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Knowstone 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 427 in 1801 343 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In 1641/2 88 adult males signed the Protestation returns.
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 Knowstone 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 23/10 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 23SW
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SS828231. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SS82SW, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Explorer 114, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 181. Geological sheet 310 also covers the area.
Extract from Devon by W.G.Hoskins (1954),included by kind permission of the copyright holder:
KNOWSTONE (pron.Now-stone). The 15th century church (St. Peter) has a good tower, and a plain Norman S. doorway. The N. arcade, said to be Norman, is more probably a 17th century rebuilding. There are good pews of late 18th century or early 19th century date, and mural monuments to Philip Shapcote (1690) and Joan Culme (1691). Sir John Berry (1635-90), a distinguished naval commander under Charles II, who was knighted for his bravery at the battle of Sole Bay in 1665, was born at the vicarage, his father Daniel then being vicar. Two Froudes were vicars here from 1767 to 1853, the second one being the infamous " Parson Froude " who held the living with that of Molland. This unspeakable oaf is buried at Knowstone. He left his two parishes, like himself, in a heathen and lawless condition. He is Parson Chowne in Blackmore's Maid of Sker.
Wadham was a Domesday estate and the original home of the Wadham family who founded the Oxford college of that name. The present farmhouse is of no architectural interest. Little Wadham, near by, is a good example of a farmhouse rebuiltc. 1600. Shapcott Barton, in the east of the parish, was also a Domesday estate, held by Algar in 1066 and retained by him after the Conquest. The Shapcotts may well descend from this 11th century owner. The last of the Shapcotts died at Exeter about 1770, when the estate was sold for the first time. The present farmhouse is mainly Elizabethan, and in part medieval.