Chudleigh is a small town in Devon, England, located between the towns of Newton Abbott and about 10 miles from Exeter, which is noted for its cathedrals and its rich history. At the end of the Teign valley and at the foot of the Haldon hills, it is very close to the edge of Dartmoor with its many acres of untamed countryside. It is also a comfortable drive to the coast and is on the main road from Exeter to Plymouth. This makes it a good place to stay while visiting in Devon! Ah, another place to visit!
Ciedda's leah was a small, agricultural village, and already 300-400 years old when it became the property of the Church after the Norman Conquest. The first parish church was dedicated in 1259 and Edward the Second granted a Charter for markets and livestock fairs, in 1309, and Chudleigh became a wool market town.
Being an ancient place, it is easy to imagine a quaint and historic village filled with charming cottages and medieval architecture. In 1807, which was a year of drought, the town suffered from a devastating fire that began in a bakery and was carried everywhere by the wind. Since most of the town had thatched roofs, when the fire finished its work there was just a church and seven houses left standing. Sarah Sealy, who was born on 5 September 1800, would have been six years old at the time. Imagine the panic that must have ensued as people struggled to save their belongings, and to keep the fire from spreading. It was a tragedy for everyone that changed the face of Chudleigh forever. There is still St. Martin's church from the 14th century, and an old grammar school next to it. You can click here to see a drawing of an 18th century street in Chudleigh.
This house, which dates back to the 1600's, must be one of the homes that made it through the fire. It looks like a totally charming place to stay while visiting! The Devon Guide has a nice map, pictures, and a good description of things to see nearby.
Getting back to Sarah Sealy,on 14 September 1800, she was christened at Chudleigh. Her parents were Joseph and Elizabeth Sealy. He was born in Chudleigh, as were his parents, and Elizabeth was from Hennock, 4 1/2 miles west, and in today's Dartmoor National Park. More photos here.
Sarah married William Bolt. Their children were John Sealy, Mary Jane, and William. Our ancestor is Mary Jane. They were listed on the 1851 census as follows--
Joseph Sealey, head, married, 73, Chelsea pensioner, born Chudleigh, Devon; Elizabeth, wife, age 79, born at Hennock; William Bolt, son-in-law, age 52, house servant, born Powderham; Sarah Bolt, daughter, age 51, dressmaker, born Chudleigh; John Sealy Bolt, grandson, unmarried, age 25, journeyman carpenter, born Chudleigh; Mary Ann Bolt, granddaughter, unmarried, age 16, at home, born Chudleigh; William Bolt, grandson, age 11, scholar, born Chudleigh.
Their address was 15 Culver Street and you can read about how Culver Street was affected by the fire of 1807 at that link. From this census entry we can know that Sarah's parents lived to be elderly and had the comfort of having their daughter and grandchildren with them in their home, at least for a time. If we wanted to know more about it, we could check another census or two!