A Brief History of Buckfastleigh.
Buckfastleigh and Buckfast have always had a close association, first mention of Buckfast as a settlement is in the Domesday Book but there is no mention of Buckfastleigh so it is most likely that Buckfast was established first. Clues of this are also in the name,
Buck-fast-leigh, Buck referring to deer, fast a "stronghold" and “leigh” being a pasture. From this one can assume that Buckfast would have been a place where deer and bucks were kept, and that Buckfastleigh, therefore, was a pasture which belonged to Buckfast, most likely the Benedictine Abbey that had been founded and endorsed by King Canute himself in 1068. The Abbey became a Cistercian monastery forty years later and remained this way until 1539 with the dissolution of monasteries all over the country by King Henry VIII.
The Cistercian monks were well known for their animal husbandry, particularly sheep and the wool trade. It is most likely that they started this industry for which Buckfastleigh would become so reliant on and known for.
The image above show the new abbey built on the site of the original 1068 abbey.
Ideally located near the hills of Dartmoor where sheep could graze and with an abundance of water supplied by the rivers Dart, Mardle and the Dean Burn, the water being an essential natural resource for both the processing and dying of wool, powering mills and in the manufacture of other products. Buckfastleigh grew as a mill town, there were 5 mills operating by the end of the 16th century and by 1850 the records show there being 300 woolcombers, several corn mills, two blanket and serge mills and a tannery in Buckfastleigh. The peak of this trade was at the end of the 19th century, after this time the town steadily declined along with many others in the area. A few of these businesses do still exist and some of the mills have found new uses today while others have been demolished for new development.

Historically Buckfastleigh was made up of four parts. The collective of Abbey buildings set on the west bank of the River Dart, to the north of the main town.
Isolated on top of the hill over looking the surrounding valleys and the town is the, now ruined, original 13th century parish church. All that remains after a fire in July 1992 is the shell of the building with its spire, however the bells did survive the blaze and were re-hung. They can be heard across the valleys on a few occasions through the year when services are held within the open air shell.
The Higher Town and Lower Town were two separate settlements until around the middle of the 19th century, each had it’s own main street, Fore Street and Market Street respectively. The buildings of Fore Street in Lower Town are mostly of the late 18th to early 19th century whereas the Higher Town is made up of mostly 19th century structures. There used to be a strong rivalry between the two areas.

The most prominent benefactors of the town were the Hamlyn family, who were the original owners of the main woollen mills. They were instrumental in the building of the new Town Hall, community building and the railway line from Ashburton through Buckfastleigh and to Totnes.

For a more detailed history of Buckfastleigh see the link below.
These images show the old parish church which was destroyed by a fire in 1992, it is only a short walk from Buckfastleigh Station.