A Topographical Dictionary of England
Samuel Lewis (1831)
Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)
DAWLISH, a parish in the hundred of EXMINSTER, county of DEVON, 2¾ miles (N.N.E.) from East Teignmouth, containing 2700 inhabitants. This place, at the time of the Norman survey, in which it is noticed under the name Doelis, was an appendage to the see of Exeter; it was an inconsiderable fishing town prior to 1790, about which time the salubrity of its air, the pleasantness of its situation, and the beauty of its environs, made it the resort of invalids, for whose accommodation preparations were progressively made, in proportion to the increase of the visitors, and it is now a fashionable watering-place. The town is beautifully situated in a valley open to the sea on one side, and sheltered on the other by rising grounds in a rich state of cultivation. Ranges of modern houses occupy three sides of a quadrangular area sloping from the shore, tastefully laid out, and intersected by a stream called Dawlish water, which rises in Haldon, an extensive waste adjoining, and after traversing the village, where it is crossed by three bridges for carriages, fails into the sea. The streets are roughly paved, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water from springs. On the beach are the baths, neatly built of brick, near which are a library, reading- room, and billiard and assembly-rooms; an annual regatta is celebrated generally in August. The environs afford some pleasant walks and rides; the towering cliffs which overhang the sea give an air of grandeur to the scenery, which is finely contrasted with the rich fertility of the vale, and the luxuriant foliage of the woodcrowned heights. A great quantity of mackerel is occasionally taken- on the coast; potatoes are extensively cultivated for exportation to Newfoundland, and cider is made in abundance from the orchards which are attached to the farms in the parish. Mines of cobalt have been discovered in the vicinity. It is in contemplation to erect a market-house by subscription, for the supply of the inhabitants; a pleasure fair is held annually on Easter-Monday.
The living is a vicarage, with the curacy of East Teignmouth, rated in the king's books at £25. 5., and in the peculiar jurisdiction and patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter. The church, dedicated to St. Gregory, was rebuilt in 1824, at an expense of £4000; it is a handsome and commodious edifice in the later style of English architecture, with a square embattled tower crowned with pinnacles, the only part remaining of the original structure. At Sedwell and Cofton, hamlets in this parish, are the remains of. two ancient chapels; the latter has been disused since 1715, and a grant obtained for rebuilding it, in 1834, has, with the consent of the vicar, been transferred to the parish of Kenton, where a district chapel has been erected. There are places of worship for Independents and Methodists. A National school is supported by subscription; and there are societies for clothing the poor and affording them medical relief. An old house near the churchyard, with walls of extraordinary thickness, is said to have been formerly a monastery.