"Tavistock, Devon" Tavistock by Geoff_Wright
Tavistock Travel Guide: 34 reviews and 56 photos
Tavistock is situated in the picturesque valley of the river Tavy, from which it takes its name. The town lies on the western fringes of Dartmoor, and, to me living in Cornwall, is the 'Gateway to the Moors'. It grew from a hamlet when the Benedictine Abbey was founded there in the year 974. As the community became the largest and wealthiest in the west, so the town expanded. The Abbey virtually owned Tavistock from the 10th to the 16th century, and at the Dissolution of the Monasteries it was the gift of Henry VIII to his friend John Russel, the first Earl of Bedford, whose family owned it until the last century (the 20th!).
In the 12th century, tin was found in large quantities on the southwest edge of Dartmoor, providing the largest source in Europe. This mining boom was followed by an expansion in the cloth trade, and that in turn by the mining of copper which reached its peak in the 1860s when Devon Great Consols mine proved the richest in the world. A further development was the extraction of arsenic. The countryside around Tavistock and the nearby River Tamar (the 'border between Devon and Cornwall), is littered with the crumbling remains of the once majestic mine buildings. A canal was build here in 1817 to connect with the hamlet of Morwellham, on the River Tamar. (Morwelham is now a restored site, and a very popular tourist attraction). The decline in mining was coincident with the increase in popularity of the town as a pleasant and healthy place to live, and the hillsides are covered with fine houses.
Today Tavistock is a cheerful, thriving and busy market town, and is well worth a visit especially for the pleasing appearance of its many fine buildings, which reflect the former wealth of the town. The Bedford Hotel was built as a private house in 1726 on the site of the Abbey refectory. The Guildhall was built in 1848.
The Moors have been worked for tin from prehistoric times until the middle of the 16th century, and at various intervals afterwards, particularly during the two World War periods. Some time prior to 1305 the tinners of Devon separated from those of Cornwall, and Tavistock, along with Ashburton, and Chagford were appointed Stannary Towns, for the weighing and stamping of tin. Plympton, near to what is now Plymouth, was added later as it was nearer to the seaboard and therefore handy for the coastwise and export trade.
The tinners had their own parliament, the Stannary Parliament, which regulated the industry in all respects. This court was originally held upon Hingston Down, just across the Tamar in Cornwall, but when the miners of Cornwall and Devon separated the latter met on Crockern Tor, near Two Bridges (see above). There are still people in the two counties who believe in the Stannary Parliament, and in its powers, which, they claim, have never been revoked. The last working tin mine - in Cornwall - closed 3 years ago, and is unlikely to reopen, so ending a long and colourful chapter in the history of the region.
I like Tavistock! Yes, I do. It's a great shopping town, and an historic centre too. More text and pics to follow. more travel advice
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