Kellys Post Office Directory of Devonshire 1856


TORQUAY is a seaport, market town, and watering-place, in the parish of Tor Moham, situate in the Hundred of Haytor and Union of Newton Abbott, distant 1 mile south-east from the railway station, 220 west south-west from London, 6 ¾ south-east from Newton Abbott, 8 south-west from Teiqnmouth, 9½ east from Totnes, 7½ north-east from Brixham, and l2 north-by-east of Dartmouth. This place is delightfully situated on the Strand and the picturesque acclivities of the shore of the northern recess of Torbay. Its terraces and suburban villas extend nearly a mile and a half westward, including the old village of Tor, or Tor Moham, to the railway station of the South Devon railway company; for such has been the rapid increase of buildings, and population during the last 25 years that they may now be considered as one town. The parish of Tor Moham, or Tor Mohun, comprises about 2,000-acres of land occupying most of that bold promontory which projects eastward into the English Channel, about three miles in length and two in breadth, to Hope's Nose -the point which divides Torbay and Babbicombe Bay. The population of its parish, in 1801, amounted to 838, and, in 1851, the population had increased to 11,474, besides about 1,800 men and boys at sea, but including Upton, the central portion of it, between Tor and Torquay, which has, within the last few years; been made ecclesiastically a district parish, with a population of 4,722, comprising most of the higher parts of the town . The population, in the season, sometimes reaches 20,000, In the reign of Henry II. the manor of Tor Moham belonged to Wm. De Briwere and his younger daughter carried it in marriage to the Mohuns, who had a seat here in the 13th century, but afterwards sold the manor to the Ridgways; It was purchased, about 1768, of the Earl of Donegal, by Sir Robert Palk grandfather of its, present owner, Sir L. V. Palk Bart.
Torre Abbey, in the south-western part of the parish, was founded in 1196, by Wm. Briwere for Premonstratensian canons, who endowed it with considerable revenues, which were afterwards augmented by his son. On its suppression, in 1539, its yearly income was valued at £392 lls., and it had then fifteen monks,-besides the Abbot. It was granted, with the adjacent estate, in 1543, to John St. Leger, Esq., who conveyed it to Sir Hugh Pollard. It subsequently passed to the Seymours, Ridgways, and Stawells, the last of whom sold it, in I662, to Sir George Cary; Knt., an ancestor, of its present owner, Robert Shedden Sulyard Cary, Esq., who resides at the Abbey House, which, is situated in picturesque and well-wooded grounds adjoining the coast, .and commanding a fine view of the noble bay and the rocky tors, or hills, in the neighbourhood.' The house is chiefly modern, though some parts of the Old Abbey are still preserved; it consists of a centre and two wings, one of which is connected with a castellated gateway, having octagonal towers and battlements. Beyond this, gateway is a large barn, which formerly belonged to the, Abbey, and is decorated with loop holes and buttresses, and mantled with Ivy. There is a Roman Catholic chapel attached to the house which is ornamented with a beautiful altar and superb paintings of the Crucified Saviour and the Virgin Mary. In the grounds are several interesting ruins, among which is a large Norman arch, With a small one on each side; richly sculptured, and clad with ivy. The parish is the property of Sir. L V. Palk and Mr. Cary, with one exception of 8 to 10 acres which belong to Lord Sinclair.

The houses, which have a handsome appearance, are built of a sort of transition limestone, or marble, of which the cliffs are composed, varying in colour, and containing numerous remains of shells and madrepores: under the hands of the lapidary, this is susceptible of as fine a polish as the best Italian marble. During the last 15 years the increasing influx of visitors to Torquay has been so great that its number of dwellings has been more than doubled in that period, and there are now many wealthy families who have handsome mansions here, in which they reside continually, or during the autumn and winter months.
Torquay is open to the sea breezes of the south, and sheltered. by lofty hills from the piercing winds of the north, east, and west, and few places possess a more inviting appearance, especially as a winter residence.
The lower part of the town, which is occupied chiefly by the shops and residences of the tradesmen, is built round three sides of the harbour, with the quay and piers in front. The next tier comprises handsome terraces, which are approached by a winding road at each end and, by steps in other places, as also do the Upper tiers, and the detached hills, on each side, where there are ranges of neat and commodious houses, and delightful villa residences towering one above another on the rocky platforms, gracefully exhibiting their marble fronts amid the luxuriant foliage of trees and shrubs which bedeck their gardens, the carriage roads, and intervening slopes. The views from the various terraces are beautiful in the extreme.-taking in the whole of Torbay, where the entire English fleet could ride in safety.
Here are hot, cold, shower, and vapour baths for the invalid and the convalescent, as well as an illimitable ocean bath of spotless purity for the healthy bather. Public, baths are now in course of erection, one of the greatest natural beauties of Torquay (the Beacon hill) having been partly cut down to make way for them. A great variety of beautiful pebbles are found on the beach and sands. Here are all the requisites of a watering place, including a club, with billiard and reading rooms attached, assembly-rooms, literary institution, libraries, a museum &c. A regatta-takes place yearly in July or August.
The climate of Torquay ,is extremely mild so much so that citrons are produced in the open air and myrtles grow in gardens to a great age and size, as also do many tender exotics:; it is not subject to great or sudden variations of temperature, is comparatively mild in winter, cool in summer, and most remarkably free from thunder storms.

