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Honiton is located within East Devon local authority area. Historically it formed part of Axminster Hundred. It falls within Honiton Vol 1 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 2377 in 1801 3271 in 1901 . Figures for other years are available on the local studies website. In the valuation of 1334 it was assessed at £02/16/08. The lay subsidy of 1524 valued the community at £21/12/04. It is recorded as a borough from 1217. It had parliamentary representation from 1640-1868. A turnpike was established in 1754. The community had a grammar school from 1640. A market is recorded from 14c.-1985.

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 Honiton area on Donn's one inch to the mile survey of 1765.


On the County Series Ordnance Survey mapping the area is to be found on 1:2,500 sheet 70/4 Six inch (1:10560) sheet 70NE
The National Grid reference for the centre of the area is ST160005. On the post 1945 National Grid Ordnance Survey mapping the sheets are: 1:10,000 (six inch to a mile: sheet ST10SE,SY19NW/E, 1:25,000 mapping: sheet Explorer 030, Landranger (1:50,000) mapping: sheet 192. Geological sheet 326 also covers the area.

Illustrations: The image below is of Honiton as included in the Library's Etched on Devon's memory website. Other images can be searched for on the local studies catalogue.


A fair is known from: 14c.-1935. Sources included: Kelly's directory, 1902. Honiton, by W.G.Hoskins. Honiton fair, by Tricia Gerrish.

Kelly's directory, 1902

HONITON is a municipal borough, parish, head of a petty sessional division, union and county court district, on the old road from Exeter to London, havrng a station on the main line of the London and South Western railway, and is 11 miles south-east from Cullompton, 16 south-east from Tiverton, 22 east from Crediton, 160 from London by road, 156 by rail, 9 north-east from Sidmouth and 16 east-by-north from the city of Exeter, in the Eastern division of the countv, hundred of Axminster, rural deanery of Dunkeswell and Honiton, and archdeaconry and diocese of Exeter. The parish and borough are co-extensive; the town consists chiefly of one broad street, about three-quarters of a mile in length, and is well-paved and lighted, abundantly supplied with water and has many good inns and two hotels.

Honiton stands in the valley of the Otter, which river passes the town about half a mile to the north and is celebrated for its trout.

A stream conveyed in an iron trough, with dipping places at every few yards, runs through the town and adds much to the health and cleanliness of the place.

The town was incorporated in 1846. The corporation consists of a mayor, six aldermen and 18 councilmen. The mayor and ex-mayor are magistrates for the borough, which is divided into wards, St. Michael's and St. Paul's. There are two borough seals; the earlier bears a representation of the baptism of Our Lord, within a legend; the modern seal dates from 1846. The mayor wears a robe of scarlet cloth, edged with fur.

The borough formerly returned two members to Parliament, but was disfranchised as a borough by the Representation of the People Act (Scotland), 1868 (31 and 32 Vict. c. 48).

St. Paul's church, which is in the middle of the town, was made the parish church under an Act of Parliament passed in 1835, and is a spacious structure of flint and stone, 132 feet long by 58 wide, in the Romanesque style, consisting of apsidal chancel, nave and a tower on the south side, 104 feet high, with pinnacles, and containing a clock and chimes, formerly in All-Hallows chapel: the church was finished and consecrated in 1838, at a cost, exclusive of £2,400 paid for old buildings and land, of about £7,600, and was reconstructed in 1849; at an expense of £1,000: the altar-piece, representing the Entombment, was painted and presented by William Salter R.A. the painter of the well-known "Waterloo Banquet," and a native of Honiton: a reredos of Devon and other marbles by Hems and Sons of Exeter, was erected in, l893 as a memorial to Mr. Mules: there are 1,100 sittinigs. The register dates from the year 1598. The 1iving is a. rectory, net yearly value £701, including 87 acres of glebe, with an ancient residence, in a picturesque and secluded locality, and now used as a farmhouse; the present rectory house is at the west end of the High street. The living is in the gift of the Earl of Devon, and held since 1895 by the Rev. Hugh John Fortescue M.A. of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

The church of St. Michael, formerly the parish church, but now a chapel of ease to St. Paul's, and inconveniently situated on a hill, about half a mile south of the town, is a building in the perpendicular style, largely rebuilt towards the close of the 15th century by Peter de Courtenay, successively Bishop of Exeter and Winchester, who died in 1491; it consists of chancel with aisles, nave, aisles, south porch and an embattled tower on the north side, containing 5 'bells: in a window in the south transept are the impaled arms of the prelate's father and mother; the Courtenay shield also appears on the capitals of the piers and on some of the arches: the superb rood and chancel screens, also the work of Bishop Courtenay, are elaborately wrought with strings of foliage, finely carved, and shields à bouche and were restored in 1880, by Hems, of Exeter, under the direction of the late Mr. E. Ashworth, architect: the rood screen. 46 feet in length, consists of 11 large and 2 small bays, and has three double doors: the arcades dividing the chancel and aisles were erected in the reign of Henry VII by John Takel, a lawyer, and on the capitals of the piers are scrolls bearing the legend "Pray for ye soull of John Takell & Jone hys wyffe," and shields, with the monogram "J.T." In the north chancel aisle is an ancient altar, and on the floor in front of it a large stone, with inscription in Latin to Joan Takel, widow, ob. 21 July, 1529: another slab is inscribed to John Rigge, a former rector, and treasurer of Crediton, ob. 459: the bosses of the roof of the north aisle display the Bourchier knot; and amongst other ancient monuments is one of black marble to Thomas Marwood, ob. 18 Sept. 1617, Queen Elizabeth's physician, and builder of Marwood House, at the upper end of the town: the font. of alabaster and marble, was erected in memory of Mr. Archibald Stamp, the lectern is a memorial to the Rev. W. Jones: there fire memorial windows to the Rev. James and Mr. and Mrs. Glanvile Avery, and to Dr. Jerrard. The church was restored in 1896 at a cost of about £800 when the galleries were removed and the interior reseated: there are 200 sittings.

The Baptist chapel, in High street, founded in 1812, is an edifice of stone, seating 350 persons. The Congregational chapel, High street, with minister's residence attached, is endowed with £5 yearly, and has sittings for 500 persons.
The Wesleyan chapel, New street, is an edifice of stone in the Gothic style, with sittings for 250 persons.

The County Police Station, in High street, has apartments for resident officers and also a magistrates' meeting room and 3 cells.

The Market House, for the sale of corn, cheese, butter and poultry, in the centre of the town, was built about 1820, by the late Paving Trust Commissioners, at a cost of above £2,000. The great market is held on Saturdays and is well supplied with cattle and all sorts of provisions; and great quantities of butter are sent weekly to London; in the upper story is an assembly room, 40 feet long by 28 feet wide, available for public meetings, with entrances from the Market House and the Dolphin hotel, and holding 300 persons.

