Old Ashburton, Being Recollections of Master Robert Prideaux (attorney at law) 1509 - 1569

In 1882 P F S Amery published a book with the above title. In his introduction he admits that the account is not, in fact, the recollections of one man, but a story to link together 'a chain of incidents' connected to Ashburton, 'without sacrificing fact to fiction.' Robert Prideaux, attorney at law, did actually exist, and was apparently a leading light in the community. The other persons, and places, says Mr Amery, were real. It is slightly concerning that he said that most of the incidents were real, although Amery says that the details have been brought together from a variety of sources: I have found many of them. Much of the material is not specific to Ashburton, but is relevant to the time.
I have added references that I have found, and comments etc. in red - I have by no means been able to verify everything.
The book begins with Master Prideaux, son of Thomas, supposedly reflecting on his family, who had lived in the area for some time. Various members of the family had held 'positions of trust and importance', and some had married into neighbouring families, such as his father's great aunt Julyan Prideaux, who married Adam Somaster of Widecombe. Robert's sister Alice married Adam Williams of Stowford, Ivybridge: their son became Speaker of Parliament in 1560, and Feodatory to Queen Elizabeth.

John Maclean, in The Parochial and Family History of the deanery of Trigg Minor in the County of Cornwall, says 'Thomas Prideaux of Ashburton had two sons, John Prideaux, Serjeant at Law, already mentioned, and Robert Prideaux who seems to have succeeded his father at Ashburton'.
He then says that Robert died in 1598, naming his children Thomas, George, Robert, Harry and Elizabeth in his will, but in view of the information in the churchardens' accounts (below), this seems to be incorrect. The will is possibly that of Robert Prydaux jun., proved in 1579.
John Maclean, The Parochial and Family History of the deanery of Trigg Minor in the County of Cornwall, vol 2, London and Bodmin, 1873, p213

According to the churchwardens' accounts, Mr Robert Predaux, gent, attorney, was buried in 1574.
Robert Predyauxe jun., son of Robert Predyaux, gent., was buried 1577 or 78.
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton, 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay, 1970, pp175, 182

Robert Predyauxe jun.'s will is difficult to read, but mentions his sons Thomas and Robert, and possibly George, and daughter Elizabeth.
National Archives, PROB 11/61/70, will of Robert Prydiaux or Prydyaux, Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 3rd February 1579.
https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D963590 - accessed 03-02-2022

Robert Prideaux
1566 - 1567 Robert Predyaux, gent, attorney at law, was paid £3 18s 'for the lands now in litigation in le Excheker'
He appears several times in the churchwardens' accounts.
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton, 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay, 1970, p157

'Adam Somaster of Widdecombe-in-the-Moor esq., married Julyan, daughter of John Prideaux of Adeston, and had issue John...'
Rev George Oliver and Pitman Jones ed., A View of Devonshire MDCXXX, Exeter, 1845, p501
Whether or not this is correct, I cannot find the link to Thomas Prideaux of Ashburton.

Alice Prideaux
According to the website History of Parliament Thomas Williams of Stowford was the first son of Alice, daughter of Thomas Prideaux, and Adam Williams of Stowford. He was born 1513/1514.
Based on S T Bindoff, ed., The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509 - 1558, 1982.
www.historyofparliamentonline.org - accessed 31-10-2021
A letter in the National Archives, dated 1563 and transcribed by Nina Green and Christopher Paul, is from John Chidley to Thomas Williams, feodary of Devonshire.
National Archives SP 12/31/18, www.oxford-shakespeare.com - accessed 31-10-2021

Thinking back to his youth, 'Robert' says that he was a schoolboy in 1509, when Henry VIII married Katherine of Aragon. He was taught by Father Hellyer, a Buckfast monk, whose duty was to sing masses for the dead, and to teach the sons of burgesses.

Father Hellyer
During 1509 - 1510 the churchwardens at Ashburton received 4d for ringing a bell after the death of Dan Edward Helyer, formerly monk of Buckfast.
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton, 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay, 1970, p39

Amery imagines that one evening Robert had been on Tarry, shooting at rabbits with his new bow. Afterwards he slipped into the house where Mistress Ford, a cousin of his father's, was visiting - she was married to John Ford, who held a Manor and was called Esquire. Alice, Robert's sister, was to be married to Adam Williams, and Mistress Ford was asking about Alice's dowry: 300 marks (£200) was to be paid. Within twelve months Master Williams snr. was to convey land at Stowford, worth £20, to his son. He was also to leave the male heirs of Adam and Alice land worth forty pounds, with the proviso that Adam behaved appropriately towards his father.
As to the date of the wedding, Father Hellyer suggested that the Feast of St Andrew might be propitious, with presents given to the saint's altar.

'[Ashburton] nestles in the valley of the Yeo (a tributary to the Dart) with the rounded hills of Tarry, Sparnham, Whistley and Chuley immediately around....'
John Satterley, Memories of Ashburton in Late Victorian Times, Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol 84, Torquay, 1952, p21

Chapter 2.
'Robert' says that John Ford was chosen Portreeve at the Court Leet of the Bishop in 1509.
At the first court Nan Walsh was presented for gossiping: an example of this sort of misdemeanour might be speculation about the delay in Alice's wedding. She was ordered to be whipped from the bowling green to the bull-ring, and thence to the town pump in North Street. The next day the woman was stripped to the waist, and her hands were tied to a pole carried by two men. The Town Crier, complete with bell, led the procession, and a constable used a short rope to beat the woman until she bled. Once her ordeal was over a mob of boys accompanied her to her home in Cad Lane, shouting and hooting.

John Ford, who was the accountant for the churchwardens between 1509 and 1532, is described as 'an important Ashburton figure' by Alison Hanham.
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton, 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay, 1970, p vii.
He is not in Pete Webb's book, Past Portreeves of Ashburton
Pete Webb, Past Portreeves of Ashburton, 7th edition 2011

'In the court leet the jury presented those accused of minor offences, especially breaches of the assizes of bread and beer and offences related tp public order, such as assaults, gossiping, night prowling or leaving foul rubbish in the street'
M Mulholland, Trials in manorial courts in late medieval England, PDF, p 81

Above: A woodcut from c1536, showing a vagrant being punished in the streets.
Found on https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Vagrancy - accessed 06-02-2022
The Whipping Act of 1530 (later than the time in which this account is set) authorised flogging for petty offences, such as poaching and blasphemy
Shubhankar Tiwari and Kaartikay Agarwal, Flogging as Criminal Punishment in the 21st Century, Jurist June 23rd, 2020
https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/06/tiwari-agarwal-flogging-punishment/ - accessed 04-11-2021

The three day St Martin's Fair was shortly afterwards, beginning on November 11th, but snow prevented merchants and pedlars coming from far, and stopped farmers coming with their wool. Father Hellyer took his young charges around the town singing songs about the saints, but there were not many people about in the cold, and he did not get much. 'People who could afford it were eating their geese'. Other luxuries included new cider and aquevite (whisky) made from malt.

Sir Thomas Furneaux was vicar at the time, and he, the Sub-Prior of Buckfast and Father Hellyer all had different ideas on how to bring good luck to Alice at her wedding. The Sub-Prior thought Alice ought to visit the Abbey Church at night, and recite incantations by a particular grave in the choir. The vicar thought Alice should present a candle each day at the altar of St Andrew, together with a silver figure of two hearts. It was also suggested that her mother should gift a silk velvet banner with the saint's cross in time for the feast day of November 30th, plus a generous gratuity. The sacristan, Walter Antony, was to be paid a fee to attend every night with his wheel, on which Alice could cast lots for a lucky day.

