Culbone Lodge
Culbone Church
Joan Cooper

Introduction: In the Assize rolls of 1280 it is recorded that Thomas, the chaplain of Culbone was indited 'for that he had struck Albert of Esshe (Ash) on the head with a hatchet, and so killed him'.

This sort of thing doesnt take place in this tiny hamlet today. Long gone are the charcoal burners and the colony of lepers that lived there. The small cluster of cottages around the church are nearly all gone.
The house where Joan Cooper and her husband Waistel the potter once lived is still there by the stream (pictured above) but Joan died on the 2nd June 1982 and is now buried in the little church cemetery - the whole area was packed for her funeral and a little dog sat by the edge of the grave during the service.
Waistel Cooper, the potter,was born in Ayr 19th April 1921 and married Joan D'Arcy Jeancon in 1957. After Joan's death he married Gillian R Brinkman (3qt.1983 in Penzance,Volume no:21Page no:0436)
and moved to Penzance Cornwall, where he died on 15th January 2003. His work now commands high prices.

Inside Culbone Church
The grave of Joan Cooper in Culbone church graveyard
Joan in a pensive mood
An Example of Waistel Coopers work

Culbone church is reported to be the smallest in England, the chancel is 13'6" x 10', the nave 21'6" x 12'4". Total length 35ft. It seats about 30 in great discomfort. It nestles in a beautiful little valley about 2miles from Ashley Combe, Porlock Weir, Exmoor.

Below is a short extract from a book written by Joan Cooper, with permission from Neithdirect:-

In the year 430 seven monks from the Celtic monastic tradition in Wales arrived in Kitnor with the idea of Christianizing the inhabitants in the area. They came by boat from Wales, landed on the coast, and came to Kitnor along a narrow track that led up from the sea.

For nearly four thousand years, K'SH'B'H had been the name by which this valley was known, but, by the time the monks came, this name had been forgotten, and they called it Kitnor, meaning: place of the cave.

The monks cleared the centre of the valley of all that had grown up in over three hundred years, and built stone dwellings for themselves in the form of cells, six in a circle around the central cell of the senior monk. This central cell was divided in two, so that there could be a place for communal activity and worship. The monks regarded all their activities as aspects of worship, and they needed no separate chapel; eating, study and teaching, prayer and chanting took place in one room. They also cultivated the land to grow their food.

They belonged to an order of monks which no longer exists, or is even known of now. They were not as strictly organized or structured as later monastic orders; each monk had a greater sense of responsibility towards his own individual conscience, which took precedence over the Rules of Obedience towards the Order and group. The senior monk did not exercise the rôle of “superior”, with all the authority devolving upon it, as in later monastic orders.

Their way of life differed in some respects from later monastic communities. All the brothers engaged in every activity, whether it was cultivation of the garden, preparation of food, teaching, or periods of meditation and stillness. There was no reading. Study consisted of the recitation of Scripture, preparation for teaching, or silent meditation. There were no set periods for prayer - except on Sunday, and the day was not divided into Offices (as in later times), but all activities throughout the day were preceded by communal prayer, and sometimes chanting or singing. All prayers were formal: there was no place for extemporaneous prayer. The Sacraments also differed from those developed by the later Orders and the Church; even the Holy Eucharist was not celebrated as it was in later times. The breaking of their daily bread was considered to be a sacrament in itself. The principal task of the monks was to teach, and many people came daily to Kitnor to receive instruction of a rudimentary sort in reading and writing, and in Christian doctrine.

Sunday was different from the other days of the week, because the usual occupations were not engaged in; there was no teaching, and no work in the garden; but neither was there any special Office or liturgy. Sunday was a day of stillness and meditation, and the same forms of prayer and chanting of the other days, which preceded each change in activity, also punctuated the less active rhythm of Sunday. But there were longer and set periods for prayer on Sunday.

