Newton Abbot’s flowing River Lemon was used to submerge wool in a basket to clean and then the wool was hung to dry. The rich grasslands were ideal for keeping sheep for their wool and contributed to the success of the wool trade in the area. Later fulling mills were powered by water from the Leat.
Originally two Manors of Wolborough and Teignwick developed off the River Lemon, and later Schirebourne Newton became absorbed into Newton Bushell. On the other side of the River Newton Abbot prospered under the control of the Abbots and the manors all benefited from the two markets held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays that had been granted under Charters, added to the importance of the wool trade in the area.
On the South side of the River Lemon further development took place in Wolborough, which had existed before the Domesday record and it is thought the Manor House was located on the site of Wolborough Barton, on the hill beside Wolborough Church.
Wolborough records go back to the reign of King Richard I, who was imprisoned by Leopold, Duke of Austria who demanded a ransom.
William Brewer inherited Wolborough Manor from his father Ralph de Bruere.
William Brewer was the Lord of the Manor of Torre and Justiciar and had the responsibility to raise the money for the King’s ransom. William was only able to raise 70,000 Marks, so the Duke of Austria demanded 67 hostages from the nobility of England to guarantee the remainder of the ransom of 150,000 Marks. William Brewer’s son was one of the hostages.
The Duke of Austria was fatally wounded; fortunately the Austrian Church had previously persuaded the Duke to release the captives, even though the full ransom had not been paid. Consequently, the Austrian Church sent representatives to Torbay in 1196 and they were allowed to construct Torre Abbey on land owned by William Brewer to be occupied by the Austrian Abbots of Torre, with financial support from William Brewer.
From then on the Manor of Wolborough became known as the new town of Abbot, hence Newton Abbot.
As the child heir to the Manor of Teignwick was brought up with his guardians at Bradley Manor, the defensive castle at Teignwick was no longer needed and fell into disrepair and the Bushels developed the older settlement in the valley, on the north banks of the River Lemon.
Teignwick name was then changed to Highweek and the new Lord of the Manor’s territory was thought to be known as Schirebourne Newton, “new village beside a clear stream”, and a mill developed called Sherbourne Mill, which was functioning until the 1930s, when it was demolished to make way for the new cattle market on Sherbourne Road.
If the Lord of the Manor fell out of favour with the King the land reverted back to the King, as in the case of Teignwick’s Lord of the Manor, William of Montaine, which occurred during the reign of King Henry I. Teignwick was presented to Lucas, King Henry II’s butler and subsequently passed to Lucas’ son, John Fitz-Lucas.
By 1205 Teignwick had once again reverted to the crown, as King John granted the Manor of Teignwick to the widow of Lucas’s grandson, Eustacia de Courtenay. Following the death of Eustacia de Courtenay, King Henry III gave Teignwick to Theobald de Englishville.
Theobald de Englishville was granted a charter, for a market, to rent land and to inflict capital punishment.
- The Charter was for a weekly market, held on land behind St. Mary’s in Highweek Street, known as Triangle Hill and later corrupted to Trigle Hill and then Treacle Hill.
- Theobald was given permission to lease land near the banks of the River Lemon from which he could draw rents.
- Theobald erected his gallows at Forches Cross.
These rights were conferred outright to him and his heirs in 1247 in return for an annual nominal sum. Childless, Theobald adopted his sister’s son in 1262, Robert Bushel as his heir, which is where Newton Bushell comes from.
In 1269, Robert Bushel was succeeded by his 4 year old son Theobald, whose mother had already died, and Theobald was placed in the guardianship of Henry and Matila de Bickleigh, tenants of Bradley Manor, and as a consequence became the Manor House of Teignwick, up until the last male heir in 1402.
There is evidence of community life in Newton Abbot before the Domesday Survey in 1086 in the form of three monuments, and perhaps back as far as 7th century BC, or before in two hill forts, arranged in a single enclosure and multiple enclosures. One hill fort structure in Berry’s Wood, North of Bradley Manor House, consists of a single rampart of limestone and ditch, with the main entrance at the South East end and a postern at the North West end, covering 11 acres, including indications of huts, walls and shelters. Wolborough lies to the South and Highweek to the north and is in close proximity to the River Lemon.
The spring erupts near Haytor and Saddle Tor and meanders through the valley until it unites with the River Teign. At the time of King John the river was known as Limonstream in description of the limestone rocks rising steeply on either bank, or alternatively originates from the Celtic word for “Elm”, or could stem from the Saxon word, Llammau being drawn from the stone boulders lying on the river bed whose literal meaning is “stones in a river to walk upon”. Small boys often risked their safety by leaping across the stepping stones at the north-east corner of Baker’s Park. Today following engineering, the urban river is enclosed, flowing under the town.
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