November 11th is the Feast of St Martin or Martinmas, commemorating the death and burial of Martin of Tours, a 4th century saint. During the Middle Ages it was a time for feasting, to celebrate the end of autumn. Goose and beef were the preferred meats.
Ellen Castelow, Martinmas, Historic UK https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Martinmas/ - accessed 04-11-2021

Saint Martin is a vintage quality cider apple, from the Calvados region of Normandy. There is also a British desert apple whose proper name is St Martin's.
Pomiferous https://pomiferous.com/applebyname/saint-martin-id-5719 - accessed 04-11-2021

Sir Thomas fFurneaux was vicar from 1500 - 1517
https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/DEV/Ashburton/Vicars - accessed 04-11-2021

For more on the wheel, see Chapter 4

The church before the Reformation had no screen across the chancel. Over the altar was a carved reredos, showing scenes from the life and martyrdom of St Andrew in the panels: the one in the centre showed St Andrew as an old man, on a cross formed like a letter X. The altar was covered with an embroidered velvet cloth, and a carved cabinet on top housed a fragment of bone, said to be that of the saint.
A large silver gilt crucifix stood on the shrine.
Small niches in the walls held earthenware jars laid on their sides, their open mouths level with the faces of the walls: these were said to improve the sound quality of the building.
The Chapel of Our Lady the Blessed Virgin was at the eastern end of the north aisle; and there was an image of her dressed in bright clothes of a century earlier in the centre niche of the reredos. Other niches contained pictures of the Wise Men, and the Holy Mother pierced with 5 swords in her heart.
Numerous tokens hung on a low rail in front of the altar, put there by worshippers in distress. These might include wooden babies, when a child was ill, or an injured part of the body represented in wax.
St John the Baptist's chapel was at the eastern end of the south aisle, with a picture of the death of the saint on its altar. In the centre stood the stone font on a raised dias.
In the north and south transepts were the chapels of St Thomas of Canterbury and St Katherine. Each chapel had an altar, and a picture of the saint to whom the chapel was dedicated. Tabernacles with small doors were on the altars, plus a large crucifix and candles. Master Ford's mother had given a richly embroidered altar cloth, and a red banner with a figure of the saint worked in gold hung from a staff by its side. Each chapel had a votive candle stand at the foot of the altar steps; brass lamps hung by chains from the roof.

Eight pieces of wood showed pictures of the Passion of Jesus: people knelt at them and repeated special prayers.

The pulpit had three or four steps to enter it. The seats were mostly in the chapels, but a few benches were around the pulpit. Sermons tended to be short.

The Vicar wanted a carved screen to divide the chancel from the nave, with a rood loft over; he also wanted the four chapels to be separated from the aisles, and the Chapel of Our Lady and the Chapel of St Thomas to be partitioned off from the chancel.

'For the painting of the reredos of our Lady's altar ixs in part payment...'
John H Butcher, he Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1870, p9

'In payment to Thomas Wilke for mending the Tabernacle of St Andrew xvid...'
John H Butcher, he Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1870, p3

'For making the Roodloft and separation between the chancel and the aisle of St Thomas and the aisle of the Blessed Mary on the northern part of the church...'
The Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from John H Butcher, Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1870, p19

Chapter 3
On the eve of the feast of St Andrew, November 29th, the church was strewed with sweet smelling herbs; ivy and other greenery decorated the piers and pillars. The next morning a bell rang out the day of the month, followed by a peal of bells to call people to Matins, which were not as melodious as it could have been, as the tenor bell had not yet been recast. St Andrew's banner hung from the highest opening in the spire as people arrived from nearby villages dressed in their best clothes.
Alice and her family presented their gifts, and then knelt in private prayer in the Lady Chapel. The priests and vicar were wearing their highly ornamented festival vestments, and the Vicar, donning his chasuble, began to sing Mass. All the congregation fell to their knees when the Sanctus bell rang.
After Mass Father Furneaux processed around the church holding the body of Christ, encased in a jewelled crystal pyx. The water bearer sprinkled holy water on the worshippers; a large silver cross was carried in the procession, followed by the Vicar holding the Host. Principal laymen of the parish, such as Ford, Wyndeyat, Dolblear and Prideaux were in the procession, followed by priests, deacons and the choir all 'in their proper order'.
The congregation dispersed once the holy vessel was once again on the high altar, but were to return at eleven to hear the vicar preach. The image of St Andrew was at the porch, with indulgences in its hand; a priest urged those entering to purchase a pardon for 40 days in honour of the saint. Food and drink was being sold at stalls outside, and peddlars were also selling their wares.

Floors of churches were sometimes strewn with fennel and other herbs'
Lewes Priory Trust https://www.lewespriory.org.uk/what-are-we-growing - accessed 06-11-2021

Southwark Cathedral says that rosemary was strewn on church floors.
https://cathedral.southwark.anglican.org/visiting/churchyard-herb-garden/ - accessed 06-11-2021

'lxxiiis iiiid towards full payment for exchange of the great bell...'
John H Butcher, he Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1870, p14

'Expenses.....viiid for mending the pyx for the Body of Christ...'
John H Butcher, he Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1870, p19

In 1517 Martin Luther, in a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz, wrote, with reference to the selling of indulgences to finance the building of a new cathedral, 'I grieve over the wholly false impressions which the people have conceived from [indulgences], to wit...the unhappy souls believe that if they have purchased letters of indulgence they are sure of their salvation; again, that so soon as they cast their contributions into the money-box, souls fly out of purgatory...'
Medieval Sourcebook, Martin Luther, Letter to the Archbishop of Mainz, 1517
https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/lutherltr-indulgences.asp - accessed 06-11-2021

The vicar's sermon was on the life of St Andrew - Bishop Grandisson had collected many fine manuscripts on the legends of the saints at Exeter Cathedral.

Bishop Grandisson, 1327-69, was fascinated by the lives of the saints, and made his own collection, still in the cathedral Library and Archives.

Blog based on discussion 12th July 2019, Exeter Centre for Medieval Studies, https://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/medievalstudies/2019/07/grandisson-650/ - accessed 11-11-2021
See also 
https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/research/centres/medieval/projects/bishop_grandisson/ - accessed 13-11-2021

Outside the church, monks from Buckfast were trading with local farmers for wool
The Cistercians were England's main wool producers. In 1236, the Abbot and his monks were admitted to the guild of merchants at Totnes, and in 1315 Buckfast was listed as an exporter of wool to Florence.
https://www.buckfast.org.uk/history - accessed 13-11-2021

'That day our dinner was a feast'. A long table was supported by trestles, fresh rushes were strewed on the floor. 'Father... believed the dreadful distempers so often breaking out were caused by the accumulations of fat, grease, and leavings by the dogs on the floors.'
After the feast came the Latin, or grace after meat.

Erasmus, 1466-1536, writing to a friend: 'The doors [sic] are, in general, laid with white clay, and are covered with rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for twenty years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned.'
https://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-life/medieval-hygiene.htm - accessed 13-11-2021

According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia the word grace was always in the plural form in pre-Elizabethan times. 
One of these graces was a tradition of thanksgiving after meat, at which time the souls of the faithful were also prayed for.
https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14554c.htm - aacessed 14-11-2021

During a stroll in the churchyard after the meal, the party came across a peddler selling various knives, ribbons and trinkets from a box supported by a leather strap.

According to the Caring for God's Acre website archery, games, festivals, markets and fairs were all held in churchyards during the medieval period.
https://www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk/resources/built-heritage/ - accessed 14-11-2021

For illustrations of peddlers (pedlars) see eg The Pedlar by Hieronymous Bosch, c. 1500
The recollections describe going to the Market, via King's Lane, and going up the steps to the upper floor. Amery imagines dancing taking place, and wrestling in the bull ring below.

Arriving back home Master Williams describes his travels, and says that when he was a boy it was fashionable to take a pilgrimage to St James de Compostello in Spain, after the Pope declared that a pilgrimage there was equal in virtue to a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 'The offer was a grand one as for quarter the cost and peril a man might gain a character for sanctity and wear the scollop shell.' So popular was the pilgrimage that large sums of money left the kingdom, and eventually ship-owners had to take out a licence from the crown to carry pilgrims.

One of these ships was owned by a John Shipley. The St Catherine sailed from Plymouth with more than 50 pilgrims

Pope Alexander VI, 1431 - 1503, declared that the Camino de Santiago was one of the 'Three great pilgrimages of Christendom'
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camino_de_Santiago - accessed 20-11-2021

Susan Morrison says that there were already official decrees to control pilgrimages in the fourteenth century, with licences allowing pilgrims, but not certain goods including horses, gold and silver 'or other things prejudicial to the king'.
Susan S Morrison, Women pilgrims in Late Medieval England, London and New York, 2000, p54

The scallop shell is the traditional emblem of St James the Great. Medieval pilgrims returning from Compostela would tie a Galician scallop shell to their clothing or staff as proof of their journey.

George Roberts, writing in 1856, gives a list of pilgrim ships, including the St Catherine of Plymouth, owned by John Shipley, carrying 60 pilgrims in 1445.
George Roberts, The Social History of the People of the Southern Counties of England, London, 1856, p132

Chapter 4
'Every sexton hath a wheel, that hangeth for the view,
Marked round about with certain days, unto the Virgin due.
Now when that any servant of our Lady cometh here,
And seeks to have some certain day by lot for to appear,
This sexton turns the wheel about, and bids the stander-by,
To hold the thread whereby he doth, the time and season try.'
Barnabe Googe
Above: The Sexton's Wheel at Long Stratton, Norfolk
Evelyn Simak / St Mary's church - the Sexton's wheel CC BY-SA 2.0

Barnabe Googe, 1540-1594, was an English poet born at Alvingham, Lincolnshire. He was related to William Cecil, and in 1563 became a gentleman pensioner to Queen Elizabeth.
https://allpoetry.com/Barnabe-Googe - accessed 22-11-2021

The Rev W H Sewell, writing in Norfolk Archaeology, describes a visit to Saint Mary's church, Long Stratton, where he saw the sexton's wheel. Two iron wheels had strings attached, and people had to catch a string as the wheels revolved backwards and forwards. The string indicated which day was chosen, in this case for a fast.
Rev W H Sewell, Norfolk Archaeology, vol9 p205, in Notes and Observations, Eastern Evening News, 22 August 1931
https://www.roundtowers.org.uk/long-stratton-saint-marys-church/ - accessed 22-11-2021

To make use of the wheel, 'Alice' and her mother make their way 'to the wedding door of the church, on the south side'. The wheel chose Trinity Sunday, which that year fell on June 1st, as the most propitious day for her marriage. Alice was reminded not to forget to reward Walter, the sacristan, and to light a wax candle before the altar as an offering.

