A Book of the West/Volume 1/7

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Two-fords Town—The Seven Crosses—Numerous chapels—Tiverton Church—Blundell's School—Parson Russell—Washfield—Sampford Peverell Ghost—"Old Snow"—White Witches—Instance of evil done by them—The Four Quarters—Machine lace—John Heathcoat—Cullompton—Bampfylde Moore Carew—Bampton Pony Fair—The Exmoor ponies.

TIVERTON, or, as it was originally called, Twyford, takes its name from being planted between the Exe and the Loman (Gael. limoh, smooth or sluggish[1]), which are here fordable. It rises picturesquely above the Exe, and the height when crowned with castle as well as church must have presented a remarkably fine group of towers. The main castle tower was, however, pulled down and left as a stump about thirty-five years ago.

The castle was a great Courtenay stronghold, and occupied a site that had doubtless been previously fortified. There is, however, a large and strong earthwork, Cranmore, that occupies the height above Collipriest and looks down upon the town.

At Hensleigh, a hamlet to the west of the town, is a spot called "The Seven Crosses." The origin of this name is, according to a generally accepted tradition, as follows:—

One day the Countess of Devon was taking her walk abroad in the direction of Hensleigh, when she met a tailor descending the hill, laden with a large covered maund, or basket. As he passed, she heard a cry from the hamper. She stayed her steps and inquired what he was carrying.

"Only seven puppies that I be going to drown in the Exe," was his reply.

"I want a dog," said the Countess. "Open the hamper."

The tailor tried to excuse himself, but in vain. The Countess insisted, and, on the lid being raised, seven little babes were revealed.

"Alas, my lady!" said the tailor. "My wife gave birth to all seven at once, and I am poor, poor as a church mouse. What other could I do than rid myself of them?—they are all boys."

The Countess saw that they were lovely and vigorous babes, and she made the tailor take them back to his wife, and charged herself with the cost of their bringing up and education. When they were sufficiently old she had them all sent to Buckfast Abbey, to be reared for the priesthood, and in due time they were ordained and became—that is, four of them—rectors of Tiverton (for Tiverton had four together), and the three others their curates. As they were all of a birth, they loved each other, and never disagreed; and that was—so it is averred—the only instance within a historic period that the rectors of the four portions of Tiverton have agreed, and have got on smoothly with each other and with their curates. As the seven hung together in life, in death they were not parted. All died in one day, and were buried on the spot where the Countess of Devon saved their lives, and there above their heads seven crosses were reared, but not one of these remains to the present day.

Formerly there were in Tiverton parish eighteen chapels, of which the only remains are found in a cottage at Mere, and a restored chapel at Cove. Tidcombe Rectory was built by a former rector, named Newte, on the graveyard of one of these chapels, and it is pretended that none of the eldest sons of the Newte family have ever since come of age, as a punishment for this act of profanation.

Tiverton Church, dedicated to S. Peter, represents three periods of architecture. In the north aisle is a Norman doorway, with zigzag moulding. The tower, a hundred feet high, is the most beautiful feature—Perpendicular. The nave, chancel, and north aisle are of early Perpendicular work; the south aisle, with its Greenway chapel, dates from early in the sixteenth century. It was built by John Greenway, a rich merchant of Tiverton, and running round it, represented in relief, are twenty scenes from the life of our Lord, beginning with the Flight into Egypt, and ending with the Ascension. The roof of the south porch is also Greenway's work, and is very fine. He and his wife Joan are represented over the door kneeling in adoration. He died in 1529, but the chapel was built in 1517. The exterior is covered with lavish enrichments—representations of ships, wool-packs, men, and horses. Formerly this chapel was separated from the south aisle by a richly-carved, gilt and coloured screen of stone, containing paintings in panels. This was wantonly destroyed in 1830, but the fragments were happily rescued by the Earl of Devon and removed to Powderham. At the "restoration" in 1854 the rood-screen was also removed, but was secured by the Rev. W. Rayer, rector of Tidcombe Portion, who had just purchased the whole of the Holcombe estate from the Blewett family, and his son had it restored and erected in Holcombe Rogus Church.

The screen was in a very worm-eaten condition, and its restoration was a very expensive matter.

Blundell's Grammar School was founded in 1604, and was for many years the leading school of Devonshire. Under Dr. Richards it contained the largest number of pupils, 200, ever within the walls, until the new buildings were erected on a suitable spot to the east of Tiverton, where there are now 250 boys.

