Colyford takes it's name from the ford over the River Coly, on the main road from Dorchester to Exeter. The ancient road was known as the 'herepath' or military way. The settlement of Colyford was on the shores of the Axe estuary together with the ports of Axmouth and Fleote (Seaton).
The estuary was first used by the Phoenicians who are said to have had a trading post at near to the position of the later village of Fleote.
The estuary was later used by the Romans as a military base in the conquest of Exeter and the West. Honeyditches Roman site developed afterwards as a large villa and it is possible that Colyford served as a Roman rest station on the main road; a convenient spot for travellers close to the junction of the Ickneild Way and Fosse Way, at Boshill Cross.
Sir Thomas Bassett inherited the Manor of Colyton and Colyford in 1199. He obtained a grant from King John for a Fair at Colyford in 1207. This was for 7 days at Michaelmas and is commemorated today by the revival of the Colyford Goose Fayre which is held on the Saturday closest to Michaelmas. The Fayre is held in Springfield adjacent to Vineyard which is thought to be the site of the original fair.
In 1225 Thomas Bassett founded the Borough of Colyford and on the current Ordnance Survey maps it is still possible to make out the original narrow burgage plots running back from the main road. In the 13th century a borough meant any town or village where tenements were held in free burgage - i.e. by payment of money to the Lord of the Manor, and thereby releasing them from liability to agricultural service to their Lord. This was the origin of Freehold Tenure.
As a borough, Colyford had it's own Court Leet with a bailiff or mayor. The Borough still possesses an ancient mace (over 600 years old) with a pair of Truncheons and handcuffs from the time of William IV. The burgesses (those residents living within the bounds of the ancient borough) still elect a mayor to this day, although this position has no legal standing.
There is a strong sense of community within the village and the social scene is centred on the Memorial Hall. Much village effort is put into the annual Michaelmas Goose Fayre. Villagers and friends dress in medieval costume, with mummers and medieval music, as they follow the Mayor and his Lady as they process along the main road to the fayre ground.
Colyford has a chapel-of-ease, dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, also a village Post Office, a Butchers, and two Pubs, the Wheelwright and the White Hart. The attractive village Filling Station has recently been turned into a motoring museum called 'Motoring Memories'.
Another of the attractions of the village is the Tramway that runs along the
discontinued railway branch line from Seaton to Colyton.
Very popular with tourists, the Tramway runs a regular service from Spring to Autumn.