A Topographical Dictionary of England
Samuel Lewis (1831)
Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)
HARTLAND, a parish and sea-port (formerly a market-town) in the hundred of HARTLAND, county of DEVON, 14¾ miles (W. by S.) from Bideford, 53 (W. N. W.) from Exeter, and 215¾ (W. by S.) from London, containing 1968 inhabitants. This place probably owed its origin to a convent said to have been originally founded by Githa, wife of Earl Godwin, in the reign of Edward the Confessor; and re-founded for canons regular of the order of St. Augustine, by Geoffrey Dinant, in the reign of Henry II., the revenue of which, at the dissolution, was £306. 13. 2¼.: a modern mansion now occupies the site of the ancient conventual edifice, some portions of which are retained, particularly the cloisters forming the basement story of the eastern and western fronts of the mansion. The town is bleakly situated on a cape which terminates in the promontory of Hartland point, about three miles to the north-west; and on the south are some marshy heights, among which is the source of the river Torridge; the government is vested in a portreeve. An act of parliament passed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth for completing this port, which is subject to the port of Bideford; there is a pier or quay on the coast, two miles westward from the town, the descent to which is very steep, being by steps cut in the rocky cliff. Coasting-vessels here discharge their cargoes of coal and limestone, and receive their export ladings of corn, &c. Off the coast is a herring fishery, in which the inhabitants of the town are interested, they having advanced money to the fishermen at Bideford to enable them to engage in it. Here is a market-house; but the market has been discontinued for many years. Fairs for cattle are held on the Wednesday in Easter week, and the 25th of September, and there is a great market for cattle on the second Saturday in March. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Barnstaple, and diocese of Exeter, endowed with £800 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Governors of the Charter-house, London. The church, dedicated to St. Nectan, is situated on a lofty eminence between the town and the quay, about half a mile from the latter, serving as a land-mark for mariners: it is a large and handsome structure, with a screen between the nave and the chancel. There were anciently eleven chapels in this parish, the remains of two being still visible. Here is a place of worship for Independents. An almshouse for three poor widows was founded in 1618, by William Mill, of London, but it has no endowment. Paul Orchard, Esq., who died in 1812, bequeathed property producing £31 per annum, for distribution among the poor of this parish.