The next morning Adam leaves for Buckfast, where the abbot has promised him some of the apple trees for which Buckfast was famous. These had been originally from Normandy, and the monks used them to make bright, strong cider.

'There was formerly a pound-stone at Buckfast Abbey, which was reputed to be the largest in Devon....'
R Hansford Worth, The Moorstone Age, Part II, p331
https://dartmoorwalks.org.uk/resource/docs/article233.pdf - accessed 25-11-2021

'Proceeding farther on, we came to the farmhouse belonging to the Abbey.....The farmer's wife, who usually attends strangers, desired us to walk into the pound-house, and she would show what she called "the biggest pound-stone in the county." This is a single moor-stone, 9 feet in diameter,18 inches under the ground, and eighteen inches above; has been used, time immemorial, to grind apples for cider...'
George Laurence Gomme, ed., The Gentleman's Magazine Library, English Topography part III, London, 1893, p151
Above: Cider mill at Longstone Farm, on the shores of Burrator Reservoir. The apples would be placed in the pound stone (bottom), the edge runner stone (above) would be placed on top, and a horse would pull the edge runner stone around to crush the fruit.
https://dartmoorcam.co.uk/CAM/previouswalks/2018-7-26_BurratorReservoir/Burrator.htm - accessed 27-02-2022
© Keith Ryan. Very many thanks to Keith for giving me permission to reproduce the image.

A day or two afterwards, a few friends gathered at four hours, which Amery, breaking away from the character of Robert Prideaux, describes as  'a meal taken at four o'clock, corresponding to our modern afternoon tea; but tea and coffee were then unknown.'

Mistress Ford, reading from a paper she had found, quoted:
'Advent marriage doth denie,
But Hilary gives thee libertie;
Septuagesima says thee nay;
Eight days from Easter says you may;
Rogation bids thee to abstain, 
But Trinity sets thee free again.'

Sources differ on when meals were taken in medieval and post medieval times. Whatever the norm was, mealtimes were affected by class and the time of year, as the working day varied according to the hours of daylight.
See also http://cdalebrittain.blogspot.com/2014/07/medieval-meals-and-mealtime.html - accessed 09-12-21
and https://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq7.html#:~:text=Medieval%20era&text=These%20meals%20consisted%20of%20breakfast,of%20devotions%20of%20the%20Church - accessed 09-12-21

The rhyme appears in a register in Everton, Nottinghamshire
Local and Family History https://rollitt.co.uk/marriage/ - accessed 05-12-2021

Mistress Ford also gives Alice a parchment on which is written:
How the Good Wife Taught Her Daughter
It begins, 'Dear daughter if thou wilt be a good wife live lowly; love God and go to church when you can; don't let the rain stop thee, for thou farest best the day thou hast seen God
Well proveth that God loveth
Willingly pay tithe and give freely to the poor, for seldom is that house poor where God is steward, for he well storeth him that honoureth the poor
In church pray, and not chatter to friend or relative, and scorn neither old nor young, but be courteous to all
Through thy fair bearing
Thy worship hath increasing
 Love thy husband above all earthly things; answer him meekly and he will love thee
A fair word and meek
Doth his wrath slake
Be cheerful of speech, and gentle of mood, true in word and deed, and in conscience good. Be well mannered and not a romp, or rude or ready to swear, In walking the street don't toss thy head or wriggle thy shoulders
For she that catcheth an ill name
It is to her a foul shame
In town don't gad about from house to house, or get drunk on your cloth money. If in a place where good ale is going, drink moderately, that you fall into no blame
She that is oft drunk,
Thrift is from her sunk.
Wisely govern thy household; be not too sharp or too easy; set them first doing what needs doing most. Let them not be idle when your husband is absent; mark who doeth much or little; and quit them accordingly. When need be great, and time short, set to work thyself, and all will be better for it,
For many hands and wight (nimble), 
Make heavy work light.
Look after thy household when at work, and if thy see a fault amend it at once. See everything right when work is done, and forget not to take thy keys thyself; be wise and trust no-one better than thyself. At term days pay the household and be generous to them whether they remain with thee or leave:
Thy good name is to thy friends
Great Joy and gladness.
Housewife, thy shall work diligently on work days, for pride, waste and idleness make waste and on Holy days thou shalt well worship God; care thou
More for God's friendship
Than for the world's worship?
If thou be a rich wife, welcome thy neighbours with meat, drink, and honest cheer, to each after his degree, and help the poor man. But daughter, be careful; make not thy husband poor with spending and pride: a man must spend as he hath;
Bleed and wren, according to his veins.
If thy children rebel, and are saucy, don't curse them but take a smart rod and beat them until they cry mercy and acknowledge their guilt. As soon as daughters are born begin to collect goods for their marriage;
For maidens be lovely,
But to keep they be untrusty.
Now, have them taught as thy mother did thee; think hereon night and day, and what man weds thee, he shall not repent;
Better were a child unborn,
Than a child untaught.
May Christ, and Mary, and all the angels bless thee; may all the Patriarchs', Prophets', and our Ancestors' blessings be with thee, and well may thou thrive my dear child,
For well is the child,
That with sin will not be filled.'
About 1430 MS Lambeth 853 p102
A version of this can be found at https://ellicesblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/how-the-good-wife-taught-her-daughter/ - accessed 09-12-21

Chapter 5
Master Prideaux comments that Ashburton church tower has five bells, matched by few other churches in Devon; only Exeter Cathedral, he says, has more.

The work of the Rev H T Ellacombe suggests this is not the case, although the bells in his list are of a later date.
Church Bells of Devon, listings extracted by Jean E Harris from Ellacombe, Rev., H T, The Church Bells in the Towers of all the Parish Churches of Devonshire, Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, vol I, second series, part III, Exeter 1867
https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/DEV/ChurchHistory/ChurchBells - accessed 11-12-2021

In 1487 two new bells were added to bring the total to five, and circa 1503 one of the bells was exchanged, with Master John Gye riding to Exeter.

I have not as yet found a reference to the two new bells.

1503-1504 'To John Gye to ride to Exceter to take the tewne in the belle - 20d. For carige of the bell and thechyng of the way - 10s 4d.'

The 1509-10 accounts have a section 'Exchange of the Great Bell'. 73s 4d is paid in full payment for a heavier bell, with calculations made on the amount of old metal and new.
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay 1970, pp32 and 39

It was the tenor bell that was generally used as the 'passing bell' , tolling when people were dying. This served two purposes: firstly, to alert people so that they could pray for the departing soul, and secondly, 'to drive away the evil spirits, which haunt the house of death in readiness to seize their prey, or to terrify or molest the soul in its passage, but were unable to come within the sound of the bell.' [p28]

'The Passing-bell was, of course, then rung at all hours of the night, as well as by day. After the Reformation the custom of ringing the Passing-bell in the ancient way continued. Bishop Hooper, in his Injunctions (1551) allowed it, the Royal Injunctions of 1559 enjoined it, and the Advertisements of 1564 show that it was then usual to ring or toll the Passing-bell whilst the person was believed to be dying, but not yet dead'
Thomas North, The Church Bells of Bedfordshire, London, 1883, p95

Robert then recalls an incident a year or two before his sister's marriage, when William Brownyswill lay dying. It was stormy, and the bell could not be heard half way up Tower Hill. There were accusations that the bell had been rung in a slovenly manner, allowing evil spirits to cause mayhem for the departing soul. The fee for the bell being tolled was initially refused, but was eventually paid - the great cross was carried at the funeral, and the vicar sung a free mass for the dead man's soul.
As a result of this incident, those resident in more distant areas of the parish demanded a heavier bell to be used on occasions of death.
William Furze de Waye died the following year, and two men tolled the bell, with such vigour that they cracked it. John Dolbeare and Roger Wyndeyat were churchwardens at the time, and shortly afterwards Prideaux's father and Master Ford consulted with a Robert Norton at Exeter on the cost of a replacement. It was arranged that after Christmas 1509 he and his men would come down to Ashburton and recast the bell.

