World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Holsworthy, Devon

Article Id: WHEBN0001871011
Reproduction Date:

Title: Holsworthy, Devon  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Torridge, List of museums in Devon, Copplestone, Netherton, Farway, Devon
Collection: Charter Fairs, Market Towns in Devon, Post Towns in the Ex Postcode Area, Towns in Devon
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Holsworthy, Devon


Town View
Holsworthy is located in Devon
 Holsworthy shown within Devon
Population 2,641 (2011 Census)
District Torridge
Shire county Devon
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district EX22
Dialling code 01409
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Devon and Somerset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Torridge and West Devon
List of places

Holsworthy is a small market town and civil parish in the local government district of Torridge, Devon, England. The county town of Exeter is 36.4 miles (58.6 km) to the east. The river Deer, a tributary of the river Tamar, forms the western boundary of the parish.

Holsworthy is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Haldeword. It was part the Hundred of Black Torrington. According to the 2011 census the population of Holsworthy was 2,641.


  • History 1
    • Toponymy 1.1
    • Manorial history 1.2
      • Historic estates 1.2.1
  • Government 2
  • Geography 3
  • Demography 4
  • Economy 5
  • Culture and community 6
    • Culture 6.1
    • Community 6.2
  • Religious sites 7
    • Anglican church 7.1
    • Methodist church 7.2
    • Catholic church 7.3
  • World War Two 8
  • Education 9
  • Sport and leisure 10
  • Transport 11
  • Notable people 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14



The original meaning of 'Holsworthy' is probably 'Heald's enclosure'. Derived from the Old English personal name Heald or Healda, plus worthig; an enclosure, farm or estate. An alternative possibility is from Old English heald meaning 'incline, a slope'. In 1086 the name was recorded as Haldeword[1] and as Haldeurdi (Exon). Other recorded spellings are Haldwwurth 1228, Halleswrthia -worth(e) -wordi late 12th-1291, Haldeswrthy -wrthi -worth 1277-1389, Holdesworthe 1308, Healdesworthe c.1320, Hyallesworthi 1326, Houlsworthy 1675.[2]

Manorial history

In 1066 the Lord of the manor was Earl Harold and in 1066 it was William I.[1] It was given by Henry II to Fulk Paganell. He gave it, with his daughter Gundred, to Matthew del Jartye. Their daughter and heiress brought it to Chaworth. Henry de Tracey purchased it from Chaworth, and it descended to the baronial family of Martyn. From them it passed by marriage to the lords Audley, and by an entail to the crown. King Edward III granted it to his son, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster. John Holland, Duke of Exeter, possessed it by a grant from the crown, and in 1487 the manor was given for life to Margaret, Countess of Richmond. In 1621 Sir John Speccot (d.1645) of Speccot in the parish of Merton, Devon, Sheriff of Cornwall in 1622,[3] was lord of the manor. After this it was purchased by the Prideaux family of Soldon, Holsworthy. In about 1713, the manor of Holsworthy was sold by Prideaux to Thomas Pitt, 1st Earl of Londonderry, from whom it descended to Earl Stanhope.[4] In 1932 Holsworthy Urban District Council purchased the Manorial Rights from Lord Stanhope and so became Lords of the Manor.[5]

Great Tree Plaque

Holsworthy was part the Hundred of Black Torrington.[1] In 1614 King James I granted a charter for an annual fair to be held in Holsworthy. During the English Civil War Holsworthy was held by Royalists forces until, on 17 February 1646, Sir Thomas Fairfax, after his victory at Torrington, sent a party to take possession of the town.[4]

Prisoner of War camp number 42 (Exhibition Field Camp) was located north of the town, near to what is now, Park Close. The German and Italian prisoners held there were employed as farm labourers.[6]

Historic estates


The earliest form of governance recorded for Holsworthy is that of a Court Leet. A charter, dated 1154, grants a 'Chartered Court Leet of the Ancient Manor of Holsworthy'. The court leet was one of the highest and oldest tribunals of English Common Law and was presided over by the Portreeve.[5] The office of Portreeve has existed since Saxon times when he was the governor of the town.[7] The court was held periodically, normally annually, and attended by the residents of the district. It had jurisdiction over petty offences and the civil affairs of the district, and performed a number of administrative functions such as the collection of tolls and dues paid by traders and later military levies.[7] The Port in Portreeve refers to a market town, a place of harbourage of goods, not of ships and the 'reeve' part indicates the chief magistrate of the town.[7] The powers and duties of the Portreeve and Court Leet ceased when the statutory bodies of Petty Sessions (Magistrates Courts) and Parish Councils were created to deal with criminal and civil matters, respectively.[5]

