Ivybridge

took its name from ‘ye bridge which lieth over ye Erme, being much inclined to ivy’.

Sir William Pole, Devon historian.

Welcome to Ivybridge Uncovered

A Mill Town Heritage

The Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

The History of Ivybridge

The remains of stone-age hut circles can be found on Harford Moor, above Ivybridge, but the ivy-covered bridge, after which the town was later named, was first recorded in 1250; it is possible that it existed as a river crossing prior to the Doomsday Book of 1086. An early ‘King’s Highway’ from Exeter to Trematon Castle near Saltash, the 12th Century crossing may have been constructed by the monks of Plympton Priory (founded in 1121) to give them access to their lands at Wrangaton, Dean Prior and Buckfastleigh.

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Mar22.14

Prominently situated near the Old Bridge, the beautiful ivy-covered ruins of the Church stand out as a monument to link the past with the present.

Charles Smallridge – 1906

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Mar22.14

Prominently situated near the Old Bridge, the beautiful ivy-covered ruins of the Church stand out as a monument to link the past with the present.

Charles Smallridge – 1906

Mar22.14

Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group aims to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

THE HISTORY OF IVYBRIDGE >
May22.4

Our aim is to celebrate the rich history of Ivybridge and is dedicated to promoting a lively interest in the Town’s background and development by researching, collecting and preserving archives and photographic records of this unique Mill Town.

THE HISTORY OF IVYBRIDGE >

Nature Diary – May

The scent of the sweet briar fills the air, one of the most charming scents of the wild.

Bluebells increase in number during the month appearing in woodland and moist hedges with their sapphire blooms mingling with fresh fragrant greens. They often appear here in the mild South West slightly earlier than elsewhere.

During this month there are a few prominent white wildflowers such as fleabane and ox eye daisies which proliferate into large colonies on grassy roadsides.

Sweet Briar

Rosa rubiginosa

It is also known as the Eglantine Rose. Its leaves have a sweet apple aroma, especially after a rain shower. Native to Britain, it is found in hedgerows in the south of England.

During this month there are a few prominent white wildflowers such as fleabane and ox eye daisies which proliferate into large colonies on grassy roadsides.

Sweet Briar

Rosa rubiginosa

It is also known as the Eglantine Rose. Its leaves have a sweet apple aroma, especially after a rain shower. Native to Britain, it is found in hedgerows in the south of England.

It flowers from May to June with pale pink petals which fade to white towards the centre, with many yellow stamens. The fruits are oval fleshy scarlet hips enclosing the bristly seeds.

Bees and hoverflies are attracted to the flowers. Many birds, including blackbirds, waxwings and greenfinches feed on the hips as well as small mammals like the bank vole.

Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group’s Global Reach

Every year we receive numerous enquiries from history enthusiasts not just from the UK but from all around the world. Recently, a gentleman who was born in Ivybridge but now lives in Canada, offered us some photographs of Ivybridge Railway Station. As a young man he had been a voluntary porter there. Such photographs are always a welcome addition to our ever increasing archive. The photos were of Brunel’s first viaduct in Ivybridge and the railway station at the turn of the 20th century.

 

We are always happy to hear from all you historians out there who have an avid interest in Ivybridge and of course if you have any old photographs or historical documents in your possession we would be very grateful to receive copies.

Please contact us at: info@ivybridge-heritage.org

The Sportsman’s Arms

Established around 1830 this public house was formerly known as the Grocer’s Arms. It has seen many inn keepers and publicans come and go over the decades. During the Second World War it became popular with the American servicemen who were billeted at Uphill Camp in Ivybridge from May 1943.

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The Sportsman’s Arms

Established around 1830 this public house was formerly known as the Grocer’s Arms. It has seen many inn keepers and publicans come and go over the decades. During the Second World War it became popular with the American servicemen who were billeted at Uphill Camp in Ivybridge from May 1943.

