Moor Hayes

"Moorhayes Farm", remnant of the ancient mansion house of the Moore family, viewed in 2017
"Moorhayes Farm", house-sign, viewed in 2017
Entrance porch of Moorhayes Farm, viewed in 2017. Reset medieval arch probably taken from the chapel formerly attached to the house[1]
Arms of Moore of Moore Hays: Ermine, on a chevron azure three cinquefoils or[2]
Stained glass fragments showing canopy-work, circa 1500, probably from former chapel at Moor Hayes, today reset in a window on the staircase landing of Moorhayes Farm[1]

Moor Hays (alias Moore Hays, Moorhays, Moorhayes, etc.[3][4]) is a historic estate in the parish of Cullompton in Devon, England.[5] It is stated incorrectly to be in the nearby parish of Burlescombe in Tristram Risdon's Survey of Devon.[6] The estate is not to be confused with Moor Hayes in the parish of Washfield, about 3 miles north-west of Tiverton, another ancient farmstead, which since 2005 has been the site of a large housing estate named "Moorhayes".

Descent of the manor[]

For many centuries the manor was the seat of the prominent Moore (alias Moor) family.[7] John Moore was Recorder of Exeter in 1434, and thus the arms of Moore of Moor Hayes are amongst the many shields displayed in the Exeter Guildhall.[8] This appears to be the John Moore shown in the Heraldic Visitations as the husband of Elizabeth Botour, daughter and heiress of Henry Botour of Exeter.[9] According to the Devon historian Tristram Risdon (d.1640), King Henry VIII (1509-1547) sold the manor of Aller to "Mr Moore of Cullumpton",[10] thus either to Humphrie Moore (d.1537) or to his son Sir John Moore of Moor Hayes, who was knighted at the Palace of Westminster by King Edward VI in 1549.[11] Sir John Moore married Katherine Pomeroy, a daughter of Sir Thomas Pomeroy (1503-1566), feudal baron of Berry Pomeroy in Devon.

The Devon historian Sir William Pole (d.1635) was lord of the manor of Aller[12] and was thus well acquainted with the Moore family of Moor Hayes, whose pedigree he sets out in some detail in his work.[13]

Junior members of the family[]

Richard More (d.1516) was a younger son of John Moore of Moor Hayes (d.1509/10) by his wife Elizabeth Clivedon, a daughter and co-heiress of John Clivedon of Willand. Richard Moore was Archdeacon of Exeter and became Treasurer of Exeter Cathedral, where his monument survives.[14]

Rev. John Moore (c.1595–1657), a clergyman of Puritan views and an author of pamphlets against enclosures, was a younger son of Sir John Moore of Moor Hayes, (kt 1549), by his wife Katherine Pomeroy.

John Moore (1646–1714), Bishop of Norwich and Bishop of Ely was a member of a junior branch of the family and the grandson of Rev. John Moore.

Moorehayes Chapel, Cullompton Church[]

Parclose screen of the Moorhayes Chapel, east end of north aisle of Cullompton Church. South side, viewed from the chancel

The armorials of Moore of Moore Hayes survive on sixteen relief-sculpted wooden heraldic shields circa 1530, each supported by two four-winged angels, atop an intricately carved wooden parclose screen in the "Moorehayes Chapel" (alias "Moore's Chantry", "Moore's Aisle") occupying the east end of the north aisle of St Andrew's Church, Cullompton. The screen separates the Moorehayes Chapel from the chancel. The sixteen shields are eight shields duplicated in identical order on the internal and external sides of the screen. The lord of the manor is generally permitted to build a manorial pew or manorial chapel within the parish church. They show the following arms, left to right:[15]

On the floor of the Moore Chapel are numerous floor slabs, described in Cresswell, Beatrix F., Notes on Devon Churches in the Deanery of Cullompton, 1920. The far grander chapel in Cullompton Church was the South Aisle Chapel, built by the wealthy clothier John Lane (d.1529). There was a dispute concerning this between his widow and the Moore family which resulted in a law suit heard by the Star Chamber, the record of which is held at the National Archives at Kew, summarised as follows:[32]

"Plaintiff: Thomasyne late wife of John Lane, of Cullompton; Defendant: Humphrey More, John More, Christopher More, and John Smyth. Place or subject: Forcible entry into a chapel built by plaintiff's late husband adjoining to the parish church".

Lands and house[]

Large relief-sculpted stone tablet displaying the royal arms of one of the Tudor monarchs (1485-1603) with other heraldic elements, formerly at Moor Hayes, now displayed in Tiverton Museum (item TIVMS: 1977.727)

The estate covered much of the unusually flat low ground of the basin of the River Culm, between various hilly regions of Devon. The former mansion house is today represented by Higher Moorhayes Farm,[33] situated about 4 miles north-east of the town of Cullompton, from which it is separated by the River Culm, and 6 miles south-east of the town of Tiverton, and by Lower Moorhayes, situated about 2 miles north-east of the town of Cullompton.

