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Some History of Ashburton

Lightening Strike to Widecombe Church (1638)

Lightening struck Widecombe Church on Dartmoor destroying part of the steeple and killing and maiming some of the congregation. The Rector preached to the congregation that the deaths were part of God’s Judgment on his people. Religious freedom and the concept of a God who was not full of vengeance were promoted in the new ideologies during the Civil War. Ashburton as a town was for the Parliamentarians and many in the town were “Dissenters”. These dissenters preached a critical thinking approach to a God who they saw was not full of vengeance. The Quakers movement developed as a result of this new way of thinking.

St Lawrence Chapel

This was established as a Chantry school In 1314 when Bishop Stapledon gave his private Chapel to the Town to be administered by the original Guild of St Lawrence. The school gave free education to local children. Among the famous pupils who attended the school was Richard Carlile, the son of a shoemaker and born in 1790. Richard Carlile was a strong advocator of human rights and set up the first free press.

St Andrews Church

Plague returned to Ashburton in 1643 and it is thought that the unmarked plague pits are adjacent to St Andrews Church. St Andrews Church is built on the site of a Saxon Church at the end of the twelfth century and entirely re-built in the fifteenth.

Tinner’s Parliament

The Tinner's had their own parliament, the Stannary Parliament, which regulated the industry in all respects. It is thought that the Devon parliament met on Crockern Tor, near Two Bridges the powers of the Stannary Parliament were never revoked, although the last time it met was in the 18th Century.

The London Hotel and Posting House

Ashburton was a key place to stop off on the way to Plymouth or up to Exeter and London. The Moorish Café not stands on part of the site taken up by one of the largest Coaching Inns in Ashburton.

Mermaid Hotel

This Hotel where Fairfax stayed after the victory at the Battle of Bovey 1646 is on the site of Church Ironmongers. Many of the original features can still be seen including the original entrance from North Street and the staircase up into the Hotel. This Battle marked the end of the first Civil War.

The Great Meeting Place Ashburton

It is thought that the Great Meeting Place was a barn sited near the site of Adrian Ager. This was a neutral meeting place where the issues of the day were debated. Among the discussions taking place must have been on the groundbreaking “An Agreement of the People for a firm and present peace upon grounds of common right" This were initiated at the Putney Debates (1647) in London