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|
From 1086 Domesday Book, meaning ‘black stream or spring’
Giniver, Ginnever, Guinnevere, Guinneford
From c.1800, ‘hart hill’ in old English
|From c.1249 probably denoted a spring with sweet water|
Hagintona, Hamtona, Kyngesheighamton, Kyngs Heaunton
|From 1086 Domesday Book, ‘Home Farm’ in old English|
Meroda, Merehoda, Mereuda, Merewode, Merwode
|From 1086 Domesday Book, meaning ‘boundary wood’, being on the boundary between Braunton and Shirwell Hundreds|
|Church Marwood estate|
Metcoma, Medcome, Medcumbe, Medecoumb, Meddecomb
|From 1086 Domesday Book meaning ‘meadow valley’ or ‘hay land’ in old English|
Middelmorwude, Middelmerwode, Myddel Marwode
Modeworthi, Modworthy, Madeford, Mudford, Mudworthy
|From c.1303, probably meaning ‘Moda’s worpig’ – farm enclosure|
|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|
|From c.1660 meaning ‘Swine hill’|
|From c.1830 probably means ‘village clearing’|
Fallei, Falleia, Fernlegh
|From c.1086 Domesday Book, meaning ‘bracken clearing’ or ‘Fern covered lea’|
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)
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.