[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003
"HONITON, a parish, post and market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, in the hundred of Axminster, county Devon, 9 miles N.E. of Sidmouth, 11 S.E. of Cullompton, and 16 E. of Exeter. It is a station on the Yeovil and Exeter branch of the London and South-Western railway. The town, which has somewhat decreased, is situated in a valley near the S. side of the river Otter, and on the Great Western road from Exeter to London. It was formerly held by Drogo, the Saxon, and by Robert Earl of Montaigne, from whom it passed to the Riverses, thence to the Courtenays of Powderham. Honiton gives its name to the fine lace extensively manufactured here.
The houses have been mostly rebuilt since the fires in 1745 and 1765. Here are flour-mills, maltings, tanneries, two breweries, and an iron foundry. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councilmen. It consists principally of one street, less than a mile in length, well paved, and lighted with gas, and contains many good shops, two banks, literary and scientific institution, market-house, &c. The town is much improved by a stream of water constantly flowing through it. Petty sessions, poor-law guardians, county courts, and manor courts, are held here.
The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Exeter, value £760. The parish church, which is situated in the centre of the town, was erected in 1838 by subscription, and made the parish church by an Act of Parliament passed in 1835. It is dedicated to St. Paul, and has a lofty tower. From some error in its construction it had to be re-roofed and repaired in 1849. The old parish church of St. Michael is situated on a hill out of the town, and was formerly a friary chapel, built by Bishop Courtenay in 1484. It has a tower containing five bells. The interior of this church contains several ancient monuments, among which is that of Marwood, Queen Elizabeth's physician. Humphrey, the miniature painter, was a native of this place. Here are St. Margaret's almshouses, nine in number, for the same number of poor aged persons. They are endowed with upwards of 18 acres of land, let at the annual rent of £60. The inmates receive pensions varying in amount. The Independents, Wesleyans, Baptists, and Unitarians have each a chapel.
New buildings for the National schools, of considerable size and good architectural design, were erected by subscription in 1862, at a cost of £1,400. There are also British schools. Fley's grammar school, called also Allhallows school, is endowed with £12 per annum, besides a house for the master, for which he has to teach four boys of this town gratuitously. The Poor-law Union of Honiton consists of 18 parishes. The union poorhouse was erected in 1836.
At Dumdown Hill, about 2 miles to the N.E. of the town, are traces of extensive entrenched camps, supposed to have been the Moridunum of Antoninus. The land lies extremely high, and is the first sighted on nearing the adjoining coast. On Honiton Hill stands a tower 80 feet in height erected by the late Lord Bishop of Llandaff.
A weekly market is held on Saturday for butter, cheese, &c., also two great markets for cattle annually on the second Saturday in April, and on the Saturday prior to the 18th October. A fair is held on the Wednesday and Thursday after the 19th July for cattle and horses. The borough returns two members to parliament."