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The village was part of Exminster hundred.[3]

According to Daniel and Samuel Lysons, in their Magna Britannia:[4]

John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870–1872) says of Mamhead:[5]

The population was 230 in 1801, 178 in 1901. A parish history file is kept at Dawlish Library.[3]

Mamhead ParkEdit

Mamhead Park, c. 1830

The Mamhead estate is known from as early as the Domesday book, when it was held by Ralph de Pomerai and later by Sir Hugh Peverell. In the early 14th century, Sir Nicholas Carew became lord of the manor through his marriage to Amicia de Peverell, and Mamhead remained with the Carews until 1547.[6]

The Mamhead estate was sold by the adventurer Sir Peter Carew (1514–1575) to Giles Ball, whose son Sir Peter Ball (1598–1680) was attorney-general to King Charles I's Queen, Henrietta Maria. He began to build a country house here, replacing an older house. His grandson Thomas Ball (1671–1749), a merchant, planted many exotic trees brought back from his continental travels.

Britton & Brayley said of Mamhead's grounds The Beauties of England and Wales (1803): [7]

"The woods and plantations of Mamhead are numerous and extensive. Many of them were introduced by Mr Thomas Balle (sic), the last of that family who, on returning from the continent brought with him a quantity of cork, ilex, wainscot, oak, Spanish chestnut, acacia, and other species of exotic trees. With these, he embellished the boldly swelling grounds at Mamhead."

Between 1742 and 1745, Ball built an obelisk on the hill above the house "out of a regard to the safety of such as might use to sail out of the Port of Exon or any others who might be driven on the coast".[1][8] The obelisk has a height of one hundred feet.[9] Mamhead then passed into the hands of the Earls of Lisburne, and 'Capability' Brown engaged through 1772–3 to redesign the grounds. [10]

In 1823, Mamhead was bought by Robert William Newman (1776–1848), who completely rebuilt the house on a new site in 1827–1833, to the designs of Anthony Salvin. In 1833, Westley Farm was also rebuilt by Salvin.[8] Newman was Member of Parliament for Exeter from 1818 to 1826 and High Sheriff of Devon in 1827. On 17 March 1836, he became Sir Robert William Newman, 1st Baronet, of Mamhead in the County of Devon. The third Baronet was High Sheriff of Devon in 1871. The fourth Baronet represented Exeter in the House of Commons from 1918 to 1931, when he was created Baron Mamhead of Exeter in the County of Devon, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The peerage became extinct on his death in 1945, but the baronetcy is still extant.

As of 2012, the estate is for sale.[11]

Parish churchEdit

The Church of England parish church, dedicated to St Thomas the Apostle, stands in Mamhead Park and is a mostly 15th century building. The chancel was rebuilt about 1830 by Robert William Newman, and the south transept was turned into the Mamhead pew.[8]


The Rector of the village from 1766 to 1777 was William Johnson Temple, who is mentioned several times in Boswell's Life of Johnson and letters from and to Temple are scattered through volumes of Boswell's Journals. He was the grandfather of Frederick Temple (1821–1902), Bishop of Exeter and Archbishop of Canterbury. Temple and Boswell had been undergraduates together at the University of Edinburgh, and Boswell visited Mamhead just after Easter, 1775. Temple was a water-drinker, and under his influence Boswell made a vow (not kept) under the branches of the great churchyard yew at Mamhead (which can still be seen) never to get drunk again.[8][12]

William Plenderleath (1831–1906) was Rector of Mamhead from 1891 until 1905, and kept notes of the parish, described as "census details (official and unofficial), offertory accounts, list of communions, collections in aid of voluntary church rate, and confirmations. In the front is a linen-backed map showing inhabited houses in Mamhead".[13]


Mamhead Obelisk, viewed from Exmouth, c. 1790
  1. ^ a b Fewins, Clive, And so to the tower, via the medieval treacle mines in The Independent dated 19 January 1997, at, accessed 19 July 2008
  2. ^ Mamhead Park and view to the Exe estuary at
  3. ^ a b Mamhead community page Archived 2 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine at
  4. ^ Lysons, Daniel and Samuel, Magna Britannia: being a concise topographical account of the several counties of Great Britain Vol. VI., Devonshire (London: T. Cadell, 1822), p. 328
  5. ^ Descriptive Gazetteer entry for MAMHEAD at, accessed 20 July 2008
  6. ^ Country Life
  7. ^ Britton, J. & Brayley, E. W. (1803). Beauties of England & Wales. Vol. 4, Devon & Cornwall, Devonshire,  p99. Various publishers.
  8. ^ a b c d Hoskins, W. G., Devon (1954), extract Archived 2 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine at, accessed 19 July 2008
  9. ^ View of Mamhead from Exmouth Devon Archived 18 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine at, accessed 19 July 2008
  10. ^ Gregory, J., Spooner, S., & Williamson, T. (2013) 'Lancelot 'Capability' Brown: A research impact review prepared for English Heritage by the Landscape Group, University of East Anglia'. English Heritage Research Report Series no. 50–2013 [1]
  11. ^ Strutt and Parker[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Naylor, Robert, From John O'Groats to Land's End, page 34 of 42 at, accessed 19 July 2008
  13. ^ Notebook belonging to Revd. W.C. Plenderleath containing memoranda relating to the parish of Mamhead, 461 A-1/PI 1 at, accessed 19 July 2008

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