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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Kingsbridge Traces 1

A photo walk from lower Dodbrooke to Buttfield in Kingsbridge, although all of this walk takes place in an area that was not originally in Kingsbridge. This is an interesting walk with many traces of history along the way and some interesting stories to tell. It was inspired by a recent "Walk and Talk" history walk I joined.

The route starts in what was the livestock market, now a small garden, and follows Ebrington Street and then Derby Road which was the main route to Frogmore, before the embankment in Kingsbridge was built, and before the turnpike road of the early eighteen hundreds replaced that route, through the Charletons, as the main route to Dartmouth. I have split the walk into two parts as even I was surprised by how much there is to see and say along this route.

Things to note in this old tithe map below are the general lack of development, with Dodbrooke being very concentrated near the old market square and where the junction at The King of Prussia and The Regal Club are today. Between plots 116 and 115 is just a farm lane where Rack Park Road is today. This was owned by William Grant, described as a Yeoman, and the land was listed as pasture and for vegetable growing. Derby Road runs through fields almost the whole way to the old Frogmore Road. Where it runs through what is now the Recreation Ground plots 122 and 127 are described as the Salt Mill Fields while plot 63 on the opposite side of the road is described as Garden Corn Mill.

This more detailed map shows the position of the Saltmill in the recreation ground and further up the valley the Garden Corn Mill with mill pond.

This is the embankment in Kingsbridge below, which was originally Dodbrooke Quay, as Dodbrooke predates Kingsbridge, as we will see on this tour.

Totnes Weekly Times - Saturday 15 November 1884

Unfinished Promenade.—The new promenade on the Dodbrooke Quay has been in an unfinished state now for a considerable time and it having been considered most undesirable that matters should remain any longer in this unsatisfactory state a meeting of the parishioners has recently been held for the purpose of voting a sum of money from the Feoffee Fund for the purpose of completing it.

The new promenade was enclosed some years since from the Kingsbridge estuary, a grant having been obtained from the Duchy Office for the purpose. The cost of this embankment has been very considerable and considering the great cost in connection with the improvement made, it is to be regretted that the enclosure was ever undertaken.

The towns of Kingsbridge and Dodbrooke want public recreation ground very badly and this spot was held out to the inhabitants as being suitable for a promenade. That it is an improvement to the old state of things no one can deny, and it must be admitted that when completed, it will belong as much to the poor as the rich, yet considering the great cost, it is to be regretted the enclosure was ever assented to. But having undertaken to make the embankment, it is certainly necessary to complete it, and with this view, the inhabitants have recently voted from the Feoffee Funds, £12O for the purpose, and when finished, this embankment will have cost close on £7OO (2017- £46,000).

Mr John Lidstone has handsomely offered to give the iron railings, and private seats and another gentleman has offered to plant the shrubs. Another reason why the grant was made is that the Feoffees have some building sites near this spot which are now being opened up for building, and it is considered it will not be many years hence before the higher rack park ground will be offered for building, and thus if possible open up a new road leading to the north of Dodbrooke.

Set back from the embankment, below, are some very grand former houses, some of which have been converted to apartments and some of which now house businesses. Through that gap, at the back, you can see where we will walk, along Ebrington Street, so we will be seeing the backs of these buildings. As Dodbrooke was merged with Kingsbridge and the harbour was developed and became much richer with trade, the much older Dodbrooke turned to face the water in an early sort of gentrification, but old Dodbrooke still leaves its traces behind if you look for them.

By 1863 Kingsbridge and Dodbrooke had become a boom town. Land along the estuary had massively increased in value and many industries were flourishing there.

Western Times - Friday 13 February 1863

KINGSBRIDGE. Improvement of Property.—Some fifty years since a wall was built by the late Mr. A. Windsor, along by the Barrack Fields, adjoining the estuary, and the space between being filled up, it was used principally by the public as a mere walking place, and the only building on it for many years, was a boat-house. When the turnpike-road from this town to Charleton was made, it passed this new ground, leaving on the estuary side a narrow strip of land. The boat-house now underwent transformation, and became a cottage.

