Stories from the past

These are a collection of stories relating to Uplowman that may be of interest.


Largest Beaver farm in the South West

From The Western Morning News dated 6 December 1938.

“Midway between Tiverton and Sampford Peverell a young man has found an intriguing hobby gradually turning into a profitable undertaking. He is Mr GJ Browse, of Chieflowman, Uplowman, and as a side-line to his fruit-growing activities he is running the Exe Valley Fur Farm.

Beaver farm 2Nearly two years ago Mr Browse bought his first nutria, commonly known as South American beavers. From a stock of six does and three bucks, he has multiplied his numbers to over eighty. Today, he has the only nutria farm in the West, and one of the largest in the country.  Only recently he secured first prize and the reserve nutria champion at the annual show of Fur-Bearing Animals in London.”

“Mr Browse’s farm lies in a small field through which two channels of constantly-flowing water have been diverted from a nearby river. Around these channels have been built pens in which the nutria are housed. They are fed only once a day on roots. Their skins are worth up to 50s each, and a full-length nutria coat may cost up to 250 guineas.”


Notes from the Parish Council minutes

Request for electricity and phone box (October 1936)

“The Chairman invited members of the Council to consider the question of making application that an Electricity Company system be installed in the Parish. It was proposed by Mr Thomas, seconded by Mr Badding, that an Electricity Lighting system would be of benefit to the Parish, and the Clerk was instructed to write to the company concerned and obtain their views on the Matter”.

There was a similar discussion regarding the advantages of having a Public Telephone Kiosk erected outside the Post Office and a letter written to the Telephone Company to give it “every consideration”.

Following on from the request for electricity was this minute in 1949.

“A question was asked as to the possibility of the Electricity Company extending their mains to include Uplowman and the Clerk had a letter dated July 1947 stating that since 1946 scarcity of materials had been growing progressively worse and the prevailing conditions prevent them from undertaking such a major extension as would be involved in taking supply to Uplowman.

It was resolved that the Clerk should communicate with the Company concerned and endeavour to ascertain the present position.”

In fact electricity did not arrive in the village until 1952 and mains water was even later. A telephone line was errected in 1936 from Sampford Peverell to Lowman Cross and on to Stagg Mill.



A  Western Morning News newspaper article dated 13 March 1953 concerns the naming of the houses at Crossways.

If Uplowman parish councillors get their own way, and providing council house tenants in the village agree, each council house will be known in future as “No.   Crossways”, reverting to the name by which the land was known over a century ago.

At a meeting of the parish Council the naming of the houses was discussed following a request from Tiverton Rural Council, and the name Crossways was arrived at after members had perused an old map of the village.  At present the houses are just  known as “The Council Houses”. A final decision was deferred to the next meeting.


Air crash of Cessna F152 in June 2000

On 28 June 2000 at 12:30 hours a Reims Cessna F152 crashed in to a field at Uplowman.

The Air Accidents Investigation report says “The aircraft had taken off from Exeter Airport with an instructor and student on board to engage in stalling/spinning exercise. During its return to Exeter, about 1 mile east of Tiverton, the engine failed and could not be restarted. A Mayday call was transmitted and 7700 selected on the ATC transponder whilst the instructor selected a suitable field for a forced-landing. However, at about 100 feet, he realised that the selected field was actually a field of standing cereal crop, as were the surrounding ones. Performing a low-speed landing into the field, the nosewheel dug into the crop and the aircraft inverted.

The two pilots vacated the aircraft without difficulty and with no reported injuries but the aircraft appeared severely damaged.”


Petition in House of Commons  for the poor labourers in Uplowman, 1835

In the House of Commons in 1835 there was a petition presented by Mr Kennedy

“from the poor labourers of Uplowman, in the County of Devon, complaining that the farmers there had reduced their wages from fourteen pence per day, to the small sum of one shilling per day – a miserable consequence he said of the operations of the New Poor Law Bill.”

The Western Times   May 16 1835

For information agricultural wages fell by 20% between 1810 and 1850.

You may have thought that labourers wages had improved but this article appeared in 1890:

Labourer receives 9s a week, 1890

“At Tiverton Board of Guardians on Tuesday some surprise was expressed at a labourer, from Uplowman, stating that his wages were 9s a week, out of which he had to support a wife and family, as well as himself; but Mr Henry Haydon, Q.C., pointed out that agricultural labourers had many advantages which mechanics had not.  They lived rent free, had a potato plot, 2cwt. of wood a week, and a pint of cider a day on his farm, making their wages 14s to 15s a week, and they preferred the extra things named to receiving the addition in cash.”

The Devon & Exeter Daily Gazette –September 18 1890


Sale of Workhouse 1838

It was reported that the workhouse had been sold, by the parish officers at the direction of the Poor Law Commissioners, and under the provisions of the act of 5 & 6 William IV, to Mrs Ann Sweet in 1838.

It appears that the village had a “poor house” which was situated in the area of  Green End. When it was closed as a Poor House is uncertain but by the 1861 census it was occupied by a couple of families who were agricultural labourers, probably working for Mrs Sweet who was a farmer and landowner.


