The following document gives a very good history of Lantern Hill the research and pictures have been supplied by Shaun Davey, one of surviving descendants of the original family that occupied the house (St Nicholas chapel) on Lantern (also known as Chapel) hill from around 1851.©shaun davey

The pictures show (1) the hill (2) The outer harbour from the bottom of the hill (3 - 5) the inner harbour
(6) The Pier Inn with the chapel in the background and (7) the outer harbour from the path to the chapel
lantern hill
The modern path to the chapel superceeded steep steps to the right of the Pier Inn---imagine having to climb to the top with everything needed to run the lighthouse and for a very large family--the Davies' had 13 children--when you visit you will realise just how tiny the house was for that number.
Briefly the history is that of a chapel, a lighthouse, a home and now a visitors centre.   Not to be missed when you visit us.
It's easy to find on the left of the car park at the end of the Quay. (the path to the left is less steep but longer than the one to the right)










JOHN DAVIE 1799 - 1870

Baptised in February 1799 in Holy Trinity Church, Ilfracombe, third son of George and Anne (Nance).
John married Elizabeth Marshall (1807-1890) at Holy Trinity in December 1826. In the Census Return of 1841 they were living in Water Street with eight children.
In 1850 John appears in White's 1850 Devon History and Gazetteer, and also in The Directory of Devonshire Lists for that year, as a lighthouse keeper.
In the Census of 1851, he and Elizabeth were registered as living in the Lantern Hill Lighthouse together with eleven of their children. In both censuses John is described as a mariner.
By 1861, however, the occupation of 'lighthouse keeper' had been added and now there were fifteen people living on the hill.
The Ilfracombe Parish Council Rate Return of November 1865 records John Davie as the occupier of Lantern Hill and shows that the property had a gross estimated rental of four pounds and ten shillings; a rateable value of three pounds; and the amount collected was one shilling and ten pence-halfpenny. 

move to next sectionGO TO LAST SECTION









The Lammas Guide of 1840 states that,
"The principal room of this building is opened during the summer months, for the accommodation of the public, as a reading room, supported by subscription; where the gentlemen amuse themselves by reading the newspaper, and the ladies by scribbling in a scrap-book kept for the purpose".
It seems unlikely that in 1840 the building was used as a dwelling. At the last meeting of the Ilfracombe Manorial Court on Saturday 11th December 1858, at which the Lord of the Manor of Ilfracombe, Sir Bouchier Wrey, bart. held the chair, the following was reported:
"....the gentlemen of the jury then proceeded to the lighthouse, and to the great credit of Mr. John Davie, the careful keeper of that important pharos, they found the lantern, reflectors and everything connected with the service in excellent order".
This meeting was recalled in the Ilfracombe Gazette and Observer on 17th December 1895 and continued: "The building is a very ancient one; was originally a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, and a place of pilgrimage - one bishop granting an indulgence of forty days to all who should visit the said capellum Sancti Nicholia. The mark of another superstition still remains on it; the horse-shoe, which our forefathers and foremothers believed would prevent the curse of the witch from taking effect, was there on Saturday, where they nailed it...."

move to next sectionGO TO LAST SECTION










The Ilfracombe Gazette
in 1910 carries an article about Lantern Hill which states 'Mr. John Davie went there to live with his wife having been appointed Lloyds agent in succession to a gentleman named Lovering.
Between 1827 and 1849 John and Elizabeth had thirteen children baptized - the first of these, Thomas, died aged eight months. We believe another baby must have died before baptism because after the birth of their last child, Matilda, the following announcement appeared in the North Devon Journal, dated 30th May 1849: "May 29th at St. Nicholas Chapel Lighthouse, Ilfracombe, the wife of Mr. John Davie, of a daughter, fourteenth child. Two of them in the churchyard lie, and two more are gone to sea, and ten of these olive plants are round about this table, with flattering prospects of an indefinite increase".
Elizabeth kept a record of her family's births, marriages and deaths in the family Bible (now in the possession of Ann Lloyd, of Barnstaple). She even noted the actual times of the births of her children. Some of the information was copied into a smaller Bible.

move to next sectionGO TO LAST SECTION








While the Davie family lived at Lantern Hill, Elizabeth started a laundry. The Census of 1851 tells us that Elizabeth's occupation was laundress together with her twin daughters, Mary and Martha. By 1861 Grace and Ellen had also joined in the work.
John Davie died in 1870, as recorded on the family gravestone at Holy Trinity Church.  
Elizabeth took over the role of lighthouse keeper, as recorded in the 1871 Census. 
Two daughters continued with the laundry - Ann Buckingham, widow and Ellen Turner (whose husband also resided there in 1871). However, by 1883 Ann and Ellen, together with their sister, Maria (who had married George Ley) had emigrated to Ohio. Daughters, Mary and Martha (with her husband, John Turner) were in Bristol in 1871 but returned to Ilfracombe by 1881. Two other daughters, Elizabeth (who married John Balley) and Matilda (who married William Summerwill) returned to live in Ilfracombe having moved to Newport and Okehampton, respectively.

move to next sectionGO TO LAST SECTION









Between 1828 and 1872 five of Elizabeth's children died, including Thomas who didn’t reach his first birthday; John and Thomas, both mariners who died abroad, of yellow fever; George who died in Bristol; and Grace Marshall Davie who had married William Crang in 1864, but died in London the same year. John and Elizabeth's only surviving son, Samuel Cornish Davie would shortly move away and he died in Newport, Monmouthshire in 1889. His widow, Louisa, wrote to Mary Davie in the 1890s .



