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Chudleigh — Devon, England

Chudleigh is a small town and a civil parish located in a beautiful valley near the River Teign; with easy access to any part of Devon, being situated between Exeter and Plymouth and in close proximity to Dartmoor.

ChudleighIn medieval times this was a wool market town whose wool trade and related industry continued until the Industrial Revolution, at which time Chudleigh established a carriage trade. During the early years of the 19th century Chudleigh underwent a devastating catastrophe that wrecked havoc on the entire town. The fire of 1807 destroyed virtually the entire town with the exception of St. Martin's Church and a handful of cottages. Rebuilding took place with the replacement of the quaint thatched roof to more practical and fire retardant roofing materials. As a Consequence of the fire there are few historic buildings left in the town other than the church; the old grammar school built in 1668 and located next to the church, now privately owned; and of course, the archaeological fragments of the Bishop's Palace; and Ugbrooke House which is in close proximity to the town.

During the era of the rich and powerful Bishops of Exeter, in 1080 Bishop Osborne selected Chudleigh as the site of a rural palace; the remains can be seen near Rock Road. The Bishops had domain over The Church of St. Martin and St. Mary when it was dedicated circa 1259. St. Martin's celebrated 750 years of history during 2009, with a history of worship on their site predating the Norman Conquest. The early sandstone nave and chancel church was replaced by a cruciform building, and a third rebuilding during the 14th century was in the Perpendicular Style. The tower is believed to be from this period; however more changes were made in later centuries to the church. This is an extremely interesting church that contains floor stones and tablets that reference historical records of the times as well as the person that they are commemorating. The church also has twenty paintings of the Apostles and the Prophets with related inscriptions, a rarity to be found in few churches.

Chudleigh history includes Ugbrooke House, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Ugbrooke was at one time home to the Precentor of Exeter, who came to reside there in 1225 during the times of the Bishops of Exeter. Ugbrooke became home to the Clifford's of Chudleigh circa 1564 when the property was in private ownership; with the house undergoing much alteration through the centuries. The house was rebuilt several times; however it is the interior that contains artifacts, fine paintings and handiwork, as well as a military uniform collection that creates the ambience of a museum that offers a window into the past. The 600 acre grounds also contains a grove of trees known as "Dryden's Walk" and it is believed that John Dryden finished his translation of Virgil at Ugbrooke while visiting the first Lord of Clifford. There is also an Early Iron Age Hillfort, Castle Dyke, on the highest point of the grounds.

Chudleigh Rocks, a Site of Special Scientific Interest is located just to the southwest of the town and commands a panoramic view of the countryside from the top. This limestone outcrop covered partially with trees and bushes has several well known features; the configuration of rock called the Pope's Head and the Pixies' Hole which is a large cavern in the limestone; also there are cavities which may be of interest to the life scientist. For the rock climbers and cavers there is also an interesting attraction, The Rock Centre, which offers related experiences for an energizing day of activity. There is also The Rock Garden which features a Secret Garden, a Fern Garden and woodland paths with a wetland nature reserve. Canonteign Falls and Farm Park are in close proximity to Chudleigh, as is Becky Falls, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with its endangered flora and fauna. Canonteign Falls has the highest waterfall in England and is spectacular to see.

Chudleigh may have lost some of its quaint thatched roofed charm in the fire of 1807, but if you know where to look, you will find an abundance of history and spectacular beauty ready to be appreciated by those who take the time to look. And what better place to go for seeking a fairy-tale, as Chudleigh is home to the "Chudley Cannons", one of the thirteen Quidditch teams from the "Harry Potter" series that has been popularized so widely in the past decade. So get on your broomstick and take the family for a bird's eye view of J.K. Rowling's imagination.

Where is Chudleigh?

Chudleigh is located in the south east of Devon near the A38 and M5. The nearest populated areas include Newton Abbot to the south and Exeter to the north.

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