I can find no reference to the incidents above.

John Farewell, Roger Wyndyatte, John Dolbere and William Gryge were churchwardens 1508-09 
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay 1970, p37

Accounts of a Robert Norton, bell-founder, refer to one working much earlier than the 1500s - he became a freeman of Exeter in 1423
Royal Albert Memorial Museum https://www.rammtimetrail.org.uk/Object/277/ - accessed 11-12-2021

Work began on the bell in February 1509, the recasting being done near the tower of the church. Strangers' Hill, on the northwest side of the tower was chosen as the spot, as there were only a few burials there, of people from outside the parish.

'French Officer Francois Guidon, age 22 who is said to have been captured at the Battle of Waterloo.......is buried on Strangers Hill....'
On this website, under Churches and Memorials, Background to the Making of the Tombstone Survey, 1973 -1981

Archaeologists have unearthed furnaces in churchyards, which suggests that bells were often cast there in pits.
S Haddy and W W Starmer, Bell Casting, article in The Musical Times, vol 59, no 901, March 1918, p113

Master Prideaux describes how Robert Norton paced out a circle in the ground; earth was then dug out of this circle to make a pit about 5 feet deep.
A furnace of brick and clay, and with a high chimney, was constructed against the Vicarage wall, for melting the metal. Charcoal was brought from Boro Wood, and a quantity of earth was sieved very finely. Old coins, believed to be Roman, were found amongst the earth.
The bell was broken up in pieces, and lowered out of the tower. The 30lb extra white tin that was needed was purchased from Thomas Matthew, the chief tinner of the town, who attended the Stannary parliament at Crocker-Torre on Dartmoor. 200lb of copper was bought from Master Cockey, brazier of Totnes.
Robert then describes the making of a frame to construct a mould for the bell.

Amery's description fits well with a talk given in 2010 by Michael Pascoe, Captain of the bell-ringers at Widecombe Church. That is not to say that the process ever took place at Ashburton
https://www.widecombe-in-the-moor.com/history/minutes/2010/talks_dec_2010.php - accessed 12-12-2021

See Early History on this website for mentions of Roman coins.

'....the antient public records and documents relating to the Stannaries have been lost.'
Reports from committees of the House of Commons, July 1800, appendix H.15, p259
For more on the Stannaries, see under Local Administration, under Gathering Together

Mordecai Cockey recast a bell at Totnes in 1686
https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MDV2856&resourceID=104 - accessed 12-12-2021
The National Archives has a reference to marriage articles between William Cockey, brazier of Totnes, and Elizabeth Hannaford.  However, the date is 1749, considerably later.
Ref 242/8/411 National Archives https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/48ea677c-d31c-4316-ae13-668622b42363 - accessed 12-12-2021

The bell was cast on Lady Day, the first day of the new year in March.
'After Mass the vicar, priests, churchwardens and leading inhabitants visited the operations, and threw in articles of silver, thereby to improve the tone of the bell'

As the molten metal flowed into the mould the choir chanted a psalm, prayers were offered and candles lit for the bell, which would be called St Andrew. Afterwards mulled wine and cyder was drunk to the future welfare of the bell.
The ceremony of blessing or christening of the bell by the Bishop would be some days later, after the metal had cooled and the bell removed.

'The writer recollects, on one occasion of the casting of a heavy tenor bell to complete a peal in a large town, that numbers of the inhabitants who went to see the operation cast silver money into the furnace, though whether to an amount sufficient to affect the mass, is uncertain.' 
The Cabinet Cyclopaedia, vol III, John Holland, A Treatise on the Progressive Improvement and Present State of the Manufactures in Metal, London, 1834, p200
This also has a detailed account of casting a bell

'The custom of blessing church bells is of great antiquity, and though it is said that the usage of bestowing names upon them was not general at first, it is clear that to this custom bell inscriptions owe their origin.....the bell about to be blessed was washed with holy water, wiped with a towel, and anointed by the bishop with holy oils....'
John L-Estrange, The Church Bells of Norfolk, Norwich, 1874, p17

see also The Order for Blessing and Consecration of Bells  https://www.liberalcatholics.uk/bellsblfrom essing.pdf - accessed 15-12-2021

The bell was weighed before Robert Norton was paid, ' They having made enquiries at Plumtree, where they found that the new bell cast there was paid for on Master Norton's word, and afterwards they discovered it lacked many pounds of the weight, which led to much expense and trouble at law.

'I am sorry to bear witness, that though his castings are a proof that he was an excellent workman, his mode of carrying on business with his employers stamps him to have been a most dishonest tradesman. This is proved by the following record taken from the early Chancery proceedings in the reign of Henry VI...' Details follow of the grievances of 'the pore parshenes  of Plymptre  in Devenshere' concerning the weight of metal for making bells agreed and paid for.
Rev H T Ellacombe, The Church Bells of Devon, Exeter 1872, p47

The National Archives holds a document Parishioners of Plymtree versus Forde, in which the defendants are John Forde of Plymtree and Robert Norton of Exeter, bellmaker. The subject is conspiring to defraud complainants as to the weight of certain bells supplied by Norton, Devon.
The date is 1433 - 1443, or more likely 1467 -1472
https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7446033 - accessed 16-12-2021

John Soper, the carpenter, and Roger Torryng, iron-worker, prepared the fittings for the bell.
Robert describes Robert Norton's mark: a bell with the initials R N either side, the whole surrounded by a rope.

Some months later Bishop Oldham came to anoint and name the bell. A piece of timber projected from the bell tower window, with pulleys and ropes attached; and by this means the bell was slowly raised. When it reached the window, balks of timber were slid underneath the rim, and the bell guided inside.

John Soper was paid iis ivd for sawing 200 feet of timber during 1482-82
Roger Torryng was paid for a hammer for the clock during 1479-80 
The Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, London, 1870, pp4, 3

An example of Robert Norton's mark can be seen on the Royal Albert Memorial Museum's website https://www.rammtimetrail.org.uk/Object/278/ - accessed 19-12-2021

Bishop Oldham was born circa 1452, and died in 1519
https://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/bishop/boldham.html - accessed 19-12-2021

Chapter 7
In the run up to Alice's wedding, she was instructed by her female relatives on household duties, manners, and recipes. One of the dishes she made was a sausage called Leche Lombard. Pork was put into a mortar with eggs, sugar, salt, raisins, currants, minced dates, pepper and powdered gilly-flower. Cooked in a bladder, it was then carved into slices. Large raisins ground in a mortar were then added to red wine, with milk of almonds. The mix was coloured with saunders [sandalwood] and saffron, and boiled with pepper and gilly-flower. Powdered cinnamon and ginger were flavoured with wine, and then sieved.

Hare in onions and coney in onions were other recipes.

For Pety panel marrow, ginger, egg yolks, minced dates and 'currant raisins' were mixed into a paste.
Payn puff was a similar dish but with a more tender (?) paste.

Gode Cookery describes Leche Lumbard as a striped almond meat loaf. A modern version of a 15th century recipe, found in MS Harley 5401, uses ground chicken or pork; blanched almonds; white wine; eggs; parsley; sandalwood or saffron.
http://www.godecookery.com/nboke/nboke58.html - accessed 20-12-2021

Payn puff or panne puffe appears to be a type of fritter. A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye uses stock, ale, yeast, suger, mace and saffron, heated and added to flour and egg yolk.
http://www.medievalcookery.com/search/display.html?prope:13 - accessed 20-12-2021

Remedies also featured in Alice's instructions, including 'Medicine to restore nature in a person.' Chickens were to be fed a mix of snails ('that bear houses'), wheat and bread, and then the patient was to eat the chickens roasted, as they felt disposed.

Viper broth was recommended if someone was very poorly, or a fine filing of gold in cordial waters

Ground wild tansey was laid on a wrang-nayle or corn.

The chicken food and the cure for a corn both come from Lambeth MS 306, leaf 65, back, col2
https://quod.lib.umich.edu/c/cme/ANT9912.0001.001/1:4.16?rgn=div2;view=fulltext - accessed 27-12-2021

Recipes for viper soup and viper broth can be found, although both are from the 18th century, at http://www.foodsofengland.co.uk/vipersoup.htm - accessed 27-12-2021

'Of the Taste and Vertue of Gold Medicines. Le Mort, in his Pharmacia Rationalis, gives the taste of the Tincture of Gold, and says it is a little Styptick, and afterward very Sweet; the Sweetness following the Vitriolick Taste.'
Sir John Floyer, The Touchstone of Medicines, vol II, 1687, p402,403

Should a cow be ill, rather than a human, 'Farmer Furze de Waye' had a remedy. Hairs had to be cut from the animal's tail and put between bread and butter; this was then fed to the first stray dog that came along. If the dog ate the bread, all would be well and the cow would recover, but if the dog refused the cow would die.