Two large markets are held annually, for cattle, on the second Saturday in April and on the Saturday before the 18th of October. The fair is held on the Wednesday and Thursday following the 19th of July, for cattle and horses. Early closing day is Thursday. A poultry show is also held. A. bronze fountain, erected in New street, I in memory of the late Samuel Devenish esq. of this town, by his fellow townsmen, has been removed to High street.

The depressed state of the Honiton lace manufacture has injuriously affected this town and the neighbouring districts of Ottery St. Mary and Otterton, Sidmouth and Sidbury, Beer and Branscombe, Colyton, Exmouth, Woodbury and Budleigh. It is estimated by Messrs. Treadwin, of Exeter, and Mrs. Fowler, of Honiton, two of the principal dealers in Honiton lace, that [in] about 1870 over 2,000 women and children were employed in this industry, whereas now there are not 500 lace makers in all the above districts and they are all women over 25 years, no children having been taught the art for the last 12 years; of these 500, only about 250 are now actually employed - i.e. 70 in Honiton, 60 in Beer, 40 in Branscombe, 40 in Sidbury and Sidmouth and some 20 each in Exmouth, Woodbury and Colyton. The earnings of these lace makers vary from 5s. to 12s. weekly. In addition to the actual makers of the lace, there are in Honiton, Exmouth, Beer and Otterton some 30 or 40 "guipurers," i.e. women who piece together small sprigs, being employed for that purpose by the dealers. In July, 1888, Mr. A.Ian Cole, of the South Kensington Museum, made a report, after visiting the district for the Home Office, on the condition and prospects of the Honiton lace industry. He attributed its decline mainly to the operation of the Compulsory Education Act of 1870 and the consequent closing of the lace schools, and partly to the cheap imitation of Honiton lace made by machinery at Nottingham, and suggested, as remedies, that lace making should be sanctioned by the Education Department as part of the regular course of instruction for girls in Elementary Board Schools in this district, and that grants of money and prizes should be given by the Science and .Art Department to encourage proficiency in lace making. Mrs. Fowler has established a lace school for young girls, and 64 are now under instruction; the principal feature is the revival of the old net grounding, which had become almost a lost art. There is a brewery and a malthouse, an iron foundry, three flour mills, a tannery, a butter factory and a saw mill. Bricks, tiles and brown pottery ware were also made in the locality.

The Honiton Literary Institution has a very good library of 2,000 volumes of standard works of all kinds, and a constant supply of new books is obtained from Mudie's 'Lilbrary in London for the use of subscribers. The reading room is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except Sundays, and is well supplied with the principal daily and weekly papers and magazines. There are about 30 members.

The Dispensary, in High street, established in 1820, is now conducted on the provident system.

St. Margaret's Almshouses, on the Exeter road, originally founded in the 14th century as a hospital for lepers, was refounded by Thomas Chard, last abbot of Ford (1520-39), who was born at Tracey, in the parish of Awliscombe, near here, about 1470; he rebuilt the chapel of the hospital and is said to have been interred within it; the existing houses are inhabited by nine aged persons, who have weekly allowances, averaging about 2s. 6d. with a small donation at Christmas, one inmate holding the office of governor; the charity is under the management of the rector, churchwardens and overseers, and is endowed with 18a. 2r. 7p. of land, let for about £80 a year. Other charities, amounting to about £350 yearly, are under the management of trustees elected for the purpose.

On Honiton Hill, about 2 miles from the town, is a tower about 80 feet high, erected by the late Dr. Copleston, Lord Bishop of Llandaff (1828-49), and now the property of Charles Every Cox esq. from which a beautiful and extensive view embracing the adjacent coast may be obtained. Richard Marker esq. J.P. of Combe, who is lord of the manor, and Miss Outhwaite, of Rougemont, Exeter, are the principal landowners.

The acreage is 3,134; rateable value., £12,966; the population in 1901 was 3,271, viz. :- St. Michael's ward, 1,603 and St. Paul's ward, 1,668.

Parish Clerk, Robert Dimond.


Post, M. O. &; T. O., T. M. O., S. B., Express &; Parcels Delivery, Annuity &; Insurance Office J. G. Bartlett, postmaster.
Hours of Attendance.--For sale of stamps, registration of letters &c. week days, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; sundays, 8 to 10 a.m. Postal order business, week days, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Money order & savings bank, government annuity &; insurance business & issue of licenses, week days, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Telegraph business, week days, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; sundays, 8 to 10 a.m

Inward Mails.
Daily.Hour of arrival.Hour of town delivery
London (night) & all parts4 10 a.m.7 0 a.m.
London 10 30 a.m.11 40 a.m.
North of England & Scotland, Exeter, Southampton & South-West of England 11 15 a.m.11 40 a.m.
London (day) & Ireland, Exeter &c 1 50 p.m.2 0 p.m.
South-Western (day), Weymouth, Yeovil &c. Chippenham, Frome, Trowbridge, Bristol, Exeter & West of England 5 50 p.m.6 0 p.m.
Outward Mails.
Letter Box cleared atExtra 1/2d stamp
Honiton rural delivery 5 30 a.m.
Honiton town 1st delivery6 30 a.m.6.45 a.m.
London (night) & all parts daily. 8 20 p.m.8.40 p.m.
London (day) 9.40 a.m.
London (day), South-West of England (day), Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter, Taunton, Weymouth, Yeovil &c10 40 a.m.
Honiton town 2nd delivery 11 30 a.m.
" " 3rd " 1 50 p.m.
North of England, Ireland & Scotland, Exeter, Taunton &c.(day), Southampton & South-West of England & Feniton 3 10 p.m.
Honiton town, 4th delivery 5 45 p.m.
Exeter 6 40 p.m.
South-West of England, Southampton, Portsmouth &c. 7.40 p.m.
Exeter, North & South Devon, Cornwall, Sidmouth & Ottery St. Mary 9.40 p.m.
Parcel Post - Honiton rural deliveries, 8 p.m. (previous day); dispatched to London (day), Exeter &c. South- West of England, Weymouth, Yeovil &c. 10.30 a.m. ; North of England, Ireland & Scotland. Exeter, Taunton &c. 3.5 p.m.; London (night) & all parts, except Devon & Cornwall, 7.30 p.m. & South Devon & Cornwall, Sidmouth & Ottery St. Mary, 8 p.m


Mayor, Robert Henry Matthews.
Deputy-Mayor - Alderman Buchanan.

