Dawlish (St. Gregory)

DAWLISH (St. Gregory), a parish, in the union of Newton-Abbott, hundred of Exminster, Teignbridge and S. divisions of Devon, 2¾ miles (N. N. E.) from Teignmouth; containing 3132 inhabitants. This place, which is noticed in Domesday book under the name Doelis, was for many years an inconsiderable village, inhabited only by fishermen; but about the year 1790, it began to be distinguished, from the salubrity of the air and the pleasantness of its situation, as a desirable resort for invalids, and since that time it has been progressively improving. It is now one of the most fashionable watering-places on the coast of Devon. The principal part of the village is beautifully situated in a valley extending to the sea-shore, and watered by a rapid stream, designated the Dawlish Water. On the south side of this stream is a row of good houses, called the Strand, chiefly occupied by visiters, with two commodious hotels, and several well-furnished shops; and on the north side is a row of houses of inferior description, irregularly built. Facing the sea is a third range, named the Cross Row, in which the houses are well built and of respectable appearance. The lawn bordering the rivulet has, within the last few years, been planted with evergreens, and laid out in shrubberies and walks, forming an agreeable promenade; and a bridge for carriages, and two foot-bridges, afford communication between the opposite parts of the village. The reading-rooms are situated on the beach, commanding a fine view of the sea; the public baths, which present every accommodation, are on the other side of the rivulet, near the cliff. The new road from Exeter to Torbay passes through the village, and here is a station of the South-Devon railway. A regatta is celebrated, generally in August; and assembly and billiard rooms have been established. The environs afford pleasant walks and rides, and the cliffs that overhang the sea impart an air of grandeur to the scenery which is finely contrasted with the rich fertility of the vale, and the luxuriant foliage of the wood-crowned heights.

The parish comprises 5017 acres, whereof 202 are common or waste; the soil on the hills, which are very steep, is poor and sandy, but in the numerous picturesque valleys luxuriantly rich. A large quantity of cider is produced from the orchards attached to the farms, and potatoes are raised for exportation to Newfoundland; great quantities of mackerel are occasionally taken, off the coast. Mines of cobalt have been discovered in the vicinity. A pleasure-fair is held on Easter-Monday. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £25. 5., and in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter, the appropriators: the great tithes have been commuted for £360, and the vicarial for £440. The church, a handsome and commodious structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower crowned by pinnacles, was enlarged and beautified in 1824, at an expense of £4000. At Sedwell and Cofton, hamlets in the parish, are the remains of ancient chapels; the latter has been disused only since the year 1715. There are places of worship for Wesleyans, Independents, and Plymouth Brethren. An old house near the churchyard, with walls of extraordinary thickness, is said to have been a monastery of some consideration.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.