The History of Ash Barton

In AD 973 King Edgar repossessed Braunton for the Crown through an exchange with Glastonbury Abbey, thus retrieving a strategically important manor at the head of a major estuary. The King then placed a number of his thegns thre providing them each with land which became the small manors that form an arc around Braunton to the north and east. Among these was Ash.

Historically there were three primary manors in the parish of Braunton, one of which was Braunton Gorges of which Ash was part. Recorded as  Essa in the Domesday Book of 1086, and therefore a (sub-) manor at the time, Ash had been held before the Conquest by Alward and had been granted by William I to William Cheever, under whom it was held by Ralph. Somewhat later it was apparently granted to Reginald, Earl of Cornwall under whom in 1166 it was held for half a knight’s fee (the cost of equipping a knight for one year) by Erchenbold, son of Simon le Fleming. The de Fleming family held land not only here but in Bratton Fleming, Alverdiscott and Croyde. In 1219 two thirds of the holding, now known for an obscure reason as Ash Rogus, was given away as a marriage portion, but was bought back in 1229 by Archenbald de Fleming.

Ash Rogus then descended in its entirety through the Fleming family (Reichel 1935, 447) until the end of the 15th century. In 1472 James Fleming was in dispute with John and Patrick Bellewe over rents in Ash Rogus and Putsborough. The Flemings seem to have lost their hold on Ash around the beginning of the 16th century and in 1543 the Subsidy Roll for Devon records a Richard Symon of Ash as liable to pay £16. Later in the 16th century the Bellewe Family were in possession of Ash Rogus and at the end of the 16th century the Bellewes of Ash Rogus had also become lords of the manor of Braunton Gorges.

In the Devon Muster Roll of 1569 the liability of William Bellew Esquire to provide arms was assessed on his holdings in land at £100-200, the highest assessment in the parish of Braunton, and in the Subsidy Roll of 1581 Richard Bellew was assessed as liable to pay £40 in tax, again, the highest in the parish.

After Bellew, Ash may have been tenanted. A document of 1695 records that Richard Peard and others ‘farmed’ the rents on half of ‘one chief messuage or barton called Ashrogus and other lands in the parish of Braunton’.

Ash  is said by Polwhele (1793-1806, 399) to have passed through the families of Bere, Chichester, Bury and Lamley, who may or may not have been tenants, before coming to Bassett , which family were in possession from at least 1780 (Land Tax record). In 1822 Lysons recorded that it was the property of Joseph Davie Bassett of Watermouth, while the tithe apportionment of 1840 recorded J.D. Bassett as owner and Charles Dunn as occupier.

Occupancy 1800 – 193

The Land Tax records indicate that in  1780 Ash Barton was occupied by Robert Dyer, tenant of Joseph Davie Bassett. He was succeeded in 1784 by Philip Scott who remained until 1803. Then followed Thomas Dunn, then Charles Dunn who is recorded in the tithe apportionment of 1840. The Trade Directories for Devonshire from 1851 to 1939 inform us that Charles Dunn was followed by Henry Passmore, then Henry Alford, then John Nicholas Reed and just before World War II, the Bowden Brothers. All of these were farmers at Ash Barton.

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