Bridford & Surrounds

Bridford is an upland village in Devon in South West England, rising to over 1100 feet in places, and is situated on the Eastern side of Dartmoor National Park. 473 people live in the village today. In 1801 the population was 444 and by 1901 it dropped to 404. Mining was a major activity in the area for 50 years, ending in the 1950s. Minerals found included silver, lead, zinc, iron ore, manganese and barytes. Bridford is twinned with Saint-Vaast-sur-Seulles, a village in the Normandy region of France.

  • The Bridford Inn is a traditional 17th century pub in the heart of the village and includes the village shop, situated inside.
  • The granite church of St Thomas Becket Church is situated in the heart of the village, at the top of a ‘lofty flight of stairs’ and exposed to the elements. It is perhaps unsurprising that an 18th Century visitor described it as a ‘damp church’. Like many churches it has undergone numerous changes through the centuries both in terms of renovation and ‘modernisation’ and also in how it is used by the community. The Visitor’s Guide available within the church gives much of the background.

Books about Bridford and St Thomas Becket Church

References to Bridford and St Thomas Becket church occasionally appear in dissertations, usually as part of a study of Rood Screens. These theses have not been listed here. This short list of key books below nonetheless provides numerous insights into village and church life through the centuries.

Palk-Carrington, R. (1842) Parochiales Bridfordii: A Devon Village in Olden Times, Trans. Devon. Assoc. 68, (1936) pp.331-350
Robert Palk Carrington was Rector of Bridford from 1815-42. He could be considered as a ‘Squire Parson’, being an enthusiastic hunter,sportsman and farmer, as well as parson. This paper contains extracts from his original manuscript which records of ways of life in Bridford in the early 19th century. The Rector also gleaned anecdotes from parents and grandparents of the parishioners to give some insights into earlier times.

Waterfield, R.(c1954) The Parochial History of Bridford. (Notebooks and Typescript). (Westcountry Studies Library ), Exeter
A typewritten hand-annotated manuscript in the West Country Studies Library., containing numerous extracts from earlier publications about the Bridford area. Much detailed discussion about the church, its Rood Screen and gravestones in the churchyard..

Waterfield, R. (1947) Some Notes on the Rectors of Bridford, Devonian Year Book pp.44-51.
An entertaining survey of early Bridford Rectors, beginning with Henry, parson in 1244, who had an ‘amicable lawsuit with the Prior of Totnes, to decide the ownership of a ferling of land in Bridford. The Prior gave the right to Henry, and Henry gave the Prior a sore sparrow-hawk; that is a bird in the first year’ (p44)The notes continue in this vein, sharing anecdotes of a further 36 Rectors before concluding with the Rev John Henry Snow who was Rector of Bradford in 1911 and moved to Bridford in 1912.

Bridford Photo Group: Millennium Album Project (2000) The Bridford Album, Exeter
A photographic record of Bridford parishioners, four years in the making, providing a record of the year 2000, funded by the Arts Council Millennium Festival. The idea was that parishioners would provide photographs reflecting something of importance to themselves. Disposable cameras and a book on photography were distributed to all the children in the parish ‘to provide inspiration and experimentation to children who may not have had any involvement with photography’. The book is well indexed and also contains an aerial photograph and parish map.

Stanbury, A. (2005) St. Thomas Becket Church, Bridford: A Record of Graves and Burials 1600-2004
Alison Stanbury meticulously compiled this list of graves in name and date order from Dwelly’s Parish Records (Vol 6, Devon Monumental Inscriptions; Vol 1, 1918) and other local sources. This useful book contains maps of graves and also an appendix containing data analysis which provides ‘a limited perspective of the history of aspects of the demography of the parish’.