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OTTERY ST MARY

From White's Devonshire Directory of 1850

OTTERY ST. MARY is an ancient and irregularly built market town, of about 3500 inhabitants, picturesquely seated on the east side of the river 0tter, sheltered on the east and west by boldly swelling hills, and distant 11½ miles E. by N. of Exeter, 15 miles S.E. of Tiverton, 6 miles N. by E. of Sidmouth, and 162 miles W.S.W. of London. Its Parish had only 2415 inhabitants in 1801, but in 1831 they had encreased to 3849, and in 1841 to 4194 souls, residing in the town, and in the seven tithings of Alphington, Cadhay, Fluxton, Rill, Tipton, and Wiggaton, which extend from one to three miles on all sides of the town, and on both sides of the Otter valley, but chiefly on the eastern side, where the hills rise in lofty summits, overlooking the Sid valley on the east, and commanding extensive views of the coast and the English Channel about six miles to the south. The parish includes also the hamlets of Taleford, Combelake, and Metcombe, and many scattered farm houses. &c. It comprises 9944A. 2R. 4P. of land, and forms a hundred of itself, in the Southern Division of Devon, in Honiton Union and Polling and County Court District; in Woodbury Petty Sessional Division; and in the Archdeaconry of Exeter and Deanery of Aylesbeare. The manor and hundred, which are co-extensive with the parish, were given by Edward the Confessor to the Dean and Chapter of Rouen, who obtained a charter for a market and a fair here in 1226. The weekly market, formerly held on Tuesday, is now held on Thursday, for butchers' meat and other provisions; and there are great markets for cattle, &c., on the first Thursdays in February, and December. Here, are also three annual fairs for cattle, &c., or the Tuesday before Whit Sunday; and on the 15th of August, when it falls on the Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, or if not, on the Tuesday after the 15th. The town has an Agricultural and Industrial Association, and several good inns, and shops. It had formerly a regular cornmarket. The woollen manufacture which formerly flourished here is extinct, but there is in the town a large silk factory, employing, about 400 hands. Petty Sessions are held at the London Tavern on the third Thursday of each alternate month, and Messrs. F.G. Coleridge and Son are clerks to the magistrates for Woodbury Division. F.J. Coleridge, Esq., is clerk, and Mr. C.D. Mayne deputy clerk to the Commissioners of Taxes for East Budleigh and Cliston District, who meet alternately at the Red Lion Inn and London Tavern. Francis Geo. Coleridge, Esq., is inspector of police and steward of the court leet and baron, held yearly for the manor of Ottery in October, when an inspector of weights and measures, a water bailiff, ale taster, scavenger, and other officers are appointed. Sir John Kennaway, Bart., of Escot House, is lord of the manor, but a great part of the parish belongs to Sir Thos. Hare, Bart., Sir F.H. Bathurst, the Coleridge family, the Rev. Dr. Cornish, R.J. Marker, and many other freeholders. The ancient mansions called Holcombe, Knightstone, and Bishop's Court, are now farm houses. Heath's Court is the country residence of the Hon. Justice Coleridge; and Salston House is the pleasant seat of the Rt. Rev. Wm. H. Coleridge, formerly Bishop of Barbadoes, &c. Cadhay, an imposing Elizabethan mansion, is the property of Sir Thos. Hare, and was the seat of the property of Admiral Lord Graves, who died in 1802, but it is now occupied by John Collins, Esq. Gosford House is the residence of Sir H.A. Farrington, Bart. Sir Walter Raleigh had a residence in the town, but it was destroyed by fire in 1805; and Saml. T. Coleridge, the eminent poet, was born here in 1772, his father being vicar of the parish. During the early part of the civil wars, Ottery was occupied by the King's forces, who retreated on the approach of Sir Thos. Fairfax, in October, 1645. After having been quartered some time round Exeter, General Fairfax made Ottery his head quarters from Nov. 15th to Dec. 6th in the same year.

