Some six miles to the north-west of Okehampton lies Northlew, which John Betjeman described as 'a village, which almost became a town'. It is a village full of character with many examples of traditional rural buildings and superb views to Dartmoor from the lanes surrounding it.
The village clusters around one of the largest open squares in Devon, reflecting its Saxon origins. Close by stands the fifteenth-century church of St Thomas of Canterbury, and the Hebron Methodist Chapel. The Methodist Chapel and St Thomas' Church have regular services and activities, St Thomas' often including the children at the local school. Both the church and chapel have their own rooms used for some of the village activities.
Together with the village primary school, pub and Post Office, they are at the heart of this community. Yet to the keen observer, a hidden history of days gone by waits to be discovered. Tell-tale signs show where many businesses and shops once stood. Narrow lanes and the railway, now closed, radiate out to link outlying farms and smaller communities. Although scattered, this community is strong and friendly, showing that it has been self-contained, supportive, and rich in its upbringing.
There is a saying in Northlew that 'the Devil died of cold'. Well, it is thought that the Devil was either a celebrated cock bird that died after a hard fight, or an infamous stag that died following a gruelling chase. Whichever it was legend has it that the animal is buried beneath the market cross!
Reference: adapted, with permission, from The Book of NORTHLEW published by Halsgrove 2002