The Web-Site for Tavistock, Devon

in operation since 2000 at no cost to public funds.

Author: Derek W Palmer

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    The community and subsequent town of Tavistock progressively developed around its magnificent and rich Benedictine Abbey , founded in 974 AD by Ordulph, Earl of Devonshire (brother-in- law of King Edgar) and built at the side of the River Tavy. The Abbey was very considerably damaged and burnt in 997 AD by Vikings who had sailed up the River Tamar from what is now Plymouth and had reached as far inland as the Saxon town of Lydford, before turning southwards to Tavistock. But the Abbey was soon rebuilt and then lasted as a very important religious centre of the SW of England until the "Dissolution of the Monasteries" order of King Henry VIII in 1539.

    Tavistock has been of long and continuing importance as a market town for West Devon. A Royal Charter allowing a Pannier ("Basket") Market in the town was granted in 1105 by King Henry I; the Market has been in operation since that date and contributes greatly to the lively nature and prosperity of Tavistock. The present building housing the Market was provided in 1850 by the 7th Duke of Bedford, who also arranged the construction of the still existing canal from the River Tavy in the centre of Tavistock to the River Tamar, for the purpose of transporting mineral ores especially of copper. A statue of that Duke of Bedford stands outside the Town Hall.

    The mining of tin had also been a considerable industry in this part of Devon and Dartmoor for many centuries, and in 1305 the importance of Tavistock in that respect had been recognised in 1305 by a Royal Decree that established Tavistock as a Stannary Town, ie a town where miners could have their tin officially assayed before sale.

    Of further historic importance concerning Tavistock is that Sir Francis Drake was born in 1542 at Crowndale Farm about 3 km (2 miles) south of the town. Unfortunately, the buildings of that farm, thought to have been constructed in about 1450, no longer exist, having been demolished in the middle of the 19th century. The fame of Francis Drake lies, of course, in his having commanded the British Naval Fleet of Elizabeth I in its defeat of the invading Spanish Armada in 1588. His confidence in himself and the British Navy is shown by his words, spoken on Plymouth Hoe where he was playing bowls on the 19th of July 1588 when the Armada was sighted: "We have time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards too.".

Additional Historical Information about Tavistock
via the website of Tavistock Town Council

Gulworthy Village                           Okehampton                           Lydford Village

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