A Topographical Dictionary of England


 Samuel Lewis (1831)

Transcript copyright Mel Lockie (Sep 2016)


TORQUAY, a chapelry in the parish of TOR-MOHUN, hundred of HAYTOR, county of DEVON, 7 miles (S. E. by S.) from Newton-Bushell. The population is returned with the parish. This place, about forty years since, was an insignificant fishing hamlet, but is now a fashionable and attractive watering-place: it is situated in the most northerly cove of Torbay, and occupies a somewhat irregular, but singularly beautiful, site. The first great improvement was the erection of a pier and quay, for which an act of parliament was obtained by Sir Lawrence Palk, to whom the town is greatly indebted: it was commenced in 1804, and completed in 1807; and another pier has since been constructed, forming a secure basin, five hundred feet long, and three hundred broad. A considerable portion of the town is built on the strand, and consists of neat and comfortable residences, principally lodging-houses; and there are also two very good hotels, warm and cold baths, and a library and news-room. On the north, east, and west sides it is completely sheltered by hills of very considerable elevation, on the declivities of which are detached houses and terraces, some of them very handsome buildings; and the heights on which they are situated being richly clothed with wood, their appearance from the pier-head is strikingly beautiful. An annual regatta takes place in August, which is well attended; and the assembly-room, erected in 1826, is much frequented during the season, which is from September to May. The salubrity and mildness of the air, arising from its contiguity to the sea and its sheltered situation, renders this a most desirable winter residence for persons of a consumptive habit, or those for whom a mild climate is necessary; and it is usually, at this period of the year, very full of company: it is well supplied with water. Torquay has a trifling share in the Newfoundland trade; and, in addition to several coasting vessels, employed for the importation of coal, &c., it has a weekly communication by water with London. There is a very convenient market-place, well supplied with provisions at the customary markets, which are on Tuesday and Friday: a fair is held annually at Easter. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Totness, and diocese of Exeter, endowed with £1600 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Perpetual Curate of Tor-Mohun and Cockington. The chapel is a handsome modern structure. There are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. In the cliffs in this neighbourhood are several remarkable fissures, or openings, particularly that called Kent's Hole, which is of extraordinary magnitude, comprising numerous caves of various elevations, to which are several openings, one of them ninety-three feet deep, one hundred wide, and thirty in height, containing many interesting specimens, both stalactital and organic, and fossil remains of the elephant and several other animals. Druidical knives have also been discovered. A National school has been established by means of voluntary subscriptions.