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Modbury, Devon

Historical Description

Modbury, a small town and a parish in Devonshire. The town stands on steep declivities, descending to the bottom of a valley, 1½ mile E of the river Erme, 4¼ miles SSE of Ivy Bridge station on the Gr.W.R., and HJ'E by S of Plymouth, with a post, money order, and telegraph office. Acreage of the civil parish, 5874; population, 1406; of the ecclesiastical, 1474. The town has a parish council consisting; of twelve members, and also returns three district councillors. It dates from remote times; was anciently called Mortberry and Motberia; belonged in the time of the Confessor to Wado; was, with adjacent fields, the scene of a conflict between Royalist and Parliamentarian forces. The town consists chiefly of four streets, three descending the hills from the cardinal points to a common centre at the bottom of the valley; contains many houses with slated fronts; presents a smgularly picturesque aspect as seen from almost any neighbouring point of view; is well supplied with water from three old granite conduits; and has good inns, a church, a Baptist and a Wesleyan chapel, and a literary and scientific institution. The church, dedicated to St George½ is ancient, and was originally cruciform; consists now of nave, aisles, and chancel, with projecting sacrarium, S porch, and W steeple-the last rebuilt about 1621, renovated in 1884, and tapering from the ground to a height of 122 feet; has a curiously sculptured doorway in the N wall; underwent recent repair in the interior; and contains monuments of the Champernownes and the Swetes. The literary institution was founded and endowed in 1840 by Mr Richard King, a native of the town, who acquired wealth in America, and is a handsome edifice. A weekly market is held on Thursday, a cattle market on the second Monday of every month, and a large fair on 4 May. The manor went from Wado to the Valletorts, passed to the Okestones and the Champernownes, was held by the latter so early as the time-of Edward II., and passed in the beginning of the 18th century to the Legassickes. Modbury Court, on a hill immediately W of the town, was the seat of the Champernownes,. where they lived in great splendour; was fortified, besieged, and captured at the time of the Royalist and Parliamentarian conflict in 1642; and has been displaced by a modern house. A Benedictine priory, a cell to St Peter-sur-Dive in Normandy, stood at Scotland Farm, was given by Henry VI. to Eton College, and has left some traces. Sir John Fortescue, Lord Chief Justice in the time of Henry VI., and Sir John Baker, president of the Royal College of Physicians in the 18th century, were natives. The living is a vicarage, united with the chapelry of Brownstone, in the diocese of Exeter; gross value, £320 with residence. Patron, Eton College.

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 parishModbury St. George 
Poor Law unionKingsbridge 

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 Modbury

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Modbury from the following:


Online maps of Modbury 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:

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.

DistrictSouth Hams
RegionSouth West
Postal districtPL21
Post TownIvybridge