They turned out to be Xylaria hypoxylon otherwise and variously known as Candlestick Fungus, Candle Snuff Fungus, Carbon Antlers or Stag's Horn Fungus.
At about 2 inches in length, they can be seen all year round, but are more frequently seen in autumn when the undergrowth around has died back to expose them.
Starting off with a powdery coating of asexual spores or conidia. Later in the season, these fruiting bodies blacken as they mature, before producing sexual spores.
Candle Snuff Fungus is not poisonous, but their tough texture and small size, render them not worth while consuming. They do however, contain a couple of compounds called xylarial A and B which act on the cells of liver cancer and could therefore have some benefit in the treatment of Hepatocellular carcinoma.