After centuries relatively little growth, the initial step towards new housing and population increase came with the auction sale of the large Langdon Estate in 1927. Previously sold in its entirety to a single buyer, on this occasion it was split into more than 70 lots, the largest being the pre-existing farms.

For new owners, who had bought at a time of considerable economic uncertainty, opportunities existed to swiftly recoup part of their investment by selling land for housing. In part this resulted in development on the coast, notably immediately north of Wembury Point, where the completely new settlement of Heybrook Bay sprang up. Elsewhere, strips of land along some of the better roads – as well as a number of fields – also went for housing. In this way the national interwar phenomenon of ribbon development appeared on the scene. The chief examples of this typically ‘bungaloid’ growth can still be seen at Hollacombe in the north of the parish, and on Church Road, spreading from Knighton towards the beach.

World War II brought building to an abrupt halt and, for 20 years after the war, housing growth went no further than infilling in the pre-war residential localities. Then permission was given for two substantial projects to be implemented in the late 1960s and 1970s. One – located either side of Church Road, and eventually extending over almost all of West Wembury Farm – grew into the settlement now known as Wembury. The other greatly extended Heybrook Bay in the west of the parish.

The consequences of these changes were not, of course, limited to bricks and mortar on the ground. In two-thirds of the parish the immediate effect of the break-up of the Langdon Estate was to disrupt the centuries-old agricultural social structure. The single landlord controlling tenancies disappeared overnight, replaced by a complex mix of owner-occupiers and tenants renting from either new local landowners or speculative investors based elsewhere. And, as building swelled the population from 596 in 1931, to 1423 in 1961 and 2268 in 1981, a very different social scene emerged. Agricultural Wembury, previously so dominant, now came to provide the backdrop for a new community with few economic or family roots in the locality.

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