Go to page >

The Sportsman’s Arms

Established around 1830 this public house was formerly known as the Grocer’s Arms. It has seen many inn keepers and publicans come and go over the decades. During the Second World War it became popular with the American servicemen who were billeted at Uphill Camp in Ivybridge from May 1943.

Go to page >

In 1927, despite the best efforts of certain individuals to obtain a chain of office for the Chairman of the Urban District Council, Mr John Ashford, there were a number of members who were ‘not at all enthusiastic’.

 

Those in favour of a chain argued that the honour of serving as the Chairman, the chief citizen of the town, should be recognised in a similar fashion as that ‘bestowed upon the Mayor of our great neighbouring town of Plymouth’. Some were concerned that the cost of the chain would have to be borne by the ratepayers whilst supporters believed it could be funded by subscription. “We do not want an expensive solid gold chain; a silver one would do quite as well. It is not the intrinsic value of the thing, but what it stands for.”

 

However, the resolution did not gain support and there would be no chain of office.

Civic regalia, meaning the formal robes, chains and badge of office which a Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Mayoress or Consort may wear are an English tradition dating back to medieval times when mayors were responsible for law and order within their cities. Their robes were symbolic of the importance of the individual’s role in local government.

John Ashford lived in Bittaford and served the Ivybridge Urban District Council and previously the Local Board as clerk for a total of 42 years. He was a solicitor by profession working from an office at 6 Fore Street in Ivybridge. He died on 5 September 1934 and the Chairman at the time, Mr J. H. Freeman paid tribute saying that ‘ he was the most valuable man they had ever had. His advice had always been of the best, and when the deurbanization of Ivybridge was proposed he made out an admirable case for the Council against this measure. Mr Ashford could not possibly have taken a greater interest in the affairs of the Council’.

 

Ivybridge remained an Urban Authority until de-urbanised in 1935 and amalgamated with Plympton St Mary Rural District Council. Under the Devon County Review Order which received the sanction of the Ministry of Health on 2 February 1935 a number of small urban districts were absorbed into larger ones. An election for Ivybridge’s 3 representatives on the Rural Council resulted in the appointment of Messrs Venn, Edwards and Vincent.

 

At this point Ivybridge lost control of the water supply and sewerage treatment works, along with the Magistrates Court and monthly cattle market, which were transferred to Plympton. The Urban District Clerk, Sanitary Inspector, Rate Collector and two roadmen were dispensed with and the Ivybridge Authority reverted to that of a Parish Council.

 

In 1977, with the reclassification of the village of Ivybridge to town, the parish council resolved that in future they would be known as the Town Council and the chairman and vice chairman be called the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. A request was made to have the old Plympton RDC official chain for use by the Mayor but it seems this did not happen.

May22.14

If you have any information regarding the Ivybridge Mayor’s chain of office we would be happy to learn about it – let us know at info@ivybridge-heritage.org

May22.7

The yew is an ancient native species. Flat dark green needles growing opposite each other spiralling down a thin stem.  Unlike many other conifers, the common yew does not actually bear its seeds in a cone. Instead, each seed is enclosed in a red, fleshy, berry-like structure known as an aril which is open at the tip. If left unchecked a yew’s branches will eventually touch the ground and here they will take root, allowing the tree to expand sideways.

 

With their dense foliage they offer protection and nesting opportunities for many birds. The fruit is eaten by blackbirds, mistle thrushes, song thrushes and fieldfares as well as small mammals such as squirrels and dormice.

 

Many yew trees in Britain are known to be centuries old. One of the oldest in England can be found at St Andrew’s Church at Kenn, near Exeter. It has been certified to be over a 1000 years old, although a leading expert is of the opinion it could be nearer 2000 years old!

Why are yew trees found in churchyards?

It is known that druids regarded the yew as sacred and planted it close to their temples. As early Christians often built their churches on these consecrated sites, the association was then perpetuated explaining why some yew trees pre-date the churchyards they are found in. When the Romans were present in Britain they chose not to destroy pagan sites and buried their dead amongst the yews.

