Frances Billinge 2017

Pullabrook in Bovey Tracey on the South east of Dartmoor was a Domesday holding. Its history from then to the present is explored. In early times the ownership was stable, but in Victorian times it changed frequently. By then those farming the land were generally not born in the parish. In the twentieth century Pullabrook returned to being farmed by one local family and it continues as a rare, unspoilt gem.

Pullabrook is a farm on slopes which lead down to the banks of the river Bovey, the farmhouse is a Grade II listed building of the sixteenth to seventeenth century.1 It is situated in the western part of the parish of Bovey Tracey. It is mentioned in documents from 1086 and has quietly carried on being a farm through the centuries.

Figure 1. Pullabrook Farm. Frances Billinge 2016.

Pullabrook was referred to as Polebroc in the Domesday survey of 1086, and was part of the manor of Bovi.2 It had been held by Edric but William the Conqueror gave all the Bovi lands to Geoffrey de Mowbray the Bishop ofCoutances as a reward for his support. In 1086 Polebroc was one of the nine holdings which made up the manor at that time. We do not know the boundaries of Pullabrook at this time, but it was between the other Domesday holdings of Hatherleigh in the north, and Little Bovey to the south and east.

Gover has explained that Pullabrook as a place name is likely to derive from the personal name ‘Polla’ because of the ‘ll’ spelling, rather than from the Old English word ‘pol’ meaning pool. In the Lay Subsidy Rolls it was referred to as Pollebrok in 1330, held by Stephen of Polebrok in 1332, and as Pullbrok in 1333.3

We do not know when the lands of the nine original Domesday manor holdings were sub-divided but by the 1344 there were references in the King’s Patent Rolls to nearby Yarner as a separate holding, and by at least 1524 nearby Ullacombe was a separate estate as it was referred to in that year’s Lay Subsidy Roll.4

From the time of Domesday until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I the manor of Bovey Tracey, including Pullabrook, was either held by the Crown or granted to various supporters of the monarch. This is described in Billinge 2016.5 No further information is yet known about Stephen of Polebrok. After the listing in the subsidy rolls the next references we have to land near Pullabrook is in connection with Ullacombe which was a separate holding by at least 1524 as it was referred to in that year’s Lay Subsidy Roll.6 A document of 1578 with title deeds confirms both Ullacombe and Pullabrook as  separate holdinsg.7 The Parish Register of 1539 records the birth of Alyis to Thomas Soy of Pullabrook. By 1596  the Church Rate records that Pullabrook was then held by John Skirdon.8 It is not known how large the Pullabrook boundary was by this time.

It was in Tudor or early Stuart times that the present farmhouse was built.9

John Norden’s Survey 1614– In 1614 John Norden undertook a survey of the Crown lands of Bovey Tracey Manor which was included in a 1615 document.10 This survey was undertaken because the Crown was planning to sell its lands to raise money. Norden’s survey refers to Poll a brook as being on the boundary of the manor. At that time it was still held by John Skirdon for three lives but occupied by William Sprey who had it for two lives. This shows that Sprey’s holding of the land from the lord of the manor was secure for two more lives but when those lives ceased the lord could decide on who would have the holding. This meant uncertainty for families although it might have been possible for the family to extend the lives with the lord’s permission on payment of a fee. Table 1 lists the Pullabrook lands in that survey.

Table I. Lands of Pullabrook in Norden Survey 1614.

POLL A BROOKE HOLDINGS 1614  Acres Rods Perches 
Tenement, courtladge, garden orchard 1-0-0
Conie meade 2-0-0
Mill parke 2-0-0
Poll a brooke meade 2-0-0
Buckmoare 4-0-0
Innercombe close
Calves parke 1-0-0
Easter Town 4-0-0
Clapper marshe 4-1-0
The Gratton 5-0-0
Little Marshe 2-0-0
Le Colls 3-0-0
Coll parke 4-1-0
Ferne parke 2-0-0
Longe marshe 4-0-0
Le Wood 6-0-0
Hill Parke 5-0-0
Furzey Hills 19-0-0
Le Hill 10-0-0
The Indowne 30-0-0
Communiam duo molendina granat et unum le Tann Mill cum cursu aqua
34s rent

What is of particular interest is the reference to the two  communal mills-  for grain and a tan mill with a water course.

Gulielmus Map c.1641
The earliest map of Pullabrook, then called ‘Pullibrooke’, is thought to have been drawn by William Boycott c. 1640  and is referred to as the ‘Gulielmus’ map.11  (Figures 2-5) We do not know why this map was commissioned or its exact date. The fields on this map  are listed in Table 2.

Figure 2. Gulielmus Map c. 1640 fields of Pullibrooke. Reproduced with the kind permission of Devon Archives and Local Studies Service.

Figure 3. Gulielmus Map c. 1640.Fields of Pullibrooke. Reproduced with  the kind permission of Devon Archives and Local Studies Service.

Figure 4. Gulielmus Map c. 1640. Fields of Pullibrooke. Reproduced with the kind permission of Devon Archives and Local Studies Service.

The legend (Fig. 5)  for this map  shows that the land was owned by John Skirden in eleven parcels containing 122 acres-1 rod -11 perches. This is less than the 18 parcels of land  listed in 1614, but could indicate that some fields had been combined. However the lands listed under John Skirdon’s legend actually add up to  195a  25 poles and 211 perches, excluding the Common land as his legend was not put next to that, so this is more than the 122+ acres listed in the legend.

