Views north across the River Taw estuary to Heanton Court, seat of the Basset family. The parish church is situated on the hill behind to the right
1796 watercolour by Rev. John Swete
21st century long-lens photograph of Heanton Court from Fremington Quay
Heanton Punchardon shown within Devon
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Heanton Punchardon is a village, civil parish and former manor, anciently part of Braunton Hundred. It is situated directly east-southeast of the village of Braunton, in North Devon. Its largest localities are Wrafton and Chivenor. The population was 418 in 1801 and 404 in 1901.
The church, dedicated to St Augustine who brought Christianity to England is for its architecture Grade I listed and has three listed monuments in its churchyard. Parts date to around 750 years before the third millennium. It has a traditional tower, an embattled parapet (flat roof) with crocketted corner pinnacles, Tudor arched doorways and a five-bay arcade. Its sundial over the south porchway is dated 1795 and is by John and Thomas Berry. It falls within Barnstaple Deanery for ecclesiastical purposes.
An ornate Easter Sepulchre tomb in the chancel is to Richard Coffin (1456-1523), Sheriff of Devon in 1511. The church has monuments to the Ballyman family and to the Bassett family, lords of the manor, situated in the Basset Chapel, at the east end of the north aisle, now almost fully occupied by the organ.
Descent of the manor
Heanton Punchardon is noted in the Domesday Book dated 1086 as owned by Robert de Pont-Chardon from Baldwin the Sheriff, comprising a mill, a fishery, 11 cattle and 163 sheep. Although it is not known if Robert was present at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, he is certainly well rewarded for his companionship and support by William, Duke of Normandy and King of England, being granted four and a quarter knight’s fees. The lands were chiefly in Devon, Somerset, Hertfordshire and a manor in Hampshire. Robert’s family were enfoeffed in the Manor of Pontecardon not far from Rouen in France and noted in the ninth and tenth centuries. A knight’s fee is best described as enough land to support a knight and his family for one year, so, depending on the quality of the soil and income it generated, the acreage could vary from one fee to another.
In 1894, Reverend Elgood Punchard published his research into the Punchard family in a volume entitled “Punchard of Heaton Punchardon - Records of an Unfortunate Family” in which he portrays the descent from wealth and standing in royal favour in the Norman era to relative obscurity by Tudor times. The Rev. Punchard describes the early Devon Punchard history thus: Robert's eldest son retained the Devon and Hants feoffs ; but those in Herts and Somerset fell to younger brothers.
In the third generation there was a further division of the senior line ; Roger, the eldest son of Sir William de Punchardon, after a few transactions with his brothers Reginald and Robert, confined his interest to Devonshire. In 1220 he added Coombe (8) to his paternal estate, and died in 1243. His nephew Oliver, son to Reginald, was the last of the Hampshire family concerned with Devon ; and he was only summoned once, as jurator in the hundred of Haytor.(9)
Sir William, second of that name, the elder son of Roger, succeeded in 1243; and largely increased the estates. In 1254 he was "coronator", with de Briwere and another knight, concerning -wreckage;(10) in 1259 a jurator touching the claims of Isabell, Countess of Albemarle, daughter of Baldwin, Earl of Devon.(11) His widow Ermegard outlived him twenty years, and married Alexander de Viteri, who tried (though ineffectually) to retain possession of Heanton and Charnies. (12)
Sir John Punchardon was the last of the direct male line; mention of him is frequently made in various documents down to 1296; indeed, as Westcote quaintly says, "There are few ancient evidences in those parts, whereunto the Punchardons have not been witnesses: yea sometimes two or three of them". . . . " Heanton is surnamed Punchardon; the parish reserving charily the old lord's name of long antiquity, and therewithal copious in some ages."
Sir John's three daughters, Ermegard, Mabel, and Margery, were co-heiresses. The first married Sir Philip Beaumont, and brought him the Manor of Heanton-Punchardon; the second had Charnies (Charles), and gave that to her husband, Sir Henry Ralegh; the third daughter had West Buckland, and was married twice—first to Sir Richard Beauple, and afterwards to Joel de Buckenton.(13)
Ermegard, Lady Beaumont, had an only son John, who married Alice Scudamore and, in the second generation, the male issue here also was extinct. But Joan Beaumont, the wife of Sir James Chidleigh, gave Heanton-Punchardon to Richard Beaumont, nephew of the first Sir Philip Beaumont: whose last descendant, also named Joan, married John Basset. This gentleman, after divers suits in Chancery, secured the Punchardon estates; and his successors were possessed of Heanton Manor down to recent times. One of them was Colonel Arthur Basset, who held St. Michael's Mount for King Charles; and surrendered to Colonel Hammond in 1646.
