Aligned with the wool industry the leather industry also thrived in Newton Abbot as shown in an agreement in 1580 between John Hayman and Richard Haymen. Another family which helped the leather trade to flourish were the Vicarys. The industry was still thriving circa 1800 when Moses Vicary was married to Rebecca Duke, a daughter of a wealthy boot and shoe merchant and the Vicary families helped the town to prosper, despite the ceasing of the manufacture in Newton Bushel of serge by 1805.
In 1539 King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and as a consequence the Abbots lost control of Newton Abbot. In 1545 the town of Newton Abbot came into the possession of John Gaverock, a former Abbot’s steward for a cost of £592 14s 2d, and the King was satisfied with his credentials and thereafter the town was in private hands. John Gaverock built a new manorial home at Forde.
St. Leonard was the Patron Saint of Prisoners and this is probably why churches in the area were so named, in gratitude for the release of King Richard I following payment of the ransom, and subsequent release of the rest of the hostages. St. Leonard’s Tower is all that remains of St. Leonard’s Church in Newton Abbot and is a listed building. Church of St Leonard, Newton Abbot Details.
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.
Bradley Manor was considered a separate Manor and may be derived from the term “Broad Clearing.”
Newton Abbot had three main streets, Bridge Street, Wolborough Street, and East Street. Courtenay Street and Queen Street grew later leading down to the marshes. Following the arrival of the railway in 1846, access to the station became a priority. Poverty and squalor was commonplace with lack of sanitation and open-range fires until the planners had their way and in Victorian times the market square was reputed to be a place of Victorian elegance. Today the town centre retains some remnants of its past glories such as St. Leonard’s Tower at the junctions of Wolborough Street, Bank Street and East Street.
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The town of Newton Abbot grew up as two separate communities, each with their separate Lords of the Manor causing friction and suspicion, so much so that this animosity persisted up until the beginning of the twentieth century, with frequent clashes between the inhabitants of Newton Abbot and Newton Bushel.
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