From White's Devonshire Directory of 1850
TEIGNMOUTH is a well-built market town, seaport, and bathing place, delightfully situated on the north side of the mouth of the navigable river Teign, partly upon the triangular point of land which projects half way across the estuary, and has the English Channel on one side, and the river on the other; and partly around the bottom and on the acclivities of the hill which rises gradually from the point to the north-west, one side commanding a fine view of the sea, and the other of the river. It is in the two small parishes of East and West Teignmouth, and is crossed by the South Devon Railway, which winds in a circuitous route along the coast and the north side of the estuary. It is distant about 14 miles S. of Exeter by rails, and 12 by road; 5 miles E. by N. of Newton Abbot, 8 miles N. by E. of Torquay, and 187 miles W.S.W. of London. It increased its population from 2012 in 1801, to 4459 in 1844, and has now about 5500 inhabitants, exclusive of its suburbs of Shaldon and Ringmore, on the opposite side of the river, and Bishop's Teignton, which joins it on the west. (See pages 197 and 396.) EAST TEIGNMOUTH parish contains 670 acres, and had only 484 inhabitants in 1801, but they had increased to 1576 in 1841. WEST TEIGNMOUTH is divided from it only by a small brook, and contains 403 acres of land, and increased its inhabitants from 1528 in 1801, to 2883 in 1841. The Earl of Devon is lord of the manor of East Teignmouth, and Lord Clifford of West Teignmouth, the former of which was long held by the Dean and Chapter of Exeter, and the latter by the Bishops of Exeter. The former granted East Teignmouth a charter for a market and fair, in 1253. West Teignmouth was a celebrated haven at an early period, the river being then navigable for large ships, and having no shifting bar at the entrance. It sent members to the council held at Westminster in the reign of Edward I., and furnished seven ships and 120 mariners for the fleet of Edward III. The town was partly burnt by a French pirate, in 1340, and experienced a similar misfortune in 1690, from. several ships that were detached for that purpose from the French fleet, then drawn up in Torbay. To repair the injury sustained by this attack, the inhabitants procured a brief, which enabled them to raise upwards of £11,000 towards rebuilding their houses. In 1774, the inhabitants of Teignmouth and Shaldon presented a petition to Sir Wm. Courtenay, that the French had plundered and burnt the place, in the second year of William and Mary, and that they then threatened a second visit; they, therefore, petitioned him to allow them to build a small battery on the beach, at East Teignmouth, where it still exists. At this time, Teignmouth and Shaldon fitted 20 ships, of from 50 to 200 tons each, for the Newfoundland trade. A port-reeve and other officers are appointed for each manor at the courts leet and baron, held annually. Teignmouth belongs to the Port of Exeter, (see pp. 63 & 71,) and has still a large trade with Newfoundland, and a considerable home fishery for herrings, mackerel, pilchards, soles, turbots, &c., caught in the channel; and for salmon caught in the river. It also exports great quantities of granite, brought down the Teign from the Haytor quarries; and of fine pipe and potter's clay, dug up in the neighbouring parish of King's Teignton. A commodious quay on the river was constructed in 1820, by Geo. Templer, Esq., for the convenience of shipping these heavy articles. A convenient market place was erected about the same time; and the market, held every Saturday, is well supplied with all sorts of provisions. Here are three annual fairs for cattle, &c., on the third Tuesday in January, the last Tuesday in February, and the last Tuesday in September. Races and a Regatta are held every summer. In the latter part of last century, Teignmouth began to be known as a bathing place, and from that time to the present, new houses, &c., have arisen to supply the accommodations of the continually increasing number of visitors, who through to this favourite place of resort in summer and autumn. The visitant can here choose a locality embracing scenery adapted to his taste. On the Den, or Beach, he will have the "ocean wide, the broad expanse, with towering cliff and shelving shore;" and on the hills the same, with the addition of the town as a foreground; but should his taste incline inland, the north-western end of the town will afford him a magnificent prospect up the Teign and over the country, as far as the high and bold hills of Haytor, Dartmoor, &c. An Act of Parliament was obtained in 1836 for the improvement of the town, and, under it, many improvements have been effected, and others are in progress. A good supply of spring water has been brought from Haldon hill to a large reservoir, whence it is passed in iron pipes to all parts of the town. Gas was introduced in 1840, from the works a mile west of the town, in Bishop's Teignton parish. The Bridge which crosses the Teign to Shaldon is the longest in England, and was built in 1826-7, by a company of proprietors, at the cost of about £20,000. It is 1671 feet long, and is composed chiefly of iron and wood. There are 34 arches, and a draw-bridge over the deepest part of the channel. From the action of the salt water on the iron, the principal arch gave way in 1838, but the whole was repaired in a durable manner, and the bridge was re-opened in 1840. Foot passengers pay 1d. each, and it was a great thoroughfare for carriages, &c., but its traffic has been considerably reduced since the opening of the railway, though the latter goes round by the north shore of the estuary. The small light-house, on the Den, was built in 1844-5, at the cost of £300, by the Teignmouth Harbour Commissioners. The custom-house officers have an office on the Den, and the excise office is at the Devon Arms. Petty Sessions are held every alternate Monday, at the Court-House, and Edw. Croydon & Son are clerks to the magistrates. The town has many well-stocked shops, many rows of handsome houses, and several large and commodious hotels. The beach is composed of fine sand, and can be used at any state of the tide. The inclination of the shore is gradual, and the bather can use either deep or shallow water. The climate is mild and salubrious, and there are mainly instances of longevity among the inhabitants. The delightful promenade along the Den is more than half a mile long, running