Newtown to Heavitree

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Next stop is in Heavitree itself. Walk up Magdalen Road, you'll pass Magdalen Road Garages on your right, built 1933. The garage was originally Warren Garage and was known for quite a time as Motor Mecca. Kastner's have however been in there for several years.
College Avenue is on your left, this was once the site of Magdalen Gallows. The open fields are St Luke's Playing Fields, after which you'll pass Baring Cresent. Pass the traffic lights and into Livery Dole. On your left are Livery Dole Almshouses and Chapel. The Almshouses were founded by Sir Dennis Knight in March 1591 and finished by Sir Thomas Dennis, his son in 1594. The chapel was first mentioned in 1439 as the Chapel of St Clarus, and may well have been associated with the execution of criminals. Beyond the chapel is the Gordon Lamp, dedicated to the memory of General Gordon after his death in 1885 while defending Khartoum. You must have seen the film. The general was a friend of the Vicar of Heavitree, Prebendary Barnes and he paid for the lamp to be erected. You are now in Fore Street, Heavitree. Keep walking on the RHS of the road.
Livery Dole Almshouses

Chapel of St Clare

Heavitree Proper

The first pub you come to is The Heavitree, on the corner of Church Street. There is a Lounge bar at the back (Church St entrance), or use the front entrance for the main bar. Finish your pint and head over Church St to the Ship and Pelican. Both The Heavitree and The Ship and Pelican date back as far as 1740, although The Heavitree was then known as the Horse & Jockey. The Ship and Pelican was known as The Ship until the mid eighties. The Heavitree only became known as such in August 2006, formerly being known as The Horse and Groom.

Before schools were built later in the 19th century, both pubs were used as public rooms. The Ship was used for distributing cloth to the poor annually until the 1820s. Coroners inquests also took place here. The parish dinner for the poor to celebrate King George IVs coronation was held in the Ship in 1821. Both pubs were used for refreshments after paupers funerals, for which an allowance of three shillings (15p) per burial was paid until the 1820s. The skittle alley is more than a century old.

Heavitree History

During the Victorian and Georgian era, Heavitree became an upper class residential village, socially and geographically distinct from Exeter.  It was inevitable however that Heavitree would eventually become part of Exeter and it did so in 1913 after a great deal of resistance from its tight but wealthy residents who weren't too happy about paying the increased rates. Lets hope they were all band Z. The building next door to The Heavitree used to house Heavitree's Fire Engine, but this closed when everything was based centrally at the Danes Castle headquarters of the Exeter Fire Brigade in 1932. The building is now part of the extended pub.


Livery Dole at the brow of Heavitree Road was a place of execution until 1531. The last person to be executed here was Thomas Benet who was burned at the stake for his religious beliefs. It was a brutal execution involving burning furze being pushed into his mouth when he would not deny the heresy of his son who had put a message on the Cathedral's west door saying that the pope was an anti christ.

The Ship and Pelican History

Two monuments were built in his memory, one at the Almshouses at Livery Dole and a pillar of Dartmoor Granite in Denmark Road. In 1851, the iron ring which went around the victims bodies and the chain which attached them to the stake were found.

A later site for executions was Ringwell, close to the junction of Sidmouth Road and Honiton Road. Ringswell Avenue is close by. 1926 saw the unearthing of skeletons from around here and further finds were made in 1973.

Horse drawn carts brought the condemned to Heavitree Bridge (Honiton Road / Rifford Road / Sweetbrier Lane), where the prisoners took their last drink from a spring coming from the side of the hill. Further along Honiton Road is a bridge over which passes the road to Pinhoe. This is Gallows Bridge.

Old School but no tie

St Lukes High School (formerly Vincent Thompson and my old school), is built on land that in Victorian times was home to a point to point race meeting, the Heavitree Races. The course was about 1 1/2 miles long and thousands of people attended, taking 'ordinary' meals in the Heavitree pubs afterwards.  The parish of Heavitree has a population of 22,000, the third largest in Devon and has 3 churches and a chapel.

