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The Wall

Every now and again one comes across a place-name on a map which begs for an explanation. I came across such an example on the Ordnance Survey 25 inch map of 1888 which was ‘Wallon’. As always one part of research leads to another and then another and before long you are way off your original line of investigation – so it was with Wallon.

According to the English Place-Name Society the earliest documented mention of Wallon can be found in the Assize Roll of 1249 where it appeared as ‘la Walle‘ and by 1333 appeared in the Lay Subsidy Rolls as ‘The Wall(s)‘. Sophia Lambert has researched the history of Wallon, her being a descendent of one of the owners. She notes that in the 17th century it belonged to the Coleridge family and later in the 1680s it was in the hands of Samuel Gostwyck and then at some point passed to the Gorwyn family of Cheriton Bishop. In the mid 18th century, John Gorwyn inherited the farm of Lambert in Crockernwell, for some reason he changed his name to Lambert after which his descendants carried on the name with some also becoming Lambert-Gorwyn.
According to Historic England: “The main house has a long and complex structural history. It was originally built in the early or mid C16 as an open hall house probably heated by an open hearth fire. The inner room chamber was erected in the mid or late C16 and it jetties into the upper end of the hall. The hall fireplace and upper floor were inserted in the early C17. The whole house was raised and reroofed in the late C17 – early C18. The service end was rearranged in the late C18 – early C19 at which time the main entrance was moved to the right end room. Now 2 storeys throughout.” Over the centuries numerous refurbishments and restructuring has been made to it right up to the 21st century. In 2014 an Archaeological Monitoring Survey by Oakford Archaeology was carried out on behalf of the owners. The purpose of which, “was to preserve by record any historical building fabric or archaeological detail that was to be obscured, removed or otherwise affected by development.” 

There can be no question that Wallon was an large estate with lands across Devonshire and its own mill – Weir Mill. Although Wallon does not appear on Benjamin Donn’s map of 1765 Weir Mill certainly does.  A newspaper announcement of the November of 1809 in the Exeter Flying Post listed the marriage of William Lambert of Wallon to Miss Ann Campion. In 1854 an advert for timber listed the estate holdings at Wallon, Cheriton Bishop, and Hittisleigh. A fair picture of the farm can be obtained from the 1840 Tithe Apportionment below when William Lambert was the owner.  At the time the holding consisted of  some 96+ acres which were a mixture of pastures, meadows, orchards and plantations. Incidentally, there is one plot name that does not occur very often – ‘Gribble Park’ and that derives from the old middle English word ‘gribbele‘ which means a crab apple tree. Therefore at one point in time crab apple trees were to be found there. During the late 1800s the estate was in the ownership of John Strong and in the March of 1890 an auction notice in the Western Times state that he was “declining farming.” The auction was for 54 longwool couples, 64 fat ewes and wether hoggs, 1 ram, 28 bullocks, 21 pigs, 3 prime Devon heifers, 1 heifer and calve, 2 cows in full milk and calves, 4 Devon Steers, 5 steer and heifer calves, and 21 pigs of the black breed all suggesting a largish mixed farm for the period. On the 1st of May 1890 the estates were to be auctioned at the Half Moon Hotel in Exeter and comprised of the following.

