History

tree-inn-historyThe history of the Tree Inn is inevitably bound up with the history of Stratton itself as told in the well researched book “Stratton Past & Present” by Bill Young and Bryan Dudley Stamp.

The manor of Stratton is mentioned in the Domesday Book but its origins precede Norman times as an ancient market town on the westward route to Cornwall. The Parish Church of Saint Andrew is the oldest building in Stratton with the Manor House (Tree Inn) certainly the next oldest. King John in 1207 granted a charter for three fairs to be held annually in Stratton and it remained as the most important town in North Cornwall for some seven hundred years.

 

tree-inn-cornwallThe best documented event in the history of Stratton and The Tree is the battle of Stamford Hill 16th May 1643. The Parliamentarians under the Earl of Stamford were camped in and around Stratton with 5400 foot soldiers and 200 horsemen having arrived from Exeter to cut off the Royalist army under Sir Ralph Hopton and prevent their march north. It is logical to assume that the Earl would have stayed in the Manor house. The Royalists including the Cornish men of Sir Beville Grenville and his loyal servant Anthony Payne set out from the area of the present golf course at Bude with 2400 men. The fighting lasted all day until a final charge up Stamford Hill by the Cornish army caused the enemy to flee leaving 300 dead and 1700 prisoners. Stratton passed into royalist control.

Anthony Payne

anthony-payne-imageAnthony Payne the Cornish giant (7ft 4in) was born in the Manor House (Tree Inn) Stratton and served Sir Beville Grenville and later his son Sir Richard at the Plymouth garrison where his portrait was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller. For all his size and bulk, the witty Payne showed no signs of clumsiness, but awed everyone with his dexterity and very quick reflexes. They also say he had the brains to match the brawn that had thrust him into the role of a mighty man. When he retired he returned to Stratton to live in the Tree Inn. He died in 1691 and his coffin had to be lowered through the ceiling as it was too large to move any other way. He was buried in Stratton church.

 

 

Sir Bevil Grenville

sir-bevilSir Bevil Grenville’s grandfather, Sir Richard, Captain of ‘Revenge’, purchased the Manor of Stratton in 1576. This included the Manor House now known as the Tree Inn.

During the English Civil War, the Manor House was used as the Royalist Sir Bevil’s headquarters after the famous battle of Stamford Hill on Tuesday 16th May 1643. He and his troops rested in Stratton that night, and were responsible for guarding the prisoners. Before the battle, Stratton was occupied by the ‘rebels’ under the command of the Earl of Stamford.

On the wall of the Tree Inn is a slate plaque commemorating this famous victory – the wording taken from an old rotting wooden plaque placed at the battle site by Sir Bevil’s grandson in 1713.

 

armsSir Bevil’s trusty servant, Anthony Payne, was born at the Tree Inn and died there in 1691. A 7 foot 4 inch giant who had the sad duty of breaking the news of his master’s death to Sir Bevil’s wife Grace. Sir Bevil was killed whilst fighting at Lansdowne near Bath in 1643. He received a blow to the head with a Pole-Axe. Anthony transported Sir Bevil back to Kilkhampton for burial.

There is no doubt that the Tree Inn has had a colourful history. The Lord of the Manor held Courts Leat and Courts Baron annually.

Read more about Sir Bevil Grenville here.