Figure 5. Gulielmus Map c.1640 Legend showing John Skirdon’s name. Reproduced with the kind permission of Devon Archives and Local Studies Service.

Pullibrooke Lands c.1640 Acerage
Mixed Woods at top, clear land below 57-3-36
Mill Meads with house in bottom right near river 11- 2-16
Field 3- 2- 11
Field 4-3-4
Field 7-0-9
Trees top and right, land in middle 13-2-38
Field 3-3-15
Field 3-2-16
Pullibrook mead 2-2-36
Field 11-3-0
Field with 2 houses ?-3-30
New Downe 35 acres
All owned by John Skirdon in 11 parcels 122-1-11

 Table 2. ‘Pullibrooke’’ Lands Gulielmus Map c. 1640

From a lease of 1688 we learn that in 1680 William Stawell, who was lord of the manor, had leased the two Pullabrook grist mills, and two gardens and a four acre close of land called Millmarsh all adjacent, as well as the tenement called Pullabrook to Richard White yeoman of Bovey Tracey. By 1688 Nicholas Meardon a yeoman of Bovey Tracey had some form of possession of the holding as he leased Pullabrook Mills to William Southmead of Exon. However, because of the intricacies of ownership, lease and tenancy, in 1688 Pullabrook was in the possession of John Skirdon a weaver of Bovey Tracey who held it for 99 years and the lease would conclude if Mary White Langston the daughter Richard White, referred to in the 1680 transaction, so decided.12 This document made no reference to the tan mill listed by Norden in 1614. William Stawell continued to be the actual owner and the lease then passed to William Southmead later in 1688.

However the mills became a source of contention and by 1690 there was litigation between William Stawell and William Southmead as Stawell complained that Southmead had made improvements to Pullabrook  mills and so was taking away custom from Stawells  ‘Bovey Mills’in the central part of Bovey Tracey.13 Stawell as owner of the fee farm rent of Bovey Tracey’s ancient grist mills considered that he had the ancient right of ‘suit and service’, that is the right to grind inhabitants’ and residents’ corn at his mill, and that William Southmead’s possession of ‘Pullabrooke’ and its mill  was interfering with the ancient custom. Stawell claimed that Southmead was diverting custom from the ancient mill to his newly re-furbished mill. This describes that William Southmeade was taking some of Stawell’s custom by Southmead’s newly repaired mill at Pullabrook. This is interesting as Norden had said in 1614 that there was no custom of using the lord’s mill, but Stawell’s litigation suggests he wanted it to be his ancient right. It also tells us that Pullabrook mill was newly repaired at that time.

William Stawell died in 1702 and by 1703 Christopher Bale the elder of Parke  had purchased the manor. He, with others of his family, conveyed Pullabrook estate by lease and release to Nicholas Mardon, a Bovey Tracey yeoman.14 This transaction referred to the complicated debts left by William Stawell and the inheritance of William Colman of Gornhay Devon, Elizabeth Bale, William Goban the son of Walter Goban and John Legasserk of Little Hempston.

At the same time Christopher Bale conveyed Pullabrook Mills (the plural suggests there were still two mills) and Marshes by lease and release to Thomas Harris, yeoman of Devon.

‘a messuage, cottage and tenement called Pullabrook Mills plus two fields called Mill Marsh adjoining the said mill house and two small rolls now converted into orchards, five closes of lands which were all part of and were formerly part of the rolls of the tenement called Pullybrook, but now severed and divided  and pays the yearly rent of one peppercorn’.15

This shows that ‘Pullybrook’, as an ancient holding, had continued to pay the rent of one peppercorn to the lord of the manor. Such ancient rents could not be increased whereas newer properties payed far higher rents.16 Thomas Harris then leased Pullabrook Mills for 99 years to his brother John Harris. Such immediate changing of hands by lease was not unusual at the time.17

Towards the end of the century the Mardon family still held Pullabrook with Nicholas Mardon listed as owner and occupier in the 1786 Land Tax Assessment and in 1789 he had John Perryman apprenticed to him.18 The tax was £2 8s 0d, which was one of the higher ones in the parish, the same as Higher Stickwick and Higher Owlacombe[Ullacombe]’.

PULLABROOK IN THE 1800s- Victorian times and the 1841 Tithe Map
In 1818 Nicholas Mardon was selling one hundred and thirty prime oak trees from Little Bovey and Pullabrook but the following year he died and then the Pullabrook estate was held by John Stooke a yeoman who had Elizabeth Tapper apprenticed to him.19

Pullabrook changed hands again and by 1823 it was held by Mr Harvey as in a later poor law examination of settlement an Ilsington man explained that he had worked for Mr Harvey of Pullabrook around 1823.20 We do not know if Harvey was an owner or a tenant. Another change of hands occurred by 1829 Pullabrook as it was then held by Henry Holeman, yeoman as Elizabeth Ball was apprenticed to him.21

In both 1835 there were  advertisements for the sale of 200 oak trees standing Pullabrook, together with a further 50 at Little Bovey. The viewing to be arranged with Mr Stooke of the latter farm. In 1836 more trees were for sale on the same farms with over 230 trees of oak, ash, elm and alder standing at Pullabrook, again Mr Stooke of Little Bovey was the contact.22 This suggests that both farms were being managed as one estate. Possibly this was the same Mr Stooke as mentioned in 1818.