LOT 1.
All that charmingly situated and attractive Freehold Farm, known as “WALLON,” in the parish of Drewsteignton, in the most favoured part of the beautiful valley of the Teign, near Clifford’s Bridge and commanding some of the best fishing and shooting of the neighbourhood. It comprises a superior and most favourable farm residence (over which climb japonica and roses), approached from the main road by a carriage drive, timbered by stately trees, with a lawn and well-stocked flower and fruit gardens in front, and containing (all on two floors) 7 bedrooms, store attic, front and back stairs, entrance hall, drawing and dining rooms, office, kitchen, pantry, salting house with boy’s room over, large dairy and drying room over, and ample cupboards. In the rear is a paved court with plentiful supply of water (pump), wash-house, closets, and poultry house with loft over. Adjacent are excellent farm and other buildings, consisting of a wood shed, 2 pigs’ houses, cow house for 5 cows and ash house with loft over, spacious slated barn, chaff room, slated pound house and chamber over, slated machine house, fattening shippen and cart linhay, cider cellar, calf and root house with loft over. In the front court, slated trap and cart houses, waggon house, 7 stall cart horse and nag stables, fold yard with shippen for 10 bullocks, calves’ house, second barn and linhay. 
The lands are particularly early, fruitful, and easy working, noted for good croppings, well-watered, and lying in a ring fence intersected by good hard roads; they extend to 122½ acres, or there abouts, in convenient sized closes of arable, pasture, meadow, orchard, and wood of an undulating character, commanding on all sides charming views of hill, dale, beautifully timbered with fine oak, ash, elm,  evergreen oak, pine, larch and other trees, and presenting many excellent building sites. There is an established rookery on the farm, and good pheasant and partridge shooting. “Wallon” is noted for its picturesqueness, fertility, and many advantages, and the land tax is redeemed. It has been in the occupation of Mr. John Strong, who is now retiring (and his later father), for many years past and possession may be had at Christmas next. The present reduced rent, including “Weir Mill” is £145.” – The Western Times, April 25th 1890.

At the auction of the Wallon and Weir Mill the bidding was opened by Mr. K. T. C. Roberts for £2,000 eventually reaching a winning bid from Mr. Knapman for £3,610 A further sale was announced to take place on the 8th of May when; “6 capital cart horses with their harness, and the grass of about 100 acres of meadow, pasture and young seeds upon Wallon, West Woodbrook and Bowden Farms,” was listed. On the 6th of June a notice in the Western Times read; “Mr. Knapman, in reply to many queries, announces that he will shortly offer to be LET by competition the Excellent farms of Wallon and Weir Mill 147 acres of Pasture, Meadow, Orchard and Arable land on the banks of the river Teign at sovereignty, and for the past 35 years well and respectfully farmed by Mr. Strong.” In the August of 1890 an invitation for tenders was printed in the Western Times to be sent to Mr. Knapman, Mount Radford House, Exeter by the 1st of September. By this time there was still some of John Strong’s property at Wallon Farm. The Exeter & Plymouth Gazette announced on the 26th of September 1890 the auction of; “a splendid lot of apples in 5 lots, containing, about 9½ acres; a rare collection of farm implements, empty casks and effects, the property of Mr. John Strong, declining  business.” On the 12th of December 1890 the Western Times reported that a clearance sale was to take place at Wallon Farm for; “2 prime cows in milch, 2 steer calves, 1 Bay cart horse, quiet and good in harness, a quantity of poultry, 300 bundles of wheat straw, sundry outdoor effects, a large and general assortment of household furniture, dairy utensils &c. The property of Mr. John Strong, declining business.”

By the October of 1893 a Mr. W. W. Rowland was farming as tenant at Wallon as he advertised in the Western Times for; “A man to all the farm work, cottage and potato ground.” In the February of 1885 another notice appeared in the same paper asking for; “a trustworthy, experienced, servant or working assistant in farmhouse.” By all accounts Mr. Rowland didn’t last too long at Wallon as the 9th of April the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette gave notice of an auction: “Very prime and valuable stock, the property of Mr. W. Rowland, quitting the estate, comprising 25 double and single couples, 13 prime ewe hoggs, 1 ram, a cow in full milk, 2 barreners, 6 steers from 1½ to 2 years old, 3 heifers, 3 yearlings, 4 calves, black horse, 7 years old, 15.2 h.h. called “Farmer,” bay horse, 6 years old, 16 h.h., both very good in all work, well bred cob, 4 years old, broken to saddle, 4 fat pigs, 3 puncheons (A large cask  holding from 72 to 120 gallons) of prime cider, fit for bottling, with grass of the estate.” For whatever reason Rowland remained on the estate and in the March of 1897 yet another notice was published in the Exeter & Plymouth gazette notifying of an upcoming auction of aa his livestock as he was quitting the estate. On the 25th of May the same paper stated that the farm was for let; “To let by tender, from Christmas next, for such term as may be agreed on, all that most desirable, early, easy working, and productive farm known as WALLON and WEIR Mill, now in the occupation of Mr. W. W. Roland, as tenant thereof. Comprising a good homestead, 2 laborers’ cottages, and about 147 acres of well proportioned meadow, orchard and arable land, lying well together, capitally situate on the banks of the river Teign, and within easy distance of the best markets. The fishing and shooting rights, which are valuable, will be let with the farm, and the house being well adapted for the reception of sporting guests, the same mat be made very remunerative. The taker will have free use of the threshing machine, mill, apple engine, and cider press, belonging to the landlord.”
On the 3rd of December 1897 the following appeared in the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette: “All the livestock and deadstock, comprising:- 11 ewe and wether hoggs, 1 cow and calf (good milker), 2 cows in full milk, 5 fat pigs, 2 prime young sows, 9 slip pigs, 10 weeks old; “Farmer”, bay horse, rising 7, 16 h.h., “Prince”, chestnut horse, rising 5, 17 h.h., both believed to be perfectly sound and  good in all work, “Violet”, rising 6 years, 15 h.h., quiet and good in saddle and harness,; 100 head of poultry, sheep dog, with a large collection of modern machinery and implements, cider and casks, cider puncheons, pipes and hogshead, together with superior household furniture, kitchen and culinary requisites, and other various effects, including cottage piano, by Metzler.”