The Raleghs of Charnies held the manor, which their ancestress Mabel Punchard brought them, in direct descent for seven generations. Her sister Margery left no issue.(14)
Of this senior stock was William de Punchardon, priest; prebend of Bosham, and Canon of Crediton in 1270; Canon of Exeter, 1273. He died a year later ; his will, dated 3 Feb: 1274-5, is preserved in Bishop Bronescombe's Register.(15) In 1268 Simon Punchardon was presented to the Rectory of West Buckland, by Dame Ermegard.
But although the elder branch of the family, in North Devon, continued only on the spindle side after 1300, other descendants of the first Robert were enfeoffed in the South, at Little Bovey, down to 1413.(16)
Hugh Punchardon, with the consent of Reginald, his eldest son, gave lands there to Mary, his daughter, " in Kinge John's tyme "; and Roger held the same feoffs" in Kinge Henry III. tyme. " William, a knight of this race, did military service due from Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, in 1277. The muster was at Worcester.(17) On his own tenure he was further summoned to Carmarthen in 1282, for the war in West Wales.(18) Another William Punchardon served for Richard Lovel (19) in 1310, attending the levy at Tweedmouth ; three years later he crossed over sea on the same military duty, and his lands had the usual foedus de protectione (6° Ed: II.). In 1311 he was manucaptor of Alfred de Penhergard, burgess returned for Liskeard. In 1322 a Thomas Punchard was similarly bound for the return of John le Taverner for Bristol. (20)
The most distinguished of the line was Richard de Punchardon, who was made a knight banneret by Edward III. During the French Campaign of 1356, which ended with the battle of Poitiers on Sept: 19th, he was caught in an ambuscade; but, with his gallant comrades, fought a way through to the main army under the Black Prince.(21) Sir Richard's lands at Bovey were again under royal protection in 1359.(22) He stood high in court favour, and was entrusted by the King with the guardianship of the young de Bensted of Benington, with fiefs in Essex, Herts: Cambridge, and Wilts (23) Froissart speaks of him as Marshal of Aquitaine in 1366, at the birth of Richard of Bordeaux. His grandson and namesake held Bovey manor down to 1413. In 1446 John—perhaps a brother—was noted at South Hole, Hardesworth, and West Barlyngton.(24) Probably the line came to an end in the civil strife of these unhappy days; but there is no further record of its fate.
The arms of the Heanton Punchards were Sable, six plates (three, two, one); but some of the shields had ten plates (four, three, two, and one). (25) The Bovey line was distinguished by Argent, a cross sarcel, voyded gules. (26) The Crest was a unicorn's head, erased gules, bezantee, and armed or.
8 Testa de Nevill.
9 Rotuli Hundredorum," vol. i
10 Placitorum in domo Capit: Westmonast: Abbreviatio,"p. 137.
11 Placita de quo Warranto," p. 177.
12 Feet of Fines, 1877.
13 Pole's " Collections," pp. 896, 411, 404, 288, 428, &c.
14 Pole's "Collections," p . 411.
15 Register," p. 283.
16 Pole's •' Collections," p . 266.
17 " Palgrave, Writs.
18 " I b i d .
19 Afterwards Baron Lovel of Kary. In 1313 Edward II and Isabella went to France for the coronation of Louis X, and this nobleman was in attendance.
20 Palgrave, Writs
21 Froissart. Chron : II. p. 296; III. p. 16. In vol: iv. Sir Richard is referred to as a Poitevin ; but this could only have been by enfeoffment. He was constantly at the Court of Edward III. See also Lysons' " Britannia," vi. p. 262.
