Tuesday, 21 June 2016


The Town Hall

I started my walk around Tiverton in Fore Street, with the Town Hall off to my left. It dates from 1864 and was the work of Lloyd of Bristol - Pevsner describes it as "atrocious, a mongrel affair". It's not great, but perhaps that's a little harsh.

Then down Angel Hill and across the bridge over the River Exe, somewhat canalised, with a view of the tower of St Peter's church.

In Wellbrooke St there are Waldron's Almshouses with their adjoining chapel. They date from 1590 and were restored in 1987 (the chapel in 1990). The founder, Thomas Waldron, was a merchant. This area of the town, West Exe, was a centre for weaving and spinning from the early 16th century

Not far away is Heathcoat's Lace factory, founded by John Heathcote in 1816. By 1822 it was employing a staggering 1500 hundred men and it is still the town's largest employer. The original factory burned down in 1936, but was speedily reconstructed. The building on the right is the factory school of 1843, now the factory shop. I had a nice chat with the former Chief Engineer who happened to pass by as I was taking my photo.

Now back across the Exe and left into St Peter's St where a second set of almshouses, Slee's, founded by George Slee in 1610 for six single women. The first floor gallery was originally open.

On the left of the almshouses is the Great House of St George, constructed 1603-14 for George Slee apparently after a substantial fire of 1598 which destroyed much of the town.

At the end of the street is St Peter's church, a "gorgeous display of civic pride (and ostentatiousness)" [Pevsner] and dating from the early 16th century. The other side of the church has an imposing porch, but this side offered more favourable light.

Next to the church is the Castle, parts of which date from the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

There are more (former) almshouses in nearby Barrington St. The plaque reveals that this was "Blagdon's Charity. Destroyed by Fire and rebuilt 1833."

I now doubled back for a look at the Pannier Market of 1830. I liked the delicate iron columns.

Nearby, in Gold St, is the former Corn Market of 1732 with more imposing columns.

The final main sight, further down Gold St was Greenway's Almshouses, which like Waldron's have an attached chapel. They were founded in 1529. The stonework seems to have been renovated quite recently.There are two further parallel ranges behind dating from 1839 and 1889.

Beyond the end of Gold St, in Station Road, is the Clock Tower. I thought it might be one of the many clocks erected in commemoration of one or other of Queen Victoria's Jubilees, but it dates in fact from 1907.

Conditions: grey, cool, threat of rain.

Distance: about two miles.

Rating: four stars.

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