St Giles in the Wood
Lyson, Magna Brittanica, 1822
ST GILES, or STOW St. Giles, commonly called St. Giles in the Wood, in the hundred of Fremington and in the deanery of Torrington, lies about two miles and a half from Torrington. The villages of Kingscot, High Bullen and Healand are in the parish.
The manor of Stevenston, or Stephenston, in this parish, was conveyed by Michael de St. Stephen, in the reign of King John, to Richard Basset. Elias his son alienated it to John de la Lay, whose son John took the name of Stephenston: the heiress of this family after three descents married Grant: a co-heiress of Grant brought this estate to Moyle: Sir Walter Moyle possessed it in the reign of Henry VI. In the reign of Henry VIII it was purchased of the Moyles by George Rolle, Esq., ancestor of the Right Honourable Lord Rolle, who is the present proprietor. Stevenstone House which is one of the seats of Lord Rolle1, was taken by Sir Thomas Fairfax on 16th February, 1646, he being then on his march to the attack of Torrington: after the successful issue of that attack, he retired to Stevenstone on the 19th.2 There is a deer park at Stevenstone, in which are some red deer.
Way, in this parish, was anciently the property of the De la Ways, of whom it was purchased by Pollard. In Risdon's time it belonged to Mr. Lewis Wellington: it is now the property of Rev. Peter Wellington-Furse of Torrington and Halsdon, in the parish of Dolton, whose father married the daughter of Peter Wellington, Esq., the last of the family.3
Winscot, in St. Giles, belonged in the reign of King John to the family of De Winscot, whose heiress, in the reign of Richard II, brought it to Barry. The heiress of this branch of Barry bequeathed Winscot to her half-brother, Tristram Risdon, the antiquary.4 After the extinction of the Risdon family5, this barton passed by heirs female to Lovett and Northcote, Sir Stafford Northcote, Bart., being the present proprietor. Winscot is now a farmhouse. Doddescott was, in the reign of Henry III, the property and residence of Sir Thomas Howard. The co-heiresses of this family, in the reign of Edward III, married Denband, Molton, Prudhome and Sore. This manor is now the property of Lord Rolle, who is possessed also of the manor of Moore. His ancestor, Sir John Rolle, died seised of these estates in 1706.
In the parish church is the monument of Thomas Chafe, Esq.6, of Chafecombe, in Somersetshire, 1605 (with his effigies); and memorials of the families of Pollard7, Risdon8, Rolle9, Wellington10, and Hole.11
The church of St. Giles was originally built in 1309, as a chapel to Torrington, with the consent of Sir Richard Merton, patron of Torrington, and Walter Stapledon, bishop of Exeter. It is now a separate parish called Stow St. Giles. The dean and chapter of Christ Church College, in Oxford, are impropriators to the tithes, and patrons of the benefice. Saint Giles is a daughter church to Great Torrington.
There is an almshouse in this parish for four poor widows, founded by one of the Rolle family, and endowed with an annuity of £1 5s for each widow. The pensioners are appointed by Lord Rolle.
1 In his patent of creation he is styled Lord Rolle, Baron of Stevenston.