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MARKET TOWNS OF DEVON (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Chudleigh in 1836

Chudleigh is in the hundred of Exminster, a short distance from the left bank of the Teign, and on the road from Exeter to Plymouth, between nine and ten miles from Exeter. The town, which is situated in a delightful country, chiefly consists of one long street, having the church, a small building, in which are some monuments of the Courtenay family, at its south-western extremity. There is a bridge over the Teign, nearly a mile from the town. The population of the parish, which comprehends 6,230 acres, was, in 1831, 2,278, of whom about a third were engaged in agriculture, and a few in manufactures, probably of woollens. The woollen manufacture was once pursued more extensively. The neighbourhood of Chudleigh is very productive in cider. There is a market on Saturday, and three fairs in the year, chiefly for cattle. There is a Dissenting meeting-house in the town. The living is a vicarage, of the yearly value of £505, with a glebe-house, in the gift of the parishioners, who purchased the advowson. There were in 1833 four infant schools with 91 children ; six day-schools (two of them, containing 60 to 80 children, supported partly or wholly by endowment ; and one, for the children of Catholic parents, partly supported by charitable contributions), containing altogether 140 to 160 children ; and one Sunday-school with 93 scholars and a library attached. One of the endowed schools is a grammar-school.

The bishops of Exeter had formerly a palace at Chudleigh, of which there are some remains a quarter of a mile from the town : the manor formed part of the possessions of the see. Ugbrooke, a mile south-east of the town, now the residence of Lord Clifford, was formerly the residence of the precentor of Exeter cathedral. The park, with the adjacent pleasure grounds and plantations, occupies a space several miles in circumference ; it is richly wooded, and is adorned with a large piece of water and a cascade ; the house contains some good paintings by the ancient masters. About half a mile from the town is ‘Chudleigh Rock,’ a limestone cliff celebrated for its picturesque appearance. Midway down the cliff is a cavern, the entrance to which is by a natural arch, twelve feet wide and ten feet. high ; according to tradition, a dog put into this cavern, which soon becomes too contracted for men to trace it, came out at a place three miles distant. Local superstition has peopled the cavern with Pixies, a minute variety of the fairy race. The limestone quarried is here considered to be of superior quality. Many persons are employed in these works.

In May, 1808; a dreadful fire broke out at Chudleigh, by which 166 houses were destroyed : the damage was estimated at £60,000, and the sum of £21,000 was promptly gathered by subscription for the relief of the poorer sufferers.