The area around Tavistock, which was formerly known as Tavistoke, where the River Tavy runs wide and shallow allowing it to be easily crosses was inhabited long before the historical record.
The surrounding area has archeological remains from the Bronze and Iron Ages and it is believed that a hamlet existed where the present town is located long before the founding of the Abbey.
The abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Rumon was founded 961 by the Earl of Devon, Ordgar. It was destroyed by Danish raiders in 997 and later restored by the abbots of which one of the most famous was Aldred who crowned Harold II and William I. Abbot Aldred died with the title, Archbishop of York.
In 1105 a Royal Charter was granted by Henry I to the monks of Tavistock to run a weekly Pannier Market on a Friday. In 1116 a three-day fair was also granted to mark the feast of Saint Rumon.
By 1185 Tavistock had achieved Borough status and in 1295 became a parliamentary borough. The abbey church was rebuilt in 1285. In 1305, with the growing importance of the area as one of Europe's richest sources of tin, Tavistock was one of four stannary towns appointed by charter of Edward I. Tin was stamped, weighed and monthly court sessions were held for the regulation of mining affairs.
Notes of interest:
See "What is a Pannier?" to understand what the Monks were doing every Friday.
See "Goosey Fair" which is todays one day version of the three day historical fair to mark the feast of Saint Rumon.
Source: Wikipedia and Local Council