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