Tiverton has a long history, with the town’s name first recorded in King Alfred’s will (written about 885 AD).There, the name was ‘Twyfiride’, meaning ‘two-fords’, later expanded to ‘two-ford-town’ – Tiverton. One of the earliest books on the town, not as yet available online, is Memoirs and antiquities of the town and parish of Tiverton in the county of Devon, faithfully collected from ancient records by John Blundell, published in 1712 . Until recently, the standard history was Memoirs of the Town and Parish of Tiverton by Martin Dunsford, published in 1790: this can be read online, as can also the entry for Tiverton in Magna Britannia Volume 6, published in 1822, William Harding’s History of Tiverton in the County of Devon, published in 1845, Frederick John Snell’s Chronicles of Twyford, published in 1892, The Taking of Tiverton with the Castle, Church and Fort by Sir John Fairfax, published in 1645, and the section on Tiverton from Devon by W.G.Hoskins, published in 1954.
In 2004 a new History of Tiverton (Tiverton War Memorial Trust) by Mike Sampson was published, correcting previous misconceptions, giving much new information and bringing history up to the opening of the new Mid Devon District Council Offices in Phoenix House early in 2004. The Book of Tiverton (Halsgrove) by Charles Noon, published in 2008, Tiverton and the Exe Valley (Phillimore) by Mary de la Mahotiere, published in 1990, and Tiverton: A History and Celebration of the Town (Francis Frith Collection/Ottakars) by Peter Belcher and Twyford Writers, published in 2004, are well illustrated histories. Georgian Tiverton: The Political Memoranda of Beavis Wood. Edited with an Introduction by John Bourne. (Devon & Cornwall Record Society), published in 1986, provides a fascinating picture of life in Tiverton during the late 18th century. The Buildings of England: Devon (Penguin/Yale) by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, published in 1989, provides a detailed description of the town’s architecture. The 86 Newsletters published by this Society provide a wealth of information about Tiverton, including the town’s history and development, its buildings, industries, institutions, and notable citizens, with many contributions from the Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life. A large volume of of research material, including newspapers, maps, photographs etc is held at, and can be accessed, at this museum. Genuki includes a good and largely up to date, bibliography. Wikipedia contains a useful summary of Tiverton’s history and geography; also biographies of ‘People from Tiverton‘ (among others John Gabriel Stedman, Joyce Wethered (Lady Amory) and the poet Edward Capern should surely be included); and ‘People from Mid-Devon’. White’s Directory for Devon, 1878/1879, and many other Devon Directories, dated between 1850 and 1919, can be read online, as can a list of traders in The Universal British Directory of c 1794. as well as a list of names in Pigot’s 1822 Directory. A list of textile workers who moved to Tiverton with John Heathcoat in 1816 can also be accessed online, as can information about wool staple marks. The Tithe Maps, mainly from 1836-1846, for Tiverton and all other Devon Parishes can be accessed online; and Ordnance Survey maps of many scales and types, approximately from 1842-1961, as well as Bartholemew maps, can be viewed on the National Library of Scotland website. A more detailed Historical Map Survey for Devon was produced by Mrs Emma Waldron for Devon Heritage Services in 2013.
Also, the 11th century Domesday Book is now freely available online as are information and images from current research into the unique Exon Domesday for the south-west counties. FreeCen are in the process of making all censuses between 1841 and 1891 freely available. Transcriptions of the 1841 and 1851 censuses for Devon are now largely complete and much information for Tiverton is also available for later censuses. A satellite map of Tiverton may be viewed online, as can an economic profile of Mid Devon, published in 2014. The Tiverton Gazette/Mid Devon Gazette 1860-1939 may be searched and read online, but a subscription may be required.
Mid Devon District Council have produced a useful online description, with excellent maps, of the Evolution of Mid Devon Landscape, which includes geological setting, drainage and topography, historic landscape, conservation and agricultural land classification.
English Heritage have written an online Devon_Building_Stone_Atlas which examines the large variety of local stone used in the county’s buildings.
Devon County Council have written online descriptions of The Exe Valley, and Bampton and Beer Downs, a useful discussion of the remote area north-east of Tiverton. Tiverton_Devon Historic Market and Coastal Towns Survey Report provides a detailed description of the town’s history and archaeology.