By 1901 the estate was in the ownership of Mr. M. R. W. Bellworthy  who in the May of that year announced that it was up for leasing: “Comprising a superior farmhouse at Wallon and all the necessary farm building, a detached dwelling house, and grist mill (at present disused) situate at Weir Mill, the whole comprising 143 acres of very early and productive meadow, pasture, orchard, arable and woodland, all lying within a ring fence, and most pleasantly and picturesquely situate on the river Teign, which affords first class fishing, and offers great possibilities in the way of water power. The estate is noted for producing the heaviest and earliest crops in this much favoured locality. The sporting rights are valuable, as pheasants and partridges are plentiful and the covers are noted for woodcock, whilst fox hounds and harriers regularly hunt the district. The two farms are beautifully timbered with valuable oak, ash, elm, pine and other trees which are included in the sale, and a large sum may at once be realised without prejudice to the many attractions and charming character of the property generally. To a gentleman fond of country life and agricultural pursuits and with sporting instincts, the property offers advantages very rarely met with, and will at the same time prove a sound investment. The estate is in the occupation of Mr. M.R.W. Bellworthy on a lease determinable at Christmas 1902, 1904 or 1911 at a rental of £145 per annum, the shooting and fishing rights being reserved. It will be first offered as a whole, but if unsold it will then be offered in two lots.” In the December of 1902 a sale notice was published for household furniture and outdoor effects belonging to Mr. Bellworthy who was quitting Wallon.

By the October of 1903 a John Wedlake of Wallon was advertising for; “a man to work a team of horses; cottage, garden and privileges; 13s. a week.” In the September of 1904 Wedlake was once again advertising for; “A man wanted to work horses, on farm, good cottage, and garden, 40 yard potato ground and cider provided, 13s. a week.” In the February of 1905; “Wanted, cattle man; wife to assist in dairy; house, garden, potato ground, cider, firing and other privileges, 15s. week.” Similarly in the February of 1905; “Cattleman wanted, able to milk;  wages 14s. Also horseman 13s. Good cottage, garden, potato ground, cider and other privileges.” In the June of 1906 both Wallon Farm and Weir Mill was once again put up for lease. In the September of that year; “Wallon Barton, genuine sale of livestock and deadstock for John Wedlake Esq. (who has left this estate) the whole of choice stock comprising of 80 sheep, 28 beasts, 6 horses and colts, pigs, poultry, implements, machinery, dairy utensils, apples and firewood.”