The 1841 Census shows that agricultural labouring families were living at Pullabrook Mill. These were Jonathan Bridgman his wife and child and also William Bridgemnn his wife and four children.William Jackson his wife and seven agricultural labourers were living at Pullabrook,  as tenants.23

The next survey of the land of Pullabrook was undertaken for the tithe commissioners in 1841 in connection with money that landowners were to pay to the parish in lieu of previous payments in kind such as wool or crops (Fig.2).24

Figure 2. Pullabrook Bovey Tracey Tithe Map 1841. Reproduced with the kind permission of Devon Archives and Local Studies Service

The map informs us of owners and tenants and the acerage of fields. Each map was accompanied by an explanatory apportionment. From apportionment we learn that there was yet another owner of Pullabrook being George Mardon Stook and William Jackson was still the occupier. George Mardon Stook’s name suggests he may have inherited Pullabrook from the previous Mardon and Stooke owners.The names of the fields, their acerage and tithe map numbers are given in Table 3.

George Mardon Stook also owned part of Little Bovey (60 acres 2 rods and 2 perches) and 245 acres of Pullabrook which makes 305 acres 23 rods and 2 perches in all. Little Bovey had been another Domesday holding.

Table 3. Pullabrook Holdings 1841 Tithe Map.

Name of holding Use Acerage-rod poll perch Tithe number
Dwelling house, other buildings, courtladge etc Dwelling house 0-3-13 1054
Cost and Lost Pasture 1-3-36 1012
Cost and lost Allers etc 0-0-16 1013
East Down Arable 5-3-26 1014
East Down Coppice Coppice 0-2-32 1015
Hill Orchard Orchard 1-2-9 1016
Mill Orchard Orchard 0-3-11 1019
Blue Marsh Pasture 5-0-27 1020
Mill Marsh Pasture 4-0-35 1021
Little Weir Marsh Arable 1-3-29 1022
Waste adjoining road 0-0-30 1023
Fore Wood Coppice Timber & Coppice 4-1-0 1024
Fore Wood Arable 4-3-36 1025
Little Fore Wood Timber & Copse 0-3-18 1026
Lower Marsh Arable 3-0-25 1027
Copse Coppice 0-1-14 1028
Higher Long Marsh Arable 2-2-6 1029
Island Copse etc. 0-0-16 1030
Back Wood Timber & Copse 11-0-10 1031
Higher Back Hill Furze 5-2-24 1032
Yonder Homer Great Hill Arable 3-0-25 1033
Copse Coppice 0-1-8 1034
Three Corners Arable 4-2-13 1035
Holmer Great Hill Arable 4-2-19 1036
Waste Copse 0-0-16 1037
Lower Furze Park Arable 7-0-24 1038
Higher Furze Park Arable 4-2-27 1039
Little Back Hill Arable 2-2-36 1040
New Take Timber & Coppice 4-3-34 1041
Short Marsh Pasture 1-0-35 1042
Great Down Wood Timber & Coppice 4-1-26 1043
Great Down Brake Furze etc. 29-1-1 1044
Fern Park Arable 3-1-2 1045
Gaul Garden Arable 0-2-5 1046
Gaul Garden Timber & Copse etc 2-1-32 1047
Gaul Garden Arable 0-1-28 1048
Gaul Garden Arable 1-1-31 1049
Garden & Cottage Vegetables 0-0-21 1056
Gaul Park Pasture 4-1-34 1050
Garden Plat Pasture 0-0-6 1051
Gratner Arable 7-1-22 1052
Mow Plat Arable 0-1-17 1053
Garden Vegetables 0-0-19 1055
Great Orchard Orchard 1-0-39 1057
Gratner Arable 0-3-19 1058
Little Meadow Pasture 1-3-6 1059
Great Meadow Pasture 5-1-28 1061
Hill Park Pasture 3-0-25 1062
Kiln Close Arable 6-1-31 1063
Waste 0-0-29 1064
Vinnacombe Coppice Coppice 1-3-4 1065
Garden Vegetables 0-0-20 1066
Vinnacombe Meadow Pasture 1-0-5 1067
Brake Furze 3-1-31 1068
Pit Park Arable 2-3-6 1069
Waste 0-0-6 1070
Cottage 0-0-8 1017
Garden Vegetables 0-0-12 1018
Reddiford Down 71-2-19 2690
Roads & Waste 0-3-18 1060
TOTAL 245-0-0
Total Rent Payable to Vicar £8 13s 7d

The local newspaper reported that a ‘mysterious’ fire broke out at a cottage on Pullabrook Farm in 1849. The pound house and dwelling were destroyed. Mr Jackson the tenant was not living in the farmhouse at the time as he had quitted it to live in the cottage which was part of the same courtyard.25

Hunting continued to be a popular pursuit throughout the century and there are several references to the hounds meeting on Pullabrook land.26

The 1851 Census is the first to give information on where people were born and how much they had moved about. We see that those at Pullabrook Farm were not from Bovey Tracey parish. Josias Rowell was the farmer of 100 acres employing 2 men and a boy of all work. He was born in Ilsington, his wife came from Bishopsteignton, and his children were born in Chudleigh, Ilsington and Staverton. William Bridgeman, a farm labourer, his daughter and granddaughter lived in one of the Pullabrook Mill cottages and Jonathan Bridgeman, also a farm labourer, his wife and son lived next door. They were all said to have been born in Bovey Tracey.27

