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Ugborough

Ugborough is located within South Hams local authority area. Historically it formed part of Ermington Hundred. It falls within Plympton 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 956 in 1801 1610 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In 1641/2 314 adult males signed the Protestation returns.

A parish history file is held in Totnes 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 Ugborough area on Donn's one inch to the mile survey of 1765.

Ugborough area on Donn's map of 1765(ugbthumb.jpg)

On the County Series Ordnance Survey mapping the area is to be found on 1:2,500 sheet 125/4,8 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 125NE
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SX677558. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SX65NE, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Outdoor Leisure 20, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 202. Geological sheet 349 also covers the area.

Extract from Devon by W.G.Hoskins (1954), included by kind permission of the copyright holder:

UGBOROUGH is a large compact village, and an extensive parish, rising to more than 1,500 ft. above sea level at Quickbeam Hill and Three Barrows. There are Bronze Age barrows and hutcircles on the moorland, and a stone row running N. from Butterdon Hill. The views of the South Hams from Western Beacon and Ugborough Beacon are extensive.

Ugborough village is built around a large open square, with the church on an eminence at the S. end. The latter (St. Peter) is said to stand inside an earlier earthwork, and is approached by a lofty flight of steps. It is a building of early 14th to early 16th century in date, of great length (131 ft.), with a fine W. tower (94 ft.). The high altar was dedicated by Bishop Stapeldon in 1311, the whole church in 1323. This 14th century church probably had N. and S. transepts which in the 15th century were opened out into the present aisles. The curious granite arcades should be noticed. The tower was completed in the early 16th century (said to be 1520).

The features of the church are: (I) the timber roof of the N. aisle with its remarkable large carved bosses, of which one represents St. Brannoc's white sow and her litter of eight, and another St. Loye, the patron saint of metal workers; (2) the cut-down rood-screen with its 32 painted panels and the parclose screens; (3) the unusual 17th century stone pulpit, and (4) the splendid (but mutilated) late Norman font. It must originally have been one of the finest examples of its type.

There were several manors in the parish: besides Ugborough itself we find Broadaford, Langford Barton, Ludbrook, Peek, and Venn, all in Domesday Book. Fowellscombe was the medieval mansion of the Fowells at an early date. They were said to have been here before the Norman Conquest, but a 12th century origin is perhaps more likely.

Fowellscombe is now a romantic ruin, alone in the fields, with ivy falling in cascades down its Tudor walls. It was built in 1537 by Sir Thomas Fowell, on the rising tide of the family fortunes, and enlarged in the 18th century Fillham, for long a medieval mansion, is now an 18th century and later house, with the remains of a chapel (St. Andrew), to which is attached a lofty 18th century "gaze-tower."

Witchcombe, now a farmhouse, has remains of a former mansion where Sir John Kempthorn, the eminent naval commander, was born in 1620. West Peek and Whitehouse Farm have some interesting 17th century work.

Extract from: Dr. Parson’s report to the Local Government Board on typhoid fever in the Totnes Urban and Rural Sanitary Districts, 1881.

Ugborough. – In this village about 22 cases of typhoid fever, with six deaths occurred between February- and August, 1879. The site of the village is saddle-shaped; in the centre is the Market place, a wide open space surrounded by houses from which Littleboune Street descends to the N .E. and Modbury Street to the S. W. On the N. W. the ground rises into a hill on the side of which the Board Schools are situated, and on the S.E. is a smaller eminence on which the church stands. There are a few houses in yards on the E. and S. sides of the Market Place. The streets in Ugborough are drained by old square stone sewers. 'There is one such sewer in Littlebourne Street, discharging into a brook which crosses the street at the bottom. In Modbury Street there are two sewers: one begins at the Board Schools, and runs down the street, receiving the drainage from houses on the S.E. side; the other, at the back of the row of houses on the N. W. side, receives the drainage from them. The sewage is used for irrigating water meadows, the two streams of sewage joining in the open air.