John Grandison, bishop of Exeter, having obtained the manor of Ottery in exchange, in 1335, founded here in 1337 a College of secular priests, and endowed it with the manor and the tithes of the parish. This College consisted of 30 members, comprising warden, minister, precentor, sacristar, four canons, eight vicars choral or priest vicars, three priests, twelve clerks, eight choir boys, and a master of grammar. When suppressed in the 37th of Henry VIII., its yearly revenues were estimated at £303. 2s. 9d.; but the same property would now yield £10,000 per annum. The King gave the great tithes of the parish to the Dean and Canons of Windsor, to whom they still belong, and by his letters patent he gave the church, the college houses, and the small tithes to "the Church Corporation" thereby created under the name of the four Governors and Assistants of the hereditaments and goods of the Church of St. Mary, of Ottery, for the support of the vicar, the chaplain, and the master of the grammar school, as afterwards noticed, The Church is one of the largest and handsomest parochial churches in the county, and is undergoing a thorough reparation. On each side is a square, tower, opening into the body, and forming two transepts, as in Exeter Cathedral. The towers are furnished with pinnacles and open battlements, and that on the north side is crowned by a small spire. At the north west corner is a richly ornamented chapel, built by Bishop Grandison; the roof of which is covered with highly wrought, fan-shaped tracery. The altar screen is of stone, finely carved into niches and tabernacle work, and on the south side of the communion table are three stone seats rising one above another. Most of the windows are narrow and lancet shaped. In the body of the church, between two pillars, arched pyramidally, is the effigy of a man cut in stone, armed cap-a-pie, with a lion couchant at his feet; and opposite to this is the defaced effigy of a woman. These monuments have been long obscured by seats, and are supposed to have been raised in memory of the father and mother of Bishop Grandison. The discharged vicarage, valued in K.B. at £20, and in 1831 at £150, is in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor, and incumbency of the Rev. S.W. Cornish, D.D., who is also head master of the Grammar School. He is assisted by the Rev. R.H. Podmore, M.A., the chaplain priest, appointed by the four Governors of the Church Corporation trust, afterwards noticed. The great tithes of this large parish were commuted in 1845 for £995. 15s. per annum; and moduses, amounting to £250. 12s. 10d. per annum, are paid in lieu of the small tithes. TIPTON ST. JOHN'S, in Tipton tithing, is a district church, about two miles S. of the town, and was built by subscription in 1837-8. It is in the Early English style, with a bell turret, and its perpetual curacy, valued at £80, is in the gift of the Vicar, and incumbency of the Rev. A.A. Hunt, M.A. St. Michael's Chapel of Ease, in Fluxton tithing, on West hill, about 1½ mile S.W. of the town, was built by subscription in 1845-6. It is a neat structure, with stained glass windows, and is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Vicar, and incumbency of the Rev. H.B. Lott. Alphington District Church (St. James) in Alphington tithing, about 1½ mile N.E. of the town, was built in 1848-9 by the Hon. Justice Coleridge, and is in the patronage of the Vicar, and incumbency of the Rev. H.J. Coleridge, M.A. Escot District Church (St. Philip and St. James) is in Gosford tithing, about 1½ mile N.N.W. of the town, and was built by its patron Sir J. Kennaway, Bart., in 1837-8 at the cost of about £3000, for a district comprising part of this and part of Talaton parish, as noticed at page 298. It stands near Escot House, the seat of the founder, and is a beautiful structure of Early English architecture, with a turret and bell. Its perpetual curacy, valued at £75, has been endowed by the founder, and is in the incumbency of the Rev. F.T. Hill. In the town is an Independent and also a Wesleyan Chapel, the former of which belonged to Presbyterians in 1715. Here is a Mutual Improvement Society, embracing a numerous list of members. The parish has several valuable Charities and Public Schools, as noticed below.

OTTERY FEOFFEE CHARITY, which yields about £600 per annum, is in two branches called the 0ttery and Somersetshire Trusts. The former comprises 220A. of land and 22 houses, in this parish, left by John Lawrence, in 1440; and the latter consists of two houses and 73A. of land at Ilton, Ashill, and Abbot's Isle, in Somersetshire, left by Henry Beaumont,in 1590. Formerly a large part of the income was improperly applied in aid of the poor rates, but it is now distributed among the poor parishioners, chiefly in sums varying from £1 to £2 to each individual or family. The present Feoffees are Thomas Glanville, the Rt. Rev. W.H. Coleridge, the Rev. S.W. Cornish, J.E. Lee, J. Dening, A.E. Salter, and Rd. Dening.

