Winkleigh, Devon - Genealogy and Family History

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Historical Overview

Winkleigh is an ancient parish, with a reasonably large village lying between Crediton and Great Torrington just slightly south of the B3220.

Settlement at Winkleigh appears to pre-date norman times with the evidence of Bronze Age finds that have been found locally.  Winkleigh was recorded in the Domesday Book as Wincheleia and is believed to have got its name from Wineca+Leah .  The leah or leigh part comes from old English and means wood clearing.  The beginning part is believed to have come from the name Wineca.

Arthur Mee (1965) tells us that the Normans built two moated castles in the parish, probably not just for their military purposes, but also because of the park that once existed... apparently the only Devon park to be listed in the Domesday Book (1086).  It was very unusual for two castles to be built in such close proximity of one another and has been suggested that they may have been built in opposition of one another.  Court or Keynes Castle was owned by the De KEYNES family, while the De TRACEY family held seat at Croft Castle, the latter of which is believed to have been built on top of an ancient bronze age barrow or burial mound, dating around 2500BC.  The Gatehouse Gazetteer website provides some further information on Winkleigh Croft and Court Castle.

All Saints Church and Religion in the Parish

The parish church of All Saints dates from the 15th century and is made of stone.  White's (1850) description of the church tells us: 

"The Church (All Saints,) is a fine antique structure, with a tower, containing five bells, and commanding from its summit extensive views, in which are seen the hills of Dartmoor, and the steeples of 24 parish churches." (p. 727)

Kelly (1893) further expands on this description telling us:

"The church of All Saints is an ancient building of stone, chiefly in the Late Decorated style, and consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, south porch, transept and an embattled western tower with pinnacles containing a clock and 6 bells..." (p. 671)

In 1873 the church underwent extensive restoration at a cost of nearly £7000 - obviously a lot of money in those days!  Kelly's (1893) also mentions that Winkleigh also had a Wesleyan and Bible Christian Chapel in the village, a Bible Christian Chapel at Staple Green and a Congregational Chapel erected at Hollacombe in 1869.

Parish Life

Information from Historical Winkleigh (Source: Devon Local Studies Library) shows that the parish was recorded as a borough from 1250 and that a weekly market and three annual fairs were granted by a charter in 1262.  Kelly's (1893) also mentions that yearly "cattle" fairs were held in the parish.  They were held on the first Monday after the 8th July and also, on the first Wednesday in October.  In 1260 the hamlet of Hollocombe in the parish was also granted a charter to hold it's own fair and markets were also held here.

White (1850) lists Winkleigh as having five Inns and Taverns, interestingly with three of the publicans having the surname WILLIAMS.

Name White (1850) Kelly (1893)
Barnstaple Inn Robt. WILLIAMS Charles and Charlotte (Miss) WILLIAMS
Clotworthy Arms Geo. EDWARDS  
King's Arms Mary WILLIAMS William TURNER
Ring of Bells Walter WILLIAMS Edward TINNEY
Seven Stars Nathl. HAMMETT (butcher)   
Butchers' Arms Inn   Charles HILL

Kelly (1893) tells us that Winkleigh had its own school, opened in 1876 and catered for 180 pupils.  Average attendance was only about 100 children.  The school-master and school-mistress at the time were James TIPPER the master and Mrs Sarah Ann TIPPER, who was the school- mistress for the infants.  Kelly (1893) also mentions that another Board school was built at Hollacombe between 1881 and 1882 for 50 children.  Average attendance in 1893 was about 30 and the school-mistress was Miss L. A. BLAINEY.

With a land acreage of 9118 acres, farming, now as in the past, is the main occupation in the area.  Although the parish was also reknowned for producing cider. Kelly (1893) tells us that some of the parish was covered in woodland and that the remainder of the parish had good corn and grazing land for livestock.


Books - click for sources.

Historic Populations

Year 1801 1851 1901 1931 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 1214 1554 1079 881 934 1093 1010 1060 1326

Source: 1801-1991 Census ©Crown Copyright
Source: 2001 Registrar General Population Estimates

Data originally from Devon Facts and Figures part of the Devon County Council website. [no longer available]

Map of the Area


  • Winkleigh in GENUKIgiving information about the parish and an old map of the Parish Boundaries.
  • Winkleigh community website with information about the parish for residents and visitors.
  • Strictly come Winkleigh is a light hearted and fascinating illustrated history of Winkleigh, with photographs by Devon photographer Jackie Freeman.  Written and adapted by David Freeman from the television series: Secret Britain.
  • ACE Archaeology Club are a group based in Winkleigh who are undertaking a number of community heritage projects including:

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