Every three years bishops performed a ‘Visitation’— a tour of their diocese to gather information about each parish. This took months of planning. Usually a number of venues were selected in each diocese to which clergy and churchwardens journeyed to present their information. To help this process it became common practice for clergy to respond to a number of printed questions ahead of the meeting. There written responses are known a visitation returns.

The returns for Lapford for the years 1744 and 1779 below. Amongst the information is mention that

  • Pennycott Farm once had a chapel in addition to the chapel that still stands at Bury Barton.
  • In 1744 the rector was required to reside at Nymet Rowland Rectory as it was more centrally located for Lapford and Nymet Rowland parishes, but by 1779 he was again residing at Parsonage House, Lapford.
  • The only formal help for the poor came from the Arundel Charity . This had been set up in 1627 and funded from the Rudge Arundel farmlands just across the River Dalch near Bugford. Although this land was outside of the parish it formed part of the Lapford church glebe lands. It was intended that a list of poor be drawn up each year and 20s distributed among them with a minimum of 6d each. Annual Charity Commissioners Reports indicates that, Rev Radford had stopped making the payments on an annual basis by the 1820s, “the poor of the parish being too numerous” for the size of the fund.
  • The village had 170 communicants (1744) and about a hundred families’ (1779). Of those who could take communion only 12-15% did so regularly with less than 20% at Easter. There were no other churches or chapels in the village at the time so the low number may be related to the rural nature of the parish and a general distrust in the church authorities at the time When Rev Radford’s son, ‘Parson Jack’, took over as rector the number of regular worshippers decreased to a small handful on account of his infamous ruffian behaviour and regular absence. The number of ‘dissenters’ in the village increased rapidly.

Transcription below by Simon Dixon
©Friends of Devon’s Archives
http://www.foda.org.uk/visitations/intro/introduction1.htm


1744

Lapford, Deanery of Chumleigh
Chanter 225B, 758-759

Population and dissenters
I have in my Parish about eighty Families. No Dissenters, nor Meeting-house.

Public or charity schools
We have no Publick or Charity School in our Parish. The Clark of late has taught a few Children to read, whom he likewise instructs in the Church Catechism.

Alms-house, hospital or charitable endowment
There is in our Parish no Alms-house, Hospital or other charitable Endowment; except that Alexander Arundle formerly Rector and Patron of this Parish, gave to the Poor, not having constant
Pay, twenty Shillings a Year to be forever paid out of an Estate in Morchard Bishop called Rudge Arundle to be distributed by the Minister and Church-warden, which is constantly done every Year.

Residence upon cure
I reside on my Parsonage of Nimet Rowland, which is but one Mile distant from the Church of Lapford, and nearer to a great Part of Lapford than their own Parsonage House; As was certified to the last Bishop, who order’d me to reside There for the more convenient Serving of both Parishes.

Curate
I have no Curate, but Serve both This and Nimet Rowland myself, as I was permitted to do by the last Bishop: Who also, in Consideration of ye Smallness of the Benefice, gave me Liberty to hold Nimet Rowland without a Dispensation from the Arch Bishop. And I shall humbly presume to wait on your
Lordship, Soon after your Visitation, to request the Continuance of the Same Favour.

Divine service at other churches
At Nimet Rowland; for the Reason above mentioned.

Frequency of divine service
On Christmas Day and the 3 days following; Ash-Wednesday; Good-Friday; Monday and Tuesday in Easter and Whitsun-Week; 29th May, 11th June and 5th November.

Once a Month I perform Divine Service in ye Morning at Nimet Rowland, When there is no Service here in the Forenoon. On other Sundays I read Prayers and preach here. Morning and Afternoon, during the Summer. In the Winter I only read Prayers in the Afternoon.

Frequency of communion
The First Sunday in every Month.

Number of communicants
About one Hundred and Seventy: of whom about Twenty or Twenty five usually receive. At Easter last as near as I can recollect I had Thirty Communicants.

Catechising of children
I begin to Catechize in Lent, and continue Catechizing 2 or 3 Families every Sunday ‘till all have been before me; And in case Any omit Coming when called, I insist on your Coming ye Sunday following. The Parishioners generally Send their Children to be Catechized upon the first Notice.

Chapels or chapels in ruins
There are in our Parish two old Chapels, both in Ruins: One belonging to an Estate called Bury: the other on an Estate call’d Pennicot. Not one remembers Divine Service perform’d in either of them Nor can I learn whether they were ever consecrated.

Lapford R.— William Radford A.B.
inst. Mar. 2. 1737. Presb. Sept. 24. 1732.
Stephan. Exon.

1779

Lapford, Deanery of Chumleigh
Chanter 232A, 9

Residence, curate and lecturer
I do reside personally on my Cure & in the Parsonage House.

Other benefices
I have no more Benefices than one.

Divine service at other churches
I perform Divine Service at the Church of Nymet Rowland besides my own.

Frequency of divine service
Divine Service is perform’d twice in my Church Forenoon & Afternoon on the Lords Day with a Sermon Three Sundays in the month. The other Sunday in the Afternoon when There is a Sermon at Nymet Rowland in the Forenoon.

Frequency of communion
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is administred Eight times in the year. The Number of Communicants generally about Forty.

Catechising of children
Between Whitsunday & Michaelmas.

Church fabric
My Church & Chancel are in good Repair. Churchyard is well kept & we have all Things decent for Divine Service.

Glebe terrier
We have a Terrier of the Glebe Lands Houses & c.

Number of families
About one hundred Families.

Chapels
We have no Chapel within our Parish.

Papists, dissenters and meeting house
We have no Papists – no meeting houses for Dissenting Congregations.

School, alms-houses, hospital and charitable endowment
None.

Charity
Alexander Arundel formerly Rector & Patron of this Parish gave twenty Shillings to be paid annually, out of an Estate call’d Rudge Arundel in Morchard Bishop to such poor people as have no relief from this Parish on the first Sunday after the Sixth of October which Benefaction is duly applied.

Priest’s orders and institution
I was admitted to the order of the Priesthood the 24th of June & receivd Institution the 25th of June one Thousand Seven hundred & Sixty Four.

A Letter directed to me at Lapford near Exeter is the most speedy way of conveyance.