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Thorverton, Devon
Grid reference: SS924020
Location: 50°48’30"N, 3°31’40"W
Postcode: EX5
Local Government
Council: Mid Devon

Thorverton is a village in Devon, England, about a mile west of the River Exe and eight miles north of Exeter, the county town. Thorverton is almost centrally located between Exeter and the towns of Tiverton, Cullompton and Crediton.

Cobbled streets have been preserved throughout the centre of the village, as has an elaborate system of watercourses established in the 1850s; the idea of the Rector's daughter following a serious outbreak of cholera.

The wider parish contains the hamlets of Yellowford and Raddon. It has two churches and two public houses. The population is approximately 900, reducing to 674 at the 2011 Census.[1]


Early history

There was briefly a small settlement here during Roman times, perched on a hill overlooking a fording point across the River Exe (near to the current day bridge), a key crossing for the route to Exeter.

The Bury is a mediæval or earlier enclosure which today still forms a wide rectangle – perhaps anciently a protective stockade, the space became used for cattle trading. The earliest such indication of a market comes from a charter for a fair in 1250 for 'Thormerton'.

The Civil War

During the Civil War, Thorverton, as the location of a major crossing, was often on the front line. In 1644 the Parliamentarians under the Earl of Essex were besieging Royalist Exeter. Some of the Roundhead troops marched into Thorverton, destroyed a large stock of oats, damaged possessions of the Church and took money from the parson and Mr Tuckfield at Raddon Court. Parson Travers and Mr Tuckfield were known loyalists and were therefore targeted for rough treatment.

After the Roundheads moved off into Cornwall, Thorverton was left in Royalist control with a military presence. A line against attack from the Midlands was formed between Eggesford and Cullompton, with Thorverton the bridgehead and the headquarters of General Goring along with several thousand troops.

In 1645, the 15-year-old Prince of Wales (later King Charles II) came out to Thorverton from the walled city of Exeter to review his troops. In October of that year though this force retreated in the face of Fairfax and his Roundheads, and the Parliamentarian army crossed the river here and marched through Thorverton on the way to Newton St Cyres and Crediton. The village was left alone only after Exeter fell to the Parliamentarians in April 1646.

The Second World War

During the Second World War, Thorverton was used as a billet for American artillery troops prior to D-Day. 'A' Battery, 953rd Field Artillery Battalion lived within the village between November 1943 and Spring 1944. 'B' Battery stayed in Silverton. During this time they prepared for the invasion using firing ranges on Dartmoor.

Agriculture, fairs and the community

Agriculture was the main activity associated with the village, and there are many ancient farmhouses within the parish. Raddon Court was a Saxon estate. Upcott farm, Bidwell farm and Lynch farm have also been there for many years. Traymill, to the north of the parish on the Exe, was built about 1400 and has traceried windows, arched doorways and still retains the original hall roof.

The fertile red soil produced excellent wheat, barley and apples, which were the main crops. An orchard covered the rear grounds (now gardens) behind the cottages on the south side of Bullen Street. A few apple trees remain. Thorverton was also once well known locally for its apricots.

There were two main fairs held in the parish each year, which were customary holidays for the scholars at the National School. One took place on the last Monday in February, chiefly for "fat sheep", and the second on the Monday following 18 July for lambs - at which upwards of 40,000 were frequently sold for rearing. There was a monthly cattle fair and Thorverton was noted for its excellent breed of sheep. The fairs have since ceased, but in their place the village still enjoys annual festivities during the summer with Church Week and the Country Show.

Thorverton was once a thriving, self-sufficient community. In 1850, there were four bakers, three blacksmiths in the cottages along Bullen Street. One of the blacksmiths also covered any dentistry requirements. There were three butchers, one of which was located at the prominent stilted building in the centre of the village next to the green, built in 1763 in the local style of the time. Four grocers, two saddlers, two shoemakers, four tailors - one of which lived in Dinneford Street - two wheelwrights (a prosperous waggon-works in Jericho Street), and two plumbers. Also a builder, corn miller, apple nurseryman and a maltster.

In addition to these trades, Thorverton had a parson and a curate, a surgeon, a solicitor, an accountant, an auctioneer, and a veterinary surgeon. For rural services there was a builder, a corn-miller, an apple-nurseryman, an agricultural machine-maker, a maltster, and a druggist.

The Bury was lined with shops, now almost all converted to private homes, the broad windows of which still speak of a prosperous recent past. The last shop - known as 'The Dairy' closed in 2006. The needs of the village have since been served by a second hand mobile ex-library vehicle situated in the car park of which was driven up and down the road outside the Thorverton Arms until a permanent place at the village car park had been agreed.

Next to this vehicle, the business of the Post Office is conducted from a portable cabin. The original Post Office, now a private home in the centre of the village on the corner of Bullen Street and School Lane, was run by three generations of the Cummings family from 1870–1994, commemorated today by a blue plaque.

The car park itself was created on the site of a former quarry.


The Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral have been the lords of the manor since the days of King Edward I. The Church continues to hold significant tracts of property within the village to this day. As such the village never had a squire.

The Gothic church of St Thomas a Becket was built from locally quarried stone in the late 15th early 16th centuries, although parts of it may date back to the 13th century. The western tower contains a clock and 10 bells, which date respectively from 1861, 1674, 1673 (4 and 6) the fifth from 1662 and the tenor was added in the late 90's. The church was successfully restored in 1834 when the nave was rebuilt.

There is also a Baptist church on Berrysbridge Road built in 1832 by the Baptists that lived in Thorverton, with John Hockin preaching the first sermons. They began with steep standards. In 1833, Mary Squire had her membership revoked due to her 'improper walk and conduct'. Another, Mrs Harris, for 'unchristian spirit' in 1837. A Roman Catholic Chapel was located in the hamlet of Raddon, but by 1850 this had become part of a farmhouse called Chapel St Martin.

The ancient chapel of St. John the Baptist was moved from an isolated site near Thorverton and re-erected as the cemetery chapel in 1925 to Crediton cemetery.

About the village

The Millennium Green provides walking alongside the stream which runs through the centre of the village.

The Memorial Hall provides a centre for entertainment, with a monthly Saturday Market for local produce.

There was once a railway station at Thorverton on the Exe Valley Railway, part of the Great Western Railway completed in May 1885. The station was located at the far end of Silver Street. The wooden signpost at the road junction still notates the location as 'Station'. Following the removal of the railway line in October 1963 as part of the Beeching Axe. A short spur to Thorverton Mill remained for a few years longer. The old station was converted into a private home knowingly named "Beeching's Way".

'Dunsaller', a six-bedroomed 15th century Grade II-listed farmhouse on the outskirts of the village was bought in 1993 by Lord and Lady Hambleden and his wife Lesley.


  • Cricket: Thorverton Cricket Club, founded in 1860

Local media

A monthly local village magazine, Focus on Thorverton, is produced by volunteers.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Thorverton)