Kelly House and St Nonna church visit



St Nonna church



Bradstone lies on the Devon side of the Tamar, close to the road between Tavistock and Launceston. The place took its name from a broad stone, a stone which is still to be seen about 200 yards east of the church, in a hedge beside the lane on the far side of the Barton. It is about 11 x 6 feet and may have been a prehistoric standing stone or 'menhir'. Bradstone has never been a big community, but it had some importance since it lay close to the ancient trackway into Cornwall which forded the Tamar where Greystone Bridge now stands; the trackway, now a lane, still forms the southern boundary of the parish.

Snugly sited on a south-facing slope at the head of a combe, this settlement probably existed before the arrival of the Saxons, and the dedication of the church to St Nonna suggests that there was a Celtic community here. Tradition has it that St Nonna came from Pembrokeshire, where her son St David was born and where there is a well bearing her name just outside the town of St David's, and that she lived for part of her life at Altarnun on Bodmin Moor where the church is dedicated to her; however, some doubt has been cast as to whether the mediaeval dedication of Bradstone church was to her. We know that about 970 Ordgar, the Ealdorman in Devon under Edward the Confessor, set free 10 slaves at Bradstone where he was lying sick, so there must then have been some kind of manor house and probably also a church or oratory. The Domesday Book in 1086 recorded that before the Conquest it had belonged to King Harold, and now belonged to Baldwin the Sheriff: it contained 17 villagers, 4 smallholders and 4 slaves. In 1850 the parish contained six farmers, a miller and a smith and wheelwright Today there is no village as such, and there may never have been one, though there was an inn on the old road at Felldownhead to refresh travellers after their steep climb from the river crossing.


The church is now in the care of ‘The Churches Conservation Trust’ and is still consecrated with occasional services being held.


Across the road from St Nonna Church is Bradstone Manor Farm with its Grade I listed late C16 Gatehouse and grade II* Manor House

Bradstone Manor Farm offers the best in prime, local free range beef, pork and lamb produce from the 500 acre estate.The estate also has livery stables to rent with a full range of equestrian facilities including its own cross country course.



Kelly House


The Kelly family has been at Kelly since just after the Norman Conquest; a remarkable record of continuity. Warin Kelly, the current squire, is the 31" squire of Kelly, an almost unsurpassed lineage amongst the former gentry of England.

Unsurprisingly since the family has lived here for so long, there are traces of earlier buildings, which have been found when work has been done. Like many country houses, Kelly House has been altered many times to meet the needs of the time. What can now be seen is predominantly Tudor and Georgian, with some Victorian additions.




The original house faced away from the prevailing south-west winds towards the north. The remaining Tudor portion can be seen in the Tudor kitchen now used as a tea room, and the porch. From the outside the six-light windows can be clearly seen. Originally the structure would have been a Great Hall open to the rafters, and the carved timbers of the Great Hall still exist in the roof.

The Georgian section of the house, designed by Abraham Rundle of Tavistock, was added in 1742. This was built to the south-east and south-west of the remaining Tudor portion, and part of the house was demolished for the new building. In 1877 a new wing was added to hold an organ room and estate office. This is to the side of the dining room. During construction of this wing traces were found of earlier foundations suggesting the Tudor House extended in that direction.

After a very informative tour of the Georgian part of the house we made our way to the Tudor kitchen in the oldest part of the house for supper.




The Tudor Kitchen




Now used as the tea room, the Tudor kitchen is in the oldest remaining section of the house, and it is thought retains the original position of the house's hearth. The panelling with carved frieze is Jacobean. The kitchen had been in use up until, and during the Second World War. Recently the chimney has been cleared of rubble and nesting material from the jackdaws who had taken up residence, and put back into use. The kitchen is now used as a tea room and for dinners and other functions.



Home page


Tamar Belle Heritage Group

Bere Peninsula