A brief, finely illustrated, online history of Blundell’s, was produced for the school’s 400th anniversary in 2004. Transcripts of many original documents about Blundell’s history, including Peter Blundell’s will, were compiled by Benjamin Incledon in 1790 under the title of Donations of Peter Blundell, founder and benefactor to the free grammar school at Tiverton: the 1802 edition, with later handwritten additions, can be read online; a paperback edition was published by Nabu Press in 2012. The Old Blundellian Register 1770-1882 can be read online. Recent books on the school include The Making of an English Public School (Hiroona Publications) by M J W Huggins, published in 1982; A History of Blundell’s School (Blundell’s) by Mike Sampson, published in 2011; The Book of Blundell’s (Halsgrove) by Charles Noon, published in 2002, with a second edition in 2008; and Boarding School. Blundell’s 1986, a photographic record by Andrew Nadolski, published in 2016. Among earlier books Blundell’s Worthies by M.L. Banks, 1904, may be read online, as can Frederick John Snell’s Blundell’s : A Short History of a Famous West Country School (Hutchinson), published in about 1928, and R.D.Blackmore’s famous 1869 novel Lorna Doone , partially set at Blundell’s in the 17th century and Edward Hutton’s unpublished ‘Fragments of an Autobiography‘, which includes fascinating reminiscences of Blundell’s and Tiverton in the 1890s. Wikipedia lists biographies of ‘People Educated at Blundell’s School’ . (Although not all those listed e.g. Stephen Spender, were actually educated at the school and others, including the French Resistance war hero Gerald Keun, have a strong claim for inclusion!). See also ‘Notable Old Blundellians’. The Blundell’s Muniment Room holds extensive archival material relating to the school’s history. (Archivist: Mike Sampson). Blundell’s Writers 1604 – 2004 (Lazarus Press) by John Hollands, published in 2004, gives brief biographical details and outlines the published work of 88 past pupils and masters at the school.
Tiverton has a remarkable variety of school buildings, dating back to the early 17th century at Old Blundell’s and Chilcot School. Although it does not include local examples England’s Schools: History, Architecture and Adaptation (English Heritage), by Elain Harwood, 2010, provides an excellent overview of school architecture.
The Environment Agency have provided an extensive archive of images of the devastating ‘100 year recurrence interval’1960 flood 1960-flooding-in-tiverton-f , a year when Tiverton received over 59 inches of rainfall.
‘Tiverton Castle or The Siege of Tiverton in 1645‘, a three act play with songs by Henry Thomas Heathcote, 1829, can be read online, and it is also available at the Mid Devon Museum in a new printed edition with a forward by Douglas Rice (Tiverton Castle, 2016). Hannah Cowley’s best known play, written in 1780, ‘The Belle’s Stratagem’ , which was revived with great acclaim at the Southwark Playhouse in 2011, and subsequently on tour, can also be read online.
The Grand Western Canal (David and Charles) by Helen Harris, 1973, is an excellent account of the canal’s history and features, and there is a useful history of its development in Wikipedia.
The Exe Valley Railway including the Tiverton Branch (Waterfront) by John Owen, 1985, is a ‘detailed anatomy of a West Country Branch Line’. A photographic record of the Exe Valley Railway has been produced by the Cornwall Railway Society, and Wikipedia provides a brief historical record. See also Exe Valley Railway.com
The entry for Tiverton in Oil Paintings in Public Ownership – Devon (The Public Catalogue Foundation), coordinator Caroline Nicholson, 2012, includes a short article by John Vanderwolfe and illustrations of pictures in Tiverton Town Hall, the Mid Devon Museum and the Anglo-Polish Foundation.
The famous collection of oak trees at Chevithorne Barton is recorded in The Oaks of Chevithorne Barton (Adelphi) by Michael Heathcoat-Amory (2009).
Biographies of well-known Tivertonians include:
Edward Capern, the Postman Poet (Vanguard Press) by Ilfra Goldberg (2009), Lord Palmerston (Constable) by Jasper Ridley (1970), Hannah Cowley: Tiverton’s Playwright and Pioneer Feminist 1743-1809 (Devon Books) by Mary de la Mahotiere (1997), The Life And Achievements of Sir John Popham, 1531–1607 by Douglas Walthew Rice (2005) Richard Cosway (Unicorn Press) by Stephen Lloyd (2005), John Heathcoat, 1783-1861 : Founder of the Machine-Made Lace Industry (David and Charles) by D. E. Varley (1969), John Heathcoat and His Heritage (Johnson) by W.Gore Allen (1958), John Gabriel Stedman: A Study of his Life and Times (Thompson and Company) by Stanbury Thompson (1966), Joyce Wethered. The Great Lady of Golf (Tempus) by Basil Ashton Tinkler (2004) and The Reluctant Politician: Derick Heathcoat Amory (Christopher Johnson) by W.Gore Allen (1955).
The Poems of Edward Capern (Letterbox Books) by Liz Shakespeare was published on March 27th 2017.
The Narrative of a Five Year’s Expedition to Surinam by John Gabriel Stedman, 1813 edition, is available online.
A History of the Church of St Peter, Tiverton (Tiverton: Gregory & Son) by Edwin S. Chalk ( 1905) is a detailed history of the church.
Devon, its Moorlands, Streams and Coasts (Chatto and Windus) by Lady Rosalind Northcote (1908) can be read online. It includes an extensive chapter on Tiverton and the Exe Valley.
Britain From Above has many detailed aerial views of Tiverton, many taken before the Second World War. Historic England holds an extensive archive of historic photographs of Tiverton, divided into two groups Churches and Castle and Other Places. A 2009 You Tube video compares past and current views of Tiverton.