The perjure of a fallen jockey

Lapford farmer, Thomas Leach, was very proud of his new racehorse: Maid of Honour. At 30 guineas the mare was a costly purchase but when she won a stake at Barnstaple Races in the autumn of 1870, Thomas felt sure he had made a good investment. But, the following night,…
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Poor House Lane cottages

A familiar feature for those who regularly travel though Lapford is the decorative mid-C18 iron arch (pictured above) crafted by the village smithy, George Challice. Through the arch is a row of three thatched cottages dating from about 1740, the first of which is appropriately named Challice Gate. Next door…
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The church & council school

School log books dating back to 1865 were once rescued from a builder’s skip! They provide a fascinating insight into social history and conditions so their survival is very fortunate. In 2016 Sue-Briant-Evans published a brief history of the school including colourful excerpts from the logs. It is reproduced here.
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The Lapford baker killed by yeast

The Richards were once one of the largest and oldest established families in the village; a family of dissenters and industrialists. They were the last occupants of the cottages that once stood on Park Meadow. Read the story of William Richards schoolmaster, butcher and baker who met a ‘barmy’ end.
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Arrival of the gentry

In the early C19, Lapford’s fortunes were suffering from a decline of the serge weaving industry. Fortunately, the building of a turnpike and railway through the parish brought new commercial opportunities. Moreover, they gave improved accessibility to local hunting grounds, bringing a timely influx of wealthy ‘sportsmen’ and benefactors.
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The golden road to Lapford, Soweto

In the early 1900s Lapford’s economy was fuelled by agricultural toil—the husbanding of livestock and the digging of it’s ruby-red soil for cultivation. But not all hard earned income was ploughed back into the village. Lapford labour was indirectly supporting an altogether different land enterprise over 5000 miles away.
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The Cockwell Family

Which Lapford giant became a Highland Games champion? Who supervised savages? Why couldn’t a mother marry? Who might have been Britain’s busiest post handler?
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Kelland Barton— “the most famous farm in England”

John Moon’s innovative farming practices turned Kelland Barton into “the most famous farm in England”. But bad fortune followed the Kelland family after they reclaimed their ancestral farm. Within 40 years the farm had halved in value and left family hands forever.
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Neighbours with a past

From a child cotton spinner and a boy enthused by bug-hunting to an influential family of art, natural science and politics who found a home in Florence at a time of revolution and change. The de Schmid family who moved to Nymet Rowland came to the village with a fascinating…
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Haunted by a holocaust

On remote farmland in southern Scotland tragedy unfolded—a “great holocaust”. Chief fire officer, Eric de Schmid, could have done little more to save lives but he was hurt by criticism and haunted by memories. The Devonian, born near Lapford, later suffered public abuse for being a German spy.
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Lapfordians who changed the world

Canned rice pudding was invented and manufactured in Lapford and the name of the village was exported around the world on the side of a tin. Remarkably, for such a small community, Lapford can boast many other fascinating connections with change and development in the late C19/early C20. Quite uncanny!
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Hidden Detail

From his studio in Sidwell Street, Exeter, Herbert Read created pieces for some of the world’s most prestigious venues including the Taj Mahal, the House of Lords and the National Cathedral in Washington DC. Lapford’s memorial cross was an altogether different commission. Mr Densham, chair of the war memorial committee,…
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Passing Muster: the armed villagers of Tudor Lapford

In Tudor times there was no standing army in England. Lapford was expected to maintain its own village militia, together with necessary equipment, ready to be called upon by the Crown in a time of need. What sort of village fighting force could Lapford muster?
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The Lapford Bride

Eight scenes in the remarkable life of Mary Ann Partridge who married at seventeen and was accused of wilfully murdering her husband the following year
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Easton Barton: looking to Lapford

Easton Barton in 1907 – a grand farmhouse with medieval origins and striking Tudor features—tall granite windows and arched doorways. Roman remains said to be found on Cornbury Hill point to the possibility on an even earlier house on the site. Approaching Lapford, a road to the right  immediately before…
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William Hitchcock, serge maker-hero or villain?