On 1 April 1900 Holsworthy parish was split in two by the creation of

  • Holsworthy at DMOZ
  • Holsworthy Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
  • BBC Devon - Holsworthy - My home town article by Charles Cornish
  • Holsworthy Museum

External links

  1. ^ a b c "Domesday Holsworthy". Retrieved 22 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Watts, Victor, ed. (2004). The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names. Cambridge University Press. p. 312.  
  3. ^ Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitation of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.707
  4. ^ a b Lysons, Daniel; Lysons, Samuel (1822). "Holsworthy". Magna Britannia. Volume 6, Devonshire. London. pp. 273–287. Retrieved 15 January 2015 – via British History Online. 
  5. ^ a b c "Chartered Court Leet" (PDF). Holsworthy Town Guide 2012–2014. p. 12. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Thomas, J. C. (2003). Prisoner of War Camps (1939–1948) (PDF) (Report). Swindon: English Heritage. p. 23. Retrieved 28 December 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c OED Online. December 2014. Oxford University Press. 
  8. ^ Day, William Ingram Leeson (1934). Holsworthy. Parochial histories of Devonshire no. 2. Exeter: Devonshire Association. p. 35. 
  9. ^ "Holsworthy Town Council" (PDF). Holsworthy Town Guide 2012–2014. p. 21. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "Devon districts" (PDF). Retrieved 22 December 2014. 
  11. ^ Whalley, J. S.; Lloyd, G. E. "Tectonics of the Bude Formation". Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Geology of Britain". Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Holsworthy Total Population". A Vision of Britain Through Time. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "Holsworthy (Parish) 2001 census". Office of National Statistics. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Holsworthy (Parish) 2011 census". Office of National Statistics. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "Last auction held at Holsworthy Market". BBC News: Devon. 20 August 2014. 
  17. ^ Holsworthy Biogas Plant
  18. ^ "From the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar". Time and Date. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  19. ^ The Admission Register of the Manchester School. Manchester University Press. p. 103. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  20. ^ "Will of Reverend Thomas Meyrick, Clerk". 21 June 1841. PROB 11/1947/265. Retrieved 11 January 2015. 
  21. ^ "Holsworthy and Stratton Agricultural Show". Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "Chartered Court Leet" (PDF). Holsworthy Town Guide 2012–2014. p. 9. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  23. ^ "Course Details". Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "Holsworthy Vintage Rally". Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  25. ^ "Carnival History". Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  26. ^ a b c "Devon Town Focus, Holsworthy". Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  27. ^ "Holsworthy Community Hospital". Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  28. ^ "Holsworthy Doctors". Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  29. ^ "The Long House". Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  30. ^ "Stanhope Park". Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  31. ^ "Holsworthy Library". Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  32. ^ a b c d e "Church of St Peter and St Paul". English Heritage. 1 January 1851. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  33. ^ a b "Re-opening Holsworthy parish church". Western Times (Exeter). 4 January 1884. p. 6. Retrieved 31 January 2015 – via FindMyPast. 
  34. ^ "History". Holsworthy Parish Church. Retrieved 24 February 2015. 
  35. ^ Henry Thomas Ellacombe (1872). The Church Bells of Devon. Exeter: W. Pollard. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  36. ^ a b "Holsworthy. Opening the new organ". Western Times (Exeter). 28 June 1867. p. 7. Retrieved 31 January 2015 – via FindMyPast. 
  37. ^ Speth, G. W. (30 October 1893). Two Lectures on the Folk-Lore of Masons. Margate (published 1894). pp. 6–7. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  38. ^ "United Methodist Church Holsworthy". Western Times: 5. 22 April 1910 – via Find My Past. 
  39. ^ 1104938 "United Methodist church" . English Heritage. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  40. ^ "The future of the Catholic Community at Holsworthy" (PDF). St Cuthbert Mayne. Retrieved 10 March 2015. 
  41. ^ German Prisoners of War in Britain
  42. ^ JSM (2012-12-26). "How to find us - Holsworthy A.F.C". Holsworthy A.F.C. Retrieved 2012-12-30. 
  43. ^ "Times Past" (PDF). Holsworthy Town Guide 2012–2014. p. 11. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  44. ^ Flew's ODNB entry: Retrieved 18 September 2011. Subscription required.
  45. ^ Obituary. Retrieved 21 March 2015.


People from Holsworthy are known as Holsworthians.[43] The 19th century Royal Navy admiral Benedictus Marwood Kelly was born in Holsworthy. He was a director of the Devon and Cornwall Railway Company. The Methodist theologian and religious writer Robert Newton Flew was born in Holsworthy.[44] Barbara Mandell, who in 1955 became Britain's first female newsreader on a national TV network, and later wrote travel books, retired to Holsworthy and died there on 25 August 1998.[45]

Notable people

The railway arrived in 1879, and was operated by the Devon and Cornwall Railway Company. Holsworthy railway station was closed in 1966, but the viaducts built either side of Holsworthy remain.

