Category Archives: Local Area

Fremington Quay

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.

Berrynarbor

Nestled on the slopes of the beautiful Sterridge Valley is the small village of Berrynarbor. Overlooking Combe Martin Cove, 3 miles east of Ilfracombe. Berrynarbor was originally called Bury and afterwards Bury Nerbert, from the family who held it some centuries ago. The Berrie family were lords of the manor of ‘Berrie Nerbet’ in the 17th Century. The manor later came into possession of the Bassett family who in the 19th century built Watermouth Castle.

Watermouth Castle (above) was built in 1825 by Arthur Davie Basset for his bride. The Castle is believed to have employed around 40 domestics to run this Victorian estate. In 1916 the Castle became a convalescent home for army officers in World War 1, and again in World War 2 it was used as the HQ for ‘P.L.U.T.O’ (Pipe Line Under The Ocean). When the last descendent of the Basset family moved in 1945 the castle had various owners before it was bought in 1977 by Richard Haires and became the family attraction we see today.

Berrynarbor was a favourite holiday destination of the author and painter Beatrix Potter, who visited the village over a number of years and worshipped in St. Peter’s church. The village is proud to have won the ‘ best kept village’ and ‘Devon in Bloom’ competitions on many occasions. The village itself is dominated by traditional thatched buildings, St Peter’s Church, and the 15th century manor house, as well as having a local pub and postoffice. The white painted homes and the villagers have a sense of humour with many of the buildings having locally crafted flowerpot men hiding in their gardens or been seen climbing up the building frontages.

Ye Olde Globe The Ye Olde Globe is a traditional character pub. It first became a pub in 1675, having been converted from a row of three cottages. Today the child friendly pub offers a warm welcome to visitors of the village.

The Manor House Remains of the 14th Century Manor House which was partially rebuilt in Victorian times now forms the village hall. The two storey building forms part of the original Manor House, and has features from the tudor and late medival periods. The main hall was built in 1914.

Berrynarbor Community Shop In 2005 Berrynarbor faced the propect of losing their village shop and post office following the retirement of the current postmaster. As a central point to the village, people did not want to lose this facility, and decided to take action, forming a co-operative in order to save the shop. The store has gone from strength to strength, being staffed by a team of 30 volunteers.

St Peters Church The church dates back to the 12th century, with additions being made in the 13th and 15th centuries. The size of the original church indicates that the area had relative wealth and a large population and additions show that it was restored in Victorian times. The building contains some ancient monuments of the Berry family. In the aisle is a beautiful modern memorial to several members of the Bassett family; and in the chancel is a marble tablet to the Rev, S. F. Gully MA, a former rector who died in 1860.

Mortehoe

Mortehoe

Mortehoe is a pretty village, standing proud at the top of Chapel Hill, overlooking Woolacombe and the Bristol Channel in one direction, and Lundy Island in the other.

First mentioned in the Doomsday book it was little more than a farm, however the 13th Century saw the establishment of a Parish Church and the Hamlet of Mortehoe started to develop.

The name Mortehoe comes from the Latin word meaning death, and it is certainly true that in this village’s history the name would have been apt. Perhaps best known for numerous shipwrecks and the notorious ‘Mortemen wreckers’ this now popular place has a slightly grizzlier history. In the years when wreckers and smugglers ruled much of this coastline, the ones from Mortehoe were considered the most fearsome by sailors. It was illegal to take cargo from a shipwreck if any of the crew were alive on boat. Wreckers would lure ships onto the dangerous rocks around the coast, specically Morte Stone, and ensure that there were ‘no survivors’ left on board, they would then strip the ship of it’s cargo. One of Mortehoe’s most feared wreckers is believed to be that of Elizabeth Berry, she is said to have used her pitchfork to drown sailors, she was eventually arrested in 1850 and given 21 days hard labour as a punishment.

Today a much calmer Mortehoe is a popular place, with many enjoying it’s rich history and beautiful coastal walks that the area has to offer.

At the heart of the village, is St Mary Magdalene Church. A Grade 1 listed building dating back to 1170, where evidence of a stone built church has been found. Many additions have been made over time and, of particular interest to visitors are the forty eight pew ends which are carved into chestnut and demonstrate some beautiful craftsmanship and interesting subjects. They are thought to have been completed during the regin of Henry VIII.

The chancel arch mosaic, designed by Selwyn Image can be seen at the east end of the nave. It was installed in 1903 and depicts four angels and a mystic lamb all set into a back drop of gold. It was made and installed by the same artisans responsible for the mosaics in St Pauls Cathedral. Much is made of the churches links to William de Tracey, however it
is believed that it is not the same de Tracey connected with Beckets murder, but that of William de Tracey who was a Rector of Mortehoe and dates to 1322.

