A Topographical Dictionary of England


 Samuel Lewis (1831)

Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)


CULLOMPTON, a market-town and parish in the hundred of HAYRIDGE, county of DEVON, 12 miles (N.E. by N.) from Exeter, and 166 (W. by S.) from London, containing 3410 inhabitants. This place, which derives its name from being situated on the river Culme, or Columb, was held in royal demesne during the Octarchy. A collegiate church was founded here, at a very early period, by one of the Saxon monarchs, which was annexed by William the Conqueror to the abbey of Battle, in Sussex. In 1278, the inhabitants obtained the grant of a market from Edward I., which was confirmed by his successor in 1317, with the addition of an annual fair. The town is pleasantly situated in an extensive vale, surrounded by a large tract of level country, and consists of one principal street, roughly paved, from which some smaller streets diverge: the houses are in general neat and well built, and several of them retain evident vestiges of ancient magnificence: the inhabitants are amply supplied with water, and the environs abound with pleasant walks. The principal articles of manufacture are broad and narrow woollen cloth, kerseymere, and serge, which afford employment to several hundred persons, and are still increasing: on a stream between the river and the town are two flour-mills, a paper-mill, and a mill for spinning yarn; there are other manufacturing establishments in the parish, also four tanneries. The market is on Saturday: the fairs are on the first Wednesdays in May and November, which are large marts for bullocks and sheep. The county magistrates hold here monthly a petty session for the division: a high constable is chosen alternately in this parish and that of Kentisbear adjoining, who presides over both parishes; and six petty constables are annually appointed by the parishioners, three for the town, and three for the rest of the parish. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £47. 4. 2., and in the patronage of Henry Skinner, Esq. The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, is an elegant and spacious structure in the later style of English architecture, with a lofty square tower, strengthened with highly enriched buttresses, and crowned with pierced battlements and crocketed pinnacles: opening into the south aisle is a beautiful chapel, erected in 1528, in the richest style of that period, by Mr. John Lane, whose remains are deposited in it: the roof of the nave and aisle of the church is of oak, richly carved and decorated with gilding. There are places of worship for Baptists, Brianites, the Society of Friends, Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Unitarians. A National school for two hundred children of both sexes is supported by subscription. A fund of nearly £100 per annum, arising from land purchased with a donation from George Spicer, Esq., in 1624, is appropriated to the apprenticing of poor children; and £54.10. per annum, arising from land purchased with a donation from John and Henry Hill, Esqrs., is distributed in clothing to poor aged men: there are also several other charitable benefactions, by means of which £100 is annually distributed among the poor. At Langford-Barton, in this parish, are the remains of an ancient chapel.