Higher Moorhayes Farm is a grade II listed building, possibly incorporating a 15th century core structure, extensively remodelled in the 19th century. It incorporates fragments of a medieval chapel, which identifies it as the residence of a family of high social status. The earliest surviving dateable feature is of the late 16th century. It is essentially a three-room "cross-passage" house, with the original great hall on the higher side to the right of the screens passage, originally with a fireplace at the higher end. The entrance porch retains a (worn-away) sculpted heraldic shield in the apex, with a reset medieval arch probably taken from the chapel. In the lower end room survives a fireplace with a decorative plaster overmantel displaying festoons and a central lion's head which could be late 16th century, now heavily painted. In the stairwell window survive fragments of late 15th or early 16th century painted glass canopy work, probably from the chapel. The gateway to the garden incorporates re-used medieval material including piers and finials with a lintel with composite roll and concave moulding.[1]

A large sculpted stone tablet displaying the royal arms of one of the Tudor monarchs (1485-1603) with other heraldic elements, formerly at Moor Hayes, is now displayed in Tiverton Museum (item TIVMS: 1977.727).[34]

The M5 Motorway was built (1967–77) near the western boundary of the ancient estate.

Further reading[]


  1. ^ a b c "Higher Moorhayes Farmhouse Including Front Garden Wall, Cullompton". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  2. ^ Vivien p.572
  3. ^ Pole, p.186: "Moorehays"
  4. ^ Risdon, p.85: "Moorhayes"
  5. ^ Pole p.186
  6. ^ Risdon p.85
  7. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., p.572, pedigree of "Moore of Moorhays"
  8. ^ Colby, Rev. Frederick T., The Heraldry of Exeter, p.245, no.4[1]
  9. ^ Vivian, p.572
  10. ^ Risdon, p.86
  11. ^ Vivian, p.573
  12. ^ Risdon p.86
  13. ^ Pole, pp.186-7
  14. ^ Vivian, p.572, "MI" (Monumental Inscription (?))
  15. ^ An illustrated key with drawings (c.19th century) is displayed within the chapel; "impales the arms of Gambon, Boton, Cleivdon and Prous of Hillersdon" (sic), quoted from: Kellway Family Misc. – Vol.24, p. 195, Headed: Devon Church – Cullompton. West Country Studies Library, Exeter. Quoted in [2] Archived 2011-10-11 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Estimated date, as he occupied the fourth generation before Richard Moore (d.1516), Archdeacon of Exeter
  17. ^ Vivian, p.572
  18. ^ Vivian, p.572
  19. ^ Burke's General Armory, 1884
  20. ^ Vivian, p.572; The senior line of Cliveden was seated at Clevedon, North Somerset (Collinson, Rev. John, History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset, Vol.1, Bath, 1791, pp.222-3[3]). Another line was seated at Aller in Somerset ("The Cliveden Family," by Sir John Maclean, Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society, XXVII:17; X LI:36)
  21. ^ Pole, p.187
  22. ^ Pole, p.199
  23. ^ Martin, per 1623 Heraldic Visitations of Somerset, (1876), pp.106-7, for the marriage of Sir Mathew Stawell (alias Stowell) to Elinor Martyn, daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Martyn (no dates given); commonly quartered by Stowell, for example on the late 14th century chest-tomb with effigies of Sir Matthew Stawell and his wife, in the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Cothelstone, Somerset (see File:SirMatthewStawell Late14thC CothelstoneChurch Somerset.jpg)
  24. ^ Sikilar to Amadas of Plymouth, Devon, which bore: Azure, a chevron ermine between three oaken slips acorned proper (Vivian, p.12, where the pedigree starts with William Amadas, a serjeant-at-arms to King Henry VIII (1509-1547)
  25. ^ Prince, John, (1643–1723) The Worthies of Devon, 1810 ion, London, p.555, biography of Kirkham, Sir John, Kt
  26. ^ Prince, p.554; Vivian, p.516, pedigree of Kirkham; not mentioned in the Moore pedigree, p.572. By the dates of her husband, she was possibly another daughter of John Moore and Elizabeth Cliveden. These arms are sometimes erroneously given as Prouse, for example on the illustrated key with drawings displayed within the Moorhayes Chapel (Sable, three lions rampant argent), thus ignoring the plainly apparent bordure engrailed. No marriage between the Moore and Prouse families is known of
  27. ^ Prince, p.554
  28. ^ Vivian, p.516
  29. ^
  30. ^ Vivian, p.572
  31. ^ Vivian, p.738; Pole gives the blazon as: Argent, a bridge gules arched with a flag on the top (Pole, p.505)
  32. ^ National Archives at Kew: STAC - Records of the Court of Star Chamber and of other courts, ref: STAC 2/25/142, Date: 22/04/1509-28/01/1547 [4]
  33. ^ For location see map in Listed building text "Higher Moorhayes Farmhouse Including Front Garden Wall, Cullompton"[5]
  34. ^ Tiverton Museum TIVMS : 1977.727; Catalogue entry: "Identification: Insignia; coat of arms, stone; carved stone Tudor royal coat-of-arms; thistle and shamrock over lion on left, Tudor rose over Welsh dragon on right, central crown over motto national government. Production: Tudor. Association: Moorhayes, Cullompton, Devon. Description: material: stone; colour: cream; condition: good; completeness: complete; h x w 1000mm x 1000mm (approx); carved below crown: Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense" (Compare File:WLA vanda Water Cistern Tile bearing the arms of Henry VII and his wife.jpg)