Infobox UK place
region= South West England
population= 3,661 (2001 UK Census)
Buckfastleigh is a small
market townin Devon, Englandon the A38 at the edge of Dartmoor National Park. It is part of Teignbridge District Council and South HamsDistrict Council and (for ecclesiastical purposes) lies within the Totnes Deanery. It has a populationof about 5,000. It is a centre of tourism, and is home to Buckfast Abbey, the South Devon Railway, and the Buckfastleigh ButterflyFarm and OtterSanctuary.
Geographically, Buckfastleigh straddles the
confluenceof two small streams from Dartmoorwhich feed into the River Dartjust to the east of the town. About one mile to the north lies Buckfast, home of Buckfast Abbey. To the northwest lie Holneand Scorritonon the southern ramparts of the Dartmoor massif. Pridhamsleigh Cavernis nearby and is neighboured by Ashburton and Lower Dean.
Buckfast Abbeywas founded by Earl Aylward in the reign of King Canute in 1018. In 1147 it became a Cistercian abbeyand was rebuilt in stone. In medievaltimes, the abbey became rich through fishing and trading in sheep wool, although the Black Deathkilled two abbots and many monks - by 1377 there were only fourteen monks at Buckfast.
25 February 1539, William Petrearrived at Buckfast and declared the abbey to be dissolved by the order of King Henry VIII. The Dissolution of the Monasteriesleft monks compelled to leave and the buildings were looted, then destroyed. The abbey then stood in ruins for over two hundred years.
On 28 October 1882, six
Benedictinemonks arrived at Buckfast having been exiled from France. The land had been leased by monks from the St. Augustine's Prioryin Ramsgateand it was later bought for £4,700. The first new abbot was Boniface Natter, who died in a shipwreck in 1906. His travelling companion Anscar Vonier became the next abbot and pledged to fulfil his dying wish, namely to rebuild the abbey.
Buckfastleigh itself was "The Clearing of Buckfast", and probably originated in the 13th century. It developed slowly as a
wooltown and by the mid 19th century had four woollen mills and two corn mills.
railwaybranch from Totnesto Ashburton was opened in 1872 which passed just to the east of the town. The section from Buckfastleigh to Totnes is now operated as a heritage railwayby the South Devon Railway Trust. Censusdata shows that in 1801 the population was 1,525, and 2,781 in 1901.
Through the ages several of the sons and daughters of Buckfastleigh families have earned a place in history, scholarship or commerce. One illustrative example is provided by Professor
William Hosking, who became, in 1840, the first Professor of Architecture at King's College in London.
Devon Rex catbreed was first discovered in Buckfastleigh in the 1960s and is named after the county in which the town is situated.
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