The Saxons came to North Devon in the 9th Century, and one
named Coelmund established a settlement in a forest clearing (‘leah’ in the Saxon language). The name Chulmleigh derives from ‘Coelmund’s Leah’.
In 1253 Henry III granted his royal Charter to Chulmleigh, and every year since then the residents have held an annual Fair.
A story goes that upon granting the Charter, Henry sent a white gauntlet to the town, as a sign of his approval. Whatever its origin, the white glove became the symbol of Chulmleigh, and a giant glove filled with flowers was hung from the Town Hall at the opening of the Fair each year.
Chulmleigh Old Fair is a now five-day event which takes place each July, when hundreds of people flock to our town for livestock shows, markets, music, entertainment and traditions such as the ‘money scramble’, when coins are thrown from the Town Hall to be gathered up by eager children waiting on the pavement. In 2013 we celebrated our 760th Old Fair.
Over the following centuries, Chulmleigh became prosperous as a wool-weaving town, and many of our beautiful medieval buildings – including The Old Bakehouse – were built by wealthy merchants at this time. There are more than 200 listed buildings in Chulmleigh.
Our Church of St Mary Magdalene dates from the 14th Century, and houses a wonderfully-preserved medieval Rood Screen, as well as beautiful ceiling bosses and figures from later centuries.
Chulmleigh and our Old Fair feature in many photographs by the celebrated photographer James Ravilious, whose work is a wonderful document of rural life in North Devon between the 1960s and 90s.
Today Chulmleigh is a thriving, village-sized town with a population of 1,300. The Old Bakehouse is a stone’s throw from some great local pubs, shops and cafes (we highly recommend The Old Dairy delicatessen and coffee shop).
Local history enthusiasts can look forward to reading more about Chulmleigh’s past in the library in our B&B’s guest sitting-room.