is “crased,” I suppose cracked. Three Early English lancet windows at the east end, but not older than about 1855.

The font formerly stood in the Tower, with a small stone bracket over it in the north wall. The bracket remains, but the font is now in the church. Unfortunately it has been recently tooled all over. When will modern improvers be modest enough to learn discretion? When Sidmouth church was pulled down in 1859 some fragments of a Norman font of similar pattern were dug out of the walls and sent to my premises when I bought the old materials of the old chancel, and had them re-erected. The fragments of the font I have just had built into the buttresses of the Hall, on each side of the door.

The church inside was partly rebuilt about 1855, that is, the chancel. On the north side of the latter there is a Jacobean monument to Robert Drake. It has the following in Roman Capitals:-

Armiger auratus Robertus nominee Dracus,

Hic jacet;ille pius pauperibus que bonus,

Septe gmatos Frvgiet gnatasque venustas,

Parturiit conjux Elizabetha sibi. 1600.

Obiit 30 Mar.

The five coats of arms given above are sculptured on the tomb. The first and the last look more modern than the others. The Royal arms are on the north wall of the church. There is an old copy of Josephus. Over the south door is a large oil painting of the Adoration of the Magi, once at the east end. There is a large old lock on the south door in good order, enclosed in a piece of oak fixed across the doors, thick at the lock end and thin at the hinge end. Mr Heineken took a photograph of the outside of the tower and church. The window over the tower door is perpendicular. Photograph failed. We returned home by the same route we had come.

May 1869.

Th. May 13. 1869. – To-day some expert ringers came up from Plymouth to inaugurate the bells, the work of re-hanging them being completed. The Rev. H.T. Ellacombe, Rector of Clyst St. George, came over and rang some of the peals with them, though he is close upon entering his 80th year. I was up in the bell-chamber whilst two or three of the peals were rung. It is curious sight the first time, and the noise is tremendous. When I was a child however I have been up among the bells in Tiverton Church Tower when they were ringing. The nerves of some people cannot bear it. Lunched at the Vicarage at 1 P.M. Besides the Rev. H.G.J. Clements, the Vicar, and Mrs. C., there were the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Kemp, Bicton; Rev. Mr. Robinson from Lancashire; Rev. and Mrs. Hildebrand, Curate here, but Vicar of a parish in Lincolnshire; Mr. Ellacombe and myself. The Plymouth men brought hand bells with them, which they played on the Esplanade. It was very pretty indeed. Dined at the Vicarage at 7. Only Mr. Ellacombe there.

Fr. May 14. 1869. – Went to the funeral of an old lady, and wore a hat-band and scarf of black silk, and black kid gloves, which are given to persons invited. Mr. Buttemer (pronounced Bidter-meer) of The Elms was walking before me. It was very windy. We had not walked far when the pin which should have held his scarf better on the shoulder gave way, and his scarf slipped down unconsciously to himself. It had descended by the wind and the motion of walking as far as his waist, and was beginning to look very ridiculous on a solumn occasion, when I thought it better to step forward and give him a friendly hint. However, before I did this it slid down about his ankles, and he was not aware of what was going on until it nearly tripped him up. Then hastily making an effort to replace it, he pulled the tails of his coat behind up to his head, which was still more absurd. Not long after these things had been set right, the wind loostened the pins, and blew round our hatbands, The tail of mine was twisted round until it hung over my right shoulder, but Mr. Buttemer’s was turned round in front, and hung over his face.

June 1869.


Wed. June 2. – Professor Owen, in a letter dated yesterday at the British Museum, informs me, (judging from a coloured rubbing I sent him) that the fossil tooth found at low water last February near Sidmouth, appears to be that of the Elephas Indicus. – see back March 19. 1869. And his letter opposite.


Th. June 3. 1869. – Such cold and boisterous month of May I never remember. A few days ago I went up into the ch. tower and found a dead Martin on the steps, which I threw out of the belfrey window. I am told that several others have been found there, and many down in the ham near the river. The weather has been too much for them. I went into the bell-chamber to correct an error in my name cut (with the Vicars & ch-wardens’) on the new oak framing near the west side. They had put a G into my name, which I cut out. It is rather strange that though it is more than forty four years since my late father and mother brought me to Sidmouth, (we came from Tiverton, I think at the latter end of January 1825) the tradespeople do not yet know how to spell the word Hutchinson.

Had an evening party at 4 Coburg Terrace – the Buttemers, Lords, Granthams, and Miss Langley.

