[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003
"SIDMOUTH, a parish, seaport, market town, and watering-place in the hundred of East Budleigh, county Devon, 14 miles S.E. of Exeter, and 6 S.W. of Ottery St. Mary. The town, which is situated at the lower end of a valley, sheltered on the E. and N. by two high hills, and near the mouth of the small river Sid, which here falls into the Western Bay, was formerly a place of more importance than at present, and in the 13th century was a borough and market town, governed by a portreeve. Its trade was then very considerable, particularly with France, the nearest point of which, Cape de la Hogue, near Cherbourg, is 90 miles across, but no craft, except pleasure-boats and fishing-smacks, can now approach the town, in consequence of the harbour being choked up with sand and pebbles. The town is irregularly built, but is neat and clean, and has recently been much improved. In 1839, an Act was obtained for building a market house, and the town contains hotels, inns, boarding-houses, commodious baths on the Esplanade, public rooms for assemblies and concerts, an institution, with a library and reading-rooms at the London Hotel, subscription reading-rooms, two circulating libraries situated in Fore-street, and a sea-wall, completed in 1838, which affords a promenade of about half a mile in length. The climate is salubrious and remarkably mild, the town having a southerly aspect, overlooking the sea. The mean annual temperature is 51.97°, while the summer averages 62°, and the winter only 42.44°. The town is well lighted with gas, and a good supply of pure water has lately been brought from the Cotmaton springs. From the top of the Peak, or Salcombe hills, the view extends upwards of 30 miles, taking in the whole of the valley of the Sid. The soil is a rich alluvial earth. In the vicinity of the town are numerous marine villas, including Woolbrook Glen, once the residence of the late Duke and Duchess of Kent, and the Queen, then Princess Victoria. Some of the female population are employed in the manufacture of Honiton lace. This place gives the title of viscount to the Addington family. A landslip occurred here some years back, when a part of the Peak hill was carried nearly a fourth of a mile into the sea. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Exeter, value £481. The church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, has been lately restored. It contains some good specimens of coloured glass, and a handsome reredos of Caen stone and marble. A painted window is about to be presented by her Majesty in memory of her father, the late Duke of Kent, who died here. There is also a chapel-of-ease dedicated to All Saints. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, and Unitarians. There are parochial, National, and British and Foreign schools, also two Sunday-schools. Market days are Tuesday and Thursday. Fairs, are held on Easter Monday, and on the third Monday in September, for the sale of cattle and horses."