Browse crosses

Location On the village green, just below the private house named – ‘The Old National School’. 

O/S Grid Ref: SX/53374/72449       Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -4.07030/50.53338

Map location: Click here to view map.

Purpose:  Village Cross.

Size:  7 feet 2 inches (2.20 metres) tall. 1 foot 7 inches (0.50 metres) across the arms.

Information:  The setting around the cross is as fine as one could expect to see, even around the borders of Dartmoor. Behind the cross are the village church and the old school, which has now been converted into a private house. A nice little stream trickles its way across the green and runs just below the foot of the cross. 

This slender looking cross is square at the bottom and chamfered above. The shaft is cemented into a large socket stone, which is sunk into the ground. The shaft also tapers towards the top and the arms taper inwards. The cross probably originates from the 16th century and is generally in very good condition - there are no obvious signs of repair. It is reported that it once stood in a hedge nearby and was moved to its current site by the Rev. John Hall Parlby of Manadon near Plymouth who was, at the time, Lord of the Manor.

The 13th century church, dedicated to St Mary, is plain and simple in design. It was enlarged during the 16th century and is thought to have an interesting piece of wood carving behind a side altar. It is set, almost hidden one could say, amongst the trees and has the thoughtful addition of a ‘bird bath’ near the front porch. This is a square granite stone, built into the top of a rough boulder, which has been hollowed out. The stone measures 23½ inches wide, 22 inches deep and 6 inches high. The hollow measures 14 inches square and 3 inches deep. In the supporting boulder there are 4 holes, one in each corner, which would each take a jar for flowers. Attached to this boulder is a memorial plaque, which reads as follows:

R.D.C.W. 1890 – 1944.
H.E.W. 1887 – 1947.

On the other side of the green is the ancient Manor House, which boasts a fine stone arch leading up to the front entrance. This is still a working farm and there are a few abandoned farm implements at the side of the green. Some horses can normally be seen grazing in the field adjacent to the cross. A very rural setting!  The house was once owned by Sir Francis Drake, after he won it in a £500 bet. The property was listed in the Domesday Book in 1086, but is thought to be some 200 years older having been built in the 800's. The house also comes with a title as it was once the seat of Gerard de Spineto, Lord of Sampford. It doesn't seem as though Drake ever lived in the property, but used it as a base when riding on Dartmoor. Although Drake lived at the nearby Buckland Abbey, he still owned quite a few properties in the area.

When Drake died, 1596, he didn't have any natural heirs and left his whole estate to his second-in-command, Jonas Bodenham, whom he had always treated as a son. Bodenham held on to the property for a while but eventually sold it to Drake's brother, Thomas. 

The house was rebuilt in 1607 and completed restored in 1935, when it became Hall Farm, named after its then owner, the Reverend John Hall Parlby. By 1987, it had again fallen into disrepair and was bought by the Pugh family, who had the property completely refurbished with the assistance of English Heritage. The 5 bedroom house is now thought to be worth in the region of £1.25 million.

The lands of Sampford Spiney were the furthest away of those belonging to the Plympton Priory in this direction. Monks from the priory, who were visiting Tavistock Abbey, would often call at Sampford Spiney on their way. This would involve leaving the Plympton Track at Huckworthy Bridge, crossing Huckworthy Common and passing the Huckworthy Common Cross on the way.

It had been suggested that the name of ‘Spiney’ was derived from Spinetum, which means a thornbrake (thicket of thorns). However, William Crossing wrote that the manor was once in the family of Spinet, or de Spineto, and that the variation of this name has been added to that of ‘Sampford’.