Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for LIDFORD, or LYDFORD

LIDFORD, or LYDFORD, a village and a parish in Tavistock district, Devon. The village stands on the river Lid, near the Tavistock and Launceston railway, amid a wild tract of country, on the W side of Dartmoor, 7 miles N by E of Tavistock; is a very ancient place; was formerly known as Lighaford; figured as a borough, having 8 burgesses within the walls and 41 without, in the time of Edward the Confessor; claims even to have entertained Julins Cæsar and his army, on Cæsai 's second expedition into Britain; had a mint in the time of Ethelred II., some of the coins of which are said still to exist; was taxed on an equality with London, and had fortificationS and 140 burgesses, at the Domesday survey; served, for ages, as the great mart for the tin of an extensive surrounding mining region; was the seat of stannary courts till toward the end of last century; had, in connexion with these courts, a castle or prison, the dungeons of which seem to have been scarcely less horrible than those of the Spanish inquisition; acquired such bad reputation by the arbitrary manner in which accused persons were tried and punished, that Lidford law came to be proverbially described as ' ' hang first and try afterwards; ''sent members to parliament twice in the time of Edward I.; had, for a long period, beginning in 1267, a weekly market and an annual three-days' fair; decayed so greatly in modern times as to be reduced to 6 or 8 miserable cottages; and has now a railway station, and a fair on the Tuesday after 20 July.—The parish contains also Prince-town, which has a head post office, designated Princetown, Devon,-the convict prison in Dartmoor,-and the hamlets of Dinnabridge, Hexworthy, Huckaby, and Two Bridges; and, excepting 2,092 acres, it all lies in Dartmoor-forest. Total acres, 56,333. Real property, £4,846. Pop. in 1851,1,968: in 1861. 2,815. Houses, 298. The increase of pop. was wholly in the Dartmoor-forest quarter, which had 1,697 in 1851, and 2,599 in 1861; and the increase arose chiefly from the additional number of convicts in the convict prison. The property is not much divided. The manor was given, in 1238, to Richrd, Earl of Cornwall; and it still belongs to the duchy of Cornwall. The scenery embraces all the wild, romantic, picturesque, and diversified features of Dartmoor; a general view of it is indicated in our article DARTMOOR; and many portions of it, and prominent objects in it, ravines, tors, antiquities, and other things, are separately noticed throughout our work. The ancient castle of the village still stands, but is now the mere shell of a square tower on a mound. A onearched bridge, over the Lid, about ¼ of a mile S of the village, spans a frightful chasm, and has much resemblance to Pont-y-Monach, or Devil's Bridge, in Cardiganshire. A romantic and very beautiful cascade, not far from the bridge, is formed by the rush of a streamlet down a rugged slope, in a narrow chasm, about 100 feet, to the deep ravine of the Lid; and has such rich accompamments of wood and contour that Gilpin describes the cascade itself as ' ' the least considerable part of the scenery. ''The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £160. * Patron, the Prince of Wales. The church is of the 13th century; contains a primitive font; and commands a superb view, particularly of the extensive front of Dartmoor, with its tors. The churchyard contains an old tombstone resembling a cromlech. The p. curacy of Dartmoor, or Princetown, is a separate benefice. There is a Wesleyan chapel.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a village and a parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "populated places")
Administrative units: Lydford CP/AP       Tavistock PLU/RegD       Devon AncC
Place names: LIDFORD     |     LIDFORD OR LYDFORD     |     LIGHAFORD     |     LYDFORD
Place: Lydford

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.