©  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 16, 2021
Webpage updated: September 16, 2021




A Plymothian, out for a Sunday strole in the nineteenth century, would possibly head for the countryside north of the Town.  After wandering across Mutley Plain, he might have turned left at the Hyde Park Hotel down the lane that is now Hyde Park Road.  As he passed from outside what is today the butcher's shop to the front of the Chinese Takeaway, he would have seen on his left a boundary stone telling him that he was now leaving the Town and entering the Tything of Weston Peverel, otherwise known as the civil parish of Pennycross.  The boundary stone has long gone.

Similarly, a gentleman from Devonport out walking smartly along the road through Milehouse towards Tavistock, would have also passed on his left-hand side a boundary stone telling him that he was moving from the Parish of Stoke Damerel in to the Tything of Weston Peverell at the boundary of the ground occupied by the modern Devonport High School for Girls and Meredith Avenue.  The boundary stone is still in situ.

Known at the time of the Domesday Book, 1086, as "Westona", the land occupied by the Tything of Weston Peverel, or Pennycross as it has since become, forms part of the history of Plymouth only until 1898, when part of the area was transferred to the Borough of Devonport.

Weston Peverel was part of the Honour of Plympton, of which Judhael of Totnes was the overlord, and the Hundred of Wakhampton, which later became the Hundred of Roborough.  The area was not a separate ecclesiastical parish at that time.  Along with Saint Budeaux it was a distant part of the Parish of Sutton, of which the Church of Saint Andrew the Apostle was the place of worship.  The manor house of Weston had a private chapel dedicated to Saint Pancras.  Along with the outlying area of Saint Budeaux, the Chapel was served by either monks from Plympton Priory of clergy from Saint Andrew's Church.  Baptisms, marriages and burials al had to take place at the Mother Church. 

Within the area of Weston Peverel/Pennycross were several Norman manors:

  • Westona (Weston including Ham);

  • Buretona (Burrington);

  • Manedona (Manadon);

  • two manors called Modlei (Mutley).

“Westona” was 331 acres in extent and was held from Judhael of Totnes by Odo.  The same situation applied to the manors of "Buretona", 123 acres, and "Manedona", 272 acres, as well as the two manors named "Modlei", one of 85 acres and the other of 84 acres.

The manor of Weston was in the hands of the Peverel family of Sampford Peverel, in East Devon, by 1228 and it thus acquired the distinguishing name of Weston Peverel.  Hugh Peverel was the lord of the manor in 1241 and it is claimed that his son, John Peverel, gave away the manor to Nicholas Carew, of Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire, as part of the dowry for his sister, Amicia Peverel.

Nicholas Carew passed Weston to his son, John Carew, and four generations later it passed to another Nicholas Carew, who died in 1469 in possession of both Weston and Manadon manors.  Both manors remained in the Carew family for a further five generations until John Carew mortgaged Weston to Mr John Harris, of Plymouth, in 1620.  Eight years later Harris gained Manadon as well, after which Manadon took over from Weston as the principal residence.

The two manors of Mutley seem to have disappeared from the records completely, possibly because of their closeness to the Borough of Plymouth.  Burrington passed quietly from generation to generation until in 1658 it is recorded that 'John Reed of Burrington' got married.  John died in 1736 and the manor passed via his only daughter, Joan, to Thomas Were.  It remained in that family until 1778 and a simplified design of their coat-of-arms was used for the school badge of Burrington Secondary Modern School.

Ham House was an ancient property that over the centuries had fallen in to decline.  A Plymouth merchant, Mr Robert Trelawny, bought the House and Estate and by 1639 had rebuilt Ham House and moved his family in to it.  It remained in thr Trelawny family until only-child and heir, Miss Mary Trelawny, married Mr George Collins, of Warwickshire in 1784 and took the Estate to her new husband.

Plymouth Town was a place of prosperity at that time and many of its wealthier inhabitants were looking to move out from the overcrowded Town.  Possibly encouraged by the improvement in the roads from Plymouth and Plymouth-Dock which met at the bottom of Manadon Hill, the Tything of Weston Peverel was an ideal spot.  It must be remembered that although Plymouth's boundary was at the site of the present Hyde Park Hotel, the Town itself barely touched North Hill.

Benjamin Donn's Map of Devon in 1765 shows Mutley (House) being occupied by a Miss Alford; Pound (House) by a Doctor Guineas, Tor and Burley to the south of the Plymouth Dock Road.  Bellair was on the south side of that road, opposite Stubbs' Farm on the northern side of the road.   Further north were Prospect, occupied by Mr Philips; Greater Ham (probably the later Ham House) in the occupation of the Trelawney family; Little Ham, occupied by a Mr Guineas; Burrington, the home of the Were family, and Maneton (Manadon).   Interestingly, Weston is shown on the site of the mill, at the head of the creek.   Also of note is that Lower Venn, Middle and Lower Mutley and Pennycross Barton are not shown on that map.