Retire in Nov. 1903.
David William Ramsay Buchanan
Charples Harding
Harry Banfield
Retire in Nov. 1906.
Charles Read
Henry Hook
Thomas Basleigh Avery


St. Paul's Ward.
Presiding Alderman at Ward Elections, Ald. Buchanan.
Retire in Nov. 1901.
Thomas Coren
Richard Harris
Job Knowles
Retire in Nov. 1902.
Richard William Clapp
Robert Henry Matthews
Edmund Walter Matthews
Retire in Nov. 1903.
Frederick Wm. Mitchell
Seth Durban
Thomas Davey Hussey

Saint Michael's Ward.
Presiding Alderman at Ward Elections, Alderman Read.
Retire in Nov. 1901. William John Chard Gustavus Gidley
Bedford Cox Taylor
William Henry Smith
Retire in Nov. 1902.
Fredk. Angel Buckingham
William John Chard
James Hoskin
Retire in Nov. 1903.
Edward William Hellier
Seaborne William Hook
Thomas C. Rolstone

Town Clerk & Clerk to School Attendance Committee, George Tash Tweed, New street
Deputy Town Clerk, Cyril Neville Tweed, New street
Treasurer, Edward Stanford, High street.
Medical Officer of Health, Thomas Wood Shortridge M.D. High street
Borough Surveyor & Sanitary Inspector, William Ward. High street
Collector, Edmund White, High Street
School Attendance Officer, Edmund White, High street

Meet at the Guardians' Board room, Honiton, the second Board day (saturdays) in each month, at the rising of of the Board of Guardians)
Chairman, R. Marker, Combe, Honiton
Clerk, Edward William Hellier, High street
Treasurer, Edward Stanford, National Provincial Bank, High street
Medical Officer of Health, Francis Mortimer Reynolds M.B., C.M.Edin. Mill street, Ottery St. Mary
Sanitary Inspector, John Newbery Bishop, Hamlet, near Honiton
Surveyor, Walter North, Gittisham

The Mayor & ex-Mayor
Clerk, George Tash Tweed, New street
The magistrates meet at the Police Court, mondays, at 10 a.m

Chairman-The Senior Magistrate present
Sidmouth Viscount, Upottery manor, Upottery
Addington Hon. Gerald Anthony Pellew Bagnall, Up-Ottery Manor, Honiton
Ashley John esq. High street, Honiton
Bernard Arthur Francis esq. Abbots, Combe Raleigh, Honiton
Edmonds Wm. esq. Wiscombe park, Southleigh,Axminster
Ford Henry esq. Lower house, Branscombe, Axminster
Hulme Henry esq. Applehayes, Clayhidon, Honiton
Johnson George Randall esq. M.A. Feniton court, Feniton, Honiton
Lindsay William Alexander esq. M.A., K.C., D.L., F.S.A. 17 Cromwell road, South Kensington
Marker Richard esq. D.L. Combe, Gittisham, Honiton
Marwood-Elton Rev. Alfred B.A. Widworthy court, Honitn
The Mayor of Honiton & the Chairman of the Honiton Rural District Council, for the time being, are ex-officio magistrates
Clerk to the Magistrates, Alfred John Dunning, High st
Petty Sessions are held at the petty sessional room on the first wednesday of every month at 11 a.m
The following places are included in the petty sessional division: Awliscombe, Branscombe, Buckerell, Combe Raleigh, Cotleigh, Dunkeswell, Farway, Feniton, Gittisham, Honiton, Luppitt, Monkton, Northleigh, Offwell, Sheldon, Southleigh, Up Ottery, Widworthy, Yarcombe

County Court, Petty Sessional room, His Honor Cecil Hugh W. Beresford B..A. judge; Alfred John Dunning, registrar & high bailiff; the court is held monthly. The district comprises the following places :- Awliscombe, Branscombe, Broadhembury, Buckerell, Combe Raleigh, Cotleigh, Dunkeswell, Farway, Feniton, Gittisham, Harpford, Honiton, Luppitt, Monkton, Northleigh, Offwell, Ottery St. Mary, Payhembury, Plymtree, Salcombe Regis, Sheldon, Sidbury, Sidmouth, Southleigh, Talaton, Up Ottery, Venn-Ottery & Widworthy
For Bankruptcy purposes this Court is included in that of Exeter, Thomas Andrew, 13 Bedford circus, Exeter, official receiver
Certified Bailiffs appointed under the "Law of Distress Amendment Act, 1888" - Thomas Davey Hussey, Oak mount, Honiton; Frederick John Potbury, Sidmouth
County Police Station, High street, Herbert de Schmid, superintendent; Thomas Richard Cridland, sergeant, & 3 constables
Dispensary, High street, James Campbell Macaulay M.R.C.S.Eng. & Thomas Wood Shortridge M.D. medical officers; Herbert F. Cross, sec. & dispenser
Honiton Fire Brigade Station, Dowell street, William Ward, superintendent
Stamp Office, High street, J. G. Bartlett. distributor, High street

3rd Volunteer Battalion Devonshire Regiment (D Co. ), Armoury, High street; Drill hall, Dowell street; Capt. Herbert H. Lilley; Sergeant Charles King, drill instructor; Cycle Co. Capt. W. C. Vallance

Board days, alternate saturdays at 11 a.m. at the Workhouse.
The Union comprises the following parishes:- Awliscombe, Branscombe, Broadhembury, Buckerell, Combe Ra;eigh, Cotleigh, Dunkeswell, Farway, Feniton, Gittisham, Harpford, Honiton, Luppitt, Monkton, Northleigh, Offwell, Ottery St. Mary, Payhembury, Plymtree, Salcombe Regis, Sheldon, Sidbury, Sidmouth, Southleigh, Talaton, Up-Ottery, Venn-Ottery, Widworthy & Yarcombe. The population in 1901 was 20,285; area. 87,759 acres; rateable value in 1901, £129,914.
Chairman of the Board of Guardians, R. Marker, Combe. Honiton
Clerk to the Guardians, Edward William Hellier, High street, Honiton
Treasurer, Edward Stanford, National Provincial Bank, Honiton
Collectors of Poor Rates, Edmund White, High street. Honiton; Awliscombe, Francis Thomas Pring; Branscombe, W. H. Burrough; Broadhembury, Morkham Taylor; Dunkeswell, Robert Stevens; Feniton, William Didham; Harpford, George Batten; Ottery St. Mary, Edward Henry Carnell; Payhembury, Frederick M. Granger; Salcombe Regis, Oliver Dyer; Sidbury. James Dimond; Sidmouth, John V. V. Newton; South Leigh, E. J. Underdown; Talaton, John Bridle; Up-ottery, John Wyatt
Relieving Officers, Honiton district, William Icomb, New street, Honiton; Ottery St. Mary & Sidmouth district, Edward Barrett, Mill street, Ottery St. Mary
Vaccination Officers, the Registrars of Births & Deaths Medical Officers & Public Vaccinators, Districts Nos. 1 & 10, Thomas Wood Shortridge M.D. Honiton; District No.2, Edward Shairp Barnard Eames L.R.C.P.Lond. Lambscroft, Uffculme; Districts Nos. 3 & 9, James Campbell Macaulay M.R.C.S.Eng. High st. Honiton; District No.4, Francis Mortimer Reynolds M.B.Edin, Ottery St. Mary; District No. 5, Herbert Edwd. Goulden L.R.C.P.Lond., D.P.H. Clisthydon; District No.6, Thomas Henry Stocker Pullin M.D. Sidmouth; District No.7, George Evans M.R.C.S.Eng. Netherhayes, Seaton; District No.8, Francis Robt. Seppings Cosens L.R.C:P.Lond. Colyton; No.9, Augustus Keppell Reed L.R.C.P. & S.Edin. Churchingford
Superintendent Registrar, Edward William Hellier, Higb street, Honiton; deputy, Tom P. Webby, High street. Honiton
Registrars of Births & Deaths, Honiton sub-district, Edmund White, High street, Honiton; deputy, Miss Fanny White, High street, Honiton; Ottery St. Mary sub-district, Edward Barrett, Mill street, Ottery St. Mary; deputy, Henry G. Luxton, Mill street, Ottery St. Mary
Registrars of Marriages, Robt. Dimond, High st. Honiton ; deputy, Frederick Rockett, High street, Honiton
The Workhouse, built in 1836, at the cost of £5,322, is a structure of stone, & will hold about 250 inmates; Henry Key, master; Rev. Thomas. Burditt Panther M.A. chaplain; T. W. Shortridge, medical officer; Mrs. Key, matron

