Egg Buckland or Eggbuckland?

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You can raise a hornet's nest discussing the spelling of this village name! In 1905 its Vicar  wrote " It is more correct and best preserves the history of the name to write it as one word" but both forms still exist and are freely interchanged on maps and street signs and names of buildings. The Domesday Book says "Bocheland. Held by deed by the Saxon Lord Heche." And so it became known orally as "Heche's Bookland" (i.e. land held by deed or charter). The earliest written spelling seems to be Heckebokelonde and that is all we have to say on this controversial subject!

Eggbuckland c1823


Eggbuckland - in Victorian times

Eggbuckland - in Victorian times

ęSteve Johnson


For over 300 years, Eggbuckland was under the control of the monks of Plympton Priory. This came to an end when King Henry VIII seized its tithes when the monasteries were broken up in the 16th century. When Widey Court was built in Elizabeth's reign, Eggbuckland village and land known as Knackersknowle were incorporated to form the third largest estate in Plymouth. The hill at Knackersknowle, known as Crownhill and the village of Eggbuckland, eventually came to be grouped as the Parish of Knackersknowle*.


In the middle of the 19th century a great system of fortifications was built throughout Plymouth. Five of the forts built in Plymouth were constructed on high ground in the Parish of Knackersknowle: Crownhill Fort (now restored and open to the public), Bowden Battery (now a Garden Centre), Eggbuckland Keep, Austin Fort and Efford Fort. Used as defensive ack-ack batteries in the Second War, this area of Plymouth attracted more than its fair share of bombing, one bomb causing damage to the ancient church in the village.


Known as "Palmerston Follies" after the then Prime Minister, heavily-fortified buildings were constructed at many places along England's south coast in the late 1850s and early 1860s as defence against a much-feared potential invasion of the French. In spite of the British victory at Waterloo and the defeat of Emperor Napoleon, there was still considerable tension between the two countries, fanned by popular dislike here of Napoleon III, his successor and by inflammatory articles in the popular press.

'O where is he, the simple fool,
Who says that wars are over?
What bloody portent flashes there,
Across the straits of Dover?'

(Coventry Patmore)

Bowden Fort and Eggbuckland Keep

Map Showing Bowden Fort and Eggbuckland Keep

ęSteve Johnson





The great chain of expensive forts (including those at Eggbuckland) which formed "Palmerston's Folly" were never used for the purpose for which they were built although Census Returns show that they were kept in a manned and ready state long after this emergency had passed. Ironically, Napoleon III had to flee France and take refuge in England at the end of his life.

"Let who so will count of his faults the cost,
And point a moral in his saddened end;
This is the thought in England uppermost He,
who has died among us, lived our friend.

(Punch January 1873)


*The local view of the meaning of this name is that it was an abattoir on a hill (i.e. knackers as in slaughterer and knowle as in hill).

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