In the Centre of Newton Abbot stands the ancient tower of St Leonard or “The Clock Tower” as it has now more commonly known as by locals.
It is thought that building work for the Church started in about 1220 when there is reference of the footings or foundations of a building sited on the meeting place of 3 roads. These 3 roads are Bank Street, East Street and Wolbourough Street.
The Chapel of St. Leonard was a small, plain building, with the tower itself consisting of two stages of unmuttressed grey limestone from Dartmoor.
The name of the church St Lenords originates from King Richard I. After suffering misfortune following his 3rd crusade he had prayed at the spot where Saint Leonard had been martred, so as thanks decided to dedicate Churches throughout England to the name of the saint.
In 1836 the main chapel was demolished. St Leonard’s church was then rebuilt in Wolborough Street where it still stands as St Leonards Antique & Craft Centre.
There are two working clocks to be seen on the tower.
Next to the tower you can see a plaque put in place to mark the spot where the first declaration of the newly arrived William III, Prince of Orange was read in 1688.
It reads ” The first declaration of William, Prince of Orange, the glorious defender of the protestant religion and the liberties of England, was read on this pedestal by the Rev John Raynall, Rector of this Parish, on November the 5th 1688”.
A must see for any visitor to Newton Abbot.