Page:A Book of Dartmoor.djvu/166

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CHAPTER IX

LYDFORD


An out-of-the-world spot—The church dilapidated—The clerk—Situation of Lydford—An early fortress—The church of S. Petrock—British foundations—Monument of the watchmaker—The castle—A prison—Mr. Radford—Will Huggins—Primitive gate-hinges—The gorge—The waterfall—The Gubbins crew—Black Down—Entries in the registers of Mary Tavy—Mary and Peter Tavy churches—Bridestowe church—Bronescombe's Loaf and Cheese—Tavy Cleave—Peat-works—Cross on Sourton Down.

FIFTY years ago Lydford was one of the most out-of-the-world and wild spots in England. I had almost written God-forsaken, but checked my pen, for God forsakes no place, though He may tarry to bless. There were no resident gentry—there never had been, as a glance at the registers reveals. There was no resident rector—there had not been within the memory of the oldest inhabitant. The rector was a wealthy pluralist, rector of Southill and Callington, in Cornwall, who hardly ever showed his face in Lydford, the largest parish in England, and maintained a poor curate there on a hundred pounds a year in a miserable cottage.

The people were a law to themselves, and had the credit of being inveterate poachers.

The houses, thatched, built of moor-stones, not set in mortar, were in a ruinous condition. The aspect