Place:Lydford, Devon, England

Alt namesLidefordsource: Domesday Book (1985) p 83
Lidefordasource: Domesday Book (1985) p 83
Lidefordesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 83
Lidefortsource: Domesday Book (1985) p 83
Lidfordsource: Family History Library Catalog
Tidefordsource: Domesday Book (1985) p 83
TypeVillage, Parish
Coordinates50.65°N 4.1°W
Located inDevon, England
See alsoLifton Hundred, Devon, Englandhundred of which the parish was a part
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Lydford, sometimes spelled Lidford, is a village, once an important town, in Devon situated north of Tavistock on the western fringe of Dartmoor in the West Devon district. There is an electoral ward with the same name which includes Princetown. The population of this ward at the 2011 census was 2,047.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Historically Lydford was an economic powerhouse, not the sleepy village which it is today.

The village was established as one of the four Saxon burhs of Devon by king Alfred the Great. It first appears in recorded history in 997, when the Danes made a plundering expedition up the Tamar and Tavy as far as Hlidaforda (i.e. Lydford). The attack is described in the following passage from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:

Her on ðissum geare ferde se here abutan Defenanscire into Sæfern muðan and þær heregodan ægðer ge on Cornwealum and on Norðwealum and on Defenum, and eodon him þa up æt Wecedport and þær micel yfel worhton on bærnette and on mannslihtum, and æfter þam wendon eft abutan Penwiðsteort on þa suðhealfe and wendon þa into Tamer muðan and eodon þa up oð hi comon to Hlydanforda, and ælc þing bærndon and slogon þe hi gemitton, and Ordulfes mynster Tæfingstoc forbærndon and unasecgendlice herehyðe mid him to scypon brohton.
Translation: In this year, they (the Vikings) visited Devonshire and at the mouth of the Severn, pillaging in Cornwall, Devon and Wales. They went to Watchet, and there caused much damage by dint of arson and wholesale slaughter. Then they turned at Penwith Tail to the south and up into the mouth of the Tamar, travelling to Lydford, burning and slaughtering anything they came across, and burned down Ordwulf's monastery at Tavistock, carrying vast amounts of loot back to their ships.

During the reign of Ethelred the Unready, there was a mint, and coins minted there were inscribed LVD., LVDA, and LVDAN. In the reign of Edward the Confessor it was the most populous centre in Devonshire after Exeter, but the Domesday Book relates that forty houses had been laid waste since the Conquest, and the town never recovered its former prosperity Under the Normans, and according to the Domesday Book, Lydford is taxed equally with London, giving an idea of its significance at the time, the reason being that the parish of Lydford embraced the entirety of the Forest of Dartmoor under the Normans (as it did until the 20th century).

Until the 12th century parishioners from across more or less the entirety of Dartmoor were brought to Lydford for burial. The path used to make this final journey is known as the 'Lych way'. Many reports have been made of monks in white and phantom funeral processions seen walking along this path.

The history from the 13th century centres round the castle, which is first mentioned in 1216, when it was granted to William Briwere, and was shortly afterwards fixed as the prison of the stannaries and the meeting-place of the Forest Courts of Dartmoor. A gild at Lideford is mentioned in 1180, and the pipe roll of 1195 records a grant for the reestablishment of the market. In 1238 the borough, which had hitherto been crown demesne, was bestowed by Henry III on Richard, earl of Cornwall, who in 1268 obtained a grant of a Wednesday market and a three days fair at the feast of St Petrock. The borough had a separate coroner and bailiff in 1275, but it was never incorporated by charter, and only once, in 1300, returned members to parliament.

During the English Civil War, Lydford was the haunt of the then notorious Gubbins band, a gang of ruthless cut-throats and highwaymen, who took advantage of the turmoil of the times to ply their villainry. According to one account of the time:

Gubbins-land is a Scythia within England, and they pure heathens therein. Their language is the drosse of the dregs of the vulgar Devonian, They hold together like burrs: offend one and all will avenge their quarrel.

In 1987 the parish of Lydford finally lost its claim to be the largest parish in England. It was split into two civil parishes, Lydford and Dartmoor Forest. The ecclesiastical parish has also been split, with Princetown made a separate parish.

Research Tips

  • Ordnance Survey Maps of England and Wales - Revised: Devonshire Northand Devonshire South illustrate the parish boundaries of Devon when rural districts were still in existence. The maps publication year is 1931. The maps blow up to show all the parishes and many of the small villages and hamlets. These maps are now downloadable for personal use.
  • GENUKI has a new map feature on its individual Devon parish pages. Each parish page includes an outline map of parishes in the region of the one under inspection. By clicking on this map the user is taken to a blow-up of Historic Parishes of England and Wales: an Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata [computer file] provided by R. J. P. Kain and R. R. Oliver of the History Data Service of Colchester, Essex (distributed by UK Data Archive).
  • Devon County Council's Record Offices and Local Studies Libraries are being reorganized and amalgamated to form the Devon Heritage Services, comprising the Devon Heritage Centre (Exeter) and the North Devon Record Office (Barnstaple). These developments, which are described in Historical Records: A New Future for Devon's Heritage, do not affect the other major Devon archive, the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office, or the Local Studies Library, which are located in Plymouth and come under the Plymouth City Council. (Devon FHS report that Plymouth Record Office has just aquired new premises.) There is a guide entitled Which heritage centre or record office should I visit? which is provided to explain the organization further.
  • Devon Family History Society Mailing address: PO Box 9, Exeter, EX2 6YP, United Kingdom. Specialized contacts for membership, publications, queries, etc. The society has branches in various parts of the county. It is the largest Family History Society in the United Kingdom.
  • Devon has a Online Parish Clerk (OPC) Project. Only about half of the parishes have a volunteer contributing local data. For more information, consult the website, especially the list at the bottom of the homepage.
  • GENUKI makes a great many suggestions as to other websites with worthwhile information about Devon as well as leading to a collection of 19th century descriptions of each of the ecclesiastical parishes. Devon is one of the counties on the GENUKI website that has recently (summer 2015) been updated. The maps described above are just one of the innovations.
  • The FamilySearch Wiki provides a similar information service to GENUKI which may be more up-to-date. An index of parishes leads to notes and references for each parish.
  • A Vision of Britain through Time has
  1. organization charts of the hierarchies of parishes within hundreds, registration districts and rural and urban districts of the 20th century
  2. excerpts from a gazetteer of circa 1870 outlining individual towns and parishes
  3. reviews of population through the time period 1800-1960
  • More local sources can often be found by referring to "What Links Here" in the column on the left.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Lydford. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.