On the 1861 Census Pullabrook Mill was still lived in by Joanathan Bridgeman but this time he described himeself as having been born in Moretonhampstead and his wife from Drewsteignton. Boarding with them were the family of William Langworthy and his wife and granddaughter, from North Bovey, Exeter and Moretonhampstead. Robert Phillips, born in Chawleigh, was the farmer of 110 acres at Pullabrook. With Phillips was his wife who was from North Tawton, four children born in Chawleigh and one in Bovey Tracey.  He employed two carters, one born in Somerset and the other Okehampton. No-one at Pullabrook was local.28

Inevitably reports in the newspapers tended to be of misdeeds such as poaching, and setting fire. In 1863 Robert Phillips, the farmer of Pullabrook, and John Wills his servant were accused of setting fire to Pullabrook Common and Yarner. Witnesses were Jane Osborne who had been a servant for Phillips, Thomas Stevens who had worked for Phillips for twelve years, and Richard Butchers who was also employed by Phillips. Phillips and Wiils were found guilty by the jury and had to pay damages.29

The following year Robert Phillips charged one of his employees, Daniel Dunn for embezzling £1 8s by stealing fowls. One of the witnesses was James Hutchings, a lad employed by Robert Phillips.30

By 1871 Robert Phillips and his wife were still the farmers at Pullabrook , now with eight children, they had 100 acres, a servant born in North Tawton and employed one man. Although Pullabrook Mill was mentioned on the front of the schedule it did not appear in the list of houses so possibly was uninhabited although generally that was noted.31 By 1874 Mr John Tapper owned Pullabrook and accused his neighbour Oliver Marchant of Shewte Fram of trespassing on his land to shoot conies. In the court case Tapper said he stocked the common and shot over it and had owned Pullabrook for thirty years. He was not a resident owner as he was described as living in Sidmouth so perhaps Pullabrook was his country retreat. Marchant was found guilty.32

In 1877 Pullabrook was advertised to be let together with Little Bovey, again suggesting joint ownership. It was described as having a comfortable dwelling house with a labourer’s cottage and necessary outbuildings, and the two estates offered pasture, meadow, arable, orchards, sheep run, buildings and gardens. Pullabrook also had rights of pasturage and sporting on Higher Down, and to further tempt interest the tenant could have the game and rabbits and rights of shooting over another twenty-eight acres of plantation not included in the lease.33

Mr Tapper managed to let the land and the next month he advertised the livestock and equipment for sale – being 12 double couples of ewes and lambs, 68 single ditto; 86 ewe and wether boggets; 14 Fat sheep, 4 rams; 3 cows in calf, 4 grazing heifers, 3 three- year old steers; 3 two-year old steers; 9 slip pigs; part of a rick of clover hay; 8 hogsheads of sound cider, 12 empty hogsheads, and implements of husbandry. The sheep were described as strong well-bred South Hammers having heavy fleeces of wool and good constitutions. The bullocks were in fine condition and the pigs were of the black breed.34

Pullabrook was advertised to be let again in 1881, being 62 acres of pasture and orchards in six lots with grass and water in each. It stated that several enclosures gave good grazing for sheep, while bullocks and colts could be accommodated in the rest.35

On the 1881 Census John Osborne of Barnstaple was a farm labourer in charge of the house with his wife and two children all born in Hennock. Pullabrook mill was unoccupied. Thomas Harvey, born 1869, a private in the Royal Marines and on board the Black Prince battleship in Devonport listed Pullabrook as his address.36

In 1882 forty-five acres of corn in ground were advertised for sale on the Pullabrook and Brimley estates, indicating the same person farmed both.37 In 1884 it was apples for sale from the orchards at Pullabrook and Knowle- again indicating shared ownership of adjacent farms.38

The furnished farmhouse of two sitting rooms and four bedrooms was advertised to let in 1885 with applications to be made to Mrs Leyman at the farm. That it adjoined Dartmoor was a selling point. 39

The South Devon Foxhounds met at Pullabrook in1886. Maybe the farm had by then been let to Mr Stamp as in 1891 he was described as attending the foxhounds meet.40

In 1891 Henry Eve, a barrister, was living nearby at Strelna, he was to become an important owner of Pullabrook and other Dartmoor estates. Apparently Pullabrook was uninhabited as it was listed on the route of the enumerator but does not appear in the schedule. The property between Southbrook and Shewte was described as uninhabited.41

By1892 Eve had purchased Pullabrook. He was an important figure in the area so much so that even his carrier pigeon hobby was mentioned in the local press. He was born in London in 1856, the only son of Henry ‘Thomas’ Eve, a Jamaica merchant, and had been educated at Oxford College. He was a barrister and was to be elected as a Liberal M.P. for Ashburton from 1904 to 1907 when he was knighted. Despite his career in London Eve was involved in farming his Devon estate and the Historic environment record states that the Pullabrook farmyard was largely rebuilt by him at this time.42 An advertisment in 1895 described Francis Farrington of Pullabrook in connection with a heifer lost on Pullabrook Down.We later hear of Farrington being Eve’s bailiff.43

In 1900 Eve reached an agreement with his neighbor  Mrs Gould of Knowle House about provision of water from her meadow to his barn and stables on the other side of the road leading to Packsaddle Bridge. Eve was asked to pay her a nominal rent of £5.40 per annum.44 Before the end of the year Eve also owned nearby Yarner as shown by yet another trespassing court case.45