From 3,800 B.C. to A.D. 105 - a period of nearly four thousand years - the same teaching had been taught in K'SH'B'H - not consistently, for there were long periods of interruption; but the teaching, when it returned, was always the same. There was no change in the inner structure of the teaching, even after Christ visited K'SH'B'H in A.D. 25. It was fulfilled and spiritualized, for men to learn that spiritual growth did not mean the acquisition of spirituality as an end in itself, but as a preparation to receive a New Birth, through the flame of caring. But with the coming of the Christian monks to Kitnor, a fundamental alteration in the teaching took place, and the original teaching was lost altogether - as far as this particular place was concerned. For the monks who came to Kitnor in 430 knew nothing of the older teaching. They came from a stratum of society and a culture that had been influenced only marginally by the old teaching - only to the extent of it having had a slightly civilizing effect on the people who comprised that segment of society. The monks were ignorant of the principles and truths which had given rise to the culture of whose ethical standards they were vaguely cognizant.

The Church as an institution knew about the older teaching only in part, and was ignorant of the real truths underlying it. It saw every manifestation of the older teaching as a challenge to its own newly acquired consciousness of power. And in order to make sure that any power or influence the older teaching might still have was destroyed, it was discredited in every possible way.

When one monk died, so another monk was always found to replace him, and the seven-monk community remained in Kitnor for approximately one hundred years. No church was built in Kitnor during the time of this early community, but the monks left behind one relic as material witness of their sojourn there. This was a stone window with two lights, a faintly carved column between them, and a capital in low relief, depicting a boar's head. (There were wild board in the woods in those days.) The head was carved by one of the monks around the year 500, and the window was placed in one of their cells.

In 518 the monks finally left Kitnor. It was settled, more or less permanently, by primitive people who had not been influenced by any particular culture. Several families occupied the dwellings which the monks had vacated. They were principally woodsmen, but cultivated the land a little as well. There were about thirty people altogether, living an isolated yet self-contained existence. The people remained in Kitnor approximately thirty years, after which they tired of the place, and moved on elsewhere.

From 560 to 635 Kitnor was without inhabitants.

About the year 635 the idea was formed of building a church in Kitnor. The project was formulated solely by local priests who desired to obtain more power for the Church locally, and planned to build a number of chapels throughout the area.

The first church was built on the site of the present church. (There is no basis of truth in the legend that they first attempted to build the church further up the valley, or elsewhere.) It was a rectangular building of stone, 10 feet wide, 18' 6" long, and 10' 6" high, incorporating nave and chancel in one. The roof was thatched, and there was no spire or tower. The stone window with two lights, whose capital had been carved by a monk many years before, was placed in this first church.

There were no other buildings in Kitnor at this time apart from the church. Services were nonetheless held in the church from time to time, although not regularly. There were no parishes as such at that time, and the priests were peripatetic, walking from place to place, and conducting services in their widely-separated chapels, over a fairly large area. Sometimes the priest brought people with him, when he took a service in Kitnor; sometimes he read the order of service alone.

For approximately one hundred and fifty years, to about 785, Kitnor church was in spasmodic use. In the year 810 it was destroyed by fire, so that only a shell of stone walls remained. For the next hundred years the church remained a ruin, and Kitnor unoccupied.

Around the beginning of the tenth century the Order of Benedictines established a house in the area between what is now known as Porlock Weir and Worthy, and made themselves responsible for the religious life of the area. Among their activities they undertook the rebuilding of many partially-destroyed or derelict churches. Kitnor church was among these.

It was rebuilt in the year 910. The walls of the old church were torn down, but the original foundation was left as a base for the new foundation, and slightly enlarged. The dimensions of the second church were 11' 8" wide, 22' 6" long, and 14' 6" high. Some of the old charred timbers from the first church were used in the building of the second, and the stone window with two lights was again built into the new church. A porch was added on the south-west side of the church with entrance, stone seats, and Holy Water stoup - looking at that time very much as it was to look over a thousand years later. The roof was again thatched.

For one hundred and eighty years this second church in Kitnor was used from time to time. About 1090 it was abandoned - at the same time as the monastic establishment in the area was abandoned, due to external troubles - and was not used again for one hundred and seventy-five years. During this time it decayed, although the walls remained partly intact.


Kitnor - A Place of Banishment or Refuge 1265 - 1751

Up to the year 1265 Kitnor was deserted. In that year, however, it became a place to which a group of people were banished, whom priests in the local Church considered a nuisance in society: dis-believers, practicers of magic, the mentally insane, and so on. About forty people - men, women, and children - whom the priests wished to be rid of, were removed to Kitnor with all their personal belongings, and left to fend for themselves. Nothing was provided for them; the church building was in ruins, and there were no other buildings in the valley at that time; the place had not been cultivated for seven hundred years. No one was allowed to visit them. From time to time a priest came to make sure they were still in Kitnor.

