The History of Combe Lancey

Talk on The History of Combe Lancey by Michael Maddock. (CAHMS event)

l to r: Frederiek Maddock, Mike Maddock, Sandra Cooper and Richard Nunn after the talk.

When: to November  2015
Where:Boniface Centre, Church Lane, Crediton, EX17 2AH
Who:Michael Maddock

50 members and friends of CAHMS attended a talk by Mike Maddock on the history of Combe Lancey, a manor house between Crediton and Sandford, and the families who have owned and occupied it. Mr Maddock has spent the last 12 years examining legal and other documents relating to the property and the people concerned. He explained that the house, in a valley, hence 'Combe', got its name from the Lancelles family who originated from near Bude in Cornwall. It appears more a Devon Longhouse than a manor but in order to qualify for that title it is necssary for it to have been used as Manorial Court and the earliest lease dated 1614 indicates that it was.  Earlier records were lost in the 1915 fire that destroyed Creedy Court nearby, then home of the Davey family who then owned Combe Lancey. A study by Plymouth University found that it was one of only 3 pre 1300 houses in the area.

Immediately after the Conquest in 1066, all land was taken by the Crown. Gradually leases were granted to favoured individuals, usually as a result of military service, or the church. Combe Lancey became part of the 'Honour' of Bradninch, held by various knights benefitting from 'Knights' Fees'. Mr Maddock showed how ownership had changed over the centuries and had compiled comprehensive and very impressive family trees of the landed families involved. The first of these, William de Tracey in 1170 was one of the four knights who assassinated Thomas Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury. A boss at the west end of Exeter Cathedral illustrates the scene.

Subsequent families owning the manor included the Wilfords, two branches of the Davys, the Peryams and the Tuckfields, most of these exceedingly wealthy wool merchants from Crediton or Exeter. Because the property was part of the Honour of Bradninch it became part of the Duchy of Cornwall. Robert Stone, who built Newcombes House, since demolished, owned it for a period, as did the Lake family from Sandford. Often run as a farm, buildings on the site have been frequently altered and Mr Maddock showed photos of the layout and significant construction features such as the magnificent roof timbers.

Mr Maddock has written a large volume detailing this history, a copy of which he is depositing in Crediton Museum archive. In thanking him for this and his talk Chairman Mrs Sandra Cooper said "This is an amazingly erudite and learned piece of work which students will be absorbing for many years to come. We are fortunate to have an owner and local resident with the skills and knowledge to have been able to complete such detailed research."