Modbury is a large village, ecclesiastical parish, civil parish and former manor situated in the South Hams district of the county of Devon in England. Today due to its large size it is generally referred to as a "town" although the parish council has not elected to give itself the status of a town as it could do under s.245(6) of the Local Government Act 1972,[2] so it does not have a town council and cannot have a town mayor. It is also known informally as a "market town", as from at least 1199 the lord of the manor has held the right to hold a regular market.[3] The village is situated on the A379 road, which links it to Plymouth and Kingsbridge. The current parish population is approximately 1,500.


Church Street, Modbury
Location within Devon
Population1,454 (2001)[1]
OS grid referenceSX63835946
 London181 mi (291 km)
Civil parish
  • Modbury
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtPL21
Dialling code01548
PoliceDevon and Cornwall
FireDevon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK Parliament
WebsiteModbury Parish Council website


The name Modbury is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon name, Moot burgh from 'Moot' meaning either 'Mud' or 'meeting' and 'bury' meaning 'fortified enclosure'.


Modbury is recorded in the Domesday Book.[4] It has had permission to hold a weekly fair since before 1199.[3] The population of the town was greatly reduced as a consequence of the Black Death in the 14th century.

Civil war

The exterior and interior of Modbury's parish church of Saint George.

Modbury was the site of two battles in the English Civil War. The first battle was a minor royalist victory on 9 December 1642, when a small Royalist force put to flight a smaller Parliamentarian force.

The second Battle of Modbury occurred on 21 February 1643 when the Royalists forces, expecting an attack by Parliamentarian forces assembled at nearby Kingsbridge, had fortified the town. Outnumbered approximately four to one, and running short of ammunition, the royalists retreated. This victory was largely instrumental in the lifting of the Siege of Plymouth, and the driving of the encircling Royalist forces into Cornwall.

19th century

By 1801, the population of Modbury had risen to 1,813, with almost half engaged in the wool trade. The impact of the mechanisation of the wool industry was to have a dramatic effect on the economic prosperity and population of the town in the mid-1820s and later. Many workers left the town and headed to large cities in search of employment; others left the country altogether, emigrating to America.

The railway line bypassed Modbury, contributing still further to this decline. Modbury remained an important market town until as late as 1944 when the cattle market ceased.


The manor of Modbury was held from the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, by the Vautort family, and passed successively to the families of Okeston and Champernowne.

Historic estates


Whympston in the parish of Modbury is a historic manor. In the 12th century it became the earliest English seat of the prominent Norman family of Fortescue, influential in British and West Country history, which survives today as Earl Fortescue, seated in Gloucestershire, but until recently seated at Castle Hill in Devon.


Orcheton within the parish was long a seat of the Prideaux family. The much mutilated effigy survives in the Orcheton (or Prideaux) aisle of Modbury Church of Sir John Prideaux (c.1347-1403) of Orcheton, twice a Member of Parliament for Devon in 1383 and 1388.[5]

Plastic bag ban

In April 2007 local traders declared that for environmental reasons, they would no longer give customers plastic bags.[6][7][8] This initiative led to other communities, such as Ilam in Staffordshire and Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, to pursue similar enterprises.[9]

Modbury Rovers F.C.

Modbury has a recreation field with a football pitch, tennis courts and a tarmac all-weather surface used mainly for skateboarding. This is the home of Modbury Rovers, who are managed by Alex Pitcher and compete in the Plymouth and West Devon Combination League.

Notable former residents

See also



    1. "Parish Headcounts". The Office for National Statistics. 1 April 2001. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
    3. "Devon – Modbury". Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs to 1516. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
    4. Open Domesday Online: Modbury, accessed December 2017.
    6. Vidal, John (28 April 2007). "Welcome to Modbury. Just don't ask for a plastic bag". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
    7. Elliott, Valerie (28 April 2007). "Modbury (pop 1,553) is first to ban plastic bags". The Times. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
    8. Barkham, Patrick (12 May 2007). "World asks town that banned the plastic bag: how can we do it too?". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
    9. Sunday Telegraph 22 July 2007 2, 406 pC12
    This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.