At this time an increased water supply was needed for the inhabitants of the nearby town of Bovey Tracey. In 1901 Eve made a memorandum of agreement with Newton Abbot Rural District Council to grant land for a reservoir for the water of Bovey Tracey. This reservoir was on Eve’s Pullabrook land adjacent to Yarner’s current boundary.46

In 1901 Census Eve was living with his family in London where he practiced as a King’s Counsel lawyer.47 Living at Pullabrook Farm as the bailiff was Francis Farrington, born in Bideford, living with his wife born in Exeter and a servant born in Hennock. Residing at Pullabrook Cottage were Samuel Boden born in Harberton, with his wife born in Staffordshire and their daughter born in Topsham.So yet again none of the residents were born in Bovey Tracey. The second cottage was listed as uninhabited.

In May there was correspondence between William Vicary J.P.and Harry Trelwaney Eve in connection with Vicary’s ownership of land across the river from Eve’s land at Pullabrook. Vicary lived in Newton Abbot and wrote that he understood Eve was planning water works on the brook adjoining Vicary’s marsh. Vicary expressly asked Eve not to start and stated that he gave Eve no right to build on his land. It seems as if Eve was being rather provocative as Vicary stated, ‘I had no idea until today that you had built on my land at all, and I think that I might have been shewn the plans before the building was erected.’ Vicary went on to say that, ‘…no mill rights had been exercised on the brook for many years and my mill deeds are quite free from any reservation.’ The correspondence continued and on 17 September 1901 Vicary contacted Eve  saying he had visited the weir at Pullabrook, ‘…and I was very astonished  to see the substantial building you have put up which I think rather unfairly controls  the water and stream … The weir does seem a most formidable affair..’. Vicary was also concerned that it put the end top any fishing in the brook. A few days later Vicary wrote again informing Eve he wanted no trees to be kept inside the retaining walls as any roots would breach the water drainage on his side.48 William Vicary was a fellow liberal who held many positions of civic importance, and despite any lack of neighbourliness he felt with regard to the weir he campaigned for Eve’s parliamentary election.49

That same year Eve was advertising for a man to drive horses and also a man to milk and tend cattle at Pullabrook. He was an enthusiastic farmer and at a meeting in London was elected as a new member of the English Kerry and Dexter Cattle Society.50

Eve was expanding his land holdings and by 1902 he also held Holwell , Southsands and North, South, Middle and East Challacombe in Manaton parish. He had also purchased Knowle and by 1903 he also owned Forder, Shewte and Rock Vale Lustleigh to add to his Pullabrook and Yarner property porfolio.51

A sale advertisement in 1903 indicated that Eve’s farming had progressed well, but as he was selling stock and equipment his future farming was perhaps to be conducted at another of his properties or his time was being taken up by his parliamentary interests as he was soon to become M.P. for the area. The advertisement was out to impress as it listed Eve as K.C..J.P. Presented for sale were twenty six  fat cows, maiden heiffers and steers and one fat three year old bull; thirty fat two –teeth wethers, twenty-six prime ewes, and ten hogs, and twenty very choice fat pigs from twelve to fourteen score, six fine slips; twelve fine geese, six cockerels of the best strains, a bay cart mare 15.3 h.h. a good worker six years old 13.2 h.h., a gelding pony quiet to ride and drive, a well bred filly coming three years old, three handsome filly foals out of cob and huntress mare, a brood huntress mare, a ‘Deering’ self-binder Mowing machine (by Harrison and Mc Gregor), combined boot drill, four farm carts, 3 turnip cutters, two chaff-cutters ( for hand or belt power), a set of heavy iron drags, and five hundred  apple trees of the best sorts, in convenient lots. The contact was Mr D. Japp at the Pullabrook estate office. This was the first time the words ‘estate office’ had appeared as previously contact was to be ‘at the farm’ or ‘at Pullabrook’, using the words ‘estate office’ certainly sounds more impressive. The press report said that at the lunch after the sale Mr Eve, liberal parliamentary candidate presided, this meant an opportunity for the electorate to meet him.52

Following the stock sale in 1904 Eve put Yarner up for letting. It was described as a desirable dairy farm consisting largely of grass with excellent buildings, three good workmen’s cottages, and a commodious farmhouse fitted with all modern facilities. Acerage grass- 108-2-24; arable 71-3-5; total 180-1-29. Another stock farm of Eve’s, Holwell, was also included in the advertisement. Mr Japp continued to be the agent at Pullabrook estate office.53 The farm was let and very soon afterwards further stock and implements were for sale including a hundred and ninety sheep, fifty-three south Devon bullocks, five pigs, ten horses and colts. Eve was fully involved in local faming activities and in the same year he obtained second prize at the Ilsington Polo Pony Show for his Dartmoor ponies.54

1904 is when we also learn of Eve’s love of caravanning. In those days it was horse-drawn and sometimes called land-sailing. He was one of the earliest people to follow this interest. He attended the Tiverton show driving his caravan which he had slept in the night before. The article described that he had taken his holiday in this way for twenty years and this was the fourth ‘car’ he had had. The current owners of Pullabrook describe that Eve modified stabling there in order to accommodate his caravanning hobby. Later in the century as Eve was nearing the end of his career his love of caravanning was mentioned. He enjoyed relating that he had been ‘taken for a tinker and a knight of the road’. His obituary described his principal hobby as caravanning and that he also had a canal boat.55

