HISTORY OF KINGSNYMPTON
Written by John Barnes
Published: 18 May 2012
Kings Nympton is a parish with a pretty hill village which lies in the heart of the rolling countryside between Exmoor and Dartmoor. Many of the outlying farms are largely unspoiled from the 15th and 16th centuries and the village has many cottages (and the pub) with thatched roofs.
About half of the parish boundary is formed by the River Mole (anciently the Nymet). Nearly all of its 5,540 acres are given over to agriculture with beef, sheep, dairy, arable and egg production forming the bulk of farming activity.
Its origins lie back in mists of time but it is generally believed that it all began many thousands of years ago when ancient British people settled here in small groups on the higher ground.
The Church of St. James was established here by the Saxons in around A.D.980. It was probably built on the site of a pagan "nymet”, a sanctuary or holy grove. At the time of the Domesday Book, the whole manor belonged to the King and was eventually purchased by Sir Lewis Pollard who enclosed a deer park in the late 15th century.
During the Civil War the Pollards were staunch Royalists but Sir Hugh Pollard was fined £518 for his "delinquency”. It may have been the severity of this fine which caused him to sell the manor to his cousin Sir Arthur Northcote in whose family it remained until 1740 when it was sold to James Buller of Morval, Cornwall.
Buller married the heiress Elizabeth Gould of Downes, Crediton, he demolished the previous Gothic house and built the fine Palladian mansion which stands today. The Bullers eventually withdrew to Downes in about 1839 and sold the estate to James Tanner in 1843.
James Tanner (d about 1860) made various improvements to the estate, including constructing a new bridge, Head Bridge, adjacent to the south entrance; in 1857 he was said to have 'greatly improved both the mansion and grounds within the last few years' (Billing 1857). At James Tanner's death the estate was left equally to his sons John Vowler Tanner and James Tanner, who was agent to the Earl of Portsmouth's Eggesford estate.
This arrangement led to disputes, and the estate was let until it was inherited by Charles Peile Tanner in 1903. Charles Tanner made few changes to the estate before his death in 1964, when it passed to his niece, Miss J M Stoddart. Miss Stoddart continued her late uncle's management regime into the late 20th century, and in 1974 made over part of the estate to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Miss Stoddart died in 2000 and the house was left to Hugh Kenyon, the son of Miss Stoddart's second cousin Mary, and his wife Kate.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust sold the remainder of the estate to James and Nicky Brent in 2003 and they developed the Home Farm site into a home for their family.
In 2010 the Brent family sold the estate to the Lichfield Trust. In 2016 Hugh and Kate Kenyon sold Kingsnympton Park House to the Lichfield Trust so at long last the estate is back in single ownership.
Todays Kings Nympton has two churches, the beautiful St. James’s and the more modern Methodist Church. We also have a primary school, a pre-school, an excellent parish hall and a well equipped playing field.
Apart from agriculture, other important commercial interests include self catering accommodation, horse riding, shooting, fishing, trout farming, gourmet food production, blacksmithing, scrum machine manufacture and many other smaller enterprises.
The award winning Grove Inn sits in the centre of the village and is one of the many social hubs for parish folk, other organisations include the Tuesday Club, Women’s Network Fellowship, and History Society.
Three times a year we produce Nympton News, this is a community journal which sets out to record events in the parish, past, present and future.