Fore Street

The attractive curve at the west end of Fore Street perhaps reflects the line of the castle moat. The variety of architectural styles here is enlivened by the colour and texture of local stone that has been incorporated into many buildings and walls. Plympton is favoured by the geological history of South-west Devon. During hundreds of millions of years volcanic eruptions have deposited lavas, now exposed in the cuttings of Plympton Hill, and coral reefs in long gone seas have been transformed into limestones streaked with red bands of volcanic ash. Pink and grey granites from Dartmoor now blend with the slates, shales and grits from numerous local quarries. Builders have used this wealth of material, together with brick and tile, timber frame and plaster, to create a pleasing variety of detail.


Old prints show that over the last two hundred years there have been some changes in Fore Street. Several houses once extended their upper stories above the pavement, and slate hangings were more widely used. The practice of facing a wall with slates to give added protection from the elements is widespread in South Devon. Perhaps this says something about our weather! There are good examples of slate hangings in Totnes and Ashburton and it is a pity that so many have gone from St. Maurice. However, Victorian and later rebuilding has generally blended happily with the old, and the western end of the Street is still dominated by the thickly wooded slopes of Plympton Covert.


Many buildings in Fore Street have changed their functions. During the last century, directories indicate that a poulterer, butcher, coal merchant, draper, tailor, milliner and wig-maker, ironmonger and several others, plied their trades in Fore Street. In 1880, among Plympton St. Maurice's five schools, there were schools for young ladies at Milton House and Beechwood Villa. Within living memory there were bakers, laundries, dairies, sweet shops, butchers, a shoemaker and a number of grocers. Families used to take their Sunday joints to one of the bakers in Fore Street to be cooked in the oven. Many old shop windows can still be seen. On the south side of Fore Street, lanes and passageways afford glimpses of cottages and distant fields. The strip gardens, typical of a mediaeval borough, run down to the Longbrook, formerly called Ballan's Brook, a corruption of Baldwin, the first lord of the manor.


In recent years there has been a ban on heavy traffic using Fore Street, but on the occasions of the Queen's Silver and Gold Jubilees, the Street was completely closed. Residents enjoyed a street party with music and dancing the length of Fore Street which had been decorated with flags and banners.

© 2020 Plympton St Maurice Civic Association. All rights reserved.

Plympton St Maurice Ltd trading as Plympton St Maurice Civic Association (PSMCA)

Register Company in England 12182888

Registered office Howard And Over, Longbridge Road, Plymouth, United Kingdom, PL6 8LT

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