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Lydford, Devon

Historical Description

Lidford or Lydford, a village and a parish In Devonshire. The village stands on the river Lid, with stations on the G.W.R. and L. & S.W.R., 207 miles from London, and has a post office under Bridestone, with money order and telegraph departments. It is situated in the midst of a wild tract of country on the W side of Dartmoor, 7 miles N by E of Tavistock; is a very ancient place, was formerly known as Lighaford, figured as a borough, having eight burgesses within the walls and forty-one without, in the time of Edward the Confessor; claims even to have entertained Julius Csesar and his army on Caesar's second expedition into Britain; had a mint in the time of Ethelred II., some of the coins of which are said still to exist; was taxed on an equality with London, and had fortifications and 140 burgesses at the Domesday survey; served for ages as the great mart for the tin of an extensive surrounding mining region; was the seat of stannary courts till toward the end of the 18th century; had, in connection with these courts, a castle or prison, the dungeons of which seem to have been scarcely less horrible than those of the Spanish Inquisition; acquired such bad reputation by the arbitrary manner in which accused persons were tried and punished that Lidford law came to be proverbially described as "hang first and try afterwards;" sent members to Parliament twice in the time of Edward I.; had for a long period, beginning in 1267, a weekly market and an annual three-days' fair, but has decayed greatly in modern times. Lydford station is the junction of the L. & S.W.R., with the Launceston, Tavistock, and Plymouth branch of the G.W.R. The parish contains also Princetown, the convict prison in Dartmoor, and the hamlets of Dinnabridge, Hexworthy Huckaby, and Two Bridges. Acreage, 50,861; population, 2144. The manor was given in 1238 to Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and it still belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall. The scenery embraces all the diversified features of Dartmoor; a general view of it is indicated in our article DARTMOOR. and many portions of it, and prominent objects in it, ravines, tors, antiquities, and other things, are separately noticed throughout the work. The ancient castle of the village still stands, but is now the mere shell of a square tower on a mound. A one-arched bridge over the Lid, about a quarter of a mile S of the village, spans a frightful chasm, and has much resemblance to Pont-y-Monach or Devil's Bridge, in Cardiganshire. A romantic and very beautiful cascade, not far from the bridge, is formed by the rush of a streamlet down a rugged slope in a narrow chasm, about 100 feet, to the deep ravine of the Lid, and has such rich accompaniments of wood and contour that Gilpin describes the cascade itself as " the least considerable part of the scenery." The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter; value, £117 with residence. Patron, the Prince of Wales. The church is of the 13th century, contains a primitive font, and commands a superb view, particularly of the extensive front of Dartmoor with its tors; the building was thoroughly restored in 1876. The churchyard contains an old tombstone resembling a cromlech. There is a Bible Christian chapel.

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 parishLydford St. Petrock 
Poor Law unionTavistock 

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 Lydford

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Lydford from the following:


Online maps of Lydford 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


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.

DistrictWest Devon
RegionSouth West
Postal districtEX20