Hints for keeping your teeth white and breath fresh included washing your mouth well after eating; sleeping with your mouth slightly open; and rubbing your teeth with a linen cloth in the morning. However, should your teeth become loose and filthy, the following mouthwash could be used: half a glass of vinegar, plus half a glass of rosemary water and three glasses of fountain water; an ounce each of myrrhe, mastic, dragons herb, and roche allome, and half an ounce of cinnamon. This was to be boiled together with half a pound of honey, plus a little beng-wine (gum Benjamin - benzoin) for a quarter of an hour, before being put into a clean bottle.

AD 1551-2. John Furse ali John Waye was one of the wardens. 
The Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, London, 1870, p32

Tim O'Neill MA, answering a question on Quora, says that mouth washes in medieval times tended to be wine or vinegar-based, with herbs and spices steeped in these liquids. 
https://slate.com/human-interest/2015/04/dental-hygiene-did-people-in-the-middle-ages-have-bad-teeth.html - accessed 28-12-2021

Various recipes for teeth cleaning can be found at dentalcorp.com/blog/dental-hygiene-and-mouthwash-products-from-a-variety-of-medieval-and-renaissance-sources/ - accessed 28-12-2021

'Alice' was to have linen and new clothes to begin married life with, most of which, apart from the kersey, being made from materials imported from abroad, and brought up from Dartmouth by peddlers. The clothes were four new gowns: a russet kersey, a rose coloured camlet, a carnation silk and a sad satin. With care these gowns would last six years, after which, made up as kirtles, they could last another four years.

The description of Alice's gowns comes almost word for word from a work similar to Amery's in that it was comprised of historical facts woven into a fictitious story; allegedly the facts are from unpublished MSS.
'I am to have iiij new gowns - a russet kersey for every day, and the rose colour camlet that I did covet for a better, and a carnation silk guarded with black for high days, and a sad satin gown.'
Emily Sarah Holt, Isoult Barry of Wynscote, Her Diurnal Book; A Tale of Tudor Times, New York, 1872, p66. 

Kersey or carsie was a coarse woollen cloth, often used for making stockings. It was made in various places, including Devonshire in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Valerie Cumming, C W Cunnington, P E Cunnington, Dictionary of Fashion History, Oxford and New York, 2010, p253

A camlet, camelot or camblet, was a woven fabric, originally possibly made of camel's hair, later of goat's hair and silk, or wool and cotton.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913

In England 'sad' indicated a dark or sombre tone of a colour.
Robin Netherton, Gale R. Owen-Crocker, Medieval Clothing and Textiles, vol10, 2010, p41

Kirtles, usually worn over a chemise or smock, were loose gowns, reaching below the knee. A more formal garment was worn on top.
Medieval Britain, https://medievalbritain.com/type/medieval-life/clothing/medieval-dress/ - accessed 29-12-2021

Her father often travelled to Exeter in his role as attorney, and on his return from one of these visits he said that he had ordered three carved oak panels, to be made up as a linen chest - he thought John Soper or John Mayne could undertake the work.

After some time there was a delivery sent by Master Martyn, the wood carver of Cathedral Close. The panels featured designs based on the story of Abraham and Isaac, and pieces of wood forming the rest of the chest showed minstrels with various instuments. The carpenter was instructed to fasten the chest together with wooden pins, so that it could be transported in pieces to Alice's new home.

1515-16. Expenses iiiis iiiid to John Mayn beyond xli vs viiid paid to him before in part payment for xili for making the seats of the church, lixs iiid for timber-work for the church.
The Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from John H Butcher, Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1870, p16

 1557-8 Payments xs iiid to Martyn the carvyr for the Boxe upon the high aulter
ibid p37

Chapter 8
New Year's Day
'The next to this is New Yeare's Day, whereon to every friende,
They costly presents in do bring, and New Yeare's gifts do sende.
These gifts the husband gives his wife, the father eke the childe,
And maister on his men bestowes the like; with favour milde;
And good beginning of the yeare they wishe and wishe again,
According to the ancient guise of heathen people vaine.'
Barnabe Googe

Lady-day, the annunciation of the blessed Virgin, was the first day of 1510.
The two springs of water in Aysheperton were venerated as holy wells.
One was Ladwell, or Lady-well, at the bottom of St Lawrence Lane, dedicated to the Virgin; the other was Gulwell, 'in the corner of the vicar's glebe field', called after St Gudula, the patroness of the blind. A stone cross stood at each spring, and that is where the name Stone Park for the vicar's field originates.
Prospective brides would visit Lady-well early in the morning of Lady-day, and it was considered lucky to see the first rays of the sun reflected on its surface.
The well is large, and the water 'gushes up from the earth and flows away in a strong stream to join the old Yeo.'
The story went that once upon a time the tinners had poisoned the water of the Yeo with their streaming works. The people appealed to the Virgin, and on Lady-day a large spring of sweet water sprung out of the ground. This was what became Lady-well.

I can find no references to brides visiting any holy wells, or to the legend of water springing out of the ground at Lady-well.

See also Crosses and Holy wells, under Churches and Memorials

Seeing Alice and Old Dorothy heading towards Bloggis-hay-lane, Robert crossed Priggemead and hid behind some bushes near Lady-well. 'Many women and girls were kneeling in devotion around the cross on its six-sided base. After crossing themselves with a finger dipped in the water, they carefully filled small vessels to keep until the next year.

Robert then ran home to see who would be the first to cross the threshold of the front door.

New Year's presents were exchanged, including a pouncet box containg herbs and a bowed tester, or crooked sixpence, for luck.
Adam Williams, Alice's betrothed, sends her a cramp ring, touched by Queen Katherine.

A blog on Ireland's holy wells says that people usually drink the water; or pour a little over their heads 'or dip a finger in and cross yourself as a reminder of your own baptism'.
Adomnan, August 24th 2011, http://irelandsholywells.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-is-holy-well.html - accessed 04-01-2022

A pouncet box was a small box, with open work on the lid, containing perfume.
William Toone, A Glossary and Etymological Dictionary of Obsolete and Uncommon Words, London, 1834, p371

It used to be considered lucky for one to carry about a crooked sixpence on his person. 'So you must keep me by you for your crooked sixpence (to bring you good luck).' - George Eliot.
J M Dixon, Dictionary of Idiomatic Phrases, London, Edinburgh, New York, 1891, p76

The Science Museum Group says that cramp rings were used from 1308, in the reign of Edward III, up until 1558. They were typically made of gold or silver, and by touching them the monarch gave the rings the power to heal cramp and epilepsy.
 https://collection.sciencemuseumgroup.org.uk/objects/co106807/metal-cramp-ring-english-1308-1558-cramp-ring - accessed 04-01-2022
Left: Metal cramp ring, English, 1308-1558
With thanks to the Science Museum Group.

Alice's father told how the King's touch cured the Evil, saying that there was an authorised religious service for the occasion. 

The King's Evil was scrofula, a disfiguring and sometimes fatal disease where the lymphatic glands enlarged and degenerated.
Patients knelt before the king, who touched or stroked their necks, whilst a chaplain read an extract from the Gospel of Mark. Prayers and readings also accompanied the ceremony.
The order of service was in the Book of Common Prayer.
Andrew Taylor, The Monarch with the Magic Touch, Historia Magazine, 4th April 2019
https://www.historiamag.com/monarch-with-magic-touch/ - accessed 04-01-2022
Alice writes back to Adam.
'My right good lord, most knightly gentle knight,
Unto your grace in my most humble wise,
I me commend, as it is due and right,
Beseeching you at leisure to advise,
Upon this bill, and pardon my emprize,
That this rude bill shall put itself in press,
To see your lordship of its presumptuousness
Ere I myself; but yet ye shall not miss
To have my heart before my bill I wis,
Which I commit and all my whole service
Into your hands, demean it as you list,
Of it I care to have no more franchise
Than I heartless surely me wist
Saving only that it be as trist (trusty),
And to you true as ever was my heart, and plain
Till cruel death divide it upon twain.'

This verse can be found in:
A Ramsay, Paston Letters, Original Letters written during the Reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III, by Various Persons....., Vol II, London, 1841, p144

Chapter 9
The Chaplain of St Lawrence.

Robert now remembers the chaplain of St Lawrence Guild, Father Edward Hellyer, who died a few days after the casting of the tenor bell. As he lay dying he sent a message for the Prideaux children - Robert and Alice - to come for a blessing, and so they went with their father to the priest's dwelling in St Lawrence Lane. Father Hellyer was as white as a Rennes sheet.
The children's father became alarmed at Father Hellyer's 'raving', which was to start speaking of Jesus rather than the Virgin Mary. 'His mind is gone'.

