History of Thorverton by Ian Stoyle

Thorverton lies just over a mile west of the A396 road between Exeter and Tiverton.

It came into being as a settlement on high ground close to a fordable part of the prehistoric route between the south-east of England and the far south-west. Nearly twenty thousand flint tools have been found in the immediate vicinity as evidence of early inhabitants. The Romans came here, too: the remains of one villa or signal-station overlooking the river have been partly excavated, and Roman coins have been discovered elsewhere in the parish.

FordVery little is known of what happened here in mediaeval or Tudor times, but during the Civil Wars in the seventeenth century the stone bridge over the Exe was an important crossing place for troops of both sides and for a while Thorverton was the headquarters of Royalist army which the Prince of Wales - later Charles II - came out from Exeter to review.

Once the parish was of considerable significance as the centre of the lucrative serge-making industry, and later it remained prosperous and self-sufficient through successful sheep- and cattle-farming by local yeomen.

In the mid-nineteenth century the population had risen to nearly 1500, but agricultural depression and later mechanization, the development of new industries elsewhere, and opportunities to emigrate led to a steady decline. By 1911 the population was less than half that of 1851 and by 1961 was only 674. Since then the numbers have risen again. Growth of car ownership has made Thorverton a pleasant and convenient place to settle for those working in the expanding University of Exeter and in other large organisations which have re-located to the city, while certain housing developments have been permitted, so that there are now 920 inhabitants in ?380 dwellings. Most people live close to the centre of the actual village, and the rest in outlying areas, particularly on or around a dozen working farms.

It is a busy community. The monthly magazine, Focus, lists more than twenty organizations and societies which meet regularly for business or pleasure. There are a temporary post­ office/newsagent's and a small temporary grocery and dairy in the village car-park, and current plans for the latter to move to larger premises on two different sites. In addition, a monthly market is held in the Memorial Hall, the venue for many other activities, not least the annual performances by the dramatic society. There are two public houses, one of which is also a restaurant with guest rooms. Still within the parish boundary is a handy vehicle repair shop in sheds that were part of the former Thorverton Mill. Buses run three times a day to and from Tiverton and Exeter, and more frequently out on the A396.

ChurchThe Church, St Thomas of Canterbury, is one of nine that make up the Netherexe Parish Mission Community, whose Team Rector lives in Thorverton. Some services are held jointly with the members of the Baptist Church, whose Minister is also resident in the village.

Two medical practices are available, one in Thorverton linked with Crediton and one across the. river in Silverton.

Most children go first to the Pre-School, then to the Church of England primary school, which is one of three schools in the Exe Valley Federation that share some of their facilities and experiences under a single Executive Headteacher and a governing body drawn from the three parishes concerned. For their secondary education they go to the Queen Elizabeth Community College in Crediton, where they may remain for "A" Levels or from which they may transfer to the tertiary Exeter College. Children in the northern part of the parish fall in a different catchment area and go first to Bickleigh and then to Tiverton.