Browse crosses

Location At the North end of the village of Lustleigh, on the junction which turns down to the (disused) Railway Station.

O/S Grid Ref:  SX/78603/81541          Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -3.71747/50.62090

Map location:  Click here to view map.

Purpose:  Probable base for a wayside cross.

Size: The whole stone measures 3 feet 5 inches (1.04 metres) wide by 3 feet 2 inches (0.97 metres) deep and 4 feet 1 inch (1.24 metres) high, although only the top 2 feet 1 inch (0.64 metres) has been shaped.  The top 8 inches (0.20 metres) of the stone has been worked into an octagonal shape.

Information: This stone, which is built into the roadside wall, is thought to have been selected as a base for a cross. No socket  has been cut into the top of the stone, so it must be assumed that either it was abandoned for this purpose very early on or it was bishops_stone_top.jpg (141277 bytes) intended for use as a plinth for a socket stone and cross.
The top part of the stone has been shaped into an octagon. Immediately below this the stone is square and the bottom is very roughly shaped, suggesting that the task had never been completed.

There are several theories as to how it got its name; One is that it was named after the Bishop Grandisson,bishops_stone_coatofarms.jpg (160902 bytes) cotton_coat_of_arms.jpg (94852 bytes) who  was a 14th Century Bishop of Exeter (1327 to 1369).  He was once supposed to have dined upon the stone whilst passing through the village. There are some faint markings on one side of the stone which are thought to represent the Bishop’s coat of arms.  However, an article d&c_notes.jpg (118597 bytes)by William J. Stephens published in the 'Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries' in 1914/15, attributes the coat of arms to Bishop Cotton.  William Stephens made a sketch of the coat of arms on site and took it away for further research.  After seeking professional advice, he was informed that it is the coat of arms of Bishop William Cotton (1598 to 1621).

William Crossing, in his book 'The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor', refers to a paper written by Mr J. B. Davidson who propounds the theory that the stone marked the boundary of some episcopal land, within the See of Exeter.  It is documented that there once existed a local church boundary stone referred to as the Writelan Stone, but there is some doubt as to whether it refers to this stone or another which was laid across the entrance to the south porch of Lustleigh Church, covered by a mat.

The final theory is that it was used as a mustering point for the villagers, before setting off on their journey to the Abbey at Tavistock. After leaving Lustleigh, they would have joined with the residents of North Bovey and called at Hele Cross to say a prayer, before continuing their long trek across the moor to Tavistock.

Our thanks to Bob Noakes for providing the information on Bishop Cotton, with the copies of the Bishop's coat of arms and the 'Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries' paper.