HALL (BAPTIST CHURCH)
A meeting of Dawlish’s most influential citizens, in
1853, proposed using a piece of ground at the top of Town Tree hill for
a “magistrates room and lock up”. At the same time, the Parish Vestry
acquired the land for the new Vestry Hall. However, both parties were
satisfied as the upper room became the courtroom and a room in the
basement became a goal cell.
The former Town Hall was completed in 1855 in the Classical style with
stuccoed front and central projecting pediment. It is listed for its
architectural value. The hall has a hipped slate roof and parapet.
Pilasters separate the1st floor windows. In addition, it has quoins to
ground floor, a rusticated ground floor with segmental arch, three
sashes with glazing bars intact and blank panels over ground floor
In 1850, the Dawlish Literary and General Knowledge Society was founded
to provide a library, lectures on Art, Literature and Science. It fell
on hard times but in 1861, it was reformed and was housed in the newly
built Vestry Hall. It thrived and membership included 155 ladies and 11
juveniles. Subscriptions were 6 shillings for men and 4 shillings for
ladies, so the poorer inhabitants of Dawlish were excluded but could pay
6d to sit at the back, which many did.
The Local Board was instituted on 3rd Feb 1860 under terms of Local
Government Act 1858. In Whites Directory of 1878 we read:
“The Local Board was formed on March 24, 1860, and consists of 12
members, to whom Mr. J. S. Whidborne is clerk, Mr. Ellis, surveyor, and
Mr. C. Tapper, inspector. Mr. William Staddon is town crier. The Town
Hall and Court House, in King Street, was built in 1853. Petty Sessions
for this district of Teignbridge petty sessional division are held here
every Thursday; the magistrates usually attending are the Right Hon. the
Earl of Devon, the Rev. W. H. Palk, Sir John L. Duntze, Bart., P.
Merrick Hoare, Esq., C. J. Wade, Esq., C. Tonge, Esq., Col. Germon, C.
H. Turner, Esq., and Lieut.-Col. Savile. Mr. J. S. Whidborne is their
The Urban District Council replaced the Local Board in April 1894 under
terms of Local Government Act 1894. It met at Vestry Hall until 1911,
when the town bought Knowle House and grounds (now the Museum). The
building continued to ne used as a Town Hall until 1940s, when it became
Central Hall for Christian Fellowship. And in the early 1990s, Dawlish
Baptist Church bought the building.