Topsham is an attractive town on the Exe estuary, Devon, in England's Westcountry. Now part of Exeter, it nevertheless maintains a distinctive identity. Loved by its locals, and savoured by those who visit, Topsham offers river walks; wildlife; a Saturday morning market; many characterful shops, restaurants and inns; and quiet space to sit and watch the sailing boats go by. But while present-day Topsham is undoubtedly picturesque and has a rich historical heritage, it always has been a working town. Despite no longer being one of the great trading ports of Britain, it continues to have a very strong business and commercial life, with traditional maritime trades continuing alongside the modern and computerised. The site aims to support and encourage the current and future community, so that the history which awaits us may be just as interesting and rewarding.

Topsham - looking north from Quay


Topsham has a rich and varied history. First documented as a Roman settlement, it was granted a Charter as a town on 22nd August 1300 by Edward I, developing into a major British port and shipbuilding centre that in its heyday rivalled London. There are Dutch houses from this maritime past, and fine examples of Georgian and Edwardian architecture. In the year 2000 we celebrated our 700th year, when the Queen visited and went to a pub for the first time!

Topsham postcards
A gallery of Mick Cooper's collection of postcards of old Topsham. This is a frames-based site. Use the back button of your browser to return to the Topsham website.
1280x1024 (monochrome / colour). 1024x768 (monochrome / colour). 800x600 (monochrome / colour).

The Steam Packet
An on-site gallery of the Steam Packet in its final days as a pub before its conversion to Route 2 cafe bar.

General links

  • Topsham Museum Devon Museums official site
  • GENUKI, Topsham Historical resources for Topsham and its genealogy.
  • Diary of Phyllis Bethel - wartime diary published in blog form: "From Wiesbaden Germany 1929 to Topsham, Devon, Great Britain 1953".
  • Exeter Memories This site has a deal of interesting material (for instance, history of Topsham's pubs and notable buildings - put Topsham into its internal search).
  • Topsham community page Brief history at the Devon Libraries Local Studies Service site.
  • Old Maps click the Maps link and enter "topsham" (without quotes) in the search box. This leads to a zoomable 1890 map.
  • Topsham 1841 Census From GENUKI, churchwarden's census of "a Portion of the Labouring Population".
  • Topsham Cinemas The long-defunct Cosy and Tivoli (from Clive Polden's West Country Cinemas gazetteer).
  • Topsham, Devon, through time Topsham at the Vision of Britain historical gazetteer.
  • Topsham School hosts a short history of the First School and the Parkfield Road site (both now redeveloped as residential) plus extracts from School logbooks
  • Topsham Quay At the SWMHS site, David Wheeler's recollections of Topsham around 1970 in its last days as a working cargo port.
  • Topsham railways Extremely nice history and photos at Alex Seal's Alextrack website.
  • Tryphena Sparks who after a romance with Thomas Hardy, married a Topsham publican and lived here until her death.
  • The Devil's Footprints (1) Summary account of this peculiar event in 1855.
  • The Devil's Footprints (2) Charles Hoy Fort's compilation of contemporary references.
  • The Bridge Inn's Royal Visit HM Queen Elizabeth II.


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