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Ilsington is a parish situated on the eastern edge of Dartmoor, Devon, England. It is one of the largest in the county, and includes the villages of Ilsington, Haytor Vale, Liverton and South Knighton.
The village of the same name is believed to be an ancient settlement - probably existing 200 to 300 years before the Norman Conquest. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Ilestintona, and there is known to have been a church there since at least the 11th century. St. Michael's parish church, as seen today, dates back to the 15th century. It was the site of an incident which has passed into local folklore: in 1639 the schoolroom, which was above the west lychgate of the church, collapsed into the street and churchyard.
Apart from its agricultural history, Ilsington's industrial archeology reflects the mining of the 18th and 19th centuries. The Atlas tin mine and the Smallacombe iron mine were major local enterprises - with the cottages at Lewthorne Cross being built for William Grose, the mine captain and mine workers. Nearby, at Haytor, granite was quarried and carried down to Stover on the Haytor Granite Tramway, and the remains of the miners' buildings can still be seen.
Haytor granite was used in the building of many civic structures including London Bridge, over the Thames in London. The stone was carried from Haytor to the canal at Stover by the granite railway - a route now commemorated in the Templer Way footpath.
Through the centuries, Ilsington village appears to have been largely self-supporting. Census returns and church records show a variety of rural occupations among the local community - including farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, thatchers and stone workers. It had an ancient manor house which fell into ruin after occupation ceased in about 1825. The village's most famous resident was the playwright John Ford, who was born at Bagtor House.
Today, the village has a pub (The Carpenters Arms) and a hotel (The Ilsington Hotel), while nearby Haytor Vale has the Rock Inn, and Liverton has The Star and The Welcome Stranger. The schools within the parish are thriving - with both Blackpool School and Ilsington Primary School growing in recent years.
The most recent history of Ilsington is The Book of Ilsington: A Photographic History of the Parish. It was written by Dick Wills, who lived in the parish all his life, and was the 14th generation of the Wills family to live and farm at Narracombe. He died shortly after the publication of his history of the parish.
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