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Cliffords Gold

Cliffords Gold

This story takes us back to the days of the English Civil War or to be more precise 1646, to a grand house in the Teign valley called Brimble Farm which today is known as Bramble Farm. Here lived Dr. Thomas Clifford who was a wealthy man with a penchant for card games and gambling, he was also a supporter of the King which was not a healthy following to have at that time. One night he and his servant had travelled to nearby Bovey Tracey where he was to sit in on a cards party.

About halfway through the game a group of Cromwell’s Roundheads burst into the room and took the Royalists by surprise. During the general confusion, Clifford’s servant managed to grab a huge, heavy bag of gold coins from the card table and escape the attention of the Roundheads, or so he thought. He quickly stole away to the stables and mounted his horse when both man and fortune charged off towards the moor.

Unfortunately, the servant was spotted by a mounted force of Roundhead troopers who spotted that he was clinging to a large bag which they took to be valuable. The troopers charged off in hot pursuit after the servant who soon became aware that he had a chase on his hands. He decided that the best chance of escape was to lose the troopers in the narrow Devon lanes and so man and horse galloped out of town and headed for Bottor Rock. From here he crossed the river Teign at Crockham Bridge sped up the steep hill to Trusham and made for Brimble Farm.

Still his pursuers clattered hot on his heels and he came to the ‘be rich and dead or poor and alive’ decision, as the heavy bag of gold was clearly slowing his horse down and fearing for his life the servant decided to toss his new-found fortune into the hedge. Having been relieved of it’s burden his horse suddenly sprinted away and the servant managed to escape from the Roundheads. What the servant didn’t know was that the bag of gold had landed in a Lime Kiln which lay on the other side of the hedge, incidentally, to this day the field is still known as Kiln Mead.

The following morning the farmer who rented the field went to the kiln and found the large bag of gold coins. At first he was unsure about what he should do, after all those were dangerous days, especially where gold coins were concerned. Having had a good around to see that prying eyes weren’t watching him he shoved the back into packsaddle and went home. Without delay the farmer took the bag inside the barn and carefully hid it amongst the beams. His plan was to say nothing to a living soul about his new fortune and to wait long enough to be sure nobody was looking for it. After a while he deemed it safe to spend some of his gold coin and so invested it around the farm. It did not take long for a return to come from his improvements and steadily he became a wealthy and respected landowner in the parish. Between 1675 and 1685 the farmers son founded several charities in the parish of Trusham which soon established the family as caring and benevolent yeomen of the area.

Apparently there are old records that show in 1675 a man called John Stooke made many generous bequests to the poor of the parishes of Trusham and Ashton which were followed by similar gestures in 1691 for the parish of Christow. So just maybe the lucky farmer who found the bag of gold was in reality his father.

 

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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