In the December of 1907 George Endacott, the new lessee was advertising for; “Young man (indoors)  to drive horses and make himself useful on farm.” Come February the next years Mrs. Endacott was asking for: “A respectable girl, about 14, to help in the farmhouse.” By March presumably nobody suitable was found as; “Girl (respectable) about 15, wanted to help in the farmhouse.” Tragedy struck Wallon in the December of 1911 when one of the labourers, John Brown, died from an accident. He had taken a load of wheat to Dunsford Mill and whilst lifting a sack from the wagon when he slipped and fell with one leg either side of the wagon’s shaft. At the time he made no mention of the accident but a week later he died from blood poisoning due to an abscess caused by the fall. In the May of 1913 John Wedlake was once again leasing the farm and mill which was to be available from that September. Come that month George Endacott was selling  his livestock at auction, comprising of; “20 breeding ewes, 20 ewe and wether lambs, 1 cow an calf, 2 heifers (due to calve October), 7 two year old steers, 2 heifers (fifteen months old) 1 steer, 1 heifer (twelve months old), apples in the orchard of 3½ acres, and 1 acre of potatoes in the ground.”

By October 1913 a man named Letheren was advertising for; “A man (indoors)  or live-in cottage, to drive horses on Farm.” By all accounts he never lasted long at Wallon for on the 25th of March 1915 he was selling; “120 splendid Devon Longwool sheep and lambs, 28 very prime bullocks (various ages) and a self-binder, the property of Mr. S. Lethern who is quitting at Michaelmas next.” April 1915 saw; “60 acres of prime meadow, and pasture and seeds in 13 convenient lots, the property of Mr. S. Letheren,” up for auction. November 1915 saw an auction for; “LOT 1 – 25 tons of mangolds to go off (be taken away), LOT 2 – About 25 tons of mangold, straw and run of grass field, LOT 3. – About 18 tons of mangold, straw, and run of grass field, LOT 4. – About 18 tons of mangold, straw, and run of grass field, LOT 5. – 4 acres of swede (a rare crop) and 1 acre of common turnips, with run of grass field. Lot 1 may be carried off, Lot 2, 3, and 4, to be consumed in the yards with straw and run of grass fields, and plenty of water in each, lot, Lot 5 to be fed with run of grass field. A person will be appointed to feed the cattle twice a day.” This was a change of practice which meant other farmers could take their cattle to Wallon for winter stocking according to the auction selling prices. The March of 1916 saw; “Splendid meadow, pasture and first grass seed to be let from November 1st.  Excellent grass at Wallon in 9 lots. The lost are exceedingly productive and noted for their healthy feeding character, with water and shade in every lot.” April 1916 saw another accident to a Wallon farm employee. Mr. James Cross was in charge of  two horses and a cart which was loaded with wood at Crockernwell. Somehow, whilst turning the cart to unload it he caught his right leg between the wheel and a post in a nearby hedge. A doctor from Chagford attended the man whose bone was “quite discernible” thus requiring ten stitches to stop the blood flow. In the September of 1916 John Wedlake himself managed to accidentally fall and broke his right leg whilst walking across the yard at Wallon. Once again in the December the same crops of swede, mangold and turnips were up for winter let exactly with the same conditions as before with the grass again being auctioned the following March. Both auctions were repeated in the years of 1917, 1918, 1919, and 1920.

In the June of 1920 the estate of Wallon Farm and Weir Mill was up for sale at auction, “in consequence of owners ill health, (John Wedlake).” On January 1st 1921; “The roots, straw, hay, grass keep, and hard and faggot wood,” were up for auction, again the same sale was repeated in 1922and 1923.  In the April of 1922 John Wedlake seemed to have recovered somewhat as; “The knights of the rod are enjoying good sport on the Teign. Mr. John Wedlake, of Wallon, landed three salmon.” May 1923 once again saw Wallon and Weir Mill up for letting from the following Michaelmas.  September 1923 a notice read; “Auction, early October, horses, modern equipment &c. for John Wedlake having let the farm.” October 1st 1923; “John Wedlake Esq. who has let the estate, comprising; “Farmer,” bay cart horse, 16 h.h.: “Prince,” bay cart horse 16 h.h.: “Sailor,” black cart horse 15 h.h. (these horses are excellent workers, good and quiet in all harness), Dog cart with cushions, and lamps complete, Waggon with lades and sideboards, wain cart and lades, butt cart nearly new, self binder by McCormick, Bamford mower, Brenton corn drill, hay elevator with ropes, complete, thatch maker, stone roller, ploughs, sets of harrows, and drags, horse hoe and banker, Bowden cultivator, larch hurdles, 2 sets breeching and leading harness, ploughs, chains and drafts,; also orchard of apples 3 acres,  good crop; potatoes in ground (to be sold in small lots), prime cider, and a number of empty puncheons and hogsheads. The horses are exceedingly good; the implements modern and in good order,; the cider prime; the apples, a rare good crop of choice fruits; the whole is intended for absolute sale.” Interesting to read that the cart horses “Farmer” and “Sailor” were still working on the farm after 26 years. This auction also shows how mass produced implements were  gradually starting to appear alongside the old traditional kinds.

