Umberleigh Bridge over River Taw, looking downstream
|OS grid reference||SS6023|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Police||Devon and Cornwall|
|Fire||Devon and Somerset|
Umberleigh is a former large manor within the historic hundred of (North) Tawton,  but today a small village in North Devon in England. It used to be an ecclesiastical parish, but following the building of the church at Atherington it became a part of that parish. It forms however a part of the civil parish of Chittlehampton, which is mostly located on the east side of the River Taw.
The manor of Umberleigh, which had its own entry in the Domesday Book of 1086, was entirely situated on the west side of the River Taw and was centred on the Nunnery which was given by William the Conqueror to the Holy Trinity Abbey in Caen, Normandy.
The site was later occupied by the manor house of Umberleigh, the present Georgian manifestation of which, a large and grand farmhouse, is known as "Umberleigh House". Next to the manor house in about 1275 was founded Umberleigh Chapel, now a ruin the single remaining wall of which forms the back wall of a farm implements shed.
According to the Devon historian Tristram Risdon (d.1640),  Umberleigh was a royal manor held in demesne by King Athelstan (circa 893/895-939), King of the West Saxons from 924 to 927, and King of the English from 927 to 939. He built at Umberleigh a palace and next to it a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Trinity which served the royal family and household. Within the manor of Umberleigh Athelstan later founded two churches, at Bickington, now High Bickington and at Atherington, each of which he endowed with two hides of land. 
Immediately prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 the manor of Umberleigh had been held by Brictric, as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. He was probably the great Saxon thane Brictric son of Algar.  A person named Brictric was also the pre-Conquest holder of the single possession in Dorset of the Church of the Holy Trinity of Caen, the post-Conquest holder of Umberleigh. 
In the Domesday Book of 1086 Umberlei is listed as the sole possession of the Eccl(esi)a (de) S(ancta) Trinitat(e) Cadom(ensis), the Church of the Holy Trinity of Caen, Normandy, the 12th-century Norman church of which survives today as the Abbaye de Sainte-Trinité , also known as the Abbaye aux Dames ("Abbey of Ladies"), due to the fact it was founded by William the Conqueror (1066–1087) and his wife Matilda of Flanders, before the Norman Conquest of England, as a Benedictine monastery for women. The building work began in 1062 and finished in 1130.
Umberleigh subsequently became a holding of the feudal barony of Gloucester,  granted by King William II (1087–1100) to Robert FitzHamon (d. 1107), whose daughter and sole heiress Maud married Robert de Caen, natural son of King Henry I (1100–1135). 
The first subsequent holder of the manor of Umberleigh identified by Risdon and Pole was Asculph de Soleigny (or de Solarys; Latinised as Halculfus de Soleinnio  ), also lord of the manor of adjacent Atherington,  d. 1171), who lived at Umberleigh during the reign of King Henry II (1154–1189). He was succeeded by his son, either Gilbert (according to Risdon), or Phillip de Soleigny (according to Pole).  Both father and son fought under King Henry II during his battles to succeed King Stephen (1135–1154).
Gilbert/Phillip de Soleigny married Avis (or Hawis) de Redvers, daughter of "Baldwin de Redvers, Earl of Devon",  and according to Risdon the sister of "Richard Rivers, Earl of Devon", probably Richard de Redvers, 4th Earl of Devon (d.1193). For her dowry Hawis was given by her father the manor of Stoke Rivers, which thus passed to her husband.  Gilbert/Phillip de Soligny left a daughter Mabill de Soligny as sole heiress, who married Jordan de Champernon, into whose family Umberleigh passed. 
The Champernon family, sometimes Latinised Campo Arnulfi ("field of Arnulph") originated in the Cambernon area of Lower Normandy, and their arrival in England was associated with the Norman Conquest. Many members of the family later adopted alternate spellings such as Champernoun, Champernowne, and Chapman.
