once described as “a quiet, agricultural backwater in Devon’s river country”

but history tells us otherwise!

The village has been home to a murderous parson, tinned rice pudding (invented in the village in 1936), around 2000 Roman soldiers, Britain’s most wanted criminal, the last survivor of The Great Escape of WW2 and a surprising number of influential men and women who helped shape the world.
See Lapfordians who changed the world

Enjoy discovering Lapford’s rich history here

A brief introduction to Lapford

The village of Lapford lies between Dartmoor and Exmoor  in Devon’s fertile “River Country”. It was once the site of an important river crossing leading to the mysterious ‘sacred grove’ of the Celtic nomads, the Dumnonii, who settled in the iron age. Later the crossing was important enough to be protected by one of the South West’s largest Roman forts—Nymetstatio—next to today’s Bury Barton.

From the well-preserved village mill, Lapford village winds up the southern slopes of the Yeo Vale—thatched cob cottages, yeomen’s farmhouses, Victorian gentlemen’s residences and post-war housing developments seemingly jostling for sunny positions.

The valley once echoed to the sound of ‘tins’ being unloaded from rail wagons at the Ambrosia factory. Here, in 1936, canned rice pudding was invented. The name of Lapford travelled the world on the side of a can.

For a small agricultural community Lapford has been home to a surprisingly large number of influential men and women of historical relevance, whose stories will be covered in this website.

Lapford lore has darker tales too…
William de Tracy is said to have fled to the area after his hand in the murder of Thomas-a-Becket and rebuilt Lapford church as a penance.

Centuries later, “public enemy no.1”, John Macvicar, also fled here, choosing to hide out at a local chicken farm after his famous jail break.

Lapford’s infamous ruffian rector, John Radford, seemingly committed at least two murders in the village. He was never convicted as villagers, afraid of giving evidence, claimed that they had never hung a parson before so didn’t intend to start doing so. Despite his brutish reputation and his love for ‘off the cuff’ prize fighting, one Lapford resident described ‘Parson Jack’ as “the perfect gentleman”.

Welcome to Lapford!

Local history humour
  • Is the fact that tinned rice pudding was invented in Lapford in 1936 uncanny?
  • Lapford’s Parson Jack reputedly committed at least two murders in the village. When he put up farm rents was he accused of being a cereal killer?
  • Were villagers ever sceptical that their church was being built by a man who had just murdered the Archbishop of Canterbury?
  • Lapford’s Roman fort was probably large enough for 2000 men – and they say Devon folk are wary of incomers!
  • George Woolway said he’d buy the Malt Scoop Inn for a “hatful of sovereigns” … but he couldn’t afford to get too big headed about it!
  • Charles Adley was an authority on the installation of Indian’s 4000 mile telegraph system. Ironic that telephones were so slow arriving in Lapford!
  • Speaking of telephones, Lapford residents could be the last with 5-digits … but villagers are urged not to count on it!


Administrator-David Garton