Cheriton Fitz Payn 2019-04-05T16:21:11+00:00

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Cheriton Fitz Paine

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Introduction Cheriton Fitzpaine

Cheriton Fitzpaine is a large village in unspoilt and beautiful country. Its name means “church-town” and indicates a church in pre-conquest times. It was written as Cerintona in Domesday Book 1086 and Chiriton Pagan in 1297 as Roger, son of Pagan held the manor in 1256 In 1356 it was Churitone Santone. Santone refering to Thomas de Santon who held three parts of a fee in Churiton.

In 1428 it had become Cheryton Phezpayn but finally in 1555 it was written as Cheriton Fitz Payn.

The Fitzpaines held the manor in the 13th century. Of the farms in the parish, Chilton, Coddiford, Coombe Barton, and Lower Dunscombe appear as small estates in Domesday.

The church (St Mathew) is entirely a 15th century building. North of the church, was the seat of the Upcotts in Henry III’s time. By the early 15th cent. It had come to Nicholas Radford, a lawyer, who was murdered in 1455 by Sir Thomas Courtenay, son of the Earl of Devon, and a band of followers. In Henry VIII’s time Upcott belonged to a younger branch of that family. It is now a farmhouse, but retains considerable traces of it’s formerstatus as a “mansion.” – W.G Hoskins

The Stories of Cheriton Fitz Paine

“Terrible Tudors”?

Listen to "Terrible Tudors" by Jim Causley

Sarah Squire 1876

The School Room
Cheriton Fitzpaine
15th September 1876

Dear sister,

So here I am in Cheriton Fitzpaine. The apples that have not been picked glow red-ripe as rubies among the bleached roots of the orchards and the scrubbed faces of my students are no less rosy.  Sometimes there are over a hundred children gazing up at me in the school room, nearly half of whom have had no schooling. Imagine such a state of affairs back home in Exeter!

The headmaster and I teach them all together in the same room, though I have particular jurisdiction over the infants, some as small as three, which I suppose means I shall have the privilege of dealing with their wet drawers and stockings when he takes out his cane, as he does all too often.

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“The Caring Song”?

Listen to "The Caring Song" by Jim Causley

Sarah Squire 1879

The School Room
Cheriton Fitzpaine
15th September 1879

Dear sister,

Rain, rain and yet more rain. Which is no great drama on the well-drained cobbles of Exeter, but here the children, many of whom have walked miles to school, arrive caked in mud and sodden through. The school room becomes most dreadfully “doney and foisty” as Jimmy Furze would say….

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Residents talk about the tradition of Wassail in the village

Wassail by Jim Causley

Sarah Squire 1886

The School Room
Cheriton Fitzpaine
15th September 1886

Dear Sister,

I know I am blessed. I know I have a trustworthy husband in George, who respects a teacher’s love of punctuality, treats marryings, mealtimes and markets alike, always shows up on time. I know I have been blessed with the most rewarding of professions, which I have maintained into motherhood…

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“Skipping Rhyme”?

Listen to "Skipping Rhyme" by Jim Causley

Sarah Squire 1907

The School Room
Cheriton Fitzpaine
15th September 1907

Dear Sister,
For shame! Your favourite niece, Effie, has been caught two boughs up, scrumping in the vicar’s orchard. To think the last report of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate found that my teaching resulted in “excellent order, sound, painstaking and effective instruction, infants kindly and sensibly managed” and now the whole village will know I can’t even discipline my own wayward teenage daughter to leave off trespassing and pinching fruit, from the priest’s land no less…

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“The Lord’s lesson to his flock on Sunday 4th September, the year of our Lord 1907:

Dearly beloved, I was this week, selecting a suitable Bible reading to prepare our farming community for the industry of the approaching Harvest, something like Matthew 6, Chapter 26, perhaps: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them”, when, as is all so often the case, a more pertinent inspiration arrived, albeit somewhat painfully, from above.

A singular event reminded me how easily, in the dawn of a brave new siècle, members of this community might, like the Bolsheviks, over-reach themselves, grasping for that which is off-limits. And this sinful propensity, to trespass beyond the rightful place of the lower orders, is most perniciously found in the fairer sex.

