Littleham (and Exmouth)


A Topographical Dictionary of England


 Samuel Lewis (1831)

Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)

LITTLEHAM, a parish in the hundred of EAST-BUDLEIGH, county of DEVON, 1½ mile (E.) from Exmouth, containing, with the chapelry of Exmouth, 2841 inhabitants. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the peculiar jurisdiction and patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £15.12.6,, endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £300 parliamentary grant. The church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. In 1717, Henry Peardon gave £80, the interest to be applied in the instruction of poor children; two small additions have since been made to this endowment by Sir John Elwill, Bart, and Henry Peardon.

EXMOUTH, a chapelry and bathing-place (fashionable), partly in the parish of WITHYCOMBE-RAYLEIGH, but chiefly in that of LITTLEHAM, eastern division of the hundred of BUDLEIGH, county of DEVON, 11 miles (S. E. by S.) from Exeter, and 169½ (W. S. W.) from London. The population is returned with the respective parishes. This place, as its name implies, is situated at the mouth of the river Exe, on the coast of the English channel. The landing of the Danes here, in 1001 and 1003, probably first made it the object of attention as a maritime station, and occasioned the erection of a castle, to defend the entrance to the haven. The port appears to have been of some consequence in the beginning of the thirteenth century; it sent two members to a council of state held at Westminster in the 14th of Edward III., and furnished ten ships, and one hundred and ninety-three men, towards the great naval armament of that king, at the commencement of his war with France. The Earl of March, afterwards Edward IV., on the defeat of the Yorkists at Ludlow, in 1459, fled into Devonshire, with the Earls of Salisbury, Warwick, and others, and took shipping at Exmouth, whence they sailed to Calais. During the great civil war, this place was alternately held by the royalist and parliamentary forces, and was finally taken by the latter in March, 1646. Whatever may have been the importance of Exmouth in former ages, it seems to have fallen into a state of decay, and about a century ago it was described as a small hamlet, inhabited chiefly by fishermen. Since that period it has attained celebrity as a bathing-place, being one of the oldest, and at present one of the most frequented, in the county. This is partly owing to the salubrity and mildness of the air, the town being open to the south-west, and sheltered by a hill from the east winds. It stands on the eastern side of the river, where two projecting sand banks form a partial enclosure, leaving an opening of about one-third of the width of the harbour. The river is a mile and a half across; and, though the entrance is somewhat difficult, the harbour is extremely convenient, and the bar will admit of the passage of ships of more than three hundred tons burden. The town, which is irregularly built, occupies the base and acclivity of a promontory called the Beacon Hill, the summit of which affords a noble view, extending from Buryhead, the southern boundary of Torbay, to the city of Exeter. On the strand are some good shops and lodging-houses, with a convenient market-house, recently erected at the expense of Lord Rolle; though that part of the town on the cliff facing the sea towards the south is more pleasantly situated. On this commanding eminence are two hotels and boardinghouses, one of which includes a subscription library, and billiard and card-rooms: and on the western beach are two pleasing specimens of Grecian architecture, in imitation of the temples of Theseus and the Winds, at Athens. Among various contemplated improvements in the neighbourhood is the formation of a new line of road between this place and Sidmouth, about a mile in length, intended to be lined with cottages. Exmouth is well supplied with water. There is no trade but that occasioned by the influx of visitors; but among the lower classes most of the women are employed in lace-making. A small weekly market is held for provisions; and there are fairs on the 25th of April and the 28th of October. The chapel, dedicated to St. Margaret, is the chief ornament of the town, occupying a conspicuous station on the Beacon Hill, and is a chapel of ease to the vicarage of Littleham: it was erected in 1825, by Lord Rolle, at the expense of £12,000; and it consists of a body and aisles, with a lofty square tower of great beauty, in the English style of architecture. Here are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyan Methodists. Nearly two hundred children are educated in a National school founded by Lord Rolle, and endowed by Lady Rolle in 1816.