Mornacott "Since 1286"
The Parish records show that Mornacott dates back to 1286 and reference is made to Mornacott in the Doomsday Book although most of the current buildings are of 17th Century origin. Earlier occupation of Mornacott is however evidenced by the remains of a hill settlement atop one the many valleys which has been dated back to the 5th Century BC by English Heritage.
In 2006 the task was begun to restore Mornacott to its former glory.
The house and buildings, which had become run-down with many of the smaller buildings almost derelict, were the subject of a major rejuvenation project sympathetically undertaken with due regard to the English Heritage listing of many of the buildings.
Many of the previous repairs carried out to various of the buildings had been undertaken through expediency rather than with sympathy for their character and style and modern materials had been used to undertake many of the works. Softwood timber, cement based mortar and unsightly concrete blocks had been used to make good buildings in many areas and these were quickly replaced with natural materials, including oak sourced from the hitherto unmanaged and overstocked woodland at Mornacott together with traditional lime mortar and cob. Much of the stone used in these works came from the quarry on the land which had been unused for many years.
The works have also allowed the flexibility to adopt the best of modern technology and the house and associated cottages and buildings are now heated with bio-mass energy from woodchip fuel sourced, sustainably, entirely from the land.
The land area was increased to 850 acres through the purchase of several adjoining blocks and has also benefited from many reclamation works.
Five miles of overgrown hedgerows were re-laid in the traditional manner, 12 miles of fencing was replaced, 10 miles of ditches were cleared, 60,000 tonnes of stone was used to make good rutted and dysfunctional farm tracks and 236 field gates were replaced.
In conjunction with The Woodland Trust a planting programme was begun to create three new native broadleaf woods at Mornacott which will further enhance the land as they grow and mature over the forthcoming decades.
The River Yeo which bisects Mornacott was cleared of fallen dead trees alleviating much flooding at times of heavy rain and the old Tiverton to Barnstable railway line, closed in the Beeching cuts of the 1960’s, was resurfaced as a farm access track.
In the early stages of undertaking these works an old droveway was unearthed which would have been used many years ago for driving sheep and cattle to nearby markets. With some financial assistance from Natural England this was reclaimed and now forms a convenient North to South access across many acres of farmland.
Much of the land at Mornacott has now been rejuvenated sufficiently to support a herd of pedigree Devon Red Ruby heritage cattle and a breeding flock of Poll Dorset ewes.
Today Mornacott looks much as it would have done in its heyday benefiting from the fabulous views which stretch from Exmoor to Dartmoor, classic North Devon plunging valleys and lush natural pastures in the most tranquil of settings yet conveniently close to the A361 North Devon Link Road.