From the remains of earth fortresses at Stockland,
Membury and Howley, there is evidence of
settlements around the Parish of Yarcombe
going back to Iron Age times.
earliest reference to the area is from a
charter in 854 AD describing county boundaries around
the Yarty in the vicinity of what we
now call Yarcombe. There were however
other names used in the past, including
Erticoma, Herticombe, Artecumbe and
Zertecome, all of which relate to
alternative names for Yarcombe.
the time of Edward the Confessor (1042 -
1066) the Parish was owned by a Benedictine monastery
from St Michaels in France and administered
from one of their monasteries in Cornwall. References to properties
in Yarcombe are noted in 11th C
1264 Yarcombe had a church on the St John's
site and a mill. The Parish was administered
largely by Otterton priory - an offshoot of
St Michaels in France.
the 14 & 15th centuries the Parish
belonged to different priories including one
in France, and Yarcombe like other English
parishes was forced to repatriate funds to
the French to fight the English armies in
a consequence Henry VI transferred French
ownership of parishes to English bodies and
Yarcombe found itself owned by King's
College Cambridge and subsequently Syon
Abbey at Isleworth. Ownership remained
here until Henry VIII dissolved the
monasteries and it then became crown
I in 1581 bestowed Yarcombe estate to the
Earl of Leicester and shortly after it was
purchased for £5000 by Sir Francis
Drake. From the 16th - 21st centuries
the Drake family have played a major part in
the history and destiny of Yarcombe.
Sheafhayne Manor did not become the property of
the Drake family until 1705.
the Civil War broke out during Charles I 's
reign Yarcombe and the Drake family were on
the side of the Roundheads. This was
against the general trend of the south west
which in the main sided with the
Royalists. The Drakes estates were
impounded until 1646 when the Royalists were
defeated. Skirmishes took place at
Membury but there are no records of
activities around Yarcombe.
the reign of James II the Duke of Monmouth
landed in Dorset and set in motion the
Monmouth rebellion against the King.
Some locals from the Yarcombe area joined
the rebels but the rebellion was quickly put
down at the Battle of Sedgemore.
Severe retribution was meted out under the
courts of Judge Jeffreys.
the mid 18 th century agricultural
improvements and enclosure acts led farming
into more prosperous times, and more wealth
was available to yeoman and landed gentry to
improve and enlarge farms and
properties. Many of today's oldest
houses in Yarcombe can be seen to reflect
the end of the 18th century improvements
in transport and greater road travel was
taking place: Marsh became a staging post on the main London Exeter
road and benefited from passing travellers.
Yarcombe on the other hand was bypassed by
the main route from Chard to Honiton, which
went via Stockland and Cotleigh, did not benefit from
these road developments and remained a bit
of a back water. However
in 1811 this changed with a new turnpike
road to Honiton which was routed through Yarcombe,
perhaps persuaded by the 2 inns in the
village. The Angel, now the Yarcombe
Inn and the Castle believed to be next to
the Old School House.
continued up to 1814 around the Parish and
in the process the wealthier farms and
estates became larger and more prosperous.
Major drainage schemes for the land were
executed and farm productivity would have
increased. During the early part of
the 19th century the landscape would have
started to change as more fields were
enclosed, hedges planted and marsh
areas drained to form pasture land.
Through the 19th century
the gulf between rich and poor became
greater and social unrest broke out.
The Corn Laws inflated prices and brought
much hardship and a small riot at Upottery
required intervention from the military.
and Marsh faired better than many
villages with a fair minded
landlord - Sir Thomas Drake who treated his
tenants well and ensured schooling was
available to those in the Parish. The first
village school in Yarcombe open in
1818 and was extended in 1833. This
building became The Old School House.
In 1870 a larger school was built sponsored
by the Drake family again and was the
village school until 1965. In 1970 it
had been converted into the Belfry Hotel.
the 1800's and up to 1930 the Yarcombe
Estate continued to expand and covered areas
outside of Yarcombe and Marsh. With
the introduction of death duties this did
not last and as the financial burdens became
more acute land and farms had to be sold.
This started in 1931 and continued to the
middle of the 1900's.
oldest industries of the area are probably
farming and iron smelting which can be dated
back to Roman times. There are smelter sites at
Emmets Farm and Woodhayne. Iron making did
not develop beyond very small scale production,
and unlike farming has not been an important
industry to this area. Other industries
which have existed or still exist today, include, timber
production, lime making, brick and tile
production, cider making and agricultural