NORTH DEVON GHOST STORY.
A ghost, of the smuggling days in Devon, has again made its appearance at a haunted manor house, writes an Ilfracombe correspondent of The South Wales Daily News.
‘Chambercombe Manor Farm lies in a valley only a few miles from Combe Martin, close to the little hamlet of Hele. It is here the ” ghost” has again been but it causes no alarm, guests at the farm, occupying a bedroom once used by Lady Jane Grey, was the one to see her (for it is a woman ghost), but the apparition did no harm, and caused no particular excitement. To tell the story of the ghost one has to go a long way back history. Hele —quite a holiday haunt now—was then the home of bold bad men whose least crime was smuggling. One night a ship was driven or lured ashore. The crew were drowned or murdered, and a beautiful Spanish woman of distinction on board was made a prisoner. She was taken by the smugglers through an underground passage which then connected Chambercombe Manor with Hele Beach to the house. There she was placed in a secret room and allowed starve to death. It was as recently 1865 that the tragedy was discovered according to rumour. Entry into the room was made during the progress of alterations to the house, and the skeleton of a woman was found lying on a bed, surrounded and partly covered by mildew and decayed tapestry hanging. This is the ghost “which is now reported to walk ” occasionally, but which harms no one. I’ve never seen the ghost,” I was told by the man who conducts visitors to the haunted room ; but who knows. There are a lot of things we couldn’t understand, and one of our guests says she saw her’ standing on the stairs a few nights ago ” The haunted room stands as it did when skeleton and furniture were removed in 1865. The roof of the Manor Farm forms the ceiling, a small hatchway in a wooden wall affords a view of the interior la the courtyard of the farm there are traces of the old subterranean passage. Some little distance has been cleared, and at the foot of the cliffs at Hele is a small cave, said to be the entry to this tunnel. It is impossible to force a way through.
Woody Bay Station is one of the original Lynton & Barnstaple Railway stations, opened in 1898 the railway started at sea level in Barnstaple and climbed 16 miles until it reaches Woody Bay Station, finishing its journey in Lynton, 91 metres higher. The railway line ran until it’s closure in 1935, when on Sunday 29th September a packed train ran from Lynton for the last time, the train stopped at Woody Bay at 8:16pm and as a nod to this occasion, the clock in the station’s tea room is now permanently set to this time. The station as you see it today, was purchased in 1995 as part of an exciting project to rebuild one of the world’s most famous narrow-gauge railways. The process of restoring this line has been one of love, and has certainly not been easy. When the line was sold off, it was to various landowners, which has made the revival all the more difficult.
The future hopes to see further parts of the line opening, with approval of planning applications being given for Killington Lane to Wistlandpound. It is with thanks to the wonderful volunteers and people that keep this work going that you can enjoy the trip from Woody Bay today. If you are in the area it is worth popping in, and having a ride on the train or just admiring the pretty station and enjoying a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the tearoom (which I can highly recommend their fruitcake!) For more information on the times, prices and special events at Woody Bay Station please visit their website: http://www.lynton-rail.co.uk
Originally known, in Saxon times as Freemanton, Fremington Village stands on the estuary of the Taw, near Bideford and Barnstaple. Hidden away from the main roads, Fremington Quay is certainly worth taking the time to visit, especially if you are looking for gorgeous views, wildlife… and perhaps even a slice of delicious cake at the Fremington Quay Café! Fremington’s Quay was once a bustling port which exported and imported goods from around the world, at one stage it was the busiest port between Bristol and Lands End. It is better known today for it’s lovely heritage centre and as a stunning section on the Tarka Trail and South West Cost Path. The Taw Vale Railway and Dock company was formed and in 1838, Fremington became used as a horse drawn rail link to Barnstaple, by 1891 twenty nine men were employed at the railway. The ships would bring in coal which would be loaded onto the waiting railway trucks were they would then be exported.
A report in the local press in 1930 reported that: “50,000 tons of coal and over 9,000 tons of gravel were handled at Fremington Quay in 1929” The Quay at this time was reported to be dealing with nearly 90,000 tons of sea borne traffic. In 1982 the last clay train left the station, without a railway there was no need for the ships and slowly the area fell into disrepair. The Quay was redeveloped in 2000, with its main use being recreation and conservation. The railway line now forms part of the Tarka Trail, with the old iron railway bridge being used to cross the Fremington Pill. The Heritage Centre, is the perfect place to learn more, located in the replica railway station and signal box, it offers visitors an interactive journey of it’s local history and shows how the area has changed over the years. Visitors are also able to listen to stories told by the people who once lived and worked at Fremington.