An inn has occupied the current site of The Exchange at No.1 Fore Street since 1830. At that time, it was one of four inns located in Ivybridge. The other three were The Grocer’s Arms on Exeter Road, The Ivybridge Hotel on Western Road and the London Hotel.
In 1746 it is known that Richard Seldon, a wood-turner was leasing a property on this site from the Rogers of Blachford, then lords of the manor. In 1812 John Seldon, Richard’s grandson, inherited the property. Whilst a painter and glazier by trade, he was a very enterprising man and is believed to have been responsible for the construction of the terrace of four small houses which originally stood adjacent to his property. His enterprise did not stop there as he had an ambition to turn his own property into a public-house. This unfortunately was frustrated by a long-standing prohibitive clause within his lease, preventing the sale of liquor, whilst his landlord Sir John Rogers, was also opposed to such an idea.
In 1830, with the passing of the Beerhouse Act, Seldon’s vision was to become reality. The Act encouraged the opening of beerhouses in an attempt to draw the poorer classes away from the consumption of gin. This, together with Sir John’s change of heart in withdrawing his opposition, paved the way for the establishment of a public house. Perhaps to commemorate the accession of King William IV, Seldon named his house the King’s Arms.
The King’s Arms was well placed on the village’s main thoroughfare. The new bridge built across the River Erme abutted onto Seldon’s land so that the turnpike road now by-passed the London Hotel, which did not belong to the Roger’s family but instead passed in front of the King’s Arms.
By 1850 it had become custom to hold the annual Manor Court dinner at the King’s Arms and its is probable that the house was now of equal standing with the older and highly regarded London Inn, just a short distance away on the other side of the river. The Ivybridge Hotel, at the far end of the river had come to the end of its days, with the arrival of the railway to Ivybridge in 1848. The marked decline in stagecoach traffic with travellers switching to the more modern mode of transport proved to be the death knell to its viability.