Lapford Then and Now

NEW! Compare pictures view of bygone Lapford with the same views today. We will be adding more in the coming months.

Lapford Mill

Milling in Lapford was recorded in the Doomsday book. The current mill is noted for its intact machinery and for lovers of art it is an occasional entertainment venue and home to Lapstock Music Festival. Discover the mill’s chequered history with links to South African Gold and Yorkshire Brass.

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, […]

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 is Honey Cottage and at the end of the row is Pleasant Cottage.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

Tales from the policehouse (1873-1880)

These tales from the Lapford police house at Stonegate give a fascinating insight into local life, standards and oral attitudes in Victorian mid-Devon.