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MARKET TOWNS OF DEVON (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Brixham in 1836

BRIXHAM (DEVON), a sea-port, market town, and parish, in the hundred of Haytor and county of Devon, 22 miles S. from Exeter, 165 W.S.W. from London. The area of the parish is 5,210 English statute acres.

The manor of Brixham formerly belonged to the Wovants, and from thence it passed into the hands of the Valetort family, by whom it was sold, and it is now divided into quarters, some of which quarters are again subdivided, and the shareholders (many- of them common fishermen) all call themselves quay lords. The harbour consists of two basins ; the outer one has been recently formed, at an expense of nearly £5,300 raised solely amongst the inhabitants. There are about 120 vessels employed in the port from 60 to 150 tons burden, and 105 from 60 to 45 tons burden, and about 64 smaller boats, nearly all engaged in the fishing trade. The principal fish caught here are the turbot, mackerel, mullet, and soles ; they are sent in great quantities to the London, Bath, and Exeter markets. Brixham has a fair on Whit-Tuesday and the following day, and a market was established in 1799, by authority of an act of parliament passed in that year.

The town is prettily situated on the S. side of Torbay, about a mile and a half S.W. from Berryhead, and directly facing the delightful watering-place Torquay, from which it is distant across the bay about seven miles. The part near the water is called Brixham Quay, or Lower Brixham, and is a miserable looking place ; the houses irregularly built, the streets narrow and filthy, and the smell of tar and fish is intolerable. The upper town, called Church Town, about a mile from the quay, is much better, and contains some good houses. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary ; it has lately been enlarged by 800 sittings, of which 700 are free, the incorporated Society for the Enlargement of Churches having granted £700. At Lower Brixham is a chapel of ease, erected by subscription, with £1,200 added by the parliamentary commissioners. There are also places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists. The population of Brixham is 5,015, of which 2,110 are males and 2,905 females : a great proportion of the males are employed in registered vessels.

A national school has been united with an old establishment endowed in 1634. The master has a house and garden and a salary of £60 per annum ; two school-rooms have lately been erected near the master’s house, where 400 children of both sexes are instructed. Richard Kelly gave to this establishment £15 per annum. Mr. John Kelland left by his will (dated 1709) a sum of £2,000 for the endowing of charity schools and augmentation of small livings, at the discretion of his trustees ; in consequence of which John Towns, Esq., one of them, appropriated the sum of £490 to the parish of Brixham, and purchased with it an estate at Ashburton, now let at £42 per annum, in aid of this school. Besides the land there is now about £700 stock belonging to this charity.

Brixham was the landing-place of the Prince of Orange afterwards William III, on the 5th of November, 1688. In the church is a cenotaph of Sir Francis Buller, the judge. In the neighbourhood of Brixham is Lupton, formerly in the possession of the ancient family of the Peniles; it now belongs to Sir J. B. Y. Buller, Bart., grandson of the judge : and also a curious well, called Lay Well, the water of which ebbs and flows about nine times in an hour.