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MARKET TOWNS OF DEVON (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Stonehouse in 1842

STONEHOUSE, a township and parish in the county of Devon, 217 miles west by south from London, and about midway between the large towns of Plymouth and Devon port.

Apart from local distinctions Stonehouse would be considered as a component part of the one great town which Plymouth, Devonport, and Stonehouse really constitute. In a narrower point of view, Stonehouse would be regarded as a suburb of Plymouth, being on the same level, and connected with it by uninterrupted lines of buildings ; while it is separated from Devonport by a creek, and by a long and steep ascent beyond, which is unoccupied by buildings: a toll-bridge over the creek makes the separation still greater.

But when the Reform Act was drawn up, it was deemed proper to associate Stonehouse with Devonport in the exercise of the elective franchise, which neither had previously enjoyed. Stonehouse was constituted a township by this act, and is divided into two wards. It is under the jurisdiction of a bench of county magistrates, who sit every Tuesday at the so called town-hall, which is only a part of the watch-house, which is used for the confinement of offenders until they are removed by order of the magistrates.

Stonehouse was originally called Hippeston, the name of a mansion first inhabited by Joel de Stonehouse, in the reign of Edward III. The original, or West Stonehouse, was on the other side of the water, at Cremhill, under Mount Edgcumbe, to the noble proprietor of which this, usually distinguished as East Stonehouse, also belongs.

For several centuries Stonehouse was a fishing village, with a small chapel. During the civil wars its population was between 700 and 800. The establishment of the Royal Naval Hospital in 1762, and of an extensive depot for the Royal Marines in 1784, gave a great impulse to the prosperity of the place, which has, within the present century, been greatly strengthened by the late earl of Mount Edgcumbe, who, by granting leases on liberal terms, has caused the town rapidly to increase. The recent removal of the Royal Victualling Establishment from Plymouth to the extremity (Cremhill Point) of the peninsula on which Stonehouse is situated, will increase its prosperity.

The streets of Stonehouse are wider and more regularly laid out than we usually see in a town of its class. The houses are very neat, but small, except in two or three streets, which the gentry inhabit. There is no public building of any note, except those pertaining to the port of Plymouth, which have been already named.

The parochial chapel of St. George, which has 1000 sittings, was built in 1789, and is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the vicar of St. Andrews, Plymouth. The new chapel of St. Paul’s, which has 950 sittings, was opened in 1831, and its minister is appointed by the incumbent of the parish. There is another episcopal chapel in the Royal Hospital. The Methodists, Calvinists, Independents, Baptists, and Roman Catholics, have their several places of worship, with sittings altogether for 2033 persons.

In Stonehouse there are six commercial and classical schools, with 378 pupils ; a national school with 188 boys and girls, and an infant school with 113 boys and girls. The Sunday schools are five, one belonging to the church, and the rest to the several denominations, with 752 children.

Stonehouse has the usual charitable societies for the benefit of the poor, and an almshouse for eight poor widows has been lately established by Mrs. Bint. The workhouse is a plain structure, erected in 1801. There is a small library and a reading-room, connected with the Naval Club, which is not confined to the naval service.

The market-place is a neat and convenient building. There are two annual fairs, one held in May, the other in September. The population of Stonehouse was 3,407 in 1801, 6,043 in 1821, and 9,712 in 1841; but the last number is a very slight increase (141) upon 1831.