Dr. Richards was a good teacher, but a very severe disciplinarian. Perhaps the most famous of his pupils, both as a clergyman and sportsman, was the late John Russell, "Parson Jack" as he was called. He was a great favourite as a school-boy, and always showed a considerable amount of shrewdness. With another boy, named Bovey, he kept a scratch pack of hounds. Having received a hint that this had reached the ears of Dr. Richards, he collected his share of the pack, and sent them off to his father. The next day he was summoned to the master's desk.

"Russell," said the Doctor, "I hear that you have some hounds. Is it true?"

"No, sir," answered Russell; "I have not a dog in the neighbourhood."

"You never told me a lie, so I believe you. Bovey, come here. You have some hounds, I understand?"

"Well, sir, a few—but they are little ones."

"Oh! you have, have you? Then I shall expel you."

And expelled he was, Russell coming off scatheless. I tell the following tale because it was told in Blundell's School of Russell, during his lifetime, as one of his pranks, but I mistrust it. I believe the story to be as old as the twelfth century; and if I remember aright, it occurs in one of the French Fabliaux of that period.

Dr. Richards had some very fine grapes growing against his garden wall, under the boys' bedroom windows. "Jack was as good as his master," and the young scamp was wont to be let down in a clothes-basket by night, by his mates, to the region of the grapes, and to return with a supply when hauled up.

The Doctor noticed how rapidly his grapes disappeared, and learning from his man John the cause, took his place under the vine along with his gardener, who was ordered to lay hold of the boy in the basket and muffle his mouth, lest he should cry out. This he did when Russell descended; and Dr. Richards took his place in the clothes-basket. The boys hauled away, wondering at the accession of weight, but when they saw the Doctor's head level with the window, panic-stricken they let go their hold of the rope, and away went Doctor and basket to the bottom.

No bones were broken, and nothing came of it, the Doctor being rather ashamed of the part he had played in the matter.

It was said of Russell, as Napoleon said of Ashton Smith, that he was "le premier chasseur d'Angleterre." His love for sport made him always a poor man. On one occasion he invited a young curate to breakfast with him, and preach for him. After breakfast two likely-looking hunters, perhaps a little screwy, were brought round and steadily mounted.

"No time for going round by the road," said Parson Jack; "we will ride to my church across country, and so save a couple of miles."

Off they rode. The curate presently remarked, "How bare of trees your estate is," as they crossed lands belonging to Russell. "Ah!" responded the sportsman "the hounds eat 'em." Coming to a stiff gate, Russell, with his hand in his pocket, cleared it like a bird, but looking" round, he saw the curate on the other side crawling over the gate, and crying out in piteous tones, "It won't open." "Not it," was the reply, "and if you can't jump a gate like that, I 'm sure you can't preach a sermon. Good-bye."

But he was not only a mighty hunter, he was also an excellent parish priest and a fine preacher, though not always depending on his own sermons. He was ordered to preach at one of Bishop Phillpotts' visitations. His sermon was good, and at the consequent dinner the Bishop complimented him in almost exaggerated terms for "his splendid sermon." Russell knew that the Bishop when most oily was most dangerous, and suspected that he had recognised the sermon, so, as always, ready, he said in returning thanks, "As to the sermon, my lord, I quite agree with you. I have ever considered it as one of Barrow's best." Needless to say, the Bishop collapsed.

I can cap that with another anecdote.

The late Dr. Cornish, of Ottery S. Mary, was pompous and patronising. A curate under him, recently ordained, preached his first sermon. In the vestry the vicar, swelling out, said, "For a beginner it was not wholly bad." "Ah, Doctor, I must not take any credit to myself. It is one of Bishop Andrews' finest discourses." Needless to say that Doctor Cornish's stomach went in.

There have not been many conspicuous lights from Blundell's. Perhaps the most famous of them is the present Archbishop of Canterbury.

The school has passed through many vicissitudes. By a Chancery decision in 1846 all boarders were swept away and the school reduced to seventeen boys. £10,000 were put into the lawyers' pockets in defending the suit, whereby the school was reduced well-nigh to bankruptcy. By another decision of the courts and at the cost of another £10,000, boarders were restored, and new buildings were erected. The old school has been altered into private dwellings.

Near Tiverton is Washfield, where there is a very fine Jacobean screen with the arms of James I. upon it, and in the north aisle those of Charles as Prince of Wales. It deserves a study. In this church the old parish orchestra still performs on Sunday, or did so till recently. There is here a curious church-house with an oriel window.

