Merton, Devon

Merton village in Devon


Merton probably derives its name from the old English word for a sheet of standing water; a lake or pond was a ‘mere’ - hence ‘the town by the mere‘. The river which bounds much of the parish to the east is the River Mere.

Merton has been recorded as having a variety of names: Merton or Mertona in the 1086 Domesday Book, then Mereton, Marton, Martyn and Merton – although for a time also commonly called Martin, which may just be the local Devon deriviation of the spoken name. The village church is now called All Saints, but was in fact known as St Martins before the major Victorian restoration.

Settlement in the area goes back to the mists of time itself. Knapped flints having been found at different locations within the parish. Merton was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 (the Norman inventory of all the lands and estates in their ownership) after their conquest, and William the Conqueror gave Merton to one of his knights. Later on, from King Henry the 2nd's time, knights living here probably took their name from the settlement. A Philip de Merton held it in 1166. The last ‘Merton‘ to hold the village was a Richard de Merton, who died in 1370 without any male heirs, and it came to his widow Matilda, who remarried Sir John FitzWarin, and thus ended the direct Merton family connection.

Today Merton, as in the past, is primarily an agricultural area. The woods and nearby clay industry has meant some considerable employment over recent centuries. Although now much diminished, the clay is mined by open cast method and shipped from Bideford to various parts of the world in large bulk ships. Indeed, when in Bideford when the tides are right, you may often see one of the Russian ships moored up and loading clay.

Our Neighbours

Our nearest neighbour is the village of Petrockstowe - about 2 miles away. Click here to visit their web site.

Other nearby villages are Dolton (which has a web site here), Beaford and Meeth.


Merton has a number of local facilities. As it is situated on the main A386 road, there is a regular bus service in either direction to Okehampton, and via Great Torrington to Bideford and Barnstaple.

The village has an excellent village hall (The Clinton Hall). You can see its web site by clicking here. There is a pub (The Malt Scoop), a village shop/Post Office, and a small garage/petrol station.

There is also a primary school in the village (Clinton School), which is a voluntary aided Church of England school, and their web site can be found here.