The Gregorys of Colebrooke (and beyond)
Brownsland Colebrooke was formerly a farm of about 70 acres lying below what is now Sheppark Farm. The name Sheppark referred to the field Sheep Park which used to stretch from Brownsland farmhouse down to the railway line with other smaller fields, no longer in existence, surrounding the farmstead. (Early records referred to the farm as Brownsland but from the Colebrooke estate sale of 1919 it became known as Broomsland. However, census returns for the 1950s when it was last habited still showed it as Brownsland)
The remnants of Brownsland can be seen from the corner below Brocks Cross on the road to Horwell, lying in splendid isolation in the middle of a large field. It was originally accessed by a track beside what is now Redhill Thatch. It ceased to be a separate farm in the mid 19th century and was made part of Youngs Farm. Brownsland farmhouse became the shepherds cottage. It was at Brownsland in 1859 Mariann Gregory wife of Andrew, farmer James Wreford’s shepherd gave birth to Andrew the second of their nine children. Their youngest sons twins William and Robert born 1872 joined the marines at Plymouth in 1893, and both served in the Boer War and WW1 with distinction. After WW1 William farmed West Studham farm and was the local representative of the newly formed British Legion, when he moved away in the 1930s, it broke the link with Colebrooke of the Gregory family who had been resident here since the early 1700s.
Returning to young Andrew, he left school at 12 and worked for Mr Samuel Norrish at Horwell for a while. He then got a job on the railway operating on the Yeoford Okehampton line which no doubt as a child he had watched being constructed along the bottom of Sheep Park in the 1860s. By 1881 he was married and living in Bear St cottages just above Butsford(burnt down 1934) and had become a railway porter. He next moved to Penstone to the Railway Cottages and worked at Yeoford. By the mid-1890s, he was the father of seven children and had moved to North Tawton where he became a signalman. No doubt this connection with the railway assisted his youngest son Archie in the start of his haulage business. A recent copy of the Crediton Courier describing the forthcoming centenary of Gregory’s Distribution in 2019 mentions how young Archie Gregory began the business by hauling coal from North Tawton station with a horse and cart. Sadly his grandparents Andrew(died1894) and Mariann(died 1913) never lived to see his successful business begin. A slate headstone marks their resting place north of the church at Colebrooke.