Outside the churchyard was buried a squire of the parish, so wicked that he was denied a place in consecrated ground. Three times were Acts of Parliament passed to enable either sale of property or the management to be taken from successive squires as one after another was mad. Worth House has now passed away from the family of that name, which has died out in the male line.

In 1810 much public interest was excited by a report of spiritual manifestations at Sampford Peverell, five miles from Tiverton, and the Rev. C. Colton published an account of them. They consisted of the usual rappings, dealing of heavy blows, and the throwing about the room of heavy articles. That these were produced by some cunning servant-maid cannot be doubted. Mr. Colton, who vouched for the truth of the phenomena, did not bear a good character; he ended his days by suicide, after having been "unfrocked," and his last years spent in gambling-houses.

That these tricks were at one time not unfrequently resorted to is probable. The Germans give them as the work of a Poltergeist. In my own neighbourhood, in or about 1852, a precisely similar exhibition took place. Stones, cups, pans flew about a room, and strange knockings were heard. Many people went to witness them, and came away convinced that they were the work of spirits; especially was it so with one yeoman, whose hat was knocked off his head by the spirit. My father investigated the matter, and came to the conclusion that the whole was contrived by a girl of low intelligence but of much cunning. It is now, with the advance of education, persons of a superior grade who are the dupes of spirit-mediums. Education will not give brains, but it will varnish emptiness.

At Tiverton lived, till a few years ago, "Old Snow," a rather famous "white witch," to whom many persons had recourse, among others a farmer who was a churchwarden and a well-to-do man. I knew him well, and in 1889 believed him to be a doomed man, with a hacking cough, worn to a shred, and bent by weakness. Having consulted all the prominent doctors in the south of the county, he went in desperation to "Old Snow." What the white witch did to him I cannot say, but I can testify he was a changed man from that day, and is at present a robust, hale man, looking good for another twenty or thirty years.

In an article I wrote on "White Witches" for the Daily Graphic I mentioned this case. Some days after I met the farmer. "Why," said he, "you have put me in the papers." "So I have," I answered, "but what I told was literally true." "True—aye," he said, "every bit. Old Snow cured me when the faculty gave me up. How he did it, neither you nor I know."

The white witch is an institution that has not been killed by board schools in the West, nor, as far as can be judged from the favour in which he is still regarded, is he likely to die. A witch is generally supposed to be the feminine of wizard, but in the West of England "witch" is of common gender, and those in highest repute are men. Their trade consists in prescribing for the sick, in informing those who have been "overlooked" whose evil eye has influenced them for ill, where lost articles are to be found, and how spells cast on their cattle are to be broken.

A white witch is one who repudiates utterly having any traffic with the Evil One. His or her knowledge is derived from other sources—what, not specified. I had for many years as a tenant in one of my cottages a woman who was much consulted as a white witch. She is now dead, and her decease is a matter of outspoken regret.

The village inn frequently had guests staying there to undergo a course of "blessing" from this woman. She was an ill-favoured person, with a wall-eye, and one eye higher in her head than the other. She was bent, heavy-featured, and stoutly built. A worthy woman, scrupulously neat in her person, and who kept her cottage in beautiful order. She certainly believed in her own powers, and as certainly performed very remarkable cures, which it was not possible to deny, though they might be explained.

For instance, in the hayfield in a parish four miles distant as the crow flies, eight by road, a young man cut his leg with the scythe, and the blood spurted out. At once the farmer dipped the man's Handkerchief in the blood, mounted one of his men on a horse, and sent him galloping to the white witch, who took the kerchief, blessed it, and simultaneously four miles off as the crow flies, the blood was stanched. The son of the largest farmer in the place, a man who is worth his thousands, was suffering from glandular ulcerations in the neck. The village doctor attended him and did him no good. He consulted the principal medical man in the nearest market town, also to no advantage. Time passed and he was no better; he gave up consulting doctors, who sent him in bills and left him rather worse than when they began on him. At last he went to the white witch. Whether she "struck" his glands or prescribed some herbs I cannot say, but what I do know is that within a month the young man was perfectly well.

The woman, who was my tenant, was no conscious impostor, of that I am convinced. What her secret was she would not communicate, but most earnestly did she deprecate any communication with evil spirits. Not only did the village innkeeper derive a certain revenue from patients lodging in his house to be under treatment by her, but the postmen of the neighbourhood also earned their crumbs by carrying kerchiefs blessed by her to sufferers within their districts. It was no uncommon sight to see a walking postman careering along with arms extended holding a kerchief in each hand, fluttering as he walked. It is held that the blessing is drawn out of the material if it be folded, put in a pocket, and handled other than most gingerly between finger and thumb.