That evening the passing knell was rung from the tower of St Lawrence, which only happened for members of the Guild.
His principal duty had been to sing masses for the souls of the departed, 'all had full confidence that he would get their departed relatives out of purgatory in the shortest possible time'. He 'had also endeavoured to teach us boys as much of the mass service as possible, in order that we might the more intelligently follow the priest at the celebration'.

Robert says that Father Hellyer taught boys the Paternoster, or Ave Maria - prayers to say at night for their parents, relatives and friends - in preference to another prayer often said at the time:
'Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless the bed I lie upon;
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels at its head;
One to watch, two to pray,
And one to bear my soul away;
God within and God without,
Sweet Jesus Christ all round about;
If I die before I wake,
I pray to God my soul to take'.

The best sheets were made of Rennes linen
webpage Old and Interesting http://www.oldandinteresting.com/medieval-renaissance-beds.aspx - accessed 08-01-2022

Presumably Father Hellyer's ravings are a reference to the move from Catholicism to Protestantism.

According to Opie and Opie, the first known record of the prayer in English is from Thomas Ady's A Candle in the Dark, or a Treatise Concerning the Nature of Witches and Witchcraft, 1656.
I Opie and P Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursey Rhymes, Oxford, 1951, pp 357 - 60

Robert's father says that Bishop Stapleton founded the Guild; he frequently resided at Aysheperton, at the Manor House in East Street, at the corner of Ave-head Lane. As well as procuring charters for fairs and markets from Edward II, he also got the market house built - ship builders were hired to construct it, which made the shambles resemble a ship upside down. Bishop Stapleton also had the chapel of St Lawrence built, and gave it to the Guild, on condition that they provided a chaplain to sing masses for his soul, and for the souls of all Bishops of Exeter.

See the page on St Lawrence Chapel under Ashburton Schools for more on Bishop Stapleton.

There is a persistent story that Bishop Stapleton had a manor house in Ashburton, but this is the first reference I have come across that says it was at the corner of Heavyhead Lane (now Woodland Road). Evidence??

A door in the tower led into the chapel, and at the eastern end was the high altar of St Lawrence, with a large picture of St Lawrence's passion hanging above. On either side of the nave were aisles, with small altars at the eastern end. Cloths, plates and banners were at these altars, where mass was said morning and evening for the dead. Whole families might join in the mass at the anniversaries of the deaths of burgesses, and the poor would arrive at the door on these occasions to receive alms.
'The lower part of the tower opened into the nave with a high arch which reached to the roof, and showed the handsome west tower window from the opposite end.'

Father Hellyer's body was removed from his house and placed on a bier in front of the high altar; tall candles were burning, with a group from Buckfast Abbey saying prayers for him until the funeral. On the morning of the funeral more monks arrived from Buckfast, and took the body back to the Abbey for burial in the cloisters. A silver cross was carried in front, and the townspeople and scholars followed behind. They went by the high road, going up Bowden Hill, as the Priests Ford was only a small path across the marshes. They passed Somerhyll, and passed by Shir-wood; at Black Rock the Ayshperton people stopped, and watched the procession descend to Dartbridge.
As the procession neared the Abbey more monks carrying banners and crosses, and led by the Abbot, came out through the western gateway to meet the cortege, as the bell began to ring from the low square tower of the Abbey Church.

The churchwarden's accounts of 1509-10 note that 4d was received for ringing after the death of Dan Edward Helyer, 'formerly monk of Buckfast.'
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton, 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay, 1970, p39

I think Amery has probably imagined what the funeral was like.

Was the road at Priestaford just a small path in the early 1500s? 

Celia Fiennes writes, in 1662, 'Thence [from Ashburton] I went for Plymouth 24 long miles, and here the Roades Contract and ye Lanes are exceeding narrow and so Cover'd up you Can see Little about....The wayes now become so difficult ye one Could scarcely pass by Each other, Even ye single  horses, and so Dirty in many places, and just a track for one horses feete, and the Banks on Either side so near.....I passed through severall little places and nover some stone Bridges. Ye waters are pretty broad soe these are 4 or 5 arches, most Bridges, all stone. The running of ye waters is with a huge Rushing......
Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle in the time of William and Mary, London 1888, p212
https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Through_England_on_a_Side_Saddle/YfQ-AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Celia+Fiennes&printsec=frontcover - accessed 16-01-2022

Benjamin Donn's map of 1765 clearly shows 'Priestover' on a road between Ashburton and Buckfastleigh, corresponding to the old A38 between the two towns, but this is 250 years later than the time Amery is describing.
See People and Properties 1700s

Chapter 10
The Wedding
Alice's wedding was drawing near, and Father Furneaux, the vicar, called the banns.
The Sub-Prior called on the family to say that the Abbot was offering to send a lay brother from the Abbey to help with the preparations for the feast.
Robert went to stay with his cousin Edmund whilst everyone was busy; Edmund was the son of Clerk John.

Master Williams brought Master Vyvyan along as his chief bride-knight: they stayed at Master Ford's. Mistress Ford was so taken with Master Vyvyan that eventually Master Ford beat her with a stick, and ordered her not to speak about him again.

The wedding party assembled in the south porch of the church, outside the wedding door, on Trinity Sunday, June 1st, 1510, the bridegroom wearing a favour of rose and green ribbons in his hat.

'Brideman. He who attends the bride and bridegroom at the nuptial ceremony; formerly called a bride-knight.
Samuel Johnson, additions Rev H J Tood, A Dictionary of the English Language, vol 1. London, 1818

 '[The law] does not carry the doctrine of conjugal unity to the extent of ignoring all physical injuries that a husband may inflict upon his wife. For such acts he may be criminally liable; and the law even aids her in prosecuting him for them.... But acts which would amount to an assault if committed against a stranger, may be legally innocent if committed by a husband against a wife....
...in James I's reign, in the case of Sir Thomas Seymor, who was in the habit of beating Lady Seymor, the judges expressed an opinion that a wife might have a remedy against her husband for "unreasonable correction." '
Courtney Stanhope Kenny, The History of the Law in England as to the Effects of Marriage on Property and on the Wife's Legal Capacity, London, 1879, p152ff

See St Andrew's Church, under Churches and Memorials, for uses of the south porch.

'Rag. Begar, it be for mine honer; me have lay out all my trepone in Ribbon, and give all de Troop my favour to wear in de Hat.'
John Lacy (Comedian), The Old Troop: or Monsieur Raggou, (A Comedy in 5 Acts) London, 1672, p26

The bridesmaids were dressed in favel-coloured dresses (a bright yellowish brown), with coloured ribbons in their hair; some carried garlands of flowers, and some bride-cakes.
The bride wore blue, and the bride-knights all wore the bride's favours and rosemary on their sleeves. Master Ford carried a silver bride cup of sweet wine and rosemary.

Above: Wedding 1369
Chroniques de Saint-Denis (1270-1380), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

'Robert's' account has similarities to an account by Thomas Deloney in the 16th century: 'The bride being attired in a gown of sheeps russet, and a kirtle of fine worsted, her hair attired with a billiment of gold and her hair as yellow as gold hanging down behind her, which was curiously combed and pleated, according to the manner in those days: she was led to the church between two sweet bays, with bride laces and rosemary tied about their silken sleeves. Then their was a fair bride-cup of silver and gilt earned before her, hung about with silk ribands of all colours: after her came all the chiefest maidens of the country, some bearing great bride-cakes, and some garlands of wheat, finely gilded....'
Thomas Deloney, The Pleasant History of John Winchcomb, London,1619, quoted in Reg Mitchell, Tho Quniey, gent: Shakespeare's son-in-law, Warwick, 2007, p46ff

Would the bridesmaids have had matching dresses?

It seems as though many couples merely wore their best clothes when they married. However, using evidence from London records, Shannon McSheffrey points out that nuptial clothes and ornaments for the woman were frequently cited as evidence for a marriage contract. Sometimes widowers gave their deceased wife's best clothes to their new wife: Christopher Moyne gave Margaret Broke a gown of violet cloth woven through with grey, saying that it was the wedding dress of his dead wife.
Shannon McSheffrey, Marriage, Sex and Civic Culture in Late Medieval London, Philadelphia, 2006, p40ff

According to the Smithsonian Magazine, wedding cakes in medieval times were more like buns. One early recipe for Bride's Pye consisted of cockscombs, lamb testicles, sweetbreads and oysters, with plenty of spices. Another recipe used calves' feet. Sugar was increasingly used by the mid 1500s.
Abigail Tucker, The Smithsonian Magazine, July 13th 2009.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-strange-history-of-the-wedding-cake-1-63011094/ - accessed 17-01-2022

George Monger says that wedding cake and bride cake were not interchangeable: at the Universal Cookery and food exhibition in London in 1888, wedding cakes were in a class of  large expensive creations, whilst 'two-guinea bride-cakes' were in a separate class.
George P Monger, Marriage Customs of the World, California, Colorado and Oxford, 2004, p49

Many websites state that blue was a popular colour for wedding dresses, with blue being associated with the Virgin Mary, and symbolic of loyalty and purity. I haven't found any contemporary references for this.

