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Cornwood

Cornwood is located within South Hams local authority area. Historically it formed part of Ermington Hundred. It falls within Plympton Deanery for ecclesiastical purposes. The Deaneries are used to arrange the typescript Church Notes of B.F.Cresswell which are held in the Westcountry Studies Library. The population was 745 in 1801 1115 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In 1641/2 228 adult males signed the Protestation returns.

A parish history file is held in Ivybridge Library. You can look for other material on the community by using the place search on the main local studies database. Further historical information is also available on the Genuki website.

Maps: The image below is of the Cornwood area on Donn's one inch to the mile survey of 1765.

Cornwood area on Donn's map of 1765 (sx65don)

On the County Series Ordnance Survey mapping the area is to be found on 1:2,500 sheet 119/9 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 119SW
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SX605598. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SX65NW, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Outdoor Leisure 28, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 202. Geological sheet 349 also covers the area.

Illustrations: The image below is of Cornwood as included in the Library's illustration collection. Other images can be searched for on the local studies catalogue.

Viaduct at Slade Devon (SC0423)

Extract from Devon by W.G.Hoskins (1954), included by kind permission of the copyright holder:

CORNWOOD is a large parish running far into the Moor. Of its total area of 10,000 acres, more than 6,000 are moorland and wood. The high moorlands of the parish are intersected by the wooded valley of the Yealm, which is particularly beautiful at Hawns and Dendles where the river begins to leave the Moor. From here northwards to the parish boundary at Erme Head, the ground is studded with prehistoric, and later, antiquities of the highest interest. The detailed sites of these antiquities will be found on the 2" inch Ordnance map, sheet 20/66. Around the headwaters of the Yealm we find the greatest concentration of hut-circles on Dartmoor-some 27 to the square mile-together with stone circles, and large and small enclosures or pounds. There is a particularly large pound about 1 m. NE. of Dendles Wood. Another fairly dense concentration of hut-circles and pounds is to be found all along the W. side of the upper Erme valley. Here also is the longest known stone row in the world, beginning at a stone circle near Erme Plains and running for 21 m. almost due N. to a barrow on the summit of Green Hill. For the possible significance of this monument, see Part I. There are barrows (Bronze Age burial mounds) on the top of Stall Down, and also a short stone row. At the very head of the Yealm are two blowing-houses of the old tinners, and another beside the upper Erme in Erme Plains (For the Dartmoor blowing houses in general, see D.A. 72 (1940), 201-50 and D.A. 78 (1946), 281-4.)

The domestic architecture of Cornwood parish is also exceedingly interesting. Much of the parish was "waste" in Domesday, and was colonised by free peasants in the 12th and 13th centuries whose farmsteads, from which they took their family names, will be found scattered about below the moorland edge. Best of these is Cholwich Town, where the Cholwiches began soon after 1200 and which remained in their possession until the last of the family died in 1835,' The farmstead itself is one of the best examples of a moorland yeoman's house that one can find anywhere round Dartmoor, a rock-like structure of moor- stone dating from the late 15th century to early 16th century. Other farmsteads of this type which gave their names to medieval freeholders were Hanger, Stert, Wisdome, and Hele. Hanger to-day is a solid granite farmhouse of 17th century date, Great Stert is late 17th century, Little Stert early 17th century, Wisdome and South Hele have some remains of 17th century work.

Hele was the fountain-head of an important South Devon family, the Heles, who were considerable landowners in the 16th and 17th centuries. Pole says they originated here in Henry ill's time. The last Hele of Cornwood died in 1741. South Hele, now a farmhouse, was their mansion. Like so many of the old Devon freeholders, they owed their rise from yeoman obscurity to a successful lawyer, in this instance Sir John Hele (1565-1608). Other notable houses in the parish are Blachford, a Domesday manor, which became the seat of the Rogers family, who rebuilt the house on a grander scale in the 17th century and made a park.

Slade belonged to the Slades in the 13th century, and then to the Coles from the time of Richard II until the early 17th century. The present house is a composite structure of various periods from the 13th century to the 19th, with traces of quadrangular planning. It has a splendid great hall, with beautiful panelling of a Flemish character, and an open-timber roof with 60 well carved bosses, a minstrel's gallery over the panelled screen, and a large granite fireplace. The entrance porch is 16th century there are other internal features of 17th to 18th century date. NW. of the house is a handsome old barn which retains its original doors. (D.A. 75 (1943), 94.) Delamore House was rebuilt about 1819-20, but there are traces of the older mansion near Delamore Farm.

Architecturally, the most interesting house in the parish is Fardel, which was a Saxon estate and a Domesday manor. It came to the Raleighs (of Smallridge in East Devon) by marriage with an heiress early in the 14th century and continued in the family until Carew Raleigh, son of the great Sir Walter, sold it to the Heles. The house is a medieval mansion of 15th to 16th century date, with a well-preserved chapel and solar. The chapel was licensed by Bishop Lacy in 1432 and this is probably the date of the existing building. Near Fardel was found, in 1860, the first stone with an Ogham inscription to be discovered in England." This stone is now in the British Museum.

Cornwood church (St. Michael) is of no great interest. It is mainly a 15th century church, much restored, with a chancel and W. tower of c. 1300. There is a 17th century pulpit, and there are a few mural monuments to local families, including one to Robert Bellmaine of Delamore (1627) and his wife Dorothy with a curious epitaph: Here's rest and peace Within this grave, Which we in life Could never have.