Preserving your Past for the Future

 

 

The Parish of Aveton Gifford

Our parish is in the South Hams area of Devon at the head of the Avon estuary, 3 miles inland from the south coast. 

The population of the parish has fluctuated over the years. In the census returns of 1841 the population reached an all time high of 1057 people, and there were 199 inhabited houses. However at about this time people in rural communities all over England whose only possible livelihoods were as agricultural workers started to seek better lives elsewhere. In the 1840's and 50's many families emigrated to make new lives in other parts of the world, or moved to towns or cities in search of jobs and higher wages. Aveton Gifford was one such parish. By the census of 1901 the population had fallen to 663, and by 1931 to an all time low of 563. The number of houses remained pretty constant, between 170 to 190, for well over 100 years. However the last few years has seen an increase again; our electoral returns of 2012 show 364 households with a further 30 to 40 second homes, and the last census of 2011 gives 883 residents.

 

 

The parish covers a rough rectangle; 4,000 acres, or six square miles, from Hangman's Cross at the northern end to Stiddicombe Creek at the south, and stretching from the boundaries of Modbury on the west to Churchstow on the east. The River Avon forms much of the eastern boundary of the parish, and gives its name to the village - Aveton is thought to come from "avon", the Celtic word for a river, and "ton", an Anglo-Saxon word meaning a settlement, while the Giffards were Lords of the Manor during Norman times.

The parish comprises the village of Aveton Gifford  and a surrounding area of mainly agricultural land, with scattered farms and outlying hamlets. It also includes an area of land across the river extending down as far as Stadbury and Stiddicombe creek, and a change to the parish boundary in 1986 brought in the remaining area around the bridge and Bridge End.The village today includes a village school, a small shop and a pub, the Fisherman's Rest. Many of the outlying hamlets have grown in recent years to include converted barns, and there is an increase in the number of second homes and holiday rentals. However the parish continues to thrive with the majority of people living and working in the area.

Notable areas in the parish include manors mentioned in the Domesday book, the parish church which suffered bomb damage during the war, the bridge over the river which was built in the early 1400's, a number of listed buildings, the Tidal Road, and a restored lime kiln at Stiddicombe Creek. Visitors to the area also come to enjoy the river, the varied walks along the parish footpaths, and the newly created wildlife conservation area at South Efford.