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Northam, Devon

Historical Description

Northam, a village and a parish in Devonshire. The village stands near the river Torridge, 1½ mile SSW of the joint influx of the Torridge and the Taw to Bideford Bay, 1 from Instow station on the L. & S.W.R., and 1¾ N by W of Bideford. It has a post and money order office under Bideford; telegraph office, Bideford. The parish contains also the hamlet of Northam Ridge, and the village and chapelry of Appledore. Acreage, 4190; population of the civil parish, 5043; of the ecclesiastical, 2594. For parish council purposes it is formed into an urban district, and is divided into two wards-Northam and Appledore-each sending six members to the district council. The parish has great attractions as a place of residence, and contains numerous gentlemen's seats and villas. Northam Burrows is an alluvial common of about 700 acres, protected from the waves by a remarkable barrier called the Pebble Ridge, about 1½ mile long, 50 feet wide, and 20 feet high, and consisting of millstone-grit pebbles from 6 to 24 inches in diameter. A new watering-place, founded about 1867 to the westward of the Burrows and adjoining the sea, took the name of Westward Ho from the circumstance that the scene of Charles Kingsley's well-known work of that name is laid chiefly in the parish; it has very good accommodation for visitors. A submarine forest, in which flint instruments and reindeer bones have been found, is on the shore near the hotel; excellent sections of a raised beach also are near; and zoophytes abound in both the rocks and the pools. The Danes, under Hubba, landed here in the time of King Alfred, and suffered a disastrous repulse. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter, with Westward Ho annexed; net value, £300 with residence. Patrons, the Dean and Canons of Windsor. The church is Early Decorated and Later English; comprises nave, N aisle, S transept, chancel, chancel aisle, and S porch; has a W tower of three stages, battlemented, and 96 feet high; and has been well restored. The vicarage of Appledore is a separate benefice. There are in the several parts of the parish two Congregational chapels, one Baptist, three Methodist, one Brethren, and one Bethel. A pleasure fair is held annually on Whit-Monday.

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 parishNortham St. Margaret 
Poor Law unionBideford 

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

Church Records

The parish register of baptisms dates from the year 1538; marriages, 1606; burials, 1541.


Church of England

St. Margaret (parish church)

The church of St. Margaret is a very fine building of stone in the Decorated or Early Perpendicular style, completely restored between 1849 and 1865, and consists of chancel and nave, each with a north aisle, south traasept, south porch and an embattled western tower with pinnacles and containing a clock and 6 bells, all cast in 1770 by Thomas Bilbie, of Collumpton: there are several fine modern stained windows: the church affords 600 sittings.

St. Margaret, Northam


Congregational Chapel


Wesleyan Chapel
Wesleyan Chapel, Northam Ridge

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Northam from the following:


Online maps of Northam 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

Northam Ridge

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