Saint Giles-in-the-Wood is located within Torridge local authority area. Historically it formed part of Fremington Hundred. It falls within Torrington Deanery for ecclesiastical purposes. The Deaneries are used to arrange the typescript Church Notes of B.F.Cresswell which are held in the Westcountry Studies Library. The population was 547 in 1801 623 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In 1641/2 120 adult males signed the Protestation returns.
A parish history file is held in Torrington Library. You can look for other material on the community by using the place search on the main local studies database. Further historical information is also available on the Genuki website.
Maps: The image below is of the Saint Giles-in-the-Wood area on Donn's one inch to the mile survey of 1765.
On the County Series Ordnance Survey mapping the area is to be found on 1:2,500 sheet 30/6 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 30NW
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SS534190. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SS51NW, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Explorer 127, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 180. Geological sheet 309 also covers the area.
Extract from Devon by W.G.Hoskins (1954), included by kind permission of the copyright holder:
ST. GILES-IN-THE-WOOD is a large parish with a number of hamlets, the greater part of which formerly belonged to the Rolle estate, centred at Stevenstone. George Rolle, one of the many successful Tudor lawyers, bought the Stevenstone estate shortly before 1524, and built himself "a right fair house of brick" (Leland) which was probably completed by 1539 when we find him writing to Lady Lisle from "my poor house" of Stevenstone. This Tudor house was rebuilt or remodelled some time in the 18th century, but in 1868-72 the Hon. Mark Rolle rebuilt the house again in the worst style of the time. The richest man in Devon built himself the ugliest house. This is now being allowed to fall into ruin, but the attractive out-buildings of the 18th century house (which were left standing) have been converted into flats. The Deer Park of 370 acres, once finely timbered, is now naked and devastated of its trees.
The church (St. Giles) was "restored" in 1863, with further alterations in 1879, by the Ron. Mark Rolle who spared no expense to make it as ugly as his own house. There remain, however, a number of brasses, as follows:
(1) Recumbent effigy and brass (1648) of Thomas Chafe, Esq., of Dodscott, now pushed into the tower, and dirty and neglected; (2) a brass effigy of Elinor, wife of John Pollard of Way (1430), in the S. aisle, mutilated;
(3) a brass with effigies of a lady and ten children, of Margaret, the wife of John Rolle, Esq., of Stevens tone (1592), in the S. aisle;
(4) a brass effigy of Joan, the wife of William Risdon of Winscott, gent. (1610);
(5) a brass of John Rolle of Stevenstone, Esq. (1570).
The parish contains a number of interesting farmhouses, some of them formerly "mansions." Way is interesting as the fons et origo of the mighty tribe of Pollard, who bought it from the Ways before 1242, and who flowered forth in such profusion in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is now a farmhouse, but contains considerable traces of 16th century and perhaps earlier work.
Winscott Barton came eventually to Tristram Risdon, the antiquary, who wrote here his Chorographical Description or Survey of the County of Devon between 1605 and 1630. The present farmhouse is a late 18th century house. Kingscott is an attractive hamlet with several 16th and 17thcentury farmhouses. Whitsleigh Barton was a Domesday manor.