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Harberton community page

Harberton is located within South Hams local authority area. Historically it formed part of Coleridge Hundred. It falls within Totnes 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 1138 in 1801 1170 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In 1641/2 306 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 Harberton 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 120/12,16 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 120SE
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SX777586. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SX75NE, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Outdoor Leisure 20, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 202. Geological sheet 349 also covers the area.

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


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

HARBERTON is a large unspoilt village which takes its name from the Harbourne river. Harbertonford is another village within the parish, situated at the crossing of the Harbourne. The old name for the ford seems to have been Hernaford, now a farm to the S. A bridge was built here in the late 16th to early 17th century. Harbertonford was made into a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1860, when the church of St. Peter was built. There is a large woollen mill here, and a little higher up the river an edge-tool factory in an old mill.

Harberton church (St. Andrew) is a splendid 14th and 15th century building; but it must have been still more exciting before the "restorations" of 1861 and 1871-2, which swept away a good deal of the old furniture and did barbaric things to the medieval rood-screen. The vaulting of the screen is perfect; the cornice enrichments very fine; but the top cresting is coarse modern work. At the "restoration" the whole screen was smothered with shiny paint, and the painted figures of saints on the lower panels covered up with tin-plate painted by an amateur with the figures of angels. Baring-Gould says (in his Little Guide) that these paintings were portraits of the young ladies of the congregation in 1870. As such, they have a certain melancholy interest. The pulpit is remarkably fine, with a good series of statuettes. It is 15th century in date, and one of the best medieval stone pulpits in Devon. The font is very beautiful Norman work, of red sandstone, with almost pure Byzantine ornament.

There are a number of architecturally interesting houses in the parish. Beenleigh, beside the Harbourne river, is substantially a 15th century "mansion," with a hall and primitive gatehouse. Luscombe, not far away, is an early 17th century "mansion." Great Englebourne, NW. of Harbertonford, was a Domesday manor and has traces of the former manor house. Other Domesday manors were Hazard and East and West Leigh, now farmhouses. Hernaford, first recorded in 1285, was also a medieval "mansion." The Church House Inn at Harberton is a 16th century building with an interesting interior.

Harberton parish is fertile and beautiful country. It seems likely that it once covered the whole enclave between the Dart and the Harbourne, and that it included the present parish of Ash- prington and the site of the l0th century borough of Totnes, which grew up at the extremity of the district and was in due course carved out of it.

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

Harberton. This village lies in a low damp situation in a valley, a brook running through it. Fever was prevalent here in the latter half of 1877 and the beginning of 1878. The first case was a farmer's daughter, aged 16, who came home ill from a boarding-school at Totnes, and died on June 18th, the cause of death being certified as "Typhoid fever, 16 days; Melaena." It is stated that the body was kept unburied, contrary to the advice of the medical attendant, until the eighth day. The farmer's remaining family consisted of nine persons, of whom three subsequently had well-marked attacks of fever, one fatal, and three others had what were thought to be slight attacks of the same complaint. The next cases after the first were two sons, who were taken ill in the hay-field, 2 or 3 miles from home, on July 6th. The fourth case, a son aged 11, died on July 31st, the certified cause being ., Typhus fever, eight days.." The three slight cases occurred subsequently in younger children. The body of the son was buried in the same grave in which that of the daughter had been previously interred; it was a brick grave, but the coffin of the first corpse had not been sealed down by a stone slab, and was exposed when the grave was re- opened for the second funeral. [t is stated that swarms of flies issued from the grave. The mode in which the fever was propagated among the members of this household cannot after this lapse of time be ascertained. The excreta were at first thrown into the privy, and later on were by medical advice buried in an orchard at a distance from the house. The- privy abuts on the house, but a stream of water flowing continually through it washes away the excreta, and no offensive smell was perceptible at the time of my visit. There is no drain in the house, the only drain inlet being in the back yard, not very near doors or windows. Water is obtained partly from a spout fed by a spring issuing from the hillside above, partly from a pump well about 20 feet deep on a higher level than the house, and apparently not very likely to be polluted by sewage. The water was pronounced by the county analyst to be only a second-rate water, but fit for use. The members of the family who were subsequently attacked had been into the chamber of those first ill. […]

Altogether 21 cases set down as "fever" occurred in Harberton between June, 1877, and February, 1878, six of which died, three of the deaths being certified as from " typhus " and three from "typhoid." Eight households were affected. Except the three cottages by the brook, these all obtained their water supply from different sources, and their drainage went in different directions. Milk was procured both from the farm where the first cases occurred and from the cottage next the brook, but I am unable to say that there is any evidence to show that the disease was distributed by the agency of milk supply. Personal intercommunication appeared to have most to do with its spread from family to family. A new pipe sewer has been laid down in part of Harberton, in other parts there are old stone sewers partly choked with sediment; all terminate in the brook, but the sewage which enters the stone sewers mostly soaks away into the ground. The water supply is derived chiefly from two public cisterns with taps, fed by springs above the village; close to one of these cisterns is a very filthy public privy, said to be the property of the churchwardens, and used by the occupants of some Feoffee houses and by other persons who have no privies of their own. A few yards above this cistern there is also an old dipping well, now used as a receptacle for slops. […]

Creator: Devon Library and Information Services
Title: Harberton community page
Imprint: Exeter : Devon Library and Information Services
Date: 2004
Format: Web page : HTML
Series: Devon community web pages ; GAZHAR1
Ref. no.: WEB GAZHAR1
Coverage: Devon . Harberton . History . Web pages

Last Updated: 22/02/2005

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