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Tiverton

Tiverton is located within Mid Devon local authority area. Historically it formed part of Tiverton Hundred. It falls within Tiverton 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 6505 in 1801 10382 in 1901 17187 in 1991. Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In the valuation of 1334 it was assessed at £02/02/02. The lay subsidy of 1524 valued the community at £53/03/09. In 1641/2 1767 adult males signed the Protestation returns. It is recorded as a borough from 12c. and was incorporated in 1615. It had parliamentary representation from 1615-1885. A turnpike was established in 1759. The community had a grammar school from 1599. A market is recorded from 14c.-1985.

A parish history file is held in Tiverton 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 Tiverton area on Donn's one inch to the mile survey of 1765.

Tiverton area on Donn's map of 1765 (ss91don)

On the County Series Ordnance Survey mapping the area is to be found on 1:2,500 sheet 45/3,7 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 45NE
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is SS955125. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet SS91SW,SE, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Explorer 114, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 181. Geological sheet 310 also covers the area.

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

The Lace Manufactory,Tiverton (SC2982)

A fair is known from: 14c.-1935. [It is intended to include the local section from The glove is up! Devon's historic fairs, by Tricia Gerrish, by kind permission of the author].

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

TIVERTON a bright and bustling town of some 10,000 people, occupies a wedge-like site between the Exe on the W. and the Loman on the E. The rivers join just below the town. In King Alfred's will (880-5) Tiverton is referred to as T uyfyrde, i.e. "double ford," the place being reached by a ford over each river. It was founded early in the Saxon settlement, probably c. 650, gave its name to a hundred from the l0th century. onwards, and was a royal estate from the beginning. Henry I gave the large and valuable manor in 1106 to Richard de Redvers, whose son Baldwin was created Earl of Devon.

Tiverton Castle was built by Richard de Redvers and became the principal residence of the Courtenays until 1539. A borough was founded at Tiverton by William de Vernon, 5th Earl of Devon, some time between 1193 and 1217. It remained an unimportant place, however, until the establishment of the kersey manufacture in the late 15th century This new industry, which grew rapidly in the hands of merchants like John Greenway, John Waldron, Peter Blundell (all of whom have left their physical mark upon the town) coupled with the downfall of the feudal house of Courtenay liberated the little agricultural township from its economic bondage. It quickly developed a suburb on the far side of the Exe (we hear of West Exe for the first time in 1504) and it had galloped ahead of all other woollen towns in Devon by the end of the 16th century During the 17th and 18th centuries it was the most considerable industrial town in Devon, taking the high place that Totnes had occupied in the early 1500s. One of the last of the woollen mills was taken over in 1816 by John Heathcoat, a lace manufacturer of Loughborough in Leicestershire, who was driven out of the Midlands by the Luddite machine-breakers. His factory still goes on, making much else besides lace to-day, and a great part of the life of modern Tiverton revolves around it. The old mill was destroyed by fire 1936 and replaced by a modern building.

Tiverton was incorporated in 1615 and at the same time made a parliamentary borough with two representatives. Members were first elected in 1620. It continued to return members until disfranchised in 1885, when it was merged with a county division. The most notable of all Tiverton members was Lord Palmerston, who represented the borough continuously from 1835 until his death in 1865.

The town has a remarkable number of charities and benefactions, as might be expected from its generations of prosperity as a textile centre. The water that runs through the principal streets was given to his borough by one of the earls of Devon in the time of Henry III, and has run ever since. Greenway's Almshouses, in Gold Street, founded in 1529, have been several times repaired and enlarged. They were almost entirely rebuilt in 1732, but the little chapel is Tudor in date. Waldron's Almshouses in Welbrook Street were founded in 1579. The present building bears the date 1597. There is a chapel similar to that in Greenway's Almshouses. Slee's Almshouses in St. Peter's Street, founded in 1610, are less attractive. The other great benefaction of a Tiverton clothier perhaps the greatest is Blundell's School, founded in 1599. The Old School, built in 1604, still stands near the Loman Bridge at the St. Peter Street end of the town, but was converted into dwelling houses in 1880 when new and larger premises were taken over. Among the notable men who received their schooling at Blundell's were Archbishop Temple, R. D. Blackmore (who puts John Ridd to school here in Lorna Doone), and Bampfylde Moore Carew. Another school was founded by Robert Chilcott, Blundell's nephew. This was built in St. Peter's Street in 1611, and has fortunately escaped all the disastrous fires that mark the history of the town.

The castle and parish church form an attractive group at the NW. end of the town, on a cliff overlooking the river. The former was dismantled after its capture by Fairfax in October 1645 and is now a dwelling house. The remains of the castle, which are 14th century in date, consist of the great gateway, a round tower, part of the chapel, and a large square building of which the upper part is said to have been the banqueting hall.

The church (St. Peter) is a large, dignified 15th century structure, to which was added in 1517 Greenway's chapel and S. porch (plate 9). The whole S. side of the church was rebuilt by Greenway and is lavishly carved with all manner of decoration, including ships, wool-packs, staple-marks, coats- of-arms, and figures of men, children and horses. On the corbel line of the chapel are represented events in the life of Christ, beginning with the flight into Egypt and ending with the Ascension. The W. tower belongs to the Somerset class, of which Chittlehampton is the finest example in Devon. The interior is disappointing, having been in great part rebuilt in 1853-5 (by Ashworth of Exeter). Notice the memorial brasses of John and Joan Greenway (1529), the tombs of the merchants John Waldron and George Slee, and a picture presented in 1784 by Richard Cosway (who was a native of the town) depicting "St. Peter delivered out of Prison by the Angel." Another picture, "The Adoration of the Magi " by Gaspar de Crayer, a contemporary of Rubens, hangs over the Norman N. door.

There are in the principal streets of the town a number of attractive 18th and early 19th century houses, some of them built after the great fire of 1731. Few houses survived this fire, but one, in St. Peter's Street, is a good late 17th century merchant's house. St. George's church, in the middle of the town, was built in 1714-30 and is the only notable Georgian church in Devon. It retains its original ceilings, galleries, and other fittings, but the seating, pulpit, and font are Victorian intrusions. In the churchyard lies buried Hannah Cowley (1743- 1809), a native of Tiverton who was a dramatist of some contemporary fame. Her best-known play was The Belle's Strategem. At the N. edge of the town is the workhouse, of the early Union type, built in 1836-7 and attributed to Gilbert Scott. A number of hamlets and farmsteads in the parish (which is extensive) are recorded in Domesday: Bolham,

Bradley, Chettiscombe, Chevithorne, Craze Loman, Patcott, and Peadhill. Chevithorne Barton, 3 m. NE. of the town, is mainly a Tudor house still. The chapel at Chevithorne was built in 1843 (Benjamin Ferrey). That at Withleigh, 3 m. W. of the town, was built in 1846 upon the site of a medieval chapel. Cove chapel was also rebuilt in 1846 on the old site.

Collipriest, S. of the town, is an attractive late 18th century house. It was for many years the seat of the Blundell family. On the hill above is Cranmore Castle, an extensive but weak earthwork of unknown age. In 1549 some of the insurgents in the Prayer-Book Rebellion made a stand here but were defeated by the King's troops.

Knightshayes Court, N. of the town, is the seat of the Heathcoat-Amorys. The house (1869) stands in a wooded park of 200 acres which was formerly part of the demesne of the earls of Devon.

About 1.5 m. SE. of the town is the termination of the derelict Grand Western Canal, constructed under an act of 1796. Its towpath now makes a pleasant summer evening walk.