Kentisbeare or Kentisbeer, is an old parish that lies 3 miles north-east of the ancient market town of Cullompton. Historically, that parish was made up of many scatter dwellings and included the hamlet of Sainthill. In 1850, White mentioned in his Devon Directory that the parish of Blackborough was also associated with Kentisbeare for the support of its poor.
It was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as Chentesbere and later as Kentelesbere (1242), so its history quite possibly dates back to at least Saxon times if not earlier. It may have got its name from the fact that the parish it lies on the River Kenn - but another theory is that the name may have come from someone by the name of Centa or Centle living here in earlier times.
St Mary's Church
Kentisbeare's parish church of St. Mary dates back to around the 15th. Kelly (1893) gives us the following description of this ancient church:
St. Mary's tower has a stone turret built in red and white checks. Mee (1965) tells us that the aisle was built by John WHYTYNG who died in 1529 and his tomb lies inside the church. Also he mentions another tomb in the church belonging to Mary WOOTTON (1558), the great-aunt of Lady Jane GREY. Lady Jane GREY was the grand-daughter of Henry VIII's younger sister Mary, but executed on Tower Hill, London on the 12th February 1554.
There was also a Baptist Chapel built in the parish, in the hamlet of Sainthill in 1839. This chapel is still used today.
As with many other Devon parishes, Kentisbeare had quite a few farms in the area. Kelly (1893) lists wheat, barley and oats as the chief crops grown in the parish at that time. Common to other farming communities, an annual cattle Fair was held in the parish on Whit Wednesday according to White (1850). This annual Fair was still in existence in 1893 and was mentioned in Kelly's (1893).
Kentisbeare appears to have had two public houses in 1850, "The Golden Lion" and the "Wyndham Arms", although by 1893, this number appears to have dropped to one, with only "The Wyndham Arms" still in existence.
Along with its pubs, Kentisbeare also had a number of "Beersellers". It was common for these to also have another occupation and trade beer as a sideline.
Kelly (1893) tells us that a National School (mixed) was built in Kentisbeare in 1873 for the education of 130 boys and girls, although the average attendance was put at 113 pupils. The mistress in 1893 was Miss Ada WEBB. However, from the Kentisbeare Primary School website, it appears that Kentisbeare's present school dates back to at least 1793 and that around 1873/4 the Victorian frontage was added. Further evidence that an earlier school was in existence is from White (1850) where Joseph RADFORD is listed as the school-master. However, this website also gives an interesting History of Schooling in Kentisbeare
Source: 1801-1991 Census ©Crown Copyright
Data originally from Devon Facts and Figures part of the Devon County Council website. [no longer available]
Map of the Area