22 Foedera," 83° Ed : iii
23 Abbreviatio Rotm : Orig : in Curia Scaccarii," vol. ii. p. 253. 24 Feet of Fines.
25 Guillim says : " Hee beareth sable, six plates : three, two and one: by the name of Punchardon. These are bullions of silver, having no manner of impression upon them: but are only prepared ready for the stampe. In the blazoning of this there is no mention made of colour, because they are alwaies silver." "Display of Heraldry," 1632 edn : p : 297. See also Berry’s " Encyclopaedia Heraldica," ii.and iv
26 Pole's " Collections," p. 434. Lysons' " Britannia," clxix.
Heraldic descriptions approximately translated:
Heanton Punchardon: Black shield with six or ten silver circles
Bovey Punchard: Silver shield with a red curly-ended hollowed-out cross
The Crest: Gold horned, red unicorn head with a jagged neck edge over gold coins
The manor of Heanton Punchardon was held from the 15th century to 1802 by the Basset family, formerly of Umberleigh, whose seat was Heanton Court, situated on the bank of the River Taw, 3/4 mile SE of the village. The house is now the Tarka Inn. The last of the male line was Francis Basset (c. 1740-1802), MP for Barnstaple, who died in 1802 unmarried and without progeny. This last Francis Basset appears to have been the "Colonel Basset" who was master of the North Devon Staghounds (which became in 1837 the Devon and Somerset Staghounds) from 1775 t0 1784. Confusion however arises between this Francis Basset Esq. (c. 1740-1802) of Heanton Court and his contemporary and distant cousin (from a junior branch of the family) Francis Basset, 1st Baron de Dunstanville and Basset (1757–1835), of Tehidy in Cornwall, who is stated in his History of Parliament biography to have been Lt-Col. of the North Devon Militia from 1779. Rev. John Swete (d.1821) passed by Heanton Court during his topographical tour in Spring 1796 from Barnstaple to Bideford and described the house then as "the seat of Col. Basset". He wrote of it thus: "The house exhibits itself handsomely though its situation (like that of Lord Heathfield's on the Exe) seems to be too contiguous to the water. Nearly opposite to it was a large track of marsh and sand..." He had been prevented from painting it in watercolour as was his habit during his tours, and instead later made a copy of a painting by "Mr Payne" (i.e. William Payne (1760–1830), c. 1790), which copy is held by the Devon Record Office, ref 564M/F11/7. Heanton Court is a Grade II Listed Building.
Bassett mural monuments
The following 17th-century mural monument (one of four) exists in the Bassett Chapel in the north transept (now largely occupied by the organ) of the parish church:
The mural monument to Elizabeth Bassett (1571–1635) is situated on the east wall of the Bassett Chapel. She was one of the four daughters and co-heiresses of Sir William Peryam (1534–1604), Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, by his second wife Anne Parker, daughter of John Parker of North Molton, Devon. She married in 1591 Sir Robert Bassett (1574–1641) of Heanton Punchardon, MP for Plymouth in 1593, and bore him two sons and four daughters, amongst whom was Colonel Arthur Bassett, MP, who erected the monument.
Dominae Elizabethae Bassett uxori Roberti Bassett militis clarissima stirpe oriundi filiae et cohaeredi Gulielmi Peryam militis Schaccarii Regii Baronis primarii Judicic integerrimi et religiosissimi piae prudenti justae patienti modestae castae temperanti constanti hospitali misericordi beneficae pauperum matri et medicae suae familiae conservatrici. Arthurus Bassett armiger filius eius primogenit(us) debitae gratitudinis et observantiae ergo H(oc) M(onumentum) M(atri)? M(aerens) P(osuit) Anno Domini 1635 aetatis suae 64 ad Dominum remeaunt.
Should monuments goe by merit then surely thine,
With pretious stone and orient pearle should shine,
But since thy world of worth ye world doth know,
This marble stone may serve thy name to show.
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivereth him out of them all". Psal. 34.19.
Ita in fornacem prodiit aurum
Which may be translated literally into English as:
"Sacred to the memory to  Lady Elizabeth Bassett wife of Robert Bassett, knight, arisen from a famous stock, daughter and co-heiress of William Peryam, knight, Lord Chief Justice of the Royal Treasury, (he was) most impartial and duty-bound, (she was) pious, prudent, just, long-suffering, modest, chaste, temperant, constant, hospitable, compassionate, kind, a mother and healer of the poor , a preserver of her own family. Arthur Bassett, Esquire, her sorrowing first-born son, of a duty of gratitude and respect therefore placed this monument to his mother in the year of Our Lord 1635 of her age 64 may she remain to the Lord...Thus does gold come forth into an oven".
