Berry Pomeroy Church
Berry Pomeroy shown within Devon
|OS grid reference|
|Civil parish||Berry Pomeroy|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
Berry Pomeroy is a village, civil parish and former manor in the former hundred of Haytor, today within South Hams district of Devon, England, about two miles east of Totnes. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 973.
Berry Pomeroy was the caput of a large feudal barony whose holder is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ralph de Pomeroy, who held in total within Devon 54 manors, three smaller parcels of land and six houses in Exeter, capital of Devon. It was one of only eight feudal baronies in Devon. The family retained the barony until 1547. It comprised almost 32 knight's fees in the Cartae Baronum of 1166. The family came from La Pommeraye, Calvados, near Falaise in Normandy.
Berry Pomeroy Castle
Berry Pomeroy Castle, about one mile north-east of the village, was built as the home of the de la Pomeray family in the late 15th century. On 1 December 1547 Sir Thomas Pomeroy (d.1566) sold the castle, park and manor of Berry Pomeroy, with other lands, to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset. The duke gave it to his eldest son from his first marriage, Sir Edward Seymour henceforth known as "of Berry Pomeroy" to distinguish him from the duke's other three sons also named Edward. The duke's second wife later persuaded him to exclude by entail the children of his first marriage from inheriting his main estates. However, on the expiry of the line of descent from this second marriage, the Berry Pomeroy line inherited the Dukedom of Somerset, in the person of Edward Seymour, 8th Duke of Somerset. The Castle was abandoned by the Seymour family in the late 17th century and was later considered a 'romantic ruin' by the Victorians. It is still owned by the Duke of Somerset, but is now maintained by English Heritage. The castle has often been cited as being the most haunted castle in Britain, and has appeared in a BBC Timewatch documentary "White Slaves and Pirate Gold", and the British television show Most Haunted.
The castle is said to be haunted by several ghosts. There is a beautiful young lady, most likely a Pomeroy, who is a portent of death. Lady Margaret Pomeroy, who was imprisoned by her sister Lady Eleanor Pomeroy and starved to death in the castle dungeons now attempts to lure the living to her tower, where if they are tempted in they fall to their death. An unidentified woman in a blue hooded cape will not rest till she finds the baby she smothered to death. It is said that the baby was sired by her own father.
In 2005, Berry Pomeroy revived "Queene's Day", the anniversary of the accession of Elizabeth the First on November 17. Celebrations begin with evensong in the parish church and culminate with a bonfire in the adjacent field, upon which is burned an effigy of Satan.
St. Mary's Church, in the village centre, has a rood screen forty-two feet long, and the stained-glass window dates from the fifteenth century. The rood screen is very unusual in being complete from end to end but also has the original coving, cornice and cresting. The wainscoting has painted figures. Between 1681 and 1834 the village was served by just three vicars: John Prince, John Fox and John Edwards.
The church was once visited by William III and more recently by the Duke of Kent. American soldiers were stationed in the village in the build up to D-Day and were billeted in tents opposite the church, in which items of that time are on display. American veterans revisited Berry Pomeroy for the 60th anniversary of the invasion. The church features in the final wedding scene of Ang Lee's 1995 film Sense and Sensibility.
To celebrate the turning of the millennium in 2000, a new bench was erected opposite the War Memorial, and every summer, a fete is held in the grounds of the manor house next to the church, which includes maypole dancing, Devonshire cream teas and a coconut shy.
Berry Pomeroy's Parish Council meets at the Village Hall, next to Berry Pomeroy Parochial Primary School.
Berry Pomeroy, along with nearby villages, is part of the East Dart ward which is represented by a councillor on the South Hams District Council.
- Thorne, Caroline & Frank, Domesday Book: Volume 9:Devon, Chichester, Sussex, 1985
- Sanders, I.J. English Baronies, Oxford, 1960, pp.106-7
- Sanders, op.cit., quoting "Anglo_Norman Families, p.78; See also: Powley, E.B. The House of De La Pomerai, Liverpool, 1944
- early spelling Pomeray, per Vivian, Heraldic Visitations of Devon, 1895, p.605-6
- Vivian, Heraldic Visitations of Devon, 1895, p.607
- Anthony D. Hippisley Coxe, Haunted Britain, pg. 27, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York 1973
- Peter Underwood, Gazetteer of British Ghosts, pgs. 24-26, Walker and Company, New York 1971
- "Queene's day revival continues". Western Morning News (Plymouth, Devon). 13 November 2006. Retrieved 23 June 2012. (subscription required)
- Stabb, John Some Old Devon Churches: their rood screens, pulpits, fonts, etc.. 3 vols. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, 1908, 1911, 1916, p. 15
- Mee, Arthur (1965) The King's England: Devon; rev. ed. by E. T. Long. London: Hodder and Stoughton, p. 38
- Britten, Nick (18 July 2010). "Weddings fall at Sense and Sensibility church after bells break". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
- Pevsner, N. (1952) South Devon. Penguin Books; pp. 48–49
- Powley, E.B. The House of De La Pomerai, Liverpool, 1944
- Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitation of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, pp. 605–9, Pomeroy
- Prince, Rev. John, Worthies of Devon (1701), 1810 edition, pp. 645–9, Pomerai, Sir Henry, Lord of Biry