In the January of 1924 a Mr. Thomas Wilton Squire the new tenant was advertising for; “Farm hand, good all-round, cottage provided.” In that September Mr. Squire was privately selling; “Apples – jam, cooking and cider apples, offers per pound, hundredweight or ton.” Despite modern agricultural advances work horses were still an important feature on Dartmoor. In the April of 1925  stud stallions were taken to service mares all around Devonshire. One of these ‘studs’ was “Conquering King,” a black, 17 h.h. Shire stallion which had at that time served 32,382 mares. The horse was owned by the Squire family who visited all the major villages on Dartmoor with the horse. In March 1926 Squire was advertising for a man to travel around the area with a shire stallion, presumably “Conquering King”? July the 26th 1926 saw a sale of; “Mr. T. W. Squire to sell by auction; 60 choice improved Dartmoor breeding ewes, 20 draft ewes, 42 ewe and wether lambs, 2 choice cows and calves, 15 young cows and heifers due to calve before Xmas, 4 cows in full milk (3 in calve), fresh barrener, 20 heifers 15 months to 2 years old, 10 yearling heifers, 4 steers 2 years old, 6 steers 15 months old, bull 10 months old, 3 slip pigs, lop eared boar2 years old. The sheep good quality improved Dartmoor and the bullocks nearly all South Devons.” Before the advent of modern livestock ear tags sheep were identified by a series of cuts and notches to the ears. In the October of 1926 Mr. Squire lost a Scotch lamb whose identity markings were; “top cut and split and halfpenny under near ear, and hole in off.” Not only was this a painful experience for the sheep but when compared with modern ear tagging very time consuming. By the May of 1927  Wallon Farm and its machinery was once again advertised as being for let as Mr. Squire was quitting the farm at Michaelmas. The 11th of June 1927 the livestock auction took place when 84 bullocks, 92 sheep and lambs, 6 pigs and a cob pony were up for sale. September 24th saw a sale for the rest of his livestock and assets; “A cow and calf, 4 cows in full milk, 20 slip pigs, bay cart mare 8 years old, 2 cart geldings, brown mare, quiet to drive and ride, 3 stock turkeys,  8 young geese, 12 Indian Runner ducks, 50 hens, 40 chickens, collection of farm machinery and implements, 3 acres of potatoes, in lots, apples in 5 acres in 2 lots.” In 1927 Sheep Scab was a major contagious disease to farmers (and still is), it’s caused by the Psoroptes ovis mite which causes the animal to lose its fleece which leads to other infections and economic loss. The only treatment available then was an  organo-phosphorous sheep dip which every farmer had to give notice of when they were going to dip their sheep and then notify the police when it had been done. Mr. Squire failed to comply with this regulation and so appeared at the Moretonhampstead Petty Sessions where he received a fine of ten shillings. Mr. Squire then reemerges at the bankruptcy court at Torquay in the February of 1937 were he owed £8. 3s. and 5d. The reason for the debt was a failing cattle dealership at Wallon Farm and the high rent of the farm between 1923 and 1927. Following which he became tenant on a 40 acre small holding at Moretonhampstead from which he sold dairy and market produce. He then set up business as a butcher which he sold in 1935 after running up debts of £2,000.