Wed. June 16. – Miss Geraldine Hooper that was, and Mrs. Denning that is, came over with her husband and gave a religious address at the London Hotel. They live at an estate called Pitt, near Ottery, where he has some 500 acres of his own. As Miss Geraldine Hooper I have heard of her wonderful powers of extempore speaking and zeal for religion. I was not disappointed. Her rapidity and channels of enunciation were very striking; and as she is a gentlewoman of good birth and education, she is perfectly ladylike even her most vehement sentences. As Mr. Denning has a similar turn, they are well matched.

Wed. June 23. – Finished carving the Capital of the column in the middle of the arch between the vestry and the church, or rather, the side next to the church, for there is a wood panelling next the vestry. I hope to do the vestry side some day. Also carved the flowers and leaves of the arches above. I have however, not been so much accustomed to carve stone as to carve oak. The stoneword of this archway has been recently put in; but the well-meant attempt of the mason at the ornamental work was so displeasing that the Vicar and Churchwardens, that they allowed me to cut it all out and do it over again. The glass is expected soon.

Th. June 24. Took a rubbing of and partly coloured, the piece of old glass in the vestry, formerly in the east window of the church. If I had not been very vigilant nine years ago, when the church was rebuilt, the piece of glass would have been stolen by a dishonest workman. I wish to send a copy to the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, of which I have for some years been a member.

Wed. June 30. – So Mr. Lyde has been killed on the railroad at the Clapham Junction, and in a very dreadful way. I know him well some twenty-five years ago when he was practising the law in Sidmouth. And I can just remember his father, an old Captain in the Navy, being drawn about in a three-wheeled chair. They own a good deal of scattered property in this neighbourhood, with Sid House and the adjoining land in “Salcombe parish.” The Salcombe people tell a curious story about the grandfather being conjured or “spirited” away in some mysterious manner by a congregation of the neighbouring clergy, but how done or for what reason I do not know. After the Sidmouth parish church was built in 1860, most of the Lyde tombstones were put along the east end of the church, outside. It seems that Mr Lyde was standing on the platform reading the paper, when he was seen to reel and lose his balance just as a train was coming in. He fell off down upon the rails, and the train went over him. His body was picked up, but dreadfully mutilated, and I think one arm and one leg cut off. He was not dead, and even survived an hour or two in that state. He revived a little once, and said “What’s the matter.” From this it is supposed he had fallen in a fit, and was ignorant of what had happened to him. I think he married a Baronet’s daughter, and has left a family.

The Great Eastern Steam Ship is now engaged or just completed, the laying of the French Atlantic Cable. It begins at Fort Minou, ten miles from Brest, and goes to St. Pierre in Newfoundland, and thence to the continent of America. This is the third, England having two.

July 1869.

Wed. July 8. 1869. – Velocipedes are all the fashion again at the present time. I am not sure they have not been revived in France, but the youth of England, are warm in the pursuit. But instead of “Pedestrian Hobbyhorses,” “Dandy Horses,” or “Velocipedes,” such names as Bicycle and Tricycle, according as they have two or three wheels, have found general acceptance. The annexed coloured engraving is dated Fed. 1. 1819, and at that time they were much in vogue in England. As a child, I can remember them before they went out. I remember seeing two gentlemen coming swiftly down Teignmouth Hill, when father lived near East Teignmouth church, when the first ran over a dog and was overturned, the other immediately ran over them and was capsized too, so that velocipedes, men and dog were all in the road together. This circumstance made an impression on a young mind. The annexed engraving was bought in Teignmouth by my father, and has been in a portfolio ever since. It will be seen that the rider forced himself forward by touching the ground with his feet. It was said that this strained the loins and caused rupture, which was party the cause of their going out. By the modern contrivance the knees are gathered up, and the feet are placed on the arms of a crank affixed to the axle of the front wheel, which they turn. This plan however, is rather laborious.


Tu. July 13. 1869. – They are at present engaged in rebuilding the chancel of the Parish church of Salcombe Regis. Mr. Heineken and myself went over (about a mile and a half) to see what they were doing. They have taken off the roof, (which, by the way, was pushing the north & south walls outwards) and they offered me the old oak timbers if I would buy them; but I do not see that I could in any way work them up for the Old Chancel. The north wall is still standing, but they had knocked a hole through the middle, where there are traces apparently of an old doorway. The east end, with the window is to remain untouched, and the Norman patterns under the east window and the cross above, are not to be meddled with. The south wall is down, except one piece about six or eight feet in which appears the capital, sustaining part of an arch, and the shaft below, of a Norman door. It is intended to push this mass of masonry upright without disturbing it.

In the angle on the south side, the pulling down has revealed am old squint which has been walled up from the side of the church. I do not know whether all these walls are of the original work. I did not think much of the mortar, nor of the putting together.

