Nestling in the green rolling hills of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Beauty in a creek on the eastern banks of the River Dart between Totnes and Dartmouth and the sea, the village was once the centre of the Dart Salmon industry. Today a few salmon still remain in the River, while seals are also to be seen swimming there. There are huge oyster shells on the mudbanks that emerge at low tide, and egrets and herons are to be found on the Mill Pool.
Today, the village remains a thriving community with two pubs, three shops, children’s playpark, primary school, village orchard and two churches, even though the main road in and out of the village is narrow and winding and terminates in a dead end at the quay.
The football and cricket clubs both have grounds and clubhouses, while The Stoke Gabriel Boating Association is also very active.
Located in the centre of the village and able to accommodate up to 120 people seated at tables, the village hall houses many different activities, including talks, quizzes, shows and private functions.
Tourism and arable and livestock farming are now the predominant economic activities.
The first local villagers were Celts, the Dumnonii, who farmed small fields bound by low stone walls. However, when the Danes began raiding up the River Dart, many left for Brittany, from where their forebears may have come in the first place.
The Domesday Book makes mention of a church in Stoke Gabriel, while the Church House Inn, which dates back to 1152, was originally built to house the masons who constructed the church. The yew tree in the church yard is almost as old, having stood for more than 800 years.
For many years the village was the centre of the Dart Salmon industry, and orchards were planted in abundance to provide cider for the fishermen and workers in the fields. Sadly fish stocks have now dwindled, and many of the old orchards have since been replaced by houses. A few fishing boats are still to be seen moored in the Mill Creek, but the full time fishermen relying on the river for their livelihood have long since gone.
In the past, access to the towns of Dartmouth and Totnes would have been by boat and access to the town of Paignton would have been by foot or on horseback.
The tower of the medieval Grade I listed Parish Church of St Mary and St Gabriel dates from the thirteenth century, while the font, pulpit and rood screen were added in the fifteenth century when the original nave was rebuilt. Between 1856 and 1857 the church as given a new roof, windows and new floor. New pews and an organ were also installed, a vestry and south porch added, and the lychgate rebuilt.