Last month I moved back to my hometown of Plymouth and am happy to have found a place in the area where I grew up: St. Budeaux. Wandering about with the dog has allowed me to reconnect to my youth: of the schools that I formerly attended, of the pub (now pulled down) where I drank my first pint, and of the corner-shop where I bought pasties (yes, I am a proud Plymothian and take pasty eating very seriously). As I have shown previously on this site, I am incredibly interested in all of this local history and so coming back “home” and being able to walk on these sites of local historical significance has made me rather content.
And so, how about a first home-coming post on the meaning of the name of the road on which I now live: Mount Tamar Close. The road is positioned in Higher St. Budeaux, wedged close to the various schools in the area: the infant school (Plaistow Hill), the junior school (St. Budeaux Foundation), the secondary school (the Marine Academy), and another school – Mount Tamar School – which supports students who find mainstream education less accessible. It is this final school on which the meaning behind Mount Tamar Close can be found, for it appears to have been the site of a former affluent home dating back a couple of centuries. Captain Sir Thomas Byard is noted as having been the owner of this home at the end of the 18th century.
The name of Captain Byard has been mentioned briefly before on this blog: back in 2019 I quoted an article (printed in the 1950s) that outlined the local response to an impending French invasion from the 1790s. Captain Byard organised a meeting – held at the Blue Monkey pub – to discuss defence preparations; although many men came forward with their enthusiasm to defend the parish, the list of weapons available would have surely been over-matched by a superior, professional French fighting force (luckily, the feared invasion did not come to pass).
All of this illustrates the role that Byard – in his capacity as a naval captain and a notable landowner – and Mount Tamar House played in local society in the parish of St. Budeaux. Byard continued service in the navy during the war against the French in the 1790s and died onboard HMS Foudroyant in 1798, before being buried at St. Budeaux Church. Later in the 19th Century, Mount Tamar House came under the possession of another celebrated military figure: John Chard. Chard became a hero due to his actions in the defence of Rorke’s Drift against the Zulus; the event of which appeared to find a second wind of fame with the famous portrayal in the 1964 film Zulu.
Mount Tamar House was dismantled in the 1970s and it appears that the land belonging to it was utilised for housing, with the main focal point being the area on which Mount Tamar School today stands. I can’t wait to research into this further as it is probable that my current home would have been part of the territory belonging to Byard’s and Chard’s old home. I will reveal the details when I come across them in the near future.