The History of Leigham Manor, Devonshire




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Leigham Manor is steeped in history - From the Doomsday Book to modern day executive development the Estate has seen a variety of uses.

The Estate stretched from the Laira and the edge of the Saltram Estate, along the west bank of the tidal stretch of the River Plym up past what is now the Riverside campsite, along the non tidal stretch of the River as far as Plym Bridge.  The Estate covered the whole area of what is now Mainstone and the housing Estate of Leigham over to the Forder Valley and beyond.  The southern border of the Estate was roughly along what is now the Parkway and took in the whole of the area now covered in various out of town superstores and small factory units on the site of what used to be the Tecalemit group of factories.  

The Manor House itself was requisitioned during World War II and for a short time thereafter served a number of uses (on the home page you will see a photo of a Church group having a holiday camp at the Manor House in 1947). By the end of the 20th Century it had fallen into ruin and had been knocked to be replaced by a luxury development of some 41 executive family homes.

In 1830 the Manor was home to Thomas Edward Gosling Esq.

On the Estate was Lower Leigham farm.  In 1870 it was inhabited by Benjamin Buckland or Butland, Farmer and Mrs Ann Buckland, or Butland Any more information on this part of the history would be much appreciated.

Thanks to Plymouth Data for the following rather interesting suggestion regarding the origins of the name Leigham.

LEIGHAM -- Legham 1242; Leyham 1318; Lygham 1365.  This name comprises two elements, "leah" and "ham".   The first probably meant 'an open place in a wood where the grass could grow', says Ekwall, but it could also refer to 'meadow' or 'pasture-land'.  The second element is the Old English for 'village, estate, manor or homestead' but is commonly thought to refer to the first named.  If Ekwall's assertion that "ham" is older than "tun" as a place-name is correct then maybe Leigham is older than Sutton and could refer to the place that Sutton was south of, given that Weston is to its west as well.

Leigham was in the Parish of Plympton St. Mary but is now in the Parish of Estover, which itself was carved out of the Leigham Estate in the 1960's and 70's.

An interesting timeline has been supplied in .xls format and can be found by following this link: TIMELINE.  (many thanks to A. Morris). You will need an excel reader to open it, often part of Microsoft Office.

The following information comes from Dr Ron and Mrs Elaine (nee Bunker) Emmerson. Elaine Bunker's family owned the Manor at the time of the photograph on the home page in 1947.

"Leigham Manor was owned by the Bunker family, as were several other properties by the River Plym at Marsh Mills, now part of Plymouth. Leigham was set in 30 acres with prime pasture and fishing rights. It also had two adjoining small cottages that were used for a gardener and a caretaker, and a lodge at the entrance to the drive from Forder Valley Road. The drive was lined with beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas and there was also a tennis court. It was given for the use of the South England Conference for its Youth Camp in 1947. Several romances started at Leigham Manor that summer ending in marriage. One was that of Dr and Mrs A Jackson (Mrs Jackson - formerly Hilary Mason). The Bunker families were all members of the Plymouth church. The Admiralty rented Leigham Manor as a hospital during the war years, and it was run by naval nursing staff. Leigham Manor lodge was let to an Adventist family called Whiting during this period. After the war Leigham Manor was sold to an engineering firm, Tecalemit, who had built a factory in the valley. They converted Leigham Manor into flats for their executives. We understand it was later sold to a developer when Tecalemit moved to Estover, another part of Plymouth. The other properties were compulsorily purchased by the Plymouth City Council of the time after the war, with the intention of big industrial development and riverside walks etc in the area.

Brian Lemin, featured in the above photo, has recently made contact from Australia and has the following reminiscences of the Adventist camps that took place in 1947 at the Manor:

"Firstly the Junior camp.

Strangely I remember being taught how to clean shoes there! And I still

clean them the way I did then. That is a strange memory.

I do remember that we thought that the Manor had a ghost (It was all

school kid stuff of course) and we went through a phase of putting sheets

over our heads and wandering around the rooms and the stairways. It was

great fun and we all seemed to play the game of scaring and being scared.

I also remember a guy who had a box of comics under his bed. Comics for me were a rare "treat" and every moment of spare time I laid on my bed reading these comics, which, I may add, the owner guarded with his life.

I was very much "in love" with the beautiful Minchin twins who never gave me a second glance! I met them again in later life and they were as beautiful as ever but well and truly spoken for!

We loved playing in and by the river though parts of it were out of bounds

and those were the parts that we went for mostly. It was so beautifully

rural and enticing that it lead us to play very imaginative games like

pirates and smugglers. The games were all too short as the counsellors were soon on our trail.

We played the usual "apple pie bed" tricks on fellow campers and the

counsellors. That's about it for the junior camp.

The senior camp I also enjoyed as was pretty well the "mascot".

I recalled that there was one man in my room that was the stereotype of a

musician. Long hair, pre occupied, poured over music scripts and talked

incessantly about music. The strange thing is that I do not remember him

playing for us at any of the worships or concerts. The other memory I have

of him was that he broke wind with veracity at night and we all yelled and

threw things at him. He did not seem to care!

I recall that a lot of up market jokes were played at the senior camp i.e.

more sophisticated. The one that has stayed in my mind was when they hid the "wake up" bell. By the time it was found we were all up and were there to witness the finding of it. It was on the fountain "pipe" in the middle of the pond. The man in charge ( Mr Tew senior) rolled up his trousers and waded through the pond to retrieve it to the cheers and a clapping of the campers.

I remember that the seniors camp was full of great singing. They all seemed to sing in parts and harmonised beautifully. The special solos, duets, quartet's were quite mesmerising to me, and later I grew up (!) to sing bass in whatever group would put up with me.

The seniors went on a boat trip to Looe or Falmouth or somewhere. It was on the Sir Francis Drake, a day tripper boat of some decent size but its

details I do not remember. I just loved that trip. The campers treated me

much as an adult and allowed me to join in with what they were doing. I

treasure that trip as one of the great memories of my childhood.

One thing that is very interesting about that camp... the "large" number of

those people in that picture who are now in Australia, a couple of whom live very close to us and who we met quite regularly."



Photo of the Manor taken in the 1970s

The end of an era: The final sale of the land prior to the development of Manor Park, a luxury development of 41 executive homes.