Online Encyclopedia

TORQUAY

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 58 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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TORQUAY, a municipal borough, seaport and watering place, in the Torquay parliamentary division of Devonshire, England, on Tor Bay of the English Channel, 26 m. S. of Exeter, by the Great Western railway. Pop. (1901), 33,625. Owing to the beauty of its site and the equability of its climate, and to its being screened by lofty hills on the north, east and west, and open to the sea-breezes of the south, it has a high reputation as a winter residence. The temperature seldom rises as high as 700 F. in summer or falls below freezing-point in winter. To the north lies the populous suburb of St Mary Church. There are some remains of Tor or Torre Abbey, founded for Praemonstratensians by William, Lord Brewer, in 1196. They stand north of the modern mansion, but, with the exception of a beautiful pointed arch portal, are of small importance. On the south of the gateway is a 13th-century building, known as the Spanish barn. On Chapel Hill are the remains of a chapel of the 12th century, dedicated to St Michael, and supposed to have formerly belonged to the abbey. St Saviour's parish church of Tor-Mohun, or Tormoham, an ancient stone structure, was restored in 1874. The old church at St Mary Church, north of Torquay, was rebuilt in Early Decorated style; and in 1871 a tower was erected as a memorial to Dr Phillpotts, bishop of Exeter, who with his wife is buried in the churchyard. St John's Church, by G. E. Street, is a fine example of modern Gothic. Among the principal buildings and institutions are the town-hall, museum of the natural history society, theatre and opera-house (188o), market, schools of art and science, the Torbay infirmary and dispensary, the Western hospital for consumption, Crypt House institution for invalid ladies and the Mildmay home for incurable consumptives. The control of the harbour, piers, pleasure grounds, &c., was acquired from the lord of the manor by the local board in 1886. The harbour has a depth of over 20 ft. at low water. The principal imports are coal, timber and slates, and the principal export stone of the Transition limestone or Devonshire marble. In the town are a number of marble-polishing works. Terra-cotta ware of fine quality is also manufactured from a deposit of clay at Watcombe and at Hele. The town is governed by a mayor, 9 aldermen and 27 councillors. Area, 3588 acres. There was a village at Torre even before the foundation of the abbey, and in the neighbourhood of Torre evidence has been found of Roman occupation. The manor was granted by William the Conqueror to Richard de Bruvere or de Brewere, and was subsequently known as Tor Brewer. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Don Pedro's galley was brought into Torbay; and William, prince of Orange, landed at Torbay on the 5th of November 1688. Until the middle of the 19th century it was an insignificant fishing village. It was incorporated in 1892.
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