Meet at the Board room, Honiton, the first Board day in alternate months, at the rising of the Board of Guardians (February 1st month)
Clerk, Edward William Hellier, High street, Honiton
Attendance Officer, John Newbery Bishop, Hamlet, near Honiton

Meetings, Board room, Honiton, first Board in alternate months at the rising of the Board (January first month).
Clerk, Edward William Hellier, High street. Honiton

Assistant Overseer, Edmund White. High Street
Bailiff to the Honiton Manor, F. G. Hardy, Gittisham
Certifying Factory Surgeon, Thomas Wood Shortridge M.D. High street
Clerk to Commissioner of Taxes at Axminster & Honiton, Edward William Hellier, High street, Honiton
Clerk to Magistrates for Honiton & Ottery Divisions & to Commissioners of Taxes for East Budleigh & Cliston & Colyton Divisions, Alfred John Dunning, High street
Coroner for the HoIlliton District. Charles Every Cox, High street; deputy, Henry William Gould, 2 Bedford circus, Exeter
Inland Revenue Officer, Frank Gore, Church hill
Inspector under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act for Honiton Borough & Petty Sessional District (D division), Arthur James Ridgway M.R.C.V.S. High st
Steward of the Honiton Manor, John Sparks, Crewkerne
Town Crier (vacant)

PLACES OF WORSHIP, with times of Services.
St. Paul's Church, Rev. Hugh John Fortescue M.A. rector; Rev. Thomas Burditt Panther M.A. curate; 8, 10.45 a.m. & 2.45 & 6.30 p.m.; wed & fri 11 a.m.; mon. tues. thurs. & sat. 10 a.m.; daily, 5 p.m.
St. Michael's; sun. 8 & 11 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; served by the clergy of St. Paul's
Baptist, High street, Rev. Lewis T. Harry B.A. St. Andrew's; 11 a.m. &; 6.30 p.m.; mon. 8 p.m
Congregational, High street, Rev. E. Chesher; 11 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; wed. 8 p.m.
Wesleyan Methodist, New street; 11 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; tues. 7.30 p.m

Allhallows Grammar, H1gh street, founded in 1614, & endowed with a house for the master & a small annuity ot £10: four free scholars are appointed by the rector & churchwardens: the course of education is preparatory to the public schools, the learned professions & the universities: at the present time there are about 60 boarders & 25 day boys: the terms for boarders vary from 45 to 56 guineas inclusive, according to age: scholars of this school are eligible for election to the Stapledon scholarships at Exeter College, Oxford: about 1893 the premises were enlarged by the erection of a school hall, 60 feet by 30, containing a handsome stained window, placed in memory of Dr. J. F. Mackarness, late bishop of Oxford (1870-88), rector of Honiton (1855-69) & some time head master of the school: the Feoffees of the Honiton Charities also made a grant of £80 for the erection of a class-room: the Rev. Richard Augustus Byrde M.A. of Queen's College, Oxford, head master; James Townsend BA. Pembroke College, Oxford, assistant master
National, King street, built in 1861, for 400, & since enlarged for 492 children; average attendance, 144 boys, 130 girls & 150 infants; Tom Pierce Webly, master; Miss Mahala Aggett, mistress; Miss Mary Icombe, infants' mistress

Railway Station, William Henry Smith, station master; W. Trace, town agent
Omnibuses meet all trains from the Dolphin hotel