There are various reasons given as to why we find yew trees in churchyards.

Aerial photograph of St Johns Church with several large yew trees present (image courtesy of Red Air Drones)

One grim theory is that the yew trees thrived on corpses and even masked the smells of the putrefying remains. Also, in the early days before enclosures, it was believed their presence discouraged farmers from permitting their livestock to graze too close to these sacred grounds given the tree’s toxic foliage.

Yew trees were known to have been planted for the purpose of supplying the parishioners with bows before the introduction of any firearms. A statute in the reign of Edward IV required every Englishman to have a bow of his own height made of yew or similar. Some very old church records have shown that yew was a source of income for the church with revenue received from the bowyer for the making of bows and arrows.

 

Yew trees were also frequently planted in churchyards for the purpose of protecting the sacred buildings from storm damage. In a Statute of Edward I it was stated that they were often planted ‘to shield the church from high winds and the clergy were authorised to cut them down for the repairs of the chancel’. The choice of yew a consequence of ‘the closeness of its foliage and the unyielding resistance of its branches.’  Similarly, these large canopied trees provided shelter for the congregation assembling before the church doors were opened.

 

Another reason for their presence in churchyards is that the yew tree has always been viewed as an emblem of mourning and therefore an appropriate ornament of consecrated ground. The Greeks adopted the idea from the Egyptians and in turn the Romans and Britons. It was believed that the Romans used yew for their funeral rites in lieu of their accustomed cypress and pine which were abundant in Europe. The yew tree’s branches were also considered as a substitute for palm branches both for the purpose of church decoration and for funeral ceremonies. Yew branches were carried by mourners and thrown under the coffin in the grave.

Above all, the yew with its ‘‘perpetual verdure’ is recognised to signify immortality and a joyful symbol of resurrection. There are many documented stories of the planting of yew trees in acts of sanctification close to one’s last resting place. Someone commented ‘‘possibly the more respectable parishioners were buried under their shade, before the improper custom was introduced of burying within the body of the church, where the living are to assemble’. There are no vaults at St Johns Church in Ivybridge as the general closure of vaults 1853-4 meant only those that already possessed a family vault could be interred in this way and the new St Johns Church was of course built after this date.

The custom of planting yew trees in churchyards continued to be fashionable in the eighteenth century. There are a number of yew trees around the periphery of St Johns churchyard in Ivybridge which suggests they were planted sometime after the chapel of ease was established in 1789. There is also one larger yew tree in the middle of the churchyard. Under its branches are the separate and substantial graves of William Cotton and his wife Mary Ann who died in 1863 and 1862 respectively. Could it have been that this tree was planted at that time or were their graves conveniently located near the shade of a pre-existing tree?

William Cotton is one of the more famous residents of Ivybridge having moved to the village in 1838 to live at Highland House, (later referred to as simply Highlands) close to St Johns Church. At the time, the house was set in extensive landscaped grounds commanding a panoramic view of the surrounding district, given that it was ‘delightfully situated as its name implies, on land above the level of the countryside.’ William was a very generous benefactor to Ivybridge contributing towards the erection of the church, the perpetual curacy and the national school which was opened in 1856.

The custom of planting yew trees in churchyards continued to be fashionable in the eighteenth century. There are a number of yew trees around the periphery of St Johns churchyard in Ivybridge which suggests they were planted sometime after the chapel of ease was established in 1789. There is also one larger yew tree in the middle of the churchyard. Under its branches are the separate and substantial graves of William Cotton and his wife Mary Ann who died in 1863 and 1862 respectively. Could it have been that this tree was planted at that time or were their graves conveniently located near the shade of a pre-existing tree?