Subsequently it was enlarged and made a small public-house, and now it is become a respectable and commodious inn. There is also a brewery, coal store and timber-yard adjoining, and in connection with this part there is the quay at which the steamer and other vessels land their stores. Below this a shipwright's yard was built, about 30 years since, by Mr. J. Jordan,and now in the occupation of Mr. Date, and this part there are several cottages.

Last week this property with some other belonging to the Lord of the Manor of Dodbrook, was offered for Sale, by public auction, and the first lot comprising the inn, coal stores, &c, was bought in by the owner for £1,590, and the next day sold to the present occupier, Mr. Wm. Bond. The second lot, comprising the shipwright's yard. &c, was bought in for £1,200 and afterwards sold to Mr. Date, who has a long lease in it already. It will therefore be seen that a waste piece ground, that years since was not worth one penny, has now been sold for between £2,000 and £3,000 (2017-£177,000). But it is not only the property that has been improved ;it has added to the wealth of this town and neighbourhood.

At the shipwright's yard there are from 50 to 60 hands continually employed, whilst the inn, the coal stores, the brewery, and timber-yards afford employment to many other parties. Kingsbridge and its neighbourhood have always had to depend on its own energies for support, the large landowners being non-residents, this, no doubt, is the great secret of success, for " God helps those that help themselves," and the men or community, who prosper through their own exertions, have a spirit of independence, and carry their heads more erect than those, who by sycophancy or bribery endeavour to take position in society. There is not a district perhaps to found where agriculture, trade commerce and the shipping interest taken as a whole, are in a more prosperous condition.

Down the narrow alley from the embankment to Ebrington Street is this old doorway.

This is Church Street, Dodbrooke, not surprisingly leading up to Dodbrooke Church at the top of the hill. Although the church looks much later, having been restored in 1780, it is Grade 1 listed and the font dates from 1170. This is some indication of how long there has been a settlement here. By contrast Kingsbridge church was only consecrated in 1414, a newcomer by Devon standards. I will be doing a seperate post about Dodbrooke Church.

The lower end of Church Street is where the ancient Dodbrooke Market was held for the sale of livestock. The former market area today stands on a raised area fenced from the main road. It is roughly triangular in shape and at the top end comes to a sharp point where you will find a plaque commemorating the market, dated 1849.

The ownership of the land at the lower end of Church Street on which the market took place was a matter of some argument which ended up with a celebrated legal case in Exeter in 1908. Was the land owned by the Lord of the Manor or the householders on to whose homes it fronted.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Thursday 07 May 1908

Mr. Windeatt submitted that in 1849 the configuration of the land was altered. The bank was taken away; the surface of the land upon which the pennage was, was made level with the highway, and there was no division, as there was formerly, between the edge of the bank and the highway; and that since 1849 the local authorities had repaired the land on which the pennage had been put. A slab was erected in 1849 "Dodbrooke Market Place 1849" by public subscription, which amounted to dedication to the public and dedication as a market.

In the garden are some wooden planters with actual photos of what it used to look like. In the middle is an old cottage which forms an island where the road used to pass on both sides. To the right it led past The King of Prussia pub to the quayside and to the left it led down Ebrington Street and on to Frogmore. That cottage was replaced with the Regal Club.

The raised causeway is on the left, and still there today, and the bank that had existed previously has been removed, making the market area level with the road.

Today The Regal Club stands in the same spot but the narrow road to Frogmore no longer leads to Ebrington Street unless you are on foot and walk under the bridged over section of the building on the left. Road traffic has to drive around the building on the right hand side.

Originally the site housed the old town cinema and a chapel, before the Patrick family bought the premises in 1977 rather than see the buildings go into dis-repair. Having joined the two premises together and carried out extensive development and renovation over the years, the Patricks (still running the business and in their 3rd generation) have maintained the original character whilst increasing the functionality of the whole club.

