Brixham St Mary
A Topographical Dictionary of England
Samuel Lewis (1831)
Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)
BRIXHAM, a sea-port, market-town, and parish, in the hundred of HAYTOR, county of DEVON, 27¾ miles (S.) from Exeter, and 198 (W. S. W.) from London, containing 4503 inhabitants. This town, at which William, Prince of Orange, landed on the 5th of November, 1688, is pleasantly situated near the southern extremity of Torbay, on the west side; it is irregularly built, but contains many good houses, several of which are erected on the cliffs projecting above the harbour. The inhabitants are amply supplied with water; the air is salubrious, the environs pleasant, and its vicinity to the well-frequented bathing-place, Torquay, renders it desirable as a place of residence. The port, which is member of the port of Dartmouth, carries on a considerable coasting trade, in which one hundred and twenty vessels, of from sixty to one hundred and fifty tons' burden, are employed. The harbour, consisting of two basins, communicating with each other, is safe and commodious; the outer basin has been recently formed, by the erection of a second pier, at the expense of £5300, raised by the inhabitants. During spring tides the water rises to the height of twenty-four feet at the pier-head. There are one hundred and five vessels, of from twenty to forty-five tons' burden, and sixty-four smaller boats,, engaged in the fishing trade, which is carried on to a considerable extent: the fish caught are chiefly turbot and soles, for the supply of the London, Bath, and Exeter markets. The trade of the town has derived considerable increase from this being the rendezvous of men of war, which lay in their supply of water at this port: a considerable number of shops has been established on the shore, for the sale of slops and other articles. There are some extensive quarries of marble in the vicinity. The market days are Thursday and Saturday, established under the authority of an act of parliament passed in 1799: it is in contemplation to erect a new market-house. The fair is on Whit-Tuesday and the two following days.
The parish is divided into Higher and Lower Brixham: the living is a discharged vicarage, with, the perpetual curacies of Churston-Ferrers and Kingswear annexed in the archdeaconry of Totness, and diocese of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £52. 15., and in the patronage of the Crown. The church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and situated in Higher Brixham, is an ancient structure, containing some interesting monuments, among which is the cenotaph of the late Judge Buller: it has lately received an addition of eight hundred sittings, seven hundred of them, free, the Incorporated Society for the enlargement of churches and chapels having granted £700 for that purpose. The chapel at Lower Brixham was erected by subscription among the inhabitants, aided by a grant of £1200 from the parliamentary commissioners; it is a neat building, in the English style of architecture, and contains three hundred free sittings. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists. A National school, founded by the society, has been incorporated with an older establishment, endowed in 1634, and also in 1692: the master has a house and garden, with a salary of about £60 per annum: two schoolrooms have been built near his dwelling, by subscription, wherein about four hundred children of both sexes are instructed. At Higher Brixham is Lay Well, the water of which ebbs and flows about nine times in an hour; the variation is about an inch and a quarter. Some ancient coins were found, in 1730, on Bury Head, which is said to have been the site of a Roman fortress.