George Stephen's Grave

Peter Tavy, Devon

[Stephen's grave] [Stephen's grave]

George Stephen's tale typifies the stories of unrequited love so often found throughout the country when those involved originate from different social backgrounds. George, a 19th century native of the Devon village of Peter Tavy, by all accounts was a handsome lad. He fell in love with the daughter of a wealthy farmer who, to his dismay, bore no sympathy for his own lack of finance. Because of the couple's awareness of the father's lack of understanding, they were compelled to meet each other in secret, choosing locations well away from prying eyes.

All went well until the girl's father discovered their illicit meetings, immediately ordering George off his lands and demanding an end to their friendship. George attempted to maintain contact, but the father remained adamant that his daughter would never be allowed to court with one so poor. Heartbroken, and unable to see the one he loved, he returned daily to a small hill overlooking her farm, hoping no doubt, for a change of heart. His waiting however, was in vain, and, realising that his dreams were shattered, he decided on suicide. This he achieved by eating deadly nightshade, death following slowly and painfully.

He was buried at a path junction adjacent to his lover's farm. The burial tale however, tells that as his coffin was being lowered into the grave, a linen sheet drying on a bush, suddenly, and without warning, rose upwards and disappeared from sight, never to be seen again.

Location

1 km east of Peter Tavy a bridleway starts, travelling due east across the moors to a clapper bridge south of Postbridge. About 1 km along this path a second bridleway running north-south crosses it. Stephen's grave lies slightly south west of this junction.