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Cave Penney Cross

Cave Penney Cross

At an altitude of about 1,300ft stands a lone cross firmly affixed to a large boulder, this is known as the Cave-Penney Memorial or the Sherwell Cross. It is an impressive monument in memory of a brave young man who died in the First World War. At the bottom of the inscription are the following words, “Look up and lift your heads”, and considering the view I can’t think of a more apt sentence. If you stand at the cross and lift your head you will be rewarded with a magnificent view, especially towards the south where Sharp tor juts proudly into the far horizon. This is one place that no matter what the weather there is always an imposing sense of grandeur where a modern memorial stands about 500 yards from the ‘Money Pit‘, an ancient Bronze Age burial site. You can’t help wondering if they both honour brave warriors, whoever decided on the site for both these monuments certainly had an eye for an imposing landscape that acted as a lasting tribute.

Evelyn Anthony Cave-Penney was a lieutenant in Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides who can be argued were one of the most famous regiments of the Indian Army. During World War One the infantry were sent to Egypt and Palestine and accordingly Evelyn Cave-Penney went with them. On April 14th  1917 the Times newspaper printed a list of appointments and amongst them was Lieutenant E. A. Cave-Penney, as can be seen below.

Cave Penney Cross

Unfortunately, Evelyn Cave-Penney’s name once again appeared in the Times on the 9th of June 1918, this time it was to report his death.  It transpired that whilst leading his troops in Palestine he was shot dead by an enemy sniper, Evelyn was 19 years of age.

Cave Penney Cross

This would have presumably been during Allenby’s campaign which in the end successfully forced the Turks out of the war. As stated above the memorial consists on a cross set upon a huge, natural granite slab. The actual cross measures 1.3 metres high and has an arm span of 57cm. On the base of the cross is the following inscription, see ab

TO THE GLORY OF GOD

AND TO THE DEAR MEMORY OF

EVELYN ANTHONY CAVE PENNEY

LIEUT. Q.V.O. CORPS OF GUIDES

FELL IN PALESTINE WHILST

GALLANTLY COMMANDING HIS MEN

JUNE 8TH 1918 AGED 19

LOOK UP AND LIFT UP YOUR HEADS

The granite boulder on which the memorial stands is known locally as the ‘Belstone Bible’ but I have never seen an explanation of the name. William Crossing gives no mention of it in any of his books and Hemery briefly notes the name but with no reasoning. He does remark how the southern-most pile of nearby Corndon tor is also known as ‘Belstone’s Chair’ which if the two are connected either alludes to a person or the village of that name. Somewhere deep in the realms of forgotten lore lies the answer.

The Cave-Penney family at one time lived about a mile from the cross at Sherwell, his sister owned the infamous Rogue’s Roost property in the hamlet. Once again according to the Times newspaper she was trying to sell the cottage along with 20 acres in 1916 for £500

Cave Penney Cross

I would imagine that 90 years later you could easily add another three zeros to that figure. There is no record as to when the cross was erected but obviously it would have been a very familiar view to Evelyn who as a boy must have tramped his local moors. Every action has a reaction and in this case the death of a brave young man has ultimately provided a peaceful spot where one can gaze out over the moor in all its splendour.

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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