Avery Thomas Basleigh, St. Leonards
Baker Henry, 3 Elm terrace
Banfield Mrs. Oaklands
Barnett Miss, Kingswear, Church hill
Bayne Miss, 3 Vale view, Church hill
Beer Thomas, West end
Bennett Mrs. High street
Board William, 4 Summerland place
Brazer Mrs. New street
Brine Rev. George Augustus, Beech grove
Brodie Mrs. 6 Elm terrace
Bromfield Mrs. Glenville cottage
Broom Mrs. West end
Buchanan David William Ramsay J.P. Broomhills
Buckingham Fk. Angell, Littletown cot
Burrows Miss, High street
Byrde Rev. Richard Augustus M.A. (head master), Grammar school
Carter Harry, Awlescombe road
Chesher Rev. E. (Congl.), High street
Clark John, High street
Clark John Francis, West end
Clark Josiah, High street
Cleeve Reginald F. Bank ho. High st
Coren Thomas, High street
Cox Charles Every, High street
Cox Miss, Marwood cottage, High st
Cox Spencer, The Gables, High st
Cramp William, West end
Cudmore George, Church hill
Davy Mrs. High street
Dean William Herbert, Church hill
de Schmid Capt. Herbert (Devon constabulary), Burwood
Dimond William, Dowel street
Dornton Mrs. New street
Dunning Alfred John, Elmfield
Every William, Holyshute
Fortescue Rev. Hugh John M.A. (rector), Rectory, Bramble hill
Fowler Mrs. Hillside ho. High street
Greedy Jemes, Church hill
Hann John Goorge, Pine park
Harding Charles, Oak lodge
Harding Richard, Springfield
Harris Richard, West end
Harry Rev. Lewis T., B.A. (Baptist), New street
Hawkins Tom, High street
Heddon Richd. Plympton ho. High st
Hellier Edward Wm. Carlton house
Hellier W. High street
Hicks William, 2 Elm terrace
Holway John Threader, New street
Hook William Burrough, West End
Hook Mrs. W. T. High street
Hoskin James, New street
Hoskins Thomas, 10 Elm terrace
Hunter Mrs. West end
Hurd William Davey, Church hill
Hussey Thomas Davey, Oak mount
James Mrs. Bramble hill
Jerrard Henry, New street
Jerrard Mrs. Fairfield
Kerr Thomas, High street
King Charles, High street
Knowles Frederick James, Town mill
Lane Robert, High street
Letten Miss, High street
Leyman Alfred, West end
Lilley Henry Eaden, Laurel house
Materface Arthur Edwin, West end
Materface Harry John Threader, Old Post Office yard
Macaulay James Campbell, High st
Matthews Edmund Walter, High street
Matthews Robert Henry, Glenholme, Church hill
Mayne Mrs. High street
Mitchell Mrs. Summerland place
Mitford Bertram, Bramble cross
Moore Mrs. Stanhope house, High st
Myrtlett Miss, High street
Murch Edwin, High street
Newton William Curswell, West end
Oake Richard James, 4 Elm terrace
Otton Mrs. Kingswood, High street
Panther Rev. Thomas Burditt M.A. (curate of St. Paul's & chaplain to Workhouse), The Manse, High st
Parsons James, High street
Partridge Hanslip, Church hill
Paull Mrs. 1 Glen view, Church hill
Pennell William Twyford, Church hill
Pollard Francis, Church hill
Purse Harry James, 5 Elm terrace
Radford Leslie Charles, West end
Ramsbotham Philip Bury. Ernsboro' lodge
Reid Charles, Ventnor house
Richardson Francis Henry, Church hill
Ridgway Arthur James, High street
Rowlatt Benj. The Firs, Church hill
Rundle Henry Leslie, The Hill house
Shepherd Jesse, Summerland place
Shortridge Thos. Wood M.D. High st
Smith Horace Marshall, Summerland pl
Snell, Wm. Hy. Stream Meadow cot
Spragg Mrs. New street
Staley-Mosse Mrs. 4 Vale view, Church hill
Stanford Edward, High street
Stevens Mrs. Marwood house
Thomas Harry, High street
Thompson Mrs. Church hill
Tovey Henry, Meadow view, King st
Trace William, New street
Tucker John, West end
Turner Mrs. Fair view, Church hill
Tweed Cyril N. New street
Tweed George Tash, New street
Venn Rev. Henry Knott M.A. (vicar of Monkton), High street
Wareing John Thomas, Church hill
Vincent John, Fern cottage, High st
Weeks Miss, West end
White Miss, St. Cyres villa, High st
Williams Robert Walton, Church hill
Woodford Sidney, Stream Meadow cot
Wood Miss, Summerland place

