Transcribed from William White’s History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Devonshire 1850, by Terry Partridge.
MALBOROUGH is a small village, on an eminence, partly in West Alvington parish, about two miles from Salcombe Haven, and four miles S.S.W. of Kingsbridge.Its parish contains 1951 inhabitants, and 4890 acres of land, bounded on the south side by the English Channel, between Bolt Head and Tail, and including the small hamlets of Coombe, Collaton, Rew, Bolbury, Batson, and Shadycombe; and the small town, sea-port, fishing station, and chapelry of SALCOMBE, which is pleasantly and picturesquely situated on the western side of the estuary, which runs up to Kingsbridge, and sends several creeks from either side. Salcombe has now about 1500 inhabitants, though it had only 972 in 1841. It is considered the warmest place on the south-west coast, as oranges, lemons, and American aloes bloom in the open air, in the pleasure grounds of Woodville and the Moult. To the lovers of coast scenery, there are many wild and romantic spots between Prawle Point on the east, and Bigbury Bay on the west. Salcombe is a port under Dartmouth, and has a custom house, built in 1848; a coast guard station; a market-house, with a public room over it, erected in 1848, at the cost of £600; a shipping insurance association, established in 1831; three ship building yards, many good shops and neat houses, and several handsome marine villas. It is the out-port of Kingsbridge, to which passenger boats ply daily. The haven has safe anchorage for about 200 ships, and vessels of 200 tons go up to Kingsbridge. It is often used as a harbour of refuge, and foreign vessels sometimes land their mail bags here. The number of vessels which entered with cargoes in 1848 was 355, equal to 16,723 tons, and the number which took cargoes out in the same year was 211, of the aggregate amount of 7268 tons. The imports are chiefly coal, culm, groceries, foreign fruit, &c.; and many of the vessels built here are employed in bringing fruit, etc., from the Mediterranean, for which trade they are admirably adapted. The exports are corn, flour, malt, cider, potatoes, slate, &c. Crabs, lobsters, and other fish are caught here. The entrance to the harbour is protected on the west by the bold rocky promontory of Bolt Head, and on the east by that of Prawle Point. The sea cliffs rise in rocky grandeur westward from Bolt Head, varying in height from 50 to upwards of 400 feet. Between Bolt Head and Salcombe, in the haven mouth, are two coves, where the trees of a submerged forest are found under the sands at a depth of two to three feet, and perfect hazel leaves and nuts have sometimes been dug up. The Earl of Devon, who holds a court of admiralty for an extensive line of the coast, is lord of the manors of Malborough, Salcombe, Ilton, East Sewer, Bolbury, Batson, Collaton-Prawle, Hope, &c., but part of the parish belongs to W. R. Ilbert., Esq., Miss Hawkins, A. Pinwell, Esq., Miss Burnell, Mr. Bastard, J. Netherton, Esq., Miss Spencer, and several smaller owners. Ilton had a castellated mansion, built by Sir John Chiverston, in 1335, and of which there are still some slight vestiges. The Earl of Devon’s estates were passed to his family from the founder of this embattled mansion. SALCOMBE CASTLE was a strong fort, built for the defence of the harbour, about a quarter of a mile below the town, upon a rock which is insulated at high water, and sheltered behind by lofty rocky cliffs. There are still large remains of this bulwark, and the walls of the north-west angle are forty feet high, and about six feet thick. At the commencement of the civil wars of the 17th century, this castle was repaired at the cost of £3000, and Sir Edmund Fortescue was appointed governor for the King. After having sustained two other sieges, it was summoned by General Fairfax, on the 23rd of January, 1645, and after a siege of nearly four months, it surrendered on honourable terms to Colonel Wheldon, governor of Plymouth; the garrison being allowed to march with their governor to his mansion at Fallapit, where the castle key is still preserved. RINGRONE, a handsome modern villa, with gardens extended on terraces into the estuary, is the occasional seat of Lord Kinsale, of Ireland, whose other titles are Baron De Courcy and Baron of Ringrone. About a mile below Salcombe is the Moult, the beautiful marine residence of Viscount Courtenay, (the Earl of Devon’s eldest son,) picturesquely situated on the headland between the two coves, with charming walks on the slopes of the rocks. The house is in the Elizabethan style, and was commenced in 1764, by the late A. Hawkins, Esq., and sold to S. Strode, Esq., in 1785. Horsecombe estate has been held for some centuries by the Fairweather family, and is said to have been given to one of them by the Conqueror. Salcombe has a fair for pleasure, toys, &c., on Whit-Tuesday. Malborough Church is a large ancient structure, in the perpendicular style, with a tower containing six bells, and crowned by a spire, which may be seen at a great distance. The interior is spacious and handsome, and has an elegant white marble monument, in memory of the late Lord Kinsale. The nave was repaired in 1844, and in some of the windows the stone mullions have been replaced with wood. In the chancel are the remains of a very handsome sedilia, which was partly taken down when the south aisle was extended. The benefice is a curacy, annexed to the vicarage of West Alvington. The tithes were commuted in 1841, the vicarial for £340. 3s., and the rectorial for £581. 16s. per annum. Of the latter £482. 6s. belongs to the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury; £98, under the name of Merrydale, belongs to W. R. Ilbert, Esq.; and £1. 10s. belongs to the Earl of Devon, as the Paul or Pol portion. The old Chapel at Salcombe, which was licensed by the bishop in 1401, had been gone to decay some centuries in 1801, when it was rebuilt, chiefly at the expense of John Yates, Esq., of Woodville. It was afterwards augmented with Queen Anne’s Bounty, but being too small for the greatly increased population, it has given place to Salcombe District Church (Holy Trinity,) a handsome fabric, in the lancet style of the 13th century, erected by subscription and grants in 1843, at the cost of £2605. It has a tower and bell. The interior is elegantly fitted up, and the east window is enriched with stained lass, given by Viscount Courtenay. The perpetual curacy is in the patronage of the vicar of West Alvington, and the incumbency of the Rev. Geo. Willcock. There is a small Baptist Chapel at Malborough, and a small Wesleyan Chapel at Salcombe, the latter built in 1849. The National School at Salcombe was erected in 1847, at the cost of £300, and has about 200 scholars. The Parish Lands, &c., comprise more than twenty small tenements, let for only about £30 a year, and mostly given by Alice Bayning and Rd. Dyer, in the 16th and 18th centuries. The income is expended on the church and poor, except £3 to the master of the parish school, which was given by Richard Dyer, in 1730.