High Bickington High Street and Post Office
|Population||1,668 (2011 including outlying hamlets and localities, some with separate articles)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
High Bickington is a rural village in North Devon, England, about 2 km west of the River Taw valley, among largely cultivated hills and wooded valleys. The nearest larger settlements are Great Torrington (6 miles (10 km) west), South Molton (8 miles (13 km) east), and Barnstaple (8 miles (13 km) north).
The village is on a slight ridge (presumably hence the name), at around 160 m (520 ft). It is on the B3217 road. It has unbroken views across the valley towards Exmoor.
The civil parish of High Bickington is spread over a wider area.
The full name also distinguishes it from two other Devon villages: Bickington (in Teignbridge District) and Abbot's Bickington.
With its origins in Saxon times (around 650), or earlier, the manor of High Bickington is referred to as 'Bichentone' in the Domesday Book of 1086. Before the Norman Conquest, the manor belonged to a Saxon nobleman, Britric, nicknamed Meau ('the fair'), who also held rights to the land revenues of Gloucester and extensive estates in the West Country. He spurned the advances of Matilda, the Duke of Flanders' daughter and later the wife of William the Conqueror. She later imprisoned Britric and eventually had him put to death. All his lands passed to her, including Bichentona, Clovelly, Bideford, Winkleigh and Tiverton. The lands were later inherited by Matilda's son, William Rufus, who became William II of England.
In around 1150 the manor of High Bickington came into the possession of the Champernownes of Umberleigh. Lady Joan Champernowne gave some of the lands to the Lodges family. Hugh de Loges held the manor of Buckington Loges during the reigns of King John and Henry III (1199-1261). This was inherited by William Boyes in 1364, although by this time the lands around the village had been divided between several others including Holt, Clavil, Snape, Stowford, Corpsland, Burvet and Wotton, whose names still survive today in hamlet, farm and field names around the parish.
From about 1400 onwards, owners were selling off parcels of land. The Church manor of Corpsiland, south of the present village high street, and including the property still known as Parsonage, was held by the parson until 1800. The Bassetts of Umberleigh inherited lands from the Champernownes, while the Pyncombes of North Molton acquired large areas around the parish from around 1500 onwards. The last of them, Mrs Gertrude Pyncombe, in her will of 20 January 1730, founded a charitable educational trust from which grants are still made to local children.
The population of the parish/village was given as 17 families, around a hundred people, at the time of the Domesday Book; this rose to a peak of 851 people in 1851. By 1901 it had fallen to 539, and it continued to fall to around 410 in the 1950s. Since then the population has steadily risen as a result of recent development, and now stands near its 1801 level.[which was what? Or maybe 1901 was intended?]
Industry and facilities
Agriculture has always been and still is the main industry in the parish. In the past, the village was almost self-sufficient, but in modern times with the advent of the motor car most business now takes place away from the village, in towns such as Barnstaple, Bideford, Torrington and South Molton. The village still has a post office, shop, doctor's surgery, school, golf course and two pubs. The village has mobile services for fruit and vegetables and fresh fish, and a council library service. Building trades services can be found in and around the village. The village has a football team, cricket team and various pub-sport teams.
High Bickington is still largely unspoilt and retains much of the character of an isolated rural country village, including many thatched cottages, cobbled pavements and narrow streets.
There is an historic English manor house 3 miles south-west of the village: Northcote Manor, now a hotel.
The village has a cricket and football team, the latter of which (High Bickington FC) compete in the North Devon Football league, currently the Intermediate 1 division. The village is now home to a Badminton club as well.
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