The Churchward One-Name Study


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Sign.jpgThe ancient village of Staverton is situated in the South Hams area of Devon, 3 miles from Totnes and 7 miles from Torbay.  It lies on the banks of the beautiful river Dart.  In 1088 the Domesday Book records the manor of Staverton being worth £7 a year.
IMG_0038.JPGThe name Staverton, or Stouretona, means “the village by the stony ford”.  The ford mentioned was an ancient river crossing providing a route from the village to Dartington, although it was eventually replaced in 1356 by one of the oldest stone river bridges in Devon.
In earlier times Staverton provided employment for many in the Penn Recca Slate quarries, which were recorded as early as 1338, but which eventually closed in 1908.  The quarry provided slates for many famous buildings.
The village was also put on the map by the opening of the railways in the mid 19th. Century.  It was originally a broad gauge line, converted to standard gauge in 1892.  Although the line was officially closed in 1962, the line was partially re-opened in 1968 by enthusiasts of The Great Western Society, and today Staverton station is once again open during the tourist season, being the intermediate stop on the Buckfastleigh to Totnes line run by the South Devon Railway.
Today the population of Staverton is perhaps only 600 to 700, but in the mid 18th. Century it was reputed to have been as high as 2,000, when the slate quarries were in full production.


IMG_0024.JPGStaverton Church as we see it today,  is the result of the 1877 Victorian restoration of a 14th. Century stone-built church, which in turn was the third church to have been built on that site.   The church is dedicated to St. Paul de Leon who, legend has it, in Saxon times landed at Penzance and then sailed along the coast of Devon and Cornwall.  Upon reaching the River Dart he sailed up river until he reached the ford at Staverton, and decided that that was where he wanted to build his church.                                                                                                                                                     
IMG_0013.JPGInside the church there is a magnificent carved wooden rood screen, IMG_0014.JPG                                   



and a font (here shown decorated for Easter), which would have seen quite a few Churchwards being baptised in the 19th Century.  




The Churchward Families.

The Staverton parish registers date back to 1614, but the earliest reference to a Churchward was on January 6th. 1687 when a John Churchwood (sic) married a Margaret Holman of Buckfastleigh.  A son John was later baptised in 1689, but there are no further references to them in Staverton after that – although their later events may well have been recorded in the Buckfastleigh registers. Three children were baptised between 1751 and 1755 -  two daughters and a son of Thomas Churchwood (sic), although again there was no mention of the family before or after those dates.  Then on May 20th. 1761 Thomas Churchward, a widower from Paignton, married Sarah Trist, a spinster of the parish of Staverton.  They then had 5 children, but they were all baptised in Paignton.
Finally, on April 10th. 1808 we have the marriage in Staverton of a James Churchward (bachelor of this parish) and a Mary Crute (spinster of this parish). James, Mary and their children are the dstart of this family group, although it is almost certain that James origoinated in Buckfastleigh.


Details of the descendants of James and Mary Churchward will be added to this website at a later date.