When among the educated, the cultivated classes, we find belief in faith-healing, and so-called "Christian Science," is it to be wondered at that in classes lower down in the scale there should be credulous persons who not only believe in white witches, but believe in their own powers as white witches?

It is the same as in the Lourdes miracles; the imagination acts on the nervous system, and that stimulates the body to throw off disease. That is the true secret.

I cannot doubt but that in many cases herbs are employed that have been sadly neglected ever since our doctors have gone in for mineral medicines. The latter act violently, but the herbs slowly, and, in many instances, more surely.

However, in the majority of cases the white witches are mere impostors, and may do much harm, as in that I will now record, which took place three years ago only. I shall, for obvious reasons, not give the true names, nor indicate the locality.

A cattle dealer in 1896 had a daughter, who two years previously had been a victim to influenza. This had affected her head and produced profound melancholy. As doctors proved unavailing, the man went to Exeter and consulted a white witch there. According to his statement the witch showed him the face of a neighbour, Mrs. Thomas, in a glass of water, and told him that his daughter was "over-looked" by the person he saw. The white witch further informed him that the individual who had "ill wished" his daughter passed his door every day, but had hitherto never entered it, but that on the following Saturday she would do so. The cattle dealer returned home, and, sure enough, next ensuing Saturday Mrs. Thomas entered his house and asked if he would take of her a little meat she had to spare, as she had been killing a pig.

Next night the Thomases' house was set on fire. It was thatched, and six persons slept under the thatch. By the merest chance Mr. Thomas woke in the night, and hearing a strange sound went outside his house to see what was the matter, and found his roof in flames. He had barely time to rouse and bring forth his wife and family before the roof fell in.

It was ascertained by the police that the thatch had been deliberately fired. The incendiary had struck two matches, which had failed, and in drawing the matches from his pocket had dropped two halfpenny stamps. He had climbed on to a hedge to effect his object, and the third match had ignited the thatch. But it was never ascertained who had done the deed. A few years ago I wrote the little account of "Devonshire White Witches" for the Daily Graphic already referred to. This brought down on me a copious shower of letters from all parts of England, entreating me to furnish the addresses of some of our white witches, as the correspondents had found it profitless and expensive to apply to medical practitioners, and they were anxious to try the cures of these conscious or unconscious impostors.

Tiverton parish was ecclesiastically divided into four quarters, each under an independent rector, and all co-equally regnant in the parish church. The arrangement was not happy—and led to constant ruffles and conflict of opinion. The condition was so unsatisfactory that the late Bishop of Exeter and present Archbishop carried an Act to alter it.

Tiverton is a seat of machine -lace manufacture, introduced by Mr. John Heathcoat in 1816.

Lace is said to have been brought into France by Mary de Medici from Venice; and the making of this beautiful work of art rapidly spread and took root in the Low Countries. Refugees from Flanders brought it into England, when they settled at Cranfield, in Bedfordshire. The lace made was Brussels point; the network was formed by bone bobbins on a pillow, which held the threads, and the sprigs were worked with a needle.

The introduction of machinery told heavily on the commoner and coarser lace-making.

In the reign of George II., or about a hundred and fifty years after the introduction of the first knitting machines, many additions and improvements were made in them, and the so-called "tickler," guided by mere accident, was now applied for the first time to the manufacture of lace. This attempt was succeeded by a "point-net" machine, an invention that was nearly, but not entirely, successful.

In 1768 a watchmaker, named Hammond, applied the stocking-frame to the manufacture of lace, but it worked slowly and without accuracy. Attempts were made in various parts of the kingdom to make fishing-nets by machinery, and a workman covered, by observing a child at play, the secret of the "bobbin and carriage," which was first applied to the manufacture of fishing-nets. It was not, however, till 1809 that Mr. Heathcoat patented his machine, which combined the discoveries of the past with immense improvements of his own.

The point-net frame had been invented in the early years of the century. Attempts were made to produce a twist mesh. Heathcoat divided the warp threads and put them on a beam, apart from the transverse threads, which latter he wound upon thin bobbins, and arranged them so that they could pass around and amongst the former.

This machine was, however, complex, having twenty-four motions to the series for twisting the mesh, and four for the pins to secure the twist when unravelling, but after the expiration of the patent it was simplified so as to require only six, with two motions to prevent the unravelment.

