Inns and Innkeeping
Moreton has always been a place of commerce and travel. From the earliest days, when the medieval market and fairs drew people in from the neighbouring countryside and further afield, the inns have been essential to Moreton's livelihood. Later, as Moreton prospered as an important West Country cloth-making town, their numbers steadily increased until by the early 1700s an average of 15-20 persons were applying each year to sell ale from their premises. Unlike today's licensees, they were not all Innkeepers - more likely 'home brewers' who still required a licence to sell their surplus ale. With competition from the north of England in the early eighteenth century, Devon's cloth industry declined. In order to supplement their incomes at that time a number of Moreton's cloth workers turned to selling ale from their homes as a cottage industry. This led to a peak of 32 licences in 1730 which lasted for 3 or 4 years! By 1800 the numbers of ale-houses had dwindled. They were replaced by fewer, larger establishments, catering to the quickly increasing trade of travellers crossing the moor through Moreton. Further competition from the industrialised commercial breweries in Exeter and Newton Abbot brought an end to local brewing in Moreton, reducing numbers to the four 'pubs' we have today.