Parish History

Click here to view a selection of old parish photographs

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’


Giniver, Ginnever, Guinnevere, Guinneford

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


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


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)


Church Marwood estate

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


From c.1609

Modeworthi, Modworthy, Madeford, Mudford, Mudworthy

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

Pattesford, Patchole

From c.1330 ‘Paetti’s ford’

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’

Marwood Barton 

From c.1830 probably means ‘village clearing’

Fallei, Falleia, Fernlegh

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

Westecoth, Westecotedoune 

From c.1242 

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

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

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.

Where were you in 1986? Were you mentioned or were you part of the National Domesday Survey we did using Marwood School’s  first computer. Click below to find out more.

For our Parish Plans and Surname Order of Memorials click on the links below and go to the Churches' relevant pages on this site for plans.