Chalk lime and the sand of the district are not calculated to make good mortar. What I am now using for my entrance hall and other additions to the Old Chancel is Babbicombe limestone burnt at Budleigh Salterton (there having been no limekilns at Sidmouth since the kilns over the Chit Rocks fell into the sea, about 1855, and the sloping road from there to the beach was washed away) and coarse sea sand with the salt washed out. This makes strong mortar.

At Salcombe however I believe they are going to use blue lias lime from Yarcombe, which is very good. I give a section of the south jamb of west door, taken only by eye; also of the bold moulding forming squire head over pointed west doorway; and also section of tower arch by eye only. There is an old massive lock behind the west door. The soffit of the tower arch is about 17.10” feet above the floor. On the south side of the tower arch there is a quatrefoil opening from the tower stares into the church. On the west side of the pier which is on the south of the nave, there is a small shallow nich about a foot high. In the floor there is an old slab to the memory of Henry Grig. In the south aisle there is a slab recording the death of George Drake, 1645, with the arms similar to those at Southleigh, as mentioned April 27 last.

At the north-east end of the nave there is a mural tablet to the Mitchels, with the Mitchel arms impaling . . . . . . . The oldest tomb in the churchyard is an alter tomb to this same family nearly in front of the west door, of 1611. At the south-east corner of the north aisle there is a niche or piscina. The eastern most window on the north side of this aisle is peculiar. The escoinson arch is circular, over a pointed window head, and the jambs have columns with circular capitals and octagonal bases, very rude, and the bases perhaps not original. The window is new. The stonework made by a Sidmouth tradesman, who evidently know nothing of architecture. The painted glass is to the memory of Colonel Grey, who I think died at Sidmouth. At the west end of the north aisle is the vestry, and beyond it, further west, is a dead house or place where the sexton keeps his tools &c. This dead-house or whatever it be, is entered from the churchyard at the west end by an arched doorway: and when a man told us it was generally called “The Old Chapel.” Mr. Heineken started the idea that this adjunct to the church was perhaps the chapel of St. Clement and St. Mary Magdalen, mentioned by Lysons, and it may be by other writers as being, or having been in the parish of Salcombe, though without any indication as to where. The idea is new to me, but I think it is worthy of consideration. The timbers of the roof are moulded like the annexed section.


From an examination of the whole north wall, it looks as if the whole north aisle formed the chapel, though a portion of the church; and the peculiarity of the window mentioned above, and apparently a piscina in the proper place for a chapel, though unusual in the aisle of a church, altogether tend in the same direction. It must however, be observed, that there is a break in the wall, and that the roofs are not the same level. I have been informed that these were formerly the ruins of a building, supposed to have been a chapel, somewhere in the fields to the north of Trow Turnpike Gate. What could they have been? Could the chapel in question have been situated there? I suspect the ruins of Chelson Chapel were alluded to. They were removed about 1850. They were at the head of the Packham valley, about 2 ½ miles NE from Salcombe. See May 1. 1874.

Note Mar.3.1890. - I read in the “Newbery House Magazine,” Vol.II.p. 281, that commissioners visited Salcombe Regis in 1301, to examine the state of the church, and reported that “The Chapel of the Blessed Mary Magdalene, at the west end of the church was in ruins, having been crushed by a falling of an ash Tree.” This identifies the chapel, and says nothing about St. Clement.

Tues. July 20. 1860. – The weather being beautiful, we went to explore Harpford Beacon, where nether of us had been for many years. To-day I ought to have started for Dartmouth, to attend the meeting of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, and be there all week, but I could not leave the workmen at the Old Chancel so long. I intended to have produced the fossil tooth found here last February, but failing in this. I sent a coloured rubbing with a description to Mr. Edward Vivian of Torquay, and he kindly undertook to communicate the facts to the members. We drove to Sidford, then up High Street, the old Roman road, and then up the long Lane all along the north flank of Core Hill. From this lane we had a fine view of Sidbury Castle. The last pinch of the hill rises 1 in 5 as we found by levelling. Going up Roncombe Girt, Sidbury, two or three summers ago, we found the gradient 1 in 3 for a short distance. Beacon Hill is about 764 feet high. Bulverton Hill, across “The Sidmouth Gap” on the south-west, near the Cairn in the plantation, is about 677. The remains of the Beacon consists of a circular wall, the diameter outside being fourteen feet; the thickness of the wall two; and the height of the wall outside, five feet. The whole is in a state of decay, and it is nearly concealed by the hedges converging upon it. I could not find any decidedly calcined flint within it as at Blackbury Castle, though one peace looked like it; but it would take a great deal of digging to examine thoroughly. From this point Sid Abbey (house so called) bore SE by S. ½.S., not allowing for variation. For the purpose of experimenting with the micrometer, Mr. Heineken requested me to measure a Notice board on the hill. The horizontal length of the board is 2 f, 8 7/8 in. Measured a fir tree, 38 feet high, with Mr. Heineken’s Apomecometer, a little instrument recently invented by him, though pirated by others, see Student, Ap. 1869.