The house at Manadon is thought to have dated from 1567.  It was enlarged circa 1681 by the Harris family and passed to the Hewer family of Plymouth in 1737.  Under the will of Mr Robert Hewer, Manadon and Pennycross were left to Mr Humphrey Hall, although he had to fight a lawsuit with another claimant before he took possession in 1767.  When he died in 1801, there were more problems.  He left his estate to his three daughters jointly and they and their husbands soon starting fighting over it, resulting in yet another court case.   Eventually, the estate was inherited by Laetitia Hall, who had married Mr J A Parlby of Portsmouth.

It is thought that Pennycross Barton was originally built by a member of the Prowse family, descendants of the ancient Norman family of le Prouz.  They had done well for themselves in Exeter and Tiverton and possibly expected to enhance the family name with property near Plymouth.   However, the family did not survive here.  The property had apparently changed hands more than once by the time it was acquired by Mr Humphrey Hall.  During some restoration work at a later date, the old Prowse coat-of-arms was revealed from beneath a coat of plaster.  Mr Hall had this removed from its original position over the front door and placed over a chimney-piece in one of the best rooms in the Barton, with another stone bearing the inscription "H.1792.H" beneath it.

It was this influx of "new money" that brought about the rebuilding of the Chapel of Saint Pancras and agitation for it to be made a parish in its own right.  Mr George Herbert, who lived at the new Montpelier, did not have a seat in the old Chapel and urged the Lord of the Manor, Mr George Collins, to enlarge the building.  It was by this time in a very poor condition, with the sky being visible through the missing slates in the roof.  It was said to be in a worse condition than the local barns.  Luckily, perhaps, the services seem to have been few and irregular, probably depending on when the vicar of Saint Andrew's Church could manage to attend the Chapel.

However, thanks to the generosity of Mr Collins, of Ham House, and of Mr and Mrs Clark of Burrington (Mrs Clark gave the bell for the new turret), the Chapel was rebuilt and reopened for services on Sunday August 26th 1821.  It is from the dedication of the Chapel, Saint Pancras, that the name "Pennycross" is derived.

The Tything of Weston Peverel had a Poor House provided out of the local Poor Rates.  In 1765 this was near Prospect Farm and the Poor Rate at the time produced £9 2s 2d out of which one Hannah Northam was provided with clothing to the value of fifteen shillings and 'Tom's idiot son' got a shirt worth two shillings.  When Sir Edward Pellew bought Montpelier House he refused to renew the lease for the Poor House and it was pulled down.  In 1812 a new one was built near the pound, where stray animals were kept, roughly where the modern Cherry Tree Public House is now situated.  It cost £312 3s 10d to erect.  Poor children of the Tything were apprenticed locally. 

For many years the Devon and Cornwall Archery Society held its meetings in the grounds of Manadon House, down in the valley where the Parkway now passes just to the west of the Manadon interchange.  At the end of the season, in September, they held a formal dinner and dance after the last meeting of the year and prizes were awarded.  At the event on Friday September 13th 1850 the Lady Yarde Buller Prize, a travelling clock 'of most elegant workmanship' was presented to Captain A G West, RN, while one of the Foot daughters received a handsome brooch set in rubies and diamonds presented by Miss Yarde Buller.  The Ladies Season Prize of a papier machee writing desk went to Miss Saltau and the unspecified Gentlemen's Season Prize was awarded to Mr Sydney Strode.  Mrs Hall Parlby, who just happened to be the wife of the Lord of the Manor, was selected to be the Lady Paramount for the following year.

At the time of the census on Sunday March 31st 1851, Pennycross had a population of 321.  There were 127 males and 194 females.  There were just 45 inhabited properties in the Parish.  The population of the Parish had grown by 54 people since 1841.

Pennycross National School was provided sometime around 1869 on a site adjacent to the Church.  The building was demolished circa 1962 and replaced by the present Church Hall.

Transferred to the Borough of Plymouth, November 9th 1896

As a result of the Local Government Act 1894, the local Government Board Order No. P1257, confirmed by the Local Government Board Confirmation (No. 15) Act, dated November 9th 1896, parts of the Urban District of Compton (southern part); and parts of the civil parishes of Weston Peverell and Eggbuckland; and the extra municipal part of the civil parish of Saint Andrew's (i.e. Laira Green), were added to the Borough.

Pennycross Ecclesiastical Parish, February 8th 1898

Eventually, on February 8th 1898, came the announcement that Pennycross was to be created its own ecclesiastical parish.  It comprised almost all of the Tything of Weston Peverell, just a small portion to the west passing to the parish of Saint Mark's, Ford, Devonport. 

Transferred to the Borough of Devonport, November 9th 1898

On November 9th 1898, in accordance with the Devonport Extension Order 1898, part of the civil parish of Pennycross was transferred to the Borough of Devonport.

