Buckfastleigh is a small unspoilt town. It s location makes it an ideal place to explore Dartmoor and the surrounding villages and towns of South Devon.
The town today retains much of its character and charm despite periods of hardship, and the popularity of a variety of local attractions and events have ensured that the communities of Buckfastleigh and Buckfast stay firmly on the map and attract visitors from far and wide.
The town centre is consists mostly of late eighteenth to early twentieth century buildings with an interesting collection of private dwellings, commercial and retail properties and public houses which retain many, if not all of their original features, styles and character.
The town has several excellent pubs, a café and takeaways, and shops selling arts and crafts, two car parks, a swimming pool, skate park, tennis courts, and a bowling green. There is a farmers market every Thursday.
In and around the town you will find a number of footpaths, were you can enjoy beautiful countryside, woodlands and moorland views.
You can walk to the nearby abbey at Buckfast via the footpath from the top of Church Hill
The name “Buckfastleigh” derived from the compound of `Buck` meaning deer `fast` meaning fastness of thicket and `leigh` meaning clearing , the clearing in the thicket where deer sheltered. In the 12th century the town was simply as Legh – hence the meaning deer held in a pasture (buck-fast-leigh).
Buckfast probably existed before Buckfastleigh as it is mentioned in the Domesday Book and in 1018 a Benedictine Abbey was founded and endorsed by King Canute at Buckfast.
Buckfastleigh has grown as a mill town known for its woollen mills, corn and paper mills and a tannery supported by the rivers Dart, Mardle and the Dean Burn – water being an essential natural resource used in the manufacturing of wool and other products.
The towns foundations go back to the Middle Ages and today the street pattern still retains the same imprint as the original settlement. By the seventeenth century however, most of the properties had been rebuilt.
The town centre during the first half of the twentieth century was a lively almost self-sufficient community with locally based employment and a large building programme of local authority housing initiated by Buckfastleigh Urban and District Council which commenced in the 1920’s and extended the town to the South West and the North West.
The most prominent benefactors of the town were the Hamlyn family who were the original owners of the woollen mills up until 1920 and together with other philanthropists in the town, new cottages were erected. In 1887 they were instrumental in the building of a new Town Hall and community building to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Land was also made available at this time for further public facilities which included Victoria Park, the tennis courts and the swimming pool. The primary school was built in 1875, and in 1992 new facilities were added. The railway line from Buckfastleigh and Ashburton to Totnes was opened in 1872.
The Valiant Soldier
The Valiant Solder is the pub where time was never called.
The building which houses the Valiant Solder dates from the 1700`s and the earliest mention of it as a pub was in 1813.
It has had various landlords through the 19th and early 20th century, the last Mark Roberts.
In 1965 the brewery decided that there were too many pubs in the town and withdrew the pubs licence.
Mr and Mrs Roberts shut up shop when the last customers left, leaving everything just as it was there was even money left in the till.
The pub remained closed even after the family purchased the property from the brewery some years later.
The Valiant Soldier hit the headlines in the 1990`s as a rediscovered pub that had shut its doors in 1965 and remained untouched until it was rediscovered.
The building was purchased by Teignbridge District Council and was opened to the public as a Heritage Centre in 2000. The pub is time capsule, nothing had been touched since the doors closed in 1965.
Lamb Pie DayLamb Pie day celebrates the long historical relationship which the town has with industries based upon the local flocks of sheep The town was a centre for spinning weaving, tanning and fellmongery.
Lamb Pie Day begins with a farmers market in the morning followed by a variety of activities with stalls, crafts and games for all the family and the chance to sample a variety of lamb pie recipes as well as lamb roasts.