We then drove away northward along the ridge of the Ottery East Hill, enjoying the splendid view over the valley of the Otter, until we came to a tumulus at the four-cross-way, cut into a star with four points, [October 21. 1854.] Measured a tree 52 feet high. Here we turned back again. In so doing we observed something very like a tumulus or barrow over the hedge in the plantation on the left, and wishing to ascertain its position, we determined to measure from it to the Lane leading down to Sidbury Castle, where we were going. We made a chalk mark on the box of the hind wheel, and I counted the number of revolutions as we drive on, and made them 244. The circumference of the wheel was 9 feet 6 inches. Then 244 x 9=2226+122 (half 244 for the six inches) =2348 - 3 = 782.2 yards or nearly half a mile. We had often measured in this manner before. The steepest part of the lane going down by Sidbury Castle was 1 in 5. – See forward Oct 10. 1871.

Th. July 22. 1869. – Two jackdaws have been in the habit of coming to be fed for the last six or seven years. They live with the wild birds in the sea face of Salcombe Hill, a mile eastward. One of them Wh. I take to be the male bird, will come and eat bread close to me, but the other is more timid. They always bring some young ones during the summer, but the young ones do not adopt the take habits of the parents. I believe it is generally supposed that birds separate after the pairing season, and choose new mates in the following spring: - in fact, that they merely cohabit for the summer. I am however inclined to think that there is a species of marriage amongst them, and a sort of conjugal fidelity. I cannot help feeling that these two, from their ways, are the same two, which have apparently been constant to each other so long. When I was a thoughtless boy I used to shoot birds; but now I look upon it as a great cruelty. If a bird is shot, who can say that the same grief is not given to the survivors, as if the father or mother of a family amongst human beings were murdered? It is bad enough if they must be sacrificed for human food, but to destroy animals wantonly admits of no excuse. There is also a young rook, a last year’s bird. Last year the beak was black: this year it is getting white, but it is not so white as in the older birds. It is even tamer than the jackdaw. It will come inside the window after food. About a month ago an old mother rook brought three young ones, and used to feed them before the windows. She had now left, but the three young ones are very regular at breakfast and dinner time. I remark that the rooks are disposed to be carnivores, but the jackdaws herbivores; and if I throw out a piece of meat and a piece of bread together, the rooks will take the meat first, but the jackdaws the bread. They will however eat almost anything.

Th. July 29. 1869. – Mr. Heineken and myself drove to Pin Beacon where we had not been since 1855. We took the road by the cliff up Peak Hill. The gradient just above the cottage on the left, where it is steepest, is 1 in 5. On the top of the hill, we turned to the right over the open heath, and making a circuit round the head of a valley, made for the SW point, covered with fir trees. We found men at work felling timber. They told us that the mound at the south point of the ridge or promontory was called “The Old Beacon,” the trees around which are about 60 years old, and the mound at 100 paces north, “The New Beacon,” where they are of from 40 to 45 year’s growth. Taking one of the trees east of the Old Beacon, we made it 54f..6’high, and 4f,,3’in circumference. Were it not for the trees the view would be splendid and most extensive, commanding all the county towards the south, west and north. Towards the east is shut in by the Honiton and Sidmouth ranges. At about 60 paces north of the Old Beacon and 40 south of the other, a hedge, with a ditch on each side has been drawn across the ridge of the hill, and running down on each side of till it meets modern hedges. On reconsidering this I started the idea, which was adopted by my companion, that this has not got the appearance of a modern hedge at all, but years more the appearance of an ancient work constructed to protect the Old Beacon from being interfered with by an enemy. North of the New Beacon there is a field, through which we passed, which forms a third and newer plantation, having been planted only two seasons with little trees which at first I did not discover amongst the grass. There, clear of the trees, we could see Blackstone, or Blackistone Rock near Moreton Hampstead, under which in a line towards us, the Holdon Belvidere, and a little to the North of the line nearer us, Woodbury Castle. We then proceeded NE over the heath, towards Salter’s Cross, so called, and were surprised to see, how much Mr. Balfour, our recent Lord of the Manor, has enclosed and is bringing into cultivation the greater part of Bulverton Hill and the flank of Peak Hill near Mutters More. We descended Mutter’s Moor, Moor Lane, Jenny Pine’s Corner (where one Jane Pine who committed suicide in 1811 was buried) and so by Broadway to the town, passing the New Lodge of Mr. Thornton’s place at Knowle. Some people think it is not much consequence who your father and Mother were, or whether you call yourself by your Mother’s name one half of your life and your father’s the other, if your father leaves you £400.000.

