With around 2000 residents, West Hill is a fairly large village, located 8 miles east of
Exeter and 10 miles west of Honiton. Ottery St Mary is the closest town, just two miles away
and offering all the usual town amenities including the Town Council, banks, a library, police station,
many varied shops as well as several pubs and places to eat. West Hill itself has a small complement
of its own amenities in the form of:
McColls Village Store
With its own in-house butchers.
Post Office -
Inside the shop.
West Hill Garage - Offering MOT, repairs and petrol pump service,
video and DVD rental. Dentist, Buthcers and hairdressers are next door.
Royal British Legion
Open to everyone.
The Village of West Hill has a relatively short history when compared with most Devon
villages, many of which date back to the Doomsday Book. The 1843 Tythe Map of the area shows
West Hill as part of the Fluxton Tithing and as a rural district of Ottery St Mary. At this
time there was no church, school or inn all usually associated with a village. Unfortunately
there were no named houses on this map. In 1843, nearly all the land at West Hill was owned
by Sir John Kennaway and the houses and cottages were invariably leasehold.
Change came to Victorian West Hill with the completion of St Michael's Church in 1846 and
the opening of West Hill School in 1876. By most definitions of a typical village, West
Hill as a village seems only to date back to those times.The 1889 the Ordnance Survey Map shows about 60 dwellings in the village. There were seven
large houses at this time including West Hill Court, Bendarroch House, the first Vicarage
(approached from Toad Pit Lane), The Gap, Hawthorne Dene (now called Mariners), Fir Grove
The named farms on the map were; Brickhouse, Castle, Highland, Perry's and Primrose. There
were also seven or eight unnamed smaller farms and a few dozen farm cottages, many of cob
construction. The Smithy (on the site of the current supermarket), the mill (Foxenholes) and
the Congregational chapel (now part of a house in Lower Broad Oak Road) complete the list of
buildings in 1889.
The 1905 Ordnance Survey Map of Ottery St Mary District shows the West Hill village growing
and new houses like Wurlie (now Elsdon) and West Lodge.
Bovett states that a small school for infants only existed at West Hill from about 1857,
described as a Church Union School. It was almost certainly provided by Sir John Kennaway
on land adjoining a cottage called "Breaches" that he owned between the village and Foxenholes
Mill. The school-room was built alongside the cottage but is now no longer
there. On 10th July 1876 the Ottery St Mary West Hill Board School opened with
49 scholars on the first day.