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The church of St Thomas a Becket at Thorverton

The church of St Thomas â Becket, Thorverton

©Richard J. Brine


THORVERTON, a parish and large village, is pleasantly situated on the west side of the Exe valley, about 7 miles N. of Exeter, and E. by N. of Crediton. It is in Tiverton union and county court district, Cullompton petty sessional division. Northern division of the county, Hayridge hundred, Exeter archdeaconry, and Cadbury rural deanery. It had 1082 inhabitants (537 males, 545 females) in 1871, living in 256 houses, on 4036 acres of land. The parish includes the hamlets of Raddon, Yellowford or Yoldford, and many scattered houses. It has two annual fairs — one on the last Monday in February, chiefly for fat sheep ; and the other on the Monday after July 18, for lambs, of which upwards of 40,000 are frequently sold, principally for rearing. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are lords of the manor of Thorverton, and owners of 1392 acres. J. H. Hippisley, Esq., is lord of the manor of East Raddon, and owner of 1226 acres ; the Fursdon family own 624a. ; and the rest of the parish belongs to Lord Clinton and other freeholders.

The manor and church of Thorverton were given by Henry II. to St. Martin's Abbey, in Tours ; and in the farmhouse called Chapel St. Martin may be seen the remains of a Roman Catholic Chapel. The Church (St. Thomas â Becket) is a large and handsome Gothic structure, with a tower containing six bells and a clock. It was restored and redecorated at a cost of £2250 in 1864, when fine-carved oak benches were substituted for the old pews, and a new chancel and transept built ; also a new organ, by Dicker, of Exeter, added, at a cost of £130. Three of the windows have been enriched with stained glass at the expense of a late vicar (Archdeacon Freeman) and his family. In the churchyard are two handsome memorial tombs side by side, in memory of the two late vicars, Dr. Coleridge and Archdeacon Freeman. The Dean and Chapter of Exeter are appropriators of the great tithes and patrons of the vicarage, valued in K.B. at £18 12s 8½d, and in 1831 at £535, and now in the incumbency of the Rev. S. C. Clarke, M.A., who has 27 acres of glebe and a handsome residence, built in 1840, at the cost of about £1900. The great tithes were commuted in 1843 for £534, and the small tithes for £452 per annum. Westcote mentions a fine monument of the last of the Wallis family at Thorverton, inlaid with brass, which had been entirely defaced.

In the parish is a Baptist Chapel, which was built by Presbyterians in 1715, and has a school built in 1833. The Parish Land consists of 24 acres at Farringdon, purchased in 1763 with £580, which had been bequeathed by various donors for various charitable uses. It was sold in 1876 to Mr. Johnson, of Farringdon, for £2200, which was invested in the Three per Cents. The dividends (about £70) are applied as follows : two-fifths in schooling poor children at the National School (built 1841), and the remainder in money, bread and clothing among the poor parishioners. To provide petticoats for poor women of this parish Mary West left a yearly rent- charge of 35s. in 1694 out of a house in Exeter. For distribution in bread among ten poor people John West left 20s a year out of Yellowford Farm in 1728. For distribution in clothing the poor of Thorverton have £7 yearly from Grace Bampfylde's Gift. They have also £10 a year from Eliz. Tuckfield's Charity, and an annuity of 32s. 6d, left by James Burned in 1790, out of Ridgeman's tenement. The dividends of £333 Three per Cent. Consols, left by Mr. William Reynolds, of Exeter, are distributed among twenty poor persons on St. Thomas's-day, and thirty poor persons have £3 a year left by Mr. Robert Skinner in 1866.

Post, Money Order and Telegraph Office and Savings Bank at Mr. Wm. L. Oummings'. Letters are received at 7.30 a.m. and are despatched at 6.40 p.m.


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