Bricks In the Feniton Area

Long Park
Escot House


When Exeter’s trade with the Netherlands was at its height in the 17th and early 18th centuries, ships returning to Devon were commonly loaded with mixed cheap cargoes including bricks, which acted as ballast on the journey home. Dutch bricks were much smaller than English ones, and were often cream or fawn in colour, contrasting with the red bricks of Devon, so they can easily be distinguished nowadays.

Many examples of such bricks can be seen in the buildings and garden walls of Topsham, close to the quays where they were unloaded. They are found in smaller numbers at Exeter and in the neighbouring villages and towns.

The cottages and the Escot estate properties built by the Kennaways have red brick with white or cream bricks as decoration. The Kennaway family were merchants and I wonder if the white bricks used to build Escot House, dated 1838 rebuilt after the fire, came from trade with the Dutch. One other house in the area has a white brick, which is Long Park, near the railway station. A fine example of the red brick with white is Colesworthy House built by the Wheatons c. 1890, but sadly now it is painted white, and the fine brickwork is lost. A recent owner came from the North and hated all the brick back to back housing, so had it painted. The Talewater Brickyard was part of the Escot estate.

A seem of white ball clay runs across the county from Peters Marland to Newton Abbot. The white clay was used in the making of fine pottery, china pipes, for tobacco. The less valuable stoneware clays to produce the pale cream bricks that are a feature of many West Country buildings, as well as drain pipes, chimney pots and wall tiles - notably Candy & Coin of Heathfield, near Bovey Tracey, Hexter Humpherson in Newton Abbot and the Marland brick works in North Devon.

W.G.Hoskins in his book “ Devon” states that brick was very rare in Devon. George Rolle rebuilt Stevenstone in St. Giles in the Wood in the 1540s using brick. Brick was not used in any quantity until the 1690s.

The Customs House on Exeter Quay is of red brick, built in 1681, one of the oldest brick buildings.

There is a field in Strete Raleigh, near Whimple, called “Brickfields” a look at the old tithe map for that area may be useful. There were brickworks on the way out of Ottery St Mary up Chimeway.

Jo Chown received a Christmas Card from a distant relative called Raymond Harris who Alan Powell knows too.  In the card they included an old photo of the family and said it had been taken in front of 'Bricklands' now Appletree Cottage behind the Nog Inn.  I don't know if this is of any interest but will try to get to the next meeting and bring it with me. I do know that there is a considerable seam of very dense clay which runs in front of Myrtle Cottage which one could easily make bricks from! [Jo. Chown]

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