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Modified on January 02, 2024

Combe Martin in 1831-1845

Combe Martin in A Topographical Dictionary of England

By Samuel Lewis (topographer) 1831 Vol. 1

Publication date: 1831 in the reign of William IV

Publisher: London, S. Lewis & Co

This is a reliable primary source. Diaries, letters, drawings, and memoirs created by individuals who have directly experienced or observed historical events, provide insights that cannot be captured by even the most eloquently written articles or books.

We choose these primary sources over modern interpretations. Utilizing these primary sources allows students to gain a deeper understanding of key historical concepts.

A Topographical Dictionary of England contains every fact of importance illustrating the local history of England. Arranged alphabetically by place (villageparishtown, &c.), the dictionary provides an accurate description of all English geographical areas as they existed at the time of first publication in 1831.

The following extracts are quoted verbatim from the original text:

“Combmartin, a market-town and parish in the hundred of BRAUNTON, county of DEVON, 4½ miles (E.) from Ilfracombe, and 176 (W. by S.) from London, containing 1032 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its situation in a deep valley, and its adjunct from its proprietor at the time of the Conquest.

In the reign of Edward I. some mines of lead, containing a considerable portion of silver, were discovered, which in the reign of Edward II. produced such a quantity of that metal as to assist him materially in defraying the expense of carrying on the war with France. These mines, after remaining in a neglected state for many years, were re-opened in the reign of Elizabeth, and worked with considerable advantage under the direction of Sir Beavis Bulmer.

A cup made of silver found here was presented to William Bourchier, Earl of Bath, and another, weighing one hundred and thirty-seven ounces, to Sir Richard Martyn, Lord Mayor of London. They were unsuccessfully explored in 1790: in 1813 a more profitable attempt was made; but after four years, during which time two hundred and eighty tons of silver were extracted, the works were discontinued.

The town is situated in a deep romantic glen, extending in a north-west direction, and opening into a small cove on the Bristol channel, which formed a convenient port for shipping the mineral produce, and still affords the inhabitants the means of conveying coal and lime to other towns, from which they receive corn and bark in return.

The houses, many of which are in ruins and overgrown with ivy, extend for nearly a mile in an irregular line along the side of the vale: the surrounding scenery is strikingly magnificent, and in many points of view highly picturesque.

The market has been discontinued; but the charter, granted to Nicholas Fitz-Martin by Henry III., in 1264, is still retained by the exposure of some trifling article for sale on the market days; the market-house is rapidly falling to decay: a fair is held on Whit-Monday.

The county magistrates hold a petty session for the division, on the first Monday in every month, at a small inn. The living is a rectory, in the archdeaconry of Barnstaple, and diocese of Exeter, rated in the king's books at £39 and in the patronage of the Rev. William Toms. The church, which is a handsome structure, is dedicated to St. Peter. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists. 

A school for teaching forty children reading, writing, and arithmetic, was endowed, in 1733, by George Ley, Esq., with a house and land producing £25 per annum: the premises have been lately rebuilt. Thomas Harding, a learned Roman Catholic divine and controversialist, was born here, in 1512.________________________________________________

Combe Martin

in A Topographical Dictionary of England

By Samuel Lewis (topographer) 1845 Vol. 1

Publication date: 1845 in the reign of Victoria

Publisher: London, S. Lewis & Co

Quoted verbatim from the original text:

“COMBE- MARTIN (St. Peter), a market-town and parish, in the union of Barnstaple, hundred of Braunton, Braunton and N. divisions of Devon, 5 miles (E.) from Ilfracombe, and I76 (W. by S.) from London 3 containing 1399 inhabitants. This place derives its name from its situation in a deep valley, and its adjunct from its proprietor at the time of the Conquest. 

In the reign of Edward I., some mines of lead, containing a considerable portion of silver, were discovered, and 377 men from the Peak in Derbyshire were brought to work them : in the reign of Edward II. they produced such a quantity of that metal as to assist the king materially in defraying the expense of carrying on the war with France.

These mines, after remaining in a neglected state for many years, were re-opened in the reign of Elizabeth I, and worked with considerable advantage under the direction of Sir Bevis Bulmer. They were unsuccessfully explored in 1790.

In 1813 a more profitable attempt was made, which, after four years, however, was discontinued: the works have been since renewed, and the mines are at present in operation. Some iron and copper are also found, and limestone is quarried and burnt for agricultural use to a great extent.

There is a variety of geological productions in one of the hills, as well as numerous fossils. The town is situated in a deep romantic glen, extending in a north-west direction, and opening into a small cove on the Bristol Channel, which is capable of being converted into a good harbour, and which formed a convenient port for shipping the mineral produce, and still affords the inhabitants the means of conveying coal and lime to other towns, whence they receive corn and bark in return.

The houses, many of which are in ruins, and overgrown with ivy, extend for nearly a mile, in an irregular line, along the side of the vale 3 the surrounding scenery is strikingly magnificent. The market has been discontinued but the charter, granted to Nicholas Fitz-Martin by Henry III., in 1264, is still retained by the exposure of some trifling articles for sale on the market days : the market-house is rapidly falling to decay.

Fairs are held on Whit-Monday and Lammas feast and the county magistrates hold a petty-session for the division, on the first Monday in every month, at a small inn. The living is a rectory, valued in the king’s books at £39. 8. 9.;, and in the gift of the Rev. Humphrey Toms : the tithes amount to about £400 per annum, and the glebe contains 60 acres, attached to which is a glebe-house.

The church is a handsome structure, with a fine tower, and was built about the time of Henry III. 3 the nave is separated from the chancel by a screen. There are places of worship for Wesleyans and Independents. A school was endowed, in 1733, by George Ley, Esq., with land producing £25 per annum : the premises were rebuilt a few years since, by George Ley, Esq., grandson of the founder. 

Another school is in union with the National Society. There are three rings of stone on the summit of one of the hills in the parish, called Hangman-Hill, the height of which is 1189 feet. Dr. Thomas Harding, a learned Roman Catholic divine and controversialist, was born here in 1512.

© Author

A 19th century lime kiln in Combe Martin | Combemartinvillage.co.uk

Notes on sources:

Research and article by JP | Copyright © 2023

Extracts are quoted from archived original texts (1831)

A Topographical Dictionary of England is in the public domain

Published print version: Abe Books

Extracts are quoted verbatim

The Combe Martin Ley Education charity still exists

Combe Martin Silver Mining

Combe Martin Lime-Burning and Quarrying