'Father then exhibited the wedding contract with Master Williams, Adam's father, declaring the dower he gave with his daughter.'

The vows were similar to modern day ones, after which the vicar took a gold ring from Adam and blessed it.

The University of Nottingham gives examples of marriage settlements, eg the settlement before the marriage of Francis Brodhurst and Anne Wright of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in December 1738. 
Ref PL E12/6/19/165/2/1-2
https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/manuscriptsandspecialcollections/researchguidance/deedsindepth/settlements/simple.aspx - accessed 19-01-2022

Diehl and Donnelly point out that the vows of Sir William Plumpton when he married in 1450 were similar to those of the present day. 
Daniel Diehl, Mark P Donnelly, Medieval Celebrations: Your Guide to Planning and Hosting Spectacular Feasts, 2nd edition Pennsylvania, 2011, p42

In 1549 the Book of Common Prayer instructed grooms to place the ring on the left hand from that point onward.
Blog The Medievals and Right Hand Ring Wearing, Modern Medievalism September 13th 2012.
http://modernmedievalism.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-medievals-and-right-hand-ring.html - accessed 19-01-2022

After the vicar proclaimed the couple man and wife he led them into the church, with everyone else following. They celebrated high mass at the altar, and then moved to the Lady Chapel, where the bride-cup was hallowed, and the bride-cakes broken into it. The cup was then passed around for everyone to drink from.

Beggars had assembled around the north porch, and alms were distributed as the party left the church.

The wedding party walked through the street to the bride's home - Alice entered the house under two drawn swords, arranged as a St Andrew's cross

I can find no references for breaking bride-cakes into the wine.

'There was an ancient superstition that for a bride to have good fortune it was necessary at her marriage that she should enter the house under two drawn swords placed in the manner of a St Andrew's cross.'
John Brand, William Carew Haslitt, Popular Antiquities of Great Britain, II Customs and Ceremonies, London 1870, p110

The wedding feast consisted of 5 courses.
First course. 
A boar's head and brawn at one end of the table, with a motto surrounding it: 'Welcome you brethren in this hall
Joy be unto you all,
That on this day is now full:
That worthy Lord who lay in an ox stalle,
Maynetayne your husbonde and you, and your guests all.'
At the other end of the table were birds, with custards shaped like a lamb, to denote meekness.
This motto was around it:
'I meekly am unto you am sent,
To dwell with you and ever be present.'
Also on the boards were frumenty potage, venison, swan and roasted pig.
Amery has taken the wedding feast from Ffor to Make a Feast for a Bryde, a section of Ffor to Serve a Lord, a work in English circa 1500. He has merged local details with the description of the feast.
Furnivall 1868: 349-60
The ffirst cours: brawne with the borys hed, lying in a felde, hegge about with a scriptur, saying on this wyse; 'Welcombe you brethren godely in this hall!
Joy be unto you all,
That en this day is now fall!
That worthy lorde that lay in an oxe stalle,
Maynetayne your husbonde and you, with your gystys, alle!'
Ffurmente with veneson, swanne, pigge.
Ffesaunte, with a grete custard, with a soltelte,
A lambe stondyng in scriptour, saying on this wyse:
'I mekely unto you, sovrayne, am sente,
To dwell with you, and ever be present.'

The subsequent courses follow Ffor to Make a Feast for a Bryde closely.
Second course
Venison in broth; a sweet, fruit-flavoured pancake called Viande Rial, roasted venison, crane and rabbit; also Alice's famous dish of Lombard sausage, in slices with a rich sauce. In the middle of the table was a device of a sitting antelope, with the following motto around it:
'Be all gladd and merie that sitteth at this messe.'

Third course
Cream of almonds with sweets and wild birds, minced and sliced veal, different fish fetched from Brixham, such as plaice and sole; salmon from the Dart, caught at the Abbey fishery at Killbury, sent by the Sub-Prior; also trout and eels from our fisheries in the old Yeo.
A light spogy [spongy?] cake shaped like an angel was in the middle of the table, with the motto, 'Thank all, God, of this feaste'.

Ashburton had links with Brixham, as shown by the story of William Gifford's life. 
See Famous Ashburtonians

The following possibly refers to Killbury, also spelled Kilbury and Kilberry: 
'The dean and chapter of Exeter to grant all the mills in their manor of Staverton, the suit of all the tenant there for repairing the same, the roads and paths leading to the said mills, land adjoining them, the right of taking timber for repairs, and their fishery in the Dart to the abbot and convent of Buckfast...'
8 Richard II - ie the eighth year of Richard II's reign, which began in 1377
List of Inquisitions Ad Quod Damnum preserved in the Public Record Office, Part II, New York, 1963, p685

Fourth course
Pyne puff, a highly flavoured spice pie; cheese and hot bread. Piled up in front of the bride and bridegroom were bride cakes, with the motto, 'God did decree, our unitie'.
The top layer of cakes was held over the heads of Adam and Alice, who kissed; then it was broken up and distributed to the guests, many of whom kept their piece 'to dream on'.
Alice then gave gifts, gloves, to the bride-knights.

On the custom of the bride-cakes being piled high for the groom and bride to kiss over them, (rather than under them), there is the following:
'Aubrey, in " The remains of Gentilisme and Judaisme" MS Landsd. Brit. Mus. 8v. Cat.No. 226, fol109b says: " When I was a little boy (before the Civil Wars), I have seen, according to the Custome then, the Bride and Bridegroome kisse over the Bride-cakes at the Table. It was about the latter end of Dinner; and the cakes were layd one upon another, like the picture of the Shew-Bread in old Bibles." '
John Brand, Sir Henry Ellis, vol III, London, 1842, Observations on Popular Antiquities, p32

'In the North, slices of the Bride-Cake are put through the wedding ring: they are afterwards laid under pillows, at night, to cause young persons to dream of their Lovers. Mr Douce's MS Notes say, this custom is not peculiar to the North of England, it seems to prevail generally.' 

'In ["Hesperides"] the Parson of Dean Prior [Robert Herrick] makes allusion to the distributing of gloves at weddings:
"What Posies for our Wedding Rings,
What Gloves we'll give and Ribanings" '
S William Beck, Gloves, Their Annals and Associations, London, 1883, p235

Fifth course
Brawn with mustard, umblys of deer, [entrails? Usually spelled umbles], roast swan and capons.
The drink was ale and cyder at the beginning of the meal, followed by French wines, then sweetened sack or aquavite, passed around in small silver cups with two handles.
There were dried fruits such as raisins, figs and dates, 'but the season was too early for ripe, fresh fruit, except a few strawberries from the gardens near Tarry-rock, which are very early'.

Kissen says that aquavite is essentially a flavoured alcohol, like gin, although using caraway rather than juniper berries. 
Benjamin Kissin, The Biology of Alcoholism, vol I, US, 2013, p604
Sack is a sweetish fortified wine, particularly in vogue in the 1500s and 1600s. It was imported from Spain or the Canary Islands. 
Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, The Oxford Companion to Wine, Oxford University Press, 2015, p635
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a British two-handled cup with cover, dated 1676/77. Originally made for use in a private home, it was possibly, says the museum, a loving cup to be passed around or displayed on a sideboard. Maybe a little larger that the ones Amery is thinking of?
Above: A silver two-handled cup, 24.3 x 34.3 x 22.5cm at the Metropolitan Museum of Art . Accession no.68.141.67a,b
Distributed as part of the Met's Open Access Program
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/204885 - accessed 24-01-2022

A maypole had been set up at Priggemead, and as soon as the vicar had said Latin (returned thanks), people started wandering towards the games. The first one was to catch a soaped pig; the second the game of 'barley-break' or 'last in hell', played by several couples. Goals were set up, and a couple had to run from goal to goal, with the others in pursuit. Once caught a person could not run with the same partner again - and when he or she ran out of partners was said to be in hell.
There was dancing, and the young men of the town were jealous of the attention that the local girls were giving to the the bridegroom and chief bride-knight. The newcomers were called 'idle courtiers', 'n'er do wells' 'painted butterflies' and 'popinjays' (parrots).

