Dating from the mid-17th century
Ford Cottage is long and low, its upper storey being little more than a loft. It dates from the mid 17th century. Both chimneys have cloam bread ovens from Bideford; the end chimney looks like an early addition. It has been much altered over the centuries, but originally had a parlour at the ford end whose partition was just to the left of the front door; a main room or hall in the middle for cooking and eating whose fireplace backed onto the entry or cross passage and finally a service room.
The cross passage ran through the current bathroom. There were once stairs against the back wall of the sitting room. Soon after 1914, a tearoom was run in Ford Cottage, which continued right up to Landmark’s acquisition of the Cottage in 1966.
The first known reference to Coombe is in 1520, but the mile of sheltered valley running inland from Duckpool has been lived in continuously from very early times. A decayed earthwork in Stowe Woods at the head of the valley is an Iron Age fort and the hidden site of the hamlet is typical of ancient habitations in Cornwall. Although the earliest of the existing houses date only from the 17th century, they are likely to stand on older sites. The hamlet lies on the southern edge of the parish of Morwenstow. It was until recently divided between two landowners. The land west of the stream belonged from the 1540s until 1922 to the Duchy of Cornwall, as part of the manor of Eastway. The land east of the stream was originally part of the manor of Northleigh, or Lee, which until the Elizabethan period was owned by the Coplestone family, but soon afterwards passed to the Grenvilles of Stowe on the hillside above. It remained part of the Stowe estate until 1949.
Coombe is listed as one of the ‘principal villages’ of the parish of Morwenstow by Daniel Lysons in Magna Britannia Vol. III, published in 1814. This makes it sound quite big and indeed it was once much larger; in the middle of the 19th century there were between 12 and 15 households here, but by 1891 these had shrunk to just three. By the beginning of the 20th century Coombe had become a favourite stopping place for walkers, gaining a mention in most Cornish guidebooks from the 1890s onwards. Official recognition of its landscape came in 1930 when the Council for the Protection of Rural England recommended that the whole of Coombe Valley, along with the coastal path, should be preserved as a place of outstanding natural beauty. It was another 30 years before this hope was realised, but in 1960 the National Trust acquired the first of several holdings, on the south side of the valley. Between 1966 and 1969 the hamlet itself was bought by the Landmark Trust, as part of a joint scheme with the National Trust, to preserve it and its exceptional setting.
To read the full history album for Ford Cottage please click here.
To download the children's Explorer pack for Ford Cottage please click here.
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A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.
Monday 13th February 2014