ASHBURTON, DEVON, a market-town in the Ashburton parliamentary division of Devonshire, England, 24 m. N.W. by W. of Plymouth, on a branch of the Great Western railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 2628. It lies in a valley surrounded by hills, at a short distance from the river Dart; the scenery, towards Dartmoor and in the neighbourhood of Buckland and Holne Chase, being unsurpassed in the county. The church of St. Andrew is cruciform with a lofty tower. It was built early in the 15th century, and contains a fine old oak roof over the north aisle, and a tablet in memory of John Dunning, solicitor-general and 1st Baron Ashburton (1731-1783). The inscription is by Dr Johnson. Lord Ashburton was educated at the grammar school, which was founded as a chantry in 1314. Serge is manufactured in Ashburton, and there are breweries, paint factories and saw-mills. A large deposit of umber is worked in the neighbourhood. Slate quarries and copper and tin mines were formerly valuable. A neighbouring centre of the serge industry is the urban district of Buckfastleigh (pop. 2520), 3 m. S S.W. Between the two towns is Buckfast Abbey, said to have been, before the Conquest, a Benedictine house, and refounded for Cistercians in 1137. It was restored to use in 1882 by a French Benedictine community, the fine Perpendicular abbot's tower remaining, while other parts have been rebuilt on the original lines.
Ashburton (Essebretona, Asperton, Ashperton) is a borough by prescription and an ancient stannary town. It was governed by a portreeve and bailiff, elected annually at the court leet held by the lord of the manor. According to Domesday, Ashburton was held in chief by Osbern, bishop of Exeter, and rendered geld for six hides. In 1552, as the two manors of Ashburton Borough and Ashburton Foreign, it was sold by the bishop, and subsequently became crown property. Finally, it was acquired in moieties by the Clinton family, and the present Lord Clinton is joint lord of the manor with Sir Robert Jardine. In 1298 and 1407 Ashburton returned two members, from 1407 until 1640 one member only, and then again two members, until deprived of one by the Reform Act of 1832 and of the other by the Reform Act of 1885. In the reign of Edward II. Bishop Stapledon obtained a Saturday market, and two annual fairs lasting three days at the feasts of St Laurence (August 10) and St Martin in winter (November 11). In 1672 John Ford was granted a Tuesday market for the sale of wool and woollen goods made from English yarn, and in 1705 Andrew Quicke obtained two annual fairs, on the first Thursdays in March and June, for the sale of cattle, corn and merchandise.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)