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Church Road, Whimple - geograph.org.uk - 1509979.jpg
Church Road
Grid reference: SY0497
Location: 50°45’60"N, 3°21’25"W
Population: 1,642  (2001)
Post town: Exeter
Postcode: EX5
Dialling code: 01404
Local Government
Council: East Devon
Tiverton and Honiton

Whimple is a village in Devon, approximately 9 miles east of the city of Exeter, and 3 miles from the nearest small town, Ottery St Mary. It is a modest place with a recorded population of 1,642 in 2001.

The village is was listed in the Domesday Book as Winpla which according to the Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names was originally the name of the stream that runs through the village, believed to be a Celtic name meaning 'white pool or stream'. The village is centred around the largely 19th century village square and rebuilt Norman church (which W G Hoskins described as having little of interest 'except a few carved bench ends'). Through the square runs a small stream which is one of many local tributaries of the River Clyst, which in turn feeds into the Exe.

Whimple is large enough to support two pubs a village shop, Post office and a Church of England primary school, and was mainly notable during the 20th century as being the home of Whiteway's cyder and perry products until it's closure in 1985. Although the factory lands were sold off for housing in the 1990s, the village is still surrounded by orchards of cider apples and in its heyday boasted the largest cider apple orchards in the world. It is now home to the unrelated O'Hanlon's brewery. The East Devon Crematorium, located nearby on the south side of the old A30 road, was opened in April 2011.

The centre of the village is about a mile north of the old London road, and a mile and half from the new dual carriageway A30. Whimple railway station is on the West of England Main Line from London Waterloo to Exeter. Outlying hamlets of Whimple include Cobden, Hand & Pen, Woodhayes, Slewton Combe, Larkbeare, Strete Raleigh and Marsh Green.


Whimple has a long tradition of wassailing which it celebrates every year on Old Twelvey Night - 17 January.

The Whimple Wassail is an orchard-visiting wassail ceremony and was first mentioned by the Victorian author and folklorist; the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould in his book Devon Characters and Strange Events (published 1908).

Later in 1931 the Whimple Wassail was given further mention in the Devon & Exeter Gazette describing how the Wassail was hosted at Rull Farm, Whimple by a Mr & Mrs Reynolds.

The ceremony stopped during Second World War but was revived by the Whimple History Society in 1980 and has grown into a very popular tradition attracting visitors from all over the country.

The ceremony begins at the New Fountain Inn with the first rendition of the wassail song, then the procession first wassails one of the last remaining 'Whimple Wonder' trees before visiting three orchards and stopping for a salute at the village tethering-stone to remember and pay respects to the late "Mayor of Whimple" John Shepherd who was a much loved local character and the man responsible for reviving the tradition. He was also a great singer and recalled many old songs including the Whimple Wassail. After visiting the last orchard, the wassail party finish up at the cricket club on the other side of the village where the full song is sung followed by much music-making and consumption of cheese, apple cake and of course, cider!


The Whimple Wassail song and processional tune were recorded by local folk musician Jim Causley, a native of Whimple, on his album Fruits of the Earth, a collection of traditional Devonshire and Westcountry songs, released in 2005 on WildGoose Records.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Whimple)