North Tawton History – Part 2

North Tawton, Kelly’s Directory of Devon, 1902.

NORTH TAWTON: a parish near the old road from Exeter to Okehampton, and on the river Taw, which is here crossed by a bridge of four arches, leading to Hatherleigh and Okehampton, with a station on the London and South Western railway, 1 ¼ miles south from the town, and is 20 miles north-west from Exeter, 12 west from Crediton, 8 east-by-south from Hathersleigh, 7 north-east from Okehampton and 190 ¾ from London, in the Northern division of the county, North Tawton hundred, South Molton petty sessional division, Okehampton union and county court district, rural deanery of Okehampton, archdeaconry of Totnes and diocese of Exeter, Devon.

Gas & Water

Water was conveyed into the town from Slade farm, through iron pipes, in the year 1851, at an expense of £600, raised in shares of £5 each, and the Okehampton Rural District Council have since taken steps to provide a further supply, at a cost of £2,500; gas works were erected in 1869, at a cost of £750, and are the property of Henry Gibbings esq. A complete system of drainage was carried out in 1894-5, under the superintendence of Edward Ellis C.E. of Exeter, at a cost of £700.

The Church of St. Peter

is an ancient building of rubble and granite, in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave of six bays, aisles, south porch and a western tower with shingled broach spire, renovated in 1900, and containing a clock, dated 1640, and 8 bells, 6 of which were recast in 1765—70 from a previous peal of four; two new bells were added, in 1900, one being presented, by Henry Gibbings esq. and family and the other by the parishioners: the tower is of rubble, with walls of great thickness, and is probably Early English work: the roof of the nave is of panelled oak, the wall plate and bosses being elegantly carved.

There are stained windows at the east end of each aisle, and one in the south to John Chappie, d. 1879, and Loveday his wife, d. 1858: in the north aisle is a memorial window, with an inscription on brass below it to Sir Edward Gostwyck bart. d. 1766, and Loveday (Gostwyck), his wife, d. 1786; and to Josias Gard, d. 1825, erected in 1869 by Agnes (Gostwyck), wife of Josiah Gard; she died December 9th, 1870: there is another window in the south aisle with similar inscription to John Kelland Durant, d. 1877, and Sarah Luccombe, his wife, d. 1836: in May, 1893, a memorial window was erected by Mr. John Jackman, of Welling, Kent, a native of this town, to members of his family, and there are fragments of ancient stained glass in the windows of the north aisle.

In 1900, a brass was placed in the church to commemorate the Jubilee of the rectorship of the Rev. Robert Hole, and a memorial window erected by William Durant esq. and family, to the late John Durant esq.

On the north side of the church is a lime-tree avenue, terminating with a lych-gate; there is also a sun-dial fixed on the south wall of the tower

The church affords 600 sittings. The register dates from the year 1538. The living is a rectory, net yearly value £600, with 91 acres of glebe, valued at £160, and residence, in the gift of and held since 1850 by the Rev. Robert Hole B.A. of University College, Oxford, surrogate, and J.P.

Bible Christians and Plymouth Brethren

There is a Congregational chapel, erected in 1834, with 300 sittings; one for Bible Christians, seating 150 persons; and a meeting-room for Plymouth Brethren, with 60 sittings.

Clock Tower

of red brick with freestone dressings, from designs by Mr. R. Medley Fulford, architect, of Exeter, was erected in the square by public subscription in, 1887, at a cost of £130.

Market House

was erected in 1849; petty sessions are held here alternately with Chulmleigh.

Petty sessions are held at the Market house, bi-monthly on the first Thursday at 12 noon.

County Police Station, Sergeant Thomas Gammon, in charge & 1 constable.


is held on Thursday. Fairs for cattle and horses are held on the 3rd Tuesday in April, 2nd Tuesday in October and a fat stock show 1st Tuesday in December, and great markets are held on the last Thursdays in February and June, and 1st Thursday in August.


A School Board of 5 members was formed Feb. 21, 1872; Edward Goss, clerk to the board; attendance officer, George Davey, North Tawton.

Board (boys & girls), built in 1875, for 300 children; average attendance, 80 boys & 75 girls.

Board (infants), acquired in 1875, & holding 125 children; average attendance, 76.

Woollen and Flour Mills

here are large woollen mills, a branch factory belonging to Messrs. J. Shaw and Sons Limited, of Halifax, enlarged in 1887, and employing about 150 persons in the manufacture of serges and top making; here also are Mr. J. C. Tavener’s flour mills, which are lit by electricity.


On the hill overlooking the town is a wooden house brought from Norway, the property and residence of Lady Constable.

About a mile from the town is a hollow in the ground called “Bathe Pool,” usually dry, but which occasionally fills with water and overflows.

The poor have £1 16s. 8d. yearly, distributed in bread; C. Kelland in 1758 left £20; and in 1887 the Kelland-De Bathe charity of £1 yearly was founded by W. H. Kelland esq. as a memorial to Richard Kelland, of Lapford and De Bathe, ob. 1603.

The manor was formerly in the St. Leger family, but was sold by Adam Pierce and others in 1718 to the Hon. Newton Fellowes, from whom it has descended to the Earl of Portsmouth. Near the church is a moated site called Court Green, supposed to have been the ancient seat of the Valletorts. The manor of Crook Burnell, alias Stone, has belonged for a considerable period to the Sturt family, now represented by Lord Alington. Ashridge is the property of E. C. Nicholls esq. The barton of Bathe or De Bathonia gave name to the family of Bathe, and was the seat of Lord Chief Justice De Bathe in 1252; his heirs carried it into the famale line, and it was purchased in 1591 from Lady Margaret Poulett by Richard Kelland esq. of Lapford, and descended to his representative W. H. Kelland esq. of Kelland, who rebuilt it in 1875—6 and sold it in 1877 to Gen. Sir H. P. De Bathe, a lineal descendant of the original owners. The barton of Nicholas, or Nichols Nymet, belonged, to the late Rev. T. Hole; the house and grounds are now the property of T. Wreford esq. of Exeter. Nichols Nymet belongs to Mr. Thomas James Axford, and Lower Nichols Nymet to Mr. George Powlesland. The manor of Sandford belongs to Mrs. Witt; Halse to the Rev. R. M. Fulford, vicar of Hennock, and Clapps-Beere to the Clapp family. The manor of Week is the property of Mr. John Henson Gibbings, having been purchased by him in 1889. Crooke Barton has belonged since 1883 to Mr. Richard May. The Earl of Portsmouth, who is lord of the manor; Gen. Sir H. P. De Bathe bart. of Wood End, Chichester, Sussex; the Rev. Robert Hole B.A. Mrs. J. M. Pope, of Spence Combe, Crediton; A. S. Perkins esq. of Exeter; R. D. Prickman esq.; Mrs. Witt and E. C. Nicholls esq. are the principal landowners. The Rev. R. M. Fulford, vicar of Hennock, Richard May esq. Mr. Shaw, of Halifax, T. Wreford esq. of Exeter, and Messrs. Thomas Axford and George Powlesland are also landowners here.

The soil is various; subsoil, principally red sandstone. The chief crops are wheat, oats, barley and roots. The area is 5,951 acres of land and 16 of water; rateable value, £9,150; the population in 1901 was 1,528 in the civil and 1,682 in the ecclesiastical parish.

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