Parish History

The parish of Marwood is extensive and beautiful, situated approximately three miles to the north west of Barnstaple, in the predominantly rural county of North Devon. Small hamlets are dispersed over five thousand acres, connected by winding lanes and bordered by tall earth banks. The many fields are framed by thick hedgerows which are often studded with seasonal wild flowers and fruits.

 

Steeped in history with associations as far back as the Saxons, many of the farmsteads and hamlets that still exist today, have their origins in the early medieval period. The Domesday Book refers to Marwood as Mereuda or Meroda, and records the existence of three manors, and farms including Metcombe Metcoma, Whitefield Whitefella, Whiddon Willeden and Varley Fallei. By the late sixteenth century the parish had become known as Merewood, before finally evolving to Marwood; said to mean "boundary wood".

 

A brief description of the origins of each hamlet or smaller enclosures is suggested in the book "Place Names of Devon" (Gover et al, 1931):

Location Previously Known As Earliest Origins
Blakewell Blachewilla, Blakewille

From 1086 Domesday Book, meaning ‘black stream or spring’

Guineaford

Giniver, Ginnever, Guinnevere, Guinneford

From c.1800, ‘hart hill’ in old English

Honeywell

Huniwell, Honiwell

From c.1249 probably denoted a spring with sweet water
Kings Heanton

Hagintona, Hamtona, Kyngesheighamton, Kyngs Heaunton

From 1086 Domesday Book, ‘Home Farm’ in old English
Lee House

Legh

From c.1438
Marwood (parish)

Meroda, Merehoda,   Mereuda, Merewode, Merwode

From 1086 Domesday Book, meaning ‘boundary wood’, being on the boundary between Braunton and Shirwell Hundreds
Marwood (hamlet)

Cherchemerewode

Church Marwood estate
Metcombe

Metcoma, Medcome, Medcumbe, Medecoumb, Meddecomb

From 1086 Domesday Book meaning ‘meadow valley’ or ‘hay land’ in old English
Middle Marwood

Middelmorwude, Middelmerwode, Myddel Marwode

From c.1234
Milltown

Miltoune

From c.1609
Muddiford 

Modeworthi, Modworthy, Madeford, Mudford, Mudworthy

From c.1303, probably meaning ‘Moda’s worpig’ – farm enclosure 
Patsford

Pattesford, Patchole

From c.1330 ‘Paetti’s ford’
Prixford

Pirkewurth, Pirkisworthe, Pyrkesworthy, Prikesworthy, Prixworthy

From c.1238, probably derives from a person’s name, i.e. Piroc’s farmstead
Swindon Down

Swyndon, Swinham

From c.1660 meaning ‘Swine hill’
Townridden

Marwood Barton 

From c.1830 probably means ‘village clearing’
Varley

Fallei, Falleia, Fernlegh

From c.1086 Domesday Book, meaning ‘bracken clearing’ or ‘Fern covered lea’
Westcott

Westecoth, Westecotedoune 

From c.1242 
Whiddon 

Willeden, Willedenna, Wyddene, Wydedon, Wytedon, Witdedene, Weeding, Whidden  

From 1086 Domesday Book, meaning ‘wild valley’ in old English 
Whitefield

Witefella, Whytefeud, Whytefeld, Whitefelle, Whitefella 

From 1086 Domesday Book, meaning ‘White open country’, dry open pasture ground 

 Source: "Marwood - a fond encounter with a rural Devon parish" (Bowman, 2011) 

 

Please click here to view a selection of old parish photographs.  Please contact us if you have any photographs that you would like to share.