Copyright Christine Matthews and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Otterton History

The 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 size, 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 Otterton manors. 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 Ottery Street 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.

The late 20th. century has seen the disappearance of all these facilities together with the working farms. (1843 Tithe there were 11 in the main street)

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 Millington

(Available at Otterton Mill & the Village Shop)

 

 

History Pages

Click on the image to access the story behind the photo.

The Brickyard

Stantyway Farm

 

Railway History

The Kings Arms

April Cottage

Lace Making

 

Otterton Village 2017