The museum is the perfect way to find out more about the area’s heritage. The Mortehoe Heritage Museum is located in a Grade II listed barn owned by the National Trust. Standing at the entrance of the upper oor is the gurine of a well-known Mortehoe resident, Eliza Yeo. Born in 1840 to Samuel and Mary Ashford she would marry John Yeo when she was just sixteen. John was reputed to be a fugitive from the law following the murder of a man with a pitchfork in a neighbouring county. The newly married couple lived in a cottage at Warcombe Farm, where they went onto have a large family of their own. Eliza was a strong and determined character, turning her hand at anything. Many local legends and stories exsist about Eliza.

Mortehoe benefits from its location along some spectacular coastline, those who enjoy to walk, can enjoy some stunning coastal paths. A nice walk is to Bull Point Lighthouse.

The lighthouse, constructed in 1879 is on the headland and provides a lovely walk from the village. On the 18th September 1972 the lighthouse keeper reported ground movement, in the early hours of 24th September the cliff face crashed into the sea. The lighthouse had to be closed. In 1974 Trinity House opened Bull Point Lighthouse, which remained in operation until automaotion in 1995.

Mortehoe has a good selection of pubs and cafes to enjoy a drink and refreshments. The Chichester Arms and Ship Aground (pictured above) are a perfect watering hole following a long day walking along the beautiful coastal paths, whilst Miss Fea’s Café and
the Town House tea rooms offer a place to enjoy a cream tea or slice of cake. For those camping, who fancy some home cooked food, Rockleigh take away offer a scrumptious menu of excellent food to take away and enjoy… they even have sticky toffee pudding and clotted cream (a personal favourite!).

The history of Mortehoe is revealed in the Mortehoe Museum which is well worth a visit whilst in the area, more details can be found at http://www.mortehoemuseum.org.uk

 

Woolacombe

Located on the North Devon coastline, Woolacombe has been a popular destination for holiday makers for many generations.

Woolacombe is steeped in history – a typical Edwardian/Victorian coastal resort town dominated by large villa style houses and grand hotels, it was first recorded in the Domesday book as Wolnecoma, literally meaning ‘Wolves Valley’. At the time the valley was thickly wooded and presumably wolves could be found. There were no inhabitants living in Woolacombe at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 – even the parish of Mortehoe was little more than a single farm.

Woolacombe Tracey, the medieval manor, is shown on the site of Woolacombe Farm on early ordinance survey maps, and medieval rubble has been found near this site supporting the possibility. Woolacombe Tracey was the seat of the Tracey family, Sir William de Tracey was said to have lived here after his involvement in the murder of Thomas a Becket in 1170.

The 1840’s Tithe map for Mortehoe Parish shows Woolacombe as a small cluster of buildings located around the Beach Road junction with Sandy Lane. Some distance to the east could be found two settlements of similar size, being east Woolacombe and Over Woolacombe. At this time there was no development along the shoreline and Woolacombe was only a modest village or large hamlet – having no church of its own.

In the 1880’s a Barnstaple architect, Arnold Thorne, laid out Woolacombe for development as a coastal resort. Plots of land were set out and leased to individual developers for periods of 99 years by the Chichester Estate. The development grew at a slow pace, the seafront along the Esplanade being mainly a row of Victorian and Edwardian villas, with a rapid period of building from 1890, when maps show the Esplanade devoid of buildings, to 1905 when the shoreline frontage is mainly as it is today.

The main landscape features are clearly the beach and the two headlands, Morte Point and Baggy Point, which frame its sands. The beach is visible from the vast majority of points in the village and an increasing number of people get their first look at Woolacombe from the various paths and trails (including the Tarka Trail and the South West Coast path) which runs through Woolacombe from north to south. As such views from Potters Hill out over Woolacombe are important from the south, and the path out to Morte Point at the north.

Several buildings within the conservation area were constructed by the Chichester Estate, Hartland house was used as an estate office for several years and the next door Parade House was built for Dame Rosalie Chichester as a summer residence in 1890.

One of the most significant and imposing buildings in the village is the Woolacombe Bay Hotel (above). The hotel was constructed in 1887 when it applied for its first license, and was initially called the “Shakespeare Hotel”, although this must have been short-lived as the building is labelled as the Woolacombe Bay Hotel on the 1904 Ordinance Survey mapping.

By 1919 the resort in Woolacombe had all of the services you would expect to find, including two banks, a post office, printers, golf course and 45 houses offering apartments of lodgings.

Like a number of British beaches Woolacombe Beach has always been privately owned, Stanley Parkin bought the beach and the Greensward in 1948. When Lady Chichester died in 1949, on her passing the Chichesters’ land in Woolacombe and Morethoe and the family estate at Arlington was willed to the National Trust. Parade House was left to her housekeeper, Rllan Smale. The land we know today as Marine Drive was left to Devon Country Council for them to construct a coast road.

