Kingsbridge over the estuary
Kingsbridge is a market town and popular tourist hub in south Devon, at the head of the breathtaking set of creeks reaching deep ito the body of the county's south. Kingsbridge stands at the northern end of the Kingsbridge Estuary, the longest of the creeks, reaching six miles from the sea in the south up to the town.
The Estuary is described by geologists as a textbook example of a "ria", a flooded valley.
The town is within the Stanborough Hundred.
Kingsbridge was founded as the bridging point on the estuary and it has been the main market town of the area for centuries. Its proximity to the spectacular south Devon coast and sailing venues, such as Salcombe, have enabled Kingsbridge to blossom into a popular tourist destination.
The town formed around a bridge which was built in or before the 10th century between the royal estates of Alvington, to the west, and Chillington, to the east, hence giving it the name of Kyngysbrygge ("King's bridge"). In 1219 the Abbot of Buckfast was granted the right to hold a market there, and by 1238 the settlement had become a borough. The manor remained in possession of the abbot until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when it was granted to Sir William Petre. Kingsbridge was never represented in Parliament or incorporated by charter, the local government being by a portreeve.
Kingsbridge is in fact a combination of two towns, Kingsbridge and Dodbrooke. Dodbrooke was granted its own market in 1257 and had become a borough by 1319. While Dodbrooke was originally considered to be the dominant of the two, Kingsbridge later expanded to include it. The town consists of two ecclesiastical parishes: St Edmund's in the west and St. Thomas Becket at Dodbrooke in the east. St. Edmund's Church, in mainly Perpendicular style, retains some 13th-century features including a font, but was enlarged and reconsecrated around 1414 and was mostly rebuilt in the 19th century. The parish church of St. Thomas Becket displays a particularly well-preserved rood screen, restored in 1897.
In 1798 the town mills were converted into a woollen manufactory, which produced large quantities of cloth, and serge manufacture was introduced early in the 19th century. During the 19th century the town had an active coastal shipping trade, shipbuilding, a tannery, other industries and a large monthly cattle market. The chief exports were cider, corn, malt, and slate.
The town centre retains many 18th and 19th century buildings. The Shambles, or market arcade, was rebuilt in 1796 but retains its 16th century granite piers. The former grammar school, now a museum, was founded and built by Thomas Crispin in 1670.
- W. G. Hoskins, Devon, 1954
- However, the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica records a date of 1461.
- Kingsbridge - Parishes - Kelly – Knowstone