The immediate line of descent from Jordan and Mabill de Champernon is unclear. According to Risdon,[ citation needed ] their sole heir was a daughter, Joan de Champernon (implying perhaps that her issue son adopted the name Champernon). However, Pole's account assigns two sons to Jordan and Mabill: Richard de Champernon, who died without issue, and Jordan de Champernon (II).
At Umberleigh, William de Champernon, apparently a grandson of Jordan II, was by his wife Eva, the father of another Joan de Champernon (II), also a sole heiress. Joan II who lived during the reign of King Edward I (1272–1307)  married Sir Ralph de Willington (II; see the following section) of Gloucestershire, but retained her maiden name, which she used in legal documents. For instance, an (undated) grant during her widowhood, confirmed by "Peter, Bishop of Exeter" (apparently Peter Quinel (reigned 1280–1291), gave land to Umberleigh Chapel. It was recorded by Risdon as follows:
Johan de Campo Arnulphi salut(ate) noveritis me in viduitate mea divinae charitat(e) intuit(a) pro salut(ate) animae meae et antecessorum meorum nec non pro salut(ate) animarum Domini Will(ielmi) de Campo Arnulphi patris mei et Eve matris mei et Domin(i) Ralph de Willington, quondam viri mei et puerorum nostrorum conces(ssi) totam terram de Wiara ad sustentationem capella ad present(atio)nem nostram et haeredum ad celebrand(um) divina in capella nostra de Umberley. Hiis testibus: Joh(an)n(is) de Punchardon, Nicholao de Filleigh, Roberto Beaple, Matth. de Wollington, milit(ibus) [Which may be translated thus:]
"Joan de Champernon, greetings. Know ye all that I in my widowhood, inspired by divine charity for the good of my soul and of the souls of my ancestors and not least for the good of the souls of Lord William de Champernon my father and Eve my mother and of Lord Ralph de Willington, sometime my husband and of our boys, I have granted all that land of Wiara [possibly Wear] towards the support of a chaplain, the presentation of whom to belong to us and our heirs, for the celebration of divine service in our Chapel of Umberleigh. With these witnesses (present): John de Punchardon (originally de Pont Chardon, lord of the manor of Heanton Punchardon; Nicholas de Filleigh, (lord of the manor of Filleigh); Robert Beauple (probably lord of the manors of Landkey and Knowstone); Matthew de Wollington, knights"
Other branches of the Champernon family were associated with three other prominent estates in Devon:
The family of Ralph de Willington II (see above) originated at the manor of Willington near Repton in Derbyshireand later resided at Yate, Gloucestershire. 
An ancestor, also Ralph de Willington (I; died pre-1242) married Olympia (died post 1242), heiress of Sandhurst, in Gloucestershire, granddaughter of a certain Wymark, widow John Frenchevaler. In about 1200 Wymark had granted to St Peter's Abbey, Gloucester, (now Gloucester Cathedral) 6 acres of land in Longford, within the manor of Sandhurst, for the purpose of mending the "ironwork of horses" belonging to visiting monks. The grant was later confirmed by Ralph Willington, husband of Olympia.  Between 1224 and 1228 Ralph Willington and his wife Olympia built the Lady Chapel in St Peter's Abbey, Gloucester.  Ralph also held (from Thomas de Beaumont, 6th Earl of Warwick (1208–1242) as overlord) the manor of Poulton in Awre, Gloucestershire. 
Ralph II married Joan de Champernon, heiress of Umberleigh, during the reign of Edward I (1272–1307) was The descendants of Ralph II and Joan were as follows:
Umberleigh railway station lies on the Tarka Line north of Portsmouth Arms and south of Chapelton. The service offers a direct connection to both Exeter and Barnstaple. All train services are provided by Great Western Railway.
Modbury is a large village, ecclesiastical parish, civil parish and former manor situated in the South Hams district of the county of Devon in England. Today due to its large size it is generally referred to as a "town" although the parish council has not elected to give itself the status of a town as it could do under s.245(6) of the Local Government Act 1972, so it does not have a town council and cannot have a town mayor. It is also known informally as a "market town", as from at least 1199 the lord of the manor has held the right to hold a regular market. The village is situated on the A379 road, which links it to Plymouth and Kingsbridge. The current parish population is approximately 1,500.
