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The Coombe Family

by Imogen Smith | Families, People

Molly Coombe (1929-2007) was the only child of Philip (1891-1970) and Grace Coombe née Loud (1898-1983). The Coombe family have left an incredible mark on the village of Bishopsteignton. From memories of Molly as a home-owner and landlady to streets of houses built by Philip, the Coombes remain a part of many households in the village.

Here, the compilation and presentation of information about this family is dedicated to the memory of Molly Coombe who’s legacy has been put to fine use in developing the Bishopsteignton Heritage Project for the benefit of the whole community. In these articles I hope that the long-silent voices of Molly, her parents and relations, can again be heard telling stories of life in Bishopsteignton and sharing the humble and steadfast love for this village which emanates from every record in the family archive.

A wedding favour note from the marriage of Philip and Grace Coombe on March 10th, 1925.

A wedding favour note from the marriage of Philip and Grace Coombe on March 10th, 1925.

While ‘Coombe’ seems a common Devonshire family and place name, the first known Coombe of Molly’s family had arrived in Bishopsteignton by 1870. Molly’s Great Grandfather, William Winser Coombe (1818-1899) was, according to several censuses, a Miller and was born in Littlehempston, Devon. Some deeds survive that relate to Coombe family property and date from as early as 1775, with first mention of William Winser Coombe in 1870. The properties mentioned in the surviving deeds may refer to the Clanage Street bakery houses which Molly still owned until recent years.

Photograph of Molly Coombe and an unidentified woman, c. 1960.

Molly Coombe (right) and her mother, Grace with three of their beloved pet cats, probably in the 1950s.

The Coombe who many present villagers may recall is Molly. Molly led a quiet life and is known to have greatly enjoyed caring for her beautiful garden and her beloved pets. Molly maintained ownership of several homes in Bishopsteignton and was well-known in the village as a landlady, having inherited much from her industrious builder father, Phillip. One of the best-known projects accredited to the builder Philip Coombe is Wallis Grove, Bishopsteignton. If you live in one of the homes formerly owned by Molly, or a house built by Philip, and want to know more or share a story, please get in touch!

After her death, Molly’s legacy was used to contribute to the ever-growing Bishopsteignton Heritage project. Not only did Molly facilitate the creation of a wonderful community facility, the Bishopsteignton Heritage Hub, but she also left her precious possessions to the care of our Heritage project.

Photograph of a teddy bear belonging to Molly Coombe

Molly Coombe’s teddy, probably given to her when she was born in 1929. Someone knitted him a charming green outfit!

The Coombe family archive is now part of the Bishopsteignton Heritage Archive Collection, housed in our Heritage Hub in the village Community Centre. The family archive contains all kinds of records of life in Bishopsteignton and illustrates the affection all members of the family had for each other, the community, and the local area. The collection is currently in the process of being catalogued, digitised and made available to access online. If you would like to know more about the Coombe family archive or volunteer some time to help make it more accessible to the community, please get in touch.

Photograph of 2 building plans and 2 photographs from the Coombe family archive.

The Coombe Family stories are a work in progress. More information, images and stories will be added to this page over time. If you have anything you would like to contribute, please get in touch!