Sunday, 27 July 2014


Like Cornwall, Devon has a lovely coast on both the Bristol Channel in the north and the English Channel in the south with the fine moorlands of the Exmoor National Park and the Dartmoor National Park
in between.

Ilfracombe,  the largest resort on the north coast, grew up around an ancient fishing village in the 19th century.  The town is built on a series of terraces  which rise up from the shore. There are many coves with rocky outcrops together with a few sandy beaches.

The above photograph taken from Hillsborough courtesy of Wikipedia and Adrian Pingstone,
with thanks.


The harbour is dominated by a large rocky outcrop, known as Lantern Hill, on which stands the medieval chapel of St Nicholas.
The rocky crag upon which this tiny chapel stands, Lantern Hill,was probably so named before this chapel was built c1300-1325. St Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and the chapel is the ideal place for a lantern, said to be the oldest in the country, in its tower to guide ships into the harbour and also a place for those watching for the return a vessel maybe caught in a storm This chapel would have originally served the mariners and their families in the little houses around the harbour but fell into disuse at the Dissolution. Between 1835 and 1871, a John Davey lived in the chapel with his wife and 14 children where he was the lighthouse keeper. Much neglected, the chapel was restored in 1962 and is now open to the public

Looking both ways from Lantern Hill the views are spectacular

The sloping streets of the old town.

The Olde Thatched Inn high above the harbour

West of the harbour there is a level area and small park at the foot of
Capstone Hill which leads to the spectacular Landmark Theatre.


The award winning Landmark Theatre of unusual conical design was built on the site of a fire stricken Victorian theatre. Somewhat controversal it is known locally as Madonna's Bra.

Spectacular views are to be had from the top of Capstone Hill which is easily attainable via a series of footpaths.

On the top, a poignant sculpture of a young girl relates to the sad tale of Kate Frolov who fell to her death on Hillsborough seen beyond the picture.



The curious architecture of a striking white building at Combe Martin results from the whim of  a 17th century landowner, Squire George Ley, who apparently had a handsome win at cards.  He built this  pub with his winnings,  to resemble  a pack of cards and named it The Pack of Cards Inn. In keeping with the theme,  this unusual building has 4 floors,  13 doors  and 52 windows.


To the south, Arlington Court belonged to the Chichester family for over 500 years and the house and estate was bequeathed to the National Trust by Miss Rosalie Chichester on her death in 1949 – she had lived there for 84 years.   For 46 years, Miss Chichester’s constant companion  was her pet parrot Polly, who was allowed to fly freely in the White Drawing Room where Miss Chichester spent much of her time.   When Polly died she was buried in the grounds where a memorial stone marks her grave.   It reads :
An Amazon parrot
Died April 24th 1919
Having lived at
Arlington Court
For 46 years.


Lynton and Lynmouth are twin resorts on the North Devon Coast on the edge of Exmoor. Lynton looks down some 600 feet to its twin resort of Lynmouth which is linked by a steep Victorian water powered cliff railway.



The railway, which dates to 1888 comprises two cars each carrying 40 passengers, which are joined by a continuous cable running round a pulley at the end of the incline. Each car has a 700 gallon water tank under the floor and water is discharged from the lower car until the heavier top car begins to descend with control by a brakeman in each car.

The Suspension Bridge at Saltash crosses the River Taymar, the boundary between Devon and Cornwall.

St Saviour's Church at Dartmouth preserves a very fine medieval door

Brixham is a small fishing port and with a deep water harbour on Devon's south coast. Sir Francis Drake is a famous son of this area and a replica of his ship, The Golden Hind in which he sailed round the world in 1578-80, can be seen moored in the harbour.

Alongside the quay, this stone marks the end of a spur of the old turnpike road.


Protestant William of Orange landed here in 1688 and this fine statue
is on the quayside.

This coffin shaped house in King Street at Brixham, has a story to tell. It is said that a man disapproved of his daughter's impending marriage and said that he would see her in a coffin before he would agree to her proposed marriage. Her suitor bought this house, called it Coffin House and told the father that his wishes could be met. The father was impressed and gave his consent to the marriage.


There are some very fine gardens on the sea front at Torquay, one of the premier resorts of Torbay, known as the English Riviera, on the south coast.

Just north of Torquay, Newton Abbot was the 13th century 'new town' of Torre Abbey. St Leonard's Church was demolished in 1836 but the old tower still stands in the centre of the town.


Across the River Exe at Exmouth there is a curious building known as
A la Ronde.
 In 1798, two cousins, Miss’s Jane and Mary Parminter, were so impressed by the Byzantine church of San Vitale in Ravenna which they had visited whilst doing a ‘grand tour’ that they built a curious round house on land overlooking Exmouth.  The house, which actually has 16 sides, was probably designed for them by a relative and the cousins furnished it with collected treasures, especially shells, for which they constructed a special gallery in the roof.   Originally thatched, the cousins intended that the house would only pass to female descendants, but in 1883 it was inherited by a clergyman who made substantial alterations to it when the roof was tiled and dormer windows were fitted.   The house was lived in until the mid 20th century when it and many curious contents was purchased by the National Trust.

A very fine timber-framed house dating from c1430 can be seen alongside the inner by-pass at the foot of the quaint Stepcote Hill at Exeter, but prior to 1961 you would have been able to see the same house in what was Edmund Street some 50 yards away.  At that time this rare merchant’s house stood in the way of the new road and the city council planned to demolish it along with other properties in the area.    Fortunately conservationists had other ideas and a preservation order was enforced.  A government grant enabled the house to be moved in one piece to its present site.   This very delicate operation was achieved by encasing the house in a wooden packing case frame and then lifting it onto a timber wheeled chassis before transporting the complete building to its present position, an amazing feat.  The house was then fully restored and is now a fine Tudor dwelling and antique shop, known as 'the house that moved'.
Cat flaps are a common feature in many a household door.   If you look below the 14th century clock in Exeter Cathedral, you will see a small door with a hole in it, a medieval cat flap.   The story goes that mice were constantly responsible for nibbling away the ropes holding the clock weights hanging behind the small door.  Apparently the sexton was given a special allowance for a cat to attend to the matter and he cut the hole in the door to allow the cat unlimited access.

In the mid 16th century, the Rev. Welch, vicar of St Thomas’ Church in Cowick Street, Exeter, was hanged for treason   During the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549, the vicar supported the rebels against reformation and supported the Latin mass.  Dressed in full ecclesiastical vestments, he was left  hanging from the church tower for four years as ‘ a salutary warning’ !