Stratton’s Roots

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Info here adapted from the book by the late Rennie Bere and Brian Dudley Stamp, written in 1980, The Book of Bude and Stratton. Images are from Ray Boyd.

Hard to believe that Stratton was mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great (yes, he of cake burning scandal) back in 901, more than a century and a half before Domesday.

Later, Stratton was given its own Hundred (a division of land between a county and a village) which included Kilkhampton (Kylkamlonde), Marhamchurch (Marwinchurch), Boyton, Jacobstow (Jacobistowe), Whitstone   (Wyteston), Stratton (Stratone), Poughill (Poghaville), Bridgerule (Bruggerewal), Week St Mary (Wyke), Launcells (Launcels), North Tamerton (Tam’ton) and Morwenstow (Morwinstawe). Bridgerule is now, of course in Devon, but otherwise,  the Hundred remained more or less like this until the Redcliffe-Maud reorganisation of local government in 1974.

Stratton was a pretty major place. It was the seat of justice for starters. The Court Leet and a Court Baron were held in the Tree Inn until the 1900s. Manorial rents were collected and lucky tenants were given a free lunch and a clay pipe. There was also a fair to stress its importance, traditionally held on 19th May (St Andrew’s Fair) having received a Charter from King John in 1207.

The Eight Men of Stratton, elected by parish meeting, in lieu of a resident squire or Lord of the Manor made income from rents, tolls and sale of church ales, but also administered a fun you may have heard of, called the Blanchminster Charity. Sir Ranulph Blanchminster of Binhamy left a small legacy to Stratton Church in the 14th century and the charity developed. In 1593, the charity was used to sue Sir Bernard Grenville of Stowe who encroached upon public fishing rights, but it was also used to make shrouds for the dead, to help distressed mariners and maimed soldiers and the like. In 1577, it helped to rebuild the quay at Bude and pave the streets of Stratton. It paid for street cleaning, building a schoolhouse, killing foxes, and providing wine for the justices.

Stratton also had its own renowned giant, Anthony Payne, who back in the 17th century was seven feet 2 inches at the age of 21, and bulky with it. He was buried in St Andrew’s churchyard in 1691, once they managed to get his body down from the Tree Inn where he lived and died.

If you wanted to live a long life, Stratton was the place. In 1758, one Elizabeth Cornish died at the age of 113, while her father, John Veal, lived until 114. He had not been ill for 40 years and attributed his long life to not drinking spirits when young, rising before 6 am in summer and winter and seldom eating meat. However, in 1547, the plague killed 150 out of 900 inhabitants and in 1729, smallpox finished off 42.

If anyone wants to add anything else to build up our knowledge of Stratton, please do…


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