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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Parish Records




War Memorials




SALCOMBE, a small seaport town, fishing station, and ecclesiastical district formed in 1844, out of Malborough parish, had 1913 inhabitants (829 males, 1084 females) in 1871, living in 410 houses, on 1300 acres.It is pleasantly and picturesquely situated on the western creek of the estuary, which runs up to Kingsbridge, and sends out several creeks from each side. It is considered the warmest place on the S.W. coast, as oranges, lemons, and American aloes bloom in the open air, in the pleasure-grounds of Woodcot and the Moult. To the lovers of coast scenery, there are many wild and romantic spots between Prawle Point, on the east, and Bigbury bay on the west. Crabs, lobsters, and other fish are caught here. The sea cliffs rise in rocky grandeur westward from Bolt head, varying in height from 50 to upwards of 400 feet. Between Bolt head and Salcombe, in the haven mouth, are two coves, where the trees of a submerged forest are found under the sands, at the depth of two to three feet, and perfect hazel leaves and nuts have sometimes been dug up. It is the out-port of Kingsbridge, to which passenger boats ply daily. The entrance to the harbour is protected on the west by the bold promontory of Bolt Head, and on the east by Prawle Point. The haven has safe anchorage for about 200 ships, and vessels of 200 tons go up to Kingsbridge. It is often used as a harbour of refuge, and foreign vessels sometimes land their mail bags here.

Since it has been a port of registry, larger vessels have been built, and now trade all over the world. The imports are chiefly coal, culm*, groceries, foreign fruit, &c. ; and many of the vessels built here are employed in bringing fruit, &c., from the Mediterranean, for which trade they are admirably adapted. The exports are corn, flour, malt, cider, potatoes, slate, &c. Here is a Custom House. Captain W. H. Webbe, is principal officer, and Mr. R. L. Hurrell, tide-waiter. Lieutenant W. J. Balfour Ogilvy is inspecting commander of the coastguard, and Mr. T. Jenkins, officer-in-charge. The life boat was presented by R. Durant, Esq., of Sharpham, at a cost of £700. The boat house is on the South Sands : Mr. W. Cheffer is cockswain. At Hope Cove is the 'Alexandra' life boat, one of the two which were presented to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution by the Freemasons, as a thank offering for the safe return of the Prince of Wales from his Indian journey.

*Cuilm is a soft, sooty coal-like material which occurs in the geological formation known as the Culm Measures. It was used by poor people in Devon and Cornwall who could not afford coal but was no real substitute.


Salcombe Castle painted in 1907

The ruins of Salcombe Castle painted in 1907


Salcombe Castle was a strong fort, built for the defence of the harbour, about a quarter of a mile
below the town, upon a rock which is insulated at high water, and sheltered behind by lofty rocky cliffs. There are still large remains of this bulwark, and the walls of the north-west angle are forty feet high, and about six feet thick. At the commencement of the civil wars of the 17th century, this castle was repaired at the cost of £3000, and Sir Edmund Fortescue was appointed governor for the king. After having sustained two other sieges, it was summoned by General Fairfax, on January 23, 1645, and after a siege of nearly four months, it surrendered on honourable terms to Colonel Weldon, governor of Plymouth; the garrison being allowed to march with their governor to his mansion of Fallapit. The castle key is still preserved in the family of the Fortescues.

Salcombe market is held on Fridays ; and there is a pleasure fair on Whit Tuesday. The market house was built in 1848, at the cost of £600, and has a public room over the hall, and belongs to the market house and public room company, which was established in 1847: Mr. S. Pearce is secretary. The Salcombe Shipping Association was formed in 1831 to insure the ships belonging to the port against total loss, Mr S. Pearce is secretary. The Gas Company (lim.), was incorporated in 1866. Mr. S. Pearce is the secretary.

The old Chapel at Salcombe, which was licensed by the bishop in 1401, had been 'gone to decay some centuries in 1801, when it was rebuilt, chiefly at the expense of John Yates; Esq., of Woodville. It was afterwards augmented with Queen Anne's Bounty, but being too small for the greatly increased population it has given place to a new Church (Holy Trinity), a handsome fabric, in the Lancet style of the 13th century, erected by subscription and grants in 1843, at a cost of £2605 ; it consists of chancel, nave aisles organ gallery, and small tower containing one bell. The East window is filled with stained glass, and was given by the Earl of Devon. The Register dates from 1843. The living is a vicarage, valued at £125, in the patronage of the Earl of Devon, and incumbency of the Rev. Maitland Kelly, M.A. There is a vicarage house, but no glebe.


The Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1849, at a cost of £391, in lieu of one erected in 1824; side galleries were added and other improvements effected in 1861, at an expense of £115- the chapel accommodates 500 persons. The Baptist Chapel was erected in 1871 at a cost of over £1000  on a site given by the Earl of Devon. The Rev. C. Evans is minister, and he is also pastor of Malborough  church. The Plymouth Brethren have a commodious place of worship in Folly Lane, and the Catholic Apostolic Church a meeting-room in Lower Street. The National Schools at Allinghays were built in 1847 and 1875, the girls' school being added in the latter year. The Infant School was built in 1861, and a class room added in 1873. The Burial Board was formed on August 9, 1877 : it consists of 7 members ; the Rev. M. Kelly is chairman and treasurer, and Mr. J. Fairweather is secretary. A cemetery is about to be formed.


Mr. S. Pearce is the honorary secretary of the Shipwrecked Mariners' Society. Salcombe Artillery Volunteer Corps (10th company of 2nd Administrative Brigade) has quarters here; W. H. Webb, Esq., is captain ; J. H. Hill and T. Sladen, lieutenants ; and Mr. William Lee, drill instructor. The Harbour Commissioners are the Earl of Devon Cpresident), R. Hurrell, Esq. (chairman), and Messrs. J. Lidstone, P. O. Hingston, W. Beer, H. Grant, R. H. Sladen, and J. Harnden. G. B. Lidstone, Esq., is secretary, and Mr. J. H. Hill, harbour master.

Post, Money Order, Telegraph, Government Annuity, and Insurance Office, and Savings' Bank,
is at Mr. Edward Cole's, Buckley. Letters are received at 8.15 a.m., and despatched at 4.20 p.m. week days, and 11.45 a.m. Sundays, via Kingsbridge. Money Order, Annuity and Insurance business is transacted from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday to 8 p.m. The Telegraph Office is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. week days, and 8 to 10 a.m. Sundays. There is one delivery of letters daily, at 9 a.m.


Salcombe from East Portlemouth
Salcombe from East Portlemouth c.1930



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