[From White's Devonshire Directory (1850)]
"KING'S TEIGNTON, or Teignton Regis , is a large and respectable village, 1½ mile N.E. of Newton Abbot, pleasantly situated on the north bank of the river Teign, where it has a commodious wharf, near two short canals , one extending to the railway of the Haytor Granite Works, and the other extending about four miles northward, to the vicinity of Chudleigh. . . .
Its parish contains 1498 souls, and 3982A. 3R. 16P. of land, including the hamlet of Preston , and many scattered houses. The parish abounds in fine potters' and pipe clay , of which about 50,000 tons are sent in barges down the Teign, to be shipped at Teignmouth for the Staffordshire and other potteries. . . . Lord Clifford is the lord of the manor of King's Teignton. . . . He is also owner of Gappah, Ware and a great part of the parish. . . .
The Church (St. Michael,) is a large and venerable structure, with a tower and five bells. It is in the perpendicular style of the 15th century, and its number of free sittings was increased in 1825 from 231 to 311. The vicarage , valued in K.B. at £28. 13s. 9d., and in 1831 at £421, is in the patronage of the Bishop of Exeter, and incumbency of the Rev. Henry Woollcombe, jun., who has a good residence and 21½A. of glebe. . . . "
Kingsteignton is located at the head of the Teign Estuary in south Devon, 1½ miles north-east of the market town of Newton Abbot. It was founded in the early eighth century as the centre of a vast Saxon estate that stretched from West Teignmouth to Manaton. Its role as a royal vill meant that it provided rich pickings for Danish raiders who plundered the town in 1001.
Despite the typical Anglo-Saxon nucleated form of the original village around the historic core of Berry Meadow, evidence has been found of human activity in the parish from the Palaeolithic period through to modern times.
Medieval prosperity funded the rebuilding of the parish church St Michael's in the 15th Century, its 85 foot tower being constructed in the 1480s. From the medieval period to the mid-19th Century the parish church held an important position as the mother church of Highweek and Newton Bushell.
An ingenious example of medieval engineering known as the Fairwater Leat brought a water supply to the town, which not only powered two mills but also served as a water supply for the town in the late 19th century. A third mill, built in the 16th century, was also powered by the leat.
Legend has it that a drought gave rise to the annual Ram Roasting Fair. With insufficient water to baptise a child, a ram was sacrificed to the gods of the local spring. Water sprang forth and a ram has been roasted ever since to celebrate the restoration of the spring. The traditional day for the Fair used to be Whit Tuesday but nowadays it is held on the late May bank holiday. That’s the legend, but others have suggested that it is a survival of a traditional May revel which was transferred to the Christian feast of Whitsun. Another explanation takes a more utilitarian view in that it was to celebrate the annual cleansing of the leat of debris that had built up during the year, and so keep its water fit for drinking.
In 1509 the Manor of Kingsteignton, which had been a crown demesne until the 13th century, passed by marriage into the hands of the Clifford family who still hold the title of Lord of the Manor.
Fine quality ball clay beds, created some 30 - 40 million years ago, lie on the western side of the parish. Their exploitation was boosted in 1791 when Josiah Wedgwood first purchased Kingsteignton clay. Two canals, the Stover Canal and Hackney Canal, were excavated to transport Kingsteignton clay. Over the past 200 years clay mining has brought employment to the town. In more recent years changes to methods used in extracting clay have seen small square-pits and shafts replaced by vast open cast quarries which have had a dramatic effect on the landscape of the area.
Limestone has been extensively quarried at various times on either side of Golvers Hill at Rydon, Coombesend and Gildons. Kingsteignton Quarry at Rydon (now infilled) supplied stone for the building of Buckfast Abbey. Numerous limekilns, some still in existence, were found along the dry valley that extends from Lindridge down to Rydon and along the Coombesend valley. The kiln at Kiln Forehead was demolished, despite pleas to save it, during the extension of Calvados Park whilst the kiln beside Rydon school was partly demolished and buried under an earth bank when the Quarry Lane (now called Avery Hill) was widened.
Sand and gravel has also been extensively quarried at Babcombe Copse, Sands Copse and Heathfield, the latter becoming a large landfill site. Lysons' book "Magna Britannia" mentions that the ancient Britons extracted alluvial tin from the gravels deposited by the river Teign.
With a population of approximately 11,000 Kingsteignton had more inhabitants than many Devon towns so on 1st January 2009, the parish council decided to change its status to that of a town. It wasn't the first time that Kingsteignton had acquired town status; in 1982, the parish council decided to make Kingsteignton a town as it feared that the development of the buffer zone between the village and its larger neighbour was eroding its identity. However, its new found status on that occasion and the position of Ron Munn as its first mayor was short-lived. The decision to change its status without consultation angered many residents and a referendum on the issue saw its village status restored, but only for another 27 years! Today its population continues to increase apace.