North Molton church
North Molton church. The modest exterior belies its fine interior. The church was entirely rebuilt in the late fifteenth century, probably funded by the wool and cloth trade. North Molton was an important manor in the Middle Ages and included Twitchen. It was described as a borough in 1238 and obtained a grant of a market and a fair in 1270 but its status was refuted in 1316. By the early 16th century it had a flourishing cloth trade and cloth merchants like the Parkers amassed great wealth. The core of North Molton is the Square, a large open space where the fairs would have been held and to one side of which stands the church, and the long straggling East Street. Here are several fine houses originally of the early 18th century including Frayne house, Zeals, Castle Hill, and Jarman’s. Clearly the place was prosperous at that period as the churchyard contains some fine 18th-century chest tombs including those to the Moorner, Frayne, and Flemen families. There are a few earlier houses of quality such as the Bampfylde’s grand 1553 Court House or 17th-century Hillside View. In the 1730s parishioners paid for nearly 8,000 sheep to graze in the Exmoor forest, far more than any other community and a fifth of all the sheep in the forest.