John Clare (1793-1864):
'And monstrous fun it makes to hunt the pig,
As soapt and larded through the crowd he flies:
Thus turn'd adrift he plays them many a rig;
A pig for catching is a wondrous prize.' 
John Clare, The Village Minstrel, and Other Poems, vol I, London,1821, p43

'Barley-break. A popular pastime of the reign of James I, allusions to which repeatedly occur in our old writers....[eg] Barley-breake, or a Warning to Wantons, W N Gent, 4to, London, 1607'
Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, vol IV, London, 1835, p466

'A philosopher who studies to invent a new system of philosophy, and passes his life in profound meditations; or a politician who applies himself wholly to the affiars of the republick, despises the useless life which an idle courtier, or a woman of the world, leads..'
Abbé Pierre de Villiers, Reflections of Men's Prejudices against Religion, London 1709, p93

The Merriam Webster dictionary says that the first known use of the term ne'er do well, meaning a good for nothing or slacker, was in 1736

'So we'll live, and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh at gilded butterflies'
King Lear, act 5, scene III
'I then, all smarting with my wounds being cold,
To be so pester'd with a popinjay,'
Henry IV, part I, act I, scene 3

After another feast for supper the hall was cleared for the cushion dance, which began with the bridegroom dancing around the room with a cushion.
Later games were hot cockles and blindhood wink.

Joan Sanderson, or the Cushion Dance, is an old round dance from a collection called 'Dancing Master'.
https://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/Images/Davies_Gilbert/joan_sanderson_or_the_cushion_da.htm - accessed 26-01-2022
For details of the dance see Elias Howe, American Dancing Master and Ball-Room Prompter, Boston 1866, p115

Hot Cockles
'A player kneels down before a lady, concealing his face in her lap, as for the crying of forfeits. He then places one hand, with the palm uppermost, on his back. The rest of the company advance in turns, each administering to the open hand a slap. The task of the kneeler is to discover (without looking) who it is has given the slap. Should he succeed, the detected player takes his place; if not, he continues to oocupy it himself, till such time as he shall make a more fortunate guess.'
Round Games for All Parties, London, 1854, p81

Blindhood wink.
Equals Hoodwink? According to Merriam Webster this was once a name for the game of blind man's bluff.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hoodwink - accessed 26-01-2022

The next day Master Williams and Alice left Aysheperton for Stowford, riding on horseback and with packhorses carrying the luggage and goods. Friends threw handfuls of corn on Alice for good luck, and the couple were soon out of sight, wending their way up Bowden Hill.

'In some parts of this county [Nottinghampshire] a custom exists at weddings to throw corn, and say "Bread for life, and pudding for ever." '
John Potter Briscoe, Nottinghampshire Facts and Fictions, Nottingham, 1876, p28

Bowden Hill would seem a reasonable route to get onto the moor and head towards Tavistock - Stowford is near Okehampton to the north.

Chapter 10
The Corpus Christi play.
On the eve of Corpus Christi Day 'The usual proclamation was made in the name of the Portreeve, that on the morrow no one should go armed, or in any way disturb the play, or hinder the procession, upon pain of forfeiture of his weapons, and imprisonment of his body.'
All craftsmen and others were instructed to take their places in the procession, upon pain of forty shillings, and all players should be ready with their parts at the appointed time. After the procession the usual plays of the Creation and Noah's Flood would take place in the parish church, followed by a new mystery of St Cristoffer. John Mayne had erected a stage: this consisted of three platforms, to represent heaven, earth and hell.
The procession assembled in the church on Corpus Christi morning, with the four churchwardens - Richard Emmett, John Luscombe, Thomas Matthew and Thomas Prideaux - each carrying a pole of the baldachino, or canopy, over the vicar, who carried the Host in a crystal pyx. The whole choir of priests and choristers chanted processional psalms and hymns as the trades and professions assembled in order, including the Guild of St Lawrence headed by the portreeve.

Text 61 York proclamation for the Corpus Christi plays, 1415 [My own version]
Oyez, etc. We command of the King's behalf and the mayor and the sheriffs of this city that no man go armed in this city with swords, nor with Carlisle axes, nor none other defences in disturbance of the King's peace and the play, or hindering of the procession of Corpore Christi....
Dennis Freeborn, From Old English to Standard English, A Course Book in Language Variation Across Time, Ottawa, 1998, p191

Mystery plays, organised and funded by merchants and craftmens' guilds, were short playlets designed to show the whole history of the universe, from God's creation of heaven and earth to the last judgement. They were performed by local people, on temporary stages, often outside.
See article by Hetta Elizabeth Howes, Medieval Drama and the Mystery Plays, British Library website, 31 January 2018
https://www.bl.uk/medieval-literature/articles/medieval-drama-and-the-mystery-plays - accessed 28-01-2022

Original scripts of mystery plays survive from 5 cities, with Chester having almost complete texts of 24 plays. The story of Noah and the Flood is one of the best known of the Chester plays

Richard Emmet, John Luscomb, Thomas Predeaux and Thomas Mathewe were the churchwardens in charge of the accounts in 1510-11
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton, 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay, 1970, p40

1521-22 'vis xid for linen cloth, embroidered, to be carried above the host on dfferent festivals, of Palm Sunday and Corpus Christi day.'
John H Butcher, he Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1870, p18

Amery imagines the procession making its way from the church and proceeding through the town, stopping at various altars that had been erected in front of houses. These altars consisted of a table covered with a white linen cloth on which were flowers and evergreens. On the table was a crucifix and candles in the household's best candlesticks. A mass was said at each altar.
After the procession has gone all around the town, it returned to the church.

The Arch Diocese of New York says that the first evidence of Eucharistic processions comes from Cologne, Germany, in the 1270s. By the 14th century the practice had been adopted throughout Europe. In cities and towns the processions would take place through the streets, but in rural communities the procession often went through fields, where four outdoor altars were often constructed.
https://archny.org/the-solemnity-of-corpus-christi-and-eucharistic-processions/ - accessed 28-01-2022
See a modern guide to the procession at Musings from a Catholic Bookstore https://blog.aquinasandmore.com/feast-of-corpus-christi/ - accessed 28-01-2022

Back in the church Robert describes the plays of Creation and Noah's Ark, beginning with God sitting on the highest stage to represent heaven. Pigeons, dogs, cats and other small animals represented the creation of the animal kingdom.
The lower stage was hell, with two jaws, called hell mouth, in the corner. The devil was dressed in a goat's skin and had a goat's face, plus hooves, a tail and enormous horns. He, and accompanyng fiends, appeared at intervals throughout the Noah's Ark play to interfer with the building of the ship.
Special effects of thunder, lightening, and burning brimstone were woven into the plays.
Finally, the new play of St Cristoffer was performed, in which a giant vows to only serve the most powerful master of the world. He serves first a king, then the devil, but seeing that the devil fears the symbol of the cross, he then searches for whoever the cross represents. He meets a hermit, who tells him to carry the first person who asks him over a river. Various fiends and devils try to thwart him, but eventually he carries, with difficulty, a small child through the water, and realises that this is the master he sought.

Alison Hanham says that Ashburton had its own players' clothes, which were sometimes hired out to other parishes. Colours were often bought for them, so they were probably brightly painted. The churchwardens' accounts show gold skins and sheep skins being bought, together with rattlebags for the devils who ran amongst the audience, wigs, staves, crests, devils' heads, and gloves for Herod, God and Christ. 
Alison Hanham, Churchwardens' Accounts of Ashburton, 1479 - 1580, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, Torquay, 1970, p xi

1516-17 'xxd for iiii ratilbagges and vysers, bought for the players at the festival of Corpus Christi.'
John H Butcher, he Parish of Ashburton in the 15th and 16th Centuries, as it Appears from Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1870, p17

Amery has got the story of St Christopher from R J King's book on St Anschar, a ninth century saint known as 'Th Apostle of the North'. Much of the wording is identical.
Richard John King, Anschar, A Story of the North, London, 1850, p286

'Robert' finishes his account, that spans 1509 to 1569, by saying that he has spent the winter writing, but the appearance of white violets show that now it is spring. His daughter, mistress Dolbeare, has visited his invalid son, who is sick. Three of Robert's sons have already died, and he speculates that if his last son dies he will be the last of the Prideaux name in the town.

Charles Worthy has a different idea of who Elizabeth Prideaux was and when she lived. Neither may be correct.

Charles Worthy says 'The name of Prideaux became extinct in Ashburton soon after the death of Thomas Prideaux, early in the seventeenth century....although he had four sons they all died without issue, consequently his daughter Elizabeth bought the house to her husband and fellow parishioner, Richard Dolbear of Dolbear'.
Charles Worthy, Ashburton and Its Neighbourhood, Ashburton, 1875, p40

With many thanks to David Sinclair, for providing me with a copy of this book