Mary Meynell Memorial
This is a memorial that is dedicated to a young girl called Mary Meynell. It sits on a small natural outcrop just off the road leading to Avon Dam from Shipley Bridge, within the shade of rhododendron bushes whose tangled branches hide more granite on the hillside.
William Crossing (1889) first mentions the location of the memorial in his book 'Amid Devonia's Alps'; "On reaching Shipley Bridge instead of mounting Zeal Hill as described in the previous chapter, we followed the road that runs for a short distance by the river side and very soon passed through the gate of Brent Moor Villa. Just inside this, on a ledge of rock amid the shrubs which have been planted here and which in this sheltered hollow flourish so luxuriantly, a small pedestal of granite is observable."
There have been several errors in the Meynell story, two of which have stemmed from Eric Hemery's account in High Dartmoor (page 328) where he has both the date and cause of death wrong. The incorrect name of 'Margaret' appears in an article by Dave Brewer (1987) in Dartmoor Magazine number 8 (pages 4-6), and the confusion over the name of Lily seems to have come from the first line of the poem which is carved on the pedestal 'My lovely little Lily, thou wert gathered very soon' etc. The definitive story is that Mary Meynell was a little girl who died aged 4 years of tonsillitis and laryngitis on March 27th 1863, and that her parents Francis and Caroline then set up the memorial to her in the grounds of Brent Moor House. The initials MM are engraved on the stone.
Errors on both the name 'Margaret' and the date of death as '1865' are repeated yet again on page 77 of 'The Book of South Brent' published as recently as 2005, and the 2018 reprinted second edition of Dartmoor 365. However, in the 2020 reprinted third edition of Dartmoor 365, the incorrect cause of death and name have been been remedied, though sadly the erroneous date of '1865' still remains. Tim Jenkinson has also written a detailed account in Dartmoor Magazine, Issue 137, Winter 2019 that explains the various accounts of this little girl.