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Drewsteignton

Holy Trinity

formerly St. Peter
St. Peter's Church at Drewsteignton.

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Historical Overview

Drewsteignton is a village in the Teign valley 13 miles west of Exeter and 9 miles south-east of Okehampton lying on the edge of Dartmoor National Park.  It includes the hamlet of Teignholt and also part of the village of Crockernwell.  

Spinsters Rock at Shilston.Drewsteignton was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 as Taintone, it's name derived from a settlement (ton) that grew up by the River Teign.  Local evidence of Spinster's Rock at Shilston, suggests that its history dates back to neolithic times (3000BC), if not earlier according to archaeologists, with settlements of the early farmers on Dartmoor. (White, 2000)  Spinster's Rock is a chambered tomb, known formerly as "cromlechs" and would have once been covered with earth and/or stones.  Some believe that the Drews part of Drewsteignton came from the early Druid settlers in the area and that its name was derived from "the Druids on the River Teign".  However, manorial records show that in 1275 it was mentioned as Teyngton Drue.  White (1850) tells us that during the reign of Henry II and his Richard I, the manor at Drewsteignton was held by the Norman baron Drogo de Teine, also known as Drewe de Teignton.

Another view of the Church at Drewsteignton.Holy Trinity Church

The Devon Local Studies Catalogue reveals a sketch of Drewsteignton's church from William SPREAT's (1842) "Picturesque Sketches of the Churches of Devon" - search using Drewsteignton and SPREAT.  Little did I realise when I visited the parish a while back that I had taken the same picture. A comparison shows that very little has changed in this part of the parish, in the last 170 years!

What has changed is that Drewsteignton church is listed in White's (1850) Directory of Devon as St. Peter's, but in Kelly's (1893) it was listed as being called Holy Trinity which is it's name today.  

Parish Life

White (1850) tells us that Drewsteignton had two annual cattle fairs, the first on the Thursday after Candlemas-Day (2nd February) and the second on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.  Traditionally Trinity Sunday is the Sunday after Whit Sunday (7 weeks after Easter Sunday).  Kelly (1893) tells us that the main grain crop grown in the parish was wheat, but that the parish produced all kinds of root crops.

White (1850) mentions Drewsteignton Lime Rock Quarries operated by Messrs. Ponsford and Co. and Jas. Pitts, Esq.   The quarried lime was burnt and then used for agricultural purposes and also in cement in the masonry trade.  Many of the houses in the parish were built from granite, as was Fingle Bridge over the River Teign - the current bridge built around C17th and has become a popular tourist attraction. The bridge got its name from a stream called the Fingle which meets the River Teign at this point.

To the left, is a picture of Drewsteignton's pub, the "Drewe's Arms Inn", as it is today.  A comparison with the the picture on the Devon Local Studies site of this building and it looks as though it might have been a public house when the old photograph was taken.  In both pictures there is evidently a sign hanging outside the building. Neither White's (1850) or Kelly's (1893) list the Drew's Arms Inn.  Kelly (1893) lists a Druid's Arms and further investigation reveals that the name of this pub was changed during the 1920s when Castle Drogo was built for Julius DREWE by Sir Edward LUTYENS.  Castle Drogo is now owned by the National Trust and is currently undergoing extensive restoration, but is still open to the public.

Kelly (1893) tells us that a school was erected in the parish in 1875, to cater for the education of 140 children, although the average attendance was only about 100 pupils.  William PYM was the school-master and Miss Catherine BOWDEN, the mistress.  Another school was erected at Whiddon Down in 1880 for 50 children, with attendance figures averaging only about 25.  Miss Ada JAGO was the school-mistress at Whiddon Down.


Sources

Books - click for sources.

Historic Populations

Year 1801 1851 1901 1931 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 959 1232 693 674 625 534 569 669 701

Source: 1801-1991 Census ©Crown Copyright
Source: 2001 Registrar General Population Estimates

Data originally from Devon Facts and Figures part of the Devon County Council website. [no longer available]


Map of the Area


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