Lee Bay

Lee Bay is a small village a few miles from the bustling tourist areas of Woolacombe and Mortehoe known by many as Fuchsia Valley. Lee is a pretty stone built village with fuchsia lined pathways and gardens. Lee Bay Beach is a rocky beach, ideal for rockpooling. The beach itself has a concrete channel running down the centre of it, which carries fresh water from the valley into the sea. The cove at Lee Bay, used to receive coal and limestone from Wales, the limestone was burnt locally to produce quicklime which was frequently used in fields and in brick mortar.

Like much of this coastline, Lee saw its fair share of smugglers. The most well known local smuggler to Lee Bay, was Hannibal Richards, who moved to Lee in 1789, described as being six foot tall, with long black hair, he and his wife lived at a local farm. Hannibal had moved to Devon from Cornwall where he had been a member of a notorious gang of smugglers called the Cruel Coppinger’s Gang. It was not long before he returned to his ways, and despite being known to the local authorities he managed to avoid any convictions. He is believed to have stopped his ‘smuggling career’ following a raid which saw the other members of his gang captured, he managed to escape.

Today, Lee is a pretty village with plenty to see. It was developed in 1871 by a Mr Smith, his foreman was responsible for adding all the herringbone walls and planting fuchsias, which is now what the village is famed for.  The village centre is a short walk from the sea, linked by both a road and pathway. The centre marked by St Matthews Church, The Grampus Inn and the old Post Office.

 

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Lundy

North Devon is a spectacular county, boasting an array of amazing places to visit including the island of Lundy. Positioned in the Bristol Channel, 11 miles off the North Devon coast, this little granite outcrop has a lot to offer. The Landmark Trust rescue historic buildings at risk and, once restored, offer them as inspiring places to stay. In 1971, the trust took over the lease of the island (owned by the National Trust) and has restored many unique and memorable places to stay on Lundy from a castle keep to a 19th Century Georgian mansion. The range of properties available on the island gives the opportunity for everyone of any budget to stay. Every visit to the island, even if for just a day, is an amazing unique adventure. Even the journey here is a new experience for many. From April to October the island can be reached on our supply ship MS Oldenburg (who has a story of her very own,) from Ilfracombe or Bideford, and from November to March, staying visitors arrive by helicopter from Hartland Point. Built in 1958, MS Oldenburg operated as a ferry operating from the German mainland to the Friesian islands until 1982 when she was bought by the Warrings family who ran the ‘Butter-Cruises’. These duty-free cruises ran until 1985 when the loop-hole, which permitted their operation, was closed and the opportunity to buy MS Oldenburg for Lundy was taken by the Landmark Trust. MS Oldenburg has been our supply vessel ever since and can hold up to 267 passengers who make use of the buffet, shop and bar whilst sitting on deck or within the foredeck saloon with its large windows creating a panoramic view. Lundy is renowned for its wealth of marine and terrestrial wildlife, particularly as it is home to the largest seabird colony in the southwest and has its own species, the Lundy Cabbage. During the summer breeding season kittiwakes, fulmars, guillemots, razorbills and puffins can be found across the west and north coast of the island. At night, Manx shearwaters return to the island and many visitors enjoying listening to their melodic calls as they return to their burrows.

Storm petrels have recently begun to breed on the island, a sign that the island’s Seabird Recovery Project has been a great success. The project began with the eradication of the island’ s rat population for 2002-2004 allowing the island to be designated as ‘rat-free’ in 2006. The island’s rich flora creates carpets of yellow, purple and pink during the summer season as the endemic Lundy Cabbage, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Sheep’s Bit Scabious and sea Thrift come into bloom. One species, the Heath Spotted Orchid, can be found in the marshy areas of the plateau. Here you will often come across some of our larger animals, particularly the Lundy Ponies, Soay sheep, Highland steers and Sika deer. These animals roam north of Quarter Wall to assist with our conservation grazing scheme which is in place to enhance the island’s Site of Special Scientific Interest. The waters around the island are also protected through a Special Area of Conservation, Marine Conservation Zone and No Take Zone. Together these designations conserve and enhance the spectacular marine life that is found in such a unique location and includes species such as pink sea fans, cup corals, cuckoo wrasse and our mischievous grey seals. The wealth of habitats, wildlife and wrecks attract hundreds of divers every year and many visitors join in our Snorkel Safaris to get a taster of the rich life that can be found under the waves. Humans have lived on Lundy since Neolithic times and have left behind many historical structures that provide us with clues as to who lived here and when. Many of these have been designated as Scheduled Monuments to protect and conserve them, and the whole of Lundy is a Heritage Coast. The most notable of these include the Old Light, Marisco Castle, Fog Battery and Brazen Ward. Each historical structure has its own story to tell and, as with Landmarks across the UK, all of the letting properties have significant stories of their own. To find out more visit http://www.lundyisland.co.uk or see our Facebook pages: The Landmark Trust – Lundy and Lundy Conservation Team. Guided walks and illustrated talks are available throughout the year whilst Rockpool Rambles and Snorkel Safaris take place during the summer.

