According to White’s Devonshire Directory of 1850, “Ugborough is a neat and pleasant village, on the slopes of an eminence, surrounded by higher hills, two and a half miles east of Ivybridge, and north north east of Modbury, and one and a half miles west of Kingsbridge Road Station.” Little has changed in the intervening years, although Kingsbridge Road Station is no more.
Largely unspoilt and designated a conservation area around the square, Ugborough still boasts two pubs, The Ship Inn and The Anchor Inn, a junior and pre-school and a village hall. The Church of St Peter, overlooking the square, dominates the village.
An Annual Fair is held each year in the square on the second Saturday in July, with stalls selling bric-a-brac, crafts, books, food and drink, together with live music and entertainment, as well as a week of events leading up to the big day itself.
The name Ugborough is derived from Ugga's fortified place, and may well be of Saxon origin.
In 1086 the village was recorded as Ulcebrge, and was one of the estates of Alfred the Breton, comprising five Domesday Manors and two smaller ones, as well as three post-Domesday Manors.
By 1121 there was a church with a priest resident in the village, only for it to be rebuilt and enlarged in the Decorated Gothic style in the early fourteenth century.
Around 1500 Ugborough, along with and the neighbouring village of South Brent, was the first in Devon to be depicted on a map that is still preserved at Devon Record Office. Around this time the population of Ugborough was thought to number around 900.
By 1642 the population is believed to have increased to to just over 1,000, growing again to 1,400 32 years later.
In 1739 a poor house was established in what was then Modbury Lane, later to be rechristened Workhouse Lane.
The Annual Fair, which now takes place on the second Saturday in July, was first held in the village square on 25th May 1752. Sheep and cattle markets were also held there on the fourth Monday of every month, although by 1850 only two such markets were held each year, in May and November.
In 1789 what appears to have been the first detailed map of the village was produced. It shows the village divided more or less evenly between two owners by an irregular north– south line across the square, its boundary marked by bondstones.
Until the nineteenth century Ugborough parish was the largest in the South Hams, but in subsequent changes to the boundary have since reduced it. Noticeably the census of 1801 recorded a population of 956, suggesting an actual decline since the 1670s, but this may have been an underestimate, as by 1821 numbers had once again increased to 1,429.
In 1851 the economy was still substantially based on arable cultivation, although within the village there were no fewer than 21 shoemakers, despite no tannery being present. There were also four tailors, three victuallers, and two each of carpenters, thatchers, blacksmiths and schoolmasters.
In 1932 the planner W. Harding Thompson produced a survey of Devon for what was then the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, in which he praised Ugborough for “its excellent site, and for the manner in which that site has been utilized to advantage. It possesses a spacious village square, framed by cottages and shops, with a notable large church built on an eminence and approached by a long flight of steps from the square”.
By 1939 mains water was supplied from the Totnes Corporation Water Works and electricity was also available in the parish.
St Peter's Church, known locally as the Cathedral of the South Hams and with a history dating back to 1121, is a huge building at the top of The Square. Inside boasts many interesting features together with displays about the history of the building.