Saxons first settled in the Otter Valley about 680AD where the various
mini-rivers ran into the wide Otter River Estuary. Otterton and East
Budleigh had sufficient water in these harbours to take vessels of some
especially at high tides, and both became mini ports in due time. 400
years later both places were prosperous trading ports. William the
Conqueror granted Otterton to the Abbey of Mont St.Michel in Normandy
for providing ships and men for his invasion of England.
By 1161 a Priory had been built to the north east of the Saxon Church
with a Prior and 4 monks. 1415 the monks were evicted and the priory
granted to the Abbey of Syon, Middlesex by Henry V, prior to his
invasion of France.
The priory buildings became ruins and the estate was managed for the
Abbey by Stewards/Bailiffs who probably lived in the Barton. By the
late 1400's Otterton Harbour was gradually silting up and only small
fishing boats could dock there.
However harbours lower down the Estuary were still used by trading
vessels. Merchants mariners and shipowners were moving into the Lower
Otter Valley building houses and farms in both East Budleigh and
Sheep farming became the most profitable occupation during the 15th
& 16th. centuries.
At the Reformation 1539 both manors were bought by Richard Duke. In the
meantime the Otter Estuary had silted up and a shingle bar was forming
across its mouth. The Rolles took the two manors over in 1786. The
Clintons in 1907.The centre of Otterton had developed around its harbor
and Mill, with the Priory, Church and Barton on the higher ground
above. After its silting up the harbour became the Village Green.
Development took place along Fore Street and many farmhouses and barns
were built along it. Each farmer had his fields scattered throughout
the Parish. Fore Street divided into Bell Street to Ladram Bay and
to the north with more farms. By the 18th. & early 19th. centuries
Otterton had become the principal "town" in the Lower Otter Valley.
Eventually the village centre moved from the Green to the Fore Street,
Bell Street road junction. Blacksmiths, Wheelwrights, a Cooper,
Saddler, Baker and Butchers moved their businesses there and a Post
Office/Shop was opened.
late 20th. century has seen the disappearance of all these facilities
together with the working farms. (1843 Tithe there were 11 in the main
Today the centre of the village is now around the Kings Arms and
Village Hall which have survived. The latter houses the Village Shop
and a hairdressers shop next door. We still have the shops in the Mill.
Gerald Millington 2016
Gerald Millington Publications
All About Otterton (Behind the picture postcard) by Gerald
Millington & Robert H. Jones
A Walk Around Otterton & Ladram Bay By Gerald
(Available at Otterton Mill & the Village Shop)
Click on the image to access the story
behind the photo.