The oldest church is St. Michael's. Heavitree was for centuries the centre of the Saxon Kings Manor of Wonford, despite being well outside the walled city. It is thought that courts and councils were held on the site of St. Michael's by a great tree beside the Roman road into Exeter which is now Fore Street Heavitree.

It is possible that a church was built on this site before AD700 and that the name Heavitree comes from 'Hefa's tree' or heafod treow (the chief tree). A 12th century church was altered in the 14th and 15th centuries and completely restored in 1541. Rebuilding of the nave took place in between 1844 and 1846 and the tower erected for the Queen's jubilee in 1887, leaving what we see today. For a good view of the church, head down between the Ship & Pelican and Horse & Groom. Its on your right. Eight bells were hung in the tower in 1897 and these were overhauled in 1993.

Vincent Thompson was a City councillor. He reported on the Ministry of Transport experiments with traffic lights in the City. His report noted that the experiment was a failure and that no more traffic lights should be installed at the City's expense. St Michaels, Heavitree
The Ship & Pelican
Heavitree Brewery

Just up from the Church was the site of the old Heavitree Brewery. The company still exists at Trood Lane, Matford, although brewing ceased in 1970 when Whitbread were brought in to supply its 120 tied houses.

A small family business was established in 1790 and was flourishing by the early 19th century, it was at the time headed by Thomas Buller Wolland. His sister, Elizabeth married Thomas R. Baker (an Exeter iron merchant), who in 1837 sold his business with the intention of entering into partnership with his brother in law in the beer business. Unfortunately he dropped dead a few months later.

Wolland then saw that his widowed sister take over the business, so business was conducted in her name until her death in 1889.

Trade was good and the firm became Baker & Son in 1860 when NG Baker joined the firm. NG Baker realised his asset in 1890 when Heavitree Brewery Ltd was formed. He also joined the board of the new company.

Windsor Brewery

The company expanded by buying public houses, one of the earliest was the Horse and Groom in 1891. Heavitree Brewery also swallowed up the rival Windsor Brewery in 1899, shutting it down in 1902.

They accquired George Finch's Eagle Brewery in Exeter (38 North St, 144 Fore St) and Pinsents of Newton Abbot. A Mr Gall was appointed secretary in 1916. He systematically robbed the brewery reducing them to financial ruin by 1922.

One of the company's creditors, John Tucker bought a major shareholding after this and was able to take the company to new heights with the help of his friend HC Hammars. Expansion re-started with the acquisition of further local breweries. 1970 saw the final brew in Church Street.

The Maltings replaced the brewery, the only building remaining linked to the brewery is the Cooperage in Sivell Place which has now been incorporated into a home.

Heavitree Brewery Cooperage

The Horse & Groom, now The Heavitree The Windsor Castle

The Old Windsor Brewery. 
Picture scanned from Frederick Messenger's Collection

The Windsor Brewery

Flats on the Old Windsor Brewery Site

Take a stroll down North Street, and on the right you'll see the Windsor Castle. This pub was formerly known as the Windsor Inn and sold beer brewed by the Windsor Brewery over the road (the new flats at the top of North Street are built on the site).

This brewing company was formed in 1860 by a partnership which included William Crowson, who became sole owner in 1868. When the Heavitree brewery bought this business in 1899, they continued brewing on the site for a few years until 1902.

The premises were sold in 1907, and the old buildings demolished in 1983 to make way for the flats. Pictures left.

Ship Brewery

Brewing in this part of Heavitree was very popular. The Ship Brewery was run by Jas. Spark in 1873 (Kelly), from the Ship Inn (now the Ship & Pelican), and in 1844 Pigot suggests William Goodbridge was brewing beer in Church Street, most probably at The Ship Brewery. In 1885 this brewery was run by Brice and Burgoyne.

Windsor Castle History

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