Early Modern History


The Abbey was rebuilt in 1457-58 In two fairs on April 23rd and November 28th they were granted by Edward VI to the Earl of Bedford then the lord of the manor. In the 17th Century great quanities of cloth were sold on the Friday market and four fairs were held at the feast of Saint Micheal ,Epiphany , Saint Mark and the decollation of John the Baptist. The Charter of Charles II introduced a Tuesday Market , Fairs on the Thursday after Whitsunday and a feast of Saint Swithin.The town continued to prosper in the charge of the abbots, acquiring one of England's first printing presses in 1525.

Tavistock remained an important centre of bothtrade and religion untill the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The abbey was demolished in 1539 leaving the ruins still to be seen around the centre of town. From this time on the dominant force in the town became the Russell Family, Earls and later the Duke of Bedford who took over much of the land following the Dissolution.

Tavistock is tied from late medieval times with the Russells, the family name of the Earls of Bedford and since 1694, the Dukes of Bedford. This is clearly seen from the history of the town. The second title of the Duke of Bedford is the Marquess of Tavistock.

It is this Russell family connection through the Bedford Estates which gives the name by ownership to Russell Square and Tavistock Square in London , Famously home to the Tavistock Clinic and the bus bombing of 7th July 2005.

It was around 800 AD the a Saxon Settlement, recorded as Tavy-Stoc (stockaded settlement by the tavy), was erected on the hill to the north-east of the present town.

By about 920 AD the settlement had become a Saxon hamlet under the administrative distric of Lifton.