The village of Stoke Fleming lies 100 metres above the waters of Start Bay in South Devon, on the A379 road that runs from Dartmouth along the shores of the bay and then inland to Kingsbridge on the Salcombe estuary.
The heart of the village is very much as it was in photographs taken one hundred and more years ago: a narrow, winding main street flanked by high walls and the front doors of plain-fronted houses. From where the village shop sits on a corner a side road leads up to the parish church, pub, bowling green and primary school.
The village remains a thriving community, the social life of which is centred on its pub, post office, primary school, church, village hall and a range of clubs and interest groups.
Below the village lies Blackpool Sands, and beyond that several miles of other beaches. The South Devon Coast Path runs through the parish, and on the edge of the parish is Woodlands Leisure Park.
In the peaceful and rolling countryside behind the coast there are several hamlets, namely Ash, Bugford, Embridge and Bowden, that together form the wider parish.
The busy and attractive riverside town of Dartmouth is a mere three miles away, and the market towns of Totnes and Kingsbridge are within 13 miles.
The first records of Stoke Fleming appear in the Domesday Book of 1086 under its Saxon name of Stoc. At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 it was held by Ansger, but later passed to Walter of Douai as a spoil of war. In 1192 the manor passed to Richard the Fleming, from whom the village gained its present name.
The village pub, the Green Dragon, is first recorded in 1170, and was probably built as accommodation for the artisans who were building the church, a common practice in those times.
A saint of Anglo-Saxon England, Earmund of Stoke Fleming, is reputed to be buried here and was the local patron saint of the village, being recorded as venerated in both 1364 and again in 1419.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the stream that runs down Blackpool Valley to Blackpool Sands was used to power a series of mills that ground corn for all the farms in the area. The names of the houses in Blackpool Valley, Embridge Mill, Middle Mill and Blackpool Mill, are a reminder of their original use.
In 1850 a National School was established at what is now Pump Cottage, charging a halfpenny a week to educate the children of labourers, one penny for those of tradesmen and sixpence for the children of farmers.
During the Second World War American forces used the beaches of Start Bay as a practice area for the D-Day Normandy landings. Blackpool Sands was used as a logistics area, and landing craft assembled in the River Dart. The civilian population of the area stretching from Strete to Start Point was evacuated, and the beaches of Slapton Sands were used for practice assaults, many using live ammunition.
The parish church is dedicated to Saint Peter, it was recorded as having a rector in 1272, was enlarged during the fourteenth century and was subject to a major restoration in 1871 and 1872.