Anning Emma Amelia (Mrs.), animal & bird preserver, High street
Ashley Edward & John, tanners & curriers, High street
Baker John, farmer, Northcott house
Banfield Harry, Dolphin hotel, coach proprietor, open & close funeral cars, wholesale & retail wine & spirit merchant, & Dolphin assembly rooms, High street
Bartlett John G. postmaster, High street
Barton Cha.rles Daniel, insurance agent, New street
Beedell William Henry, Three Tuns P.H. High street
Beer Thomas, baker, West end
Bishop Caroline (Miss), dress maker, West end
Bishop Eliza (Mrs.), dress maker, Old London place
Bizley John, shopkeeper & currier, West end
Body Elizabeth (Mrs.), dress maker, Church hill
Boyland Abel, New inn, Axminster road
Bray George Edward, supt. to Pearl Life Assurance Co.
Limited, 7 Elm terrace
Brewer Thomas, dairyman, High street
Brock Daniel, baker & .confectioner, High street
Brock Emily (Miss), china &c. dealer, High street
Brockway Emily (Mrs.), stationer, High street
Brockway William S. cycle agent, High street
Brodie Frederick N. grocer, New street
Burrough Edward, Star inn, New street
Burrough James, farmer, Old Rectory
Buckingham F. A. timber merchant, railway & park pale fencing contractor; all kinds of converted & round English timber supplied to all parts of the kingdom, South Western saw mills
Burrows Elizabeth (Miss), dairyman, Old Post Office yd
Campion Emanuel, coach builder, High street
Campion Emma (Mrs.), dress maker, High street
Chard John William, painter &c. High street
Chard William John, tailor, High street
Cheeseworth Charles Pethick, White Hart P.H
Clapp Richard William, grocer & agent for W. & A. Gilbey Lim. wine & spirit merchants, High street
Clark Josiah, draper & outfitter, High street
Clark William, dairyman, High street
Cleeve Reginald F. manager to Devon & Cornwall Banking Co. Limited, High street
Cole Mary C. (Mrs). shopkeeper, New street
Collins Hayman, farmer, Hale farm
Compton John, watch maker, High street
County Court (His Honor Cecil Hugh W. Beresford, judge; Alfred John Dunning, registrar)
Cowling Ernest Arthur, manager Honiton Gas & Coke Co. Limited, King street
Cox William Philip & Son, plumbers, High street
Cox, Chas. Every, coroner for the Honiton district, High st
Crichett Robert, Exeter inn, High street
Cridland Thomas Richard, police sergeant, County Police station, High street
Cross Herbert F. chemist, High street
Davis Isaac, road contractor, High street
Dean Harry (late Samuel Dean), builder, decorator, undertaker &c.; estimates given for general repairs, Awliscombe road
Denner William, tailor, King street
Denselow Edwin John, berlin wool repository, New street
Devon & Cornwall Banking Co. Limited (branch) (Reginald F. Cleeve, manager), High street; draw on Barclays' Limited, Lombard street, London E C
Devon & Exeter Savings Bank (Charles Harding, receiver), High street
Dimond Leah (Mrs.), milliner, New street
Dimond Robert, printer & stationer & registrar of mar- riages, High street
Dispensary (Herbert P. Cross, sec. & dispenser; James I Campbell Macaulay M.R.C.S.Eng. & Thomas Wood I Shortridge M.D. medical officers), High street
Doble William Cummins, boot & shoe maker, High street Drewe Edward, grocer & wine & spirit merchant, High st Dunning Alfred John (firm, Stamp, Dunning & Rundle),
soliciter, perpetual commissioner & commissioner for oaths, clerk to magistrates for divisions of Honiton & Ottery & to commissioners of taxes for East Budleigh, Cliston & Colyton divisions & registrar & high bailiff of county court, High street; & at Ottery St. Mary
Durbin Seth, farmer & dairyman, Cowley
Dyer Edward Henry, pharmaceutical chemist, High street Dyer William, painter, Queen street
East Devon Dairy Supply OJ. Limited (William Ward, manager & sec.), High street
Eastmans Limited, butchers, New street Edwards Charles, shopkeeper, High street
Edwards Edwin James, grocer, High street
Edwards George Henry, cabinet maker & cutler, High st
Every William, solicitor & commissioner to administer oaths, New street
Fayter John, boot maker, High street
Foale William H. grocer, High street
Fowler Ann (Mrs.), lace maker, High street
French Simeon James, Fountain inn, High street
Gidley Gustavus, wool dealer &c.; real Devonshire serges direct from the mill; agent for the "Lion'" Fire & Life & the Norwich Accidental Insurance Companies, Church hill. Telegrams," Gidley, Honiton"
Gigg William Henry, hair dresser. New street
Gillard William, White Horse P .H. High street
Gimblett, Son & Co. Limited, boot & shoe makers (Wm. Prout, manager), New street
Golesworthy Mark, chimney sweeper, King street
Golesworthy William Harward, stone mason, Dowell street
Gore Frank, inland revenue officer, Church hill
Gould William, White Lion P.H. West end
Grammar School (Allhallows) (Rev. Richard Augustus Byrde M.A. head master), High street
Griffin Henry, Angel hotel, High street
Griffin Thomas, farmer, Gardeners & Combhays
Griffin Thomas, grocer, High street
Griffiths Alfred John, photographer, High street
Grimbley Fanny Marion & Gertrude Emily (The Misses), ladies' school, Summerland house
Hallett James (Mrs.), milliner, High street
Hann & Co. brewers & maltsters, Mill Street
Harding Charles & Sons, drapers & tailors, High street
Harris Henry Richard, baker & confectioner, High street
Harris Thomas, baker & confectioner, High street
Harris Walter, wine & spirit merchant, High street
Hartnell Arthur Tom, cattle dealer & butcher, West end
Hartnell Henry, cattle dealer & farmer, Livermore
Hawker John, marine store dealer, Swan yard, High street
Hayward Charles Allington Gardner, solicitor & commissioner for oaths, High street
Hearn George, draper, High street
Heddon Richd. physician & surgeon, Plympton ho. High st
Helliar Ernest, saddler, High street
Hellier Edward William, solicitor & commissioner for oaths, clerk to the commissioners of taxes at Axminster & Honiton & to Honiton Rural District Council, & clerk to the guardians & assessment & school attendance committees, & superintendent registrar of births, deaths & marriages of Honiton union, High street
Hill James, greengrocer & market gardener, New street
Holman Daniel, blacksmith, High street
Holway James, .Anchor inn, & butcher, West end
Holwav John Threader. dentist, New street
Honiton Building Co. Limited (John Matthews Tucker, hon sec.), High street
Honiton Club & Reading Room (H. N. Pope, sec. ),King st
Honiton Fire Brigade Station (Wm. Ward,supt.),Dowell st
Honiton Gas & Coke Co. Limited (E. A. Cowling, manager & sec.), King street.
Hook & Sons, butchers, High street
Hook Henry, butcher, West end
Horn Samuel Thomas, Lamb inn, & basket maker"High St
Hoskin James, fancy draper, High street
Humphry William, confectioner, High street
Hurd William Davey, supt. to Prudential Assurance Co. New street
Hussey Thomas Davey, auctioneer & valuer & certified bailiff appointed under the "Law of Distress Amendment Act"; established over a century, Oak mount
Hutchings Robert, saddler, High street
Icomb Mary (Mrs.), dyer & cleaner, New street
Icomb William, relieving officer, Honiton district, New st
Isaac William John, Globe inn, High street
James George Sydney M.R.C. V.S. vet. surgeon, West end
Jones William, draper, High street
Kenwood Job, seedsman, New street
Kerr Jane (Miss), dress maker, High street
King Frederick Alfred, butcher, High street
Knowles Job, miller (water), Town & Tracey mills
Lake Elizabeth Sarah (Mrs.), hair dresser, High street
Lemon & Son, blacksmiths, Church hill
Leyman Alfred, artist, High street
Lilley Henry Eaden, coal merchant, see Miller & Lilley
Literary Institute & Reading Room (Rev. T. B. Panther, sec.), High street
Lock Charles, cow keeper & farmer, Cheneys farm
London & South Western Bank Limited (branch) (W. Sladen Wallis, manager), High street: draw on head office, 170 Fenchurch street. London E C
Macaulay James Campbell M.R.C.S.Eng. surgeon, & medical officer & public vaccinator, Nos. 3 & 9 districts, Honiton union, High street
Manley Charles, coach builder, King street
Materface Henry John, gunsmith, West end
Manvell Thomas A. insurance agent, Dowell street
Matthews Brothers, ironmongers, High street
Mickelburgh Walter, iron founder & agricultural imp1ement manufacturer & waggon builder, The Foundry
Miles Sarah (Mrs.), King's Arms inn, High street
Miller & Lilley, brick makers, coal & general merchants. New street
Mitchell A. C. & Sons, drapers, High street
Mossop Clyde S. (Vallance & Mossop), solicitor & county court advocate (saturdays only & by appointment). High street, & at Ottery St. Mary & Sidmouth
Murch John, ironmonger, High street
Mutter Thomas, builder, decorator, undertaker & general contractor
National Provincial Bank of England Limited (branch) (Edward Stanford, manager), High street; draw on head office, 112 Bishopsgate within, London E C
Norman Josiah, cheese factor, Tracey bridge
Otton George, glass & china dealer, High street
Otton William Henry, plumber, High street
Parker Mary Snell (Mrs.), milliner & dress maker, High st
Parsons James & Co. corn & flour factors, High street
Payne Isaac George, ironmonger, New street
Phillips James, Vine inn, High street
Pile Samuel, farmer, West end
Pope John, builder, High street
Porter Annie (Miss), draper & hosier, High street
Proll William, haulier & coal dealer & Crown & Sceptre P.H. High street
Pugsley Thomas, Black Lion P.H. & butcher. High street
Purse John & Harry, temperance hotel, High street
Radford Harry, blacksmith, High street
Rattenbury William Henry, chimney sweep, West end
Richards Robert. cooper, Queen street
Richman John. Edward, grocer, High street
Ridgway Arthur James M.R.C.V.S, veterinary surgeon, inspector under the "Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act" for Honiton borough & petty sessional district (D division), High street
Rockett Frederick, grocer & deputy registrar of marriages for Honiton district, High street
Rolstone Thomas, farmer, Heathfield
Rundle Henry Leslie (firm, Stamp, Dunning & Rundle), solicitor, commissioner for oaths & deputy steward of the manor of Ottery St. Mary, High street; & at O,ttery St. Mary
Russell & Son, cabinet makers, New street
Salter Frederick, baker, New street
Sanders Matilda Agnes (Mrs.), draper, High street
Sanders William, insurance agent, 2 Glen view, Church hl
Sansom Thomas Walter, seedsman. New street
Shepherd Elizabeth (Mrs.), shopkeeper, High street
Shepherd Jesse John, watch maker, silversmith & jeweller, High street
Sheppard Harry, insurance agent, Dowell street
Shortridge Thomas Wood M.D., L.R.D.P. & S.Edin. surgeon, medical officer & public vaccinator Nos. 1 & 10 districts & medical officer to the workhouse, Honiton union; Medical officer of health for Honiton borough; examiner of' army recruits & certifying factory surgeon, High street Shute Sidney & William, plumbers & painters, New street
Skinner Harry, saddler, New street
Skinner Harry Herbert, baker, New street
Skinner John, dairyman, West end
Sln.ggett William, farmer, Ottery Moore farm
Smith Edwin Hayman, baker, High street
Smith Elizabeth (Mrs.), laundress, Queen street
Smith William, wheelwright & beer retailer, Queen street
Smith William Henry, miller (water), Littletown
Sparks James, boot maker. New street
Sparks James, butcher, High street
Stamp, Dunning & Rundle, solicitors, High street; & at Ottery St. Mary
Stamp John, tailor &c.. New street
Stainp Office (John G. Bartlett, distributor), Hjgh itreet
Stanford Edward, manager of the National Provincial Bank, borough treasurer & treasurer to the union & Rural District Council, High street
Stanley William Henry, greengrocer
Stone Devonia (Miss), draper, New street
Stuart John, butcher & dairyman, King's Arms yard
Stuart William, butcher, New street
Summers Joseph,shopkeeper & marine store dlr. West end
Symes Frederick W. farmer, Roebuck
Taylor Bedford Cox,hair dresser & fancy repository,High st
Thomas Kate (Miss), dressmaker, West end
Totterdell Jane A. (Miss), dress maker, New street
Tovey William Alfred, watch & clock maker, jeweller, goldsmith & optician; wedding rings & presents a speciality, High street
Towell Henry, hair dresser & shoe maker, New street
Trace William, goods agent for the South Western Railway Company, New street
Tratt Edwin, butcher, High street
Tratt Emma (Mrs.), farmer, Lucerhayes
Tratt Frederick, farmer, Swineloose
Tratt Samuel, dairyman, Lower Blannacombe
Tucker R. & M. watch makers, High street
Tucker John M. stationer, High street
Tucker Pharez, Red Cow P.H. High street
Turner Charles, builder & contractor. West end
Tweed & Son, solicitors, New street
Tweed George Tash (firm, Tweed & Son), solicitor, perpetual oommissioner for taking acknowledgments of married women & commissioner for oaths, town clerk, clerk to borough magistrates & to school attendance committee, New street
Tweed Cyril Neville (firm, Tweed & Son), solicitor, deputy town clerk & joint clerk to borough magistrates, New st
Volunteer Battalion (3rd) Devonshire Regiment (D Co. Captain: Herbert H. Lilley; Sergeant Charles King, drill instructor; Cycle Co. Capt. W. C. Vallance); Armoury, High street; Drill hall, Dowell street
Voysey Frederick, confectioner, High street
Wallis W. Sladen, manager of the London & South Western Bank, High street
Walters Harry, draper, New street
Ward William, borough surveyor & sanitary inspector, High street
Warren Hannah (Mrs.), farmer, Middle Hills farm
Watts John, beer retailer & blacksmith, High street
Watts John, blacksmith, Queen street
Webber Albert, baker, New street & West end
Webber Annie (Mrs.), temperance hotel, New street
Webby Tom P. deputy supt. registrar, High street
White Edmund, assistant overseer, rate & water rent collector & school attendance officer, registrar of births & deaths & vaccination officer, Honiton district & market toll collector, High street
White James, farmer, Rowlev farm
White John, cowkeeper & thatcher, Littletown
Willey John, shopkeeper, New street
Wood William, plumber & painter, New street
Woram John George, butcher, High street
Yeo Sidney, cycle agent, High street

