Black Dog: How and Where did the name come from?

1945. In a large house at Exwick, were stored many old maps and documents removed from bomb damaged Exeter. These old, large scale maps could be borrowed for study.

The first map examined showed the inn marked as BLACK BOY. Paintings and drawings of those times have been seen of ladies in open carriages with black boys, wearing a red FEZ, attending as servants and 'spotty' dogs (Dalmatians, known as coach dogs) running at the back. How and where did they find these black boys? It is known that black slaves were sold at Liverpool and Bristol and that ships sailed from Plymouth for the West African coast with trade goods - tin pots, tools and cotton cloth - to buy slaves, taking them across the Atlantic to Barbados and Jamaica to work in the sugar cane plantations.

The second map showed the inn marked on the other side of the road (now a field) and named BLUE BOY. We find a stagecoach route through Sandford and up Tridley Foot Hill, where extra horses were attached to the coach to pull it up the hill and then to the inn, with a blacksmith's forge at the side. Further on, set into the road bank, on the right hand side, was a granite milestone with the lettering "B/STP 28M" carved on it. During recent years, this milestone was knocked over by a tractor or heavy vehicle and disappeared!

Then, on to what is now known as Lower Black Dog and a second blacksmith's forge. There, a change of horses would take place and the journey would continue to Barnstaple. The third map was dated 1807/8. This is the year that the emancipation of the slave trade took place and the inn's name was changed to BLACK DOG.

Pen and ink drawing of a stagecoach by Mrs J Wiltsher

Pen and ink drawings
By Mrs J. Wiltsher

Old map of Devon

A detail from an old map of Devonshire, from the artist's collection. Showing Black Dog village marked as 'Black Boy'

Pen and ink drawing of a stagecoach by Mrs J Wiltsher

Pen and ink drawings
By Mrs J. Wiltsher

Photo of St Mary's Church in Woolfardisworthy

St Mary's Church - Woolfardisworthy
A special place to the Brooks family
Robin's mother is buried here.

Photo of John F. Whitfield

The late John F. Whitfield
Author of 'Down Memory Lane and Other Tales', who moved to Tree Cottage, Black Dog and made superb model sailing yachts that were sold at Hamley's famous toy store, London.

Down Memory Lane and other Tales by Whitter

The above extract comes from a charming book by John F Whitfield 1905-1995 which was published by Cecily Whitfield in aid of St Mary's Church, Woolfardisworthy East, Devon. The proceeds from the sale of this book will be for St Mary's Church. The extract is produced with grateful acknowledgements to Mrs C Whitfield and Mrs J Wiltsher.

To order a copy, please send cheques to: -

Mrs C Whitfield, Tree Cottage, Black Dog, Crediton, Devon, EX17 4QA, United Kingdom. 01884 861222.

Please make cheques payable to Mrs C Whitfield
Price £5.00 including post and packing.

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