History of Kingsteignton Prior to Today
Founded in the early eighth century as the centre of a vast Saxon estate between Teignmouth and Manaton, it was a key settlement providing rich pickings for Danish raiders who came in 1001. Kingsteignton is situated at the head of the Teign estuary, the village is the long established centre of the clay industry. Medieval prosperity funded the re-building of the parish church in the 15th Century, its 85 foot tower being constructed in the 1480s. From the medieval period to the mid-19th Century the parish church held an important position as the mother church of Highweek and Newton Bushell.
A drought in the Middle Ages is said to have given rise to the annual Ram Roasting fair. With insufficient water to baptise a child, a ram was sacrificed to the gods of the local spring. Water sprang forth and a ram has been roasted ever since at the fair, held each Spring Bank Holiday.
In 1509 the Manor of Kingsteignton, which had been a crown demense until the 13th century, passed into the hands of the Clifford family who still hold the title of Lord of the Manor.
A quirk of geology deposited fine quality ball clays on the eastern edge of the Bovey Basin some 30 – 40 million years ago. Their exploitation was boosted in 1791 when Josiah Wedgwood first purchased Kingsteignton clay. Over the past 200 years clay mining has brought continued employment and prosperity to the village.
By 2008 the village was of a size (Population near 13,000) bigger than many of the towns in Teignbridge – in fact, it is the third largest settlement after Newton Abbot & Teignmouth. Kingsteignton is home to two high achieving primary schools and an excellent community college. Added to that, a large hotel, two national supermarkets, a thriving industrial area and the long established clay industry made the council look at the idea of becoming a town. There was then an impending threat of local government reorganisation which would have rendered the parish of Kingsteignton little more than a part of a ‘cluster’ around Newton Abbot. The, then, Parish Council took the decision to change status and become a town. The ‘new’ town was born on 1st January 2009.
With acknowledgement to Richard Harris of the Kings Teignton History Society.