Buckland Abbey , established by 1280, brought the name Monachorum,‘ of the monks’. The Abbot soon became patron of the Church, choosing the Vicar and being ordered by the Bishop of Exeter in 1305 to build the Vicar a house at Lowercombe (Lovecombe, site of the present Garden House). The monks established a Trinity Fair, today the June fair, and a weekly market and the Abbot became a powerful landowner in the neighbourhood.
The village itself was called Churchtown and Netherton, now joined to the main village, was a separate hamlet.
The Church, which dominates the village scene, was rebuilt circa 1490 in the perpendicular style. The Drake Chapel contains memorials to the descendants of Sir Francis Drake, owner of Buckland Abbey, though there is nothing in the Church about Drake himself. The BaptistChapel built in 1850 has been turned into a hostel and is now used by visiting groups.
The School, founded in 1702 by Lady Modyford, daughter of the Royalist, Sir Nicholas Slanning, flourishes today in a modern building of 1976 as a Voluntary Aided Church School . The original school and additional Victorian classrooms are all now privately owned.
The Gift House, towards the top of the hill, was founded as an Almshouse by Drake’s great nephew, Sir Francis Drake, of Civil War fame. It was an Almshouse into the C20, but is now a private house.
Coming down the hill from the Gift House to the Church are the oldest cottages with gardens backing on to glebe land ( Church land once farmed by the Vicars and protected from development). Across the street, Richmond Terrace was the site of barracks for militia-men in the late C18. Like the Home Guard of WW2, the militia were ready to repel the enemy if he invaded, this being the French in their day.
The much improved VillageHall was formerly the Women’s Institute Hall. Buckland W.I. began in 1921 and closed in 1987. Alice Bere wrote her book, Buckland Monachorum in 1930 for the W.I. There has been a long tradition of performing plays in the village hall. The present Drama Group is very successful, attracting wide support.
The village has grown in the second half of the C20. Cross Park on the East side was built in the 1950’s, followed by the Drake Estate now known as Cuxton Meadow to the West, and Modyford Walk, which included some bungalows for the elderly, and which runs parallel to the main street. Opposite the Village Hall there are modern bungalows occupying the old quarry and next to the village hall Hillside close was developed in the last years of the 20C The Chapel Meadow development of mixed housing began in 1978 near the new school. Although there was initial opposition due to proposed density of housing and increased traffic the development has brought younger families into the village and won an award for good design.
Although the village has grown, there are now no shops and even the Post Office has gone. In the early C20 there was a butcher at Brook House, Richmond Terrace had a draper’s shop and the village shop was in the corner between Rose Cottage and the School House. The Drake Manor Inn attracts many tourists as well as locals. White’s Devonshire Directory of 1850 lists The Crown and the Roborough Inn. The 1891 Census shows The Rising Sun in the present Brook House.
Water for wash day was fetched from the brook. In 1883 there was a request for permission to enter Vicarage lands for cleansing water pipes and cisterns supplying Buckland village. Interesting parish records, concerning this and other events can be found in the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office.
A C17 Churchwarden’s account book shows the Parish being governed by ‘the Six Men’ who were principal inhabitants. A series of Churchwarden’s accounts deal with civil as well as Church affairs and later Vestry Minutes from 1832 are a mixture of Parish Council and Parochial Church Council business - before these bodies existed. An C18 Overseas book gives a wonderfully detailed picture of the care of the poor and the sick.
C19 Registers tell that a number of miners lived in the Parish working in the copper, arsenic, and lead mines in the Tavy and Tamar valleys.
An agreement to prosecute criminals (felons) in 1766 was signed by principal inhabitants with familiar surnames, Spry, Creber, Hannaford, Edgecumbe, etc.
Ironically in 1865 the Parish petitioned Parliament to abolish the Devon County Police as it was useless and expensive. Earlier in 1815, 3 pounds 11 shillings was spent on a fruitless petition, ‘ praying to take off the tax on income’.
Compiled by Tamsyn Blaikie
Bibliography : Milton Combe and Buckland Monachorum.
Plymouth and West Devon Record Office Accession 600 Buckland Monachorum.
Devon Record Office. Exeter
Drake Papers Men’s Reading Room Conveyance
Buckland Monachorum, Alice Bere 1930 BM W.I.
Buckland Monachorum, Alan Rowe 1999
Buckland Monachorum and Yelverton, Pauline Hamilton-Leggett 2002
The Borders of Tamar and Tavy, Mrs A.E. Bray 1879
Buckland Abbey Guide, National Trust 1991
Domesday Book Devon , 2 Vols Phillimore 1985
Buckland Abbey, Crispin Gill 1968
Mines of Devon Vol 1, A.K. Hamilton Jenkin 1974
The Story of a School, Ronald Isherwood 1976
Them Days, Joy Lakeman
The Kingdom of Dumnonia , Susan Pearce 1979
White’s Devonshire Directory 1850 1982 reprinted David and Clarke.