CHUDLEIGH, in the hundred of Exminster, and in the deanery of Kenne, is a market-town, ten miles from Exeter, and 182 from London.
A market on Mondays was granted to Walter Stapleton, bishop of Exeter, in the year 1309, together with a fair for three days at the festival of St. Barnabas. (fn. 35) The market is now held on Saturday for corn, butchers' meat, and other provisions; and there are three fairs; Easter Tuesday for horses, bullocks and sheep; the third Tuesday in June for sheep and bullocks; and the following day for horses; the second day was noted also for the sale of scythes, reaping-hooks, and other implements of husbandry; but the sale of these hath of late been discontinued; the third fair, called St. Matthew's, is held on the second of October, unless when that day happens on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, in which cases the fair is kept on the Tuesday following. This fair is chiefly for bullocks and sheep.
There was formerly a considerable woollen manufactory at Chudleigh, but since the introduction of machinery, it has been almost disused; a small woollen factory has been established of late near the town, but it employs very few hands.
The principal hamlets or villages in this parish are Waddon and Harcombe. About half a mile from the town are some limestone rocks, celebrated for their picturesque beauty.
In the year 1801 there were 360 houses in the parish of Chudleigh, and 1786 inhabitants. On the 22d of May, 1807, a terrible fire broke out, by which 166 houses were destroyed: the loss was estimated at 60,000l. The sum of 21,000l. was promptly collected by subscription, for the benefit of the poorer class of inhabitants. In the month of June, 1808, an act of parliament passed for the better and more easy rebuilding the town of Chudleigh, &c., and for determining differences touching houses burnt down or demolished by the late dreadful fire there, and for preventing future damages. It was not long before the town was rebuilt. In 1811, there were 370 houses in the parish, and 1832 inhabitants.
Sir Thomas Fairfax was quartered with his army at Chudleigh, the latter end of January, 1646. They arrived there on the 25th. (fn. 36)
The manor belonged from an early period to the see of Exeter (fn. 37) ; and the bishops had a palace here about a quarter of a mile from the town, of which there are still some remains. Bishop Lacy died at this palace in 1455. Bishop Veysey alienated the manor in 1550 to Thomas Brydges, Esq., by whom, or probably a son of the same name, it was conveyed, in 1598, to Thomas Hunt, Esq. Hugh Lord Clifford purchased it of John Hunt, Esq., in 1695: it is now the property of his descendant the Right Hon. Lord Clifford, whose chief country-seat is at Ugbrooke, in this parish.
Ugbrooke was formerly the residence of the precentors of Exeter cathedral. (fn. 38) It is probable that it was alienated in the reign of Edward VI., to Sir Peter Courtenay, whose daughter and co-heiress Anne brought it to Anthony Clifford, Esq., of Borscombe, in Wilts, descended from Sir Lewis Clifford, K.G., third son of Roger de Clifford, ancestor of the Earls of Cumberland. This Anthony died in 1580. Thomas his third son became possessed of Ugbrooke by his father's gift. This gentleman, after an active life spent in military and diplomatic occupations, when upwards of fifty years of age, turned his attention to divinity; distinguished himself by his theological attainments at the University; took the degree of D. D., and exercised the ecclesiastical functions till his death in 1634, without accepting of any preferment except that of a prebend of Exeter cathedral, to which he was collated by Bishop Carey in 1625. His grandson, in the early part of his life, distinguished himself as a naval officer. He became a favourite with King Charles II., and having filled some inferior offices, was in 1672 made Lord Treasurer, being one of the five persons who composed the ministry called from the initials of their names the CABAL. The same year he was created Baron Clifford of Chudleigh. Ugbrooke is now the seat of his descendant, Charles the sixth Lord Clifford. In the house are some good pictures by the old masters, particularly a very fine Titian, "The Woman taken in Adultery," and several family-portraits; among which are two of the Lord Treasurer, by Sir Peter Lely: one of them was taken when he was Comptroller of the Household; the other has been engraved for "Lodge's Portraits of eminent Statesmen."
In the chapel, which has been the burial-place of the family are the monuments of the Lord Treasurer Clifford, who died October 17. 1673 (fn. 39) , and Hugh Lord Clifford, who died in 1783. The park, which has great natural beauties, has been much enlarged and improved by the late and present Lord Clifford.
Ugbrooke has been the subject of a poem by the Rev. Joseph Reece, many years chaplain to Lord Clifford's family. (fn. 40)
The Chudleighs who took their name from this place appear to have had an estate here in the reign of James and Charles I. Sir William Pole was mistaken in supposing that they possessed the manor. He mentions their having sold their estate in this parish, reserving only the mansion which had formerly been the residence of the family.
Lawell, in this parish, was the property and residence of the family of Eastchurch; some years ago, of James Shepherd, Esq. It was purchased by the late Lord Clifford after Mr. Shepherd's death, and is now the property of the present lord. The house is inhabited by his steward.
Whiteway, in this parish, was built by the late Lord Boringdon: it is now the property and seat of Montagu Parker, Esq., first-cousin of the present Earl of Morley. Hams was some time the property and residence of the family of Hunt; afterwards of the Ingletts: it passed successively by sale to Beach and Palk, and is now, by purchase from Sir Lawrence Vaughan Palk, Bart., the property of Lord Clifford, being occupied as a farm. Lord Clifford has purchased also Waddon, which belonged to the Rennells.
The parish church of Chudleigh was dedicated by Bishop Bronscombe in 1259 (fn. 41) ; but the architecture of the present fabric is of a later date: in this church are monuments, or inscribed grave-stones, for the families of Courtenay (fn. 42) , Clifford (fn. 43) , Woollcombe (fn. 44) , Eastchurch (fn. 45) , Inglett (fn. 46) , Bennet (fn. 47) , Hunt (fn. 48) , Cholwich (fn. 49) , Coysh (fn. 50) , Rennell (fn. 51) , Hellyer (fn. 52) , and Burrington. (fn. 53) At Place, formerly the palace of the bishops, was a chapel dedicated to St. Michael. The rectory of this parish is appropriated to the precentor of Exeter cathedral, under whom it is held on lease by Lord Clifford. (fn. 54) The vicar is elected by such of the freeholders of the parish as possess a freehold of 5l. per annum, and are rated 1s. 3d. per rate to the poor. Chudleigh is a peculiar of the bishop's.
The Presbyterians have long had a meeting-house in this town.
The grammar-school at Chudleigh was founded in 1668 by John Pynsent, Esq., and endowed with 30l. per annum, issuing out of an estate at Croydon in Surrey.
Richard Eastchurch in 1692 gave 5l. per annum to this parish; one half of which was to be expended in the purchase of Bibles for the poor, and the other to be given to a person or persons to instruct poor children in reading the Scriptures. The land-tax being deducted, the parish receives 4l. 12s. 6d. per annum from this charity.
An Act of parliament, passed in 1813, for enclosing that part of Haldon (1500 acres) which is in the parish of Chudleigh: a considerable part has been planted with fir and larch.