HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV124098
Name:Great Hill, St Marychurch, Torquay


A topographic feature, the site of a medieval beacon, a planned Admiralty Semaphore station, and later ROC post


Grid Reference:SX 912 679
Map Sheet:SX96NW
Admin AreaTorbay
Civil ParishTorbay
Ecclesiastical ParishST.MARYCHURCH
Ecclesiastical ParishSTOKEINTEIGNHEAD

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Torbay HER: MTO9555

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BEACON (Early Medieval to XXI - 1066 AD to 2050 AD)

Full description

Torbay HER record (SMR record). SDV361984.

At 179m/587 feet above sea level the 'Great Hill' was the highest part of the four-mile ridge running from Milber Down to the sea at Maidencombe. [1] The site was known as the beacon at Holloway Head' there was a well-marked hollow with a large stone (prehistoric?) to the south of it (both are shown on the 1861 & 1904 OS County Series 1:2500). The hollow was the original Swedwell Lane, climbing the hill from the south, and is now subsumed by the road of that name and Padacre Road.

Great Hill had been purchased by the Admiralty around 1825 as a proposed site of a Popham semaphore station linking Lonodn with Plymouth. Apparently the semaphore staqtion was never built as communication by electric telegraph became standard in the 1840s. Great Hill was sold by the Admiralty to I K Brunel for £10 on 4 September 1849 in order that he could construct a tree-lined drive (MTO60138) to his Watcombe Park estate (MTO32492).[2]

The field in the adjoining parish to the north (Coffinswell) was called Fireber [3]. In 1911 Torbay Corporation bought 6 acres at Great Hill for a reservoir, which when completed in 1926, after war-time delays, held 1.5million gallons. [4]

<1> Russell, P., 1960, History of Torquay and the Famous Anchorage of Torbay, p.5 (Monograph). SDV362605.


<2> Tudor, G, 2007, Brunel's Hidden Kingdom, p.35-37 (Monograph). SDV362378.


<3> Russell, P., 1955, Transactions of the Devonshire Association, p.287 (Article in Serial). SDV362506.


<4> Ellis, A.C., 1930, Historical Survey of Torquay, p.300 (Monograph). SDV362462.


Sources / Further Reading

SDV361984SMR record: Torbay HER record.
SDV362605Monograph: Russell, P.. 1960. History of Torquay and the Famous Anchorage of Torbay. . p.5.
SDV362378Monograph: Tudor, G. 2007. Brunel's Hidden Kingdom. . A4 Hardback. p.35-37.
SDV362506Article in Serial: Russell, P.. 1955. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. . 87. p.287.
SDV362462Monograph: Ellis, A.C.. 1930. Historical Survey of Torquay. Historical Survey of Torquay. Hardback Volume. p.300.

Associated Monuments

MDV54171Parent of: Observation Post, Greathill Reservoir, Torbay (Monument)
MDV9555Related to: BEACON in the Parish of (Monument)
MDV124034Related to: Site of Brunel's Great Hill Drive, Watcombe Park, Watcombe (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Aug 29 2019 1:15PM