Friday, 26 October 2012


From The Devonshire Chronicle and Exeter News,  15th August 1835:


"This took place on Thursday last, the town of Starcross and the River Exe presenting a most animated appearance on the occasion.  The Regatta was under the distinguished patronage of the Earl of Devon, whose seat, Powderham Castle, is near the town but whose attendance on Parliamentary duties prevented his being present.   Lady Dantze was the Lady Patroness and S.T. Kekewich Esq. and Capt. Peard R.N., Stewards; and they were assisted by an active and zealous Committee, by whom the most judicious arrangements were made.

"The Public Breakfast took place at Southwold's Courteney Arms Inn,  and was admirably served to a large and fashionable assemblage, a band of music being stationed in an adjoining gallery and playing during this very elegant affair as well as throughout the afternoon.  The weather was delightful and with a fine breeze, and in front of the town and gaily dressed lay Lord Lisle's Yacht and the Transit, E.L.Kemp Esq."

The day seemed to have been a great success except perhaps for the Steward's Race which was "admirably contested" but during which "the Fanny came in contact with a Pilot Boat, and sunk, (sic) but the crew were saved."

How different Starcross must have been, before the railway came, when all the houses looked straight out onto the Estuary.   The dignity of a local Earl made this the most 'fashionable' regatta on the river with, clearly, many of the great men and women of the time wanting to be there.    Lady Dantze, whose husband was competing, was of a family that had prospered with the woollen trade and brought the mills to Ottery.  Samuel Trehawke Kekewich Esq had recently served as the conservative MP for Exeter and is famous in local history because, in 1826, four men ringing a chime of bells in his honour at Saint Michael's Church, Alphington were struck by lightning,  one of them killed.  Captain George Peard RN lived at Exminster and, as a lieutenant, had sailed with Sir Frederick Beechey's Expedition to the Pacific and the Arctic and had brought back artefacts now in the RAMM..

No doubt they all glittered in the August sunshine.  This was assuredly a very elegant and fashionable assembly!

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