Here is a close up of the tithe map, below, showing the road on both sides of the original cottage, which forms an island.

Western Morning News - Wednesday 24 January 1923

A raised causeway extends the whole length of the main street of Dodbrooke; at the foot of this bank is a broad open space of sloping ground, on which the , monthly cattle market is held, and where temporary sheep pens are pitched. There were formerly weekly markets, both in Kingsbridge and Dodbrooke; the former granted about the year 1256 and the latter about 1461. Dodbrooke weekly market became obsolete about the close of the last century, after the establishment, in 1773, of a great cattle market, which is still held on the third Wednesday of each month."

In 1912 the ratepayers of Kingsbridge, as Dodbrooke and Kingsbridge had merged by then, decided to buy the Dodbrooke Market Rights from the Lord of the Manor, Mr AB Crispin for the sum of £400. No decision was initially taken as to the new site for the market but it was felt at the meeting of the Urban Authority that the market was such an important asset for the town that it was high time that the town took over control.

Many of the original cottages still survive in Ebrington Street, leading out of Dodbrooke. Most have been modernised but bear memories of their former selves.

This is how narrow Ebrington Street was for it's full length, until one stretch of cottages were replaced at a later date, when the building line was moved back from the road.

Totnes Weekly Times - Saturday 07 March 1891

FIRE AT KINGSBRIDGE. About half-past seven o’clock on Wednesday morning an outbreak of fire occurred at the White lion Inn, in Ebrington-street, occupied by Mr John Grant. A woman named Creber, living near, first discovered the fire by seeing smoke issuing from the stable behind the inn............ The Kingsbridge and Dodbrooke fire engines were soon on the spot, but when the trap which contained the connection with the hydrant from the Dodbrooke water supply was sought it could not be found. No directions to its whereabouts could be discovered, and nobody in charge of the fire engine seemed to know where it was. Consequently, pick and shovels had to be obtained and excavations made here and there in order to find it, but meanwhile the fire was raging close at hand. The hose was then taken some distance off to the Eastern backway, where there is a brook, and just as this was got into working order, and after nearly half an hour had been practically wasted, the hydrant connection was at length discovered and water directed upon the flames. The fire was then readily extinguished and the adjoining property saved from further injury. The mishap concerning the hydrant seems to have been caused by metalling having from time to time been placed upon the road until it covered and concealed the trap, evincing great neglect by those in charge of the apparatus.

There are one or two narrow alleys that still lead to properties at the back. People in the original cottages tended to work from home and often had workshops at the rear. The plots were Burgage Plots and tended to be narrow on the street front where land was at a premium but longer at the back.

Here, a little way along the street is an old wall which was part of one of the old cottages and set back behind are the more modern replacements, that make this part of the street much wider.

Here is what remains of someones fireplace in one of those old cottages.

Moving along Ebrington Street you can look back and see how wide the new section is, with the modern houses on the right. On the left are a couple of historic old buildings that still remain. On the horizon is Kingsbridge Church at the top of Fore Street.

The largest building is the old Malt Mill, now converted into residential accommodation. The side of the building facing the road is a wonder of architecture. The wonder being that it is still solid and standing despite the fact that there is barely a single straight line or flat surface left in evidence. I liken it to a cube shaped balloon that has been slightly over inflated.

Hold your noses.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Friday 18 January 1889

.........Dr. Twining (Medical-officer of Health) reported that he had examined the houses in Ebrington-street, Dodbrooke in which there had been cases of typhoid fever, and had also analysed the drinking water and could find nothing to account for the outbreak. He also reported that there was case of typhoid fever at South Pool, and the Sanitary Inspector asked for instructions to serve a notice on the owner of the house and those adjoining to lay a pipe-sewer at the back of them instead of allowing the sewage matter to run into a ditch near the houses, as at present........

