Monkleigh is a village, parish and former manor in north Devon, England, situated 2 1/2 miles north-west of Great Torrington and 3 1/2 miles south-east of Bideford. An electoral ward exists titled Monkleigh and Littleham. The population at the 2011 census was 1,488.[1]


Location within Devon
OS grid referenceSS4520
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtEX39
Dialling code01805
PoliceDevon and Cornwall
FireDevon and Somerset
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK Parliament


The name of the village, Monkleigh, originates from the Old English "Munckenelegh", used in 1244 to describe a "wood or clearing of the monks", referring to a 12th-century property owned by the Montacute Priory. The area was previously named "Lega" in the Domesday Book of 1086.[2]


In 1887, John Bartholomew, Gazetteer of the British Isles, described Monkleigh as a village and a parish. It had a population of 540 people, covered 2177 acres, and had property that belonged to the Montacute monastery.[3] It includes the hamlets of Saltern Cottages (also known as Annery Cottages) and Annery kilns,[4] both of which are historic listed sites.[5] Located west of the River Torridge valley, the village sits on high ground with scenic views of the parish. It was originally part of the Shebbear Hundred and is within the Church of England's Deanery of Hartland.[6]



William, Count of Mortain, the founder of the Montacute Priory, gave the Monkleigh manor to the priory during the reign of Henry I (1100–1135).[7][8] It was owned by the Montacute Priory[9] in Somerset until the Dissolution of the Monasteries (between 1536 and 1541).[10]

Monkleigh manor

When the monasteries were dissolved, the manor was granted by the crown gratis on 26 August 1540 to James and Anne Coffyn (also Coffin) of Alwington for the term of her life.[10][nb 1] Anne was the widow of Sir George St Ledger of Annery.[10] In June 1544, the crown granted the manor of Monkleigh to Sir John Fulford of Dunsford and Humphrey Colles of Barton, Somerset, who paid the purchase price for the manor and obtained royal licence to alienate[lower-alpha 1] to James Coffyn.[10][nb 2] In other words, the manor was purchased for the Coffyns.[9]

In 1810 the manor of Monkleigh was owned by Rev. John Pine-Coffin of Portledge, Alwington, from the same family as James Coffyn.[12] About 1823 Richard Pine-Coffin sold Monkleigh manor land to John Rolle, 1st Baron Rolle for the development of the Rolle Canal.[13]

Annery, historic estate

The former historic estate of Annery was a neo-Classical mansion house that stood in a "fine timbered park" dating back to the 13th century or before.[6][14] An early owner was Osbert of Annery.[9] By 1260 the house was owned by the Stapeldons; Walter de Stapeldon was born in the Annery that year and later became the Bishop of Exeter from 1307 to 1326 and Edward II's Lord High Treasurer.[6] After the Stapeldons, it was owned by Sir William Hankford.[9] The Annery fell into decay and in 1800 a new building was built on the grounds of the medieval building.[14][15][nb 3] It was demolished in 1957.[14]

The ruins of the lime Annery kiln, built about 1823–1824 for Lord Rolle, are located along the River Torridge. Limestone was brought from Caldy Island and Gower Peninsula.[16]

Church of St George

In the early 15th century[17] parish church is dedicated to St George.[18] Sir William Hankford, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, left monies for the church to complete construction of the south aisle in his will. He stipulated that the south aisle should be reserved for his and his heirs burial. Hankford died in 1423; at that time the fabric was being rebuilt. Hankford was buried in a canopied alter-tomb.[6]

The Annery aisle has bench-ends decorated with the arms of the Annery manor families and emblems of the Passion. Tiles from the late medieval period are found in the aisle and the nave. A kneeling effigy of James Coffin, Esquire (1566) in armour sat on a high tomb and was since destroyed.[6] Pevsner stated that a small monumental brass of a kneeling knight, affixed to a stone tablet, and with heraldic escutcheons of the arms of Coffin, is dated from the 16th century.[18][19] Sir James St. Leger (1509) is represented in brass.[6]

From 1862 to 1863 the church was restored.[6] According to Pevsner, it contains one of the most remarkable medieval wooden screens in Devon;[18] It is a detailed parclose screen that may date to 1537 when Dame Anne St. Leger founded a chantry in the chapel.[6]

Other historic buildings

Some of the other historic buildings in Monkleigh include the early 19th century Monkleigh Millhouse;[20] an early 19th-century country house, Petticombe Manor;[21] Rudha Bridge Millhouse;[22] The Bell Inn, originally built in the 17th century;[23] and farmhouses, cottages, outbuildings, and bridges.[5]



