Welcome to Legacy Devon. This site is dedicated to the history of Devon and Exeter alongside interesting facts about our home county. Many thanks to local businesses that have helped us set this up, including exeter plumbers and Virginia's Hair Devon is one of the largest counties in southwest England. Referred to as Devonshire, it is the second biggest county in England, and has the longest history of human occupation of any county in England.

A Short History of Devon


After the last ice age, Devon changed into one of the first places in England that humans began to live. Archaeologists have located many ancient places in Devon with historic homes. Many ruins of vintage homes had been uncovered in Dartmoor - one of Devon's most beautiful and vast public parks.

Devon's name comes from Dumnonii, a moniker that the invading Romans gave to the Celtic tribes in that region. The Romans invaded Devon about ad 50. They classified the Dumnonii as "a person who lives in a deep valley", and it comes from the hills and valleys of the vicinity. The Romans stayed in Devon for hundreds of years. Their main base turned into in the city of Exeter, Devon's capital.

In the following centuries, many other peoples invaded Devon. The 7th century saw the first Saxon invasion, while the King of Wessex may additionally have attacked in 614. There was a warfare among Devon and Wessex for 2 hundred years.

A local resident at the time called William of Malmesbury said that in Exeter both Britons and Saxons lived side by side up until 927, when King Athelstan of Wessex exiled Britons from Exeter in a large purge.

A big variety of Devon place names include the phrase "combe" (e.g. Ilfracombe). This word comes from the Brythonic (Celtic) language and is like the Welsh phrase "cwm". Another typical Devon phrase is "tor" which is also Brythonic, and just like the Welsh word "twr". These phrases are regularly located in neighbouring counties, but Devon has the greatest quantity. Devon's placenames are like those of western Somerset and eastern Cornwall which became also a part of the ancient state known as "Dumnonia".

Viking raiders first attempted to invade Devon in the 7th century, and many successive attempts were made until the Norman Conquest. The call of Lundy Island comes from the Viking language, which became known as Norse. The Vikings are remembered for shifting the cathedral from Crediton to Exeter.

In 1140, the cities of Exeter and Plympton had been both defended against King Stephen.

There had been small battles in Devon at some point of the Wars of the Roses.

The military of Perkin Warbeck surrounded and attacked Exeter in 1497.

The towns of Exeter and Dartmouth have been each besieged throughout the English Civil War, and when William of Orange invaded Britain in 1688, he landed at the coastal town of Brixham.

There are numerous famous Devonians, including many mainly sailors due to Devon's proud maritime history. Famous explorers Sir Francis Drake, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Walter Raleigh all come from Devon. Many other famous human beings were additionally born in Devon: for example, the author Agatha Christie was born within the city of Torquay.

Ashburton

Did you already know that Ashburton became the primary town in Britain to have a Monster Raving Loony celebration Mayor? Pub landlord Alan Hope first received public office for the OMRLP in 1983, while elected to Ashburton's council; and in 1998 he became Mayor of the town. After transferring to Hampshire, he became elected to Fleet city Council, and contested the Witney seat within the 2010 standard election, narrowly losing to David Cameron himself!

Plymouth

Did you know that Plymouth has the oldest working bakery in Europe? Jacka's of Southside street on the Barbican had been baking at the time of the Armada (1588) and baked biscuits for the voyage of the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620. Did you already know that Plymouth's Roman Catholic Cathedral was designed by Joseph Hansom who additionally designed the world's first taxi - as in a 'Hansom Cab'? He additionally designed the Catholic Cathedral in Arundel Sussex and St Walburge's Church in Preston which has the tallest parish church spire in England.

Dartmouth

Did you already know that Dartmouth is home to the oldest running steam engine within the world? Built by Devonian engineer Thomas Newcomen in the late 18th century, it operated as a pumping engine on the Coventry Canal for over 200 years. Did you realize that the Jack Russell breed of dog was bred in Devon by, you guessed it, a man named Jack Russell? The cleric was an eager hunter, and wanted to develop a dog to flush foxes out in their holes without hurting them.

Exeter

Exeter Guildhall is the oldest civic construction in Britain (1468) that is still in use. Parts of the building date back to 1160, although it was renovated or built upon repeatedly in 1330, 1468 and 1591. To this day, council conferences are held there. Inside is contained the oldest civic seal in England (1175). There's a huge network of catacombs underneath Exeter, which date back to the 4th century. The passages have turned out to be a popular tourist attraction, with access in Paris road in the Princesshay area.

Bideford

Did you realize that the last witches who were hanged in Britain were three ladies from Bideford in Devon? They were tried and executed as late as 1682, the case against them including such incontestable proof as a tabby cat taken to be the devil coming into a store owned by a witness and a magpie alighting on the window of one of the accused. Bang to rights then. They were tried on August 19 1682, and hanged in Exeter six days later.

The Devonshire Flag

The flag of Devon is in part inspired by St Petroc, a saint with links to Devon and nearby counties in the Southwest of England.