Belle Ville later Fairfax House

This residence was locally known as the first house in Alphington.

In 1645 Sir Thomas Fairfax was stationed in this house and in February 1646 Sir Hardress Waller made it into his headquarters.

The old cross shaft from the cross head on the Alphington War Memorial was found in the garden and an old mill stone from Alphington Mills was placed in the rockery.

From the Tythe Map, the owner occupier of the property was John Stevenson. There were two gardens behind the house and a large pasture beside the house called Barscoughs Five Acres. John was born on the 10th December 1810 and was christened John Newcombe Stevenson. He married Ann Caroline Clack at Moretonhampstead on the 7th March 1833. Their children recorded at Alphington were John Jr., Caroline, Eliza, Montague and Henry. They employed at least five members of staff to look after the house. The family were at Belleville during 1843 when records show John obtained a game certificate, other records for the same year show that John had raised a Geranium (Pelagonium) and named it 'The Pride of Exe Vale. These plants were advertised for sale in The Gardener's Chronicle, dated 1843, by William E. Rendle who ran the Union Road Nursery in Plymouth. Customers could buy a dozen of the plants for five pounds. By 1851 the family had moved to Moretonhampstead.

Belle Ville/Fairfax House
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick

Records for the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s show the house was occupied by Patience Ponsford a landed proprietor. Patience was born in 1798 and christened in Shobrook on the 25th July 1798. Her father was Robert Reed 1756-1817 and her mother was Mary Spencer born in 1764. Patience first married William Langdon of Tedburn St Mary on the 20th October 1834 at Sidmouth. They had a daughter, Laura, born on the 20th May 1836. William died on the 3rd November 1836 at Alphington Laura died shortly afterwards in 1837 at Tedburn St Mary. Patience married her second husband, Luke Ponsford, at Bow on the 10th July 1845. They were married by William Ponsford the curate of Hittisleigh. A record states: ' bride with her usual benevolence presented the poor of the Parish with the sum of £50, which, under the superintendance of her relative Samuel Wreford Jun, Esq. is being dispensed in good old English style, and the day is passing off with great rejoicing.' Samuel was the husband of her sister Mrs Mary Wreford of Grattons (1798-1876). Luke Ponsford a surgeon was christened on the 7th September 1788 in Moretonhampstead. His father, also a surgeon, was William 1753/54-19th June 1829 and he married Ann Luke of St Mary Archest 1754/1755-12th April 1825 on the 12th June 1781 at St Mary Arches. Luke died at Moretonhampstead on the 4th March 1850. Patience died on the 23rd February 1876.

Records from 1881 show Henry Trimble, a retired Woollen Merchant, and his family were residing at the house and in 1891 William J. James a widow was living there 'on his own means'. By 1901 Thomas R. Wippell and his wife Clara had moved in and they continued to live there in 1911 and 1922.

Drs Richard and Mary Foulkes moved into Belle Ville in 1929 Richard held an evening surgery in the evenings starting at 6pm. During the Second World War the first evacuees arrived at Belle Ville from Walworth Road, London, they returned home. After the Exeter Blitz a pupil and teacher from Maynard School and an ambulance driver from American Ambulance (GB) boarded at the house. Later on the house was requisitioned for the Fire Auxiliary Service and was used as the Regional Director's House and Office. The large cob barn was used for storage.

In 1946 the house was recorded as Belvil and F. Winterington resided there, in 1949 the name of the house had changed to Fairfax House and Noel M. Ford was the resident.

I would like to thank Dr Julia Neville of the Devon History Society for the information on the Drs Foulkes.



Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick