Teignmouth’s fascinating history you probably didn’t know


Teignmouth circa 1840

I adore my town. There is so much to do and see, and there is always something going on, even in the winter when the majority of the tourists have gone: we Teignmouthians know how to have a good time. And it seems this place has always been a hub of activity.

I love to get my history geek on, and have recently found out these amazingly cool facts about Teignmouth that I just had to share.

  • The name Teignmouth comes from the the Old English word Tengemuða, which means ‘mouth of the river’, first recorded in 1044!
  • East Teignmouth (there were two settlements, East and West) was granted it’s first market in 1253.
  • Teignmouth has come under much invasion: there was a battle between the Ancient Britons and Saxons recorded on Haldon hill in 927, there were Danish Viking raids on the estuary in 1001, in 1690 around 1000 French men attacked the town, burning down over 240 houses and 10 ships that were in the harbour, and looted the town in just three hours (French Street was named after the eventful night, as you can see with the mural and canons embedded into the wall). The town also came under fire in WWII and suffered 21 ‘tip and run’ air raids.
  • Teignmouth’s hospital was bombed during a raid in 1941, killing three nurses and seven patients. It was rebuilt in 1954, making it the first hospital in the country to be built by the National Health Service.
  • There was a windmill on the Den between 1600 and the mid 1700’s.
  • The Den used to be a huge sand dune.
  • The ‘Amazons of Shaldon’ were strong, muscular women who pulled in the fishing nets: they became an early tourist attraction in the late 1700’s for men who visited from far and wide to come and see them in action, ‘naked to the knee’!
  • St James’ church, re-built in 1821, is believed to have been constructed in an hexagonal structure to make it ‘devil proof’. The superstitious West Country locals thought that the devil would hide and wait in corners.
  • In 1823, Teignmouth was dubbed a ‘fashionable watering place’ in Piggots Dirctory (an official directory of the UK) and had many hot and cold vapour baths and a ball twice a week.
  • The legend of the Parson and Clerk dates back to the early 1800s: a local parson and his clerk were on their way to visit the bed-ridden Bishop of Exeter who was convalescing in Dawlish, on their journey they bumped into the devil who turned them to stone, and there they still stand today. (That devil sure did get about!)

If you enjoyed this post, please share. And if you have more snippets of history about Teignmouth and the surrounding area I would love to hear from you!

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