Chagford is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Devon.
Parish registers begin:
- Parish registers: 1598
- Bishop’s Transcripts: 1608
Nonconformists include: Baptist, Bible Christian Methodist, Plymouth Brethren, and Wesleyan Methodist.
The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870
CHAGFORD, a small town, a parish, and a subdistrict in Okehampton district, Devon. The town stands on elevated ground, near the river Teign, on the skirts of Dartmoor, 4 miles WNW of Moreton-Hampstead r. station, and 12 SW of Crediton; and has a post office under Exeter, and two inns. It is a picturesque old place, amid romantic environs, in a bracing climate, repulsive during winter, but attractive to tourists and to invalids in summer. It was made a stannary town in 1328; and it sustained an attack by the royalists in the wars of Charles I. The Three Crowns inn at it was built as a mansion, by Judge Whyddon, in the time of James I.; and served afterwards as the dower-house of Whyddon Park. Markets are held on Saturdays; and fairs on the first Thursday of May, and the last Thursday of March, Sept., and Oct. The parish comprises 7,492 acres. Real property, £7,014. Pop., 1,379. Houses, 273. The property is much subdivided. The manor belonged to Dodo the Saxon; was given by the Conqueror to the Bishop of Coutances; and passed, in the time of Henry III., to Sir Hugh de Chagford, and afterwards to Judge Whyddon. Several ancient British antiquities occur among the hills. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £539. Patron, the Rev. H. G. Hames. The church is a good ancient structure, with a square embattled tower; and contains a grand monument of Judge Whyddon. There are chapels for Wesleyan Methodists and Bible Christians. Charities, £44. The subdistrict contains four parishes. Acres, 19,821. Pop., 2,907. Houses, 608.
Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].
Health and Housing in Chagford
In 1842 the quality of health and standard of housing were described as follows:
Mr S Hunt, medical officer of the Chagford district, Okehampton union says:
"You will perceive there are (in the Return) 82 cases of fever, and two only specified as typhus: of these 44 occurred between July 13th and September 13th, 1838, and all within a mile of the village of Chagford and in it. As I reside in the village, and have been for several years the medical attendant on four separate clubs, consisting of about 400 members in the lower walks of life, among whom typhus fever raged at the period above named, I am certain that the greater number of those cases were typhus; the number of cases I had on my visiting list of typhus at that time was 84, nearly the whole of whom resided in the village. Surprise is constantly expressed at this village being so frequently attacked with typhus fever, and having nearly at all times a typhoid type of fever lingering among the poorer inhabitants; and the surprise is most natural, situated as it is on a hill within three miles of Dartmoor, having an abundance of pure water flowing through every street; and the soil being what is called 'a light sandy soil;' the whole district too is perfectly free from malaria produced by natural causes.
The village contains about 1000 inhabitants nine tenths of whom are daily labourers, either at a large woollen manufactory or agriculture. The cottages of the labourers are, generally speaking, very old and inconvenient, &c &c. A great number of them are situated in blind alleys called 'drangs,' without privies or drains; but all the refuse matter is carefully collected, and preserved throughout the year, as manure for potatoe ground. Each cottage has a pigsty within three yards of the door, the drainage of which adds to the already offensive effluvia that are generally around it. The occurrence of typhus fever has not been at regular intervals: it has appeared with violence three times in the space of ten years; but among some of the poor in those drangs, there is nearly at all times a degree of fever having the typhoid character.
I most certainly attribute the primary cause of the appearance of typhus fever among us to the malaria generated around each cottage, by the decomposition of animal and vegetable matter in the dung hill, preserved to manure the potatoe ground rented by each cottager. The secondary causes are the crowded state of their rooms; as many as 12 or 14 individuals sleep in one small apartment, parents and children, many grown up as well as lodgers; in some instances a poor diet: but the general diet is wholesome, consisting of potatoes, pork, puddings &c.
In conclusion I have to state my perfect conviction, that an improved style of residences for the poor, combining free ventilation with a removal of those dung heaps, the erection of privies and formation of drains, would render typhus fever almost unknown among us. During the last very severe epidemic there was not one person attacked above the grade of a labourer, though it was as severe a form of disease as ever I witnessed among the crowded lanes and alleys of Southwark whilst in attendance on the Southwark Dispensary.
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Civil Registration District: Okehampton
Probate Court: Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Archdeaconry of Exeter
Rural Deanery: Dunsford
Poor Law Union: Okehampton