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Devon County

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NEWTON ABBOT, in the parish of Wolborough, is a very ancient town, situated at the head of the navigable part of the river Teign, about 7 miles from Teignmouth, and 6 miles from Torquay. It is the head of a poor law union, and is in Newton Abbot and Torquay county court district, Teignbridge petty sessional division. Haytor hundred, Eastern division of the county, Totnes archdeaconry, and Moreton rural deanery. The parish of Wolhorough-with-Newton-Abbot is a local board district, and had 6082 inhabitants (2744 males, 33.38 females) in 1871, living in 1155 houses, on 1231 acres of land ; and the neighbouring parish of Highweek which includes Newton Bushel, had 1625 inhabitants (754 males, 871 females), living in 351 houses, on 2422 acres of land.

Newton Abbot is the principal market town between Plymouth and Exeter, and during the past twenty-five years has increased very considerably in size and population. It maybe said to form one town with Newton Bushel, in the parish of Highweek, being divided from it only by the small river Lemon, which is arched over the greater part of its course through the town, and the streets and houses are so continuous that the division of the parishes is scarcely visible. A canal, about 2½ miles long, made by the father of the late George Templer, Esq., connects the navigable part of the Teign, about a mile from the town, with a railway which was made at a later period, and extends about 7 miles north-west to the Haytor granite works, whence immense quantities of granite are sent down the river, to be shipped at Teignmouth for London and other places, where it is in great request for the erection of public buildings, especially bridges, etc.


Newton Abbot - Forde House

Forde House, Newton Abbot

From our postcard collection

At the time this photograph was taken it was being used as a Guest house.


The manor of Wolborough, which belongs to the Earl of Devon, was originally given to Tor Abbey, near Torquay, by its founder, William, Lord Briwere or Brewer. Some time after the Dissolution, in the reign of James I., it was purchased by Sir Richard Reynell, whose heiress carried it in marriage to Sir William Waller, the Parliamentary General. The heiress of the latter married Sir William Courtenay, an ancestor of the Earl of Devon, the present owner. Sir Richard Reynell built Ford House, a fine specimen of an Elizabethan residence, which has been kept in its original form, and, together with its well-wooded lawn, preserved with great care. On September 15, 1625, King Charles the First came here on a visit to Sir Richard Reynell, attended by the Duke of Buckingham and other lords of his Court, and remained several days, when Sir Richard and his brother received the honour of knighthood. Newton was the first town in which the Prince of Orange made a declaration after he landed at Brixham, in 1688.

The following description, commemorating that event, is to be seen on the base of a pedestal in the centre of the town : — ' The first declaration of William III., Prince of Orange, the glorious Defender of the Protestant Reli- gion and the Liberties of England, was read on this pedestal by the Rev. John Reynell, rector of this parish, on November 5, 1688.' The prince also visited Forde House previous to his advance to Exeter. Bradley House, the property of Miss Wall, who is the lady of the manor of Highweek, is a very picturesque building of much earlier date than Forde House, portions of the 14th century work still remaining. Henry II. granted this manor to John, the son of Lucas, his butler. It was held in the 13th and 14th centuries by the Bushel family, and passed to the Yardes in the reign of Richard II. The lord of this manor had a charter for a market in 1246, and for two fairs at Bradley in 1808, which were, however, discontinued in the reign of Mary, and the market removed to the parish of Wolborough.


Newton Abbot - Bradley Manor

Newton Abbot - Bradley Manor

Once the home of the Bushel family who gave their name to Newton Bushel, the district which grew up on the north side of the river Lemon.

Fron our post card collection


The opening of the South Devon Railway in 1849 gave a great impetus to the improvement of the
town. It is the junction for Torquay and Dartmouth on the one side, and for the Moreton Hampstead district on the other. The station was erected at a considerable distance from the town, and a fine, broad road was formed to Courtenay Street, in the centre of the town. The ground has been built over on both sides, and formed into a continuous street, with rows of shops and private houses — many of them of good style and character.

The Earl of Devon, the owner of the greater part of the property on. the south-west side of the town, contributed greatly to the improvement of the neighbourhood by making new roads, and laying out his lands for building, forming the Courtenay and Ford parks, and planting various prominent points on the hills, which add to the attractiveness of the place. The builders of the district soon took advantage of this, and commenced the erection of numerous houses of various classes, from the designs of his lordship's architect, Mr. J. W. Rowell -, and, seeing their success, builders from other districts have been attracted, and the hills are now studded with detached villas a considerable distance from the town.

The prospect on the new Drive along the south side of the Wolborough Hill, by the old parish church, overlooking the Milber Down and the Kingskerswell Valley extending nearly to Torquay, is exceedingly fine  while on the west there are most magnificent views of the Bradley Woods, Haytor Rocks, and Lustleigh Cleave, with portions of Dartmoor in the distance ; and returning along the North Road a bird's-eye view is obtained of the town, Knowles' Hill studded with villas, the river Teign, with the Haldon Hills and other scenery of a most extensive and picturesque description. There are numerous walks and drives in the vicinity, and altogether it is not surprising that so large a number of residents have been attracted to the place. The facilities for boating on the river Teign, and bathing from the banks within an easy walk of the town, are duly appreciated.


Newton Abbot - St Leonard's Tower

St Leonard's Tower c. 1900

Newton Abbot

From our postcard collection


The fact that either of the two principal watering-places of the west — Torquay and Teignmouth — are within a few minutes' journey by railway, is said to be an addition to the causes which have led to the great number of persons taking up their residence here during the past few years. The town is exceedingly well- drained, and is supplied with the purest water, brought in pipes from the Hennock Hills, about 600 feet above the level of the sea. The air of the place, especially of the Wolborough and Highweek Hill districts, is very healthful and bracing ; the death-rate of the united parishes is very low, averaging only about 17 per 1000 per annum, including the union workhouse.

Newton Abbot Union comprises 39 parishes, having an aggregate population of 68,203 persons (30,140 males, 38,057 females) in 1871, living in 12,438 houses ; besides which there were at the census 825 houses unoccupied, and 115 building; the area is 117,524 acres. The population included 85 blind persons, seven of whom were blind from birth ; 34 persons were deaf an dumb 50 idiots or imbeciles (not in asylums) ; 9 lunatics (not in asylums) ; 58 persons in hospitals, and 257 in the Union workhouse. The total average annual expenditure of these parishes oh the poor during the three years preceding the formation of the union was £16,756. In 1838 it was£12,938 in 1840, £15,997 ; and for the year ended Ladyday, 1877, £23,562 Qs. 8d. The Workhouse has room for about 400 inmates. The building and furnishing cost about £13,000. The various wards, and yards,occupy nearly 2 acres, and attached to it are about 2 acres of garden ground. There are 61 elected guardians. Mr. John Alsop is the union clerk and superintendent-registrar. The Rev. F. P. J. Hendy, chaplain ; Messrs. Charles A. Tozer, Joseph Yolland, and John Foaden, relieving officers ; Mr. John Moxey, master, and Mrs Ann Mance, matron of the work- house ; Mr. J. S. Gittisham, schoolmaster ; Mrs Eliza Moxey, schoolmistress ; Mr. George Mortimore, porter ; Miss Harriet Bartlett, nurse ; and Messrs. John Sowton, William Watson, and Joseph Yolland, vaccination officers. The union is divided into thirteen medical and six registration sub-districts. Mr. James S. Bearne is registrar of births and deaths for Newton Abbot district. The Board is also the Rural Sanitary Authority,



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