Town & Village
With the exception of Exeter, Devon's towns have their origins in the later Saxon period and most of the larger towns were in existence by the Norman Conquest. In the 12th and 13th centuries many new settlements were founded with the hope that they would grow into profitable towns, but most did not succeed and remain villages today. The medieval pattern of town walls, street and house plots survive well in some towns such as Totnes, although few actual buildings, apart from parish churches, survive from earlier than the 16th century. Extensive rebuilding took place in the 17th and 18th centuries in most of Devon's towns. Timber-framed houses of a particular West Country style are notable. The rise of Devon as a resort county in the 19th century promoted the growth of seaside towns such as Sidmouth or Ilfracombe, with distinctive local styles of architecture.
Most of Devon's villages were in existence by the 10th and 11th centuries; they usually lie at the heart of their own parish and contain the parish church. This administrative function distinguishes them from other small groups of houses or hamlets, which occur throughout the County. The form and plan of Devon villages is irregular. Most villages historically contained only one or two substantial farms; the rest of the dwellings were on a smaller scale. Apart from the parish church and the church house where it survives, these farmhouses are likely to be the only buildings of antiquity in the village; the other traditional buildings are likely to be 18th or early 19th century in date.