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A Topographical Dictionary of England


 Samuel Lewis (1831)

Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)

KINGSBRIDGE, a market-town and parish, in the hundred of STANBOROUGH, county of DEVON, 34 miles (S. S. W.) from Exeter, and 207 (W. S.W.) from London, containing 1430 inhabitants. This place is pleasantly situated at the head of the bay, or haven, of Salcombe, on the summit and declivity of a hill, surrounded by others of greater elevation; and consists chiefly of a long street, in which are some good houses. The town, which is partially paved but not lighted, is bounded on the east by a brook, which separates it from the town of Dodbrook. A mechanics institute has been established. Races are held in the neighbourhood, generally once a year, but at no fixed period. The woollen manufacture was formerly carried on here very extensively, but it is now inconsiderable; the principal branches of trade at present are in malt and leather, especially the former, a considerable quantity of malt and grain being annually sent from this place. Various articles of commerce are brought coastwise, chiefly in vessels of from fifty to sixty tons burden, though the haven is navigable for ships of a larger size: about thirty of these vessels belong to Kingsbridge and Salcombe. The market is on Saturday; and there is a fair on the 20th of July, unless that day falls later in the week than Thursday, when the fair is postponed to the following Tuesday, and continued for three successive days, for the sale of woollen cloth, toys, &c. The town is under the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, but a portreeve, or chief officer, is appointed annually at Michaelmas, at which period a, court leet is held by the lord of the manor.
The living is a discharged vicarage, with that of Churchstow, in the archdeaconry of Totness, and diocese of Exeter, endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Crown. The church, originally founded about 1330, was considerably enlarged and improved in 1827, when it received an addition of two hundred and eighty-six sittings, of which, one hundred and sixty-five are free, the Incorporated Society for the enlargement of churches and chapels having granted £160 towards defraying the expense. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists. A free grammar school was founded pursuant to the will of Thomas Crispin, who, in 1689, bequeathed to trustees an estate for its endowment, and also made provision for teaching gratuitously, in addition to the classics, reading, writing, and arithmetic; the number of boys in the grammar school is restricted to fifteen, and, if so many are not to be found in the town, the trustees may complete the number from any other place. William Buncombe, in 1691, gave by will property now producing about £350 per annum, for the support of four exhibitioners from this school to Oxford or Cambridge, for apprenticing boys educated in the school, and for the salary of a lecturer at the parish church; by order of the court of Chancery, in 1819, the stipends of the exhibitioners were extended from £10 to £50 per annum. Almshouses for four poor persons were founded by Robert Mydwynter, in the reign of Elizabeth; and a considerable income for the repair of the church, &c., arising from the rents of the town-lands, is vested in trustees.