[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]

"OTTERY ST. MARY, a parish, market town and hundred in itself, in the county of Devon, 5 miles S.W. of Honiton, 12 E. of Exeter, and 165 from London. It has a station 2½ miles from the town, on the London and South Western railway, from whence a branch line is being constructed through the town to Sidmouth and Salterton. The town is situated in a valley on the eastern bank of the river Otter, from whence it derives its name. The manor was granted by King Edward the Confessor to the chapter of Rouen, in Normandy, from whom it passed by sale, in the reign of King Edward III., to Bishop Grandison, who founded the collegiate church. At the confiscation of Church lands, at the Reformation, Henry VIII. gave the manor to the Earl of Hertford, and it is still charged with an annual rent-charge to the Hardwicke family.

The town is irregularly laid out, but there are many well-built houses and shops. The soil is sandy, upon a subsoil of gravel. The population in 1851 was 2,534 with 524 inhabited houses, which in 1861 had decreased to 2,429 with 542 inhabited houses. The manufacture of Honiton lace is carried on in many of the cottages by the women and children; and there is an extensive silk factory, chiefly for the manufacture of shoe ribbons and handkerchiefs of excellent quality. The woollen trade formerly flourished in the town; but it has now entirely disappeared. Certain officers of the manor are chosen annually at the court-leet of the lord; and the town has of late years been put under a local board of health, whereby the salubrity of the place has been greatly improved, through drainage and an abundant water supply. It is also lighted with gas, and a convenient townhall has been recently erected, where petty sessions are held alternately with Sidmouth.

The King's school was founded by Henry VIII. in 1545, and endowed with £10 per annum, which has been subsequently increased to about £30 from various sources. The great tithes, of the value of nearly £1,000 per annum, were granted by the king to the Dean and Canons of Windsor, and the small tithes vested in a Church corporation, which accounts for the inadequate income of the vicarage,* which only amounts to £160 per annum, partly contributed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, was built by Bishop Grandison in 1335 on the site of a church consecrated by Bishop Bronscombe in 1260. An additional aisle was built about 1520 by Cicely Countess of Stafford, on the N.W. side, in the perpendicular style, with fan-tracery. The whole edifice was restored in 1851 at the cost of above £4,000, under the care of Mr. Butterfield.

The following district churches have been erected since 1840, viz: St. John's, Tipton; SS. Philip and James's, Escot; St. Michael's, West Hill; and St. James's, Alpington, with parsonage houses and schools attached to them. The three first are perpetual curacies, varying in value from £60 to £80 per annum. John Coleridge was once vicar of the parish and master of the King's school, and his son, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poet, was born in the school house.

There are National and Sunday schools, besides a boarding and day schools; and also two blocks of almshouses, under the management of a body of feoffees, who distribute their trust funds, to the amount of nearly £800 per annum, for the relief of deserving poor who are not in the receipt of parish pay. Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have inhabited a house in Mill-street, of which no traces remain. The Right Hon. Sir J. T. Coleridge, Knt., resides at Heath's Court, and Sir Thomas Hare at a mansion, of the Tudor era, called Cadhay.

The market day is on Thursday, and a great market is held on the first Thursday in February and December. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday after Shrove Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Whitsun week, and the 15th August, if on a Tuesday, if not, on the Tuesday following."

"ALPHINGTON, (or Alpington), a village in the parish and hundred of Ottery St. Mary, in the county of Devon, 1½ mile N. of the town of Ottery St. Mary, and 10 E. Worn Cullompton railway station. The living is annexed to the vicarage of Ottery St. Mary. The church, which is dedicated to St. James and St. Anne, is a new brick building in the early English style, erected in 1849 at the sole expense of the Hon. Justice Coleridge, who also made a present to the village of a parsonage-house and schoolroom. The church contains a painted window at the east end, and, a font of Devonshire marble, with a sacrarium.

"ESCOT, a hamlet in the parish and hundred of Ottery St. Mary, county Devon, 2 miles N.W. of Ottery St. Mary, and 12 N.E. of Exeter. It is situated near the river Otter. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Exeter, value £75."

"TIPTON, a village and chapelry in the parish of Ottery St. Mary, county Devon, 2 miles S. of Ottery, on the river Otter."

Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003