HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.


HER Number:MDV7489
Name:Jay's Grave, 980 metres north of Swallerton Gate, Manaton

Summary

A grave was discovered here in 1851 during some road works and the bones found were said to be those of a female, thought to be those of 'Ann Jay', said to have hung herself in a barn at Forder. Throughout the later 19th century and early 20th century there has been continuing interest in the story and she has been named variously as 'an old woman called Kay', 'Betty Kay', 'Betsy Jay' and eventually as 'Kitty Jay' by Crossing in 1909. The myth surrounding the burial has been much embellished over the years. In summary it states that Kitty Jay, a young 18th century pregnant servant girl hanged herself after being abandoned by her lover was buried at the crossroads.
The bones were re-interred in the mid-late 19th century in the old grave and a small mound raised above it with head and foot stones at either end. The grave often has flowers on it to this day and is the subject of ghost stories.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 732 799
Map Sheet:SX77NW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishManaton
DistrictTeignbridge
Ecclesiastical ParishMANATON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX77NW/60

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • GRAVE (Constructed, XVII to XVIII - 1700 AD to 1799 AD (Between))

Full description

Amery, P. F. S., 1900-1901, Jay's Grave, 251-252 (Article in Serial). SDV309445.

Replying to Thornton's query, the author states that 'A workman of mine, aged 74' said that about 40 years ago he was in the employ of Mr. James Bryant of Hedge Barton, when he remembers Jay's Grave being opened. A young married woman, who hung herself in Canon Farm outbuildings, which is situated between Forder and Torhill, is said to have been buried there, but no one living at Manaton then can remember the occurence. The grave was opened by order of James Bryant in the presence of his son in law Mr. J. W. Sparrow, MRCS. Bones were found, examined and declared to be those of a female. The skull was taken to Hedge Barton House, but was afterwards placed with the bones in a box and re interred in the old grave, a small mound raised with head and foot stones erected at either end. Such is at present the appearance of the grave.


Thornton, W. H., 1900-1901, Some Notes on the More Recent History of a Few Ancient Crosses Which Are to be Found in the Neighbourhood of North Bovey, 186 (Article in Serial). SDV259023.

Query about Jay's Grave and plea for more information.


Baldwin, J. + Butler, S. + Harper, B. + Hewitt, J. + Hugo, R. + Kapff, M. + Perkins, K. + Stewart, C. + Taylor, A., 1999, The Book of Manaton, 191 (Monograph). SDV351773.

The grave of Kitty Jay, a young 18th century servant girl who hanged herself after being abandoned by her lover when she became pregnant. According to the practice at the time she could not be buried in consecrated ground and was interred at a point where the parish boundaries of Widecombe, North Bovey and Manaton meet so that her spirit would be unable to find its way home. The grave was disturbed by a road mender in 1860 who found the bones of a young woman. The bones were reburied in the same place. The grave always has flowers on it although no one admits to knowing who puts them there.


Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.


Beeson, M., 2018, Kitty Jay, Nature and the Improvers, 107-119 (Article in Serial). SDV361974.

Investigation of the legend of Kitty Jay. The first mention of the grave was in 1851 (North Devon Journal, 23/01/1851) when it was discovered during some work on the road. The bones found were said to be those of a female, thought to be those of 'Ann Jay', said to have hung herself in a barn at Forder. In 1876 a publication describes the remains being of 'an old woman called Kay', later (1881) corrected to 'Betty Kay'. A poem published in 1882 in the Western Daily Mercury refers to 'Kay's Grave'. An eyewitness account of the accidental exhumation in 1851 states the bones were of a young woman; 'Betsy Jay', who had lived in a small cottage on Forder Estate and hung herself around 60-70 years before (i.e.: around 1780-1790. This became the basis of William Crossing's (Guide to Dartmoor, 1909) account, although he states the bones were discovered by the owner of Hedge Barton.
Throughout the later 19th century and early 20th century there has been continuing interest in the story and the myth surrounding the burial has been embellished over the years to suggest that she was an orphan from the poorhouse who was abandoned while pregnant by her lover and it was this that prompted her suicide (citing St. Leger's account, 1965). The grave has been the subject of constant interest and also has generated some stories of instances of haunting as well.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, Unknown, SX77NW/M (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV309446.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Article in Serial: Thornton, W. H.. 1900-1901. Some Notes on the More Recent History of a Few Ancient Crosses Which Are to be Found in the Neighbourhood of North Bovey. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 1. Digital. 186.
  • Article in Serial: Amery, P. F. S.. 1900-1901. Jay's Grave. Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries. 1. Digital. 251-252.
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. Unknown. SX77NW/M. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #102109 ]
  • Monograph: Baldwin, J. + Butler, S. + Harper, B. + Hewitt, J. + Hugo, R. + Kapff, M. + Perkins, K. + Stewart, C. + Taylor, A.. 1999. The Book of Manaton. The Book of Manaton. Hardback Volume. 191.
  • Article in Serial: Beeson, M.. 2018. Kitty Jay, Nature and the Improvers. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 150. Paperback Volume. 107-119.

Associated Monuments

MDV28686Related to: Stephen's Grave (Monument)

Associated Finds

  • FDV5919 - HUMAN REMAINS (XVII to XVIII - 1700 AD to 1799 AD?)

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Dec 18 2018 4:56PM