The origin of the name ‘Horrabridge’ is lost in the mists of time, but it is now generally accepted as meaning ‘boundary bridge’, due to the fact that, before Horrabridge became a separate parish, it was the place where several parishes met. Horrabridge grew up around an ancient crossing over the River Walkham and it is thought that there was a settlement in the area of the bridge even in prehistoric times. There is evidence of an even older bridge beneath the existing road. The present bridge was built in the 13th century and is one of the oldest in Devon.
There are several large houses in the parish. Grimstone Manor is mentioned in records dating back to 1309 and it is known that Monkwell House existed in the 14th century. Sortridge Manor was originally Elizabethan, and Foxhams estate dates back to the 17th century, although the house itself was destroyed by fire in 1956 and had to be demolished. The older cottages in the village are not easily recognised from the outside as they have been altered and modernised, but inside a few still have the original stone steps to the upstairs and other features giving a glimpse into their past. Many of the oldest cottages have been demolished and replaced with newer dwellings, or the space used to widen roads and access.
The RiverWalkham is one of the fastest rising rivers in Devon and has always been central to the life of the village. Down through the ages, the river has been used for farming, the local industries of tin and copper mining, mills, wool manufacture and an early hydro-electric turbine. The ancient road from Plymouth to London ran through Horrabridge, to Tavistock, Okehampton and thence to London. When Katherine of Aragon came to England to marry Arthur, elder brother of Henry Tudor (later Henry VIII), she docked at Plymouth and travelled through Horrabridge, over the river and on to Tavistock on her way to London. Some centuries later a newer road was built, which is now the A386. The coming of the railway line, opened in 1859, and the building of the station, saw further growth in the village.