Town Barton is the historic Manor House also known as the Capital Messuage or Mansion House of Doddiscombsleigh. It has a fascinating history:
‘Earliest records name a Saxon called Alsi as being the landowner of Doddiscombsleigh prior to 1066, he was later dispossessed as were virtually all the Saxon landowners. The first record of Town Barton is in the Domesday Book of 1086 when Doddiscombsleigh was known as Terra Godeboldi [no relation to the famous biscuit makers-Ed] under the reign of one Godbold the Bowman. Town Barton was the Capital Barton (Manor House) for Godbold`s Domesday Estates. This makes it one of the very rare instances of a property truly being specifically traceable to where a Doomsday owner dwelt.
The manor of Doddiscombsleigh was also known as Legh-Peverel in church records of the 14th Century; the latter name was dropped when it changed hands from the Legh to the Doddescomb family. A Sir Ralph Doddescomb was living in the old mansion house in the reign of Henry III (1216-1272). Today, the old mansion is Town Barton lying adjacent to the church.
The Babb family purchased the manor and Mansion House sometime after 1522. Between 1524 and 1527, a John Babbe appears on the Subsidy Roll as by far the biggest landowner in Doddiscombsleigh. In 1620, a William Babb of Doddiscombsleigh tried to get his Coat of Arms recognised. He was turned down. Holding one of the most ancient of Devon properties going back to the Doomsday Book did not help the Babbs in their application. Nevertheless, they continued to use their Coat of Arms!
Sometime in the age of Edward III (1327-1377) the last male Doddescomb died, leaving five daughters. The Manor was divided up by marriage and thus, into the hands of five Lords – a figure that dropped to three by the early 1600`s. In 1775, it was noted that Town Barton was renowned for it’s twenty acres of orchard which produced “remarkably fine cider” no doubt supplying the local hostilleries.’
Legend makes no mention of the direct path, which still exists today, between the Town Barton and the Nobody Inn being used perhaps to determine who stocked the finest cider?
Orchards and cider appear to have been a big part of the Doddiscombsleigh past. We are looking for someone to research and document this history. Sadly there is no commission to taste all of Devon’s cider to determine the finest but if you’d like to contribute the Doddiscombsleigh cider story for this site we’d be delighted.