Rumleigh has been around for a very long time. Indeed the very word Rum Leah is an old Saxon word meaning wide clearing. No one actually knows if it was a natural clearing or, if the original inhabitants of Devon, the Dumnonii, had already opened up and farmed this sheltered ground, but certainly by the 800s the Saxons were firmly established.

Recently it has been discovered that the Romans were evident at Morewellham, 15 minutes upstream of Rumleigh, so it is not a huge imaginative jump to think they were also farming the area.

However, so close to the River Tamar meant, besides plently, there was danger! It appears at regular intervals for nearly 200 years marauding bands of Danes would come up the rivers plundering as they went. In 838 Danes landed at Danescombe, beside Calstock, Cornwall, just 10 minutes down stream, and proceeded to rampage up the combe to Hingston Down. Here they joined forces with the Cornish Britons and attacked the Saxons on the Devon side of the river. What a sight that would have been from Rumleigh! 

On the top of the Bere Peninsula sits Bere Alston (2 miles from Rumleigh farm) which was made a borough around 1295 having it's own mayor. In 1584 Bere Alston became a parliamentary borough returning two Members of Parliament. Voting took place at the Parish Oak Tree at the top of Cornwall Street. The right to vote was given to those who had land in the borough and paid 3 old pence acknowledgement to the lord of the manor. Rumleigh was one of those at times, as it was at the discretion of the lord to let you vote or not. Indeed in 1788 and 1796 not a single voter resided in the parish!  However, it ceased to be a borough after the Great Reform Act 1832.

Strange but true

Bere Alston was the first Borough in England to send a welcome to William of Orange when he landed in Brixham on November 5th 1688.

Bere Alston sent a disproportionate number of important members to Parliament pre 1832 showing just what a rotten borough it was including; 3 Speakers of the House of Commons and 2 Lord Chancellors (one of which was sent to the Tower!)

Sir John Maynard was the most famous MP being the Kings Sergeant in the reign of Charles II and James II.

Percival Johnson was a social reformer in the 19th century and founder of the Tamar Smelting Works. He introduced one of the first systems of ventilation.

In 1295 a grant was given to Reginald de Ferrers for a market to be held at Bere Alston every Wednesday and a fair at the time of St. Andrews Day. In 1716 it somehow changed to Thursday but strangely by 1750 it had ceased altogether only to be started again in 1850 on Saturday evenings "for the Sale of Provisions" now the market is Saturday mornings in Bere Ferrers Church hall.

The Bere Peninsula was originally known as Birlanda. It was heavily wooded and mostly broken up into seperate small farms.

In the Domesday Book survey of 1087 most of Devon was under Robert Count de Mortain, half brother of William the Conqueror and Birlanda was given to to his vassal Rainald. He had the present Barton Farm and 16 villiens. There are references in old deeds to the Barton Farm of Rumleigh, implying that it was also a manor.  It is possibly far enough away from Bere Barton and its 16 villien farms, all of which can be accounted for, without including Rumleigh.

Rumleigh is however not mentioned in the Doomesday book so it was created after that but before 1289 when Manors ceased to be created. Rumleigh is first mentioned officially in 1298 as Romeley.

Between 1300 century and 1400 century the Bere Penisula was renowned for its silver and lead mines. The increase in population would have suited Rumleigh - conveniently close to supply food stuffs for the weekly market.

When was the original house at Rumleigh Farm built?

In the recent refurbishment we have been able to see just how the house has grown over its many years.

Originally the medieval Farmstead was a one room barn like structure with thick shillet stone walls (the local slate) not unlike dry stone walls. It was one story and certainly lower than the existing roof line. The fire was in the middle of the room with a hole in the reed roof (from the river) to let the smoke out. In the 14th century fireplaces started to be incorporated and the huge granite firplace now in the main room was added at some point after this in a grand refurbishment.

The front door Arch is thought by many to have come from Tavistock Abbey after Henry VIII dismantled all the Abbeys and sold off as much as he could. Indeed the quatrefoil decoration on the front Arch of the house matches exactly the ones seen on the church in Tavistock - rebuilt form Abbey Stone.

Tavistock Abbey was built between 961-981 so our front doorway dates from that time! What stories it could tell of life a thousand years ago!

The house at some point (we think this was around 1797 as when we put the new roof timbers in a 1797 old penny fell from the old timbers) had a fire and the roof burnt - the roof timbers clearly show this. We think that at this point the roof was taken higher and a second floor added as the original stone stairs outline can be seen clearly in the wall in our sitting room and they are lower than the existing ceiling.

So now we have one room with stairs to a second floor, possible a fire place and presumably attached barns and outbuildings for the animals. Later the buildings are joined via the front porch (leaving the old entrance clearly showing) and more living space incorporated. This meant that more barns would be needed clsoe by. Over the years the barns have been built up and changed use until the layout we see today.