Fr. July 30. 1869. – So the new Lord of the Manor is dead. He died July 20.

August 1869

Fr. Aug. 13. The papers say that Billy Lanny, or King Billy, the last native of Van Dieman’s Land, or Tasmania, is dead.


Mon. Aug. 16. Went to the top of Gittisham Hill to watch the opening of two tumuli for the Secretary. They lie near 300 yards eastward from the six mile stone from Sidmouth, and three from Honiton. Some members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, now assembling in Exeter, are coming out on Saturday. A thunder shower drenched me and the men. I held a bundle of fern on my shoulder, between me and the storm.


Th. Aug. 19. Up on the hill again. Only met with a few flint flakes, a sling stone like those at Sidbury Castle. [ ] a large beach pebble, nearly as big as the fist, spherical but flattish, probably a hammer, and some scattered pieces of red ochre.

Sat. Aug. 21. There again. Some tents were pitched in the field on the west of the milestone, where we had a splendid collation. I sat with the Bayleys of Cotford. We then went out on the open heath. The Rector of Gittisham stood on the nearest barrow, No.1 first opened, and gave all address on barrows and other antiquities connected with some of the subjects of a like nature. The afternoon was quiet, warm, and delightful, and some 200 or more people sat in groups on the heath. They have also opened two others. No. 1, consisted of dark peat earth laid in strata, which I am inclined to think had not been disturbed, though some thought otherwise. This was capped with a layer of loose flints about a foot thick, which extended only over the top and south-west side. Above this was a thin stratum of soil. No. 2, about 100 yards S.E., consisted of a circle of large rough flints, from 12 to 18 inches long, inside which was apparently a heap of earth covered by a layer of flints, again covered with earth. No. 3 was a circular patch of fern (pteris aquilina) in the midst of the open heath and furze. Perhaps a barrow had once been there, but removed. No. 4, near the great tumulus covered with trees, was of dark peat earth. It was opened by a tunnel or trench from the south to the centre, where a heap of large stones was uncovered, as if a kist-vaen were there, but there was not time on this day of Meeting to proceed further.

September 1869

Mon. Sep. 13. 1869. My recent visit to Torquay has been very agreeable. Croquet is now becoming one of the institutions of the country - almost as much so as the constitution of parliament or the circuits of the Judges. Went to the Croquet Tournament, open to all England. The game is played very differently from what it used to be. The best players proceed with all the caution of a player at chess. I soon discovered that my mallet was too light. A heavy mallet is a great advantage. The play began on Monday the 6th. And continued till Thursday the 9th. inclusive. The last day I won a sweepstakes of sixteen shillings.

On Friday I went to look at Paignton and call on some friends. It is a dreary looking place. The peculiar petrifactions called Beckites are found in this neighbourhood. I had not time to search in the cliffs. There is a harbour, enclosed by a pier, on the north side of Roundham head. Near the church there is a squre tower covered with ivy, standing by itself, very pretty and picturesque. I belive it is the remains of a former Bishops Palace.

On Saturday the 11th. I left for Sidmouth. Got to Exeter by rail. Went to the 3P.M. service at Exeter cathedral, where I fell in with Mr. Heineken. Took my ticket for Ottery Road, but by some error I got into the wrong train, and was carried back to Dawlish, through which I had come up in the morning. Slept at the Royal Albert Hotel, near the station. Next morning, being Sunday, I got to Exeter. Went to the cathedral. Took the train to Ottery Road, where my luggage was waiting for me. No coach to Sidmouth, but I got a lift to Ottery. From Ottery I walked six miles to Sidmouth, picking blackberries by the road side.

I annex a printed report of the Croquet. I am sorry now that I did not find out who the Miss Hutchinson was who was playing. She had decidedly Hutchinson features.

Daughter I believe of General Hutchinson, of --- near Bideford.


Fri. Sep. 24. 1869. So Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter, has gone the way of all Bishops at last. He died at his residence, Bishopstowe, Torquay, last Saturday the 18th aged 91. By talent and pugnacity he raised himself from a low origin to the mitre. His father was a wholesale brick maker of Bridgewater, who afterwards kept the Bell Inn at Gloucester. Amongst his many controversies, his refusal to install the Rev. G. C. Gorham to the Vicarage at Bramford Speke near Exeter (but which the Archbishop of Canterbury compelled him to do) on the grounds that his belief in the efficacy of Baptismal regeneration was defective, was not one of the least. As it must be now, some 16 or 18 years ago I forget the particulars, but I recollect sympathising with Mr. Gorham at the time and thinking he was an ill-used man. His daughter, Miss Gorham, has several times been staying with friends of mine here in Sidmouth, and I have had opportunities of talking to her about these things. When she was here last year, the myrtle trees (for which this place is noted) were very full of buries, and of which she made myrtle jam, and to which she gave me a jar. I do not know whether the idea was her own.

