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Hartland, Devon

Historical Description

Hartland or Harton, a village and a parish in Devonshire. The village stands on a cape on the S side of Barnstaple Bay, 3 miles SE of Hartland Point, and 13 W by S of Bideford station on the L. & S.W.R., with a post, money order, and telegraph office under Bideford. It is said to have got its name from the ancient abundance of stags in its neighbourhood; was once a borough and a market-town, and has fairs on Easter Wednesday and 25 Sept. The parish contains also the villages of Hartland Quay and Stoke, and the hamlets of Cheristow, Elmscott, Meddon, Milford, and Pilham. Acreage, 17, 307; population, 1739. The manor belonged to an ancient convent, founded on it in the time of Edward the Confessor; passed to the families of Dinham, Bouchier, Fitzwarren, Zouche, Carew, Arundell, and Buck, and belongs now to the Stucley family. The convent was founded by Githa, the wife of Earl Godwin, and dedicated to St Nectan, whom she imagined to have preserved her husband from shipwreck, and was refounded in the time of Henry II. by Jeffrey de Dinham for canons-secular of the order of St Augustine. A mansion on its site was built about 1780, retains in the basement storey of the E and W fronts portions of the original buildings-particularly the cloisters, which are Early English-stands in a beautiful vale surrounded with woodland, contains old carving and pictures, and is approached by a romantic private road open to the public. The surface of the parish is diversified; the rocks are chiefly of the carboniferous formation, and the coast abounds in cliffs of dreary scenic character, showing black and rusty bands of slate and remarkable contortions. St Catherine's Tor in the neighbourhood is a conical hill, surmounted by vestiges of a Roman building, and connected with adjacent heights by a massive ancient wall. Hartland Point is 350 feet high; was the Hercules' Promontory of Ptolemy, and has been thought to retain some shadow of artificial antiquity. A lighthouse was built upon this point in 1874. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter; value, £160 with residence. The church stands upon an eminence, 1½ mile W of the village; serves as a landmark for mariners, is the church of the ancient abbey, has Norman and Early English parts; comprises nave, chancel, and two aisles, with a magnificent pinnacled tower 128 feet high; includes four ancient chapels, which still retain their distinctive names; underwent recently a careful restoration; and contains a superb oak screen, a black oak pulpit, a quaintly sculptured Norman font, and a number of old monuments. There is a chapel of ease in the village, and Congregational chapels at South Hole, Wesleyan chapels at Town End and Elmscott, Bible Christian chapels at Bideford and Eddistone, and four almshouses. Eleven ancient chapels were in the parish, but traces of only two of them now exist.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDevon 
Ecclesiastical parishHartland St. Nectan 
Poor Law unionBideford 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

Findmypast, in association with the South West Heritage Trust, Parochial Church Council, and Devon Family History Society have the Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, and Burials online for Hartland

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Hartland from the following:


Online maps of Hartland are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering Devon online:

Villages, Hamlets, &c

Hartland Quay
Milford (Hartland)

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of the County of Devon in the year 1564, with additions from the earlier visitation of 1531, is online.

The Visitations of the County of Devon, comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564, & 1620, with additions by Lieutant-Colonel J.L. Vivian, published for the author by Henry S. Eland, Exeter 1895 is online.

RegionSouth West
Postal districtEX39
Post TownBideford