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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Kingsbridge Architecture

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas OCTOBER. 02, 2020


The buildings in the centre of Kingsbridge largely reflect the town’s 18th and 19th century history and many fine examples remain. The main streets radiate out from the old quay around the estuary. By far the greatest concentration of listed buildings (mostly Grade II) is to be found in Fore Street. Here are slate- and red tile- hung upper storeys, Victorian shop fronts, narrow passageways and a wide variety of period windows and doors, interspersed with modern alterations.


Further up the hill is the Town Hall of 1850, a two storey stone building with three arched entrances and a clock turret of 1875. Beside it is the Shambles (Grade II*) rebuilt in 1796 with the first floor extending over the pavement on granite piers, five of which date from 1586. The Church of St Edmund (Grade I) sits behind with its octagonal stone spire. It was rebuilt in 1414, although the base of the central tower is earlier and the font may be 13th century. (From the Devonshire Association)




The Shambles or Market House is a timber-built Exchange or Market House, referred to as the Chepe House, Butchery or Shambles, formerly stood in the middle of Fore Street at Kingsbridge, opposite the church. The building, in which the manor courts were held, is shown in a view of the town dated 1586. It was still in existence in 1795, when a legal brief described it as being 128 feet long by 16 feet wide. It was taken down in the following year and replaced by the present Shambles or Market Arcade. This building extends over the pavement next to Saint Edmund's Church. It retains, in its arcade of seven bays, five granite pillars dating from 1586. Behind the arcade is a socially distanced café. A staircase at the south end leads to a burger restaurant on the first floor. (from Historic England)





The Market Hall, built in 1911, was built as a ‘pannier market’ where people could bring their produce for sale. It would be displayed in their own baskets on simple tables. There were no separate stalls.

In normal times there are regular Flea Markets held here. Why "Flea Market"? The theory maintains that "flea market" is a common English calque from the French "marché aux puces" which literally translates to "market of the fleas", labelled as such because the items sold were previously owned and worn, supposedly containing fleas. (Wikipedia)

I suppose given the risks of being bitten by fleas back then, like "Black Death" and twenty percent of the population of Europe being wiped out, it was a sort of defence against being sued, a sort of "Buyer Beware". Being less flea ridden today we just call it recycling.

Calque? An expression adopted by one language from another in a more or less literally translated form.

Also called a loan translation, because the term is both borrowed and translated. Calque my new word for the day.

A Loanword however is borrowed and left untranslated. Of the 1000 most commonly used loan words in English today, about half are of French origin, that's 1066 and the Norman invasion for you. But I have made a big enough detour now and I don't want to get into a verbal cul-de-sac so I give you carte-blanche to stop reading and go and do something more interesting instead. Personally I'm off for a light lunch, I think some Hors D'oeuvres, followed by some Foie Gras, a Creme Brulee topped off with a Cafe au Lait after which I will need to recover in my Chaise Longue. Who needs to learn French if you already speak English?


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