The first houses at Torquay where built about the end of the last century, for the accommodation of the families of Officers and Invalids belonging to the Channel fleet, which, during the French was often at anchor in Torbay. After this, its reputation for the restoration of invalids rapidly spread throughout the kingdom; and from that time it has continued to increase in buildings and population to a greater extent than any other watering -place Devon. A small market-place was erected near the Strand in 1823; but the Torquay Market Company obtained an act of Parliament in 1849 for the building of a spacious market-place, slaughter-houses &c. The market days are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays when, there is an abundant supply of all kinds of provisions. A small booth fair is held here on Easter Monday. The gas works were constructed, in 1835, by a company of proprietors, in £5 shares. The town and parishes are under the immediate control of a local board of health, consisting of twelve members, four of which retire every year in rotation, and their places are filled by others elected by the ratepayers. Petty Sessions are held at the Town hall every Monday when two, three, or more of the resident county magistrates attend. Four guardians attend the Poor-law Board at Newton Abbott every week. Manor courts are held once a year, one for the manor of Torwood, Sir L V. Palk, Bart. and another for the manor of Tor Abbey, R. S. S. Cary, Esq., lords of the manors respectively. The town is well supplied with water, brought in iron pipes from springs in the neighbourhood, and is within the limits of the port of Dartmouth. Here is a good but small harbour, well sheltered from most winds. The imports by sea are chiefly coals from the North of England and timber from Canada; the import, of dry fish from Newfoundland was formerly of some importance, but is now almost given up. The exports, which are very few are chiefly limestone from the adjacent quarries, and clay from the neighbourhood of Newton. Steam packets ply regularly to Plymouth, Portsmouth and Southampton as well as several trading vessels to London &c.. The Town-hall is a plain building, in Lower Union Street where most of the public business of the town is transacted. Another public building, in the same street is called Union-hall, and is used for lectures, theatrical exhibitions, &c. The public gardens are situated on the Torwood road, adjoining the town; they comprise about four acres of land, lately appropriated by the lord of the manor for the use of the public, and tastefully planted and laid out with gravel walks forming a pleasant sheltered promenade. There are two local weekly publications; the "Torquay Directory and South Devon Journal," and the "Torquay Chronicle and General Directory," which give lists of residents and visitors, and register their arrivals and departures, in addition to giving local and other news.
The parish of Tor Moham is in the diocese of Exeter, and archdeaconry of Totness. The parish church of Tor Moham is situated 1 mile west of the town, it is an ancient structure with nave, chancel, and embattled tower, it was repewed and thoroughly repaired in 1849; it contains a good organ and some handsome monuments one of which supports the effigy of a member of the Ridgway family, father of the first Earl of Londonderry, who resided at Torwood Manor House, since pulled down. The living is a perpetual curacy valued at £360 per annum, with that of Cockington annexed to it, in the patronage of C. H. Mallock Esq. and incumbency of the Rev. J. H. Harrls. D.D. The district parish church of Upton (St. Mary Magdalen) is situated on the high road between Tor and Torquay; It is a handsome structure, in the Gothic style of architecture, with a lofty tower and spire with 8 bells; It was erected by subscription and was consecrated April 12th 1849. It is neatly fitted with open seats, and has accommodation for about 1,000 persons. The site was given by, Sir L. V. Palk; and the late P; Dawson Esq., gave £2,000, on condition that a Iarge portion of the sittings should be free. It has been endowed and constituted at Parish church by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; it is a perpetual curacy, valued at £130, in the patronage of the Crown and the Bishop of Exeter alternately; the Rev R. R. Wolfe, M.A., is the present incumbent. St. John's chapel of ease, at Montpelier-place, about the centre of Torquay was built by Sir L. V. Palk Bart., in 1822; it is a plain structure, partly in the Doric order, and has a small cupola and bell. The benefice, which is a perpetual curacy, valued at £207 per annum is in the gift of the incumbent of Tor Moham; the Rev. J. R. D. Pycroft, M.A. is the perpetual curate. Trinity chapel, situate at Park hill, Torquay, is a plain cemented edifice, of mixed architecture it was erected by subscription in 1837-8 and cost about £5,500. and will accommodate nearly 900 persons: the Rev. Richard Fayle, M. A. is the incumbent and patron.
On the summit of a hill in Tor Moham parish is the shell of St. Michael's chapel; and there was formerly a small chapel at Torwood, built by Reginald de Mohun in 1251. Here are also places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Unitarians, Wesleyans and Roman Catholics. Here are several National and Infant schools. The Torbay Dispensary and Infirmary was established in 1844 ; but the handsome building which it now occupies was not erected till 1850 . Here are clothing clubs, a Shipwrecked fishermen and Mariners' Benevolent Society, a lying-in charity, several friendly societies, and a lodge of Freemasons; the last is held at the Union-hall. The poor parishioners have the interest of £62; left by Thomas Kingsley and other donors, and the dividends of £468 8s. 6d. Navy Five per cent stock, now Three per cent. Reduced, purchased with £500, left by George Baker in 1800.


For a list of "Gentry" , CLICK HERE

For a list of Torquay Tradesmen CLICK HERE

For a list of Magistrates, bankers, Insurance agents, Public establishments etc,CLICK HERE

To Return to Front Page Click here