Welcome to Hatherleigh History Society’s website.

The purpose of both our facebook page and website here is to create a digital archive for the ongoing research regarding the town’s history, allowing everyone access to our many records, documents and photo’s and providing an exchange of information about them.

In addition to paper documents we also hold a number of recorded oral histories which we hope to digitise and transcribe to include here.


  • Hatherleigh Currency 2 (..ish!) January 13, 2021
    Passaford ford 1900
    Passaford ford 1900

    Violet Fulford Williams in her autobiography Under My Patchwork Quilt, (privately published Cir. 1968) writes about her childhood in the late 1800’s at Passaford House, the home of her grandparents Henry and Ellen Veale. The chapters relating to Hatherleigh can be found on our website and among many interesting local details she mentions the ford on the River Lew from which the house takes its name having been used in Roman times, as it lay on the Roman road from Cornwall, and that Roman coins had been found in the ford.

    While the crossing being on an actual Roman road may not be accurate, this route across the river has clearly been used for many centuries and as evidence of a Roman tile kiln has been found on Hatherleigh Moor it is not so hard to imagine an unfortunate traveller of the time loosing his or her footing, and coins, while fording the river.

    It is interesting to wonder whose feet have trodden Hatherleigh’s paths before us!

  • Hatherleigh Currency January 11, 2021
    1665 John Gidley of Hatherleigh Token
    1665 John Gidley of Hatherleigh Token

    This 17th Century trade token, acquired by the British Museum in 1959 was issued in 1665 by John Gidley of Hatherleigh. It is mentioned in H. Gill’s article on Devonshire Tokens part IV, published in the Devonshire Association Reports and Transactions Volume X : 1878, and if it is the same one may still be the only known example. The author states that Okehampton and Great Torrington each had 7 tokens of this period and so others from Hatherleigh, and further examples of this one, my still come to light. (Have you unearthed one in your garden?!) The front (obverse) reads: IOHN GIDLEY 1665, the reverse reads: OF HATHERLEIGH with the initials G.I.A. in the centre.

    Tokens were an unofficial currency issued by merchants in times when there was an acute shortage of small denomination coins in circulation, and were in effect redeemable for goods rather then currency.

    John Gidley 1682 medal portrait
    John Gidley 1682 medal portrait

    John Gidley (1632-1713) was born in Winkleigh. He was a surgeon and freeman of the company of Barber Surgeons and a member of the Gidley family that bought Gidleigh Park in 1660. The south transept of the Church Of All Saints in Winkleigh, known as the Gidley Chapel, was built by his father Bartholomew as a mortuary chapel for his family.

  • Hatherleigh Tithe Map December 12, 2020
    Tithe Map Title 8

    There is a fascinating copy of the Hatherleigh Tithe Map of 1839 available online at the Devon County Council Historic Environment website: https://www.devon.gov.uk/historicenvironment/tithe-map/hatherleigh/

    This is a high resolution digital scan of the original map and can be zoomed and scrolled, and is accompanied by a transcription of the tithe apportionment or reference book. This gives details of the owner, occupier and property type or cultivation use for every property and plot in the parish, which are all numbered on the map. 

    Historically, payment of tithes was made to the rector of the parish and generally paid in kind. The 1836 Commutation of Tithes Act set out to commute these payments to cash, to which end surveys were carried out across the whole of England and Wales. Over the course of the following decade tithe maps were created for virtually every parish to assess the amount of tithe payable for each parcel of land, and apportionment made. This was payable in cash to the parish church for the support of the church and its clergy.

    Hatherleigh’s own copy of the original tithe map, thought lost for a number of years, was discovered again in Old Schools in 1998 and is now deposited at the South West Heritage Centre in Exeter.