The once wealthy industrialist William Maunder Hitchcock (b.1822) lived in Lapford for the last 25 years of his life until his death in 1894. He boarded quietly with James and Mary Crook at remote Little Hole, Lapford away from public life. Those who met him during his years in Lapford may have…
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Serge weaving in Lapford

   The clacking of hand loans was once a familiar one in Lapford. It is likely that there were once 20 or more looms in the village for the weaving of woollen cloth —most commonly, serge. Serge was Devon’s primary export commodity in the boom years of the counties textile industry in the C17…
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Lapford serge making Q&As

When did serge making start in Lapford? Devon was a world centre of serge making from the C14. Rural communities played a vital part in this industry, producing wool and undertaking various production processes in the home. In Lapford few records survive of Lapford’s involvement in the serge making before the 1851 census when the industry was in…
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William Snell: cut from a different cloth?

Many serge weavers lived on the edge of poverty, even in full employment. But for their immediate masters, the serge makers, there was financial opportunity. Lapford serge-maker William Snell appears to have grown wealthy from the work of the village’s weaving community.  On his death in 1800 William Snell left a £1300 share of his estate to his three children (over £1…
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The life and paintings of Eliza Wilson 1837-1915

Three Victorian paintings of Lapford were brought together in a display at The Ark, Lapford in September 2017. They were painted between 1882 and 1901 by Eliza Wilson, wife of Canon Cornelius Wilson the, then, Rector of Lapford. It was probably the first time that the paintings have been on display: they are now all…
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Mary Brown- memories of a Lapford teacher 1973-1998

TRANSCRIPT OF TALK GIVEN BY MRS MARY BROWN AT THE BYGONE DAYS EXHIBITION IN THE VICTORY HALL ON FRIDAY 21ST JANUARY 2000. Before I ever came in to the village of Lapford I frequently passed by along the A377. At that time – early seventies – Highfield was still being…
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Eileen Parish- an evacuee to Lapford

I came to Lapford as an evacuee in June 1940. We had travelled from South West London by train to Exeter where we were transferred to coaches and driven to Haywards School, Crediton, for milk and buns. From there we came to Lapford and arrived at the Victory Hall in…
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Edgar Bragg- a Kelland lad

TRANSCRIPT OF A TALK GIVEN BY MR EDGAR BRAGG AT THE BYGONE DAYS EXHIBITION IN THE VICTORY HALL ON FRIDAY 21ST JANUARY 2000. I was brought to Lapford when a very young child of twenty months and have lived either at “Kelland Barton” or “Easterpark” for over seventy years. Some…
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Bill Manning- memories of Lapford Home Guard

Excerpts from a talk given at the Bygone Days Exhibition in the Victory Hall, Lapford, on Friday 21st January 2000 by Mr Bill Manning. A skilled farmworker of years ago could plough a field, make a hedge, make a load of hay or corn, thatch a rick, and make the…
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Phyllis Partridge- the drive into Lapford

I just want to take you on a drive into Lapford from the Crediton and Exeter side. As we approach on the A377 we pass Bugford Quarry from where a lot of stone was taken for the road which was built as a turnpike. Lapford looks rather modern but there…
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The near end of the Nymet House removal men

On the evening of 12 October 1910, three labourers from Exeter –Thomas Thorpe, Robert Carr and William Lobb – arrived at Nymet House, Nymet Rowland. In the morning they were to start removing furniture from the house to Mark Rowe & Sons[1], a furnishing store on Exeter High Street who…
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The Gaters: from mill to mansion

The Gater family owned Lapford Mill until about 1820 when it was sold to William Croote. We can’t be sure of the reason that the Gater’s left Lapford but it is possible that the mill was no longer needed as a source of family income following the 1822 marriage of Anne Gater,…
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The day we caught a barrage balloon!

On November 29th 1940 the Head Master of Lapford school with teachers Miss Harris and Mr Burchell and with about 100 senior children captured a barrage balloon at morning break. Edgar Bragg, was there and fifty years’ later wrote about what happened: “One great and exciting event was the sighting of a Barrage…
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Reminiscences of an evacuee

Above: Evacuee children at the school with their teachers, Mrs Hearn & Mr Reece 1941 In 2000 Mrs Eileen Parish recorded her memories as a wartime evacuee to Lapford… “I came to Lapford as an evacuee in June 1940. We had travelled from South West London by train to Exeter…
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