It is almost certain that Trimstone was one of 11 Saxon ‘villein holdings’ of the manor of Bradwell almost 1000 years ago, when William the Conqueror made his sister’s son, Ralph de Limesy, his tenant-in-chief there and there was likely to have been a settlement here well before that time. Trimstone is mentioned in the Domesday Book where it was held by Edric the Saxon before the Conquest and at that time there were 5 smallholders and 11 villagers.
Whilst the place name Trimstone is unique in the world, its origin is uncertain. It could possibly relate to a cornerstone or stepping stone of some kind or could be linked to the Trempestane Family who lived here. It seems that originally Trimstone was held under the Manor of Bradwell and whilst early names on tax roles give no clues, in 1332 there were 25 tax-payers in Bradwell and in 1564, Richard Eyre of Bradwell transferred certain properties including Trimstone.
We do know that in the “Crown Pleas” of 1238 (see the Devon and Cornwall Record Society, volume 28) that Walter Russel and his son Richard killed Roger de Trempestane and fled. They were in the Bradwell Titheing ‘which was in mercy’ and so they were ‘exacted and outlawed’.
“Eyres” were periodic visitations by royal justices for hearing when the King’s Peace had been broken and a felony committed. The Crown Pleas mentioned the manor of Bradwell and Trimstone, both of which were ‘blamed’ for not arresting Walter Russel and his son.
The Hotel as we know it today ‘started’ as a yeoman farmer’s abode with related farm buildings and parts of the centre of the building go back at least three to four hundred years. The original occupant must have been quite wealthy in that he afforded “3 hearths” – a taxable commodity at that time and best avoided, unless one wished to reflect their wealth and standing within a community! An introduction to the Returns at about that time states: “a three hearth house had 6-8 rooms and people with more than that were almost certain to be yeomen or extremely prosperous craftsmen”.
Regrettably there are few original features of note although we did reposition the servants’ bells when we undertook substantial improvement works in 2007/8. The Hotel was created in 1976 and then extended in 1986 by amalgamating a cottage at the western end of the main property and an extension to the east as well, which now houses the owners’ accommodation.
The shippen, granary and other farm buildings were converted to holiday accommodation and the original owners’ accommodation. In the swimming pool area we do have the original water wheel which was fed by the leat from our mill pond across the Lane.
In 1822, in order to pay Estate Duty, many well-known Devon families were forced to sell significant land interests in the area included the Manor at Bradwell and comprising the best part of 1200 acres stretching up to Willingcott, Buttercombe and Trimstone as well. Tenants at the time included many well-known local names, still much in evidence in the area today. Trimstone was mentioned specifically with some delightful sounding small parcels of land, 78 in all, named, no doubt, after previous tenants. There was also a 48 acre wood – which we assume is the one stretching down to Bradwell from Trimstone even now. George Langdon ended-up as the purchaser of the majority of the ground around Trimstone.
In the 1841 census, there was an amazing number of people living at Trimstone and working the land. Including children there were 47 – far more than now! In the 1901 census, the population had fallen to 31. If anyone would like further details of these people do please ask to see the full records where these have all been listed.
This census shows the Langdon family with William as the head of the family farming at Trimstone. William was succeeded by George who was then succeeded by his son William, seeing the farm increase to 330 acres by 1861 and employing four men and two boys. All of this then was bought by Edward Anderton, who came to live here and in 1910 and he had 379 acres altogether.
The ‘Trimstone Estate’ was sold by the Langdons at auction in the 1870s. It was described as a “highly valuable and attractive freehold residence and agricultural property known as Trimstone and lying on a lovely position on the southern slope including a charming old fashioned house containing Hall, three sitting rooms, billiard room, nine bedrooms, bathroom, complete offices, acetylene gas and water by gravitation, stables and garage with terrace, tennis lawn, etc”. It had a “productive kitchen garden, a pair of cottages, extensive farm buildings and valuable pasture lands. This took place at the Kings Arms in Georgeham at “three o’clock on August 19th”. Mr Edward Anderton was the successful purchaser.
Mr Anderton resided there until his death in 1923 when Trimstone sold by auction the following summer to a William Pugsley of Arlington for the princely sum of £8,995. It was described then as a “highly valuable and attractive freehold residential and agricultural property known as Trimstone and lying most compactly in a lovely position on a Southern slope and including a charming old fashioned house”. It had a “productive kitchen garden, a pair of cottages, extensive farm buildings, corn mill with water power with highly valuable pasture lands of about 139 acres. We have an original of the sales’ particulars now, with some charming photographs and showing the ladder to the lower lawn!
The last large sale was when the Pugsleys sold the House and 126 acres. After that date, small parcels of land were sold-off by subsequent owners. The Bigge Family lived in the property as a family home until Dougie and Mary Turner bought the place in 1976 and created the beginnings of the Hotel from it. This was subsequently sold in 1998 to Mr and Mrs Balfour.
We acquired Trimstone and 44 acres in 2007 at which time the property was very ‘tired’ and our plans were to move-in quickly and over a period of years gradually and systematically repair, maintain and improve it. But as everyone knows when they start working on old properties things never go smoothly and we have had our own share of unfortunate experiences but the outcome is that we’ve improved the Hotel and facilities far quicker and in greater depth than anticipated… However, here’s to the future, making history for all the right reasons and happy holidays and meals for all our visitors – and for us, as we are just guardians upon this walk of history for those who follow in our footsteps – however long in the future that might be.
We hope you’ve enjoyed your tour through the pages of time, bringing you all up to date with Trimstone Manor and Tyme Restaurant here. We hope that we shall be good custodians of the Place for the next occupants, however many years ahead before they take the reins and in the meantime, we shall try our hardest to ensure it is a good place for people to come to stay and indeed just to seek refreshment in our Restaurant so they can enjoy the House, the gardens and grounds. If you’d like to savour some of what we’re trying to offer and some of its history too, we’d love to have you come and share with us! If you know any of the extra history, we’d be glad to correct any inaccuracies and add some more!