Coffinswell Parish History

Coffinswell Parish Councils’ Millennium Project of 2000 is a very good place to chart the development of this beautiful South Devon Parish.

This document which is on display in Coffinswell Parish Church contains a handwritten draft of an article written by a Mr John Millar Hartley in 1993. This draft article which is kept in Parish Archives provides a brief history of our Parishs’ long and interesting history.

The Beginnings

Coffinswell seems to have developed as a settlement besides the springs where the pastures/lands of two agricultural Manors of the time met.

These being the Tavistock Manor owned from Saxon times by the Abbey of Tavistock who leased the land to a succession of tenant gentry. This manor extends to the north and east of the current village.

The second Manor was adjacent spreading north and west. This Manor was known as the Lay Manor since it never belonged to the Church. In 1086 Lay Manor was held by Mr Radulph Paganel and the Exeter doomsday survey of this year places both Manors at Willa/Wille.

This Willa/Wille was three miles from Newton Abbot and three miles from the nearest coastline. It comprised of 1035 acres of manorial land which gave rise to two streams, Aller Brook which rose to the south east and Doddawell Brook (now known as Beersbrook) running down from the village to the north west.

The Formation of the Parish

In around 1155 ground was being selected for the site of a Church and the needs of another newer Manor also needed to be considered. This was the Manor of Daccombe which spreads south east of the other two Manors.

A site was chosen where all three manorial boundaries came together and in 1191 the name of the area is given the name Wille et Daccumbe.

Church records of 1193 name it Willa et Daggecumba and a deed of 1225 speaks of de Welle de Dacum.

In approximately 1230 in the reign of King Henry III the Coffyn family acquired Lay Manor and by 1282 the Manor was called Welle Coffyn.

By 1326 it was cleary differentiated from the Tavistock Manor by is name of Coffinswille.

This Parish now consists of the village of Coffinswell and the hamlet of Daccombe.

Development of the Parish

Over the intervening centuries a number of changes have occurred in respect of the ownership and management of the agricultural lands of the Parish, eventually becoming part of the Haccombe Estate which was owned by the Carew family.

Most of the land had tenants who farmed or worked the land as market gardens, cress beds and small holdings.

As part of the Parish development a small village school was built in 1874 and records indicate that a Post Office service commenced in 1904 within the village shop.

However in 1942 the Haccombe Estate was sold with much of the land being purchased in plots which started the development of the Parish into the community which we see today.

As part of this sale two farm cottages dating back to 1368 were bought by the Rendell family and subsequently in 1954 leased and converted into the Linny Inn as we know it now. However this was a male members only Country Club to comply with the conditions of the license at the time. A full license was not granted until 1976!

The Parish today

The Parish today, has a population of approximately 200 and it covers an area of approximately 1150 acres. Its geography means that the two communities still remain confined within the two distinct valleys either side of Kerswell Hill.

Whilst there has been some infill development since the 1960s with new properties and barn conversions the community retains its linear layout with distinctive rural character with tree lined hedgerows and stone walls.

Over 23 acres has been identified as being a Conservation Area, with other areas being registered as being of Great Landscape Value or of Areas of Archaeological Potential.

There are twenty nine listed buildings/properties (British Listed Building Register) and these are predominately archetypal Devon Cob and Thatch dwellings.

The Parish has a network of public bridleways and paths which highlight the beautiful agricultural landscape in which it lies.

The Parish has retained its rural character, with its main industry remaining as being predominately farming. Coffinswell is mainly residential surrounded by agricultural land whilst Daccombe has evolved into an area with a focus on equestrian usage and tourism.

Two campsites have been developed over recent years, catering for tents and caravan/motorhomes.

Sadly the School and Post Office and Village Shop are no longer part our community but the Linny Public house and restaurant still remains and thrives.


This short insight into our beautiful communities development over the years was made possible by the following documents and books.

1. Mr John Millar Hartleys draft article on Coffinswell Parish.

2. Coffinswell and Daccombe “memories of village life” produced by our parishioners

3. Teignbridge councils “Conservation Area statement for Coffinswell”

By kind permission this document is available for viewing on this website via the link contained within the Information section.

Notes of interest

The Oxford Dictionary confirms the name Coffinswell as the spring or well of the Coffyn family i.e. Coffin-his -well.

The name Kerswell derives from Carswiella - Saxon for the watercress spring.