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MARKET TOWNS OF DEVON (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Topsham in 1836

Topsham is in the hundred of Wonford, three and a half miles south-east of Exeter, on the left or eastern bank of the Ex, at the junction of the Clist. The parish comprehends an area of 1,740 acres, and had in 1831 a total population of 3,184. No manufacture is carried on at Topsham. The town consists almost entirely of one street of irregular breadth, and about a mile in length, extending along the bank of the Ex, with a quay at the lower end of it. At the back of the town is a bridge over the Clist, communicating with the road from Exeter to Lympstone and Exmouth. The houses are generally of mean appearance; but some of them are handsome. The end towards the quay, called the Strand, is inhabited chiefly by persons of property, of whom there are many at Topsham. The houses here command a fine view of the Ex, with the opposite country, backed by the lofty heights of Great and Little Haldon. The church is in the centre of the town, on a high cliff next the river. There are places of worship for Presbyterians, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists. Topsham was formerly considered as the port of Exeter : lately the facilities for vessels getting up to Exeter have been increased. There is a communication by steam-boats between Topsham and London. The market is on Saturday, and there is one small fair in the year. The living of Topsham is a perpetual curacy in the gift and the peculiar jurisdiction of the dean and chapter of Exeter : its yearly value is £227.

The number of schools in 1833 was as follows : twenty-four day, or boarding and day schools, with 636 children ; and four Sunday schools, with 402 children. One of the day schools was a National school, and contained 90 boys and 77 girls.

When Exeter was besieged by the Royalists under prince Maurice, in the civil wars of Charles I, A.D. 1643, the earl of Warwick, who commanded the parliamentary fleet, in attempting to relieve the town, battered down a fort at Topsham, and killed seventy or eighty men. Topsham was anciently called Apsham or Apsom.