And so it was my bible fell open on Genesis Chapter 3, verse 6, which my pious congregation will know to be set in the Garden of Eden, and will forgive me if I paraphrase:

“And when the woman saw that the apple tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a fruit to be desired, she ignored her conscience, and took of the fruit thereof, and did eat. And her eyes were opened, and she knew that she was naked… And she heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and tried to hide in the leaves of the garden”

And not very long after that, dear congregation, that same female got herself banished and found herself bringing forth in sorrow a most murderous son Cain…


I shall not name names as to which young maiden afforded me this timely reminder as to the importance of social propriety, but I fancy the hard wood of our church pews is affording her some discomfort!

We now open our hymn books and stand to sing, “We plough the fields and scatter”…


Sounds from WW1

Letters from the Front, 1917

Notices from the Rev Wilbraham Arundel, pubished in the Cadbury Deanery Magazine.

April 1917

As you all know by this time I am off to the Somme Front in France after Easter. I do not intend to go round saying good-bye, there are plenty of jobs more important than that at the present time and also more pleasant so I know you will excuse me. When you are writing to the Cheriton boys in France, tell them to look out for me driving a car in the immediate vicinity of the advancing army on the Somme front. I have volunteered for a period of six months.

May 1917

Owing to a hold-up of a military permit my departure has been regrettably delayed; the man under whom I will be working writes “that he should be able to obtain it in a week or ten days”, so I shall be forced to play in the next two matches of the cricket season. My address and Quarters in France will be – Y.M.C.A., c/o Town Major, Peronne, B.E.F., France.

June 1917

You will be interested to know that your rector crossed to France on May 13th. On arriving in Boulogne I visited one of the big hospitals with a Lancashire lad who had come to see his brother, who was lying grievously wounded, and I was able to write the news to their mother. Thenceforth I will travel to the Peronne but am not allowed to mention any names.

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“Lads in their Hundreds”

Listen to "Lads in their Hundreds" by Jim Causley

Sarah Squires 1914

The School Room
Cheriton Fitzpaine
10th November 1914

Dear Sister,

I hoped not to write another letter such as this, but dear George has gone.

His Asthma left him awful winded this Autumn. He was never one to shilly shally when there was a rendezvous to keep, even with the grim reaper, so he went quick. And I am glad of it…..

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“The Village Hall”?

Residents talk about The Village Hall

Village Hall Opening 1936

Crediton Country Courier 1935

The 1930’s have been a decade of technological advancement from the electric razor to the radio telescope. But who needs industrial technology when you have the commitment of a close knit village? The residents of Cheriton Fitzpaine have dug the foundations of their new Parish Hall using nothing but spades and elbow grease and look forward to their topping out ceremony next year!


Sounds from the Second World War

A local resident reembembers rthe Second World World War

Sarah Squire 1939

The School Room
Cheriton Fitzpaine
20th September 1939

Dear Sister,

Well. German tanks in Poland and the world is at war again. Honestly, if my students blotted their copybooks with the same mistake over and over, as these politician do, I should knock their heads together. I’d like to see that little upstart Adolf write out a hundred times “I shall not pilfer what isn’t mine.” Sherbert dips or Czeckoslovakia, it’s the same principal. 

The elder boys in my class don’t seem overly depressed by the threat of conscription. Perhaps it has something to do with the arrival of the Women’s Land Army. They arrive in truckloads from free-thinking cities like Plymouth, Bristol and even London, wearing dungarees and bandanas, not one of them in a girdle…. 

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“Bert Brayleys”?

Residents tell us about Bert Breyleys

Listen to "Bert Breyleys" by Jim Causley

Jean Rhys

I’ve lived in Cheriton Fitzpaine for 6 or 7 years. I loathed it at first but now I have got resigned to it. I live in Landboat cottage – I fixed it up and found it better. But I miss a lot because I live in Devon – miss the people who wrote to me after the books were republished I don’t hink I am liked in the village, they think that I am strange. I would like to get away, but I wont now. I have always had two longings and one was fighting the other. I wanted to be loved and I wanted to be always alone. I will now read a little segment from my book, the Wide Sargasso Sea which I finished writing here in the village.

There is no looking glass here and I don’t know what I am like now. I remember watching myself brush my hair and how my eyes looked back at me. The girl I saw was myself yet not quite myself. Long ago when I was a child and very lonely I tried to kiss her. But the glass was between us—hard, cold and misted over with my breath. Now they have taken everything away. What am I doing in this place and who am I?

“Hurricane 1986”?

Residents talk about the 1986 Hurricane