...ancient Celtic site, junction of ley lines, Saxon church, Manor of Killigarth, the Smuggling Vicar, cliff erosion, modern day Talland Bay....

An outline of the history of Talland is given by a recent Vicar of Talland, Fr. William Braviner, on the detailed page about Talland church. In due course we intend to have a more detailed history on this page, but meanwhile we have an intriguing story about how one of Father William's predecessors was duped early in the nineteenth century, giving cause for great consternation in the locality...

1999 or 1812 ? - sheep are moved past the church - a traditional scene

Sometime around 1812, a gentleman introducing himself as the Reverend Thomas Whitmore arrived in Talland and called on the vicar, Nicholas Kendall, offering his services as curate and letting it be known that he had ample means. The stranger's offer was gladly accepted and he was soon settled in the vicarage at Talland, a secluded building surrounded by a high wall enclosing a courtyard so that only the upper half of the house, with its small Gothic windows and grey slated roof, was visible from the outside.

The Old Vicarage survives (to left of photo), but like many similar country vicarages was sold off in the 1950s to save money on upkeep and repairs
There he entertained liberally, conducted church services with great solemnity and looked after the poor of the parish, earning the respect and affection of many. In due course, however, suspicion began to spread when his drafts at Zephaniah Job's bank in Polperro were dishonoured and it was not long before he was besieged by uneasy creditors demanding their money.

The mysterious curate fled by night as suddenly as he had come, taking with him as much plate and other valuables from the vicarage he could carry.

Months later the 'Reverend' Whitmore was identified in Worcester as a well-known forger under the name of Robert Peacock where he was arrested, tried and convicted. A Polperro man passing through Gloucester in September 1814 witnessed the wretched felon's death on the gallows there, recognising him as the curate he had often heard preach at Talland church.

When the news of the former curate's real identity reached Polperro, there was considerable consternation for he had officiated at many baptisms, marriage ceremonies and funerals during his time at Talland. Seven couples who had been married by the bogus curate came back to be married again, fearing their first ceremony had been invalid and they were 'living in sin'.
This was probably the Vicarage building in the "Rev." Whitmore's day - no trace now of gothic windows
The parents of eight babies baptised by the 'Rev. Mr. Whitmore' between July and November 1812 brought them back to be baptised afresh. (The vicar, Nicholas Kendall, wrote a note in the Talland parish register explaining the double entries: "it being suspected that Mr. Whitmore, the late curate of this parish, was not a minister of the Church of England.")

Researched by Jeremy Johns, Polperro Heritage Museum, © 1999