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HER Number:MDV122645
Name:Axminster Town Leat


The Town Leat or Lake is believed to be medieval in origin, built by the monks of Newenham Abbey. It was the town's principle public water supply until the late 19th century.


Grid Reference:SY 306 978
Map Sheet:SY39NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishAxminster
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishAXMINSTER

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • LEAT (Built, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

The lower section from Furzley Coppice through Fawnsmoor to Lyme Road is shown.

Knapman, D., 2016, Axminster Town Leat (Ground Photograph). SDV361671.

Photos of the line of the leat by Lyme Road.

Knapman, D., 2018, A Town Shaped by Water (Report - non-specific). SDV361670.

The Town Leat or Lake is believed to be medieval in origin, built by the monks of Newenham Abbey. They had a grange farm at Furzeleigh where the springs that fed the leat are located. The leat is shown a map drawn for the Petre Estate in 1776/78 and described in a survey of 1800. Part is also shown on a plan of 1857 between Furzeleigh House and Fawnsmoor.
The leat originated in Furzeleigh Copse and ran through the grounds of Furzeleigh House to Fawnsmoor. It crossed Lyme Road and ran to the south of the road to The Lamb where it divided in two. One branch continued along Lyme Road to South Street where again it divided, one part serving South Street, the other running around the churchyard where it split again, both sections eventually running into the river. The South Street branch ran into Musbury Road and thence into the Purzebrook.
The other branch from The Lamb re-crossed Lyme Road, across the lower ends of Sector Land and Stoney Lane to the garden of Hilary House and thence down Chard Street towards the George Inn from whence small branch led to a public dipping place. The main branch fell into the sewer.
The leat was the town’s main public water supply into the 19th century but suffered from a lack of repair and pollution. A survey was carried out in 1800 to try to address these problems. A report on the town’s water supply in 1876 referred to the ‘excellent supply of running water, called the town water’ but stated that it was not intended as drinking water. A reservoir was built adjacent to Lyme Road in 1882 which fed a new water supply system, taking some of the supply from the Town Leat. The leat continued to run into the 20th century but continued to suffer from pollution, made worse by the lowering of the supply, and lack of maintenance.
Map object approximate, based on this source.

Ordnance Survey, 2018, MasterMap 2018 (Cartographic). SDV360652.

A short section between Fawnsmoor and Lyme Road is marked as a drain.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV360652Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap 2018. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV361670Report - non-specific: Knapman, D.. 2018. A Town Shaped by Water. Digital.
SDV361671Ground Photograph: Knapman, D.. 2016. Axminster Town Leat. Digital.
Linked images:2

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Aug 9 2018 8:28AM