November 1927 saw a Mr. J. Mann the next tenant, was advertising for a man wanted for farm work the following January he was after a man to drive horses and general farm work. On Sunday the 23rd of December 1928, seventy year old estate owner John Wedlake died following a stroke and was buried at Landkey near Barnstaple. His short obituary read; “The owner of Wallon Farm, has not during the past few years taken any active part in agriculture (having let the farm),. He was a keen “Knight of the Rod,” and was a familiar figure by the riverside.” September 1929 saw an sale notice for household furniture, outdoor effects and building materials at Wallon as Mrs. Wedlake was leaving the area. Finally in the May of 1932 it was announced that the estate of Wallon Farm and Weir Mill was to be sold by private treaty with vacant possession. Clearly there were no takers and on June the 30th the estate along with the salmon and trout fishing rights went to auction. Mr. J Mann advertised that the farmhouse, outbuildings, gardens and garage was to be let along with the fishing rights in the March of 1933.

I can find no further mention of the Wallon estate until the June of 1939 when Mr. Mann was again notifying that the estate was to be let by tender followed by similar in June  1941 when the owner was Mr. W. E. Chamberlain who had taken over the estate. On the 19th of September 1941 Mr. Mann was selling off his livestock and deadstock comprising of; “47 sheep, 31 cows, 1 pig, 30 hens, 3 acres of apples, ¾ acres of potatoes along with various implements. By the March of the following year a Mr. W. Norrish was at Wallon and was selling a gray gelding and bay mare closely followed by an advert seeking a good cattle and sheep dog. It appears that Mr. W. Norrish was bit of a wheeler dealer as following adverts were for the sale of ferrets (12s. each),a saddleback sow (£12), extra large ferrets (10s. each), white ferrets (good working strain 10s. each), Plymouth Rock cockerels ( 30s. each).

The next occupier of Wallon was Mr. McLachlan who appears in 1946 but by 1949 Mrs. McLachlan was selling up, whether dur to the death of her husband or not I don’t know. This final sale clearly demonstrates the move to quality livestock and mechanised machinery and implements.: 
DEVON CATTLE (all tuberculin tested) – 1 newly-calved heifer and her bull calf, 7 cows and heifers in milk and calf, due between July and December, (two of these cows are Foundation Class A in the herd book and the remaining six are in Part III, Class A, of the herd book, and are officially milk recorded. The pedigree heifer “Halbeton Charm” calved December 17th, 1947, bred by Mr. J. Handy, 2 supplementary heifer yearlings, 6 heifer calves, from 3 to 4 months old, all eligible for the Supplementary Herd Book; 4 steer calves. The foregoing will be found a really good quality herd of South Devons; the cows are very heavy milkers, and they are in calf to the well known pedigree bull “East Farm, No. 81,” and the 6 heifer calves are all sired by the same bull. PIGS – Pedigree Long White boar, “Afon Guy Boy XIII,” 3 years old: 13 store pigs. IMPLEMENTS ETC. – 1947 Fordson Major tractor, on rubbers, in 1st-class condition; Lister Cockshutt 3-furrow tractor plough, 3 tractor trailers on rubbers (1 4-wheel and 2 2-wheel); tractor cultivator, set of 3-lap heavy drags, new steel hay pole complete, tractor hay sweep, Bamlett mowing machine, Albion 5ft self-binder, Hornsby 13-coulter corn drill, chain and grass harrow, 3-lap seed harrows, manure spreader, wain wagon, butt cart, trap, breeching and trap harness, stone roller, iron horse rake, 3-row horse hoe, 3ft, 9in, x 2ft, steel saw bench with circular saw, Avery weighing machine and weights, portable Blackstone oil engine, on frame and wheels in good working order: G.I. Sheep dip, potato streaming furnace, 3-division and circular G.I. corn and meal bins, quantity of husbandry tools, ladders, sack trucks, 4 tarpaulins, 4 tubular steel gates, 4 small wood gates, Melotte, size 2 separator, milk cooler, 3 milking pails and strainer, Hearson incubator, coops, 12-bore double-barrel hammer gun and numerous other effects.”

