Fire left 248 people homeless in village

Lympstone has long heard of the fire of 1833 centred around Quay Lane and The Strand, however this week we are delving into the news as it broke nationally using newspapers of the time.

Ipswich Journal, June 15, 1833, “a most calamitous fire took place on Wednesday morning at Lympstone, the number of houses destroyed was 55 and three others were rendered tenantless. The number of persons deprived of homes are 248 and 96 of these totally destitute. The loss has fallen almost exclusively on fishermen and those who derive a precarious and hard earned subsistence on the river. Very few houses were insured and much misery will be the lot of the sufferers, unless assisted by the affluent.

The fire originated in the dwelling of a fisherman of the name Lyddon. He left in his boat at three, but previously to going out made himself breakfast, leaving the fire burning. The chimney took fire and smoldered for some hours, it is believed.

About six o’clock, some sparks fell on the thatch of the adjoining house and set fire to it and the wind blowing a stiff gale from the westward, no less than 14 roofs were a blazing in a very short time. Assistance was speedily had from Exmouth, Topsham and Exeter but of little avail”.

This same report appeared in the Caledonian Mercury on the June 17 and The Derby Mercury on the June 19. The Bury & Norwich Post on the June 19 added “a subscription is begun”.

The Belfast News-Letter on June 21 had a different style of reporting, “during the conflagration, females with half clad children were looking wistfully at the smoking ruins which left them unable to say where their unfortunate offspring would be sheltered for the coming night.

A meeting of the parish has been held when it was agreed to raise a subscription throughout the country - the sum of �120 was collected at the meeting”.

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Finally, the wonderfully named Trewan’s Exeter Flying Post reported on June 27, “Charity never faileth, it is with pleasure we quote these first words of a philanthrophic hymn composed by Charles Jefferys and set to music by L. Devereaux. The price 2s and one hundred copies have been most generously sent by the publisher Mr Leoni Lee, 17 Bond Street to Mr Pilbrow, Music Repository of this city, the proceeds of the scale to be appropriated to the relief of the suffers by the late calamitous fire at Lympstone”.

I wonder what became of Mr Lyddon?

Photograph and article supplied by Lympstone History Society

Lympstone History society was formed in 2007 and aims to research and record Lympstone’s local and family histories for members and the

future. It has a programme of events throughout the year from winter talks to a summer visit. These events are open to members and non members alike. Life membership is �10, with over 60s �5. Contact Angela Coles, chairman, at