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Ashburton (Essebretona, Asperton, Ashperton) is a borough by prescription and an ancient stannary town.
The shire hall includes remains of a building, called the Stannary prison, dating from the 13th century.
Tavistock was one of the four stannary towns appointed by charter of Edward I., at which tin was stamped and weighed, and monthly courts were held for the regulation of mining affairs.
It was also the site of one of the earliest printing-presses, and copies of the stannary laws and of a translation of Boethius issued from the Tavistock press in the reign of Henry VIII.