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The parish of Buckland Brewer is a rural one, encircled by fields, woods and moorland. The six miles between Buckland Brewer and the sea make it a year-round, living community, rather than a holiday village. Historically, the economy of the parish was rooted in agriculture. The nineteenth century village, located in the north eastern corner of the parish, was largely self-sufficient, with a range of shops and craftsmen. A map of the village in 1851, showing who is believed to have lived where, has been researched and drawn by villagers and is sold in aid of local projects. There were small settlements towards the south of the parish at Tythecott and Bilsford. The rest of the inhabitants lived in farms or cottages scattered throughout the parish. Equidistant between the towns of Great Torrington and Bideford, the Buckland Brewer of the past probably had stronger links with Torrington. The current route that most villagers take into Bideford did not exist until 1835.

Buckland Brewer is a village and civil parish in the Torridge District of Devon, England, 4.7 miles south of Bideford. Historically, the parish formed part of Shebbear Hundred. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 777, increasing to 794 at the 2011 census. The parish is part of Waldon electoral ward. The population for this at the same census was 1,679.

Historical population figures show a variable trend of increased and decreased population. Torridge District Council historical data shows the following populations:

  • 1801: 872
  • 1901: 644
  • 2001: 777

Religion

The church of St Mary and St Benedict (Church of England) is part of the benefice of the Hartland Coast Team Ministry. This falls within Hartland Deanery, in the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple. This is in the Diocese of Exeter

The church tower is over 500 years old, with a Norman stoup and doorway. There are monuments to, among others, John Taylor, the Loughborough bellfounder, who was born here.

There is a Methodist chapel in the village, and also one sited at Thornhillhead(a moor area within the parish).

Historic estates

Orleigh Court is a late medieval house. John Davie bought the building in 1684. It was the birthplace of John Hanning Speke. It was substantially altered in the early 18th century and remodelled after 1869. In the 1980s it was redeveloped for multiple occupancy and is currently divided into apartments.

The estate of Vielstone is the earliest known residence of the influential Stevens family, later of Smythacott in Frithelstock, Winscott House in Peters Marland and Cross, Little Torrington.

Henry Stevens (1617 – after 1675) of Vielstone, eldest son and heir of William Stevens of Great Torrington, married Judith Hancock, daughter of John Hancock, lord of the Manor of Combe Martin. Judith Hancock's mural monument survives in the parish church at Great Torrington.

In the early 21st century, Vielstone is a modest farmhouse, surrounded by converted farm buildings and new bungalows. It was operated by as a residential home until about 2012 when its standards of care reached unacceptably low levels resulting in its closure. 

Notable residents

Edward Capern, postman-turned-poet, (admired by Tennyson, Charles Kingsley and Walter Savage Landor), lived here in the 19th century; John Davie, merchant

For more in depth information of interest about this community, explore Buckland Brewer History Group website - click here

 

jubilee villagers

 13 aerial view west barton court

 

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