The people were fortunately strong in mind and body, and able to help themselves. They roofed over and mended part of the derelict church, which served as a temporary shelter. Later, they built stone huts, and began to cultivate the land.

It was a group of people with the most varied backgrounds, temperaments, and interests. They were “outcasts” from society for a variety of reasons, yet they lived together - not unhappily - tending one another's needs. They grew food, made their own clothes, nursed the sick, and some of them taught the children. They acted in a spirit of love and understanding towards one another.

For approximately forty years these people lived in Kitnor. They had no relationship with the outside community. Most of them spent the remainder of their lives in Kitnor; only a few of those who had been sent there, either as adults or children, ever left alive. The majority lived and died in Kitnor - and were buried there.

(The burial ground was as old as the human history of Kitnor. It went back to the first church in 635, to the monks who were buried there before that, to the community of teachers at the time of Christ, and even to 3,800 B.C., when the first sage came to Kitnor, spent his life, and was ultimately buried there. For over five thousand years - throughout the entire history of man in the valley - there has been a burial ground in this place.)

The church in Kitnor was rebuilt for the third time in 1,305 when the “outcasts” had gone. It was a period of great church building in Britain, and the Church was powerful. There was considerable building activity throughout the whole area of Exmoor, and Kitnor church was one of the projects. It was rebuilt with local labour, as had been the other two churches, and was paid for indirectly by the tithes of the people.

The third church was built on the foundations of the first and second ones, the length being identical with that of the second; it was constructed 12' 6" wise - only ten inches wider than the previous one. The walls of the main building were entirely reconstructed; the porch was not completely rebuilt, but only repaired, in order to support a new roof. The slightly charred beams from the fire of 810, which had been used in the second church, were again used in the construction of the third. The height of the building was increased to 15' 9" at the ridge, and the roof was thatched over once more. There were two windows on the South side, none on the North or West, and a window behind the altar on the East. One of the windows on the South wall was the small stone window with two lights.

Services were held regularly once a month in Kitnor after the reconstruction of the church; sometimes there was a small congregation drawn from the community around Kitnor, but frequently the priest was the only one present.

Prior to the time of building the third church in Kitnor, a large house - large for the times and place - was built up Withycombe from Kitnor and slightly to the West, where there is now a flat, partly-fenced field, and a gate across the public footpath. It was built by people who had acquired possession of this and other lands, in and around Kitnor, from the King's agents, for services they had rendered. They took the name of “Kitnor” themselves. There were no other dwellings in the immediate area at that time.

(The family that called itself Kitnor occupied the house in Withycombe for about sixty-seven years; they then moved elsewhere, and the house was unoccupied until it burned down about 1430.)

In 1385, about eighty years after the first group of social outcasts had either died or left Kitnor, it again became a place of banishment as a temporary gaol for offenders in the community, who were sentenced to short but varying periods of isolation for their offences. As the sentencing agents were both civil and ecclesiastical, the crimes, for which these people were committed, were either of a civil nature (such as theft), or a moral one (such as adultery). The sentences ranged from a few months to five and a half years.

The people sent to Kitnor on this occasion were only men. Once there, they were treated with complete indifference, having been brought to Kitnor, and left to find food and shelter as best they could. They were allowed to bring nothing with them except the clothes on their backs. Little remained of the stone huts which the first outcasts had built for themselves, but they provided a primitive kind of protection. Whatever food was needed, the men had to grow themselves. They were completely isolated from the community. Someone visited them occasionally to make sure they were still in Kitnor and had not escaped, and they were forced to attend the monthly service held in the church: these were their only contacts with the outside world.

These men were much more embittered than people had been in the previous group of outcasts. They were separated from their families, and, having no women or children with them, they had less moral ability to look after themselves, or be responsible for one another. Some of the men went mad, or killed themselves in despair. The numbers varied from time to time, but there were never more than twenty men in Kitnor at any one time. It continued in its use as a gaol for ninety-three years.

