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Devon County

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Continued from the previous page:

 

The old parish church at Torre  c.1820

The old parish church at Torre c 1820

Courtesy of Devon County Council

 

The parish church for the Torquay still lay at Torre, some way from the harbour around which the new emerging town was developing. Beeke had envisaged the construction of a new church to serve the area but found the Palk family unwilling to release any more land. It was not until 1822 with the arrival of the Rev Roger Mallock that land was obtained to build a chapel of ease behind the Terrace. This chapel of ease, known as the Torquay Chapel, became a parish church in its own right in 1871 when it was rebuilt and enlarged and renamed the Church of St John the Evangelist. It still forms a notable feature in the townscape.

 

St. John's Church, Torquay

 The Church of St John the Evangelist, Torquay

 

From our post card collection

 

Torquay’s heritage also owes a debt to Beeke for the assistance he gave to Father John MacEnery when the latter was investigating Kent’s Hole. Now more commonly known as Kent’s Cavern it is the site of the oldest known evidence of human habitation in Britain.

 

The Great Hall in Kent's Cavern

An image of the so-called Great Hall in Kent's Cavern c.1835

Courtesy of Devon County Council

 

His wider interests included botany and geology. He avidly recorded the sites of rare plants, such as the wood vetch he found “on limestone rocks near Kingsteignton”. Sadly, over a century later planners drove the course of the Kingsteignton bypass through these rocks without taking note of the important findings that Dr Beeke had recorded over a century before.

 

Chalcedony is a secondary mineral formed by the decomposition of silicates. Beeke was the first to notice deposits of this mineral in the Triassic conglomerate of Torbay and his discovery gave rise to the local find being named Beekite.

 

Henry Beeke died in Torquay on March 9th 1837. It was the year that saw the start of the Victorian Age, a period in which, due to the work started by a son of Kingsteignton, that Torquay was to bloom as the Queen of the English Riviera.

 

Tor Quay in 1825

A sketch of Tor Quay made in 1825.

 

Courtesy of Devon County Council

 

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