Gifts of Christopher Lethbridge of Exeter, and

Christopher Lethbridge of Pilton

The Lethbridges were a long-established Devon family of land owners.

Lethbridge Coat of Arms

(Memorial at Pilton, Barnstaple)

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By his will of 17 Nov 1669, Christopher Lethbridge, merchant of Exeter, left an annuity of £5 10s arising from his “Manour and Barton of Broadnynett” for the churchwardens to supply “a middle sort of bread” every Lord’s Day to 24 ”poore of the parish of  Bowe als Nymett Traceye [who] go to the church and stay there every Lords Day during the time of divine service and sermon (if any be).”


Born in about 1610 at Walson in Clannaborough, near Bow, he became a successful grocer in Exeter. He was mayor of Exeter in 1660, where he died in 1670. There is a memorial to him in St Mary Arches Church in Exeter.


Both charities are described on a board hung in the belfry of Bow Church (right)


In addition his nephew, also called Christopher Lethbridge, of Pilton, Barnstaple in 1713 gave an annuity of 26s to be contributed as 12d of bread weekly between All Saints and 3rd May or Rudemas-day to poor people that attend Bow Church.


In 1824 the income from these two bequests was being used to pay a baker to supply bread worth 3s 1d per week in the winter and 2s 1d in the summer.


Bread was still being distributed every Sunday after morning service in 1910, although the trustees were looking to change the terms so that aid in the form of coal or blankets could be distributed instead.


At Christmas 1917, 10 blankets to a value of £6 19s 6d were distributed.

Descendants of the Pilton branch of the Lethbridge family later owned much of the land in and around Bow, including the site of "Fair Park".

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