"TIVERTON, a parish, market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, possessing exclusive jurisdiction, but locally in the hundred of Tiverton, county Devon, 14 miles N.E. of Exeter, and 62 S.W. of Bristol. It is connected to the Great Western by a branch line of railway. It is an ancient, clean, and well-built town, occupying the slope of a hill at the confluence of the rivers Exe and Loman, and for this reason was called Twydfordton.
At the time of the Domesday survey it was held by the crown, but was given by Henry I. to Richard, Earl of Devon, who built a strong castle here in 1106. It continued for many ages the head of a barony, and together with the lordship of the hundred and manor is now the property of Sir W. P. Carew, Bart. In 1200 the town received a charter for holding a market and three fairs, and in 1250 it was presented with a copious supply of water by Amicia, Countess of Devon, who diverted a stream called the Leat to flow through the town. About the middle of the 14th century the wool trade was introduced, and in 1500 the inhabitants were extensively engaged in the manufacture of baize, plain cloths, and kersies, which continued to flourish till 1612, when Tiverton was regarded as the chief manufacturing place in the West of England, but shortly after declined, owing to the devastations caused by the plague, and three destructive fires, which consumed the greater part of the houses, then built of wood and thatch.
In 1731 the town was again partially burnt, and ten years after one-twelfth of the population was cut off by an epidemic fever. The town may now be said to be entirely rebuilt, and extends about a mile in length. The four principal streets are wide and well paved. The principal buildings are the townhall, with the police-station and mayoralty-room adjoining, containing portraits of George I., II., and III.; the new market-house, built in 1830 at a cost of £9,000; the borough gaol and house of correction, erected at a cost of £5,000; the union workhouse, built in 1838 at a cost of £10,000; a theatre, literary and scientific institution, reading and assembly rooms, two branch banks, and two bridges over the Exe and Loman. At the points where these rivers were formerly forded, the former bridge having recently been rebuilt.
The cloth trade has long since declined, but there is a lace manufactory employing about 1,600 hands, and a bobbin net manufactory. A considerable carrying trade is done by means of the Tiverton branch of the Great Western canal, which terminates at the north-eastern end of the town. The town was incorporated by James I., and has returned two members to parliament since that period. Under the Municipal Reform Act it is included amongst those which hold commissions of the peace and quarter-sessions, and is divided into three wards, viz:, West Exe, Loman, and Castle ward, and is governed by a mayor, who is returning officer, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors, assisted by the borough magistrates and a recorder, with the style of "mayor and burgesses of the town and parish of Tiverton." The municipal revenue is about £2,000, and the borough limits co-extensive with those of the parish, which contains about 17,000 acres, and a population in 1861 of 10,447, but the population of the town quarter is 7,947.
The parish was divided by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon, about the end of the 13th century, into four quarters, called respectively Clare, Pitt, Priors, and Tidcombe quarters, and contains the villages or hamlets of Ashley, Botham, Chettescombe, Chevithorne, Cove, Craze Loman, Manley, East and West Mere, Withleigh, and the extensive suburb of West Exe, principally inhabited by operatives. Tiverton Poor-law Union contains 27 parishes and townships. It is also the seat of New County Court and Superintendent Registry districts.
The livings of the four quarters or portions are rectories in the archdeaconry and diocese of Exeter, viz: Clare portion, with the curacy of Withleigh annexed, value £459; Pitt's quarter, with the curacy of Cove annexed, £875; Priors' quarter, value £341; and Tidcombe quarter, £750 and 90 acres of glebe. The parish church, dedicated to St. Peter, is 136 feet long by 82 wide, with a tower 110 feet high, a wooden lich-gate, and an elaborately-sculptured porch in the Decorated style. The oldest part of the building dates from 1073, but a considerable portion was rebuilt in the early part of the 16th century by John Greenway, an eminent clothier, who also erected the chapel bearing his name and the screen which separates the chancel from the body of the church. The S. font and porch, together with Greenway's chapel, were rebuilt in 1825, and the whole of the church has lately undergone a thorough restoration, at a cost of nearly £7,000. The picture formerly used as an altar-piece, but now hanging over the N. door, representing "the Deliverance of St. Peter from Prison," was painted and presented by the artist Cosway, who was a native of the town. The chapel-of-ease, dedicated to St. George, was built in 1733, nearly in the centre of the town. The roof and galleries are supported by Ionic pillars, and the E. window has a figure of St. Andrew in stained glass. In the suburb of West Exe is the district church of St. Paul, erected in 1854. There are also chapels-of-ease at Cove, Withleigh, and Chevithorne, a Roman Catholic chapel, about a mile W. of the town, and chapels belonging to the Baptists, Wesleyans, Independents, and Bible Christians.
The free grammar school, founded in 1604 by Peter Blundel, is situated at Loman Green. Its income is about £1,000, with exhibitions to Oxford and Cambridge Universities. There are National and infant schools in St. Andrew's Street, three British schools, the charity school in Castle-street, founded in 1714 for 60 boys and 50 girls, which has an income from endowment of £350, also Comyn or Chilcot's free school with an endowment of £100. The parochial charities, including school endowments, produce about £3,000 per annum. There arc several sets of almshouses, including Greenway's, in Gold-street, with a chapel attached, and Waldron's in Welbrook-street. The remains of the old castle stand on an eminence close to the Exe, and comprise the gatehouse, two towers, and parts of the S. and W. walls covered in ivy. Races take place in August on the Castle meadows.
Market days are Tuesday and Saturday; and great markets for the sale of cattle and sheep are now held the second Tuesday in every month. Fairs are held on the second Tuesday after Whit-Sunday, and on Michaelmas day for cattle, horses, and sheep."
"CLARE, a quarter in the parish and borough of Tiverton, in the county of Devon. See Tiverton"
"COVE, (or Chapel Cove), a chapelry in the parish and hundred of Tiverton, in the county of Devon, 2 miles from Tiverton. It is situated near the Bristol and Exeter branch railway.
"PITT, a hamlet in the parish and hundred of Tiverton, county Devon, near Tiverton."
"PRYORS, a quarter in the parish and hundred of Tiverton, county Devon, 2 miles from Tiverton. It is situated near the confluence of the river Loman with the Exe."
"TIDCOMBE, a quarter in the parish and hundred of Tiverton, county Devon."
"TIVERTON-TOWN, a quarter in the parish and hundred of Tiverton, county Devon."