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Chudleigh is an ancient wool town located within the Teignbridge District Council area of Devon, England between Newton Abbot and Exeter. The electoral ward with the same name had a population of 6,125 at the 2011 census.
Chudleigh is very close to the edge of Dartmoor and in the Teign Valley. Nearby Castle Dyke is an Iron Age Hill Fort which demonstrates far earlier settlement in the area. It is also near Haldon Forest, a Forestry Commission property.
The town has been bypassed by the A38 road since 1972. It has expanded a good deal in recent years[when?] as commuter houses have been built around its edges, but still retains a fairly traditional town centre.
The earliest written record of a Carnival in Chudleigh in the Council Minutes is an entry of 7 November 1910, asking for free use of the town hall but offering to pay for gas used. Monies raised were to go to local hospitals. However, in The South Devon Weekly Express of 8 September 1950, Arthur Holcombe states the First Carnival was held in 1908 on Thursday 16 November. There is uncertainty of exactly when it was moved to the Summer. Twenty tableaux entered and the length of the procession extended for 400 yards. The Tiverton town band and the Chudleigh Brass Band marched and played in the parade.
No carnival was held during the First or Second World Wars. Following the procession of 1961 the build up of traffic, due to the road closure whilst the parade took place, was so bad that the police and local authorities decided that such a situation could not be tolerated. At that time the A38 ran through Chudleigh town centre and holiday traffic was estimated to tail back 25 miles to Honiton when stopped for the procession. The carnival was suspended as a result of this. The bypass was built 1972 and the carnival committee reconvened for celebrations on the opening of the bypass. The carnival started again on 21 July 1973.
Carnival weeks and processions continued annually and during the 1970s the carnival association was formed. It comprises other towns and villages in the area which hold similar weeks and each have their own Carnival Queen and Royalty/tableau. These floats attend the Carnival processions and are judged at each by different representatives. During the latter half of the 1990s Chudleigh Carnival committee created floats that won the shield one year[which?] and completed consistently in other years.
Carnival Committees, whilst strong at times, struggle to attract a sufficient number of members in other years. Although financially secure, such has been the case in Chudleigh of late with difficulty attracting fresh committee members. Having seen other towns give up on carnivals, in 2006 no carnival week or procession was held for this very reason. 2007 witnessed a change of fortune and, although unable to attend other processions in the region, the carnival week and parade were held and were quite successful. In 2007 new members joined and 2008 saw a new carnival float once again attending other processions and Chudleigh claimed the South Devon shield for 2008.
The church of St Martin and St Mary was consecrated in 1259. The structure is medieval but was heavily restored in 1868. The rood screen has paintings of saints and prophets and the Courtenay family coat of arms.
Great Fire of Chudleigh
The weather conditions in Devon in the year 1807 have been described as a drought. Weeks without rain left many people short of water and had farmers worrying about their crops. At around noon on 22 May, a small fire broke out in pile of furze stacked near the ovens at a bakery in Culver Street (now New Exeter Street). According to later reports, the staff in the bakery seemed unaware of the danger this posed, but the fire, fed by the exceptionally dry fuel, exploded. In the shortest time imaginable, the fire had spread to the roof of the bakery (thatched, as were 90% of the houses in Chudleigh at the time) and huge hunks of burning reed and straw were swept aloft by a rapidly growing north-easterly wind.
After the fire, only the church and seven houses were left standing.
Various historic estates are situated in the parish of Chudleigh, including:
Whiteway House is a Grade II* listed Georgian house set in parkland 2½ miles north of Chudleigh, at the foot of the Haldon Hills, built in the 1770s by John Parker, 1st Baron Boringdon (1735–1788) of Saltram House, Plympton, Devon.
Hams Barton is a grade II* listed building, formerly the seat of the Hunt family, situated one mile north-east of the town, near Kate Brook. The Hunt family was settled there before the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Thomas Hunt (d.1548) was thrice Mayor of Exeter, including in 1517 and 1537. A fine banqueting room survives, called by Pevsner "the sumptuous first-floor great chamber, one of the best of its date in the county". Several monuments to the Hunt family survive in the Hunt Aisle in Chudleigh church.
- Stokelake (a former school)
- "Ward population 2011". Ukcensusdata.com. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- Pevsner, N. (1952) South Devon. (The Buildings of England.) Harmondsworth: Penguin; p. 79
- "St Bridget's Abbey of Syon". Chudleigh History Group. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
- Listed building text
- Jones, Mary, History of Chudleigh, 1852
- Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.494, pedigree of "Hunt of Chudleigh"
- Pevsner, Nikolaus & Cherry, Bridget, The Buildings of England: Devon, London, 2004, p.264
- Jones; Pevsner
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