Rackenford is an old village and small parish approximately 8 miles north-east of Tiverton and 12 miles north of Crediton. It is a parish made up of many scattered farms and dwellings. The parish was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Racheneforda which is believed to mean "a ford suitable for riding by a river or stream".
The old manor house in the parish was Cruwyshaye House and formerly was the seat of the SYDENHAM and CRUWYS families. White (1850) mentions that the Lord of the Manor held court leets and barons annually, these are also mentioned later in Kelly's (1893) but no mention is made of the frequency in which they took place.
Holy Trinity Church and other Chapels
Rackenford's parish church was built in the C15th, although its font dates from the reign of Henry II (1154 - 1189) indicating that there was an earlier church here. White (1850) mentions its name as Holy Trinity although later Kelly (1893) gives its name as All Saints which is its name today.
Kelly (1893) gives the following description of Rackenford church:
White (1850) mentions that a Bible Christian Chapel was built in the parish in 1848, Kelly (1893) also acknowledges its existence.
According to White (1850), Rackenford was described as a borough in some old records of the parish and from 1235 held a market and annual fair. By 1850, the market no longer existed, but the annual fair was still held for the sale of lambs on the 8th July each year, or the following day if this date fell on a Sunday. He also mentions a small cattle fair which had been held in the parish since 1776 and was still held annually each year, on the Wednesday before the 19th September.
Information from Historical Rackenford (Source: Devon Local Studies Library) gives slightly different dates for these events and states that Rackenford was recorded as a borough in 1234, hosted a market from the C14th and has found evidence of a fair being held in the parish from the C14th to 1822.
By 1893, there was a railway station at East Ansty, 5½ miles south of Rackenford on the Devon and Somerset branch of the Great Western line which no doubt opened up the opportunities for travel and trade in the region.
White (1850) mentions that a National School was built in the parish between 1848 and 1849 and tells us that the school-master at the time was Walter WOOD. However, Kelly (1893) says that a National School was built there in 1872 to cater for 80 children, although the average attendance was only 42. Presumably this school was either built to replace the original or the original was made bigger.
My ancestor George COURTIS was Keeper of the Turnpike Gate at Rackenford, from around 1832 to at least 1841, showing that like many other parishes, Rackenford had its own toll gate. People passing through the parish would have to "pay" to go through the parish and this money was meant to be used for the maintenance of the local highways, although often this money was not used for what it was intended and many local roads fell into disrepair.
The following public houses were listed in White (1850) and Kelly (1893) along with their publicans:
Rackenford still remains a pleasant sleepy country village and still retains its 12th Century Stag Inn, believed to be one of the oldest in Devon. It's bar is called Tom King's Bar, believed to be haunted by a ghost that rides his horse through the bar... so if you visit, you have been warned!
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