The heir of Francis Basset (d.1802) was his nephew Joseph Davie Esq. of Watermouth Castle, near Lynmouth, son of John Davie of Orleigh Court, near Bideford, by his wife Eleanora Basset, Francis Basset's sister. In accordance with the terms of the inheritance, as was then usual in such cases, Joseph Davie and his descendants adopted the arms and surname of Basset in lieu of their patronymic.
A catalogue note in the Williams Estate Archive held in the North Devon Record Office under ref: B170, states: "William Williams purchased the Heanton Estate from the Bassetts in the mid nineteenth century and the family resided at Heanton Court". Documents show Williams as the new owner as early as 1852 and the Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales in 1894-5 stated a member of the Williams family to be lord of the manor. A younger member of this family became heir to the Davie-Basset family, namely Charles Henry Williams, Esq., (who later assumed the surname Basset) of Watermouth Castle, near Lynmouth, JP and MP for Barnstaple (1868–1874) and master of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds from 1887 to 1893. Born 16 November 1834, being the fourth surviving son of Sir William Williams, 1st Baronet (1791–1870), MFH, of Tregullow, Cornwall, by his wife Caroline Eales, younger daughter of Richard Eales of Eastdon. He married on 7 January 1878, Harriet Mary Basset, only daughter of Arthur Davie Basset, Gentleman, of Watermouth Castle, and sister and co-heiress of Reverend Arthur Crawfurth Davie Basset, JP and MA, also of Watermouth. Again there had been a failure in the male Basset line. As a condition of his inheritance he assumed by Royal License in 1880 the surname of Basset in lieu of his patronymic, with the arms of Basset.
Wrafton is a large hamlet narrowly separated by a small field from edge of the main local town centre, that of Braunton to the west. It is the location of Wrafton Laboratories, the division of over-the-counter preparations and contract medications producer Perrigo UK, manufacturer for Bayer UK of Germolene. Perrigo bought Wrafton Laboratories in 2001.
The Tarka Trail follows the course of the dismantled railway through Wrafton.
Chivenor was a manor and is immediately to the south of the village, which has a considerable military personnel only housing estate.
Commonwealth War Graves
Heanton Punchardon is one mile from the Chivenor and during World War II, the parish church, St. Augustine's churchyard was enlarged to accommodate a war graves plot on new ground. The churchyard contains two burials of the First World War and 85 from the Second World War. It also has 38 post-war Royal Air Force burials and one Italian war grave. In total it has 126 active military personnel graves.
- 2011 Census
- Figures for other years are available on the local studies website
- English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1107743)". National Heritage List for England.
- The Deaneries are used to arrange the typescript Church Notes of B. F. Cresswell which are held in the Westcountry Studies Library
- Payne's watercolours of c. 1790 are published in "Payne's Devon"
- Gray, Todd & Rowe, Margery (Eds.), Travels in Georgian Devon: The Illustrated Journals of the Reverend John Swete, 1789-1800, vol.3, Tiverton, 1999, pp.95-6
- "Heanton Court Barton - Heanton Punchardon - Devon - England". British Listed Buildings. 1985-11-14. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- History of Parliament biography of Sir Robert Bassett, MP
- Elizabeth and her complimentary adjectives are stated in the dative case "to", not the genitive "of"
- Rogers, W.H. "Buckland Brewer" (1938), pp.53-4
- Burke's Landed Gentry, 1937, p.2442
- "Access to Archives". The National Archives. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Heanton Punchardon, Devon genealogy heraldry and family history". Uk-genealogy.org.uk. 2011-12-18. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- Bailys Magazine
- Who makes Germolene Antiseptic Cream?, Bayer UK, March 2001.Accessed: 27 January 2010.
- Perrigo UK History, Perrigo UK, Undated.Accessed: 27 January 2010.
- Barnstaple to Ilfracombe Railway 1874-1970, Explore Braunton project, Undated.Accessed: 27 January 2010.
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