buckland abbey guest house

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Overcombe House
buckland abbey guest house
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Buckland Monachorum is one of the larger parishes within the Borough of West Devon. The very name 'Buckland Monachorum' refers to 'land owned by the monks', (these being the monks that lived at Buckland Abbey). The Parish actually has five villages within its boundaries, Yelverton, Clearbrook, Crapstone, Milton Combe and of course Buckland Monachorum. Of these, it is the name 'Crapstone' that probably elicits the most amusement!

Although the Parish is very much within the Borough of West Devon, for parliamentary purposes, it is part of Plymouth and Ivybridge, a fact that most of the residents find very irritating. Also, part of our Parish falls within the National Park and the rest of it is within in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Parish has many notable features such as Buckland Abbey, the Garden House, and its old wartime airfield at 'Harrowbeer', (also found spelt as Harrabeer). This once had a famous visitor in the shape of President Roosevelt, who landed there in his aircraft the 'Sacred Cow'. After the war, the airfield was promoted as a possible new airport for Plymouth but this was eventually turned down, evidently because of too much fog! The Airfield had a major impact on the area when it was built at the start of the war however, as roads had to be re-routed and a complete row of houses had their upper storeys removed, after a plane clipped one of them whilst taking off! Indeed, the local Church was fitted with a warning beacon to help planes avoid it whilst landing and taking off.

Today, some parts of the airfield still remain to see, although the runways themselves were ripped up after the airfield closed in the 50s, probably to make sure they would never become Plymouth's airport. Many of the old blast bays remain as a reminder of the area's wartime connections, although some of these were beginning to suffer from the attentions of mountain bikes and are now being repaired by Dartmoor National Park. One point of interest is that the old blister cafe on the Hoe, (since demolished) was formerly a hangar on the airfield.

Buckland Abbey is a 700-year-old house noted for its connection with Sir Francis Drake and presently in the ownership of the National Trust. Buckland was originally a Cistercian abbey founded in 1278 by Amicia, Countess of Devon and was a daughter house of Quarr Abbey, on the Isle of Wight. It remained an abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII. In 1541 Henry sold Buckland to Sir Richard Grenville who, working with his son Roger, began to convert the abbey into a residence. Roger died in 1545, leaving a son, also named Richard Grenville, who completed the conversion. He eventually sold Buckland to Drake in 1581. The abbey is unusual in that the church was retained as the principal component of the new house whilst most of the remainder was demolished, which was a reversal of the normal outcome with this type of redevelopment. Drake lived in the house for 15 years, as did many of his collateral descendants until 1946, when it was sold to a local landowner, Arthur Rodd, who presented the property to the National Trust in 1948. The Garden House, which was created Lionel Fortescue, has become famous through television coverage and is now a popular local attraction.

A large area of the parish is moorland and this is greatly enjoyed by trippers from Plymouth, many of whom arrive with caravans, wind breaks, and seemingly half the contents of their houses! Yelverton (and Clearbrook) were once served by a railway that ran from Plymouth to Tavistock but this fell foul of the Beeching cuts during the Sixties and is no more. (Incidentally, the line from Yelverton to Princetwon was closed by the GWR in the 50s). There is a frequent bus service that travels from Plymouth to Yelverton and Tavistock, the only problem being, that the feeder bus service from the villages leaves a lot to be desired. Part of the National cycle way crosses the parish but you need to be an excellent map-reader in order to follow it, because of all the twists and turns it takes!

Buckland Monachorum Parish really does seem to have a bit of everything, open moorland, lush green fields, dense woodlands, and a beautiful river valley. The difficult part is keeping it special, whilst allowing it to grow and evolve as any natural community would.

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