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The Hole Family of Parke (S Devon Branch)

Thu. 18 April 2024 at 2:15 pm

£2 – £4

A talk by Dr Frances Billinge: “The Hole Family of Parke, Bovey Tracey: Five generations of mixed fortunes, and a final loss which was really a gain”.

Parke is a large estate in Bovey Tracey which the public has been able to enjoy for the last fifty years. The history of the Hole family of Parke will be explored, and the following questions addressed:

  • How did William Hole, a map maker acquire his fortune in the 1700s?
  • How did his son William afford the Parke estate in 1826?
  • As the largest landowners in Bovey Tracey why were they never Lords of the Manor?

Parke, Bovey Tracey. Image courtesy of The National Trust

 The cost will be £2 for DA members, £4 for non-members.

Report on the talk

In her enjoyable and fact-filled talk, Frances Billinge explained that was traditional in the Hole family for the eldest son to be called William so there are several William Hole’s in their history. William Hole I (1699-1779) was a lawyer, land agent and cartographer who became rich from his activities. He lived at Crownley Barn which was a farm, not a grand house. Over the years the Hole family built up a portfolio of land in Devon and William Hole III (1799-1859) bought Parke and rebuilt it by 1826.

Although William Hole III had a large inheritance, the Parke estate had no minerals and was not an estate that generated much income. He consolidated his landowning to cover most of Bovey Tracey, selling lands further afield and eventually owning 1,163 acres.

William Robert Hole (1831-1903) inherited the estate from his father but unfortunately agriculture in the late 1800s suffered a decline. William Robert, like his predecessors, played an important part in the development of Bovey Tracey. In the 1840s he gave some land for the formation of the cricket club and the first match is recorded as having been played in 1848. He was also instrumental in improving the water supply, allowing access to his land in 1854.

At William Robert’s death in 1903, his son William Gerald Hole (1881-1974) inherited an estate that was no longer viable. He sold off some of the land and let out the house, building a new home for himself elsewhere in the vicinity. Eventually, he did manage to move back to Parke and gave the estate to the National Trust on his death in 1974. The National Trust opened the lands for public use and the house is now the headquarters for the Dartmoor National Park Authority.

There are memorials to the Hole family in the local Church but despite their involvement in the development of Bovey Tracey, the only visible sign of their existence is the bridge on the main road to Moretonhampstead, named The Hole Bridge.

A full history of Parke and the Hole family written by Frances can be found on the her website at https://boveytraceyhistory.org.uk.

Chris Reader
April 2024


Thu. 18 April 2024
2:15 pm
£2 – £4
Event Categories:


South Devon Branch
Annie Maltby: 07771 277761


Newton’s Place
43 Wolborough St
Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 1JQ