Sat. Sep. 25. To-day the electric telegraph line is to be laid from Lands End to St. Mary’s one of the Scilly Isles.

Sat. Sep. 25. 1869. A Mrs. Remington has given a Lifeboat which is to be stationed at Sidmouth. Amid great demonstrations it was to-day drawn into the town and launched. It has a crew of 12 men, 10 being at the oars. The new crew in the new boat were exercised in rowing, then sailing, and afterwards in capsizing the boat. They all stood on the starboard gunwale, and by repeated efforts at rocking, they at last compelled her to make a summersault. She rolled quite round, down one side and then up the other. Of course the men were all thrown into the water, the distance being about a quarter of a mile from the shore; but one or two, not able to extricate themselves, were shut in under the boat, and went round with her. One or two boats were near her in case of accident, and the men had their cork jackets on. It was a novel and an amusing sight, and Sidmouth beach was crowded with people.

October 1869


Mon. Oct. 4. 1869. To-day I hid away the following genealogical and absurd inscription in the masonry of the Old Chancel.










In 1859 and 1860 the Old Chancel proper was erected on my ground out of the materials of the Old Chancel of the Parish Church, when the church was rebuilt: in 1864 I built the Oak Room on the north side of it with connecting walls, the window being part of the South Transept window of Awliscombe church near Honiton, soon after carving the mantel shelf and brackets in oak, the bookcase behind the door, the cornice over the window, the painting, carving and gilding the Gothic Heraldic ceiling, containing the coats of arms of the Lords and Lasses of the Manor of Sidmouth; and now I am going to make the place habitable by adding an Entrance Hall, with some lower and upper rooms, though not to complete the whole design. The above whimsical inscription I punched with steel letters on a piece of sheet lead, measuring about six inches by four, and put it behind the top stone of the left hand buttress goig into the entrance hall.

I am also now engaged in carving the corbels in the four corners of the Hall, from which the vaulted ceiling springs, and the four corbels of the small vaulted ceiling of the short passage inside the hall. It has occupied me a great deal.

Tu. Oct. 5. 1869. As an event in the history of the Country, I may record that on Saturday September 18, Woolwich Dockyard was Closed. This has been a National Dockyard since the time of Henry VII, and VIII, and hence the circumstances is worth noting down.

Wed. Oct. 6. 1869. Owing to the astronomical fact, that at new moon yesterday afternoon, the sun, moon, and earth were nearly in line, and at a period closely following the equinox, it had been generally foretold that the tides would be of unusual height. Many persons have been greatly alarmed, fearing a dreadful inundation was to follow. So great was the apprehension, that Mr. Airy the Astronomer Royal wrote a letter to the public papers a short time ago, in which he revealed that a great deal would depend on the direction of the wind, and that past experience showed that the force and direction of the winds affected the rise of the tides more than any conjunction of the heavenly bodies. I went down to the beach this evening between six and seven o’clock, just before it got dark, to see how high the water was. The wind has been S.E., rather strong for 30 hours, with a moderately rough sea, but nothing like what it is with a south-west gale. Had it been the latter, I dare say the waves would have been backing over the Esplanade and running into the town, as I have often seen, but now they were only reaching the base of the wall, and returning again.

Sat. Oct. 9. The newspapers state that though much apprehension existed in various places, little or no damage has been done by the tides. In certain situations however, they rose sufficiently high to verify the predictions.

Tu. Oct. 19. 1869. Mr. A. Burnell, at present with his parents at Claremont, (house so called, near Broadway) who has been much in India, gave me the annexed impressions of Sanskrit writing engraved on copper plates. He has impressions from many copper plates found hung up, or strung on strings, and jealously preserved in the temples. They mostly contain grants of land. He has also brought home quantities of manuscripts written on palm leaves, the leaves being long strips, pierced near each and with holes, and strung on cord, each outside being a piece of wood, to form a cover. Such a package constitutes a book

The writing on palm leaves is done with a steel pen or style, like this, but twice as long, or longer.

The writing is from left to right like English, and not like Hebrew. The style is held as the annexed sketch, and its point is steadied by being pressed against the left thumb. The writing is indented or scratched in the leaf, & then the charcoal is rubbed in. In modern days naptha is sometimes applied, to prevent insects attacking the leaves.

