Infobox UK place
country= England
region= South West England
shire_county= Devon
shire_district= Teignbridge
civil_parish= Buckfastleigh
official_name= Buckfastleigh
population= 3,661 (2001 UK Census)
os_grid_reference= SX7366
latitude= 50.48
longitude= -3.78
constituency_westminster= Totnes
postcode_area= TQ
postcode_district= TQ11
dial_code= 01364

Buckfastleigh is a small market town in Devon, England on the A38 at the edge of Dartmoor National Park. It is part of Teignbridge District Council and South Hams District Council and (for ecclesiastical purposes) lies within the Totnes Deanery. It has a population of about 5,000. It is a centre of tourism, and is home to Buckfast Abbey, the South Devon Railway, and the Buckfastleigh Butterfly Farm and Otter Sanctuary.


Geographically, Buckfastleigh straddles the confluence of two small streams from Dartmoor which feed into the River Dart just to the east of the town. About one mile to the north lies Buckfast, home of Buckfast Abbey. To the northwest lie Holne and Scorriton on the southern ramparts of the Dartmoor massif. Pridhamsleigh Cavern is nearby and is neighboured by Ashburton and Lower Dean.


Buckfast Abbey was founded by Earl Aylward in the reign of King Canute in 1018. In 1147 it became a Cistercian abbey and was rebuilt in stone. In medieval times, the abbey became rich through fishing and trading in sheep wool, although the Black Death killed two abbots and many monks - by 1377 there were only fourteen monks at Buckfast.

On 25 February 1539, William Petre arrived at Buckfast and declared the abbey to be dissolved by the order of King Henry VIII. The Dissolution of the Monasteries left monks compelled to leave and the buildings were looted, then destroyed. The abbey then stood in ruins for over two hundred years.

On 28 October 1882, six Benedictine monks arrived at Buckfast having been exiled from France. The land had been leased by monks from the St. Augustine's Priory in Ramsgate and it was later bought for £4,700. The first new abbot was Boniface Natter, who died in a shipwreck in 1906. His travelling companion Anscar Vonier became the next abbot and pledged to fulfil his dying wish, namely to rebuild the abbey.

Buckfastleigh itself was "The Clearing of Buckfast", and probably originated in the 13th century. It developed slowly as a wool town and by the mid 19th century had four woollen mills and two corn mills.

A railway branch from Totnes to Ashburton was opened in 1872 which passed just to the east of the town. The section from Buckfastleigh to Totnes is now operated as a heritage railway by the South Devon Railway Trust.

Census data shows that in 1801 the population was 1,525, and 2,781 in 1901.

From Buckfastleigh

Through the ages several of the sons and daughters of Buckfastleigh families have earned a place in history, scholarship or commerce. One illustrative example is provided by Professor William Hosking, who became, in 1840, the first Professor of Architecture at King's College in London.

The curly-coated Devon Rex cat breed was first discovered in Buckfastleigh in the 1960s and is named after the county in which the town is situated.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.