The earliest written record is in a charter dated 958 but it is probable that there was a settlement on the site for centuries before that. Early spellings varied from Holancumb (998), Holancumbe (1012), Holacumbe (1046), Holecoma (1086) and Holecumbe in 1238. The name is derived from the Saxon 'holan' (a hollow) and the ancient British 'cumb' or wooded valley. The Rogus derives from Rogo Fitz-Nigel, a knight who rented the estate from Baldwin, Earl of Devon following the Norman conquest.
Rogo's descendants lived here for seven generations and adopted the surname Fitzrogus around 1100. The last Fitzrogus was Jordan. His daughter Margaret married Richard de Chesildon in whose family the estate remained until being acquired by the Bluetts through marriage in 1540.
Various branches of the Bluett family held the estate until it was sold to Rev. William Rayner in 1858. The Rayer family then held the court and estate until its sale in 1939. The Court was requisitioned during the war and was occupied by the Durham Light Infantry and then the US army.
Dispersal of the Holcombe Rogus estate
Much of the estate was dispersed at a major sale in 1925. This sale included Fenton Farm, Eastbrook Farm, Higher Whipcott, Wiseburrow and Brinscott, Burrow Farm, several smaller farms, and cottages in South Street, Timewells, Twichen, Fore Street and Pound Hill. The majority of the remaining estate was broken up when the Court was sold in 1939.
[caption id="attachment_156" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="South Styreet c1915"]
Mains water came to the village in 1940. Prior to that there were taps in arched alcoves around the village fed by a spring at Holcombe Court. Most of the alcoves can still be seen. The villagers' thirst was further served by 3 pubs: The New Inn (now Linfield House), The George (now The Old George) and The Prince of Wales, which is the only one still licensed.
The village retains an interesting mix of buildings with many houses built from cob or stone dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Several are listed and the village centre is a conservation area.
Chair making in Holcombe Rogus
For reasons not altogether clear, the village was a centre of chair making for over 400 years. In 1841 there were 22 chair-makers, all of whom would probably have employed labourers and apprentices. They supplied chairs in their hundreds to churches and halls as far away as Bristol, Bath, Wells and Exeter. The last maker was Francis Tooze who continued at least until 1919.
This information was taken from MIchael Brooke-Webb's A Short Parish History
which was based on A Short History of Holcombe Rogus
by Andrew Gabriel and Barbara Fletcher