Halsbury is a historic manor in the parish of Parkham in North Devon, England. It is situated 2 miles north-east of the village of Parkham and 4 miles south-west of the town of Bideford. Halsbury was long a seat of the ancient Giffard family, a distant descendant of which was the celebrated lawyer Hardinge Stanley Giffard, 1st Earl of Halsbury (1823–1921), who adopted the name Halsbury for his earldom and was the author of the essential legal reference books Halsbury's Statutes. Halsbury Barton, now a farmhouse, retains 16th- and 17th-century elements of the former manor house of the Giffard family. It was described in a record of 1560 as a "new dwelling house".
Sir John Basset, of Tehidy in Cornwall and of Umberleigh in Devon was Sheriff of Cornwall in 1497, 1517 and 1522 and Sheriff of Devon in 1524. Although himself an important figure in the West Country gentry, he is chiefly remembered for his connection with the life of his second wife and widow Honor Grenville, who moved into the highest society when she remarried to Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle KG, an illegitimate son of King Edward IV, and an important figure at the court of King Henry VIII, his nephew.
Sir John Chichester (1519/20-1569) of Raleigh in the parish of Pilton, near Barnstaple in North Devon, was a leading member of the Devonshire gentry, a naval captain, and ardent Protestant who served as Sheriff of Devon in 1550-1551, and as Knight of the Shire for Devon in 1547, April 1554, and 1563, and as Member of Parliament for Barnstaple in 1559, over which borough his lordship of the manor of Raleigh, Pilton had considerable influence.
The Chapel of the Holy Trinity at Umberleigh is a ruinous mediaeval chapel in north Devon, England, largely demolished according to Lysons (1822) in about 1800. It stands next to Umberleigh House, the manor house of Umberleigh, which still survives in the form of a large Georgian farmhouse. The ruins together with the adjoining Umberleigh House were granted a Grade I listed status on 25 February 1965. According to Tristram Risdon (d.1640) the Devon historian, the site was originally a royal palace of the Saxon King Athelstan and was later a mediaeval mansion house by successive inheritance of the Solery, Champernoun, Willington, Beaumont and Bassett families. The chapel, manor house and estate of 400 acres with 7 cottages is today the property of the Andrews family, which purchased the freehold of the property in 1917 but had been long-standing tenants of the Bassett family from about 1840. The south wall of the chapel survives and today forms the back wall of an outbuilding used for general storage.
Whitechapel is an ancient former manor within the parish of Bishops Nympton, in north Devon. It was the earliest known residence of the locally influential Bassett family until 1603. The core of the present manor house is late 16th or early 17th century, with later additions and alterations, and was classed as Grade I listed on 9 June 1952.
The Manor of Loxhore was a manor in the parish of Loxhore, North Devon, England.
Hall is a large estate within the parish and former manor of Bishop's Tawton, Devon. It was for several centuries the seat of a younger branch of the prominent and ancient North Devon family of Chichester of Raleigh, near Barnstaple. The mansion house is situated about 2 miles south-east of the village of Bishop's Tawton and 4 miles south-east of Barnstaple, and sits on a south facing slope of the valley of the River Taw, overlooking the river towards the village of Atherington. The house and about 2,500 acres of surrounding land continues today to be owned and occupied by descendants, via a female line, of the Chichester family. The present Grade II* listed neo-Jacobean house was built by Robert Chichester between 1844 and 1847 and replaced an earlier building. Near the house to the south at the crossroads of Herner the Chichester family erected in the 1880s a private chapel of ease which contains mediaeval woodwork saved from the demolished Old Guildhall in Barnstaple.
The Manor of Shirwell was a manor in North Devon, England, centred on the village of Shirwell and largely co-terminous with the parish of Shirwell. It was for many centuries successively the seat of two of the leading families of North Devon, the Beaumonts and their heirs the Chichesters of Raleigh, Pilton, both of which families were seated at the estate of Youlston within the manor of Shirwell. The manor house which survives today known as Youlston Park is one of the most architecturally important historic houses in North Devon and exists largely in its Georgian form, but retains many impressive late 17th-century interiors.
