okehampton.co.uk 

History

The history of Okehampton is a long one and there has been a settlement on the site of the town since Neolithic times (apx 10,000 BC). A tiny settlement that exists on the important route between Exeter and Cornwall, it wasn’t until the 10th century that the town began to appear in the history records as having some importance. 

980 AD sees the first written record by the Saxons of the town then as Octane Tune which is translated as a ‘settlement by the Ockment’, the river that that runs through the town to this day. Octane Tune was known as a place where slaves could be freed at cross roads.

Throughout the Middle Ages, like many other towns in Devon and the West Country, it became well known for its wool. Wool was bought and sold in the town and helped the town grow in importance and it was during this time that the town saw the building of Okehampton Castle. 

This saw the establishment of the feudal barony of Okehampton which was the largest medieval fiefdom in the entire county of Devon, dwarfing the seven others that existed in the area. Gradually formed after the Norman conquest of 1066, the first holder of the feudal barony of Okehampton was Baldwin FitzGilbert who was reached in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Balduinus Vicecomes. 

The Barony had many other holders over the next several centuries. This was until the descent of the earldom of Devon (as it had then become) when King Henry VIII executed the 1st Marquess of Exeter who held the lands which then reverted to Crown through the Duchy of Cornwall. 

Since the Middle Ages, the history of Okehampton has been largely quiet, and it has grown into being a popular town for both residents and visitors keen to enjoy the delights of the surrounding Devonshire countryside.