All these sale notices paint an excellent evolving picture of the farm from 1890 to 1949. Clearly it has been a mixed farm with the main emphasis on diary cattle along with beef cows, sheep and pigs. Throughout the period local breeds such a Devon cattle and Dartmoor sheep have been favoured with a strong emphasis on Devonshire cider and potatoes. As noted above the gradual transition from horse power to mechanised  power is also evident.
In the October of 2018 Wallon Farm was sold for an eye-watering sum of £2,176,000 which made it the first sale of that amount in Devonshire since 2016. Today the farm runs a flock of Jacob, Bluefaced Leicester and White Crossbred sheep. The farm runs an enterprise known as ‘Shepherd’s Delight‘ which sales a range of products made from the sheep such a yarn and sheepskins. 

WEIR MILL –

In Judy Chard’s ‘Along the Teign’ which was published in 1981 she wrote: “I came across a dry leat which branched from the weir further upstream and I knew I should soon find the mill it had once fed, and so I did, or the ruins of what had obviously been a big mill. Part of the wheel was still in place, at least the iron centrepiece, and some further parts which had been washed downstream in a flood at some time or other.” pp. 33 – 34. She had come across the ruins of Weir Mill.

Several authors have suggested that back in 1794 the Rev. Sweet in his book ‘Travels in Georgian England’ may have caused confusion by calling Weir Mill – ‘Clifford Mill’.  The mill was in the manor of West Clifford which could have caused the confusion. According to Heritage Gateway the original mill dated to between 1540 and 1900 AD. Benjamin Donn’s map of 1765 certainly shows that it was in existence when the map was drawn.  In the January of 1799 a for sale notice appeared in the Exeter Flying Post at this time William Lambert Gorwyn was the occupier of the mill. it was for sale and consisted of a mill house with three pairs of mill stones, a dwelling house, stable, sheep pen, pig pens along with 18 acres of orchard, meadow, arable and wastes.
In 1833 an arson attack destroyed the mill which by then was part of the Wallon estate, the miller was William Hamlyn. As can be seen from the notice above a reward of £50 was offered upon the conviction of the offender/s. At some period shortly after the fire the mill was rebuilt. In the September of 1841 a notice in the Exeter Flying Post stated that Weir Mill was up for letting. It stated; “WEIR MILLS together with a DWELLING HOUSE and outbuildings, and either 12 or 16 acres of land, situate in the parish of Drewsteignton in the occupation of Thomas Bull. Necessary repairs at the commencement of the term will be done by the landlord, and thenceforth by the taker, who will be required to find security of rent.” This would  indicate that following the arson attack the mill was still in a state of disrepair. Successive millers after Thomas Bull were  William Phillips and followed by his son George Phillips who left the mill in 1887. On the 25th of April 1890 the Western Times printed a notice that the Wallon Estate was up for auction which read –

Lot 2
“All that valuable and delightfully placed freehold property, called “WEIR MILL,” situate adjoining “Wallon” and the banks of the river Teign, and comprising 25 acres or thereabouts, of rich meadow, pasture and orchard land and coppices in a ring-fence, with a convenient COTTAGE or DWELLING HOUSE containing parlour, kitchen, diary, wood house, and 3 bedrooms, with walled garden in front and good kitchen garden at side, forming a pleasant retreat to anglers and picnic parties, and suitable in summer for letting, and the sale of refreshments, dairying &c.
The outbuildings comprise stone and slated shed for 3 cows, stabling for 3 horses, barn, linhay and pigsty and a small stone and slated grist mill with water wheel and excellent water power.
There is some good timber and plentiful supply of building stone, and many charming sites for residence. The fishing includes some of the best pools. Land tax 12s. 6d. and head rent to Lord Devon, 4s. a year, payable in respect to Weir Pool. Tenant Mr. John Strong, who quits at Christmas next, when possession can be had.”
 
Wallon estate, including Weir Mill was purchased by a Mr. Knapman for £3,610 and at that time the tenant was Mr. W. W. Rowland but was once again let in 1897. By 1901 the mill was in disuse and was a ruin by 2002. It has been suggested that when working the mill had two low-breastshot waterwheels (although the 1890 auction notice only lists one) which were powered by water from the 393 metre long leat and extracted from the river Teign. – further reading see the excellent ‘Mills on the Teign’ by Martin Bodman, 2015.
It is interesting to see from the 1890 auction notice the mention of catering for picnickers and providing holiday lets. Clearly along with the fishing rights this would have been an opportunity for some diversification.

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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