St Olaves during the Radford years, 1877-1896

Having acquired St Olaves from the Rev. John Ingle in 1877 there is no evidence that the Rev. William Tucker Arundel Radford actually lived there. Instead, he relied on Ingle’s former bailiff, James Lee, and his wife Mary, to look after the property.

Radford held the living and 50 acres of glebe (Church) land at Down St Mary, fifteen miles away in the direction of Crediton. The Radfords were a Devon family with strong connections to Down St Mary; the east window of the parish church was decorated with a stained glass window in memory of B.T.R Radford and his wife.

Down St. Mary - Exterior View.JPG

St Mary the Virgin, Down St Mary, Devon

Radford was Rector of Down St Mary for 53 years from 1843, and in 1846 he had built himself a large gothic residence in the village at the cost of £1600. It is as a resident of this property, rather than at St Olaves, that we find him listed in local trade directories and in the decennial census.  

Indeed Radford tried to sell St Olaves and all its contents on at least two occasions, in 1880 and again in 1881. Later, we find the property advertised as a furnished summer let for well-to-do holidaymakers. During this period Radford may well have used the estate for fishing, hunting and summer outings. He also continued to enjoy an income from grazing rights and from the regular sale of timber and young saplings.

It seems likely that Radford continued to add to the landscaping and planting begun by Ingle during the twenty years of his ownership, but no records confirming this have yet been found. However, we do know that Radford bought the strip of land along the west of the property which now provides vehicle access to St Olaves House. The large specimen trees along this strip, which include a towering Giant Redwood, a Douglas Fir and a Western Red Cedar therefore seem likely to have been planted by Radford rather than Ingle.

Radford also supported the building of Murchington Chapel between 1887 and 1890, donating approximately a quarter of the construction costs (£100) and paying for some of the interior decorations. Ingle, by contrast, opposed the scheme apparently because the organisers had turned down his offer of land for the project on the grounds that it had poor access.