Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

The mystery of two inscribed stones at Wedlake Farm in Peter Tavy Parish

There are two inscribed stones located at the northern and southern boundaries of Wedlake Farm, which the author first saw over 30 years ago and was told they related to two brothers. The stones are inscribed thus : ‘WHB / 1900‘ on northern boundary and ‘FEB / 1902’ on the southern boundary. The author had always thought they were likely to have been set up “in memory” of ‘WHB’ and ‘FEB’ respectively. Until recently, the author had completely forgotten about these stones.

However, whilst browsing through the publication : ‘The book of PETER TAVY with CUDLIPTOWN – Two Coats Colder Than Tavistock’, on page 47, the author noted there was a short history of the Bellamy family who had worked and lived at Wedlake. Of particular interest was that the Bellamy family history included the story of William Bellamy who had a son called Francis who was born in 1902. Could one of the aforementioned stones relate to Francis Bellamy (‘FEB 1902’) and therefore the stones related to birth years not death years!

With a bit of research, the author found that William Bellamy (senior) and his wife Sarah Jane had 7 children. Two of their sons were William Henry Bellamy (born 1900) and Francis Edward Bellamy (born 1902). Therefore, it seemed logical that the stones ‘WHB / 1900‘ on northern boundary and ‘FEB / 1902’ on the southern boundary relate to them. This post explores the Bellamy family history and their association with Wedlake and the Peter Tavy parish farming community.

0. Map
This annotated map indicates the relative position of the two inscribed stones. The author last visited the stones in the 1990’s until very recently and begs forgiveness for taking photographs of them (as they are a few metres inside the boundary).
0. Timeline of Family
Using the website ‘https://ancestors.familysearch.org’, the author came across the above family timeline for the Bellamy family. The logic behind the inscribed stones ‘WHB 1900’ and ‘FEB 1902’ is very compelling. Does this suggest there may be more stones in the area for the other children which could be inscribed: ‘HHB 1893’, ‘AB 1895’, ‘WMB 1896’, ‘ARB 1898’ and ‘JB 1904’ ? The history of the name ‘Bellamy’ is from both English (of Norman origin) and French. In French it is a literal or ironic nickname meaning ‘fair friend’, from French beau ‘fair, handsome’ (bel before a vowel) + ami ‘friend’.
1. Wedlake north gate
Northern entrance to Wedlake. It would appear that William Bellamy (senior) may have only been a hind (farm hand) when all his children were born as he and his son Francis Edward only bought the farm together in 1919
2. Wedlake from north gate
Zoomed in view of Wedlake. William Bellamy (senior) was born on 13th July 1867, in Peter Tavy (the Peter Tavy book states 1865 though). He married Sarah Jane Helson in June 1893, in Tavistock. He died on 29th April 1944, in Peter Tavy. It would appear that he spent most of his life here.
3. WHB 1900 a
Just inside the northern boundary is the inscribed stone ‘WHB 1900’, which almost certainly relates to William Henry Bellamy. He was born on 18th December 1900, in Lifton, which is about 12 miles away. He married Elsie Stanbury in June 1926, in Tavistock. Records indicate that he lived in Peter Tavy, in 1911, so did he live in Lifton prior to this? He died on 23rd March 1995, in Tavistock.
3. WHB 1900 b
The ‘WHB 1900’ stone is about 20 metres from the northern gate. The inscription is over two lines: ‘WHB’ and ‘1900’.
4. Colly Brook a
Heading to the southern boundary crossing the Colly Brook (aka Wedlake, aka Peter Tavy Brook)
4. Colly Brook b
The Colly Brook looking north towards White Tor
5. Wedlake Bottom
Approaching Wedlake Bottom on the footpath, the location of the second inscribed stone is as indicated in the photograph
6. FEB 1902 zoomed in a
Zoomed in view of the second inscribed stone under a tree which is growing in the hedge.
6. FEB zoomed in b
The second inscribed stone is a more natural (the first is polished granite)
7. Tree with FEB 1902
View of ‘FEB 1902’ with the slopes of Cox Tor beyond
8. FEB 1902 a
The inscription is over three lines: ‘FE’, ‘B’ and ‘1902’.
8. FEB 1902 b
Francis Edward Bellamy was born on 18th September 1902, in Tavistock. Like his brother records state that he lived in Peter Tavy in 1911. He bought Wedlake when he was 17 with his father William in 1919. He died on 17th February 1988, in Peter Tavy.
9. Wedlake a
Wedlake, is nicely nestled in the valley bottom, protected by trees. White Tor looms large in the distance.
9. Wedlake b
On page 22 of ‘The Book of Peter Tavy with Cudlipptown…….’ it states about Wedlake that: “First mentioned in the Court Rolls of 1400 when Walter Wydelake held the land. Henry Wyllington was living there in 1557. ‘Lake’ is an Old English name for a stream or small river, but does the ‘Wed’ derive from the corruption of ‘white’ or ‘wide’? By 1692 it was part of the Longford manor estates that were bought by the Radicliffe family, who sold the farm and the land to George Paige. It was subsequently farmed by the Mudge family of Collaton with William Bellamy acting as hind.” (Note: the William Bellamy mentioned here was the father of William Bellamy (Senior), who was born in Hatherleigh in 1836)
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