Welcome. This is a community web site for the Villages of Meeth in Devon, England, along with the nearby villages of Exbourne, Jacobstowe, Highampton, and Hatherleigh. Anything related to these places can find a home here free of charge, thanks to our sponsors. Please take time to read their pages (left, or see home)
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Meeth lies above a bend in the River Torridge near the confluence with the Ockment. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book, so there was an established community before the Normans came. It is likely that Meeth was one of the early Christian communities in Devon. Ancient records mention landowners by the names of Giffard and Fryes whose names live on in two farms within the parish. There are still six working farms within Meeth, but no longer the diversity of businesses mentioned in 1890 when there were 9 farmers; a shoemaker; 2 shopkeepers; blacksmith; a carpenter, wheelwright and machine maker; a victualer (the landlord of the New Inn) and a tailor. Some of the censuses around that time also mention glove makers, presumably homeworkers, associated with the businesses in Great Torrington. Today the inn is the Bull and Dragon, the name having been changed in 1987. The building is thatched, listed and 15th or 16th Century and is a privately owned freehouse. The other organisations in the village are the the headquarters of a Lamisell Ltd, suppliers of laminated beams to the building industry plus a few homes offering bed and breakfast. The clay works which extracted ball clay from extensive pits in the village sadly closed a few years ago but have now been re-born as the Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve, run by the Devon Wildlife Trust; it is open daily. The clay works were started at the beginning of the twentieth century by local residents and became very successful, exporting the quite rare ball clay as far as America. For a time, the clay was mined, but then open cast works were used. The railway made transport much easier and the link continued for some years after the passenger service ceased in 1965. (This railway linking Gt. Torringto to Halwill Junction opened fully in 1925 and thus holds the record as the shortest-lived main line in Britain!) Today, Meeth Halt is the start of an attractive part of the Tarka Trail heading north towards Great Torrington and Bideford. The trail for walkers and bike riders goes through the woods and fields of the beautiful west and north Devon countryside, eventually running alongside the River Torridge, made famous in the book Tarka the Otter.
     The church is in the centre of this village which stands on the A386 road, 3 miles north of Hatherleigh. A cobbled path, made in 1818 from Torridge river pebbles by the French prisoners from Dartmoor prison at the time of the Napoleonic wars, leads past old lime trees to the early Norman porch. The church too changed its name and patron saint at some time from St. John to St. Michael and All Angels. The porch has a remarkable roof with moulded ribs and carved bosses, and the door too is old, probably twelfth century. The church has been altered over time, the roof with its interesting bosses is fifteenth century, the altar rails and pulpit and font cover are probably Jacobean, and a huge and clearly very necessary restoration was undertaken at the end of the nineteenth century, when the sanctuary and vestry were added and the floor tiled. The tower has needed considerable repairs over the years - in 1692 it was apparently in danger of falling down. In the 1990s the tower was re-pointed and the four bells restored. The second and third are from the Exeter foundry about 1400 and are inscribed Ave Maria and Ave Maria Gracia. The treble and tenor are both dated 1714 cast by Stadler. The treble has the inscription "ring me round, I'll sweetly sound." They are rung regularly for services and practices are at 7.30 pm on a Friday evening to which anyone is welcome. As at 2015 the tower was discovered to again have major problems with the rubble infill between the inner and outer stone walls having partially collapsed, probably over considerable time. Fund-raising including a lottery grant is ongoing. The most remarkable treasure in the church is the large plaster Coat of Arms dated 1704 from the reign of Queen Anne, created it is thought by John Abbot of Frithelstock and recently restored so that the fine workmanship can be appreciated. What may become a treasure of the future is the Millennium Plaque: a needlework picture showing many of the houses and special places in the village, surrounded by tiles of local clay. These were decorated by Meeth children with illustrations of what they thought important to remember at the millennium and fired by a local potter. The needlework was done by Meeth ladies and the frame by a resident craftsman. The churchyard has fine gravestones, some of them listed, with many recording generations of past villagers. The church and the churchyard are well worth a visit.       Meeth Guild meets every third Tuesday of the month at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall for talks and demonstrations to which anyone is welcome. The trustees of the Village Hall organize events during the year such as skittles evenings, quiz nights and barbecues and these are advertised in the Parish Pump and the parish notice board. The harvest supper, together with a lively auction of the produce collected, is also held in the Village Hall, usually the last Friday in September following harvest evensong in the church. Other events in the village are organized from time to time, an annual one being the fete and dog show in aid of the church with a portion of the proceeds going to a charity. .   


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