In 1906 Eve leased Forder Gardens to Mr Frederick Joseph Collier, a market gardener of Crown Hill Devon, 14 years. This was not a successful lease as Eve complained that Collier had uprooted specially planted trees. In the same year at the annual dinner, all male, of the Bovey Tracey Fanciers’ Society, Eve was thanked for presenting a cup for the best bird in the show.This shows Eve’s commitment to local rural pursuits.56

A court case in 1907 described that a labourer Richard Greenslade had stolen wood worth 1s from H.T. Eve at the Knowle part of the Pullabrook estate. Greenslade was fined £1 or 14 days’ imprisonment.57

By 1908 a different agent was in charge as an advert for a general farm worker instructed that application was to be made to Mr Banbury. Here was another farmer who moved about as in 1901 he had been the farmer of Weir Farm in Bishopsteignton.58

‘Gipsies’ were accused of stealing a hundred hazel sticks wood and property from Pullabrook in 1909.The underwood was the property of Mr Owen Gould of Pullabrook and the property was Mr Eve’s. A warrant was issued for the ‘gipsies’ arrest. Mr Gould was a retired tea planter and in the 1911 Census he lived at Souther Wreyland. This indicates that Gould was a tenant farmer of part of Pullabrook.59

In 1911 there were organised shoots to kill wood pigeons as they were damaging crops. Owen Gould reported that there were many pigeons on the land at Pullabrook.60  At this time Eve still held Pullabrook land and woods, Yarner and its woods, Strelna, a granite and stone quarry at Ullacombe, Holwell, Challacombe and common rights at Manaton. He was an extensive land owner on the south eastern edge of Dartmoor.61

On the 1911 Census Thomas Banbury born in Germansweek was the tenant farmer at Pullabrook, together with his wife and mother-in-law born Ilsington and father-in-law born Woodbury Salterton. At Pullabrook Bungalow lived Joseph Stevens, a yardman born in Moretonhampstead, with his wife born in  Kinsteignton and their four children one born in Bovey Tracey, one in Chudleigh, and two Bishopsteignton.Yet again we see that families were mainly not local and had moved around before coming to farm Pullasbrook. At this time Eve a Justice of the High Court was living in Kensington with his wife, daughter and three servants.62

In 1914 Thomas Banbury as tenant farmer advertised for a man to drive horses on the farm.A  cottage, garden and privileges (shooting) were included.63

In 1915 Eve sold Holwell Farm.64 In 1917 Eve conveyed to Newton Abbot Rural District Council the right to draw water from Pullbrook and Yarner. By 1917 Eve had also purchased the manorial and mining rights on the Haytor common down.65 It was at this time that Eve’s son William Henry Eve of the 13th Hussars was killed in action.66 Soon afterwards Eve put his Devon properties, which included Pullabrook, Yarner, Shewte and land at Colehays, up for sale. Pullabrook was described as a compact freehold farm comprising a comfortable and interesting manor farm house, farm buildings, four cottages, a bungalow residence, and thriving woods and plantation extending to 221a 1r 37p. It was sold to Mr Banbury, the tenant for £6,300.67

From 1923-1928 reports continued about the fox hunting on the estate.68

The Bond family owned Pullabrook from at least 1929 as the will of Anthony Horatio Bond left property to his son William Robert Bond of Pullabrook.69

Various pursuits were reported such as Mr Bond wining the crossword prize in 1935, and the hunt meet going through in Pullabrook woods.70 The hunting report of 1940 was next to an article about Devon hotels in WWII. It has a strange ring that the article described how well Devon hotels would do in wartime as because of petrol rationing people would be more likely to holiday in Devon rather than on the East coast.71

In 1950 Major Kirby Hamilton Shaw was the resident as reported in the death of his wife.72 Also in 1950 we learn from another obituary that Joseph Stevens had been employed by Mr Banbury at Pullabrook.The date of this employment is not known.73

Mr William Robert Bond was the owner of Pullabrook in 1982 as shown by a dispute under the Commons Registration Act in connection with his rights to part of Chudleigh Knighton Heath and Common which his wife had co-inherited as part of her then ownership of Littler Bradley Farm.74

The Bond family has been associated with Pullabrook for almost a hundred years. In medieval and early modern times the ownership was stable. In Victorian times until the first part of the twentieth century the ownership and tenancy changed frequently, and those living and working at Pullabrook were often not born in Bovey Tracey. This was at the time of the expansion of the middle classes and developing entrepreneurship. Pullabrook is still a working farm, and the 1917 description of it having a comfortable and interesting manor house continues to be appropriate. It has the appearance of both tranquilty and hard work and of being unaltered over the centuries, it is a rare gem.

I would like to thank Rosemarie and Hilary Bond and their late father of Pullabrook Farm, for their help and information on Pullabrook in the twentieth century.