The other old building here is Pindar Lodge or at least the back of Pindar Lodge as the lodge itself faces the quayside, albeit hidden by other buildings that leave a small pathway between for access. As you can see it has lived a long life with many nips and tucks. So why is it called Pindar Lodge?

Derby Mercury - Thursday 03 December 1789

Peter Pindar, we hear, has lately paid a visit to his native earth in the parish of Dodbrook, near Knightsbridge (sic), in Devonshire. The bard is so attached to this spot, that he is about to build a comfortable box on it ; to which one of his friends has given the name of Pindar-Hall. It is certainly a delightful situation, being close to and commanding a view of an inlet of the sea. An estimate and plan have been delivered in, and the number of lodging-rooms is to be ten, it seems ; upon which a wag remarked, that would be just enough for Peter and the Mules !

So having discovered how it got its name, who was Peter Pindar? Well I should really ask who was John Wolcot for that was his real name. I am not sure if the present residents of Pindar Lodge realise that they nearly ended up living in Wolcot Lodge.

Wolcot lived to the ripe old age of 80 and had a fascinating life and career. He was baptised in Dodbrooke, home-schooled by an uncle, before training to become a medical doctor in Aberdeen, whereupon he travelled to Jamaica as physician to the Governor there in 1767. He then took Holy Orders back in Britain and returned to Jamaica as a Parson. In 1772 he returned to England and took up medicine again and settled at a practice in Truro. As if this wasn't enough he then upped sticks again and moved to London where he became a satirist. His first satirical targets were the members of The Royal Academy soon followed by the King and Queen themselves. "Wolcot had a remarkable vein of humour and wit, which, while intensely comic to persons not involved, stung its subjects to the quick. In London Wolcot became an important figure in the art world."

Next to Pindar Lodge is the proudly declared "Wonky Cottage" although it's wonkiness is only left to the imagination, hidden as it is behind a very non wonky wall.

There are various random pieces of stonework that still loiter along the route with few clues as to what once stood there. I think it is fair to call these traces.

Road transport was very late coming to this part of the south coast, mainly because the coast was a better transport link. Many of the roads headed inland from Dodbrooke featured bridges that didn't take wheeled transport, only packhorses. These surviving chimney pots all had fireplaces below, fed by coal brought by sea directly into the quayside only a few hundred yards away. There are still sunken remains of coal barges at the very end of the embankment visible at low tide.

Western Times - Friday 24 January 1873

KINGSBRIDGE. Scarcity of Coal —This town has been in a shivering condition for the last fortnight or more for want of coal, the dealers not having any to supply their customers. On Monday, to relieve the present pressure, the Gas Company, knowing the state of affairs, consented to supply each family in this town and Dodbrooke with one cwt. In the afternoon and evening the gas stores were besieged with persons anxious to get their allowance, for which they were charged 2s. Mr. Robert Hurrell, of Buttville, gave away to poor working people between four and five tons in hundredweights. This well-timed and generous liberality was greatly appreciated, for snow, hail, and the barometer were all falling, and the skin feeling a touch of freezing.

It was to be another twenty years before trains arrived in Kingsbridge, which no doubt took over delivery of the coal supplies

In the distance is the former Workhouse which was either a harsh cruel punishment or an enlightened attempt to offer refuge to those with no hope, depending on your viewpoint. Context is everything, and I am hoping to do a post on the Workhouse soon.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Saturday 11 December 1847


NOTICE is Hereby Given,—That the Board of Guardians of this Union are desirous of CONTRACTING for the supply of the following Articles to the Kingsbridge Union Workhouse, from the 25th day of December next, to the 25th day of March following.

Good BEEF, in fore quarters, and Beef SUET at per cwt.

Good PORK, the whole pig, the pig not to weigh less than 12 score, with bacon not less than 2 inches thick.

Fresh BUTTER, to be delivered weekly at per lb.

