There has been a thriving settlement in Chittlehampton since circa. 700A.D. in Saxon times. The village is situated 5½ miles West of South Molton and 6½ miles South East of Barnstaple, the parish extending to approximately 13 square miles. The surrounding neighbourhood was ideal for farming and the village expanded as it became a centre for the area. The church and businesses grew as the neighbourhood needed support. Thus by the early 1900's, there were bakers, sweetshops, farriers, vehicle repairers and hardware sellers flourishing in the village.
As Chittlehampton expanded the centre of the village became the square. It was flanked on the northern side by the church and the school and homes and businesses around the other three. There were reputedly 8 ale houses within the village. Today the one public house, The Bell, (Link to website) remains and along the main street the village shop sells produce and is the local post office.
There are two churches within the Parish, the church of St. Hieritha is very much a focal point of the village square. It dominates the higher land at the top of the square, and it's dedication has proved a focus of village life. the saint Hieritha was martyred within the village in the 6th. Century and subsequently the villagers have re-enacted her martyrdom in a series of pageants in 1936, 1974 and in 2000A.D. (Link to website)
Umberleigh Christian Fellowship is a small evangelical Church situated by the bridge in Umberleigh, affiliated to the Evangelical Alliance which meets at 11am every Sunday for worship and Sunday School and Sunday evenings for meetings and Housegroups. (Link to website)
The weather has also played a part in the history of the village. The River Taw, which flows through Umberleigh, and is the South-Western border of the parish, has risen in the past causing flooding. In 1960 the properties bordering the river were beneath 28 inches of water. Later in 1968 the waters rose to within a few inches of that level.
Although Devon is not generally known for it's snowfall, in 1978 there was a blizzard that filled the lanes with snow and there was no traffic movement of any kind. Many isolated hamlets were completely cut off. Sheep were lost and residents were reliant on stored resources.
Severe weather has provided the villagers with an excuse to combine to raise funds for the benefit of the church. In 1987 high winds caused a pinnacle from the church tower to crash through the church roof and inbed itself within the nave. Similarly in 1988 two further pinnacles toppled and then 10 years later in 1998 the two previously badly repaired pinnacles toppled again. Each time the villagers rallied and raised the funds to repair the damage.
The population of the village increased and in 1801 was recorded as 1640 but was 1342 in 1901. Today the population of the parish is approximately 800.
Children from the parish were taught in the Public Elementary School which was founded in 1865 and included a house for the school teacher. It was originally built to accommodate some 200 children, who would use the square as their playground. It is still open today and is attended by about 50 local children. (Link to website) Also there is a school in Umberleigh. (Link to website)