DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission.
UK Genealogy Archives logo


BERRYNARBOR, a parish and pleasant village, surrounded by beautiful woodland scenery, is on an eminence near the sea-coast, overlooking Watemouth Cove, 3 miles east of Ilfracombe Railway Station. It is in Barnstaple union and county court district, Braunton petty sessional division, Ilfracombe polling district of North Devon, Braunton hundred, Barnstaple archdeaconry, and Sherwell rural deanery. It had 751 inhabitants (392 males, 359 females) in 1871, living in 159 houses, on 4958 acres of land, including a range of hills in which lime and other stone are obtained. Westcote says it was originally called Bury, and afterwards Bury Herbert, from the family who held it some centuries ago. John de Lidford, William Beckleigh, and Henry Annet held these lands in the time of King John, and in the following reign the manor belonged to Ralph de Biry or Berry, in whose family it remained until the male line became extinct in 1708. The property being sold by order of the Court of Chancery in 1712, was purchased by one of the Bassett family. The last male of this family dying without issue, the property descended to his nephew, Mr. Joseph Davie, who assumed the name of Bassett. He was succeeded by his son, the Rev. A. C, Bassett, the present owner. East Hagginton and Woolscott are manors in this parish and anciently belonged to the Punchardons of Heanton, from whom they passed to the Coffins. One of the last family sold them in the beginning of the present century to J. Davie Bassett, Esq., father of the present owner. The Rev. A. C. Bassett, Sir P. B. Chichester, and the executors of the late Charles Cutcliffe are the principal owners of the soil. WATERMOUTH CASTLE, the seat of the Bassett family, and now occupied on lease by Fredk. Williams, Esq., R.N., is a large and castellated mansion, near Watermouth Cove, and was erected in the early part of the present century. The MANOR HOUSE stands near the church, and was formerly a handsome mansion in the Elizabethan style, but is now in a dilapidated condition. The parish has its annual feast or revel on the first Sunday after St. Peter's day. The CHURCH (St. Peter), an ancient structure in the Norman and Early English styles, consists of nave, chancel, south aisle, and a handsome tower at the west end, containing six bells, and a small gallery. The building contains some ancient monuments of the Berry family. In the aisle is a beautiful modern memorial to several members of the Bassett family; and in the chancel is a marble tablet to the Rev. S. F. Gully. M.A., a former rector, who died in 1860. The east window, a triplet, is filled with rich stained glass. The entire roof of the church was restored in 1850; and the church has recently been reseated at a cost of £250. The Register dates from 1540. The rectory, valued in K.B. at £84 15s. 10d., and now at £750, is in the successive patronage of the Bishop of Exeter, the Rev. A. C. Bassett, the Rev. Edward Fursdon, and others. The Rev. John M. Hawker, M.A., treasurer and prebendary of Exeter Cathedral is the incumbent. A good residence, standing in its grounds of about 3 acres, was erected in 1860 at a cost of more than £2000, defrayed by the late rector, the Rev. W. Fursdon, aided by a grant of £1000 from Q.A.B. The tithes are commuted at £560 a year; and there is a glebe of 1261/2 acres, including 50 acres of common. The INDEPENDENTS have a small chapel, built about 50 years ago, which will seat 150 persons. The NATIONAL SCHOOL, erected in 1848, was recently enlarged and improved at an expense of £100. Three houses and gardens have been long invested for the repairs of the church; but the church house was given by John Berry in 1697 for the residence of poor parishioners. John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury, was a native of this parish, and the house called Bowden or Buden, in which he was born in 1522, is still standing. He was educated at Barnstaple and Oxford. He was appointed Bishop of Salisbury by Queen Elizabeth in 1559, and died in 1591.

POST OFFICE at Mr. William Hicks'. Letters are despatched at 5 p.m. week days only, viâ Ilfracombe, which is the nearest Money Order Office.

Transcribed from History, Gazetteer and Directory of Devon, by William White, 2nd edition, 1878-9