The 1871 Census shows Elizabeth, widowed, at Lantern Hill, her occupation being lighthouse keeper. We think she left there shortly after when work started on the new pier.
In 1878 she appears in Harrod's Royal County Directory of Devonshire as a laundress living at 1, Strand. This is where she was in the 1881 Census with her daughters Mary (a laundress in 1891 who died unmarried in 1894) and Ann Buckingham. Elizabeth died in June 1890 aged 82 years and is buried in the family grave.
Her obituary states, "She was an affectionate mother, a sympathetic friend and one who was always ready to assist those who were in trouble."

move to next sectionGO TO LAST SECTION











LANTERN HILL  Ilfracombe

THOMAS 1827-1828

born 4th October 1827; died 28th May 1828

JOHN 1829-1853

born 19th March 1829; died 26th May 1853 of yellow fever on board ship, "Annie Fisher" at Bahia, Brazil

THOMAS 1831-1864

born 11th June 1831; married Mary Ann BAKER in 1854 in Newport; master mariner; three sons, one being Tom Davie the Town crier; died 18th Nov. 1864 of yellow fever in Georgetown, Demerara (now Guyana) whilst master of the "Ellen Sophia" out of Newport

MARY 1833-1894

born a twin 19th May 1833; laundress; died 18th October 1894

MARTHA 1833-1892

born a twin 19th May 1833; laundress; married John TURNER (licensed victualler); lived in Bristol in 1871; kept the Admiral Rodney pub in the 1880's; no known children; died 29th July 1892

ELIZABETH 1835-1893

born 17th July 1835; married Captain John BALLEY in 1859; had at least seven children; died 1893

SAMUEL 1837-1889

born 31st August 1837; married (i) Fanny ANDREWS in 1858 in Newport; living in Ilfracombe in 1871; married (ii) Louisa NEESHAM in 1874 in Oakham; had eight children; shipwright – worked for Messrs. Mordey & Carney, Newport; died 11th October 1889 in Newport

ANN 1839-(date of death unknown)

born 11th Feb.1839; laundress; married Henry BUCKINGHAM in 1861 in Newport; one daughter, Henrietta born 1862 (the lock of hair hanging from the model ship in the glass case is believed to have been Henrietta's, left as a keepsake when she emigrated to Bryan, Ohio with her husband, Frederick BALMOND and her widowed mother, Ann); lived in Philadelphia in 1920

GRACE 1841-1864

born 28th February 1841; laundress; married William CRANG (plasterer from London) in Jan. 1864; one daughter who died aged 11 months; died giving birth to her only child on Christmas Day 1864 in London

ELLEN 1843-1903

born 5th August 1843; laundress; married (i) Philip Henry TURNER in 1869; (ii) George H. CLOGG (farmer from Ilfracombe) in Strongsville, Ohio in 1879; no known children; died 5th August 1903 in Ohio

GEORGE 1845-1872

born 13th May 1845; shipwright; married (i) Harriet Tucker (1843-70) in 1866 then (ii) Ann Tucker (Harriet’s sister) inBristol in 1871; had one child who died in infancy; died September 1872 in Bristol.

MARIA 1847-(date of death unknown)

born 15th August 1847; married George LEY in March
1868; living in Swansea in 1871; had at least four children; living in Cuyahoga, Ohio in 1880

MATILDA 1849-1927

born 29th May 1849; laundress; married William   SUMMERWILL in 1867; six children; lived in Okehampton where William was manager of the gasworks until his death in 1879 when Matilda returned to Ilfracombe; died January 1927

The chart below shows the ancestors of Shaun Davey who kindly provided much of the information about Lantern Hill. It shows his heritage leading back to John Davie of Lantern Hill and his father. This line of descent has two direct routes, because in 1887 his great grandfather, Thomas Davie married his cousin, Eveline Matilda Davie, both of whom were directly descended from George Davie (see family tree below).


/                                                                \

                 GEORGE DAVIE                                        JOHN DAVIE (of Lantern Hill)  
1795-1881                                                      1799-1870

/                                                                       \

GEORGE DAVIE                                                THOMAS DAVIE
1817-1888                                                             1831-1864

/                                                                      \

JOHN DAVIE                                                   THOMAS DAVIE
1846-1889                                                              1861-1935
                                                 / married his cousin 1887







b. 1956

©The above reproduced by kind permission of Shaun Davey©



all pages protected and legal action will be taken against anyone breaching my copyright

pj milton banner