Wed. Oct. 20. Had a game of croquet with Mr. W. Floyd, the Misses Floyd, their Mother Lady Floyd being in Sidmouth just now, Lady Maria Hobart, and Mrs and the Misses Jeferee.

Wed. Oct. 27. The weather is fine, but a very cold north wind; never the less Mr. W. Floyd, Miss Florence, and the Miss Lords with myself, played croquet for several hours. One or two light falls of snow occurred, the atmosphere above doubtless being very cold. There will not be much more playing this year.

Fr. Oct. 29. To-day the Earl of Derby, also died on the , is to be buried at Knowsley. He was one of the great statesmen and scholars of the day. His recent translation of the Iliad of Homer is alone enough to place his name high amongst classical scholars.

November 1869


Fri. Nov. 5. “Old Pope Day”, as it used to be called. The Tractarians, Pewseyites, High Church party, or those who have Romanising tendencies, are trying to discourage this annual demonstration; and I suppose they have in some degree succeeded, for, for the first time since my earliest recollection, there were no stiffed figures of Guy Fawkes, with his lantern and matches, carried about by the children this morning. After dark in the evening however, there were plenty of fireworks, and a large bonfire down on the beach. The fire was made on the shingle at the end of the Fore Street. It lit up the waves beautifully! And the waves nearly reached it.

Mon. Nov. 8. To-day the Queen opened the new Blackfriars Bridge and the Hoborn Viaduct, in London.

Wed. Nov. 17. 1869. To-day I am 59, and I feel as strong and as well and as active as I did at 29. I was born at Winchester Nov. 17. 1810, and believe I was baptised at Heavitree the year after, and about the time my father’s sister married Captain Oliver there, and my grandfather Thomas Hutchinson, the American Judge of Probate, eldest son of the Governor of Massachusetts, (to whom George III, twice offered a Baronetcy, Aug. 15 and Nov. 5. 1774) died at Wonford House, & was buried in Heavitree church - but I have never taken the trouble to examine the Register. I think the old fashioned house on the left hand at the bottom of Heavitree Hill is called Wonford or East Wonford House. During the Revolution the Americans confiscated and sold the property of the Royalists, and the Governor’s estate at Milton fetched

£38 000, as is recorded in his Diary. I have not discovered what his other estates fetched, but his losses prevented his accepting the Title. His son the Judge, however, left £20.000 behind him, of which my father had four.

To-day the Isthmus of Suez Canal is to be opened in great state. Several crowned heads are there to witness the proceedings.

Th. Nov. 25. The papers have recently told us that an 83 carat diamond, found at the Cape of Good Hope, has been sent to England, insured in the sum of £30000.

They also remind us that the American war of the year 1868 cost £8.773.000. It was admirably conducted.

And they tell us a fact worth noting on the National Debt. On Mar. 31. 1858 it was £832.833.000; and ten years after, in 1868, it had been reduced to £795.024.000. This is a reduction of £37.809.000 in ten years, or at the rate of £3.790.00 a year. Considering that the government funds constitute the safest investment for our money, it may be a question whether the national debt is such an evil as some represent.

December 1869


Mon. Dec. 20. 1869. The Council of Trent was opened at Christmas 1545, and held occasional sittings till Christmas 1563. On the 8th. instant a new council, commonly designated the Ecumenical council was opened with great ceremony at Rome. It is called together to discuss some of the great religious and political questions of the day, which are pressing themselves on the attention of Roman Catholics; and as the Tractarian parts in England are doing all they can to Romanise this country, and as it is said that upwards of 300 of the clergy of the church of England have gone over to Rome since this movement began, the Pope is looking with great intent towards Great Britain. The great Scotch divine who preaches to a large congregation in London, applied for permission to discuss Protestant doctrines at the council; but the Pope replied to Dr. Cumming, of whom I speak, to the effect that. They could not permit a discussion on points which they have condemned already.

[ For many years all my entries in this Diary have been made with Walkden’s ink; but Robert Morrells ink, now used in the government offices as superior to all other, I have changed to to-day. Only time can prove which endures best. ]

Sun. Dec. 26. Yesterday evening I dined at the Burnells at Claremont, between Knowle and Sidmount, being Christmas Day. When I walked home at 10 P.M. it was clear and freezing, with the roads clear & hard. This morning I was surprised to see everything covered with four inches thick of snow. At the parish church this morning were disturbed by a window blind threatening to fall down. The great window blind in the south transcript, with its long stick and an iron spike at each end, had broken away at its western end, and was hanging all of a slope by the other. People were eyeing it and afraid to sit under it, though they did so. I sit across the passage, north of this point. After the service had begun, seeing the uneasiness that prevailed, I went to Mrs. and Miss. Jones (wife and daughter of Col. Jones, who has recently taken Mr. Vane’s house at Camden) and offered them seats with me, for three were not many people at church this morning, owing to the severity of the weather. They however, did not like to make a disturbance in the church, and preferred keeping quiet. Soon after, Mr. Clements, the Vicar, seeing how matters stood, sent over Mr. Barratt, the Clark (my tailor) to request they would all seek other places. At this there was a general turn out. I moved up nearer the reading desk, and my seat and several others, where not occupied, were taken possession of. Before the afternoon service, the blind had been put right.

