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MARKET TOWNS OF DEVON (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Honiton in 1838

HONITON, a parliamentary borough, market town, and parish in the hundred of Axminster and county of Devon, 148 miles west-south-west from London. The town lies on the great western road from London to Exeter, and is pleasantly situated on a rising ground to the south of the river Otter, which commands a fine view of the surrounding country. It consists principally of one broad handsome street, running from east to west, and another of less length running at right angles to it. Through the former flows a small transparent stream, form which the inhabitants are supplied by means of a dipping-place opposite almost every door. The buildings are mostly modern, and covered with slate, and the streets are well paved and lighted. The church, distant about half a mile from the town, was originally a small chapel for mendicant friars. The screen which separates the chancel from the nave is of curious workmanship, and was erected about the year 1482 by Courtenay, bishop of Exeter. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter, and in the patronage of the earl of Devon, with an average income of £886. Honiton, though an ancient borough by prescription, was only twice represented in parliament prior to the reign of Charles I. Since that time it has returned two members.

The government of the town is vested in a portreeve and bailiff, who are chosen annually at the court of the lord of the manor. The principal manufacture is lace, of which considerable quantities are annually sent to the metropolis. The population of the borough and parish in 1831 was 3,509. The education of the poorer classes is partly provided for by a free-school for boys and a school of industry for girls, the latter of which is supported by the subscriptions of females.