Highampton Local History Group


The Inaugural Meeting was held in the Committee Room, Highampton Village Hall at 7:30pm. Eight potential members attended with apologies received from another four local residents.

Maurice Thomas took the chair, warmly welcomed those present and explained that the reason for the meeting was the desire to establish a history group/society for the village with the creation of a permanent base to house the many photographs and documents relating to Highampton and the adjoining hamlets of Odham, Totleigh and Pulworthy.

Mr Thomas introduced the Honorary Secretary of Hatherleigh History Society, Mr Brian Abell.

Mr Abell gave a most interesting talk on the running of a society and kindly remained on hand to give advice and to answer questions from the floor.

Following further discussion it was unanimously agreed to form the Highampton Local History Group.

Maurice Thomas presented a collection of old photographs to the Group which together with the Tithe Map already held in the village hall, commenced the Group’s archive.

This collection was immediately added to by Charles Dumpleton who donated some interesting photographs depicting Town Barton.


The first meeting following inauguration was attended by 34 local residents.

The chairman announced that the Group’s archive had been increased by the following items:-

  1. Highampton Baptism Register 1813-1916 donated by Mr John Baker
  2. Highampton Historical notes donated by Mr Maurice Thomas
  3. Photograph of the Old Post Office donated by William and Mrs Jane Langley

Maurice Thomas then presented a slide show of photographs he had taken of all the properties in the Highampton Parish in the year 2000.  This was a most enjoyable and interesting experience for all present.


The meeting attended by 21 local residents was informed that the Group’s archive had been increased by the following items, some of them kindly donated by the Hatherleigh History Society:-

  1. A CD containing an electronic record of the old deeds, dating from the 17th Century of South Trew and The Golden Inn, Highampton.
  2. Various newspaper cuttings regarding the sighting of rare birds in the Highampton locality.
  3. A folder compiled  by Mrs King, ex head of Highampton Primary School with many interesting items associated with Highampton.
  4. Maurice Thomas donated a folder he had compiled about Burdon Grange together with a copy of the book he had written on Burdon Grange and the Devonshire Doomsday books volumes 1 & 2.
  5. A copy of the Black Torrington Times containing an article about the new History Group formed in Highampton.
  6. A small book about Broadwoodkelly was donated by Charles Dumpleton and Mike Pukey.

History as it happens

The meeting was informed that Brian Dukes’ farm was up for sale.

Maurice Thomas then introduced a most interesting film depicting West Country Cob, Hole Farm and Dolton.


The meeting was attended by 20 members who were informed by Maurice Thomas that he had been given a CD containing pictures of every room in Dunsland House by Henry Westlake, taken shortly before the house was burnt down.

History as it happens

A short leaflet entitled “Ruby Read” was given to the Group.

The group was informed by Maurice Thomas that Devon CC were planning to create a few car parking spaces at Hole Station adjoining the Ruby Trail; it was not clear if these were to be just disabled parking.

Highampton Primary School, through various events, raised £500 for the charity Shelter Box. Ollie Smallwood, a year 3 pupil, raised £121 in sponsorship for completing the Junior Ruby Run.

It was also noted that Beacon Down and Chichesters were both on the market and that Legge Cottage had now been sold.

Hatherleigh Town Crier Ros Chard then gave a talk on the history of the town crier.  She also talked in detail about some of the Town Crier competitions and events she had taken part in, both locally and abroad.  Her dog Millie ably assisted her in providing us with a most interesting and amusing evening.

Roll your mouse over thumbnails for a larger picture


History as it happens

The 21 members present were informed that a new notice board for the village had been erected by the Post Office and that the old notice board had been refurbished and will be sited at the entrance to the Village Hall car park.

Dr Rob Walton gave a very in-depth and interesting illustrated talk on Culm Grassland.  The talk covered the natural history and management together with the Culm Grassland’s place in our landscape and history.



The meeting was attended by 23 members and local residents.

History as it happens

The two day horse trial event held recently in the village attracted international riders and a detailed report in the Western Morning News has been added to the archives.

A copy of the Highampton Parish Plan has also been added to the archives together with a CD containing many photographs of Black Torrington and surrounding area.

Highampton County Primary School will be celebrating its centenary in 2010.  There was a request for former pupils to dig out old photographs and contact former pupils who may have moved out of the area, to help compile a list which will enable them to be invited to a cream tea and exhibition that is being planned.

The group was also informed of an exhibition currently being held in the old paper shop in Halwill.

Maurice Thomas explained the background to “Rustic Sports” and then presented a film compiled by Dennis Bater taken of the “Rustic Sports” day that took place at Burdon Grange in 1985 that raised £800 towards the purchase of land to build the new Highampton Village Hall.


The members thoroughly enjoyed a most interesting talk on Devonshire Place Names by Rev John Leach.

We were given a detailed background to the formation of current place names originating from ancient Britain times forwards. For example:-

Burh=a manor farm/fortified place

Castrum or Chester = fort

Cott = cottage

Axe, Esk, Exe and Usk all = water

Hegh = high

Isca = water

Legh = forest clearing, later meadow

Stock or Stoke = fenced enclosure

Stow = holy place

Ton or Tone = farmstead or village

Worthy = clearing


The Highampton Group was joined by members of Halwill History Society for their arranged visit to Buckland House  (www.bucklandhouse.co.uk ) by the kind agreement of Ralph Nicholson who gave a presentation on the history of the estate before those present were invited to explore the house. This proved a most enjoyable and interesting experience and afterwards Ralph and his wife Suzanne kindly provided tea and biscuits for their guests.

History as it happens

Highampton County Primary School celebrate their centenary next year and to commence their celebrations the school entered its first ever float in the Hatherleigh Carnival on Saturday 14 November and were delighted to be awarded 2nd prize in their class.  Following their success they entered their float in the Holsworthy Carnival on Saturday 21 November and were awarded 1st prize in their class.

For more pictures of their entry please click the thumbnail below.

Copyright © site designed by the late Simon Ward and managed by his wife Carole

Ros Chard in action

Ros and Millie at

Hatherleigh Carnival 2009


An enjoyable social evening was held in the main hall of the Highampton Village Hall where members and visitors enjoyed festive food and tea.  The Group officially launched their new web site and those present were able to peruse the Highampton Tithe map that was put on display for the first time in a long while together with many documents and photographs of the area and its inhabitants covering the past three centuries.


Marion and Bernard Ashdown, Mary Dayman, Simon Ward, Michael Puckey, Charles Dumpleton.

Photo by Maurice Thomas



Chester originates from Fort (Caster, Cester or Castrum)

Exeter - camp on the water (from Isca and chester)

Hatherleigh - clearing in hawthorn

The first known spelling for Highampton was 1086 when it was known as Hantona - high farm.

In 1282 it became Heantone , in 1285 this became Hanton and in 1303 Heghanton.  Subsequent changes: -

1318 Hehampton

1330 Hegheheauntone

1336 Hegheamton

1372 Hegheyampton

1492 Highanton

Thus Highampton originates from “high,high farm.”  The high farm, heah, tun.

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