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Hemyock Castle
Ancient Heart of the Blackdowns

People Power – The March to Democracy

These webpages are about Britain's long, slow, continuing progress towards democracy; particularly the contribution of people associated with Hemyock Castle.

Other webpages in this series.

General John Graves Simcoe (1752 to 1806)

Abolition of Slavery in British Province of Upper Canada, 1793

One of General Simcoe's first acts as the first Lt. Governor of Upper Canada (Ontario) had been to abolish slavery in the province; a difficult and complicated political task. This helped not only slaves in Canada, but subsequently also allowed some 40,000 slaves escaping America to gain their freedom in Canada; many via what later became called The Underground Railroad: Not an actual railroad (as depicted in the novel & Hollywood movie; but a series of secret path "railroads," safe houses "stations," and trusted guides "conductors."

Saved the Life of George Washington – Later, USA President

Earlier, during the American War of Independence, while Commander of Simcoe's Scouts which included American Indians, he is reputed to have been "too much a gentleman" to shoot three escaping American Officers in the back. One of them later turned out to have been the young George Washington!

Hemyock Castle & Defence Against Threat of Napoleonic Invasion

General Simcoe bought Hemyock Castle from the Leighs in the 1790s following his distinguished career in the New World. He had visions of restoring Hemyock Castle to its former glory. Although he made a start, his duties as Lieutenant-General in command of coastal defence in Devonshire, defending against the threat of Napoleonic invasion, prevented him. He seems to have added some "Gothic" features during his remodelling of the old defensive tower at the southern end of the manor house, and also to the two castle Guardhouses.

In 1806, shortly before he was due to assume command of British forces in India, General Simcoe died of a sudden illness contracted during a diplomatic mission to Portugal. His wife, Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe lived until 1850.

Wolford Chapel – Canadian Soil… in Devon

Wolford Chapel, near the Simcoes' Wolford Lodge mansion, was given to the People of Ontario, Canada. The Premier, John Robarts, accepted the title deeds in 1966. Making that piece of Devon, Canadian soil.

Simcoe Archives – Donated to Canada

Most of the Simcoes' archives, including his wife Elizabeth Simcoe's Canadian Diary which is illustrated with her paintings, are now held in Canada, where General Simcoe is still very highly regarded.

His town of "York" is now called "Toronto."

Other webpages in this series:

These webpages were created as part of a special exhibition at Hemyock Castle's 2019 Heritage Open Day

Heritage Open Days are part of European Heritage Days, a Council of Europe initiative. They are co-ordinated by The National Trust with funding by players of People's Postcode Lottery

Hemyock Castle receives no funding, and makes no charge for entry on Heritage Open Days. We welcome donations to The Blackdown Support Group & Musgrove Leukaemic Group Somerset

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Hemyock Castle, Hemyock, CULLOMPTON, Devon, EX15 3RJ, UK.
© 2001–2023. Prepared and published by Curlew Communications Ltd