The Cridford Inn - the oldest pub/inn in Devon and possibly the oldest in England dates back to 825AD. It had previously served as a nunnery and a farm, being originally inhabited by the early Britons/Celts, before the building was remodelled in 1081. In 1086 it was one of the nine small-holdings mentioned in the “Domesday Book” and by then belonged to the Abbey of Buckfast in the Manor of Trusham - a small village that’s nestled in the Teign Valley between Chudleigh, Newton Abbot and Exeter.
With cob walls, a thatched roof and inglenook fireplaces, this traditional Devon Longhouse is approached by passing over a babbling brook, guarded by Willy Catchum and his faithful girl Teresa Green. Why not throw a coin in the lucky wishing well?
This is a quintessential and quietly lovely English country Inn, offering the best locally sourced produce and interesting meals - from traditional pub food, to unmissable experiences, all prepared by skilled chefs who care passionate about food. Dine in a charming restaurant, (mind your head), rough it in the bar, or, weather permitting, watch the sun go down from one of the numerous outside tables.
The Inn is full of interesting artefacts with a great selection a real ales, local ciders and premium spirits and if you can stay the night, it also offers cosy and interesting B&B country accommodation.
During the early 13th-15th Centuries the inn was a farmhouse and the stained glass mullion window in the bar is from this period and is possibly the earliest surviving example of a Medieval domestic window in England. It is also believed that the Cridford Inn is home to two ghosts, one is said to be a Nun from the very early history of the property and a second is a Cavalier from Trusham’s conflict with Ashton, (a nearby village) during the Civil war of 1642-46. In more recent times, the building reverted back to farm use and as a Devon Longhouse was previously known as Cridford Farm, the home of one branch of the Cridford family who have a long history in Devon. Members of the Cridford family still live in Devon.
Trusham is located on the western side of the Haldon Hills, above the river Teign, which forms the Dartmoor National Park boundary and is just over half-a-mile away. The village is accessed via minor roads which are predominately single track with passing places. The A38 passes within 2 miles at Chudleigh. The centre of the village has the O S grid reference SX 854 821 and for sat nav users the postcode is TQ13 0NW.
Trusham belonged to Buckfast Abbey from before the age of King Canute (1015-1036), and 1n the Domesday Book of 1086 it was given as consisting of four viIlagers, nine smallholders and ten slaves. The original farmer of Cridford's would have been one of these nine smallholders. He was a yeoman, the original word meaning a freeman, a small proprietor who cultivated his own land.
Mediaeval records are few although Feudal Aids 1284-1431 tells us that there were less than ten tenements in Trusham. In one court case of 1356, the Buckfast Abbot was taken to court by a Robert Dueray who said that the Abbot -had come to Trusham and taken a large amount of crops and livestock from him. Unfortunately, the court decided that Robert was a serf and had no rights of redress. From this event it can be seen that being a yeoman was no empty honour.
The first known holder of Cridford's was a John Credford who appears on the tax roll of 1524. After him it passed, father to son, through another five generations - - - Roger, Henry, William, William, William. This last William Cridford died in 1744 and the old mediaeval farmhouse passed to the Harris family.
As it happens, Buckfast Abbey had lost Trusham back in 1539 in the Dissolution of the Monasteries when the manor was confiscated by Henry VIII and given to the Southcote family. Debt-ridden, the Southcotes had to sell in 1642. The Pole-Carew famiIy then bought it. In turn, Sir Robert Palk of Haldon House bought Trusham in 1787 and the Palks held it right through the nineteenth century. The Southcotes were not model lords of the manor. In 1639 they tried to eject 'an ancient woman' from her tenement. A case ensued and the Cridfords stepped forward to testify that they held their house and lands under legal manor court law. This to support the case against ejectment, Incidentally, their testimony, which has been preserved in Carew-Pole records in Cornwall, was invaluable in piecing together the history of the property.
Apart from such a case, who was lord of the manor made little difference to the yeomen of Cridford's. They held their house and land as copyhold tenants of the manor. This
meant a long lease with a number of replenishable lives attached to the property. The same family could and did hold it for hundreds of years. With Cridford's being as old as Trusham manor itself, in addition to its position close to the centre of the parish by the church, we find that the Cridford family and their successors were extremely active in parish affairs. The ancient farm tenements carried traditional duties such as those of overseer of the poor and churchwarden, and for generation after generation the Cridford families did serve as churchwardens, overseers of the poor, tax collectors, tithingmen, manor court Jurors and trustees of the school
lands' charity and of the local almshouse. However, they were not always completely virtuous. In 1689, and in 1701, William Cridford was hauled before the manor court. First for poaching on the lord of the manor's private land and later for felling trees on the marshes.
The Cridford name has been attached to their old farmhouse for more than five hundred years however the family seems to have disappeared from the parish long ago. After the Harris family, a Joses Cleave took Cridford's, Continuing the tradition, he was overseer of the poor and in 1831, he had to submit a return of the lunatics in Trusham parish. There were just two names, one of which was crossed out because she had died, her name was Mary Cridford, described as 'not dangerous' and aged fifty years. She was one of the last of the family, There were no Cridfords in Trusham on the Census of 1851.
The Cleaves continued to live on Cridford's and farm its lands of more than a hundred acres until after the First World War, the last was the widow Annie Cleave. By the twentieth century, ownership was in the hands of the Commercial Union Assurance Company, It was bought in 1918 by a Mr Trim and continued to be a farm right up to 1982.
The architect in its change of role was Mrs Rosalind Mountjoy-Gubbin, With her three children she spent two years converting the old farmhouse. On 7 August 1982 it became The Cridford Inn. Actually, Cridford's does have something of a previous inn connection. Joses Cleave held the lease to the New Inn back in 1838. For a long time it was the only pub in Trusham, it closed after the First World War leaving the parish literally high and dry for sixty years. However, it comes as a surprise to learn that it was not always so, In 1642 Trusham had no less than three alehouses.
The oldest part of Cridford's buildings dates back to the 1400s but there were building alterations carried out in the Victorian age, principally in the building of the wing on the road. There used to be another building in the centre courtyard area but this was knocked down when the wing was added. When work on conversion was being carried out, Mrs Mountjoy-Gubbins' son, Justin, found forty-four pairs of boots down a well in the patio. This mystery was relatively easy to solve, in 1841 a shoemaker called John Potter was sharing and working out of the premises along with the farmer. But there is another deeper mystery, in 1988, workers were stripping back a layer of concrete. They found a cobbled floor underneath with a mosaic set in the middle. Made of dolerite and quartz in black and white the initials HI or HJ are set with date 1081 or 1801. This is a novel feature for a yeoman farmer’s dwelling and it will almost certainly never be conclusively explained. Perhaps it celebrates the marriage of say, a Harris? Another theory might be that manor court prentments were held at Cridfords and the room was decorated with a mosaic for solemnity. Whatever the origin, it is one secret The Cridford Inn is likely to keep.