In 1478 Kitnor ceased to be used as a dumping round for civil and Church offenders, because there were then other means - and other places - for dealing with them. The whole area around Kitnor became uninhabited; the infrequent services in the church ceased altogether from this time, and the building gradually began to decay. In 1499 Kitnor church was repaired with the intention of using it again, but there was still no one living in or around Kitnor, and the church continued unused. It again began to deteriorate, and remained in a state of disrepair until the middle of the sixteenth century.

In 1544 it was decided by Church and civil authorities to use Kitnor as a site for a leper colony, there being considerable fear at the time that the disease was beginning to spread in England. About forty-five men, women, and children suffering from the disease were sent to Kitnor. As in the case of the earlier social outcasts and the petty criminals, so these sick people were treated as outcasts in the same way, and placed in isolation from the society that feared them, with no one to care for or look after them. They were given no help of any kind with shelter, or food, or nursing - although nothing could be done medically for leprosy at that time. The old stone huts were again in ruins, and the lepers had to make them good by themselves, in order to have shelter of some kind. They foraged for food, and learned to cultivate the land, as best they could, having been given seed - but no implements.

Despite their privations and sufferings, and the unconcern of their society, they lived with simple dignity, and at peace with one another, caring for each other, teaching and nursing the children, and without bitterness towards G-d or man.

Kitnor was used as a leper colony for seventy-eight years.

Kitnor church was rebuilt for the fourth time, when the leper colony moved into the valley. It was not rebuilt from its foundations, but the existing walls were used, and merely rebuilt where necessary. The North and South walls were altered, to include new and larger windows. In the North wall, a tiny “leper window” was also constructed. On the West side, the wall was reconstructed exactly as it had been before. At the East end, the church was extended, and a separate chapel built, with a new East Window - smaller than the one which exists at the present time. A small window was set into the South wall of the new chancel, and the old stone window with two lights was placed in the North wall of the chancel.

A door was built in the North wall of the chancel, between the old stone window and the leper window, leading into a small, priest's cell, where a hermit/priest intened to live out the remainder of his days in total isolation from the world. (The hermit never took services in the church - this was done by anothe priest, who came to Kitnor especially for the purpose - nor did he care in any way for the lepers; he was scarcely conscious of their presence. He looked after himself, and spent his time solely in prayer for approximately fifteen years, until he died.)

The rood-screen was carved locally in 1544, and placed between the nave and chancel; it had a rood-loft at that time.

The “leper window” was placed in the church by the Church authorities for reasons of tradition. The lepers in fact watched the service through all three windows, which were at eye-level; they never received the Eucharist.

A wall painting on the North wall, to the West of the window and opposite the door, was executed at this time by a local painter. It was a painting of Adam and Eve, with a tree and apples. (Parts of the painting would still be visible, if the subsequent layers of lime and paint were carefully removed.)

A new stone font was placed in the church, opposite the altar and against the West wall.

Some of the original charred timbers were used again in the reconstruction of the roof, and the roof itself was thatched. The carvings on the long joists, that still form the junction between the North/South walls and the roof, date from this time. The heavy oak door, which was used in the sixteenth century church, dated from the second church of 910.

By 1613/14 The manor of Culbone, Bratton Court, the manor of Yarner and the manor of Sparkhayes amongst others, was firmly in the hands of the Fry family of Yarty and so it remained until 1729 when it passed to the sole surviving child of Robert Fry, Elizabeth, who had married Lord King, Baron of Ockham in 1734, thus it was added to the King's heritage. As their family seat was at Ockham in Surrey, Ashley combe would have been of secondary importance, but Worthy Manor was built in Ashley Combe in 1799.

The last leper died in 1622, which marked the end of the leper colony in Kitnor. After that, it remained uninhabited for nearly a hundred years, until 1715. During the early part of this period, smugglers, who came up from the coast, sometimes used the stone huts left by the lepers. But by the second half of the seventeenth century smuggling in this area had died out, and Kitnor was completely deserted. No one lived even on the perimeter of Kitnor. Nevertheless, a service contined to be held once a year in the church, during the Easter period; but no one except the priest was ever present. No one even travelled through Kitnor at this time. As no track led through it to other dwellings, hamlets, or villages, it was completely cut off.

