High Bickington is a small rural village set in
the picturesque North Devon landscape, a landscape of rolling
hills and river valleys set between the three moors, Exmoor,
Dartmoor and Bodmin moor.
High Bickington is well situated within 30 - 45
minutes drive of all local towns and the spectacular coastline of
North Devon. The towns of Barnstaple, Bideford, Torrington and
South Molton all lie within an approximate 10 mile radius of High
Bickington. From Barnstaple you are within easy reach of seaside
resorts such as Ilfracombe, Woolacombe, Saunton, Croyde, Combe
Martin, Lynton and Lynmouth. Bideford provides access to the
resort of Westward Ho!, Clovelly and on to Bude. Torrington is
well placed on the side of the picturesque river Torridge,
setting of the well known story of 'Tarka the Otter', while South
Molton is the gateway to Exmoor.
High Bickington itself is situated on the
valley top, almost 600 feet, 190M above sea level, overlooking
the river Taw valley, and has spectacular unbroken views across
the valley towards Exmoor.
With its origins in Saxon times (around 650AD),
or earlier, the manor of High Bickington is referred to as
'Bichentone' in the Doomsday Book of 1086. Prior to the Norman
Conquest, the manor belonged to a Saxon nobleman, Britric,
nicknamed Meau ('the fair'), who also held rights to the land
revenues of Gloucester and extensive estates in the West Country.
Having spurned the advances of Matilda the Duke of Flanders
daughter, who later as Queen of England imprisoned Britric and
eventually had him put to death, all his lands passed to her,
including Bichentona, Clovelly, Bideford, Winkleigh and Tiverton.
The lands were later inherited by Matilda's son, William Rufus,
who became William II, (1027-110).
William gave Bichentona to Robert Fitzhamon
whose daughter was later married to Robert, the Bastard son of
Henry I, (1100-1135).
At around 1150 the manor of High Bickington
came into the possession of the Champernownes of Umberleigh. Lady
Joan Champernowne gave some of the lands to the Lodges family.
Hugh de Loges held the manor of Buckington Loges during the reign
of King John, (1199-1261). This was later inherited by William
Boyes in 1364, although by this time the lands around the village
had been divided between several others including Holt, Clavil,
Snape, Stowford, Corpsland, Burvet and Wotton, whose names still
survive today in hamlet, farm and field names around the parish.
From about 1400 onwards, owners were selling
off parcels of land. The Church manor of Corpsiland, south of the
present village high street, and included the property still
known as Parsonage, was held by the parson up until 1800. The
Bassetts of Umberleigh inherited lands from the Champernownes
while the Pyncombes of North Molton acquired large areas around
the Parish from around 1500 onwards. The last of them, Mrs
Gertrude Pyncombe, in her will of 20th January 1730, founded a
charitable educational trust from which grants are still made to
The population of the Parish/village was given
as 17 families, around a hundred people, at the time of the
Doomsday Book, this rose to a peak of 851 people in 1851. By 1901
this had fallen to 539 and continued to fall until the 1950's to
around 410. Since this time the population has steadily risen as
a result of recent development, now stands near its 1801 level.
Agriculture has always been and still is the
main industry in the Parish. In times gone by the village was
almost self sufficient for its needs, but in modern times with
the advent of the motor car most business now takes place away
from the village in local towns such as Barnstaple, Bideford,
Torrington and South Molton. The village still retains a Post
Office, Shop, Doctors Surgery, School, golf course and two Public
Houses. The village is also served by mobile services for fruit
and vegetables, fresh fish and of course the council library
service. Most other services can be found in and around the
village, such as builders, carpenters, painter/decorators,
High Bickington still remains largely unspoilt
and retains much of the character of an isolated rural country
village, including many thatched cottages, cobbled pavements and
narrow streets which along with the peace and quiet of the area
can easily give the visitor an impression of life over the last