Abbots Bickington

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Abbots Bickington
Abbots Bickington - St James church - - 590982.jpg
St James' church
Grid reference: SS384132
Location: 50°53’46"N, 4°17’53"W
Population: 35  (2001)
Post town: Holsworthy
Postcode: EX22
Dialling code: 01409
Local Government
Council: Torridge
Torridge and West Devon

Abbots Bickington is a village in the north of Devon, eight miles north-northeast of Holsworthy, with the River Torridge flowing nearby.[1]


The name 'Bickington' appears to be from the Old English Beaccingatun, meaning "Beacca's people's estate (or village)", after an otherwise unknown founder or landlord. In the Domesday Book of 1086, it is recorded as Bicatona and in 1107 as Bechintona. In 1580 the village appears as Abbots Bekenton: the prefix is a reflection that the estate was formerly owned by Hartland Abbey.[2]


Barns at Court Barton



The village was held by Goda the priest in the time of King Edward the Confessor, before the Norman Conquest of 1066.[3][4] The area, part of the Black Torrington Hundred, had 10 households, 8 were smallholders and 2 were slaves.[4] It is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086–7 as Bichetone, when it was held by Gerald the Chaplain,[3] the tenant-in-chief and lord. He was also associated with two other locations in Devon: Stoke and Shapley.[4]

Abbey and manor

Hartland Abbey

In the 12th century the manor was given to Hartland Abbey by Geoffrey de Dinant,[5] as part of the abbey's initial endowment. It remained as property of the abbey until dissolution in 1539.[5][6] The church was built as a "cell" of the abbey.[1]


Hugh Prust contracted for a 40-year lease of the manor.[7]

By 1871, Mark Rolle owned most of the 1078 acres of Abbots Bickington and was lord of the manor. At that time there were 50 people living in 8 households. Rolle paid for the 1868 renovations to the church, including installation of new seats and construction of a new roof.[8]

In the late 19th century it was reported that blue limestone was quarried in the village for building construction, and trustees of Lord Rolle were patrons of the church.[1]

Church of St James

The village church was built about 1300 of stone rubble and lancet windows.[9][10] In the 15th century, stained glass were added, featuring St Anthony and St Christopher. There is also a monument to Thomas Pollard in the church.[9]

The chancel and nave, west tower and south transept were all built about the same time. It has the original piscina. Mediæval Barnstaple tiles, some with fleur-de-lys pattern, cover the chancel floor. In 1863 and 1868 the church went through processes to reseat and restore the church. Church of St James is described as "an unspoilt example of a small early church, modest in size but with a number of interesting features and very picturesque appearance."[10]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Abbots Bickington)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Abbots Bickington". Vision of Britain. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  2. A. D. Mills (9 October 2003). A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-157847-2. OCLC 727648507. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Williams, Ann; Martin, G. H. (2002). Domesday Book: A Complete Translation. London: Penguin. pp. 334; 1303. ISBN 978-0-14-143994-5. OCLC 50494977. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Place: [Abbots Bickington"]. Open Domesday. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lysons, Daniel; Lysons, Samuel (1822). Magna Britannia: being a concise topographical account of the several counties of Great Britain. 6. Cadell. p. 44. 
  6. "Abbots Bickington". Devon County Council. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  7. Chope, Richard Pearse; Thornley, Isobel Dorothy (1940). The book of Hartland. Torquay: The Devonshire press. pp. 208. 
  8. White, William (of Sheffield) (1879). History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Devon: Including the City of Exeter, and Comprising a General Survey of the County .... White. p. 7. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mee, A. (1965). The King's England: Devon. Hodder and Stoughton. p. 16. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Church of St James, Abbots Bickington - British Listed Buildings