The CHURCH CORPORATION TRUST includes part of property which had belonged to the College of St. Mary Ottery, and which was vested by letters patent in the 37th of Henry VIII, with "four governors" and assistants, for the support of the church and parsonage, and of a vicar, a chaplain-priest, and a schoolmaster. The only property vested with the four governors and seven assistants, which yields an income, consists of the small tithes of the parish and the pews in the chancel, yielding about £100 per annum; but they also hold the houses and premises occupied by the vicar and schoolmaster, and the chaplain. They pay the following yearly stipends,- £20 to the vicar, £21 to the chaplain-priest, and £10 to the schoolmaster. They are also trustees of Thomas Axe's Charity, left in 1691, and now producing about £150 per annum, arising from the rents of two houses in Southwark, and from the dividends of £1426. 5s. 10d. three per cent. stock, purchased with £900 which was paid for three houses taken down in 1790. Out of the income, £8. 8s. each are paid yearly to the vicar, chaplain, schoolmaster, and parish clerk; and £8. 8s. to buy drugs for the poor. Three-twelfths of the rest of the income are given in marriage portions to young people who have lived as servants in the parish, and are qualified according to the donor's will; and the remainder is distributed among the poor parishioners. The Blandford Property, which was left by Thomas Axe, the above named donor, in trust with his "right heirs," has been many years under the management of the Governors or the Church Corporation Trust, and consists of a house, three cottages and land at Blandford, let for £55 per annum, of which 9-12ths belong to the parish clerk; and 3-12ths are to be applied in providing medical and surgical aid for the poor. As noticed with Exeter, three poor persons of Ottery have coats, hats, stockings, and shoes, yearly from Jeffrey's Charity. The vicar has £23 a year from land, supposed to have been left by John Barnard, in 1721, for preaching a monthly sermon previous to the administration of the sacrament. Pursuant to the will of Wm. Evans, (dated 1777,) the trustees of the Independent Meetinghouse, distribute the interest of £100 as follows,- £2 to their minister, and £3 among poor weavers, &c. The poor attending the church regularly have £2 a year as the interest of £50 left by Dorothea Mundy, in 1807, secured on the tolls of the Exeter turnpikes. In the same year, Wm. Woodrow left £100 in trust to pay half the interest towards the support of the church Sunday School, and to divide the remainder among the poor parishioners. Half of £48. 15s. 8d. bequeathed to the poor in 1816, by Mary Kestell, was applied in 1820 in paying the legacy duty on £400, four per cent. stock, left by the Rev. James How, in 1817, for the benefit of the Sunday School. The Trustees, called the Church Corporation, now consist of Wm. Warren, Thomas Davy, John E. Lee, and John Dening, governors; and S. Wreford, J. Collins, A.E. Salter, J. Yelverton, Rt. Warren, W.T. Thomas, and T. Burgoin, assistants.

The Grammar School, commonly called "THE KING'S SCHOOL, as already noticed, forms part of the Church Corporation Trust, the governors of which appoint the master, and allow him £10 a year and the free use of the school premises and a field. He has also 200s. a year as the ground rent of a house adjoining the school. This house will revert to the school in 1807, and is supposed to occupy the site of a tenement given by Edmund Prideaux in 1680. The schoolmaster receives £8. 9s. yearly from Axe's Charity, as already noticed; and about £21 per annum as the rent of 19A. of land at Whimple, bequeathed in the 17th of Charles II. by Edward Salter, to be applied towards the support of poor boys from this school at Oxford, or, in default of such, for the education of two free scholars of this parish. All the other boys pay for their instruction, and the master takes boarders, for which he has ample accommodation in his residence called the College. The Vicar is the present master, and has two assistants. In the town is a highly respectable commercial boarding school, conducted by Mr. Reed. Here is likewise a large Parochial School, and also a British School, both partly supported by subscription; and there are small Church Schools, &c., in other parts of the parish.

Brian Randell, 7 Mar 1999