The introduction of mechanism threatening the manufacture at home provoked grave riots in the counties of Nottingham, Derby, and Leicester, headed by a weaver named Ludd, who gave his name to the riots. The man himself was really insane. Troops of men went about breaking machines and intimidating workers in the factories. William Horsfall, a Marsden manufacturer, they murdered. This was in 1813. Although peremptory punishment fell on the rioters, still insecurity to life and property continued for some years, and induced Mr. Heathcoat to transfer his frames to and start as a manufacturer in Tiverton in 1816, and abandon his factory at Loughborough. He brought with him as a foreman Mr. Asher, who had been shot at and wounded in the back of his head by the rioters. This transfer was so much loss to Loughborough and gain to Tiverton, and that not temporary, but lasting, for what was begun in 1816 is continued to this day in full vigour, finding employment for 1400 hands and 130 children. John Heathcoat's only child and daughter married a solicitor named Amory, and their son was made a baronet by Mr. Gladstone in 1874, a well-deserved honour, as, but for the introduction of the lace manufacture, Tiverton would have sunk to the position of a stagnant county town.

The Exe valley below Tiverton presents pleasant scenery, but nothing fine. An excursion should be made to Cullompton in the Culm (Welsh cûll, Gael, caol, narrow, slender) valley to see the interesting church with its fine restored screen in all the splendour of colour. Cullompton had the wit to preserve and cherish what Tiverton cast away. Uffculme has also a screen; near this is Bradfield House, a rare treasury of old oak carving. Culmstock has a stone screen, which has stupidly been converted into a reredos.

Holcombe Rogus is a very fine specimen of an Elizabethan house and hall. In the church is some beautiful cinque-cento carved screenwork to the manorial pew.

At Bickleigh was born Bampfylde Moore Carew in 1693. His father was the rector, and the son was educated at Blundell's School at Tiverton, where he showed considerable ability. He and other boys kept a pack of hounds, and as these, with Carew and others behind them, once gave chase to a deer strayed from Exmoor over standing corn, so much damage was done that the farmers complained.

Bampfylde Moore Carew was too great a coward to wait and take his whipping. He ran away from school, and sheltered among some gipsies. He contracted such a love for their vagrant life, and such satisfaction in getting their applause for thefts that manifested low cunning, that nothing would induce him to abandon their mode of life and return to civilisation. At one time he postured as a non-juring parson who had been forced to leave his rectory, and preyed on the sympathy of the Jacobite gentry. Then learning from a newspaper that a cargo of Quakers bound for Philadelphia had been wrecked on the Irish coast, he disguised himself as a Friend, and traded on the charity of the Quakers by representing himself as one of those who had been rescued from the sea.

He was elected King of the Beggars on the death of Clause Patch, who had reigned previously over the mendicants. At last he was arrested, tried at the quarter sessions at Exeter, and transported to Maryland, where he was sold to a planter, and as he tried to escape an iron collar was riveted about his neck. He again escaped; this time succeeded in getting among the Indians, who relieved him of his collar. He stole a canoe from his benefactors, and got on board a vessel sailing for England. What became of him is not known, but he is thought to have died in obscurity in 1770, aged 77, but where buried is unknown. The fellow was a worthless rogue, without a redeeming quality in him.

The Bampton Fair is an institution that should not be passed by unsought by the visitor to North Devon, if he be a lover of horseflesh or a student of mankind. He will see there choice specimens alike of Exmoor ponies and of North Devon farmers, and will catch many a waft of the broadest dialect of the borders of Somerset and Devon.

A writer in S. Paul's Magazine, December 12th, 1896, says:—

"As a dead-alive, archæologically interesting place, the Devon Bampton on the Exe is a more or less desirable centre for the angler and the hunting man, but ordinarily, in the eyes of the unsporting, sane person, it is a useful hole to strive to avoid.

"Bampton Fair, however, is a celebration once to be seen by every woman or man who has eyes, ears, and nose for novelty. Such lowing of oxen, bleating of sheep, and assemblage of agrestics and congregation of ponies! The side shows are naught. Who cares for gingerbread, pasties, cockles, fairings, tipsy yokels, trolloping hussies, and other attributes of Bœotia let loose? The play's the thing—that is, the pony exhibition. Nijni Novgorod is all very well—quite unique in its way; Rugby, Barnet, and Brampton Brian fairs are things apart. But Bampton Fair is absolutely sui generis. Exmoor ponies throng the streets, flood the pavements, overflow the houses, pervade the place. Wild as hawks, active and lissom as goats, cajoled from the moors and tactfully manœuvred when penned, these indigenous quadrupeds will leap or escalade lofty barriers in a standing jump, or a cat-like scramble, whilst the very 'suckers' have to be cajoled with all the Dædalian adroitness with which the Irish pig has to be induced to go whither it would not."