HONITON, by W.G.Hoskins, 1954

Extracted from the author's Devon with permission of the copyright holder.

HONITON is a cheerful little town, mostly of one long wide street, on the main London-Exeter road, which was its raison deter. The original settlement of" Huna's farm" may have been on the hillside to the S. of the town where the former parish church of St. Michael now stands. The valley is dotted with old farmsteads linked by narrow winding lanes, of which Coombhayes Farm (c. 1600) and Higher Blannicombe are worth seeing. Near the Sidbury road is Heathfield Farm ( 16th-cent.).

The manor came to the Earls of Devon, and William de Vernon, the 5th earl, founded a borough here between 1194 and 1217. Until 1846 Honiton was governed by a portreeve. In that year it was incorporated, and became a "mayor town." It was a parliamentary borough from 1640 to 1868, with a singularly unsavoury reputation.

Honiton is said to have been the first town in Devon in which serges were made, and there was a flourishing woollen industry here in the 17th-18th cents. It was also notable from Elizabethan times for the manufacture of a fine lace, which became especially famous under royal patronage in the 19th cent. Like most inland market towns in Devon, Honiton reached its highest population in the 1840s, but its subsequent decline was not as drastic as most, and it is a busy little place today.

Fires devastated the town in 1672, 1747, 1754 and 1765 (when 115 houses were burnt down), so that it presents the appearance to-day of a late 18th- early 19th-cent. town for the most part. The High Street is typical of a late Georgian coaching town, with a good deal of decent 18th-cent. building. The oldest house in the town is Marwood House, at the NE. end of the High Street, built in 1619 by John Marwood, physician. He was the second son of Thomas Marwood, physician to Queen Elizabeth, who enjoyed great fame as a doctor, having cured the Earl of Essex in 1592 when the best London doctors had failed to do so.

In the main street is Allhallows Chapel, used for nearly 300 years as a schoolroom. It has some 15th-cent. work, but was partly rebuilt in the 17th cent. and is now used as a local museum. The Congregational Chapel has its original 1774 building behind a later front. St. Paul's church was built 1835-8 in the Norman style by Charles Fowler.

The former parish church (St. Michael) stands on a steep hillside above the town. It is a distinguished building of late 15th-early 16th-cent. date, with large windows of clear glass, and something of the air of a cathedral. The chancel was probably rebuilt by John Takell (d. 1529) as is suggested by the inscription on two of the chancel piers. The interior was gutted by fire in 1911, when the splendid rood-screen perished, but a number of interesting memorials remain, including the tomb of Thomas Marwood the physician (d. 1617). There are fine views from the churchyard over the town to the Black- down Hills.

On the Exeter road, about 3/4 m. SW. of the town, is St. Margaret's Hospital, founded as a leper hospital at an unknown date and refounded and rebuilt c.1530 by Thomas Chard as an almshouse. Some work of this period remains.

HONITON FAIR, by Tricia Gerrish, 2004.

ORIGINAL CHARTER: 1247. Granted by Henry III to Guy de Rupe Forti, at the Feast of St Margaret (20th July) for 3 days.
1257. Another charter given by Henry IIII to Baldwin de Insula/Isabella de Fortibus for a fair on Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday of Whitsun week.