Transferred to the Borough of Plymouth, April 1st 1899 and October 1st 1899

By the Plymouth Corporation Act 1898, which came into force on April 1st 1899, a further part of Weston Peverell civil parish was absorbed into Plymouth. 

By the Local Government Board Order No. 39,882, dated October 1st 1899, the remaining part of the parish of Saint Andrew's was created the parish of Weston Peverell or Pennycross.

Civil Parish ceased to exist from April 1st 1935

By the Devon Review Order 1935, the southern part of Weston Peverel that was still outside Plymouth was transferred to Compton Gifford and the northern part to Saint Budeaux.  This meant that the civil parish of Weston Peverel or Pennycross ceased to exist from April 1st 1935.

Complete absorption into the City of Plymouth, April 1st 1939

Finally, on and as from Saturday April 1st 1939, the remainder of the old civil parish of Weston Peverel came within the Plymouth City boundary, which was extended northwards to Crownhill Road.

Places within the Tything of Weston Peverel or Parish of Pennycross

The following houses, farms and public houses/inns were within the Tything and Parish of Pennycross: Archery Cottage; Beaconfield House; Beauchamp House; Belair House; Blindman's Wood; Box Hill House; Burleigh House; Burraton Farm; Burrington Farm; Burrington Manor; Camel's Head Public House; Ham Barn; Ham House; Higher Mutley Farm; Higher Venn Farm; Manadon House; Manadon Wood; Middle Mutley Farm; Montpellier House; Mount Athos; Mount View; Mutley House; Oakland Villa; Pennycross Barton; Pennycross Cottage; Peverel Park Villa; Peverell Cottage; The Pound; Pounds House; Prospect Hall; Prospect Hall Lodge; Stonehouse Reservoir; Tor Farm; Tor Grove; Venn Cottage; Weston Villa.

Numbers 16, 17, 18 and 19 Elphinstone Road are on the site of Belair House.  This family mansion was built in the 17th century by the Elphinstone family, a Scottish fighting family.  They inter-married with other similar families and in so doing acquired large estates in northern Britain.  Quite why they built a retreat in this part of Devon is not known but the importance of the Port of Plymouth and the proximity to the Royal Dockyard might have had something to do with it.  It was in Belair House that the fate of Napoleon was decided, while he was captive aboard the "Bellerophon" in Plymouth Sound.  The estate was sold by Major Cuthbert W Elphinstone-Holloway, the last family owner, to the Devonport Police Authority in 1899 and one of their men, Police Constable Presswood, [probably PC Arthur Prestwood] lived in the property until a building syndicate took possession of the estate and house in October 1906.  By May 1907 the land was covered in new houses and the west wing of the House had been demolished to make way for a new road.  The remainder of the House was about to be demolished at that time.

Numbers 1, 2 and 3 of the pre-War Westeria Terrace were on the site of Montpellier House.

Lord of the Manor

The Lord of the Manor of Pennycross in 1870 was the Reverend John Hall Parlby MA JP (1805-1899) of Manadon House.

Overseer of the Poor

Not known.

Parish Clerk

Not known.

Parish Constable

Two parish constables were appointed in 1842, Mr John Jago of Weston Mill, and Mr Samuel Hoare of Venn Cottage.   They were unpaid at first but from 1846 were paid £1 10s a year.

Surveyor of Highways

Not known.

Charities distributed within Weston Peverell

Mr John Harris's Gift; Mrs Johanna Knighton's Gift; and Captain Robert Rawlin's Gift.




Weston Peverel is a parish formed by Local Government Board Order Number 39,882 October 1st 1899, from Saint Budeaux.


Plymouth is a county, municipal and parliamentary borough, and by Local Government Board Order P1,257, confirmed by the Local Government Provisional Orders Confirmation (Number 15) Act 1896, and came into operation November 9th 1896, the municipal boundaries were extended.

The addition to the municipal borough included parts of the Urban District of Compton Gifford, parts of the civil parishes of Weston Peverel or Pennycross, Eggbuckland and Laira Green, and the area which, prior to the passing of the Local Government Act 1894 formed the extra municipal part of Saint Andrew civil parish.

By the Plymouth Corporation Act 1898, which came into operation on April 1st 1899, a further part of Weston Peverel civil parish was added to Plymouth civil parish and county borough.

By Local Government Board Order Number 36,955, March 25th 1898, parts of the civil parishes of Charles and Saint Andrew were consolidated as Plymouth civil parish.

Under the Municipal Reform Act of 1835 the Corporation was re-modelled, and again in 1896, when Compton Gifford was incorporated, and now consists of a mayor, 14 aldermen, 42 councillors, a recorder, town clerk, chamberlain and other officers.

Under the Local Government Act 1888 Plymouth has been constituted a county of itself, the Corporation acting as the County Council for certain purposes defined by the Act.