(& Westwater & Wyke)
A Topographical Dictionary of England
Samuel Lewis (1831)
Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)
AXMINSTER, a parish in the hundred of AXMINSTER, county of DEVON, comprising the market town of Axminster, and the tythings of Beerhall, Westwater, and Wyke, and containing 2742 inhabitants, of which number, 1703 are in the town of Axminster, 25 miles (E. by N.) from Exeter, and 147 (W. S. W.) from London, on the road to Exeter. The name of this place is derived from its situation near the river Axe, and from a minster founded here by King Athelstan. In the time of the Saxons it was a town of considerable importance, and the burial-place of many of their princes. In 1644, a conflict took place in the vicinity, between the royalists and the parliamentarians, in which Sir Richard Cholmondeley, who commanded the former, was slain. The town, which is irregularly built, is pleasantly situated on the summit of a hill, near the confluence of the rivers Axe andYarty, over the former of which a bridge has been erected: the streets, which are spacious, and contain some respectable houses, are well paved and lighted, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water from several good springs. Races are held in August at Shute-hill, three miles distant; and there are assemblies occasionally at the George hotel. The manufacture of carpets, which has been established for nearly a century, is still conducted by the family of the original proprietor, and affords employment to about a hundred men: the carpets are considered superior in beauty and durability to those of Turkey; one lately made for the Emperor of Russia measured seventy-three feet by forty-five and cost £1200: there are also manufactories for plush and tape. The market is on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday: the fairs are on the first Tuesday after April 25th, the first Wednesday after June 24th, and the first Wednesday after October 21st. Courts leet and baron are held annually by the lord of the manor, at the former of which constables and other officers are appointed.
The living is a vicarage, with the perpetual curacies of Kilmington and Membury annexed, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £44. 6. 8., and in the patronage of the Chancellor in the Cathedral Church of York: there is also a sinecure rectory, rated at £40. 6. 8., belonging to the Prebendary of Warthill in the same cathedral. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient structure, partaking of various styles of architecture: the entrance is under a fine Norman arch richly moulded; the interior is of the early English style, with later insertions; and the pulpit and reading-desk are curiously carved. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Roman Catholics. Twelve poor children are instructed in the parochial school, for the amount of divers benefactions made for that purpose. About a mile and a half south of the town, on the bank of the river Axe, are the remains of Newnham abbey, consisting of the chapel, kitchen, and other parts; and, at the distance of three miles, are the ruins of Musbury Castle.
WESTWATER, a tything in the parish of AXMINSTER, and hundred of AXMINSTER, county of DEVON, 2 miles (N. W.) from Axminster, containing 357 inhabitants.
WYKE, a tything in the parish of AXMINSTER, and hundred of AXMINSTER, county of DEVON, containing 351 inhabitants.