Honiton Fair is said to date from about 1221, according to ancient Rolls. Its first known charter was given to Guy de Rupe Forti in 1247 for a three day fair around the feast of St Margaret. This replaced the earlier fair, which was probably at the feast of All Hallows. A second fair was added ten years later, celebrated at Whitsun, to Baldwin de Insula - or was it to Isabella de Fortibus? Opinions differ: Lysons Magna Britannia 1822 says it was to Baldwin, but Isabella was Lady of the Manor in her own right in 1257, and heiress to the de Redvers family. Honiton’s St Margaret’s Fair moved to the Wednesday following 19th July by 1890 (White's Devon Directory). In 1995 the opening ceremonies took place on Tuesday 25th July.

Sheep, cows and calves, and horses were all traded at Honiton's fair. A cattle market was held near the King's Arms and the horse fair near White Lion Inn. On Fair Day farmers from the surrounding area paid their yearly tradesmens' bills. Business was generally brisk, although in 1904 it was almost confined to one day, with very few sheep on offer, but plenty of cows and calves, and a number of horses for sale. Messrs. Hussey & Son conducted animal auctions for Honiton fair between the beginning of the 20th century and at least 1939.

By the 1920s a waning interest was reported by the Western Morning News in cattle auctions in the market. Just before the outbreak of World War II cattle, sheep and, in addition, pigs were on offer. Honiton's Horse Fair declined, due to mechanisation in farming, from its golden days when horses could be seen showing their paces from High Street to the turnpike near Sidmouth Road junction. 1969's fair still had a livestockmarket: trading around 200 cattle, 500 sheep plus 600 lambs, 500 pigs and 50/60 cows.

Honiton Fair was proclaimed at noon. A golden glove was hoisted on a garlanded pole. The Town Crier, in tricorn hat, red waistcoat, knee breeches and buckled shoes proclaimed the following:

Oyez, oyez. The glove is up. No man shall be arrested (for debt) until the glove is taken down. God save the Queen/King!
When the crowd had repeated this Proclamation three times, a bell was rung. The Civic Party moved on to the Angel Hotel (closed in 1989), where the glove was shown, and Hot Pennies were thrown down into the street. Next port of call was the King's Arms. Here the pole and glove were attached to its balcony and more Hot Pennies cascaded down. When this inn closed, in 1975, the Angel was used to display the symbol during Honiton's cattle fair. On Thursday, glove and pole were transferred to the White Lion, at the other end of town, for the horse fair. In the 1920s the procession was extended: going from the Angel to the Star and thence to the Three Tuns before arriving at the King's Arms to deposit glove and pole and to throw Hot Pennies.

Nobody can confirm how old Honiton's Hot Penny ceremony is - nor why it came into being. It has been claimed by a former Town Crier, whose family has long associations with Honiton, that it began in the 13th century, when gentry used to throw hot chestnuts to the serfs. Other historians and experts dispute both date and reason. A former curator of Allhallows Museum (the late John Yallop) confirmed that an 1870s picture of the ceremony exists, but there is no written record of Hot Pennies from Medieval or Tudor times.

A more commonplace explanation is that rich merchants in the Angel Hotel and other inns used to heat pennies deliberately at the fire and to throw them from windows for their amusement. Anyone who has attempted to collect Honiton's Hot Pennies without thick gloves or a piece of sacking will know how painful it would have been for poor children to pick them up. Scrambling for coins, cakes and apples is a documented part of Devon’s past however, used on many ceremonial occasions and Honiton Fair may merely have adapted this. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries the custom almost fell into disuse, but was 'rescued' by a Mr Gillard, who made a generous contribution of newly-minted money, allowing it to continue.

Further ceremonies associated with Honiton Fair are mentioned during the 1930s. A press report states that a schoolboy was 'ducked' in The Leat, in Honiton's main street, by the Town Crier: 'in accordance with custom.' Ducking in a pool of water outside the Angel Hotel while penny scrambling took place is also reported at several 1930s fairs. In 1938 the Town Crier was locked up for debt in Market Hall at 11.55am on opening day, as part of ceremonial. Many local debtors believed that when the fair had been proclaimed and the glove posted they could safely leave their houses without fear of arrest. This was probably an enactment of this idea. He was duly released at noon, to play his vital part on crying and proclaiming the fair.

In 1828 there was a wife sale at Honiton Fair. Mrs Broom was sold by her husband. She was only 25 years of age, and had been married for a mere three years. Her sale was announced by the Town Crier and conducted by her husband. Bidding was brisk: starting at 2/6 (12 p) offered by a painter. It rose to 7/6 when a carpenter entered the auction, and the town's barber, hearing of the sale, abandoned his customers to raise the price by a full 8/0 in one go! Mrs Broom changed hands for £1.

The streets of Honiton must have buzzed on fair days. In past centuries troupes of dancing girls, roundabouts, boxing booths: even cages of lions were on hand for entertainment. One year a private from Honiton Militia camp challenged Jim Driscoll: later to become Feather-weight Champion of Britain, in the boxing ring. There were plenty of other fights. Once the words 'no man shall be arrested' had been proclaimed, old scores were paid off between local men. This despite the fact that the words referred only to debt. Farmers and their wives were everywhere, paying bills and enjoying hospitality provided by local tradesmen. It is said that a couple might breakfast, dine and have supper at their suppliers without parting with a penny (except to pay their bills).

In 1904, when trade was described as dwindling, the pleasure fair had become enormous. The High Street is reported full of shows and rides. So many roundabouts had booked spaces that Messrs. Hancock's Steam Horses could not find accommodation. 1928's pleasure fair took place in Streamer's Meadow, where it is reported two years later as being in decline - though business at the fair was good. A field to the South of town was used in the 1950s.

The handbell had to be dispensed with during World War II, due to wartime regulations, but Honiton Fair continued to be proclaimed, and Hot Pennies were still thrown - as they were on a very hot Fair Day in 1980. By now, Honiton's Hot Pennies ceremony had become a tourist and holiday attraction. Instead of allowing small children to scramble for pennies, others joined in. Punches and kicks were thrown, many faces were slapped, and police had to intervene in the ensuing chaos. Coins continue to be thrown from several public houses in Honiton as part of the fair’s opening ceremony. In 1997 they were dispensed from six, including the New Dolphin Inn, where the glove was hoisted by its landlord.

A revival of Town Criers in many parts of the South West has been reflected at recent fairs. Town Crier Day occupied the third day of fair. In 1997 the first ever children’s competition took place. Visiting Criers from many towns in the area try out their vocal cords in the streets of Honiton: an appropriate reminder for an old charter fair of days when the populace could not read, and relied on Criers to keep them informed of important events.

How sad to see this historic occasion billed for the last few years merely as Hot Pennies Day!

Creator: Devon Library and Information Services
Title: Honiton community page
Imprint: Exeter : Devon Library and Information Services
Date: 2004
Format: Web page : HTML
Series: Devon community web pages ; GAZHON7
Ref. no.: WEB GAZHON7
Coverage: Devon . Honiton . History . Web pages

Last Updated: 09/02/2005

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