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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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The Priory Gateway at Cornworthy

The ruins of the Gateway to the old Priory at Cornworthy

© Richard Brine

Cornworthy is a small village, in the picturesque and well-wooded valley near the confluence of the Harbourn river with the estuary of the river Dart, SSE of Totnes. Its parish contains 554 inhabitants and 2575 acres of land, including the small hamlets of Allaleigh, East Cornworthy, Tideford and part of Tuckenhay, where there are quays on the river Harbourn and paper and corn mills in the adjoining parish of Ashprington. The surface is rather hilly and the soil is generally light and fertile, resting on slate and dunstone and in some places, on limestone. The land is mostly in tillage but has a fair portion of pasturage and a number of extensive orchards, producing excellent cider.


Cornworthy is spoken of as a borough in ancient records, and Allaleigh  is said to have formerly had a large village and tannery. Cornworthy Priory, for nuns of the order of St Austin, was founded at an early period by one of the lords of Totnes and was valued at £63 per annum at the dissolution. The venerable gateway of the priory is still standing near the farm house of Court Prior, and some remains of the chapel may  be seen in the barn. This estate was long held by the Harris family but now belongs to Mr John Holditch.


The church (St Peter) is an ancient structure in the early perpendicular style, with a tower and six bells, but the stone mullions have been replaced by wooden window frames. The rood screen and the old Norman font remain.


The vicarage is endowed with the great tithes of Abbotskerswell and has a good residence and 35 acres of glebe. The Rev. W. K. Sweetland MA is patron and incumbent. The unredeemed tithes of Cornworthy were commuted in 1845  for £195 per annum, belonging to Mrs Tucker, Edward Holditch and John Peeke, but subject to a yearly stipend of £10 for the Vicar, and the yearly payments of 40s for the poor of this parish and £18 for the poor of 18 other parishes, left by John Peter in 1570.  The Church House, which has long been vested for the use of the poor parishioners, was used as the workhouse, but is now divided into tenements, let, with the garden, for £12 a year. It has lately been much improved and part of it is now the parish school. There is a stable for the use of persons riding to church on Sundays.  In 1633, Elizabeth Harris left £100 to be  invested in land etc for the poor of this parish and for other good and religious uses.  The property, purchased with this legacy, now consists of a house, two cottages, three orchards and about 21 acres of land, let for £37. 10s a year, of which £20 is paid for schooling poor children and the remainder is distributed among the poor at Easter. The vicar and others are trustees. The late vicar, the Rev. Charles Barter, held the living 70 years and died in 1846 aged 95.


Near the confluence of the two rivers is a large entrenchment, partly covered with wood, supposed to have been a Roman encampment, and still retaining a part of the fosse (or earthwork), 30 feet deep.



Harris, Rev. Thomas

Holditch, Mrs.

Hawke, Richard, thatcher

Newland, Nicholas, victualler, The Globe Inn

Newland, Nicholas, jun. tailor

Sweetland, Rev. William Leats, MA, Vicar


Came, Richard

Denbow, William, Tideford

Ealr, Richard, Gitcombe

Elliott, John, land agent

Elliott, John, South Hills

Hodge, Thomas, Court Barton

Hutchings, George

Langworthy, John, Lower Broadridge

Michelmore, Philip, Dinniscombe

Pedrick, James

Peeke, William

Tozer, John

Tozer, Robert, Tideford

Tucker, Agnes

Wakeham, Arthur, Dinnscombe

Waycott, George, Woolcombe

Widdecombe, William,


Came, Thomas

Ferris Robert


Goodman, Samuel

Eastman, William


Damerell, John

Damerell, William

Efford, Robert

Fall, George


Grout, James

Newland, William


Bowden, James

Pedrick, P


Ash, William

Tucker, John




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