Household CHEESE.

Skimmed MILK, to be sent for not exceeding one mile and half at per gallon. FLOUR, Best Seconds at per sack.

Persons willing to Contract for all or any of the above Articles, are requested to send to me, my Office, Kingsbridge, free of expense, Sealed Tenders, marked " Provision Tender," on or before 4 o'clock the Afternoon of Friday, the 17th day of December next.

The whole of the above articles must be of the best quality, delivered free of expense at the said Workhouse, and at such times and quantities shall be required by the Board of Guardians. Samples of Cheese are required to be delivered with each Tender. Should any of the above be inferior to the quality contracted for, the Master ot the Workhouse is to be at liberty to obtain the then necessary supplies, and charge the Contractor with the loss thereby sustained.

The consumption of Flour will be from 10 to 20 sacks per week, and the parties supplying Flour may be paid one week after delivery (if required), provided the Flour be approved of. The Board do not pledge themselves to accept the lowest Tender. By Order of the Board, THOS. HARRIS, Clerk.

This is part of Dodbrooke Manor original home of the Lord of the Manor. Again we are not seeing the best profile of the building here, still hidden behind high walls and with a host of blue doors into the street.

Brixham Western Guardian - Thursday 20 July 1905

WANTED, an experienced HOUSE-PARLOURMAID ; good references. Dodbrooke Manor, Dodbrooke, South Devon.

Daily Mirror - Monday 11 March 1907


THE CHILDREN'S Prizes for Clever Nonsense Verses by Our Young Readers.


The first prize of 5s. for the best three lines to complete the rhyme that began "There once was a monkey of note" is awarded to Irene Muriel Hunt, aged twelve, Dodbrooke Manor, Dodbrooke, South Devon, for the following :

There once was a monkey of note,

Dressed out in a cap and fine coat,

He said, if I can make

folks think I'm a man,

Perhaps they will give me a vote.

Western Morning News - Friday 12 July 1935

DODBROOKE FETE Mr. Cyril Maude, the famous stage and screen actor, opened a fete at Dodbrooke Manor, the grounds of Maj. and Mrs. Stapleton Cotton, yesterday afternoon. It was in aid of the funds for laying out the Jubilee Recreation Ground which Kingsbridge Urban Council has acquired as a Jubilee memorial.

At the end of Ebrington Street is a later building on the same plot of the Manor and it looks far more impressive too, Dodbrooke Lodge with grand entrance gates on to the junction with Derby Road. We'll see it in Part 2.

I will finish Part 1 with The Strange Case of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Wednesday 18 April 1894

A DOG CASE AT KINGSBRIDGE. "William Jarvis, of Ebrington-street, Dodbrooke, was followed by his grandfather's dog to the New Quay Inn on Sunday evening, and while there the animal was patted on the back by George Cousins, mate of the schooner Pattie, from Hull, now lying in Salcombe Harbour. The mate, who was in company with John Pattison and Henry Cousins, ordinary seamen of the same ship, left before Jarvis, who, on coming outside, found the dog was missing. Yesterday it was discovered on board the Pattie by P.C. Grant, Ford took proceedings at the Kingsbridge Police-court against the three men, charging them with stealing the dog. This they denied, but said it jumped from the Quay into their boat on Sunday night after coming from the inn, and, not thinking it wise to throw it overboard, they took it with them to Salcombe. The Bench considered there was a doubt in the case, of which they gave the defendants the benefit, and remitted the costs.

The walk will continue down Derby Road in Part 2.

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2 commentaires

04 oct. 2023

What an amazing article. iPhone 16 and 18 Church Street, which appears in the first photo behind the park. If you have any more info or pictures relating to the cottages I would be very interested. Jools parkes


Gethin Thomas
Gethin Thomas
04 oct. 2023
En réponse à

Hi, glad you enjoyed it. I don't have any more info on these do you have a family connection there?

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