  • 6 - Exeter to Bude - Operated by Stagecoach.
  • 85 - Holsworthy to Barnstaple - operated by Stagecoach.

Holsworthy has two main bus services:

Derriton Viaduct


Holsworthy has a Non-League football club Holsworthy A.F.C. who play at Upcott Field.[42]

Sport and leisure

Schools in the town include Holsworthy Community College as well as Holsworthy CE Primary School.


During World War II, POW Camp No. 42 (Exhibition Field Camp)[41] was situated at what is now Stanhope Close. The Church of St Peter now displays a crucifix, carved by a German POW, and also two hand painted stained glass windows made by Italian POWs, used in a hut which served as their Roman Catholic church.

View of church window
View of church window

World War Two

A Catholic church, St Cuthbert Mayne Chapel of Ease, was at Derriton, Holsworthy. Following the closure of the chapel in December 2005, the Catholic community celebrated Mass at the Holsworthy parish church.[40]

Catholic church

[39] The church, a Grade II listed building, was built in 1909-10 in the Early English style by two local building firms, Samuel Parsons (who was also the architect) and William F. Glover. The church, built on the site of an earlier chapel (c.1876), has the same appearance as the earlier chapel but with the addition of a two-stage octagonal crenelated tower with spire. At the base of the tower there is a 2-light window. The gabled facade is of Bath stone with Plymouth limestone dressings. The gable ends are decorated with crocketed finials. The arch over the double doors, of the gabled porch, is inscribed 'United Methodist Church 1910'. The porch, which has a 2-light window above, is flanked by 2-light windows under continuous hood moulds. The church and hall have shallow raking buttresses and have slate roofs with decorative ridge tiles. The interior is in the form of a 4-bay

The Methodist church, Bodmin Street was opened on 28 April 1910 as the United Methodist church.[38]

Methodist church

It is famous for being one of the few in the country with the Devil depicted in stained glass.[26] It also gained fame from Samuel Sebastian Wesley's music, Holsworthy Church Bells — composed for the chiming drum.[26]A legend states that the tower was built atop a live human sacrifice to ensure a strong foundation.[37]

[36] The organ is said to be by

The church contains several stained glass windows including three by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake of London.[32]

The south porch contains remnants of the original Norman building. On the east wall there is a carved stone Holy water stoup and on the west wall there is a carved stone panel depicting the Agnus Dei thought to be the centre of a tympanum above a Norman capital of a colonnette. Two Norman colonnettes, with Romanesque capitals are incorporated into the wall on each side of the doorway.[32]

The present church, built in the early English style, dates from the mid 13th century. Renovations in the late 19th century included the complete rebuilding of the chancel, the addition of a north aisle and the renovation of the nave and south aisle.[33] The 15th century three stage west tower houses a set of eight bells and a carillon.[32] The tower is 85.75 feet (26.14 m) high.[35]

The parish church of St Peter's and St Paul's Church is a grade II* listed building.[32] The first building on the site was probably a Norman Oratory built c.1130 and replaced, c.1250, by a church with tower, nave, south aisle and chancel built in the Early English style.[33] The original Norman Church was small and occupied the site of the present nave.[34]

Holsworthy church west tower

Anglican church

Religious sites

Holsworthy Library is on North Road, opposite the parish church.[31]

Stanhope Park, with an area of 8 acres (3.2 ha), was donated to the town by James Stanhope, 7th Earl Stanhope. The park is the home of Holsworthy Cricket Club and of Holsworthy Bowling Club. In 2012 Stanhope Park received accreditation under the Queen Elizabeth ll Fields Challenge and in 2014 a new Play Park was opened. Holsworthy Primary School and Holsworthy College both use the park for sport and educational purposes.[30]

The outdoor pannier market, whose origins go back to mediaeval times, is held in the town square every Wednesday. Holsworthy Community Hospital is situated in Dobles Lane to the north of the town. It was built in 1991 and is run by the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust. The Hospital has one inpatient ward and an out-patients department.[27] Nearby is Holsworthy Medical Centre that serves Holsworthy and surrounding villages. A 'Minor Injury' service is provided during surgery hours.[28] In December 2014 building started of 'The Long House', an outreach centre of North Devon Hospice in the grounds of the Medical Centre. It will enable patients to access care and support close to home without the need to travel to the hospice in Barnstaple.[29]

View of the market


Holsworthy is twinned with Aunay-sur-Odon in the Calvados department in the Lower Normandy region of north-west France. Aunay-Sur-Odon is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of Villers-Bocage, 30 kilometres (19 mi) south-west of Caen, and 31 kilometres (19 mi) north-east of Vire. The two communities visit each other's towns on alternate years.[26]

