The Project

 

Today the hamlet of Doccombe is part of the parish of Moretonhampstead in the county of Devon, England. For over 800 years it was a separate manor and fortunately an unusually rich collection of remains and records have survived to tell its story.

 

Moretonhampstead History Society was awarded a grant to uncover their details as part of the HLF funded Moor than meets the Eye project for the north-east area of Dartmoor National Park where Doccombe is located.

During four years of research we explored the manor’s unusually extensive records to discover its story. This required hundreds of documents written in Latin and archaic English from the twelfth to the twentieth century to be transcribed, translated and interpreted.

 

We uncovered such diverse characters as a murderous medieval knight, a martyred saint, monks who were strict but protective landlords, and their wily tenants who knew how to survive on the edge of wild moor land.

We worked also with the present-day community to make a photographic record and a survey of village buildings.

 

The Commoners and the Dartmoor Preservation Association put in some hard clearance work to unlock the secrets of archaeological remains ancient and modern on Mardon Down that the manor shared with Moretonhampstead manor.

 

How did the manor’s share of the beautiful Teign Valley Woods play a vital role in the lives of its tenants? We are grateful to The Woodland Trust's commission to MHS to uncover the history of the woods that they are restoring to its former broadleaf beauty.

 

Nearby Castle Drogo was the last castle to be built in England; both its construction and its recent renovation used granite cut and worked by  stone masons, many of whom lived in Doccombe. The quarry at nearby Blackingstone was owned by the Easton family who provided us with valuable insights into its hitherto unrecorded history.

We hope you enjoy sharing the fruits of our labours and those of our Doccombe forebears!

The Doccombe D

 

Our project logo was cleverly adapted from a C14th Italian illuminated manuscript by Michael Edwards, a Moretonhampstead artist.

It represents the contemporary medieval view of society:


First order: Oratorores - those who pray


Second order: Bellatores - those who fight


Third Order: Laboratores - those who toil.

This is a very apt metaphor for the history of Doccombe manor.

An order of Benedictine monks were gifted by a knight a manor whose tenants were to toil to provide for the upkeep of a monk. The perfect medieval circle!

Please enjoy exploring our website.

 

To discover how this came about and how it affected our local community for the next 800 years,

Currently it has two sections:

 

Doccombe discussed

 

A blog of articles that give insights into the main characters and events in Docccombe's history.

Doccombe documented

 

Gives you direct access to original manorial sources transcribed and translated for the first time. You can read them to discover for your self what life was like in a medieval manor.

The Time-line

 

1170:
Sir William de Tracy & three other knights murder the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket.

 

1173-4:

Tracy grants the manor of Doccombe to the monks of Christchurch Priory Canterbury.

1174:

King Henry II confirms the grant.

1541:

Ownership transfers to the Dean & Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

 

1864:

Sold to the Gregory family.

 

1921:
Manor farms, woods & houses sold but not Mardon Common.

 

1943-44:

US servicemen use Mardon Common as a training area for the D-Day campaign.

1981:

The Commons Commissioner ruled that the Gregory estate owned the whole of Mardon Common {sic} & Moretonhampstead Parish Council had no rights to it.

 

1992:    

Mardon Common sold to six farms around it - commoners’ grazing rights remain.

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