It was once the epicentre of the fight against the Catholic monarch James II, earning a reputation as “the most rebellious town in Devon” after its men volunteered in droves to follow the Duke of Monmouth.
Now the winds of dissent are once more blowing through Colyton, but this time over the delicate matter of underwear.
Where once the struggle was over the question of religion and who could lay rightful claim to the throne, today’s uprising turns on a woman’s right to hang her smalls out in public.
It began when Claire Mountjoy, a single mother of three, received an email from local traders instructing her not to hang her washing out to dry for fear it would lower the tone of the neighbourhood.
Now hundreds of fellow residents have taken to displaying bras, nighties, pants and other items of laundry outside their homes in a show of solidarity with Ms Mountjoy.
The email was sent by an anonymous correspondent on behalf of the Devon town’s traders, claiming that the sight of her underwear hanging outside Ms Mountjoy’s small terraced home was likely to offend passing tourists.
It stated: “I am writing on behalf of local businesses and your neighbourhood to ask you with kindness not to put your washing out at the front of your house.
“We all try hard to keep our lovely town thriving and looking good. While we understand you have a small house with no outside room for your boys, would you please consider using a tumble dryer or hanging the washing indoors.
“This letter is not written with malice but we ask you to please help us all keep Colyton a town we can all be proud of.”
That was enough to summon up the same spirit of rebellion that led to dozens of Colyton’s citizens to follow the Duke of Monmouth into battle in the summer of 1685.
Ms Mountjoy, 47, posted the offending email on her Facebook page and was soon deluged with messages of support.
As the great nicker rebellion spread items of underwear began appear on washing lines and clothes racks in front gardens and alleyways across the town - to the chagrin of the anonymous traders.
Ms Mountjoy said: "I think it is so lovely that I live in a community that's so supportive of me and doing something that people have done for generations - hanging the washing to dry outside their homes.
"The community response has been amazing - the rebellious nature of Colyton has come to the fore and the laundry revolution has begun!"
Ms Mountjoy, an education officer for Devon Wildlife Trust, said her favourite gesture of support was the bra that one sympathiser had managed to erect on the top of one of the town’s flagpoles.
"It shows the fabulous community spirit Colyton has - it's known as the most rebellious town in Devon. That kind of streak is still in its people,” she said.
"It is quite strange that someone should be so upset about it. They suggest that visitors would be put off, but actually our laundry revolution is actually bringing in more visitors."
On Saturday the local Nunsford Nutters Carnival Club strung up a washing line decorated with pyjamas between the town hall and the Colcombe Castle pub in support of Ms Mountjoy.
Gail Jarman, one of the race organisers, said "The reaction for Claire has been fantastic - the amount of people who have got behind it is absolutely brilliant. The note is ridiculous - none of us are supporting the person who wrote it. You have got to dry your washing somewhere."
Alison Stenning, a neighbour, said "We should have an annual Colyton Hanging Day when
everyone hangs their washing in front of their house."
The Monmouth Rebellion
Colyton earned its reputation as the most rebellious town in Devon after more citizens from the town joined the Protestant rebellion against the Catholic James II than from any other part of the county.
The rebellion was led by James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, who claimed to be rightful heir to the throne after James became after King of England, Scotland and Ireland on the death of his elder brother Charles II.
Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II, landed at Lyme Regis on 11 June 1685 and over the following weeks his rag-tag army of nonconformists, artisans and farm workers fought a series of skirmishes with local militias and regular soldiers.
But the rebels were unable to match James II’s forces and the rebellion ended in defeat at the Battle of Sedgemoor, on 6 July 1685.
Monmouth was executed for treason on 15 July 1685 and of his supporters were condemned to death or transportation by Judge Jeffreys, during a series of notorious trials which came to be known as the Bloody Assizes.