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Exmouth

Exmouth is located within East Devon local authority area. Historically it formed part of East Budleigh Hundred. It falls within Aylesbeare Deanery for ecclesiastical purposes. The Deaneries are used to arrange the typescript Church Notes of B.F.Cresswell which are held in the Westcountry Studies Library. The population was 2600 in 1801 10485 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. The lay subsidy of 1524 valued the community at £33/01/03. A turnpike was established in 1832. The community had a grammar school from 1920.

A parish history file is held in Exmouth Library. You can look for other material on the community by using the place search on the main local studies database. Further historical information is also available on the Genuki website.

Maps: The image below is of the Exmouth area on Donn's one inch to the mile survey of 1765.

Exmouth area on Donn's map of 1765 (sy08don)

On the County Series Ordnance Survey mapping the area is to be found on 1:2,500 sheet 103/1,2,5,6 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 103NW
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SY002806. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SY08SW+, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Explorer 030, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 192. Geological sheet 339 also covers the area.

Illustrations: The image below is of Exmouth as included in the Library's illustrations collection. Other images can be searched for on the local studies catalogue.

View from the Beacon (sc1074)

Extract from Devon by W.G.Hoskins (1954), included by kind permission of the copyright holder:

EXMOUTH grew out of the two ancient parishes of Littleham and Withycombe Raleigh (q.v.). It is the oldest seaside town in Devon, having been frequented by Exeter people "for diversion and bathing in the sea" since the early 18th century. It seems, like several other South Devon resorts, to have acquired a wider reputation among fashionable people when the Continent was closed to English visitors during the Napoleonic Wars. Until then it was merely a collection of fishermen's huts, with an occasional lodging-house or inn for the accommodation of summer visitors, though it had a small harbour and a not in considerable foreign trade in earlier centuries.

The manor of Littleham, on which Exmouth first grew up, belonged to the Rolles from the 17th century onwards, and it was they who did so much to develop the town as a watering-place from the J7908 down to the present day. The fashionable houses on the Beacon, still the most attractive architecture in Exmouth, were built in 1792 (plate 42). No.6, now the U .D.C. offices, was occupied by Lady Nelson for a time; No. J 9, now the Byron Hotel, by Lady Byron. A good deal of building followed, some of which is still preserved in BictoD Place, Bicton Street, and Louisa Terrace, and Exmouth continued to attract distinguished visitors down to the middle of the 19th century. The building of the South Devon Railway on the other side of the estuary probably did a good deal to diminish Exmouth's position as a fashionable resort, for it gave direct access to Torquay by 1848, whereas Exmouth could only be reached by coach from Exeter or by a tiresome ferry from "Star Cross" station. Although a railway from Exeter to Exmouth was first projected in 1842, the scheme became involved in the great Battle of the Gauges and never materialised. A further attempt in 1854 failed for lack of capital (though an Act had been obtained), and not until 1861 was the line actually opened. (Delderfield, Exmouth Milestones, 83-4.)

By that time Torquay had become the fashionable Devonshire watering place and Exmouth began to develop a different kind of life based largely upon the family holiday-makers from Exeter and the surrounding country. It has long sandy beaches and is attractively laid out as a "family holiday" resort. To the east of Exmouth the shingle beaches begin, from Budleigh Salterton onwards into Dorset, and being useless to children have never attracted families to them. Exmouth is the first of the sand-beach towns along the S. Devon coast.

Apart from the late 18th to early 19th century building already referred to, Exmouth is not architecturally inspiring. It is bright, pleasant, and well treed; but red brick and the cold grey Devonian limestone are the dominant building materials of its age of expansion.

Holy Trinity church is a landmark for many miles. A medieval chapel of the Holy Trinity, licensed in 1412, stood on Chapel Hill, and was rebuilt in 1779. A new church became necessary with the growth of the town, and one was erected on the present site in 1823-5. In 1905-7 it was again re-built (G. H. F. Prynne, architect) in grey limestone.

The sea-wall was begun by Smeaton in 1841-2, greatly extended in 1870, and later extended to Orcombe Point, forming a fine promenade with views down the coast as far as Berry Head.