Welcome to Hatherleigh, the Jewel in the Heart of Devon.
Hatherleigh is a place apart-an ancient market town of cob and thatch cottages situated in the heart of rural Devon in one of the few places where tranquility can still be found and the stars seen at night.
The town nestles in a deeply rural landscape shaped by a thousand years of settlement and farming. It is situated in West Devon, in the valley of the River Torridge just outside of Dartmoor National Park and about 6 miles north of Okehampton.
Today Hatherleigh is not simply picturesque, but a working landscape and town, home to an active and welcoming community where history and tradition blend comfortably with modern life. Part of that tradition can be seen at Hatherleigh Market on a Tuesday morning where, for generations, farmers have gathered to buy and sell their livestock.
Hatherleigh probably began as the Saxon settlement of “Haegporn Leah”, meaning hawthorn glade and was first recorded in 981 when it was confirmed as part of the endowment of Tavistock Abbey. Later Hatherleigh became a medieval borough and a license to hold a market in the town was first granted by Henry III in 1220-the current Tuesday market dates from 1693.
The Parish Church of St. John the Baptist dates from the 15th century but has been found to contain fragments dating from Norman tmes. The church became famous nationally in 1990 when the medieval wooden spire was blown over during a great storm, crashing through the nave roof and causing extnsive damage. Thankfully the church has now been restored to its former glory.Other interesting and historic buildings include Thomas Roberts House-Hatherleighs first school, and the Methodists Chapel with its beautiful stained glass window created by the monks of Buckfast Abbey.
Park in the town car park and enjoy Roger Deans larger than life “Sheep” sculpture, one of many art works to be found in the town. Then wind your way up the hill past the Square where the renowned Hatherleigh Silver Band frequently plays. You might even hear the Town Crier advertising local events.
The road narrows and continues to climb upwards to Hatherleigh Moor, a 400 acre common where from medieval times local residents known as “pot boilers” have had the right to graze livestock and gather furze (gorse).
From the monument, raised in honour of Colonel William Morris a hero of the Charge of the Light Brigade, you can take in the breathtaking panoramic view across a patchwork of woods and farmland to the impressive horizon of the Dartmoor Tors.
Hatherleigh contains numerous ancient cob and thatch buildings, each with a unique history of their own. Many were once inns or alehouses.
The recently restored George Hotel dates from late medieval times and was once the principal stage for coaches travelling to Bideford, Plymouth, Bude and Exeter.
The Tally Ho! and Bridge Inn also have histories stretching back more than 200 years. Today they all extend a warm welcome and traditional hospitality to visitors from around the world, offering pleasant accommodation, good food and locally produced ales.
In the town you can sample delicious locally produced honey, meat and cheese, browse among fine antiques, furniture and fabrics, or pick up the things you’ve always wanted at the local market and auction.
Hatherleigh has some excellent sporting facilities including a cricket pitch, bowling green, two tennis courts and a football pitch.
The natural beauty of the landscape of Devon’s Culm Measures, its wildlife, habitats and biodiversity can be enjoyed at the nearby Halsdon Nature Reserve with riverside walks and bluebell woods, or at Cookworthy Forest Centre.
The area also boasts a wealth of fishing opportunities, excellent golf courses, horse riding facilities and close proximity and easy access to the coast.
Hatherleigh’s central position makes it an ideal location from which to explore this area of rural Devon, deep in Ruby Country.
To find out more about Hatherleigh, visit the Hatherleigh website.
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