For the fourth time Kitnor became a home for people in exile from their contemporary society, but on this occasion the banishment was freely chosen and self imposed.

In 1715 a group of families living in Somerset heard about the isolated valley of Kitnor, and decided to settle there. (The ownership of Kitnor was vague at that time.) These were people who, inspired with an image of how life could be lived in a shared way, decided to pool their limited resources, and try to live the kind of life they visualized. They were hard-working, industrious people, who had read fairly widely, although they were not well-educated, and were simple in their tastes.

They built eight simple stone dwellings in Kitnor, furnishing them with the household belongings they had brought with them. They tilled the ground, and grew their own food; they educated their children themselves. They had a certain relationship with the church in Kitnor, insofar as they attended the services held there once a month, but they also had their own daily prayers and communal worship.

After fifteen years of community life, the families were grown up, and the original settlers, having become older, decided to leave Kitnor. Their decision was encouraged by the knowledge that others were wanting to use the valley for another purpose.

(The community knew the valley by the name of “Kitnor”, but the name of “Culbone” had begun to come into use towards the end of the seventeenth century, during the period of isolation, and for some time both names were in concurrent usage.)

The fifth and last group of people to have been banished to Culbone was a group of East Indians, who had been taken prisoner by the British in India, used as servants, and eventually brought back to England. No longer needed as servants, thirty-eight of them were sent to Culbone, to work as charcoal burners for a period of twenty-one years, after which time they were allowed their freedom.

The men sent to Culbone lived in the cottages vacated by the community, and burned their charcoal in the woods. As they had no women to care for them, they looked after themselves, and grew their own food, as best they could. Small boats came up the coast from time to time, taking away the charcoal, in exchange for which the Indians were given commodities, such as tea, sugar, and so on. They spoke very little English, and were not happy in Culbone. At the end of their twenty-one year period, twenty-three of them were still alive to go free, but none of them was ever able to return to India.

After the community left Culbone and the Indian charcoal burners arrived, services ceased to be held in the church. After a while, the charcoal burners moved in, and used the church themselves as a communal dwelling, for cooking and eating. When the roof began to deteriorate, as it quickly did, the Indians mended it. It was used by them in this way to the end of their sojourn in Culbone, in 1,751.

During this period, no one else lived in or around Culbone.

The Last Two Hundred Years in Culbone

After the Indian charcoal burners were allowed to leave Culbone, and became dispersed throughout England, local men moved in to continue the work of charcoal burning, which had by then become a flourishing trade with Wales. They worked in groups of four to a kiln, two working at a time and two away, so that the kiln could be kept in continuous operation. They built one-room stone huts beside their kilns, living rough in the woods while working, and returning to their families periodically. They continued charcoal burning in the woods for about seventy years, until, around 1,821, the demand for charcoal gradually died out, and the burning of it in Culbone came to an end.

At the same time as local charcoal burners took over the trade from the Indians in 1,751, four local families moved into Culbone itself to occupy four of the six remaining cottages in the valley. At that time, ownership of the land was not clearly defined, because the owner of Culbone had not taken possession of his lands, and it was possible for people merely to occupy the empty cottages there. Within fifteen years, however, their possession was challenged by the owner asserting his rights of ownership, and the cottages then became tied cottages, for which the cottagers were required to give a portion of their labour to the owner.

The new owner of the Culbone lands, farms, and woodland - whose family had owned Culbone and the immediate area for some time, but had never taken possession of it - inherited and took possession of his property in 1765. He lived at Ash Farm, and had Parsonage and Withycombe farms, which he also owned, tenanted. (Withycombe farm was at the head of the combe leading South-West out of Culbone. This farm comprised land now used by Silcombe farm, which did not exist at that time.)

At the time when the new owner was taking possession of his lands, two other local families came to occupy the remaining two tied cottages in Culbone.

The “tied” relationship was not as rigid as it became later, the cottagers worked only part of their time on the farms, or in the woodland, and otherwise were free to work as they wished. All the cottagers had an independence of spirit, which, under later conditions, would become impossible to express.