John Basset (1518–1541) was a young English gentleman from Devon, a member of the old Basset family, and heir to a substantial inheritance. His short life is well documented in the Lisle Papers. He studied law at Lincoln's Inn and at the age of 20, at the start of a promising career, entered the household of Thomas Cromwell, Lord Privy Seal, but died suddenly aged only 23, albeit having married and produced a son and heir, born posthumously. His stepfather and father-in-law was Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle (d.1542), Lord Deputy of Calais 1533–1540, a bastard son of King Edward IV and thus uncle of King Henry VIII, whose arrest with that of his mother in 1540 at Calais for heresy and treason, was a major, potentially catastrophic, event in his life. He died a year after the arrests, from an unknown illness, but his siblings all went on to have successful careers, especially his younger brother James, mostly as royal courtiers, apparently unaffected by the crisis.
The feudal barony of Gloucester or Honour of Gloucester was one of the largest of the mediaeval English feudal baronies in 1166, comprising 279 knight's fees, or manors. The constituent landholdings were spread over many counties. The location of the caput at Gloucester is not certain as Gloucester Castle appears to have been a royal castle, but it is known that the baronial court was held at Bristol in Gloucestershire.
Whympston, in the parish of Modbury in Devon, England, is a historic manor. In the 12th century, it became the earliest English seat of the prominent Norman family of Fortescue, influential in British and West Country history, which survives today as Earl Fortescue, seated at Ebrington in Gloucestershire, but until recently seated at Castle Hill and Weare Giffard in Devon.
Orleigh is a historic manor in the parish of Buckland Brewer, situated 4 miles to the south west of Bideford, North Devon, England. The manor house is known as Orleigh Court.
The manor of Bideford in North Devon was held by the Grenville family between the 12th and 18th centuries. The full descent is as follows:
Thuborough in the parish of Sutcombe, Devon, England, is an historic estate, formerly a seat of a branch of the Prideaux family, also seated at Orcharton, Modbury; Adeston, Holbeton; Soldon, Holsworthy; Netherton, Farway; Ashburton; Nutwell, Woodbury; Ford Abbey, Thorncombe, all in Devon and at Prideaux Place, Padstow and Prideaux Castle, Luxulyan, in Cornwall. The present mansion house, comprising "Thuborough House" and "Thuborough Barton", the north-east block, is a grade II listed building.
Gittisham is an historic manor largely co-terminous with the parish of Gittisham in Devon, England, within which is situated the village of Gittisham. The capital estate is Combe, on which is situated Combe House, the manor house of Gittisham, a grade I listed Elizabethan building situated 2 1/4 miles south-west of the historic centre of Honiton and 3 1/4 miles north-east of the historic centre of Ottery St Mary.
Sir Robert Basset (1573–1641), lord of the manor of Umberleigh and lord of the manor of Heanton Punchardon in Devon, England, was MP for Plymouth in 1593.
Woolleigh is an historic estate in the parish of Beaford, Devon. The surviving mansion house known as Woolleigh Barton, situated 1 3/4 miles north-west of the parish church of Beaford, is a grade II* listed building, long used as a farmhouse. It incorporates remains of a "very fine example of a late Medieval manor house" and retains a "very rich" 15th century wagon roof, a garderobe with the original door, and an attached private chapel with a 17th-century roof.
The Manor of Heanton Punchardon was a manor in the parish of Heanton Punchardon, Devon, England.
Spridleston is an historic manor in the parish of Brixton in Devon, England, long a seat of a branch of the prominent and widespread Fortescue family. The ancient manor house does not survive, but it is believed to have occupied the site of the present Spriddlestone Barton, a small Georgian stuccoed house a few hundred yards from the larger Spriddlestone House, also a Georgian stuccoed house, both centred on the hamlet of Spriddlestone and near Higher Spriddlestone Farm.