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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Continued from the previous page:

Despite the calls for his advice from the corridors of power, Beeke still maintained his connections with the spiritual side of life. In 1814 he succeeded Dr Parsons to the deanery of Bristol and in 1819 was instituted into the vicarage of Weare, Somerset.

Whilst the influence of Henry Beeke’s “temporary” tax still leaves its indelible print on the nation, his influence has also left its mark on a more local level in the development of what was a small fishing village some eight miles from his birthplace. It is to Beeke that Torquay owes its transformation from fishing village into a fashionable 19th century resort.


The village of Torquay in 1700

Torquay in 1700

In the centre of the picture, what appears to be a lane leads straight into the sea - this is, in fact, not a lane but the Fleet (aka Flete) Stream.


He became acquainted with the Palk family when raising concerns of inhabitants of Torquay about its new pier. Beeke was convinced that state of the harbour area put the work done on the new pier in danger. The pier had been built to a plan drawn up by John  Rennie but the work had been carried out unsupervised and had suffered damage by storms. Beeke suggested that a much larger harbour be built and a new pier constructed. The Palk family were initially reluctant to spend any more money on the harbour but Beeke’s persuasive arguments carried the day and he was entrusted with the direction of the work. He made alterations to the plan and brought it to a successful conclusion in 1815.


Torquay Harbour seen from the Pier  c.1840

This is the harbour that Henry Beeke persuaded the Palk family to build for Torquay. The view is from the Pier Head around 1840.

Courtesy of Devon County Council


When Sir Lawrence Palk died in 1813 it was Henry Beeke that his son Lawrence Vaughan Palk turned to for advice in managing the Torwood Estate. His first project for Palk land saw the building of five new houses in Park Place, where he decided to take up residence himself.


It was essential to get the co-operation of the other great landowning family, the Carys, to free up land for development in Torquay. Beeke sought and obtained the assistance of William Kitson, land agent for the Cary Estate and Harveys, a firm of builders, in developing the central area of the town along the course of the River Flete.


Perhaps the most prominent development he was involved in was that of The Terrace. Perched on the hillside above the harbour, it has splendid views across to Berry Head.


Torquay viewed from The Terrace  c.1830

Torquay viewed from The Terrace c. 1830

Courtesy of Devon County Council



The text on this page is the copyright property of Richard Harris



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