fairly safe to say that right up to the present time, there has been very
little turbulence in the Manor of Zeal since King Canute gave it away to
the monks of Buckland Abbey to incorporate into their estates thus gaining
it the additional title "Monachorum".
In the mid 19th century it was what it has always been - a quiet and
peaceful backwater where life had gone on in the same old way for
down on the main turnpike road between Exeter and Okehampton at Bow,
dozens of coaches a week thundered by, carrying the Royal Mail and
passengers through to Dorchester and by connection, from there to London.
To the east, a new turnpike road was being built linking Crediton with
Bideford, with a branch to South Molton and, as more stage coach routes
went on the road, Devon began to open up.
even the stage coaches were made obsolete by the coming of the railways to
this area. A broad-gauge track between Exeter and Barnstaple was completed
in 1854. By the late 1860s, a brisk tramp over the hills would bring you
to Morchard Road Station from where it was possible to travel rather
slowly, but directly, to Waterloo.
The golden age of Victorian technology was underway - but not in Zeal
Monachorum. Many of the young men growing up there, and then, could see
that the only way to be part of these exciting times was to leave the
village behind them and go where the railways were going - to London.
here to continue the story