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Buckfastleigh (Holy Trinity)

BUCKFASTLEIGH (Holy Trinity), a market-town and parish, in the union of Totnes, hundred of Stanborough, Stanborough and Coleridge, and S. divisions of Devon, 2¾ miles (S. W. by W.) from Ashburton; containing 2576 inhabitants. This place, which was formerly of considerable importance, derived its origin and name from a Cistercian abbey, founded about the year 1137, and the abbot of which had the power of inflicting capital punishment within his domains, which were very extensive, comprehending some estates at or near Kingsbridge. The district is remarkable for the salubrity of its air and the variety of its scenery. The town contains many houses built with the materials of the ruined abbey, and consists principally of one narrow street, in the upper part of which is the market-house, a mean building, obstructing the thoroughfare. Its present prosperity is derived from the woollen manufacture in the immediate neighbourhood, in which more than 500 persons are employed; and within the parish are strata of limestone, of which the larger blocks are wrought into mantel-pieces on the spot, and the smaller burnt into lime: copper-works have been also established. The market, though scarcely deserving the name, is still held on Friday; and fairs for live-stock are held on the third Thursday in June and the second Thursday in September.

The parish comprises 4379 acres, of which 1072 are common or waste. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £19. 1. 0½.; net income, £155; patron and incumbent, the Rev. Matthew Lowndes; impropriator, the Earl of Macclesfield. The church, situated on an eminence, nearly half way between the town and the remains of the abbey, comprises a nave, chancel, and transepts, with chapels on the north and south sides, and a tower of very ancient date, which has an embattled and projecting parapet, and is surmounted by a spire. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyans. About three-quarters of a mile from the town are the picturesque remains of the abbey, which was surrendered to the crown in 1538, when its revenues were estimated at £466. 11. 2.: they consist principally of an ancient gateway, supposed, from the great antiquity of its style, to have been the entrance to the original establishment, and part of the abbot's tower, of more modern erection, near which has been erected a mansion in the style of an ancient Norman castle, with two wings and four embattled towers. Within the limits of the parish are the remains of two encampments supposed to be either of Saxon or Danish origin, the larger of which, called Hembury Fort, commands the banks of the river Dart, which bounds the parish on the east.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.