William Cotton is one of the more famous residents of Ivybridge having moved to the village in 1838 to live at Highland House, (later referred to as simply Highlands) close to St Johns Church. At the time, the house was set in extensive landscaped grounds commanding a panoramic view of the surrounding district, given that it was ‘delightfully situated as its name implies, on land above the level of the countryside.’ William was a very generous benefactor to Ivybridge contributing towards the erection of the church, the perpetual curacy and the national school which was opened in 1856.

As a young man he inherited an art collection belonging to relatives and over his lifetime he continued to add to it. He developed a keen interest in the specialist portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds and acquired several of his works. Such was his knowledge of the artist he provided a lecture to members of the Ivybridge Institute at the Assembly Room at the London Hotel. Extracts from the lecture were later printed and sold to the general public with proceeds going to the Institution.

 

This ‘Cottonian Collection’ including some 300 watercolours, 6,500-7,000 prints and 2,000 books was eventually donated to the people of Plymouth following an agreement with the Plymouth Proprietary Library on two conditions. The first was that the library should provide a suitable place for receiving, preserving and exhibiting the collection and the second that on certain days the public should be permitted to have free access to it.

 

A new gallery designed by Plymouth architect George Wightwick was erected at the Library located in Cornwall Street. Wightwick was a former partner of architect John Foulston who designed the original library building which was completed in 1809. The room was described as spacious, light and lofty. Around the upper part of the walls was a frieze of plaster work in imitation of the Elgin figures housed in the British Museum. The cornice was carved in two colours with designs of Acanthus leaves and surmounted by a dome which allowed light to flood the room making it ‘peculiarly appropriate to be the repository of art’

 

The collection opened in June 1853. Visitors described the gallery as having walls ‘thickly studded with pictures’. Glass cases displayed several antique manuscripts and old printed and illustrated works, including a Flemish missal from around the 15th century, an old Sarum missal and a book of Common prayer of 1608. Other cases within the room contained rare books and works ‘replete with engravings after numerous paintings, including those of Sir Joshua Reynolds and other Flemish, Dutch, French, Lombard, Venetian and other schools; historical mezzo tints; landscapes; Etruscan, Greek and Roman antiquities and many other remarkable works of genius’.

 

Conspicuous amongst the pictures and drawings adorning the walls were three portrait paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, one of himself, another of the Rev. Samuel Reynolds, his father and a third of Miss Fanny Reynolds, his sister. The brushes used by Reynolds along with an account book were nearby, protected within a glass case.

 

The Proprietary Library was one of Plymouth’s oldest historic institutions, founded in 1810. In March 1941 the building was bombed during the Plymouth Blitz and the library subsequently relocated.

 

Following William’s death, the portion of the collection which he had retained, was added to the main part. In 1916, the ‘Cottonian Collection’ came into the care of the Corporation of Plymouth after agreeing terms with the Committee of the Plymouth Proprietary Library, the former guardians. The collection was then moved to the new main City Museum and Art Gallery founded in 1910 (now The Box) where it has remained ever since.

 

William Cotton was the author of several books during his lifetime including  ‘A catalogue of the Portraits Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds’ having become an authority on his works. William had access to Reynold’s pocketbooks in which he recorded the names of his subjects and the times of sitting which helped to list the works in chronological order. He also wrote books on stone circles in West Cornwall and the antiquities of Totnes.

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HERITAGE DONOR CARD

To help preserve historical documents, objects and photographs, we have created a Heritage Donor Card for individuals to make donations of such items to Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group. Please go to our ‘Links’ page for further information.

COPYRIGHT

All rights, including copyright, in the content of these pages are owned or controlled for these purposes by Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group.

IHAG2021

HERITAGE DONOR CARD

To help preserve historical documents, objects and photographs, we have created a Heritage Donor Card for individuals to make donations of such items to Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group. Please go to our ‘Links’ page for further information.

COPYRIGHT

All rights, including copyright, in the content of these pages are owned or controlled for these purposes by Ivybridge Heritage & Archives Group.

IHAG2021