The great sale of ponies formerly took place at Simonsbath, but it was moved to Bampton in 1850, and is held on the last Thursday in October.

"Seventy years ago," said a bailiff, "there were only five men and a woman and a little girl on Exmoor, and that little girl was my mother. She drew beer at Simonsbath public-house. There were a rough lot of customers then, I promise you."

The moor was the property of the Crown, and it was leased in part to Sir Thomas Dyke Acland since 1818, and was used for the rearing of ponies and the summering of sheep.

There was a good deal of horse stealing in the early days of this century. In spite of the severe laws on this sort of theft, and of the Acland brand of the anchor, a good many ponies were spirited away by the shepherds and disposed of in Wiltshire. The Acland breed is pure, and can only be obtained from the Baronet. All the rest are the result of crossing. Sir Thomas moved his stock away from Exmoor to the Winsford Hills, and left only a dozen mare ponies to preserve the line, when the father of the late Sir Frederick Knight rented 10,000 acres of the moor and added 6000 subsequently.

"An after-dinner conversation led Mr. Knight to consider the great pony question in all its bearings. The party met at Sir Joseph Banks's, the eminent naturalist. They discussed the merits of the Dongola horse, which had been described as an Arab of sixteen hands and peculiar to the regions round Nubia. Sir Joseph proposed to the party to get some of the breed, and accordingly Lords Headly, Morton, and Dundas, and Mr. Knight then and there gave him a joint £1000 cheque as a deposit for the expenses. The English consul in Egypt was applied to, and in due course the horses and mares which he sent bore out Bruce's description to the letter. In addition to their height, they were rather Roman-nosed, with a very fine texture of skin, well chiselled under the jowl, and as clean-winded as all their race. About ten or twelve arrived, and Mr. Knight was so pleased with them that he bought Lord Headly's share. His two sires and three mares were then brought to Simonsbath, where he had established a stud of seven or eight thoroughbred mares and thirty half-breeds of the coaching Cleveland sort.

"The first cross knocked out the Roman nose as completely as the Leicester destroys the Exmoor horn, but the buffy stood true to its colour, and thus the type was never quite lost. The half Dongolas did wonderfully well with the West Somerset, which often came to Exmoor to draw for a fox, and they managed to get down the difficult hills so well, and crossed the brooks so close up with the hounds, that the vocation of the white-clad guides on chase days gradually fell into disuse."[2]

The average height is 12½ hands, and bays and buffy bays with mealy noses prevail; in fact, are in a majority of at least three to one.

The older ponies live all through the winter on the hills, and seek out sheltered spots for themselves during the continuance of wind and rain. These favourite nooks are well known to the herdsmen, who build up stacks of hay and straw, which are doled out to them in times of snow. "Still, like honest, hard-working labourers, the ponies never assemble at the wicket till they have exhausted every means of self-support by scratching with their fore-feet in the snow for the remnants of the summer tufts, and drag wearily behind them an ever lengthening chain of snowballs."

A writer in All The Year Round for May, 1866, says:—

"Throughout North Devon and Somersetshire and wherever ponies are famed, the Exmoor breed have a great reputation, not without reason, for they are not only hardy and sure-footed, but from their earliest years the foals follow their dams at a gallop down the crees of loose stones on the steep moorland sides; they are extraordinarily active and courageous. The writer once saw an Exmoor, only 44 inches high, jump out of a pound 5 feet 6 inches in height, just touching the top bar with his hind feet."

Well, let a visitor go to Bampton Fair, and see the pranks of these wild, beautiful creatures, and note as well the skill with which they are managed by the men experienced in dealing with them. Such a sight will remain in his memory, and when he gets back to town he will have something to talk about at dinner, and if he has a bit of descriptive power in him he will hold the ears of those who are near him at table.

Note.Harding (Lt.-Col.), The History of Tiverton. Tiverton, 1845.

  1. The same in Loch Lomond and in Lake Leman, in the Lyme in Dorsetshire, and the Learn by Leamington.
  2. Condensed from "The Exmoor Ponies," by "Druid," in The Sporting Magazine, October, 1860.