The annual Carnival is held in November. The first carnival was held in November 1900 as a replacement for the Guy Fawkes and bonfire celebration.[25]

Holsworthy Vintage Vehicle and Engine Rally started in 1987 and has grown to a major two day event that attracts exhibiters and visitors from a wide area. The rally is held on the last Saturday and Sunday of June.[24]

A half marathon, the 'Ruby Run', is held in June between the towns of Hatherleigh and Holsworthy. The starting point alternates between the two towns each year and attracts competitors from all over the South West.[22] The first race was run on 15 June 2003 from Hatherleigh to Holsworthy.[23]

The annual, one day, 'Holsworthy and Stratton Agricultural Show' is an important event for the town and the local farming community. The show began in 1883 as the 'Holsworthy and Stratton Agricultural Exhibition' and the venue alternated between Stratton and Holsworthy. After World War II a permanent site was purchased, north of Stanhope Park, and became known as the 'Show Field'. The show was held in May and was the first in Devon’s agricultural show season. It is now held at Killatree Cross, 1.2 miles (1.9 km) west of Holsworthy, on the third Thursday in August.[21]

The annual presentation of the ‘Pretty Maid’ is made at noon on the first day of St Peter's Fair. Her identity is kept secret until she emerges through the church tower doorway to be greeted by the crowd of viewers of this unique ceremony. It is a result of a legacy made in the will of the Reverend Thomas Meyrick, of Carta Martha, near Launceston who died 27 May 1841. He was the brother of the Reverend Owen Lewis Meyrick (Rector of Holsworthy from 1766 to his death in 1819).[19] Under the terms of the will, the legacy was to be invested to pay a dividend of £3 10s on 5 July annually to the churchwarden of Holsworthy. £2 10s of the dividend to be paid to a young single woman under the age of 30 and ‘generally esteemed by the young as the most deserving, the most handsome, most noted for her qualities and attendance at church.’ The balance of £1 to be paid to a spinster, not under 60 years of age, of the same qualities; this payment has now ceased.[20]

St Peter’s Fair is held in July and lasts for four days (Wednesday to Saturday). Since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752, with the resulting loss of eleven days, the fair has been held eleven days after the feast day of St. Peter (29 June).[18] On the first day of St Peter’s Fair, the 1614 charter granting a Fair by King James I is proclaimed by the town crier on the spot where the Great Tree of Holsworthy stood in Stanhope Square. A brass plaque in the road marks the site of the Great Tree.

Proclamation of the fair charter by the Town crier


Culture and community

Holsworthy is home to the only centralised anaerobic digestion facility in the UK. Turning dairy farm slurry into biogas, the plant has an installed capacity of 2.1 MW. There are proposals to provide low cost heat to the householders of the town from the plant.[17]

Holsworthy has one of the largest livestock markets in South West England. The livestock market had been held on the same site from 1905 until 2014 when the site was sold for retail and residential development and the livestock market moved to an new out-of-town site.[16]


Data for 1801–1991 from Britain Through Time;[13] data for 2001–2011 from Office of National Statistics;[14][15]

Population of Holsworthy
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 1,045 1,206 1,440 1,628 1,857 1,833 1,724 1,645 1,716 1,960
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991
Population 1,371 1,499 1,416 1,403 1,355 1,550 1,618 1,748 1,645 1,892
Year 2001 2011
Population 2,256 2,641

The population of Holsworthy, according to the census of 1801, was 1,045. There was a steady growth in population reaching 1,857 in 1841. Over the next sixty years the population fell over all to 1,371 in 1901. Over the next sixty years the population rose gradually to 1,748 in 1971. After the population dipped to 1,645 in 1981 it rapidly grew to 2,641 in 2011, an increase of 60.54% in thirty years.


The bedrock geology of the parish is entirely of Bude Formation.[11] This type of Sedimentary bedrock was formed in the Carboniferous period. All of the parish is of Bude Formation (sandstone) except for a strip of Bude Formation (mudstone and siltstone), about 1,600 feet (490 m) wide, across the extreme north of the parish.[12]

Holsworthy is in the East of the Torridge district of Devon. Neighbouring parishes are, to the West, Pyworthy, and Holsworthy Hamlets in other directions.[10] Holsworthy is 189.5 miles (305.0 km) west sou'west of London and 36.4 miles (58.6 km) west nor'west of the county town of Exeter. The town is on the intersection of the A388 and A3072 roads. The town centre is about 140 metres (460 ft) above sea level and the highest point in the parish has an elevation of 144 metres (472 ft). The river Deer, a tributary of the river Tamar, forms the western boundary of the parish.



This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.