parallel to the sea, and having seats at convenient distances. It commands an extensive view of the ocean, and the Ness and the cliff on the west, and the Parson-and-Clerk rocks on the east. The walks and rides in the neighbourhood are beautifully diversified and picturesque, and in the suburbs are many handsome seats. Bitton House, with its beautiful grounds on the West Cliff, is the seat of W.M. Praed, Esq. Winterbourn House is the pleasant residence of the Rev. Dr. Richards. About a mile to the north-west, over Haldon hill, is "The Hennons," a large and handsome mansion, in the Elizabethan style, built by Rd. Eaton, Esq., but purchased by its present owner and occupant, Wm. B. King, Esq., in 1838. The lodge and stables are in the same style as the mansion, and the grounds command extensive and beautiful views of sea and land, and are laid out with great taste. In the dining room are some fine paintings by eminent artists, and in the drawing room is a richly carved mantel-piece, which is much admired. A Building Company has lately been formed in the town, for the purpose of building houses and detached villas, to accommodate the large influx of company which the opening of the railway has introduced. The Public Baths, on the beach, are conveniently fitted up with hot, cold, and shower baths. The Subscription Rooms, in the centre of the Crescent, on the Den, facing the sea, form an elegant structure, built in 1826, and containing a handsome ball room, 70 feet long, and tea, card, billiard, and news rooms. The Theatre, in Northumberland place, was built in 1847-8, at the cost of about £1000. Here is an Useful Knowledge Society, National and Sunday Schools, and various charities and institutions for the relief and the religious instruction of the poor. Teignmouth and Dawlish Dispensary was established in 1848, by Fdk. Leman, Esq., and is supported by annual subscriptions and donations. It has usually a long list of out-patients, and has accommodations for a few in-patients. Fdk. Leman, of Teignmouth, and J.F. Knighton, of Dawlish, are the surgeons, and their services are rendered gratuitous to this useful charity.
CHURCHES:- 1815 an act of parliament was passed for rebuilding the churches of East and West Teignmouth, and for authorizing the sale of the church lands, &c., belonging to both parishes. This act recites that the expense of rebuilding East Teignmouth church was estimated at £2200, and. West Teignmouth church, at £5400; and that the inhabitants of each parish had agreed to raise the sum of £1000 towards such respective expenses. The cost of obtaining the act of parliament amounted to no less than £1760. 3s. 9d.; of which £744. 8s. 11d. was paid by East Teignmouth, and £1015. 14s. 10d. by West Teignmouth. The church lands, &c., which belonged to East Teignmouth, were sold for £1340, and those belonging to West Teignmouth for about £3900. East Teignmouth Church (St. Michael,) was rebuilt in 1822-3, and is a neat cruciform structure, with it a containing a clock and bell. The interior is well arranged, and has a finely carved altarpiece, over which is a painting of Christ, crowned with thorns. The perpetual curacy, valued in K.B. at £11. 18s., and in 1831 at £135, is in the patronage of the Vicar of Dawlish, and incumbency of the Rev. W.P. Richards, D.C.L. There is neither glebe nor parsonage, and the great tithes are in the same appropriation as those of Dawlish, to which East Teignmouth was formerly a parochial chapelry. In 1769, Amy Newberry left a tenement, and directed the rent to be applied in buying plate, &c., for the communion table. Being dilapidated, it was let some years ago at a small reserved rent. West Teignmouth Church (St. James,) was rebuilt about the same time, at the cost of more than £4000. It is a large octagonal structure, possessing in its outward character very little attraction. The interior, although of a novel and singular appearance, has some pretensions to architectural taste; the slender pillars supporting a richly vaulted ceiling, from the middle of which rises an octagon dome lantern, produce a good effect. It has about 2000 sittings, and a tower containing a clock and four bells. The living is a perpetual curacy, valued at £157, in the patronage of the Vicar of Bishop's Teignton, and incumbency of the Rev. L. Gwyne, M.A. There is neither glebe nor parsonage, and the parish was formerly a chapelry to Bishop's Teignton. About 3½ miles N.W. of the town are the venerable ruins of Lithwell or Lidwell Chapel, where a villainous priest, popularly called St. Simon, is said in a legendary tale of the 16th century, to have committed many murders on the surrounding heath, for the sake of hoarding up gold in a secret chest under the altar, at the foot of which was a deep well, in which he is said to have buried his victims. This chapel was in Dawlish parish, and the well may still be seen in the middle of the ruined walls, covered with a large granite slab.
In the town are four chapels belonging to Roman Catholics, Independents, Wesleyans, and Plymouth Brethren. That belonging to the Wesleyans was built in 1845, at the cost of about £1500, in lieu of their old chapel, which was taken down to make room for the railway. That belonging to the Plymouth Brethren was built by Baptists, about 25 years ago. For schooling poor children, East Teignmouth has the dividends of £110, South Sea Stock, left by Thomas and John Coleman. In West Teignmouth was a small almshouse, called the Maudlin House, which was anciently a lepers' hospital, and afterwards the asylum of poor parishioners, but it fell down many years ago, and its site is now a garden. It was endowed with an adjacent field of 2A., now let for about £10, and with a house at Newton Abbot, let for 21s. per annum. These rents are applied to the relief of the poor parishioners, as also are five annuities of 2s. each. The interest of £15. 10s., left to the poor by Sir Peter Lear and others, is paid out of the poor rates. Sir John Elwill and his Son left £150 to be invested for the schooling of poor children of East and West Teignmouth. This money was invested in three per cent. consols, yielding £8. 14s. 7d. per annum, for which 12 poor children are instructed by a schoolmistress. A house and land at Bitton, given to the poor of West Teignmouth, by Mary Risdon, in 1718, have been sold for £180, which is vested with the overseers, who distribute the interest among the poor not receiving parochial relief.
Brian Randell, 6 Mar 1999