In the Dartmoor Boundary Markers, 2nd Edition (by Dave Brewer) on page 200, there is mention of a mystery inscription on a gatepost, where Vinneylake Farm enclosures extend uphill and meet the lane between the main Burrator circular road and Cross Gate. This publication also shows a picture of the gatepost and states it bears the inscription ‘LG’ and poses a question if these are the initials of a former tenant of the farm.
In the Dartmoor Historic Environment Record (HER), reference SDV69961 (author Dr Tom Greeves), the same gatepost is described as being an “Inscribed stone built into wall of lane from Crossgate to Nosworthy Bridge. The north face of the stone has the initials “LC” inscribed on it”.
Armed with Dave Brewer’s description of its location and intrigued by the conflict of recording the inscription details, the author decided to investigate.
Sketch map showing the location of the gatepost with the mystery inscription. Note that there is a “pull-in” for one car a few metres to the north west (uphill) from the gatepost.
The description in the Dave Brewer publication was excellent to enable the author to find the gatepost. The description states that the location is “on the west side of the road, where the Vinneylake enclosures come up to the road”. It further states that it is part of a former gateway and is on the most easterly gatepost. The picture shows the gatepost after it had had a clean.
The gatepost appears not to have visited much in recent years as it was behind quite a lot of undergrowth and had a lot of moss growing on it. A little bit of gardening was needed. The initials appeared on first viewing to be “LC” (as per Dartmoor HER).
The gatepost after a mud “makeover”. The “L” is in no doubt. The second initial looks like a “C” but a mark in the granite, could easily (if just looking at a 2D photograph) be mistaken for a “G”. The inscribed letters are not modern and are around 5.0cm high
The left hand picture reveals a small section of tarmac for context as the gatepost is a few metres from the road not alongside the road. The recorded GR was SX56173 69485. So the question is who or what does “L C” refer to ?
Vinneylake Farm has in recent times been usefully signposted as can be seen from the above photograph. Do the initials “LC” relate to the history of this farmstead?
Vinneyake was first recorded in 1673 (Source: Exploring Around Burrator (P57) by Paul Rendell). The farmstead was last used in 1926 and was derelict by the 1940s. One assumes that the its demise may well have accelerated once Burrator Reservoir had been filled.
Vinneylake. The principal building is recorded as having been a longhouse approximately 10.5 by 3.4 metres, with a porch. The centre of the longhouse was measured at SX56221 69329. There was a further building which is beside the road. Considering the initials “LC”, from the gatepost, in the Paul Rendell publication the only tenant with a surname with the letter “C” was William Creber in 1740.
The pictures show more views of Vinneycombe. The author considered that the “L” (of LC) may have related to the Lopes family as they were landowners in the area but this wasn’t until the very late 18th century*, so the link to Creber (mid-18th century) can’t be made. (*In 1798, the Maristow house and estate were bought by the Jamaican born Manasseh Masseh Lopes, the son of a rich plantation owner).
Just up from the inscribed gatepost is Cross Gate (Wayside) Cross, which is sometimes referred to a Lowery Cross. It is located approx. 20m south of a long established track leading between Buckfast and Tavistock Abbeys and just below Devonport Leat. The cross comprises the head of a Latin cross mounted on a modern tapered and octagonal shaft set up in the original roughly rectangular socket stone. This cross was restored in 1914. As the inscribed gatepost is 100-200m away, is it possible that “LC” refers to Lowery Cross or possibly Lower Cross Gate (if such a name ever existed – It is not in Mike Brown’s Gazetteer).
There is a link between this wayside cross and Vinneylake Farm insofar as the cross head was found near a wall of the farm. It was fitted to the original socket stone using a new shaft in 1914 by Rev. Breton, who on 1st November 1907 was installed as vicar of Sheepstor. The author has a crazy notion that the inscribed gatepost is related to this cross or at least the area. Would it be just too crazy to think that the gatepost was part of the original shaft for the cross head (especially as the two pieces of granite are so different)? The author would welcome any further information or theories as to who or what “LC” refers to.
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