Monkleigh is served by A388 road.[24]


A ferry operates between Bideford quay and Lundy Island, which lies about 22 miles (35 km) away in the Bristol Channel. The same ship, the MS Oldenburg, also provides evening cruises from Bideford along the River Torridge.[25]


There are several bus services provided by Stagecoach Devon, Carmel Coaches and Jackett bus services as of May 2013, including:[26]

  • 85 – Bude to Barnstaple
  • 85 – Holsworthy to Barnstaple
  • 85C – St Giles on the Heath to Sticklepath (Barnstaple Petroc North Devon College)
  • 646 – Halwill Junction to Barnstaple
  • X85 – Barnstaple to Plymouth


The nearest railway stations are at Umberleigh, Chapelton and Barnstaple.[27]


The nearest airports for public transportation are Eaglescott Airfield and Exeter International Airport.[28]


Monkleigh Primary School conducts 3 mixed age classes within the town of Monkleigh.[29]

Other nearby schools are Langtree Community School And Nursery Unit, East-The-Water Community Primary School, Buckland Brewer Community Primary School, Pynes Infant School And Nursery and West Croft Junior School.[30]

Notable people


  1. It was valued at £21 11s 6d per annum, but unusually no charge was made for the grant.[10]
  2. On 11 June 1544 the crown granted the manor of Monkleigh, subject to the life interest of Coffyn's wife, to Sir John Fulford of Dunsford and Humphrey Colles of Barton, Somerset, along with other grants of property. For Monkleigh manor they were charged £194 3s 4d, representing 10 years' purchase of its annual value. They were also granted Monkleigh Woods for £29 13s 6d, representing 20 years' purchase[10] Fulford and Coles paid the purchase price in full on 2 June 1544 and just one week later obtained royal licence to alienate, to James Coffyn of Alwington.[10]
  3. It has also been said that the building was modernised and refurbished.[6]
  1. The British Records Association's definition of "licence to alienate" is "royal permission, by Letters patent, to sell or dispose of a property obtained from the Crown and held by knight service."[11]


  • Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., ed. (1895). The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620. Exeter.


  1. "Ward population". Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  2. A. D. Mills (9 October 2003). A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford University Press. p. 503. ISBN 978-0-19-157847-2. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  3. "Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Monkleigh". Vision of Britain. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  4. William White (of Sheffield.) (1879). History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Devon: Including the City of Exeter, and Comprising a General Survey of the County ... White. p. 550. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  5. "Listed Buildings in Monkleigh, Devon, England". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  6. "Monkleigh". Devon County Council. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  7. Daniel and Samuel Lysons (1822). "Parishes: Maker – Musbury". Magna Britannia: volume 6 Devonshire. pp. 326–360. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  8. Richard Nicholls Worth (1895). A history of Devonshire: With sketches of its leading worthies. E. Stock. p. 158. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  9. Tristram Risdon (1811). The chorographical description or survey of the county of Devon: Printed from a genuine copy of the original manuscript, with considerable additions. Printed for Rees and Curtis, Plymouth. pp. 276–277. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  10. Gt. Brit. Court of Augmentations; Joyce A. Youings (Ed) (1955). Devon Monastic Lands; Calendar of Particulars for Grants 1536–1558. pp. 39–41.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  11. "How To Interpret Deeds – A Simple Guide And Glossary". British Records Association. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  12. Risdon, Tristram. Survey of Devon, 1810 Additions. p. 422.
  13. Scrutton, Susan (2006). Lord Rolle's Canal, Great Torrington. p. 30. ASIN B005E8QSKY.
  14. Historic England. "Annery House (1105127)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  15. "Annery House" (PDF). Archaeology Data Service. 2 March 2006. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  16. "Annery Kiln". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  17. "Church of St George". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  18. Pevsner, Nikolaus; Cherry, Bridget (2004). 'The Buildings of England: Devon. p. 573.
  19. Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., ed. (1895). The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620. Exeter. p. 208.
  20. "Monkleigh Millhouse". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  21. "Petticombe Manor". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  22. "Rudha Bridge Millhouse". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  23. "The Bell Inn". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  24. "Google maps – Monkleigh, UK". Google. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  25. "MS Oldenburg". Lundy Island. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  26. "List of Transport Services from Monkleigh". Carlberry – Travel Search. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  27. "Maps – Station Finder – Monkleigh". The Train Line. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  28. "Monkleigh nearest airports". Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  29. "About the school". Monkleigh Primary School. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  30. "Monkleigh Primary School – Other nearby schools". Retrieved 24 June 2013.

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