The Village of Lapford
Lapford is situated just off the A377, the main road from Exeter to Barnstaple, being 15 miles from Exeter and 26 from Barnstaple.
The village has around 900 people on its electoral roll and can trace its origins back to the Iron Age Celts (Rudge Farm) and the Romans (Bury Barton, then called Beria). The Iron Age Celts met for religious worship in sacred groves called 'nymet' (the hamlet of Nymet Rowland is close to Lapford).
The Romans pushed north from Exeter and some settled near Lapford, where they remained till the legions were recalled to their homeland in the 5th century AD. The native Britons (descendants of Celtic and other tribes) were now beset by an onslaught of Angles and Saxons, invading from what is now Denmark, Holland and Germany and pushing ever westward, defeating the Britons at Exeter in 7th century AD. By the early 8th century many had put down roots in Lapford.
Some of the inhabitants were already Christians as were some of the new settlers. A cross was set up in the centre of the settlement and the monastery at Exeter sent out priests; in the 9th century Lapford had its first church, built of wood. The village grew in size and became known as Eslapaford - from the Saxon word Slape, meaning slipway down to the ford across the river - presided over by a Saxon landowner, called Brihtric, who probably lived on the site of Court Barton.
Lapford had its first written mention in the Domesday book of 1086, compiled under the auspices of the Norman (Norseman) William. It had a population of around 150. Under the Normans Lapford was given to the de Clavells, then to the de Traceys and in the 12th century to the Umfravilles. During the mid 12th century the church was built in stone and, becoming the forerunner of the present-day building we can see dominating the village.
The language of the rulers was a form of French but the local inhabitants still spoke English amongst themselves.
Lapford continued to grow and prosper throughout the Middle Ages - stone dwellings were constructed, roads were built and the population increased. Artisans and shopkeepers opened businesses, the remains of which can still be seen, such as the mill dating from the 15th century, and the inn dating from the 16th century. Some of Lapford's inhabitants can trace their ancestry to the 17th century, such as the Partridge family.
The Devon Record Office in Exeter holds title deeds for such notable properties as Lapfordwood House, dating from this era.Modern times have seen rapid expansion of the village on the one hand with the development of new housing estates and on the other hand the closure of many businesses has taken place. A 21st century village no longer seems to be self-sufficient as it once was; there has been yet again an influx of settlers from other places, some of whom work outside Lapford in towns such as Crediton, Exeter and Tiverton.
Administratively the village is under the auspices of Mid Devon District Council, based in Tiverton and Devon County Council, based in Exeter. The Lapford Parish Council acts as a link for and between these bodies and the villagers.
Please see below for a Map of Lapford Parish