All Saints, Bradford

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This historical note will be seen to deal as much with the Parish of Bradford as with its Parish Church and this is thought to be worthwhile for two reasons. Firstly, it is certain to be of greater interest to the inhabitants of the Parish who may not have any particular interest for the Church alone and secondly, in disentangling the early history, it is difficult to separate that of the Church from that of the Parish as a whole.

In the time of Edward the Confessor Bradford and Lashbrook manors were held by the Saxon thegn Algar the tall. Dunsland was held by Wulfric (or Uluric).

After the conquest of England by William of Normandy the Devon manors were redistributed by the king. There were by 1086 (the time of the Domesday survey) five principal land holders in Devon. After the king they were Baldwin the Sheriff, Judichael of Totnes, Robert the Count of Mortain and Geoffrey de Mowbray, Bishop of Coutances. There were as well nearly fifty other smaller holdings. The King held most of the wealthiest manors but Baldwin in fact held the greatest number. The King had, among others, Black Torrington, Shebbear, Holsworthy, Northlew and Halwill in this area.

Baldwin held Okehampton, Sampford Courtney, Bratton Clovelly, Monkokehampton and Bradford as well as Dunsland.

The manors accounted for only about one tenth of the land in the parish, the rest would be either regarded as waste land or forest where the king had the right to hunt.

Baldwin's eldest son, William, succeeded him as Sheriff of Devon on his father's death in 1090. His second son, Robert, succeeded his father as count of Brionne, and his third son, Richard, became Sheriff, and lord of Okehampton on his brother William's death. All three brothers died without known issue.

The Parish, which consists of a number of scattered hamlets and farmsteads with no central village, is called 'Bradefort' in Domesday. Despite the spelling, the same is thought to refer to a broad ford over the River Torridge which is close to Bradford Mill. The only road shown on early maps is the lane, known as Church Lane, running from the old Rectory at Priestacott, behind the church and the manor where it forks, one branch leading to the Mill and, presumably, the ford, while the other leads to Bason and Thornbury.

There has almost certainly been a church on this site since Saxon times. The present building dates from the Norman, Early English and Perpendicular periods. The principal Norman features are the font and the south doorway. The font, which has a romanesque fluted bowl with round moulding on the rim, is particularly fine.

The shaft has been lengthened by the insertion of two courses of stone. The granite pillars of the arcade are Perpendicular and probably early 15thcentury.

The Domesday Book records four manors in what is now the parish of Bradford: Bradford itself and the manors of Dunsland, Lashbrook and Henscott. Middlecot was another sub-manor attached to Black Torrington, The first three were all manors belonging to Baldwin the younger son of count Gilbert de Brionne. William I made Baldwin Sheriff of Devon after the surrender of Exeter to the King in 1068. By 1086 Dunsland was held of Baldwin by Cadiho (who was thought to have married Baldwin's daughter) and Lashbrook by Roger de Mules (possibly a brother of Baldwin), The manor of Henscott was held of the Bishop of Coutances by Drogo.

By 1166 Bradford was held by Engelram Abernu and in 1241 by the heirs of William de Aubernon. This led to the manor being known as Bradford Dabernon to distinguish it from other Bradford manors, especially one in Pyworthy.

Later in the 13th century Bradford Dabernon passed into the possession of John le Deneys and remained in that family until the 15th century when it passed by marriage to Gifford of Yeo in Alwington whose daughter Wilmot married first John Bury and then Sir George Cary in the late 16thcentury. Sir George Cary, of Cockington in South Devon, was related to the Carys of Clovelly, and his descendants bought Torre Abbey in the 17th century. The last Cary to live at Bradford appears to be Edward ary c.1630. Robert Cary was buried here in 1610. The old manor house, which was near the church, was ruinous by the time that the Carys sold Bradford manor to Thomas Grylls & John Borlase of Helston in about 1809. All that was left were some eight cottages to the north and west of the church. Among these, on the northern boundary of the churchyard was the parish poorhouse. The heirs of Grylls contracted to sell the manor to the Revd. John Yule in 1861 but he became bankrupt and it was sold to the Revd Walter Bullock of Essex, who in turn sold it to Joseph English Esq. in 1868.

The manor of Dunsland remained with Cadiho until the 15th century. In 1396 bishop Stafford granted a licence to John Cade and Alice his wife to have a private chapel within their house. In 1414 Thomazin the daughter and heir of John Cadiho married John Dabernon. This John was a member of the younger branch of the Dabernons of Bradford. His grand-daughter married John Batten of Exeter. After four descents in this family it passed by the marriage of Philippa Batten to John Arscott of Arscott in Holsworthy on the death of Humphrey Batten in 1522. After another four generations, on the death of Arthur Arscott in 1662, it was inherited, through his daughter Grace's marriage to William Bickford of Plympton St Mary, by their son Arscott. Another four generations and, at the death of Arscott Bickford in 1817, it passed to his sister Mary who had married the Revd. William Holland Coham of Coham in Black Torrington. Their grand-daughter married Capt. Harvey Dickinson in 1858. In 1954 the house became National Trust property, and in 1967 it was destroyed by fire.

