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Under Minnow Road

Under Minnow Road /media/flashcomm?action=mediaview&context=normal&id=230

This photograph is view of Under Minnow Road, Pilton, likely to be around 1900. The area now associated with the name ‘Under Minnow Road’ bears this name as a result of a mistake made in the twentieth century when zeal for erecting new road signs where none had existed before resulted in the mis-reading of ‘Under Winnow’ for ‘Under Minnow’, which has remained. As it happens, ‘Under Winnow’ is an even earlier mistake, as the original name was ‘Under Wynard’ or just ‘Wynard’, which means it was probably the site of a vineyard at some time in the distant past. Here is the evidence for these changes:

[1] The Lay Subsidy Rolls, which were tax returns commencing in the 12th century, were based on the value of personal goods rather than landed property. The returns of 1332 have been printed, and the following appears among 64 names in the parish of Pilton, grouped into four sections, Pilton, Pilland, Bradiford and Raleigh.

Bradiford – Roger Underwynard assessed at 8d; Alice Underwynard assessed twice, at 8d and 10d, suggesting that she had goods at two locations. [‘The Devonshire Lay Subsidy of 1332’ edited by Audrey M Erskine, published by Devon & Cornwall Record Society, 1969]

[2] A collection of 51 deeds described as ‘Bellaire & Broadgate House, Pilton’ are recorded on as being available to view at the North Devon Record Office, with the catalogue available on line within that website. These deeds date from 1796 to 1996, and make reference in several instances to ‘property at Weynard or ‘Under Weynard’, and in one deed to ‘Under Windsor’. This last name is reflected in the terrace of houses, the public house and the name of a road on a 1960s estate at Bradiford, all bearing the name ‘Windsor’, so this area just west of Bellaire is perhaps also yet another corruption of the name ‘Wynard’.

[3] It seems that the name ‘Wynard’ or ‘Underwynard’ also applied to the house known as No:1 Bellaire, which still bears the house name ‘Wynards’ on the wall by the front door. Here is an extract from the title deeds of this property:

[a] All that dwelling house and pound house [apple pound] formerly a barn with the appurtenances, and also all that orchard and garden thereto adjoining and belonging, together with the waste or soil pool situated at Weynard or Under Weynard within the fee or tithing of Bradiford in the parish of Pilton in the County of Devon, now or commonly called or known by the name of Harford’s Tenement.’ [19th century deeds of No:1 Bellaire]

[4] Having lived in Pilton for over fifty years, most of them in Bradiford, Margaret Reed is aware that the route to Pilton and Barnstaple now known as Under Minnow Road, has always been referred to by the older families of the district as ‘the Under Road’. The photograph shown with this item clearly shows a route which is bounded on the left by a substantial stone wall holding back a high bank covered in trees and long-established vegetation – the road is definitely ‘under’ this ancient property boundary. When we look at the map of this area in conjunction with the description of the properties as described above in the North Devon Record Office, it is clear that most of them are either contained between the two roads called today Bellaire and Under Minnow Road, or on bordering land to the north of Bellaire – in short, lands collectively called Wynard , Underwynard or versions of the same. Clearly the evidence is that these place names have been in use here for at least 700 years, and probably for much longer, while ‘Under Minnow Road’ is just a very recent misnomer.

Thanks to Margaret Reed for this excellent explanation.

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