Bovey Tracey
Bovey Tracey Town Hall
An historic town on the Bovey River in south Devon at the eastern edge of Dartmoor National Park, Bovey Tracey has a history as a centre of china clay mining. It takes its name from the river and the de Tracey family who held the manor after the Norman Conquest.

History

Legend tells that one member of the family, William de Tracey, built the parish church of St Peter, Paul, and Thomas of Canterbury in remorse for his part in the murder of Thomas a Becket in 1170. The 12th century Manor House may have been de Tracey's dwelling.

The church is notable for its 14th century west tower and collection of late medieval misericords. The most impressive historic feature, however, is the finely carved rood screen.

In 1259 a later De Tracey, Henry, was granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual 3-day fair.

Cromwell's Arch

A medieval gateway known as Cromwell's Arch is all that remains of a medieval priory on the site now occupied by the Baptist church. Or is it? No historical record mentions a priory here, so where does the archway come from?

There is a fascinating Civil War story linked to the town. In early 1646 the town was a base for a Royalist regiment under Lord Wentworth. The Royalists were caught unprepared when Oliver Cromwell led soldiers into Bovey Tracey under cover of dark, and captured over 400 horses. Though they also captured several officers playing cards in an inn, many more escaped.

A persistent legend suggests that the Royalists escaped by tossing coins from windows to distract the poorly paid Parliamentary troops. In the confusion caused by the Parliamentary soldiers scrambling for money in the street, the Royalists were able to escape. On the following day Cromwell met and defeated a Royalist force outside town, in what has been dubbed The Battle of Bovey Heath. The Heath is now home to a nature reserve run by the Devon Wildlife Trust.

The old railway station is now home to the Bovey Tracey Heritage Centre, with displays on local history. Another historic building is Riverside Mill, built in 1854 to supply water to a nearby house. Just outside town is Parke House, headquarters of the Dartmoor National Park Authority.