Henscott (or Hengescote) was held by Wilfred de Henscot in the time of Henry III (1216) and remained in the family until the reign of Elizabeth I when, in 1572, John Hengestecot died. His heirs were his daughters: Elizabeth had married Thomas Pomeroy and her sister Sir Nicholas Prideaux. Eventually this sub-manor passed to Earl Stanhope who, early in the 19th century was also lord of the manor of Holsworthy.

'Moyles' Lashbrook, as it became known, passed sometime before the 19th century to Coham.



The patronage of the church, the right to appoint successive rectors, was held by the lords of the manor until the 18th century. The advowson was purchased from George Cary in the 1730s by William Bampfield of Beer in execution of the will of his uncle, another William Bampfield, rector of Arlington in North Devon, who died in 1720. He directed that provision be made for the education of a member of the Bampfield family at school and university so that he might be given the living of a parish within the gift of the trustees. When William the younger died in 1749 the trusteeship passed to his son-in-law Henry Carslake. In the 19th century the trust was vested in the rectors for the time being of the parishes of East Down, Bratton Fleming and Goodleigh. Six members of the family were appointed between 1741 and 1904. The trust was extinguished in 1989 and the rights passed to the Diocesan Board of Patronage.

The earliest mention of a rector is in July 1309 with William Mewy who was ordained deacon at St. German's in February of that year by Bishop Stapeldon. The earliest record of an institution is November 1321 when William Bassett was presented by John Deneys. The first mention of the dedication of the church to All Saints is in 1373, but the first stone church was built here more than two hundred years before, though no one knows the earliest date.

Apart from the 12th century font and south doorway, arched with a single order of colonnettes, the next oldest parts of the building are the windows and south doorway of the chancel which date from around 1300. The east window of the chancel was renewed in the 14th century and the north aisle was probably added about this time, though the windows of the north aisle are 15th century perpendicular. The granite arcades separating the aisles are also 15th century, said to date from 1438. The tower was built a little earlier but was reputedly struck by lightning about 1550 after which it was restored and raised in height. There is an indistinct date carved in the stone on the outside near the base of the tower. The doorway and west window of the tower appear to be 14th century.

The present wooden altar table frames a pre-reformation altar slab of slate with incised crosses which was found in the 19th century in one of the vaults under the church floor. It was said that the vaults of the Hengscot and Arscott families were under the floor in the north aisle, while the Bradford manor vault was beneath the chancel.

There are a nuAll Saint's 03.jpgmber of 16th century memorials on the floor at the east of the north aisle. The earliest is to Elizabeth Fortescue (of the Henscott family) dated 1563 (or 8) There is one to John Hengescott in 1572, and to his daughter, Elizabeth Pomerey (sic) in 1599: also to Humfrey Arscott 1580. There were once two brass memorials, one to John Dabernon, 1432, and one to John Hengescote, 1500, but these were removed sometime in the 19th century. Laid on the floor of the nave are a number of 17th century Barnstaple tiles of varying designs.

There are several memorials on the north wall to the Bickford family. The earliest records the death of William Bickford in 1659, and is also a memorial to his wife Grace, who died in 1686, and his father-in-law, Arthur Arscott, who died in 1662.

On the west wall of the north aisle there is a fine slate memorial to the Maynard family. It commemorates John Maynard of Bovacott, gentleman, who died in 1687, his sons Arthur and Ezekiel and Ellen the wife of William Maynard, rector of Thornbury.

Bovacott became the home of John Coham in the 18th century and passed by marriage to Heysett by whom it was sold in the 1870s to Saunders. The west window of the north aisle contains a memorial to John and Mary Heysett. A depiction of the Resurrection, Crucifixion and Ascension was placed there with new granite mullions in 1872. There are a further two memorials to the family on the north wall.

The east window in the north aisle was given in 1871 by Miss Mary Coham of Compton Hartley and Mr W.H.B. Coham of Dunsland to record the memory of their ancestors who possessed Dunsland from 1087. A brass plaque beneath the window records the names of the several families.

There is one further interesting slate memorial which is on the wall inside the tower. It is a memorial to John Venton of Highstead who died in 1823. He is described as 'gent' on the stone, but the Ventons were yeoman farmers in the parish throughout the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. They farmed at both Great and Little Bason and at Highstead.

In the early 19th century there many reports of neglect and disrepair - pigs and horses in the churchyard, decayed roofs, broken mullions and doors and damp. Between 1864-67 there was a general restoration of the body of the church. The walls were taken down and re-built with additional Beer stone, including new windows. The mason was William Heard, who also made the new east window. The nave was re-roofed, again re-using such of the old timbers and slates as were good. The carpenter was Richard Chowen, and the total cost was £286. The work was supervised by Mr Samuel Hooper of Hatherleigh and financed by a parish rate and a loan of £200. Mr Heysett and Mr Coham were largely responsible for getting this work done.

