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Dean Prior

Dean Prior is located within South Hams local authority area. Historically it formed part of Stanborough Hundred. It falls within Totnes 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 495 in 1801 529 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In 1641/2 145 adult males signed the Protestation returns.

A parish history file is held in Buckfastleigh 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 Dean Prior area on Donn's one inch to the mile survey of 1765.

Dean Prior area on Donn's map of 1765 (sx76don)

On the County Series Ordnance Survey mapping the area is to be found on 1:2,500 sheet 120/2 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 120NW The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SX730635. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SX76SW, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Outdoor Leisure 20, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 202. Geological sheet 349 also covers the area.

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

DEAN PRIOR is a parish with no village, on the SE. skirts' of Dartmoor. The church (St. George) is disappointing: a large barn-like building, mainly of 15th century date but considerably altered in the 17th, and enlarged and much restored in the 19th. The font is Norman. Dean is famous, however, for its association with Robert Herrick, who was vicar here 1629-47 and 1662-74 (he was ejected under the Protectorate and reinstated under the Act of Uniformity) and wrote all his poetry during his earlier tenure of the living. He and his maid, Prudence Baldwin, are buried in unmarked graves in the churchyard. Herrick hated Dean and Devonshire, but his poetry is full of local scenes and above all of the wild flowers that grow so luxuriantly in the woods and hedge banks. The small hall, parlour, and kitchen of his vicarage remain, incorporated into the back of a more modern house. Near the church is Dean Court, said to have been built by Sir Edward Giles (1566-1637) whose monument, with an epitaph by Herrick, is the most interesting part of the church.

2012 addendum - The Church building with its prominent position beside the A38 Devon Expressway is currently kept in good repair, with a small parking area at the back. The bell tower boasts a ‘Devon Six’ set of bells regularly used for competitions. A stained glass window, plaque and small etched window commemorate the poet, Robert Herrick (and his maid Prudence Baldwin) making it a place of pilgrimage for poetry lovers. Traditional forms of worship (Book of Common Prayer & King James Bible) are celebrated most Sundays.