The water supply is derived chiefly from a conduit in the middle of the Market Place. This is fed from two sources, a spring outside the village, and a reservoir near the Board Schools. During the winter months (from about November to May) the spring water is used for irrigating water meadows, and during that time the conduit is fed entirely from the reservoir. The reservoir is a tunnel 6 ft. in diameter, dammed up at the mouth, and driven about 30 ft. into the hillside, with a bore-hole at the farther end, which taps a spring. Nine yards distant from the reservoir is the closet belonging to the school- master's house; this closet has a pan, and is connected with the sewer which runs down Modbury Street, but is flushed by hand. In the spring of 1879, the drain from the closet got choked, and sewage leaked from the joints. It is. suspected that sewage percolated through the rocks into the reservoir, for when the latter was opened, some black slime was found oozing from the face of the rock. To this contamination of the reservoir the Medical Officer of Health attributes the outbreak of fever in Ugborough. While not prepared to deny the possibility of this explanation being' correct, I find difficulties ill the way of accepting it, the chief being the partial distribution of the fever. Thus the inhabitants of the houses in the Market Place, who all draw water from the conduit, entirely escaped the fever, as also did those in Littlebourne Street (30 houses). It is true that there is a spout in the latter street from which the inhabitants in part get their water; but in dry weather this spout does not run, and then they resort to the conduit, as also do those habitually who live at the end of the street nearest the Market Place. On the other band in Modbury Street 12 cases of fever occurred, 7 out of 31 houses being affected. In the lanes between the church and Modbury Street, three cases occurred, three out of 12 houses being attacked. In a yard behind the Ship Inn, three of the four houses had one case each. The two remaining cases were; one in a house at the east end of the village, and one at the Board School-house.

The first case occurred on or about February 6th, 1879, in a house near the bottom of Modbury Street on the N. W. side. The patient was a young man, a carpenter, who worked in places in the neighbourhood, and may have contracted the disease in the course of his work, though no history of infection could be ascertained. The privy at this house discharges its soil into an open hole dug in the earth at the back; into this hole the privy roof drips, and storm water is also conveyed by a ditch. thirty feet distant from this privy, and on a lower level, is a well from ,which at that time the water supply of this house was obtained. People living in the neighbouring houses also resorted to it by permission of the occupants, instead of fetching water from the conduit, which is at a greater distance. A brother and sister of the first patient were taken ill by the end of February, and several other cases in the same street during March. It seems probable that percolation from the privy infected by the excreta of the first case may have reached the well, and that the use of the contaminated water may have conveyed the disease to other houses in the street.

In close proximity to several of the houses in which fever occurred are drain inlets, at that time untrapped, from which offensive odours arose, and it seems likely that the effluvia from specifically infected sewers may have helped to spread the disease. On this supposition the escape of the houses in the Market-Place and Littlebourne Street may be explained, as these drain in an opposite direction. The mode in which the inmates of the houses between the church and Modbury Street may have contracted the disease, unless through drinking the conduit water, is not clear. Three houses were affected, each in a different row, the other houses of the rows' having escaped. They drain into the Modbury Street sewer and the yard gullies were formerly untrapped, and were complained of as offensive, but it is stated by the Inspector of Nuisances that at that time the drains were not connected with the sewer, and merely led into cesspools. In two of the houses the first case occurred in March, in the other later on in the summer.

In the yard behind the Ship Inn the cases occurred in the summer. This yard is ill-paved and in a filthy condition; there is no privy, all refuse matters being thrown on a heap in the yard. What drainage there is goes into a ditch at the back. The houses are below the level of the ground behind them, and one of them has a pigsty against its back wall. The case at the Board School- house began at the end of April, i.e., not until after most of the other cases had occurred. […]

On the occurrence of the fever being reported to them, the Totnes Rural Sanitary Authority appointed a parochial committee for Ugborough, by Horn, under the advice of the Medical Officer of Health, certain remedial. measures were carried out: among others, the water from the reservoir was shut off from the conduit (this was done before April 21st, 1879); the reservoir was thoroughly cleansed, the school-house closet drain cleared and relaid ,with properly cemented joints ; the outfall of the sewer in Modbury Street was carried down by pipes to a distance from the houses; many of the house drains were reconstructed with glazed pipes and traps; and the conduit water was brought down to a tap in the lower part of Modbury Street. These steps seem to have been successful in arresting the disease.