Rugby School saves harvest 1918

The Rugby School harvest camp at Uplowman, near Tiverton, is one of four now being run by the boys of that school. Each camp is in the charge of a master, who acts as commandant. The other three camps are at Cullompton, Bradninch and Uffculme. Each camp numbers 20 to 25 boys, and is arranged to run for six weeks in two shifts.  The continuous fine weather has enabled the harvest to be got in more quickly than was expected, and as far as Uplowman is concerned, the second contingent will not be required.  The work was planned to consist of eight hours per day per boy, but this amount has in several instances been exceeded, many of the boys having put in as many as 9, 10, and 11.5 hours daily during the past week  Eleven farmers have been assisted, and each was very grateful for the help thus available.”

Exeter & Plymouth Gazette  20 August 1918


Timber for sale from Middle Beer farm 1856

An example of how important timber was in the 19th century and how much was provided around Uplowman.

“For sale, by auction, by Hussey & Son, at the Three Tuns Hotel, Tiverton, 800 oak, ash, elm and beech timber trees, as they now stand on Middle Beer Farm, in the parish of Uplowman, near Stagg’s Mill, in Western and Huntsham woods, numbered with white paint.

The oak is long and clean, and there are many plank logs amongst them.  The beech is very large and good, and there will be no objection to the 120 large beech in Huntsham Wood being sold in one lot if desired.  The ash is well adapted for coopers and wheelwrights.

The above may be viewed by applying to Lovell, the woodman.  One shilling to be paid on entering the sale room, to be returned to purchasers.”

Woolmers Exeter & Plymouth Gazette 2 February 1856


Turnpike extension through Uplowman 1829

Notice was given in Parliament to enlarge the terms of two Acts “for repairing and improving the roads leading to and from Tiverton”.

Also to make a new branch of turnpike road commencing near Putson Barn, on the present turnpike road, leading from Tiverton to Halberton, through parts of Gornhay farm, thence by the present highway to Bradford Farm, near which into or through old inclosures, thence by the present highway to Uplowman Cross, in the Parish of Uplowman, thence through old inclosures to Wittenage, thence to Trump’s Corner…through the village of Holcombe Rogus to Harford Green.

Exeter & Plymouth Gazette -28 November 1829



New Road constructed between Tiverton and Uplowman 1888

A New Road – a new piece of road, 19 chains in length, constructed for the purpose of facilitating locomotion between Tiverton and Uplowman, was used for the first time on Saturday.  The total cost has been £172, of which £90 was publicly subscribed.  Mr Barnes, of Exeter, gave the necessary land and a subscription of £10.  Mr John Gale, of Ash Thomas, was entrusted with the work, and carried it out to the entire  satisfaction of the Highway Committee, who took up the matter on the representation of the Rev. H Mooyaart, vicar of Uplowman.  The Rev. gentleman on Saturday met the Highway Committee, and the new piece of road was traversed.  At the conclusion congratulations were exchanged on the great improvement that had been effected.”

For information 19 chains (1 chain is one cricket pitch) is about ¼ of a mile.

The Western Times -May 11 1888


Large cabbage grown by Tiverton man -1841

“In Tiverton market, on the 17th inst., there was exhibited an extraordinary cabbage, of the West Ham genera, grown by a person named Kerslake, in the parish of  Uplowman, and weighing 23.75 lbs.”

The Western Times -Sat  August 28  1841

The Guinness world record today for a cabbage is 138lbs.

For information there are also East Ham, early and late Battersea, Wellington, Antwerp and other genre of cabbages. Mr Kerslake lived at Lower Murley with his family.


Uplowman man’s success – Model engines 1949

“The village blacksmith, Mr J Arthurs, of Uplowman, also builds railway engines.  But they are not mighty monsters of the iron road.  They are scale models of great beauty and containing a mass of accurate detail.  What is more, they burn coal like their big  sisters, and they haul passengers.

Just finished after five years’ patient work when the smithy door has been closed is a three-quarter inch scale model of a Great Western Railway “4-4.  This model has the same motion and valve gear as the famous American “999” of New York Central Lines  which broke the American speed record in 1893 by clocking 112 mph.

This model has aroused the interest of the designers of the real engines, and she is shortly going to Swindon to be examined by locomotive engineers of Western Region, British Railways.”

The Western Times  -March 18 1949



As a record that some of the Crossways Council houses were built prior to WW2 there is this newspaper article. The newer houses were built just after the war and replaced a dilapidated pair of houses were the bus shelter is.

Mrs Davey, of Council Houses, celebrates 100th birthday in 1936

Mrs Davey, who celebrates her 100th birthday on Saturday, still enjoys a game of whist and plays well.

She hopes to have all her four sons and daughters with her that day. One of her sons has come all the way from New York to be with his mother on the great day. He is Mr George Davey, who will doubtless be remembered by many Exonians.  Before going to America about 45 years ago, he was a master at St Sidwell’s school. Another son Mr Edwin Davey, an Exeter dentist.

Mrs Davey attributes her longevity to the constant care which has been lavished on her by her two daughters, the Misses Emma and Florence Davey, who have for many years helped her keep house at Uplowman.

She was born and married at Uplowman, and all her children were born there. For about twenty years she lived in Exeter, but returned to her native village on the death of her husband some thirty years ago.”

Devon & Exeter Gazette – April 9 1936

Mrs Davey died in 1938, Edwin in 1936, Emma in 1942 and Florence in 1953


Newspaper articles of houses in the Parish that have been sold can be found via this link.

link to view House sales of the following

Widhays 1779

Uplowman Court Place 1834

Property at Uplowman Crossways  1823

Whitnage and Chamberlains 1937

Sanctuary Farm land 1919


Ernie Pinsent’s (a long-time resident) view of the village after WW2

link to page


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