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Thorverton

St. Thomas-ΰ-Becket

Photograph of Thorverton Church, kindly provided by John Bishop.

Photograph of Thorverton Church kindly provided by John Bishop.

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Historical Overview

Thorverton is a village and parish that lies about a mile east of the River Exe.  It is situated almost centrally between the ancient market towns of Exeter, Crediton and Tiverton and contains the hamlets of Yellowford (or Yoldford) and Raddon.  Raddon, lies half a mile west of the parish.  The manor at East Raddon originally belonged to the de Bathwina or de Bathe family, ancestors of Sir Henry de Bathe.  The de Bathe family anciently held a seat at North Tawton.

There is more than one theory as to how the parish got its name.  Barber (1999) says that some believe that its name may be Scandinavian in origin and so it might have been named after its founder.  But old records mention the parish as Toruerton in 1182.  Barber (1999) tells us that in 1340 the parish was called Thorferton.

St. Thomas-ΰ-Beckett and Religion in the Parish

Thorverton church of St. Thomas-ΰ-Becket is believed to have been built around the 15th century, although Mee (1965) tells us of an arch in the tower that may be 13th century.  He also mentions a  very old font that possibly dates back to Norman times - but there is no evidence to suggest that there was a settlement here in 1086.

Kelly (1893) gives the following description of Thorverton Parish Church:

"The church of St. Thomas-ΰ-Becket, an ancient building in the Gothic style, consists of a chancel, nave, aisles, transept, south porch and western tower containing a clock and 6 bells dated respectively 1861, 1674, 1673 (4 and 6) and the fifth 1662... there are some ancient monuments to the Tuckfield family and modern stained windows: one of the ends bears the arms of the Luttrell family and on another is a shield with the arms of Wallis impaling Gilbert: two other shields are carved with emblems of husbandry and the figure of a horse." (p. 604)

White (1850) tells us of a Baptist Chapel within the parish that was built by the Presbyterians in 1715.  He also mentions a former Roman Catholic Chapel in the hamlet of Raddon, but by 1850, this had become part of a farmhouse called Chapel St. Martin.

Parish Life

Farming was a dominant occupation in the parish of Thorverton and there were a large number of farmers listed in both White (1850) and Kelly (1893).  The main crops grown in the parish, as listed by Kelly (1893) were wheat, barley and apples, but he also mentions that Thorverton was noted for its apricots - so although not listed as a main crop grown in the parish, they obviously were regarded as something "special" to be mentioned specifically.

Both White (1850) and Kelly (1893) tell us that there were a number of fairs held in the parish.  White (1850) mentions that there was a fair held on the last Monday in February for "fat sheep" and another on the Monday following the 18th July for "lambs" - he tells us that a staggering 40,000 were often sold for rearing.  Kelly (1893) also mentions these fairs, but simply tells us that they were held for lambs and cattle.  He also mentions that there was a monthly cattle fair and also that Thorverton was noted for its breed of sheep.  Thus, it would appear that sheep farming was a dominant occupation in the parish.

Some of the public houses and their landlords are listed in White (1850) and Kelly (1893):

Name White (1850) Kelly (1893)
Dolphin Wm. BABBAGE Joseph PRIDE
(Coal Merchant)
Bell Inn Wm. JAMES James VANSTONE
Exeter Inn   William MAY
(Mason)

Kelly (1893) tells us that a National School was built in Thorverton in 1845 [White (1850) gives the date as 1841].  It was built by the Rev. Samuel Childs CLARKE, to educate 130 children.  Average attendance at the school in 1893 was about 112 pupils and the school-master was John Ashton MARTIN.  The education of children in the parish was partly supported by a small endowment from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners who were Lords of the Manor.

There was also an infants school to cater for 56 children, with average attendance in 1893 being about 42 children.  School-mistress for the infants was Miss. Bertha EGBEER.


Sources

Books - click for sources.

Historic Populations

Year 1801 1851 1901 1931 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 1168 1511 813 717 674 709 852 895 916

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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