Colyton

Street Map

Colyton is a small town in Devon, England. It is located within the East Devon local authority area. It is 3 miles away from Seaton and 6 miles away from Axminster. Its population in 1991 was 2,783.

Colyton first appeared as an ancient village around 700 AD and features in the Domesday Book as ‘Culitone’. The third code of law of King Edmund I was issued at Colyton in about 945. This helped to stabilize feudal society, by stating clearly its four pillars: kingship, lordship, family, and neighbourhood. It grew into an important agricultural centre and market town with a corn mill, saw mill, iron foundry and an oak bark tannery that is still functioning. Situated 1/2 mile to the north of the village was Colcombe Castle, now demolished, a former seat of the Courtenay family, Earls of Devon.

It was called the “most rebellious town in Devon” due to the number of its inhabitants who joined the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685.

A Saxon church occupied the site of St Andrew’s church until replaced by the present Norman church in the 11th century. The 14th century octagonal lantern tower is said to have been used as a beacon for ships on the once navigable River Axe, to the east, although there is doubt that the tower may be seen at all from the river. The nearby vicarage dates from 1529.

Colyton Grammar School dates from 1546 and once occupied the part-medieval building now known as the Old Church House. In 1927 it moved to Colyford, a small town within the Colyton parish. The school has made headlines in recent years as the first school to ‘opt out’ of local authority control and gain grant-maintained status and for achieving very high rankings in national examination league tables.

The Seaton Tramway terminates at nearby Kingsdon on the other side of the River Coly and the town is on the route of the East Devon Way footpath.

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