Did you know that Seaton has been inhabited for over 6000 years? Remains have been found from the Neolithic, Beaker, Bronze and Iron Ages! You can even find evidence of Iron Age Forts in Blackbury Camp.
For any keen explorers, Seaton’s coast is the place to be. As part of the Jurassic Coast, 185 million years of the Earth’s history can be traced back. Seaton is unique in that it is the only place where evidence of all three geological periods can be found, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. Explore the shoreline for pebbles, rockpools and more. Many Roman artefacts have been found in Seaton as well, with the largest discovery happening in 2014 when 22,000 coins were found by an amateur metal detectorist.
While Seaton appeared in the Domesday Book in 1086, it wasn’t under the name as we know it now. In fact, the town was known as Fleet or Fleote, derived from the Saxon word for creek, Fluta.
Medieval, Tudor and Elizabethan Eras
Originally, Seaton belonged to the Priory of Horton and then Sherborne Abbey, which was later surrendered to the Crown in 1539. Much of the area was gifted to Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife, as part of her dowry. The seafront was once home to a sizeable fort which was finished in 1544 and inspected by Henry VIII himself!
Seaton’s oldest building is St Gregory’s Church on Colyford Road, some believe it dates back to the 14th Century while others think it’s even older and originates from the 12th Century. During its time, the building has survived many changes, including the 14th Century major landslip which created the shingle beach we know today.
Since the Iron Age, salt has been harvested from the estuary, however, in the 1660s work began to protect the salt marshes. This kickstarted a lucrative industry which attracted investors such as John Frye to invest in Seaton. Frye later sold Seaton to John Willoughby, who lived in Manor House which can be seen on Fore Street today. Eventually, Seaton was inherited by Willoughby’s Granddaughter, who later married Sir George Trevelyan of Nettlecombe in 1656, starting an association between the town and the Trevelyan family which still exists today.
Seaton’s transition from a fishing village to a seaside resort can be credited to the Trevelyan family, although 1868 saw the introduction of a railway line from London. While the railway improved the town’s tourism, it also saw the end of Seaton’s other industries. The train saw a cheaper and more reliable and more reliable route for both passengers and cargo, rather than the traditional shipping routes.
Thankfully, Seaton remained a popular tourist destination even after the local railway station was closed in 1966. Why don’t you visit and see a glimpse of this history for yourself?