Our History

See here about the history of the
Awliscombe Parish Council.

About Awliscombe

Awliscombe Past

People have been living and working in what is now the Parish of Awliscombe for some 5000 years. First to occupy Hembury Fort were Neolithic people who farmed. The Celtic Iron Age farmers fortified Hembury from about 400BC, constructing the great ditches we can see today, and mining the iron ore on the Blackdowns. They began the clearance of trees from the valleys to provide more land for farming; the Romans were here too, also mining the iron ore. The Saxons began a system of local government, which lasted until the formation of County, Rural District and Parish Councils towards the end of the 19th Century. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 the village pattern had begun to develop into the form we know today. There were five small manors – Goda’s Ford, Wolstancota, Aulescombe, Ivedon and Warin’s Tun. This probably explains why we have settlements at Godford Cross, Wolverstone, and the centre of the village with the church, and Weston (or Werringstone). William de Ivedon divided the manor of Ivedon in about 1200 between his three daughters, one of whom was married to William de Tracey. He gave his name to that portion of the estate. The church of St. Michael and All Angels was built in the 14th century, replacing an earlier Norman one, with major additions in the 16th century by Thomas Chard, the last Abbot of Forde Abbey, who was born at Tracey.

During the 18th century most people were still employed in agriculture and lived in mainly cob and thatched cottages, many built in the 16th century. Following the Napoleonic wars, decline in farming forced many from the land into the towns and cities. Those who remained were employed as servants at the big houses or worked on the land. There were two mills (Godford and Lower Mill), blacksmiths, carpenters and wheelwrights shops, two or three public houses or cider houses, a shoemaker and a tailor. By the middle of the 19th century the population reached 600, with large families crammed into small cottages. The Neumann family who came to Tracey at about that time built several modern stone cottages for workers on their estate. The school was founded in 1819; the present building dates from 1875, when it was built by public subscription and Government money. The old Tithe Barn, which stood on what is now the playground, was demolished, together with the poor house, by then being used as the school, which was opposite the church gate. The stone was used in the new building. The Parish Hall was built as a ‘Reading Room’ in 1902 after fund raising activities and by subscription.

By the beginning of the 20th century the old cob cottages were in decay and neglect during the First World War led to further decline. In 1926 the Minister of Health, Neville Chamberlain, came to Devon and was shocked by the state of rural housing. As a result the Government passed The Housing (rural Workers) Act in 1926 and grants were made available to renovate cottages. In Awliscombe cottages on Church Hill, in Weston, and some others were modernised. Council houses were built at Nap View and Sunnyside around 1930. The population of the village fell to around the same as that in 1800 (426). Many old cob buildings, including the thatched 16th century vicarage, which today would be considered desirable dwellings, have disappeared. Modern developments at Chinston Close, Marles Close and Nap View, and a few other houses and bungalows have been built during the past 40 years and the population is now rising again.

Awliscombe Today

The Parish comprises of two rural villages, Awliscombe and Weston plus small clusters and scattered individual dwellings. The parish straddles the A373 with the southern border of Weston marked by the River Otter. The town of Honiton, 2 miles from the centre of Awliscombe contains all the services of a busy market town, as well as a railway station on the London (Waterloo) to Exeter line. TheA373/M5 junction is 10 miles to the North West and the A30 dual carriageway runs from Honiton to Exeter (17 miles) with access to Exeter International Airport (10 miles). Access to the coast between Lyme Regis and Exmouth is all possible within a 30 to 40 minutes drive.
The Parish is situated in picturesque undulating countryside with a large section also included within the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The river Wolf drains the Northern area and runs south to join the River Otter running along the southern boundary.
We have a lovely church, a public house in Awliscombe and one in Weston (by the river), a primary school and Parish Hall. There is free public access to Hembury Fort (site of both an Iron Age & Roman fort). We have many community organisations covering many interests and entertainments including the annual summer fete. We are a rural and agricultural community
The Parish has its own council and falls within the ward of Tale Vale in the District Council of East Devon. Our parliamentary constituency is Tiverton and Honiton and we are part of the South West European Parliamentary Region. There are 210 residences with an electoral role of 422.

One off views of our local History

Did you know that a regular piece of our history is written each month in our Awliscombe & Weston Times by Valarie Cann. Check it out! AWT