Mon. Dec. 27. At a concert in the great room at the London Hotel, given by Mr. Pinney, the Organist. Sat between Mrs. Clements and the Rev. G. Gordon, the new Curate.

Tu. Dec. 28. Cold very severe for this early period of the winter. Several people went skating on a pond below Sid Abbey. Called on the Misses Clements (sisters of the Vicars wife) at their recently bought house 1 Sidlands. Miss Lousada of Peak House was there. Thence went up Mill Lane (they are trying to call it “All Saints Church Road,” in defiance of what it has been called for centuries, for the Monks of Otterton came down it to their Mill which stood nearly opposite the end of it, or about 50 yards below the end, in the town) and called at 1 Eaglehurst, near Cotmaton, to see how Mr. Wm Floyd (second son of the late Sir Henry, and brother of Sir J. F. of Powys [see the new window in the parish church]) was getting on, for he has been laid up for a month with a cold and short breathiing. Found him better, but not able to go out. Returned home. Took down the flag flying at the Old Chancel, it being a cruelty to leave it up there in the snow and the piercing wind. Locked up the doors, the interior of the building not yet being finished, and went into No. 4 Coburg Terrace for the night.

Wed. Dec. 29. The wind veered to S.W, and a thaw. See Jan. 3.

Th. Dec. 30. Dined with Mr. & Mrs. Alexander at Knowle in Salcombe parish,

2 ½ m. N.E., from Sidmouth. Went out with Mr. Vane and the Rev. Mr. Robinson. Fourteen at dinner = Major and Mrs. Hicks, Marins; Mrs. Wyndham, Sidbrooke, heretofore Lime Park: Mrs. Coney (her siister) Sidcliff: Miss Lester, 6 Fort Field T.;

Mr. & Mrs. Cowan, 2 St. Kilda’s, Salcombe; Rev. J. A. Morshead, and one of his sons, Salcombe Vicarage. The Alexanders used to live at Woolbrook Glen when the Prince of Wales came here in . John Wolcot, whom I can remember a boy, was former owner of Knowle, a place which has beautiful capabilities of improvement. Many is the pleasant evening I spent in the house when John’s mother was alive, a careful woman who put everything straight and, left John a good property. He married the eldest daughter of Archdeacon Moore-Stevans, Vicar of Otterton, and then the old house was pulled down, and the present one built, on the same foundations. He had no family, but his sisters Mrs. Goddard and Mrs. Lang left children. Mrs. J Wolcot was a good pianoforte and harp player. Mrs. Pheophisus Jenkins (d. of Gen. Walker, of Line Park) and myself used to walk out, Mrs. J. W, taking harp, Mrs. J, piano, and I the flute, when we would play trios all the morning, have dinner and walk back. Poor John Wolcot, he was a foolish fellow. He involved a find estate by the fatal passion for “play” as it was said; died young, and then Mr. Cave, of Bristol, bought the property, as he had before bought the Manor of Sidbury and Witheby from a ruined man - Mr. Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham, a West India merchant, lived in great style for some years at Witheby, when all at once a great change took place. It got whispered about that he had been wronging the rightful heir. Certain it is, that a boy with a black woman, who had been his nurse, came from the West indies and claimed everything, for Mrs. James Jenkins of Radway, told me she saw them at Witheby. It was said that Mr. C. died of vexation or starvation. The last time I saw him he looked almost like a skeleton. The family went away and lived in comparative poverty.

Mrs. C. lived some time at Lewes in Sussex. I think she died there. - May 25.1875.

Fri. Dec. 31. 1869. Spent the evening at Radway - the house at the west end of the road leading to the stone bridge to Salcombe, - all that remains of the ancient Radway Manor. In the Cartulary of Otterton Priory, there is a deed, dated 1257 (if I remember right) in which Adam De Radeweie, or Radway has a dispute with the Prior of Otterton about a Mill. Radway Manor extended eastwards I believe, taking in Powys, &., and eastwards I think to the river, and south I suspect to the Wesleyan Chapel.

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