Culbone church remained in a state of disrepair from 1751, when the Indians left, until 1768; it hadn't been used for the services since 1730. Two factors combined to bring it into use again. The new owner, who took possession of his lands around Culbone in 1765, was interested in seeing the church renovated, and in becoming a patron of the church himself; and the Church authorities had considerable interest themselves in reactivating churches where they could in a West Country which had lately been swept by the revivalist teachings of John and Charles Wesley.

The renovation of Culbone church, undertaken in 1768, involved only three alterations: the roof was slated instead of being re-thatched; a small square family pew was added for the family at Ash, on the South wall; and the hermit's cell was dismantled, and the door into it, through the North wall of the church, was sealed up. By 1770 services were again being held regularly in the church every Sunday.

It was also at this time, 1770, that a market-cross was set up in the churchyard as a gift of the family at Ash. The cross itself was made of iron, and set into a small quadrilateral plinth, which was one hundred and sixty-five years old, and had been brought from another part of the country. The whole was set onto a much larger double plinth, which was built especially for this purpose at the time.

The setting up of a market-cross in the churchyard introduced a new custom of open-air markets into Culbone, which began to be held once a month in the spring, summer, and autumn (not in winter) after the Sunday service. Foodstuffs were bought and sold under the protection of the cross - to guarantee, as it was thought, the integrity of buyer and seller. After the buying and selling of the market, there was eating, drinking, and jollification. People came from the countryside around Culbone, and many stories were passed down to later generations regarding the simple pleasures of these “good old times”. The markets continued until about 1850.

From about 1765 onwards - from the time when Culbone began to exist as a hamlet - a footpath linked it with Porlock Weir, and footpaths out of Culbone, in a southerly direction, linked it with the farms, Ash, Parsonage, and Withycombe. Culbone was never, at any time, on the main packhorse track from Porlock to Lynmouth; but it was linked with that main track, and, as a result, considerable traffic went through the small hamlet. These “tracks” were only footpaths, at most suitable for ponies. It wasn't until after 1850 that they were widened to enable them to take a cart or pony-and-trap.

In 1821 one of the six cottages in Culbone began to be used as a public-house, and called itself the “Fox and Hounds”. It existed until about 1875.

Until 1850 life in the small hamlet of Culbone continued unchanged, as did life on the three farms behind it. The ownership remained the same, and, because there was no motivation of ambition, life for everyone concerned was seemingly peaceful and relaxed.

In 1850 the family that had lived at Ash, and farmed and cared for the Culbone lands for eighty-five years, died out, and new owners took possession of this and an enlarged area of farm and woodland.

Lord William King, who now owned the land, built a large house on the site of an old cottage in Ashley Combe. This house was called WORTHY MANOR .
After the building of the house, another farmhouse was built to the West of the (by then) ruined Withycombe. (Withycombe farm suffered devastation in a violent storm that occurred around the turn of the century; it was never rebuilt.) The new farm was called Sil-Combe. A little later, Yearnor farmhouse was built to the East of Ash. All the farms had tenant farmers, and the woods were regarded as potential plantation or parkland for Ashley Combe; Culbone became a collection of labourers' cottages. For the whole was conceived of and worked as an integrated estate, and all life on it began to flow in relation to the ownership at the centre.

From 1850 onwards life in the hamlet slowly began to change, and the lives of the cottagers became less independent, and increasingly oriented towards the wishes and whims of the new owners. A tied cottage meant that all labour was given to the Estate, not - as heretofore - part of the cottager's labour in exchange for his cottage. The life of the hamlet was no longer that of a distinctive social organism, with its own activities and customs, but was gradually broken down by the removal to Ashley Combe of all initiating activity. The monthly open-air markets ceased abruptly with the coming of the new owners, and the reorganization of the Estate in the 1850's.

After 1850 the church continued much as before, except that the new owners became its new patrons. Services continued to be held weekly.

The year 1875 was another milestone in the gradual deterioration of village life in Culbone. Up to that time alterations in the character of life there had been more subtle; now there were more fundamental changes. Several of the cottagers died, and the vacant cottages went to outsiders, selected by the owners of the Estate, rather than to local people. Strangers came to live in Culbone, who were neither familiar with the ways and customs of the area and hamlet, nor did they possess the independence of character which belonged to the older generation of local inhabitants.

