From William White's History, Gazetteer & Directory of Devon, 1850
Transcribed by Caroline <tilburycm <AT> netscape.net>
"CULLUMPTON or Cullompton, is an ancient market town, consisting chiefly of one long street, pleasantly situated on the west side of the river Culm, and the Bristol and Exeter Railway; 11 miles N.E. by N. of Exeter; 6 miles S.E. by E. of Tiverton; 12 miles S.W. of Wellington, and 160 miles S.W. by W. of London. Its parish contains 3909 inhabitants, and 8103 acres of fertile land, rising boldly from the Culm valley, and including the scattered houses and the hamlets of Langford, Mutterton, Ponsford, Weaver, Colebrooke and East Butterleigh, extending more than two miles on all sides of the town. The surface is picturesquely broken into hill and dale, and the soil belongs to many freeholders, the largest of whom are the Countess of Egremont, and Bethel Walrond, Richard Hall Clarke, Robert Pring Crosse, and Daniel Bishop Sellwood, Esqrs.
The town suffered severely in 1839, from a dreadfiel fire, which destroyed about 100 houses and cottages, most of which were covered with that dangerous material, straw thatch. Since this calamity the town has been much improved, and the sites of the old houses thus destroyed have been occupied by neat buildings, with slated roofs.
It is a polling place for the Northern Division of Devon, and the head of a large Petty Sessional Division, for which the county magistrates hold petty sessions here monthly, and sometimes twice a month. A Court House, with a lock-up, was built by subscription in 1849, at the cost of about £400.
The market held every Saturday, is well supplied with provisions, and on the first Saturday of every month here is a "great market" for cattle, &c. Here are also two annual fairs on the first Wednesday in May and November. The town formerly enjoyed a large share of the woollen manufacture, but here is now only one large serge and blanket manufactory, belonging to Mr. W. Upcott, of Shortlands. There are in the parish and neighbourhood, several large paper and corn mills, and in the town is the West of England Church Bell Foundry, established in 1746, and still in high repute.
The manor of Collumpton was bequeathed by King Alfred to his son Ethelward, and was granted by Richard I. to Richard de Clifford. It afterwards passed to the Earls of Devon, one of whom granted the town a market and fair, in 1278. Elizabeth de Fortibus, Countess of Devon, granted the manor to Buckland Abbey, and after the dissolution, it passed successively to the St. Leger, Risdon, Hellersdon, Colman and Sweet families. The manor of Langford, was anciently held by the Langfords, the last of whom gave it to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. The manor of Bole Aller blongs to the Dean and Chapter of Exeter; and that of Bradfield to B. Walrond, Esq. That of Moorhayes belongs to Mr. J. M. Blackmore; and Chalvedon or Chaldon to Mr. E. Baker. King's-mill, formerly the residence of Lord Chief Justice Pratt, now belongs to Mr. Rd. Mortimore. Hillersdon House, a large and handsome mansion, built in 1849, is the seat of W. C. Grant, Esq.
The Church (St. Andrew) is a large and handsome Gothic structure, mostly erected in the 15th century, and consisting of a nave, three aisles and a chancel, with a lofty tower, containing eight musical bells, and crowned at each corner by tall and elaborately carved pinnacles. The interior is decorated with a richly carved and gilt roof. A gorgeous screen and rood loft divide the nave and chancel; and on the south side is a spacious and handsome aisle, erected in 1526 '8, by John Lane an eminenet woollen cloth manufacturer, and having on the outside a long inscription and emblems of the founder's trade. The windows in this aisle are large, and the roof is ornamented with rich fan-shaped tracery. In the chancel, chaste and judicious renovations and improvements were made some years ago, and the new east window, then introduced, is enriched with brilliant stained glass. The nave and aisles were thoroughly cleansed and newly seated in 1849, at the cost of about £1000, raised by subscription, and a parochial rate of £300. W. C. Grant, Esq., gave £100 towards this necessary restoration. On scraping the walls they were found to be covered with paintings in distemper, some of which are fine speciments of mediaeval art, and others of later date. Dugdale says, William the Conqueror gave the collegiate church of Collumpton, with it five prebends of Colebrooke, Hineland, Waevre, Esse, and Upton, to Battle Abbey, in Sussex; but it was afterwards bestowed on St. Nicholas's Priory, Exeter. There was a Guild of St. Nicholas here, which was value[ ] at the dissulution at £5. 7s. 2d. per annum. Queen Elizabeth granted the rectory and the advowson of the vicarage to Robert Freke and John Walker. The impropriate rectory afterwards passed in moieties, but the great tithes were purchased by the land owners about 40 years ago. There was anciently a chapel of ease at Langford. The vicarage, valued in K.B. at £47. 4s. 2d., has a good residence, 13A. 3R. 1P. of glebe, and a yearly rent-charge of £413, awarded in lieu of tithes in 1842. The Rev. Wm. Sykes, M.A., is patron and incumbert. The Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Unitarians, have chapels here; and the town has a Mental Improvement Society, established in 1849, and a Farmers' Club, supported by a numerous list of subscribers. A large National School for about 200 children, was established more than thirty years ago, and the parish has various Charitable Funds, as noticed below. Here is also a branch of the Exeter Savings' Bank, for which Mr. A. Gribble is receiver.
For distribution in bread and money, the poor parishioners have about £21 yearly, arising as follows:- £2. 12s. left by Sir John Acland, in 1616, and paid by the corporation of Exeter; about £10 as the rent of 6A. of land, purchased with £100 left by John Manning, in 1617; £5. 10s. is the rent of an orchard, left by Wm. Bone, in 1620; and an anuity of £2. 12s. left by John Hill, as noticed with Bradninch. In 1624, GEORGE SPICER left £300, to be laid out in land, &c., and the yearly proceeds applied in apprenticing poor children of this parish, and in presenting them with £5 each at the end of their apprenticeships. There is now belonging to this charity a farm of about 45 acres, let for £80, and about £250 vested at interest. The clear yearly income is applied, according to the donor's will, for the benefit of about 16 boys yearly. In 1632, £150, given to the poor of Collumpton, for providing shirts and shifts, was laid out in the purchase of a fourth part of an estate of 20A. called White Heathfield. This charity yields about £5 per annum. In 1657, Peter Atkins left a yearly rent-charge of £4, out of land called Padcott and Burridge, for eight poor religious parishioners. For distribution in clothing, the poor have about £50 a year, as the rent of two cottages and nearly 10A. of land, purchased with £150 left by John and Henry Hill, in 1631. They have also about £15, as the rent of 14 acres, called Weaver Wood, purchased in 1668, with £220 benefaction money given by unknown donors. Five small rent-charges amounting to £5. 3s. 2d. per annum, were given in the 5th of William and Mary, by Margery Arundell, and are distributed in linen among about 16 poor widows. Six acres of land, called Melhuish Closes, were given by Thomas Prowse, who directed the yearly proceeds to be expended in providing linen shirts for the poor. In 1719, Peter Neute left 20s. a year to be laid out in religious books, for young men and women of this parish. (See Tiverton.) An almshouse, founded by John Trott, in the 14th year of Henry VIII., was in ruins in 1823, and its endowment lost."
"POST OFFICE at Mr. Thomas Mitchell's, Fore street. Letters are received and despatched by the Railway Mails four times a day; and Money Orders are granted and paid. There are foot-posts every morning to Bradninch, Kentisbeare, Plymtree, &c."