  1. Heritage Gateway Pullabrook Farmhouse MDV37310 heritategateway.org.uk accessed 9 May 2017.
  2. and F. Thorn (eds) 1985Domesday Book, vol. 9, Devon part 1, Chichester: Phillimore; O.J. Reichel, 1895, The Devonshire Domesday and the Geld Roll, in Trans Devon. Assoc. pp.165-08; O.J.Reichel, (ed.) 1906, ‘Introduction to the Devonshire Domesday: Domesday Survey’, pp. 375-411, and ‘Translation of the Devonshire Domesday; Text of the Exeter Book’, in The Victoria History of the Counties of England. A History of Devonshire in Five Volumes, vol. 1, London: Constable).
  3. E.B.Gover, A. Mawer, F.M. Stenton,  eds 1992. The Place Names of Devon Part I and II (English Place-Name Society, 1st issue 1931, reissued 1986, reprinted 1992), p.468; Erskine, Audrey M., ed., 1969. The Devonshire Lay Subsidy of 1332. Devon and Cornwall Record Society New Series, vol.14, p.58.
  4. CPR Edward III, 15 August 1344, 400; CPR, Edward III, 16 August 1344, 403;
  5. Frances Billinge, 2016. The Lords of the Historic Manor and Borough of Bovey Tracey, in Trans Dev.Assoc. 2016, pp.157-8.
  6. L.Stoate, ed., 1979. Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls 1524-7 (Bristol), p.226
  7. DRO 103-M/T/21, 1578 Title deeds mentioning Ullacombe and Yarner- both holdings near Pullabrook.
  8. DHC Parish Registers; DHC 312M/0/ZPH/1-2, Church Rate Bovey Tracey 1596.
  9. Heritage Gateway listing see note 1.
  10. John Norden’s Survey of Various Manors in the County of Devon, 1615, Corporation of London Record Office CLA/044/05/041FOL 59r-85v; Pullabrook is listed in fol. 76v-77r.
  11. DHC 2802Z, ‘Gulielmus’ Map of Manor of Bovey Tracey c.1640.
  12. DHC 1447M/L/4, 1688 William Stawell assignment of lease of Pullabrook Mills to William Southmead with reference to Nicholas Meardon, Richard White and Mary White Langston and John Skirdon.
  13. TNA 134/2WandM/Mich17, 1690, William Stawell vs William Southmead re the use of the grist mills.
  14. DHC 1477M//T/82-3, 1703, conveyance in fee of Pullabrook estate, lease and release, Christopher Bale, his wife Elizabeth and their elder son Christopher of Parke Devon to Nicholas Mardon yeoman of BT.
  15. DHC 1477M/T/ 84-5, 1703, conveyance of Pullabrook Mills and Marshes by lease and release Christopher Bale, his wife Elizabeth and son Christopher  the elder of Parke to Thomas Harris yeoman Devon.
  16. Frances Billinge, 2017. The Customs of the Historic Manor of Bovey Tracey from the Sevebteenth Century. Awaiting publication Trans Devon. Assoc. vo.l 149.
  17. 1477M/L/5, 1703, Assignment of lease for 99 years between Harris to Harris.
  18. DHC Bovey Tracey Land Tax Assessment, 1786, microfiche; 2160A/PO/201, 1789, John Perryman apprenticed to Nicholas Mardon yeoman for Pullabrook.
  19. Exeter Flying Post 19 February 1818, p. 1, Timber for sale;DRO 1078/IRW/M/176 estate duty Nicholas Mardon; DHC 2160A/PO/447,1821 Elizabeth Tapper apprenticed to John Stooke yeoman for Pullabrook estate.
  20. DRO 4289A/PO/2/a/181,1845, Overseers of the Poor settlement examination found that William Westaway had worked for Mr Harvey of Pullabrook as a day labourer in 1823.
  21. DRO 2160A/PO/569, 1829, Elizabeth Ball apprenticed to Henry Holeman yeoman for Pullabrook.
  22. Exeter Flying Post 5 March 1835, p.2. oak trees for sale; The Western Times 16 January 1836, p.2. variety of trees for sale.
  23. TNA 1841 Census ancestry.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017
  24. DRO 2160A/PB/4/a/1, 184 , Bovey Tracey Tithe Map; DRO/DEX/4/a/TA/50/Bovey Tracey 1839, Tithe Apportionment pp. 55-57.
  25. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 8 December 1849, fire broke out Mysterious fire broke out in cottage on Pullabrook farm occupied by Wm Jackson.
  26. The Western Times 29 January 1859, p.5 advertisment for the meeting of Mr Westlake’s hounds.
  27. TNA 1851 Census ancestry.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017
  28. TNA 1861 Census ancestry.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017
  29. The Western Times 11 September 1863, p.7, County Court Watts vs Phillips and Wills re setting fire to a brake.
  30. Western Daily Mercury 5 August 1864, p.4, Daniel Dunn charged with embezzling £1 8s property of his employer Mr Robert Phillips.
  31. TNA 1871 Census ancestry.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017
  32. The Western Times 26 June 1874, p. 7, Newton Petty Sessions, Oliver Marchant of Shewte Farm accused of trespassing on W.J. Watts’ land.
  33. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 9 February 1877, p.1, advertisement to let for 7,10 or 14 years all those estates known as Pullabrook and Little Bovey.
  34. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 23 March 1877, p.1, sale of stock.
  35. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 22 April 1881, p. I, advertisement to let.
  36. TNA 1881 Census ancestyr.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017
  37. East and South Devon Advertiser 8 July 1882, p. 4 , Corn for sale For Sale.
  38. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 3 October 1884, p.1, apples for sale.
  39. Western Morning News 6 July 1885, p.2 to let adjoining Dartmoor furnished at Pullabrook Farm, contact Mrs Leyman Pullabrook farm
