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North Molton community page

North Molton is located within North Devon local authority area. Historically it formed part of South Molton Hundred. It falls within South Molton 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 1541 in 1801 1069 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. The lay subsidy of 1524 valued the community at £16/08/02. In 1641/2 341 adult males signed the Protestation returns. It is recorded as a borough from 1249. A market is recorded from 14c.-1600.

A parish history file is held in South Molton 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 North Molton 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 15/10 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 15SW
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SS738298. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SS72NW, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Explorer 127, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 180. Geological sheet 293 also covers the area.

Illustrations: The image below is of North Molton as included in the Library's Etched on Devon's memory website. Other images can be searched for on the local studies catalogue.


A fair is known from: 14c.-1888. [It is intended to include the local section from The glove is up! Devon's historic fairs, by Tricia Gerrish, by kind permission of the author].

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

MOLTON NORTH is an enormous parish (over 15,000 acres) extending well up on to Exmoor. At Five Barrows Hill it reaches a height of 1,617 ft. A number of barrows, probably all of Bronze Age date, lie on North Molton Ridge, at Two Barrows on Fyldon Common, and at Five Barrows on Western Common. North Molton was formerly a royal manor and a separate hundred. At some date it became a borough, though it was never incorporated. The "town" now has a decayed air. There was formerly a woollen industry here: in Polwhele's day the population were mostly combers and weavers, very poor but healthy. This trade vanished as a result of the Napoleonic Wars.

The parish also has a mining history, going back to Elizabethan days when German miners were brought over to develop English lninerals. Westcote says that " iron mines were sometimes wrought near North Molton and Molland " but had ceased work by his time. Iron-mining was resumed in the 18th and 19th centuries at Florence and Marcia Mines; the former was still being worked in the 1890s, and a tramway had been cut down to the railway near South Molton station. The remains of this tramway can be seen above and below Brinsworthy bridge, and of a disused iron mine on Radworthy Down, about 1 m. SSE. of South Radworthy. There are adits in the hillside, on both flanks of the combe towards Tabor Hill, which may be the relics of the Elizabethan iron-workings.

The principal evidences of past working and mining are to be seen in the valley just above Heasley Mill. Copper was worked here in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The mine was abandoned before 1778, but had been re-opened in Vancouver's day (1808) and was later abandoned again. About 1840 a very rich copper mine-Prince Albert's mine was opened in the N. of the parish from which gold was also obtained. Copper-mining seems to have ceased in the 1880s. D.A. 70 (1938), 217; White's Directory 1890.) Silver and lead have also been found in the parish.

The parish church (All Saints) is striking and its contents interesting. The massive tower (100 ft. high) is built of Pickwell Down sandstone, probably from the old quarry at Flitton. The rebuilding of the church was perhaps begun in the late 14th century. A rector of North Molton, by will dated 1398, left 40s. towards "the making of the nave of my church." (Oliver Mon., 451.) On the S. side of the tower is a beautiful image of the Virgin and Child. The clearstoried nave is unusual for Devon. Internally the church has the usual Devon wagon-roofs with plastered panels; a beautiful 15th century font; a good rood-screen and parclose screens; some oak panelling (1609) around the sanctuary walls; one of the finest medieval pulpits in Devon, with a singularly beautiful stem, and a carved early Hanoverian sounding-board; and two excellent monuments.

The Parkers, a local family who eventually became lords Boringdon (1784) and then earls of Morley (1815), owned and lived at the Court House immediately W. of the church. The Parker chapel contains some medieval glass. The Bampfylde chapel on the S. contains a striking alabaster monument to Sir Amyas Bampfylde (d. 1626) and his wife Elizabeth with their 12 sons and 5 daughters. The E. window of this chapel contains some coloured glass, c. 1500.

Court House, W. of the church, is a late 16th century house. Court Hall, E. of the church, was and is the home of the Bampfyldes (created lords Poltimore in 1831). It is a Jacobean house much altered and enlarged about 1835.

Creator: Devon Library and Information Services
Title: North Molton community page
Imprint: Exeter : Devon Library and Information Services
Date: 2004
Format: Web page : HTML
Series: Devon community web pages ; GAZNOR7
Ref. no.: WEB GAZNOR7
Coverage: Devon . North Molton . History . Web pages

Last Updated: 18/05/2005

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