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Berry Pomeroy

BERRY POMEROY, a parish 1½ mile E. of Totnes Railway Station, has a village of its own name, and a hamlet called Bridgetown, which forms a handsome suburb of Totnes, with which it is connected by a good bridge over the Dart. Berry Pomeroy parish is in Totnes union, county court district, archdeaconry, and rural deanery, Stanborough and Coleridge petty sessional division, Paignton polling district of East Devon, and Haytor hundred. It had 1090 inhabitants (514 males and 576 females) in 1871, living in 209 houses, on 4525 acres of land; including Bridgetown, which had 605 inhabitants (266 males and 339 females), living in 126 houses. The Duke of Somerset is lord of the manor, and owner of most of the soil. William the Conqueror gave the manor of Bury or Berry to Ralph de Pomerai, who built BERRY POMEROY CASTLE, which for 500 years was the stately residence of the Pomeroys. The extensive and magnificent ruins of this once formidable castle are situated on a rocky eminence, thickly covered with wood, and rising above a pellucid brook, two and a half miles N.E. of Totnes. It was dismantled during the civil wars of the 17th century. The approach to it is through a thick wood, extending along the slope of a range of hills that entirely intercept any prospect to the south; and on the opposite side is a steep rocky ridge, covered with oak. The fortress appears, from the ruins, to have been originally quadrangular, having only one entrance, which was on the south, between two hexagonal towers, through a double gateway; the first machicolated, and further strengthened by angular bastions. Over this gateway the arms of the Pomeroys are still to be seen. The eastern tower commands a fine prospect of the adjacent country, and the room over the gateway appears to have been the chapel. The ruins in the quadrangle, or court, are much more modem than the rest, as they belonged to a mansion, commenced by the Seymours, in the 16th century, at the cost of £20,000, but never completed. What was finished is thus described by Prince:–'Before the door of the Great Hall was a noble work, whose length was the full breadth of the court, arched over with curiously carved freestone, supported in the fore part by several stately pillars of the Corinthian order, standing on pedestals, having cornices and friezes finely wrought. The apartments within were very splendid, especially the dining-room; and many of the other rooms were well adorned with mouldings and fret-work, some of whose marble clavils were so delicately fine, that they would reflect an object from a great distance. Notwithstanding which, it is now demolished, and all this glory lyeth in the dust; there being nothing standing but a few broken walls, which seem to mourn their own approaching funerals.' The great gate, the walls of the south front, the north wing of the quadrangle, some apartments on the west side, and a turret or two, are the principal remains; and they are so finely overhung with branches of trees and shrubs, which grow close to the walls, so beautifully mantled with ivy, and so richly encrusted with moss, that they constitute the most picturesque objects that can be imagined. The last of the Pomeroys who occupied Berry Pomeroy Castle was deeply concerned in the rebellion of 1549, and is said to have saved his life by making over the manor and castle to Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, whose successors have since held them, and formerly resided here. The present Duke's principal seats are Maiden Bradley House, Bath; Bulstrode Park, Gerrard's Cross, Bucks, and Stover Lodge, Devonshire.

BERRY POMEROY CHURCH (Virgin Mary) is an ancient structure, with a tower and four bells, and contains an elaborate alabaster monument to the memory of Lord Edward Seymour, and his son, and son's wife, whose effigies are represented lying on three steps, in very constrained positions. The building is mostly in the Perpendicular style, and the nave and chancel are divided by a finely carved screen. The church was restored in 1878 at a cost of about £2000; the improvements include new inside roof, tiling, windows, vestry, heating apparatus, seating, repair of rood-screen, and other necessary renovations. The Duke of Somerset is impropriator of the rectory, and patron of the vicarage, valued in K.B. at £18 19s. 7d., and in 1831 at £360, and now in the incumbency of the Rev. A. J. Everett, M.A., who has a good residence, which, with the garden and orchards, occupies 21/2 acres of land. BRIDGETOWN DESCRIPTION and DIRECTORY are included in Totnes.

LETTERS are received at 8 a.m. viâ Totnes, which is the nearest Money Order Office. There is a LETTER BOX, cleared at 6 p.m., week days only.

Transcribed from History, Gazetteer and Directory of Devon, by William White, 2nd edition, 1878-9