History of Cotleigh

This is an on-going project and we request that if you have any interesting facts of the history of the village or its people, to submit the details, so that this page can be updated. We would also be grateful for any old photographs/maps/plans to add to the details here.


Earliest records

Following the successful invasion by William the Conqueror in September 1066 and the subsequent battle of Hastings on 14th October 1066, William subsequently handed over much of the land to the nobles who had helped him. In 1085 William was concerned about a Viking invasion and needed to know the Country’s population and worth, so he could raise taxes (and therefore an army). In December 1085 William ordered commissioners to carry out the first census of England. This was completed in 1086 and the entry copied below is the page that includes Cotleigh

The entry stated in the online Domesday is

Cotelei Richard from Count of Mortain.

This was stated to be in the “hundred” of Colyton in the county of Devonshire. The hundred was a tier of local government. The entry stated:

Land of Count Robert of Mortain


  • Households: 17 villagers. 4 smallholders. 1 slave.

Land and resources

  • Ploughland: 8 ploughlands. 2 lord’s plough teams. 6 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: 1.12 lord’s lands.


  • Livestock in 1086: 8 pigs. 60 sheep.


  • Annual value to lord: 2 pounds in 1086; 1 pound when acquired by the 1086 owner.



Count Robert of Mortain (c-1031-c1095)

Count Robert was a Norman nobleman and the half brother of William 1, he was one of the few proven companion’s to William at the battle of Hastings and was one of the greatest landowners in England. He had been granted 797 manors at the time of the Domesday book, mostly in Cornwall and administered these holdings from Launceston in Cornwall and Montacute in Somerset. He was an ardent supporter of William and was well rewarded by him. He was although reported as being:

“a religious man yet ill-tempered enough to beat his wife, but was not known as a man of great wisdom”.

The Bayeux tapestry shows him seated on Williams left hand at dinner


Although Robert was the lord, Richard son of Turolf was the person in charge of the estates and who paid tax to the tenant-in-chief. Richard appeared to have control over 64 villages in both Devon and Cornwall. He was born around 1050 and died c-1104.

Cotleigh was one of the larger villages at the time, with the number of households  putting it in to the top 40% of the settlements recorded.











Parish Church

The parish Church of St Michael was built in the 15th and early 16th Century’s.

The church was, restored with a rebuilt chancel in 1867. It is constructed of local stone and flint rubble with Beerstone and some Hamstone detail, and has a slate roof, the tower is partly rendered . The church has a nave with lower and narrower chancel. North aisle is not quite full length and the north chapel is now used as a vestry. West tower and south porch. Most of the exterior detail has been replaced and therefore it is difficult to work out the development of the church


(Photo from https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101098246-church-of-st-michael-cotleigh)