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It's 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 centuries.


But 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. 

Soon, 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.

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