  40. East and South Devon Advertiser 20 February 1886, p.8, South Devon foxhounds meet; The Western Times 12 June 1891, p.5 report of Mr Stamp at Pullabrook Farm.
  41. TNA 1891 Census ancestry.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017.
  42. South West Water Archive1366/D 1892 Eve purchase of Pullabrook; DHC Z18/39 1892 Pullabrook Sale particulars ; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, H.G.Hanbury, 2004,  oxforddnb.com accessed 24.10.2106; Totnes Weekly Times 29 September 1894,p.2. pigeon report; Heritage Gateway lists rebuilding of farmyard see note 1.
  43. The Western Times 27 December 1895, p.4. reference to Mr. Farrinton.
  44. DHC5595b add3 BOX 13082 Michelmore and Company, 25 October 1900, correspondence Gould to Eve re water supply from Knowle House to Eve’s barns and stables.
  45. The Western Times, 21 December 1900,  7 Newton Abbot Police Court trespass case.
  46. South West Water archive 1366/1/D: Memorandum of agreement 1901.
  47. TNA 1901 Census ancestry.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017.
  48. DHC 5595 add3 Box 13082 Michelmore and Company, 1901, correspondence Vicary to Eve
  49. The Western Tomes 3 May 1922, p.4. obit. for William Vicary.
  50. The Western Times 26 September 1901, p.2 advertisement for a man to drive horses and another rot milk and tend cattle; East and South Devon Advertiser 14 December 1901, p.5 Mr H T Eve K.C. elected new member of the English Kerry and Dexter Cattle Soc, London.
  51. DHC 5595 add3 Box 13082 Michelmore and Company, 1902, MSS note about Eve’s tithe charges for Manton parish being Holwill [Holwell], Challacombe and Southsands; 24 January 1902, letter to Eve regarding renst owing from Knowle and Pullabrooke; 9 June 1902, letter refers to Eve’s ownership of Holwell farm; 18 February 1903, letter to Eve containing rent for Rock Vale in Lustleigh;19 March 1903, letter from J and H Drew land surveyors confirming Eve had purchased North, South, Middle and East Challacombe; 5 October 1903, letter to Eve regarding rents owed for Forder, Pullabrook, Shewte, Knowle and Yarner.
  52. The Western Times 11 December 1903, p.1. sale of stock etc. at Pullabrook.
  53. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 15 January 1904, p.1, Pullabrook and Holwell to let.
  54. Totnes Weekly Times 12 March 1904, p.4, stock etc. for sale at Pullabrook; 17 March, p.4 H T5 Eve KC, prize at Ilsington show.
  55. Kent and Sussex Courier 14 October 1904, p.6 Tiverton fair; Derby Daily Telegraph 13 October 1932, p.10 Eve’s love of caravanning; The Western Morning News 12 December 1940, p.2 obituary describing Eve’s principal hobby was caravanning.
  56. DHC5595b add3 BOX 13082 Michelmore and Company 1906 lease of Forder Gardens Eve to Collier; The Western Times 20 January 1906, p.4, cup presented.
  57. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 15 November 1907, p.11, Newton Abbot Petty Sessions Eve vs Greenslade.
  58. The Western Times 20 March 1908, p. advertisement to apply to Banbury at Pullabrook; TNA 1901 Census ancestry.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017.
  59. East and South Devon Advertiser 13 February 1909, p. 5 Newton Abbot Petty Sessions Gould vs Small; TNA 1911 Census ancestry.co.uk accessed 4 May 2017.
  60. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 27 January 1911, p.9, organized shoots of wood pigeons.
  61. DHC5595b add3 BOX 13082 Michelmore and Company 1909, account book with list of Eve’s lands.
  62. TNA 1911 Census , see note 58.
  63. The Western Times 17 November 1914, p.4 advertisement for a worker.
  64. Commons Registration Act Enquiry 209D/396, 15 October 1984, confirms Eve sold Holwell Farm in 1915 acrew.org.uk accessed 4 May 2017.
  65. SWW archive, 1366/D water rights agreement: 1917, Eve purchased the manorial rights on the Haytor common down and mines which William John Watts had purchased from the manor in 1863; DHC5595b add3 BOX 13082 Michelmore and Company 1917 Eve conveyed to Newton Abbot Rural District Council water rights from Pullabrook and Yarner.
  66. William Henry Eve killed in action 1917, ancestry.co.uk accessed 5 May 2017.
  67. The Western Times 20 December 1918, p.11 for sale Eve’s Devon properties.
  68. Western Morning News 12 December 1923, p.8; Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 8 February 1925, p.14; Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 19 March 1928, p.6 are some examples of the fox hound meetings.
  69. Western Morning News 18 July 1929 report on the will of Mr Anthony Horatio Bond referred to his son William Robert Bond of Pullabrook.
  70. Western Morning News 17 January 1935, p.3, crossword prize; ibid, 25 January 1939, p.11 fox hounds meet.
  71. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 26 April 1940, p.8, hunting report and article on Devon hotels’ business in war-time.
  72. Western Morning News 6 July 1950, p.7 death of the wife of Major Shaw of Pullabrook.
  73. Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 15 September 1950, p.9.obtiuary for Emily Stevens referred to her husband Joseph’s employment.
  74. Commons Registration Act Enquiry 31 March 1982 referred to Chudleigh Knighton and William Ronald and Grace Bond of Pullabrook acraew.org.uk accessed 29 April 2017.

Updated 20 November 2017