once described as a quiet, agricultural backwater in Devon’s river country —but history tells us otherwise!
Lapford history is full of stories of intrigue, influence and incredulity that belie the village’s pastoral setting. It was once home to: the infamous and murderous ‘Parson Jack’; tinned rice pudding (invented in the village in 1936); some 2000 Roman soldiers; Britain’s ‘most wanted’ criminal; the last survivor of The Great Escape of WW2; a prosperous textile industry; and a surprising number of inspiring men and women who helped shape the world. See Lapfordians who changed the world
A brief introduction to Lapford Read More
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!
Lapford history humour Read More
- Tinned rice pudding was invented in Lapford in 1936. Uncanny?
- Lapford’s infamous rector “Parson Jack” reputedly committed at least two murders in the village. When he raised farm rents did that make him a cereal killer?
- Were C12 villagers sceptical to see their church 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!
Then & Now