A Topographical Dictionary of England
Samuel Lewis (1831)
Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)
MORETON-HAMPSTEAD, a market-town and parish in the hundred of TEIGNBRIDGE, county of DEVON, 11 miles (W. S. W.) from Exeter, and 184 (W. S. W.) from London, containing 1932 inhabitants. This town is romantically situated on the verge of Dartmoor Forest, and occupies a gentle eminence environed by lofty hills. It consists of several streets, which are indifferently paved; the houses in general are ancient, and built in the cottage style, with thatched roofs; the appearance of the surrounding district is somewhat peculiar, the surface being strewn with fragments of rock, while the barren heights of Dartmoor on the west are strikingly contrasted with the cultivated slopes of land more immediately adjacent to the town. The woollen trade here was formerly extensive, but only a few blankets and stockings are now made; there are some tan-yards, and a rope manufactory, the produce of the former being sent chiefly to Bristol and Exeter; in the vicinity there are quarries of excellent granite. A market is held on Saturday, and there are two great cattle markets, on Whitsun-eve and the first Saturday in October. Fairs are held on the third Thursday in July and the last Thursday in November, principally for cattle. A new market-house and shambles were built, at the expense of Lord Courtenay, in 1827. A portreeve is annually elected at a court leet and baron for the manor, held early in November: four constables are chosen at the same court, by a jury; also a bailiff, to examine weights and measures, and two officers, called jurors, to superintend the internal affairs of the town.
The living is a rectory, in the archdeaconry of Totness, and diocese of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £49. 19. 7., and in the patronage of the Lord of the Manor. The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, occupies the summit of the elevation on which the town is situated; it is an ancient edifice, with nave, aisles, transeptal porch, and chancel, the last being separated from the body by a carved wooden screen. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Unitarians. The sum of £10 per annum is paid by the governors of St. John's hospital, in the city of Exeter, agreeably to the directions of Eliza Hele, for the maintenance of a free school in this parish; ten poor children are instructed gratuitously. Some Druidical remains and Roman antiquities have been found in the immediate vicinity of the town.