In this section our long-term aim to provide notes on the history of most (if not all) listed and otherwise notable buildings in the Conservation Area which are now dwellings, including those that have been demolished; Together with other larger / historic dwellings and those of special interest within the Town’s boundaries, whether listed or not, and ‘Grand houses’ outside the town but still within the parish of Axminster. Links are given, both within the overview below and in the column on the right, to more detailed information about them.
Thomas Whitty House was actually built in 1828 by Thomas’ grandson, Samuel Ramson Whitty as a replacement carpet factory after the original was burnt down. It is one of the oldest buildings in Axminster and is Grade ll listed. It represents a key aspect of the history of the carpet industry in the UK and internationally. Fittingly, Axminster Heritage is now housed in the rebuilt factory building.
Notable Buildings lists around 40 buildings, both within and outside the Conservation Area – some of which sadly, have been demolished. It also has information about other larger / historic dwellings within the town’s boundaries, whether listed or not together with some ‘Grand houses’ outside the town but within the parish of Axminster.
Churches Church of England, Roman Catholic, United Reform, Methodist, Christian Fellowship, Quakers and Jehovah’s Witnesses have built and worshipped in and around the town. This document presents a summary of organised religion in Axminster, with information on the buildings used and some of the ministers through the years.
In the future we will provide more information about what was for a long time the single most important building and institution associated with Axminster. Meanwhile, the key dates and events linked to Newenham can be found in the section of this website where the town’s Timeline is set out. Much more information can also be found in James Davidson’s 1843 book ‘The History of Newenham Abbey in the County of Devon’.
The Universal British directory of 1792 recorded the existence in Axminster of “… an exceeding good boarding school for young ladies, kept by Miss Braddock” alongside “… a charity-school for instructing 20 boys to read and write”, and a “… Sunday-school established by the later Mr Wesley’s people, where 150 boys and girls are taught to read”. These are some of the first records of education in Axminster; information about other schools and their staffs is given in this section.
Hotels, Inns and Pubs
In the 18th and 19th centuries Axminster had a relatively large number of inns and other hostelries relative to its population for two main reasons: the large number of coaching and waggon (freight) services which ran through the town, and the presence of the market, which brought farmers and dealers into the town on a regular basis. Most are listed in this section.
From information drawn almost entirely from published trade directories we have listed shop businesses in the town. Places and occupations of all named individuals can be assumed from the headings and the use of the descriptor ‘baker’ or ‘butcher’ is not always included. Listings are in two documents: Bakers and Butchers and General Food Shops and Wine Merchants.
The 1850 directory shows that the County Court sat in Axminster. The Magistrates’ Court also held petty sessions since at least 1883. Information in this section gives more detail of the courts and also local lawyers.
Further Information and Research
If you are interested in finding out more about the history of Axminster, a list of more comprehensive documents on this site is given on the right. If you are interested in doing your own research, please see our selections of the best books about Axminster and its surrounds. We also offer help with locating and interpreting old maps and relevant online resources.
Our own collections include objects, documents, images and photographs that have direct links to Axminster and 10 other surrounding parishes. We have a particular interest in the history of carpet making in the town, as well as the other local industries and businesses, people, public services, civic bodies, clubs and societies which have shaped the present character of the area.