The cottage-cum-public-house fell vacant when the cottager died, and the new tenants - again the choice of Ashley Combe - were not interested in keeping it going, nor would have been permitted to do so, if they had desired it. In this way, another tradition died - as well as what had been a focal point of village life. “Culbone Lodge” was rebuilt as a “keeper's lodge” when the old tenant died, and a game-keeper procured who was also a stranger to the area, and completely dependent upon the Estate for his living.

In this way, the integrated life of the village was broken up; strangers were moved in, who had no relationships with one another, and owed their loyalty entirely to the Estate and its owners, rather than to each other and their community. Seeds of potential distrust and jealousy were sown, which divided the cottagers from one another more and more, as time went on.

So the hamlet of Culbone died, and was wholly replaced by an estate and the structure of life which such an estate with tenant farms, tied cottages, and park, or woodland implied in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

In 1897 certain improvements were undertaken in Culbone church. The East end of the church was enlarged slightly, and rebuilt with a new and larger window; the woodwork of the roof and interior furnishings of the chancel were renewed, and a new reredos was made. The loft of the rood-screen was removed, so there would be more light, and the family pew was enlarged, and reconstructed. Another font was obtained to replace the one already in the church, and a plinth was constructed for it in the south-west corner of the church, beside the door. This “new” font was bought, and brought to Culbone from Sussex, where it had been carved in 1089. The principal external alteration was the addition of a bell-tower, with two bells. An harmonium was also given to the church; it was the first permanent instrument in Culbone church.

Life in Culbone remained very much the same from 1895 onwards. There were some outwards changes, commencing after the First World War, that slowly affected rural life in general, as increased mobility and mechanization came about. After the Second World War, even greater changes occurred, through the new telecommunications of Radio and TV, and, especially for Culbone, the sudden increase in the number of summer visitors to the South-West. The farmer no longer jogged through Culbone on his pony, market-bound, but hundreds of visitors a day in summer found their way up a narrow cliff path…

For a short time - from a little before the First World War to the end of the twenties - Culbone church had a clergyman who was attuned in some measure to the underlying spiritual purpose which Culbone was intended to express. Then from the mid-thirties to the end of the Second World War, there was again a clergyman in Culbone who was also in attunement with its hidden spiritual mission…

Varied spiritual levels have continued to exist contemporaneously in Culbone, representing nearly six thousand years of human history.

Many of those who suffered throughout that history from the blindness or greed of others have lingered on spiritually in the states of bitterness or misery, which they had experienced in their physical lives in Culbone. And many who caused that suffering, or who were impervious to it, continued to exist in their own forms of spiritual ignorance. The life-experiences which centred these people on Culbone held them spiritually bound to the same place, in greater or lesser degree, for a long time afterwards, and unable truly to inhabit the greater freedom of the spirit world, into which they had passed.

At the same time, the vibration of Light continued to radiate through all life in the valley, and the ones in whom it had manifested during their physical lifetimes in that place, continued to work for its full expression, and for the cleansing of Culbone from all darkness and distortion, so that the mission could be fulfilled which had been intended from the beginning.

The completion of this long work of cleansing and making whole the spiritual lives of people, and the place where darkness had existed in so many forms over long periods of time, awaits this written revelation of the spiritual history of Culbone. For the process of cleansing and healing can only be completed, when the sufferings of some people are made known, and the ignorance and wilfulness of other people are exposed - and when the expression of the true Light is uncovered, which has for so long been hidden. Then only will the spiritual purpose of Culbone be completely revealed, and the Temple of Light can descend upon a place that is wholly cleansed of darkness, and shine forth perpetually.
The Temple of Light was so structured by Christ that it might reveal to people the spiritual direction and purpose implicit in each individual life; that it might restore to people a feeling of their inner or spiritual identity, by which they know who they are as individuals, apart from their personality and the particular society or culture or times in relation to which it exists; that there might be healing of all forms of distortion and spiritual disability; that the spiritually sick and the sick in mind might be cured; that Light might be brought into all forms of darkness on Earth, and in the spiritual realms; and that every form of evil might be confronted with Light through the agency of ministering Angels. such is the conception from which all Temples of Light were created, in order that the spiritual evolution of mankind may proceed.

Below is a link to Joans books:

BOOKS by Joan Cooper 

Memories of Culbone