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MARKET TOWNS OF DEVON (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Torrington in 1836

Torrington (distinguished from Little Torrington and Black Torrington by the epithet Great) is a municipal borough and market-town in the hundred of Fremington, about thirty-six miles from Exeter, by Crediton, Chulmleigh, and Cranford Moor. The borough is co-extensive with the parish, which comprehends an area of 3,640 acres. The total population in 1831 was 3,093. The town is situated on a hill, on the northern or right bank of the Torridge, over which there is a bridge communicating with the little suburb of Taddy Port. The church is in a central situation. Torrington castle stood on the south side of the town, on a steep eminence, overlooking the Torridge ; it was built by Richard de Merton, A.D. 1340, its site is now a bowling-green.

The principal manufacture carried on in Torrington and the country round is that of gloves ; this branch of industry was in 1834 in a very flourishing state. The market is held on Saturday, for corn and butchers’ meat ; there are three fairs in the year, and a great cattle-market on the third Saturday in March.

The quarter sessions and petty sessions are regularly held ; the court of record has gone into disuse. The new act assigns to Torrington four aldermen and twelve councillors.

The living of Torrington is a vicarage, united with the perpetual curacy of the neighbouring parish of St. Giles in the Wood : their joint yearly value is £162 : they are in the gift of Christ Church College, Oxford. There were in 1822 places of worship for Presbyterians, Wesleyans, and Baptists. (Lysons.)

The number of schools in 1833 was as follows :- three infant schools, with 112 children ; seven day schools (one partly endowed, and one partly supported by subscription), with 322 children ; and three Sunday schools, with 383 children. There are two sets of almshouses, one for six poor persons, unendowed ; another for eight poor persons, with an endowment.

In February, 1646, the Royalists under Lord Hopton were attacked at Torrington by the Parliamentary forces under Fairfax, and entirely defeated. This defeat was the death blow to the Royalist cause in the west. Torrington gives the title of Viscount to the family of Byng.