The chancel was not repaired at this time. It was the responsibility of the rector who was the Revd. John Yule. In 1850 he had restored the Rectory at Priestacott and possibly was in financial difficulty. It is known that he was bankrupt in the 1860s and had to come and go from the Rectory in secret to avoid the bailiffs. The chancel was boarded off from the rest of the church and used for worship while the repairs to the nave were being done, but afterwards the partition was left and the chancel became very dilapidated. It was said a tree was growing through the roof and nothing was done until Mr Yule died in 1885. His successor, Revd Robert L.Bampfield, set about the restoration, dying in 1888, a year before its completion. The small transept projecting south from the chancel was removed during this restoration. In the following year a stained glass window depicting the Good Shepherd was placed in the south chancel in memory of his zealous work and liberality. The cost of the work between 1885-89 was £800 and was said at the time to make it the best chancel in the Deanery. The altar table was raised on two steps making the sedilia in the south wall rather low.

Parson Yule was a colourful character whose mother was the daughter of Bampfield Carslake, and whose father, Commander John Yule, R.N., served with Nelson at Trafalgar. John Carslake Duncan Yule went up to Oxford in 1821 but does not appear to have gained a degree. He was vicar of Coleridge, from 1838 before being appointed to the family living in 1842 (two years after the death of his father) and remained at Bradford until his death 43 years later. From 1843 he was also Rector of Hollacombe. Having restored and improved the ancient rectory he is next noted as the architect of the new Market Hall in Holsworthy in 1857. He seems to have worked hard to get the church restored with much opposition from his Nonconformist churchwarden, William Yeo of Henscott. But after that work was finished he seems to have given up all thought of restoring the chancel. He was very lax about keeping the parish registers. Burials were copied into the register after his death by his nephew from note books he kept, but many baptisms seem to be unrecorded. He once invited Mr English to dine with him at the New Inn in Bideford. Mr English was bemused by the way he ate his duck - bones and all - but was less amused when he was left to pay the bill!

The south windows were re-framed with new glass in 1865 In 1849 it was noted that the windows contained images of the Evangelists and our Lord crowned with thorns and displays of the arms of Yeo and Walrond.

After Mr English bought the manor there was further extensive repair to the church between 1869 and 1871 for which Mr English and Mr Bickford Coham were largely responsible and their images, together with those of their wives, are carved on four of the corbels of a completely new roof. The carving is credited to William Heard.

In 1897 a new pulpit was erected in memory of Joseph Thomas English who died in 1892. After the death of Clervaux Saunders of Bovacott in 1905 an eagle lectern was given to the church in his memory, and the reredos depicting the Last Supper which was painted by E. Fellows Prynne. These items were both dedicated by the Bishop of Crediton on 4th March 1907. In 1912, to commemorate the coronation of George V, a sixth bell was added to the peal. In 1760 there were four bells; a fifth was added in 1811. Two of these were re-cast by Mears & Stainbank in 1891 and the other three were re-cast in 1912 by Taylor of Loughborough. The carpenter most involved with the 1880s restoration was ArscottAll Saint's 05.jpg Short of Holemoor.

It was recorded that a new harmonium was purchased for the church in 1886, this was replaced by a pipe organ in 1905. While Claud Williams was rector he dismantled the organ but was unable to put it together again so it was removed after he left, and not replaced until about 1933. A reed organ was purchased in 1962 and this was replaced with a Wyvern electronic organ in 1986. Electric lighting was installed in the church in 1958. Also in 1986 a stained glass window was commissioned for the south aisle in memory of Mildred Trible of Henscott. The window was designed by James Paterson of Bideford and executed by his son Robert shortly after his father's death.

Some mention must be made of the other churches and chapels in the present parish of Bradford with Cookbury. Cookbury Church with its unique dedication to St John and the Seven Maccabees (7 children and their mother who were brutally executed by Antiochus king of Syria in 168 B.C.) is a fine example of a small Norman church which has largely escaped destructive restoration. Most of the building is 13th century with the north aisle being added in the 14th century. In 1981 the church was declared redundant and attempts were made to sell it. This did not happen and the church was made a chapel of ease to Bradford Parish Church in 1987 and subsequently 25,000 was spent repairing the roof and windows (with a generous grant from English Heritage). Monthly services are held at Cookbury from April to September.

All three Methodist chapels in the parish are now closed. The Wesleyan Chapel built at Brandis Corner in 1854 was closed in 1983. The Bible Christian Chapel at Cookbury, built in 1840, was closed in the 1990s while the Bible Christian Chapel at Holemoor, built in 1839, was closed in 2007.


A table showing details of Rectors (and priests in charge) and also Patrons from 1309 to the present is available for you to see. Please click here to view

This summary was prepared by Lt.Col. R.E.Brook-Fox in 1984 Revised by Revd G.L.Matthews in 2008.