Combe Martin

Combe Martin is located on the edge of the Exmoor National Park only 12 miles from Woolacombe, set in a wooded valley, and with a lovely cove it is a popular place to visit. It’s name derives from the word ‘Combe’ meaning a wooded valley, and ‘Martin’ from the Norman family who are believed to have inherited the manor from William the Conquerors supporters. In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Combe Martin as: “a small town, a parish, and a sub-district in the Barnstaple district, Devon. The town sits in a deep romantic glen, opening into a small cove on the Bristol channel, 4 miles east of Ilfracombe, and 10 North East of Barnstaple railway. station; extends irregularly to a length of about 1½ mile; was made a market-town about the year 1264, but has long lost its market; is a seat of petty sessions; and has a post office under Ilfra-Combe, an inn, a parish church, three dissenting chapels, and an endowed school.” Today, the seaside town which sits in a valley, has something on offer for everyone. Enjoy a day by the sea, rockpooling, kayaking, fishing or walking along one of the stunning coastal paths, for the more adventurous why not try coasteering, rock climbing or horse riding.

One of Combe Martin claims to fame is it is reported to have the longest main street in any village in the Country, which is over two miles long. As the village grew it was easier to continue building along the narrow valley rather than along the slopes, hence this unusually long main street. Some say that those who live at one end of the street believe they live in the countryside and not by the sea. The environment around Combe Martin, in particular its limestone outcrops meant that the area has a number of lime-kilns which date back to around the 17th Century. The lime was then used to improve the fertility of the soil. Combe Martin’s main economy used to be in the growing and processing of hemp and flax used to make rope and sails. It was also known for silver mining, and the village built a reputation for silverware. One of the earliest records of Combe Martin Silver mines was found in 1294, when it was recorded that 337 men were brought from the Peak, Derbyshire to work the mines. In the Elizabethan period the Combe Martin mines took on a new lease of life and they made a considerable revenue. You can still see some of the old remains of the mines that were crucial in the lime and silver trade. For those visiting today, an interesting Grade II listed building to look out for is the ‘Pack o Cards Inn’, built in 1626 by George Ley it is said to be built following a large win at card playing. The Inn has 52 windows, believed to represent the number of cards in a pack and has four floors (representing the number of suits in a pack), with 13 doors on every floor (number of cards in a suit) .

Combe Martin holds a number of events each year, one that is very unique to the area is the: Hunting of the Earl of Rone The Hunting of the Earl of Rone is one of over 500 unique customs that take place at various times of year throughout England. Banned in 1837, for licentiousness and drunken behaviour, the Hunting of the Earl of Rone was revived in 1974. Over the four days of the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, the Grenadiers, Hobby Horse, Fool and villagers hunt through the village for the ‘Earl of Rone’, finally finding him on the Monday night. He is mounted back-to-front on a donkey and paraded through the village to the sea. He is frequently shot by the grenadiers and falls from the donkey only to be revived by the Hobby-horse and Fool, re-mounted on the donkey, and carried onwards to his fate. At the final shooting on the beach, he is not revived, but thrown into the sea. Local legend says that he was Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, who was forced to flee from Ireland in 1607 and was shipwrecked in the local bay known as Raparee Cove. There is no historical evidence that Hugh O’Neill ever landed in North Devon and history tells us that he actually reached Spain and lived out his life there, so why he should become the focus of the custom is a mystery – although there are plenty of theories! Perhaps the locals were celebrating the defeat of a famous contemporary outlaw by a local landowner, a Chichester, who was the sovereign’s Lord Deputy in Ireland at the time. Perhaps the Irish population in the village, who worked the mines, were in sympathy with O’Neill and his attempts to have Ireland ruled by the Irish. Some people think the custom is the last remnant of mediæval May Games, others like to think that it is a pre-Christian, pagan, green man custom that has survived with the O’Neill legend attached to it. The Earl of Rone is seen as a scapegoat by others. People believe what they want to believe whether there is evidence or not – even those who take part have different ideas. Whatever the history, none of it actually determines what happens these days. What The Hunting of the Earl of Rone definitely is, is Combe Martin celebrating itself! The custom is run by a council of villagers, but any local from Combe Martin, or the surrounding parishes of Berrynarbor, Trentishoe and Kentisbury, is welcome to dress up and join in. Visitors are also welcome to come to watch and enjoy the festivities but, as tradition demands, collections are made throughout the weekend and once costs have been covered, surplus money is donated to good causes in the village. For more information about Combe Martin visit: http://www.visitcombemartin.com

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